Ps 91 (NKJV)

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence.4 He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day,6 nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

My favorite song, "O, Holy Night", sung here by Celtic Woman.

There are many names that Jesus is called in the Bible. There are none higher than another, for He is Servant as much as He is King of Kings. He is the Good Shepherd and the only begotten Son of God. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the Sacrificial Lamb and the Lion of Judah.

He is Savior, Redeemer, and Lord. He was a babe born in a manger, and now He sits at the right hand of God. He is the I AM, the prince of peace, the light of the world.

He is all of these things and more, but if He is not REAL to you, if He is not a part of your life everyday, if He is not your friend, if He is not Lord of your life - then why do you celebrate Christmas?

Trees, and lights, presents and food do not make Christmas special. Jesus makes Christmas what it is. It is Him whom we honor and celebrate. It is cliche, but HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

Think about that as you join with friends and family, or even if you're alone. Jesus came to this earth as a babe, leaving His heavenly home, so He could save YOU. He loves you that much. Do you love Him in return?

Now lest you be sad for the rest of the day, I want to leave you with another song by Celtic Woman - The Carol of the Bells.

Merry Christmas!

This blog will be taking a break for the next week. Please join me after New Year's when I will be reviewing a few new books, sharing about my Christmas holiday, and getting back to a somewhat normal life. Lots of hugs to you all.

In Christ,

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book Review - The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

I have the awesome privilege of knowing Melanie Dickerson personally. When we first met, I made a concerted effort to read The Healer's Apprentice, her debut novel. It blew my mind. Imagine that - "I" know a published writer - a good writer - no, an excellent writer. Yippee!!! I could hardly wait for The Merchant's Daughter.

Sometimes the anticipation outweighs the actually experience, but that was not the case with this book. Her writing met and surpassed that of her debut novel.

The sense of duty Annabel feels toward her family comes through in her actions, not just her words. Her love of people and God is also revealed one deed at a time.

Book blurb:
An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

Sometimes the simplest reviews are the best. Read this book. You can't help but be blessed by Melanie's retelling of the classic tale, Beauty and the Beast.

My daughter, age 13, also read The Merchant's Daughter and she says, "I liked the book very much. It helps you remember that God turns things out for the better when you trust in Him."

Both The Healer's Apprentice and The Merchant's Daughter are available for $1.99 for Kindle for an unknown time frame. Get your copy now.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22nd, 21 years ago...

...I woke up single. I was young and in love. I think I slept pretty good...I don't remember.  I do remember being up early. The wedding was scheduled to start at 2:00 pm. I wanted to go to the hairdresser beforehand, so I could have plenty of time to get to the church and make sure everything was ready.

We were doing this thing ourselves. No money for anything. I borrowed the dress - GASP. The church was predecorated with poinsettias. Family made and brought most of the food for the reception. We bought the flowers (fake), and the cake. We paid for the church, which is where I had been attending before we met. We paid for the organist, who played regularly at said church. It was all done on the CHEAP. I was working full-time as a secretary (administrative assistant) and he was going to school full-time and working part-time (and still making more money than me).

Anyway I went to the hairdresser and horror of horrors I let that lady talk me into a perm. How stupid! It turned out okay, but I don't suggest EVER getting a perm the day of your wedding.

The day progressed. I don't remember much really. I have pictures to remind me. :) 

Things I do remember:
  • We started promptly at 2:00 pm and people walked in behind me.
  • My maid of honor, Tammie, dropped the ring and it rolled down the steps.
  • We finished promptly at 2:15 pm.
  • My father, in ill-health, left before the reception was over.
  • Someone, I think Richard's uncle, threw birdseed down my dress as we were leaving.
  • Birdseed also got stuck in the seatbelt of the car and we had to fix it before we could leave.  :)
One thing that I didn't realize: I rocked back and forth on my feet during the entire ceremony. I have it on video. It's hilarious.

Here is a picture of our wedding party. From left to right: Jennifer, Brenda, Tammie, myself (obviously), Richard, Johnny, John and Robbie.

 Oh, to be that skinny again.

If you're married, what amusing thing do you remember from your wedding? If you're single, share about someone else's wedding (just don't tell us their names, we want to protect their dignity...LOL).

Blessed beyond measure,


Monday, December 19, 2011

God is EXTRAordinary

Yesterday in church I had the awesome privilege of hearing a sermon by John Bevere. He spoke about the extraordinary GRACE of God. You can find the whole sermon here, just look on the right side and click on the one with John Bevere's name.

Today I want to take it one step further and just chat with you about the extraordinary-ness (writer's prerogative to make up a word at will) of God, our Father.

Mr. Bevere explained to us that extraordinary means to go beyond the usual and that it's antonyms were normal, and ordinary. Let me say that again - the OPPOSITE of extraordinary is normal. He went on to say that God does not want us to have a "normal" life, but to have an extraordinary life full of the power of HIS grace.

Well I think God showed us just how extraordinary he wanted our life to be in His creation. Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon. Pictures can not possibly do it justice. It is magnificent.

But let's go smaller than a canyon created when God flooded the earth because of man's sinfulness. What about trees. How many varieties of trees are there? Many will say "man" has made the majority of those varieties, but God had to have had His hand in it. How else could man do anything? "Without Him I can do NOTHING." (emphasis mine) A quick Google search netted me a page that says there could be close to 100,000 species of trees. One-hundred thousand. That's not the number of trees, but types of trees. Astounding. Look at the Crepe Myrtle in the picture closely. What do you see? Leaves, flowers, branches. But what about all that you don't see? The water traveling inside those branches. The roots beneath the ground ferreting out nutrients.

Now let's turn to a sunset. Brilliant colors all mixed from a palette made by God's own hand. Yes, you can tell me it's from the sun reflecting on this, that, or the other, but I'm going to tell you that it's there by the hand of our EXTRAordinary God.

The water cycle - rain, vapor, clouds, then rain again. EXTRAordinary.

I have tons of pictures of God's EXTRAordinary-ness. Many I've posted here before. Others I'll post at another time. What I want you to see in what I've posted today is that God has made creation EXTRAordinary because He is EXTRAordinary.

One more example and I think it the best of them all. A child.

During this season, we celebrate the birth of a special child - Jesus, the Messiah (Christ). If you celebrate any form of Christmas, you celebrate his birth. But what of ordinary children? How are they special? Let's consider these facts, which I found in numerous places, but took from here.

  • Heartbeat by day 21
  • By week 7, organs are forming, blood type is established, eyes are forming
  • Week 8: hands and feet are visible, baby moves around inside the amniotic sac
  • By week 20, fingernails and toenails are formed, baby recognizes its mothers voice
  • Weeks 38-40 - baby is considered full-term, lungs are mature
Forty weeks. That's all it takes. Is man responsible for this EXTRAordinary creation? No. We are privileged to take part. The responsibility of caring for this miniature "image of God" rests on our shoulders, but we can not claim responsibility for his or her perfection. Each finger and toe in the right place. Eyes and ears and nose. Arms and legs. Even if everything is not as it should be, children (ALL children) are a blessing of our EXTRAordinary God. They are here for us to love, even if some are only among us for a short time. 

How can you doubt the EXTRAordinary-ness of such a God?

Many blessings,

Friday, December 16, 2011

"A Christmas Singing" by Cindy Woodsmall

Heartwarming. Inspiring. A story of true, self-sacrificing love that breaks your heart and mends it again. I took a few moments from my day to read this story, but those few moments ended up being the few hours needed to complete it. It drew me in and I didn't want to put it down. 

Mattie's life is turned upside down when Gideon breaks her heart. She finds stability with Sol and loves running her own cake shop, but then her world is turned upside down again and she struggles to find her cherished stability. Ms. Woodsmall inspires us to feel what Mattie feels, to go through her pain, and heartache, but she also takes us through her anticipation and joy.

You can also read the first chapter here.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, Multnomah is offering 30% off with free shipping. Use the promo code CHRISTMAS11 at their site. This coupon expires December 20th, 2011, so hurry.


Thursday, December 15, 2011


I haven't posted much in a while on personal matters. Not much time. Those people in the picture up there, they take a lot of time, but aren't they a good-looking bunch?

School this year has busted my chops and I'm not even actively involved with the oldest two. What takes so long? I'm truly not sure. I check schoolwork - there is a lot of that. I answer questions. Then half the day is gone.

I'm also working on a new book, while editing another. Here's the first few sentences on my newest work in progress - set in 16th century Scotland:

Neva Mackinnon flitted in and out of the trees. The branches and vines pulled on her clothes. The rocks and twigs cut at her bare feet. Her pursuer followed with the speed and agility of no man she had ever encountered. She lifted her skirts a little higher. She must go faster. Her knowledge of the woods would be her only advantage. Her heart pounded in time with her feet.

What do you think? Is it something you might be interested in reading? Not enough information? Sorry, you'll just have to wait, or volunteer to critique it for me when I get it finished - I don't want anyone reading it before I'm done with the rough draft.

What else is happening? Christmas, of course. There's presents to purchase and wrap. The older the children get the harder they are to buy for. *sigh* What exactly do you buy 18 and 20 year old sons?

Our church is in the process of moving. We will have a "family" service in our new building January 1st, and then a community wide open house type service January 8th. We're excited to see what God is going to do.

Thank God for time off.  :-)

Many blessings,


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Lord is my Shepherd

I'm a little late with this today, but I pray it will still be a blessing to you.

Probably the most well-known Psalm of all declares the LORD is my shepherd. Let's read it.

Psalm 23 (NLT)

A psalm of David.
 1 The Lord is my shepherd;
      I have all that I need.
 2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
      he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    3 He renews my strength.
   He guides me along right paths,
      bringing honor to his name.
 4 Even when I walk
      through the darkest valley,
   I will not be afraid,
      for you are close beside me.
   Your rod and your staff
      protect and comfort me.
 5 You prepare a feast for me
      in the presence of my enemies.
   You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
      My cup overflows with blessings.
 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
      all the days of my life,
   and I will live in the house of the Lord

While verses 2-6 are a beautiful picture of all the Lord provides, for today I would like to focus only on verse one.

"The Lord is my shepherd." What does that mean? What does a shepherd do? I did a little research on the web and this job description caught my attention. I've adjusted the list slightly for the purposes of this blog. To see the complete list, visit this site.

  • Feed and water livestock; and monitor food and water supplies.
  • Clean stalls, and pens using brushes, and shovels.
  • Inspect, maintain, and repair pens, yards, and fences.
  • Examine animals to detect illness, injury, or disease, and to check physical characteristics, such as rate of weight gain.
  • Herd livestock to pastures for grazing
  • Mark livestock to identify ownership.
  • Provide medical treatment, such as administering medications
  • Shift animals between grazing areas to ensure that they have sufficient access to food.
  • Patrol grazing lands.
  • Protect herds from predators.
Wow, that's alot (and I cut the list in half). It never occurred to me how much a shepherd really does, most of it going unnoticed.

Let's start with food and water... does not verse 5 cover the Lord's care for our nutritional needs. In America, we live in a land of "more than enough" and sometimes too much.

Cleaning up after our messes: How many times has the Lord rescued you from a mess you've made?

Boundaries: Do we not know the line between right and wrong? Is it not written in our hearts, even as very young children? Only society, education, or our own hard heart blurs that line.

Examine: Does God not see our hearts? feel our hurts?

Herd: Has God ever whispered to your heart that you should go to this place? You should worship at this church? You should work at this job? He's herding you - guiding you in the place you should go.

Marking ownership: Has He not written His word on our heart? Has He not claimed us as His own?

Healing: Is He not our great physician? Check out my blog God as my Healer

Shifting us: Have you ever found yourself going in the wrong direction, even if it's only slightly? God gently nudges us to move back on to the path He has designed for us to take.

Patrol: He's ever on the watch for dangers to us. He has sent his angels to minister to us.

Protection: The biggest protection ever: Jesus. He fought the war and won it for us when He died on the cross, and defeated Satan by rising from the dead. He protected us from eternal separation from God. I also believe that each day His hand is about us, guarding us from that which would be detrimental to what He has planned for us.

The second half of verse 1 states, "I have all that I need." What do you need? Not what do you WANT, but what do you NEED? Shelter, transportation, food. Basics of our society, but do you need them? Will they sustain you when time gets tough? Will they be there through trials? Will they love you, protect you, guide you? I think David had all he needed because the Lord was His shepherd.

Truly, Jesus is all I need.

I've asked some tough questions. I pray that you ponder them in your hearts and allow them to change you and make you better.

God Bless You on this Lord's Day.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Shadows on the Sand" by Gayle Roper

Wow, I enjoyed this book so much. I love a good romantic suspense and this had romance and suspense in abundance. The writing was well-done; the characters created believable; and the settings described perfectly. I sat on the edge of my seat, laughed, and cried. You'll devour it, no doubt, just as I did.

She serves him breakfast at her café every morning … but he never seems to notice her.

Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

Please click the link below to purchase this book and support this blog.
Shadows on the Sand

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Sweet Fragrance

Forgive me if I'm introspective this morning. I tend to get that way when I don't get a good night's sleep.
This morning I was reading 2 Corinthians 2. Verse 15 mentions us being a sweet fragrance of Christ.  But what is a sweet fragrance?
The dictionary defines fragrance as the act of being fragrant - that's not particularly helpful. How about fragrant? It means having a pleasant scent or aroma; sweet-smelling; or delightful; pleasant.
It seems to me that you can't be a fragrance of Christ, if you aren't "sweet" smelling.
So, again, what is a sweet fragrance or more specifically, what would God consider a sweet fragrance? 
  • our obedience
  • our love
  • our praise
  • our service
These are just the first ones that come to mind. I could give Bible verses to back them up, but you all know each one is true.

Back to 2 Corinthians.  Our sweet fragrance of Christ is actually to be for those around us. How can we be a sweet fragrance to them? As I sit and consider this, I think it changes for each person. Some like gifts, others prefer service, and still others want/need something different, but all want and need our love. And not just our human efforts, but the love only God can show them through us.

But to be honest when I read this verse my first thoughts weren't on how beautiful smelling the "church" is. My first thought was that God must be holding his nose. We stink. How often do we go about our way without showing love to our fellow man/woman? How often do we grumble and complain? How often do we sin against someone and never ask his or her forgiveness? How often do we cause pain in the name of God?

Do you notice that I didn't write YOU in those sentences, but WE. I am just as guilty as the next person.

To be a sweet fragrance - God help me.

What other ways do you think we can be a sweet fragrance to God and to those around us?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review

I had the privilege of receiving three books (a trilogy) by Darlene Franklin recently. I must apologize to her for the tardiness in writing these reviews. Originally, I waited for "Knight Music" to be released, and then I just forgot.

I enjoyed each one and found amazing insights.

"Romanian Rhapsody"

Haunted by the orphans she met in Romania, Carrie Randolph returns to work in an orphanage. Soon she finds herself mothering five toddlers full-time and dreaming of adopting one of them when her two-year mission is finished. Steve Romero's wife and son died in tragic circumstances in Romania, and he struggles to put the past behind him. When he decides to adopt a child, he returns to Romania and the orphanage where Carrie works - breaking her heart when he chooses Viktor, her favorite. Will Carrie trust God to fulfill her dreams in His time? Can Steve let go of grief and learn to love again?

This was an amazing book. I cried with Steve and Carrie, but I laughed with them as well. It breaks my heart to know that there are children in orphanages all over the world who don't have people to love them.

It taught me that when bad things happen - death, disappointment, etc - it can be turned for the good by God. I don't believe He causes the bad things to happen, but He can take them and make them what works for our best. He takes our weeping and turns it into joy.


Homeless and jobless, Michelle Morris visits her friend Carrie in Denver to find a new job. She quickly envies Carrie's married life and wishes she could have a happily-ever-after of her own. What she doesn't realize is her knight in shining armor is about to sweep her off her feet - and love is much more complicated than she imagined.

Joe Knight lives by a code of chivalry and honor. As he spends more time with Michelle, he wants to protect her, fight her battles for her. He wants to be her strong knight, but feels more like a bungling squire. Does he have what it takes to be the man Michelle needs?

As their picture-perfect romance starts to hit reality, can Michelle and Joe overcome life's obstacles and find a love that truly ends in happily ever after?

From "Plainsong" I learned that sometimes we struggle to do what we think is the right thing when in reality it has taken us from the path God intended us to follow. We all traipse down "rabbit trails" once in a while, but we must always be willing to change directions when we realize we're going the wrong way.

"Knight Music"

Following a scandal in the family business, Ty Knight finds himself in Ulysses, Colorado, trying to rebuild his own self-image - and how his family sees him. His convoluted plan for a glorious return begins to unravel, however, as he gets to know the people around him. What once seemed a harmless adventure becomes personal as he realizes the damage he caused.

Sonia Oliveira has come to Ulysses to regroup after most of her artwork was stolen from a friend's art gallery. She needs to rebuild - her collection of art, as well as her confidence and emotional well-being.

Will and unexpected confession destroy the tenuous steps toward recovery she's made? What can Ty do to curb the widening repercussions from his foolish plan? As danger draws closer, will either of them let go enough to let God work, or will they insist on going it alone?

I found this book to be refreshing. I struggled with Sonia when she couldn't create, and felt like a failure. I also cheered for Ty as he admitted his sin. The message from this book was simple. No matter how bad our past, God will forgive us when we ask.

If you are interested in purchasing these books, click on the appropriate book name to follow a link to Amazon. In doing so, you will be supporting this blog.
Romanian Rhapsody
Knight Music - not yet available

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jesus is the TRUTH

John 14:6

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" defines truth as:
1. the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. the state or character of being true.
5. actuality or actual existence.
If we are to be like Jesus, then we must be truthful. And yet, how many times do we tell "white" lies? We can justify it to ourselves by saying that it's not hurting anyone, but do you really know that.
My husband and I decided early on in our parenting that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the tooth fairy were not going to be perpetrated as real people to our children. Those are just little white lies that don't hurt anyone right? But what if your child thinks to himself, "If Mom/Dad said their was a Santa and there's not, then maybe there's not a Jesus either."? That has eternal consequences.
What is your response (and mine) to the question, "How are you?" Mine is usually, "Fine," or "Good" even when I'm not. But then the person asking typically doesn't care anyway, right? Why not just answer truthfully? "I'm a bit tired," or "I've had a rough week," or even "It's been great." There's no need to expound, but there's no reason to put on the mask of perfection when that's just not the case.
Life is short. Don't waste it being untruthful. God despises liars. Don't let him think of you that way.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Names of God Meme

If you have been following my Names of God Meme, please know that I didn't forget yesterday. I have decided to move it to Sunday.