Sunday, December 30, 2012

Unclaimed Legacy by Deborah Heal ~ Free on Kindle




Unclaimed Legacy by Deborah Heal

5.0 out of 5 stars Simulated trip of a lifetime!, October 7, 2012
By Robyn Campbell  

This review is from: Unclaimed Legacy (Paperback)
Merrideth (Merri) and Abby have come across a remarkable computer program that was installed on Merrideth's computer. So now they can make a simulated trip back into time to see how life was for the people who lived there. . .

This book is beautifully written and extraordinarily fun and exciting to read. Deborah plops us right into the story with her vivid descriptions and strong characterizations. I fell in love with all of the characters and felt as though I knew Merrideth and Abby personally. John is utterly awesome and I wholeheartedly recommend you read both of these super fantastic stories.

See all the Amazon reviews here.


If you thought the reviews of Unclaimed Legacy (book two) sounded good but you never got around to buying it for your Kindle, good news! Procrastination pays off. Unclaimed Legacy will be

free for Kindle January 12-16.

But wait! If you order in the next 20 minutes… Just kidding. But I do have a special deal to go along with the upcoming free Kindle days. Order book one in the trilogy, Time and Again from my website for a limited time for only $9.99 (includes shipping). I’ll send your signed copy right out so you can read it before you get book two. Go here to order.

Still not sure? Click here to read chapter one of Time and Again.  

Putting Your Faith in Action by Nick Vujicic


Putting Your Faith in Action by Nick Vujicic

Having faith, beliefs, and convictions is a great thing, but your life is measured by the actions you take based upon them. You can build a great life around those things you believe and have faith in. I’ve built mine around my belief that I can inspire and bring hope to people facing challenges in their lives. That belief is rooted in my faith in God. I have faith that He put me on this earth to love, inspire, and encourage others and especially to help all who are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I believe that I can never earn my way to heaven, and by faith I accept the gift of the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus. However, there’s so much more than just “getting in” through the Pearly Gates. It is also about seeing others changed by the power of His Holy Spirit, having a close relationship with Jesus Christ throughout this life, and then being further rewarded in heaven.

Being born without arms and legs was not God’s way of punishing me. I know that now. I have come to realize that this “disability” would actually heighten my ability to serve His purpose as a speaker and evangelist. You might be tempted to think that I’m making a huge leap of faith to feel that way, since most people consider my lack of limbs a huge handicap. Instead, God has used my lack of limbs to draw people to me, especially others with disabilities, so I can inspire and encourage them with my messages of faith, hope, and love.
In the Bible, James said that our actions, not our words, are the proof of our faith. He wrote in James 2:18, “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ ”

I’ve heard it said that our actions are to our faith and beliefs as our bodies are to our spirits. Your body is the housing of your spirit, the evidence of its existence. In the same way, your actions are the evidence of your faith and beliefs. You have no doubt heard the term “walking the talk.” Your family, friends, teachers, bosses, coworkers, customers, and clients all expect you to act and live in alignment with the beliefs and convictions that you claim to have. If you don’t, they will call you out, won’t they?

Our peers judge us not by what we say but by what we do. If you claim to be a good wife and mother, then you sometimes will have to put your family’s interests above your own. If you believe your purpose is to share your artistic talents with the world, then you will be judged on the works you produce, not on those you merely propose. You have to walk the talk; otherwise you have no credibility with others—or with yourself—because you, too, should demand that your actions match your words. If they don’t, you will never live in harmony and fulfillment.

As a Christian, I believe the final judge of how we’ve lived is God. The Bible teaches that His judgment is based on our actions, not our words. Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” I act upon my beliefs by traveling the world and encouraging people to love one another and to love God. I am fulfilled in that purpose. I truly believe it is why I was created. When you act upon your beliefs and put your faith into action, you, too, will experience fulfillment. And please, do not be discouraged if you aren’t always absolutely confident in your purpose and how to act upon it. I have struggled. I still struggle. And so will you. I fail and am far from perfect. But deeds are merely the fruit—the result of the depth of a true conviction of the truth. Truth is what sets us free, not purpose. I found my purpose because I was looking for truth.

It is hard to find purpose or good in difficult circumstances, but that is the journey. Why did it have to be a journey? Why couldn’t a helicopter just pick you up and carry you to the finish line? Because throughout the difficult times, you will learn more, grow more in faith, love God more, and love your neighbor more. It is the journey of faith that begins in love and ends in love.

Frederick Douglass, the American slave turned social activist, said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome. Your courage grows when you face your fears. Your strength and your faith are built as they are tested in your life experiences.

Adapted from Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


Crossing Values by Carrie Daws ~ GIVEAWAY

About Book 

For years, Amber traipsed around the Northwest avoiding the skeletons in her closet. Job-hopping every few weeks, she refused to let anyone get close to her as she slowly made her way east. As winter plants itself firmly across the Rockies, she decides to take a chance on a job at a logging company with a family different from any she’s ever known before. Watching the family interact creates more questions than answers for Amber. Feeling like she’s entered the happily-ever-after written at the end of a fairytale, she watches for cracks in the facade. Surely as the days pass, the play-acting will cease and the real family will emerge. Or could she be wrong? Could they truly be genuine? Could Faye understand the trauma from her past or Peter think of her as more than just the winter office help? Could this family really hold the key to what she’s seeking?

A 7-day Devotional for Crossing Values here.
Read Excerpt: Chapter OneChapter Two

Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

About Carrie
 Over the years, God rewrote Carrie’s dreams to include being a stay-at-home mom and a writer. She started by writing weekly devotions online before a mentor at the Christian Writer’s Guild encouraged her to try fiction.
After almost ten years in the military, Carrie’s husband medically retired and they now live in central North Carolina with their three children. Besides writing fiction novels, she stays busy with homeschooling, working part time, and volunteering within two military ministries.
More than anything, Carrie strives to write clean fiction, happily-ever-after romance stories that gently demonstrate practical Christianity. She says, “I didn’t want to be embarrassed for my young daughter to pick up any of my books. But I also wanted to do some exploration. Imagine what your life would look like if you stood up to your greatest fear. Or if you had a support system that strengthened your weak spots. Or someone close to you deeply believed you were made for more! That’s what I want to write about.”
Carrie's Website: http://carriedaws.com/

GIVEAWAY
Win a Paperback Copy of 
CROSSING VALUES by Carrie Daws
 1 Winner
Just leave a comment with your email.
(I need your email to contact you if you are the winner)
Ends Sunday, January 6th, 2013
Winner announced on Monday, Jan. 7th, 2013


My Thoughts


Amber has been running from her past for years. She never stays in one place. It is as if something or someone is chasing. 

When she hits the Rockies right in the middle of winter she decides to find a job and wait out old man winter.  She is offered not only job but room and board working for a logging company. She will be helping out the owner wife in the office. It was much more than she had ever expected. This family was a merry bunch and it was very evident that God was the center of their lives. The couple had several grown children  with one of their sons living at home. Amber at first just sat back and watched and learned as much as she could about the family. She thought they were just too good to be real. She was waiting for them to show their real selves. But the more time she lived and worked with them they were the real thing. A happy family. 

The son, Peter that lived at home saw something sad and tragic in Amber that made him want to reach out and give her comfort.  He talked to her about anything to get her to open up. 

What was Amber hiding? Was she in some kind of danger? Do you believe in Angels?

The author has written a heart wrenching story of loss, fear and reconciliation. This story made me cry, laugh and search my heart for my own fears. So many people for some reason or another may have pulled away from their families.  Reading this story will make you reconsidered your actions. 

I am looking forward to reading Ryan's Crossing, book 2 in this series

I highly recommend this book.

I rated this book a 5 out of 5.

Disclosure
I received a free copy of this book from Ambassador-Emerald International for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my own opinion.

If you found this review helpful vote yes or no here.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Starting the New Year with a Fresh Perspective by Mike Glenn




Starting the New Year with a Fresh Perspective 
by Mike Glenn
In the story of the prodigal son, Luke uses a curious phrase when the younger son realizes what he has lost and determines to go home. The King James Version translates the phrase, “He came to himself.” That phrase has always fascinated me. How do you come to yourself? Can you set yourself down somewhere and then forget where you left yourself? Actually, it is something like that. We can become so buried under mistakes and failure, stuffed under grief and regret, that we get to the place where we no longer recognize ourselves. But God’s “yes” changes all that. When the Spirit changes our true identity in Christ, we leave behind everything that is false and start walking toward the truth of Christ and who he created us to be.
Changing your mind
Walking away from the lies and destruction of sin is very close to the practical meaning of biblical repentance. It goes far beyond feeling bad about your sin—all the way to literally changing the direction of your life. And to change your life, you have to change the way you think. A change in your life’s direction means you stop fighting the current of God’s grace that flows in your spirit. Now you start flowing with the current of grace. As you reorient your life in the direction of God’s leading, you find your efforts are amplified through the Spirit’s presence in the same way an ocean current enhances the work of a ship’s sails.
When we talk about Christian conversion, we emphasize feelings of conviction and a decision to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. But we don’t stress the essential role played by our thinking. The problem that results is we don’t change the way we think, so we end up not changing our behavior. For a total transformation of a person’s life, the mind as well as the heart must change. We live the way we do because we think the way we do. The mess is in our heads before it is in our lives, but it moves from the mind to daily life.
This changes when we ask Christ to renew our minds, to alter the way we think. We need to allow our minds to be completely transformed. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” When your mind is transformed, your life will follow.
I am not naive. I understand the lure of sin and the effectiveness of its deceptions. And I am familiar with the consequences of sin. I have sat with large numbers of people and listened as they recognized and talked through the harmful consequences of their actions. When the cost of their failures sinks in, it is devastating. A man’s infidelity cost him his wife and children. For a few minutes of pleasure, he traded away a future with his family. It takes only one incident to disrupt a friendship, a career, a family, a life. Lies are told, discovered, and confessed in tears, but how can a person regain trust? Sin looks good in the moment but only because it’s hiding the future consequences.
I’m convinced we don’t understand the total impact of salvation. We make it about feelings or a one-time decision to confess our sins and trust in Christ’s death and resurrection. But to live a new life, to be completely transformed, our salvation has to be about the total person, including our minds.
Changing your frame of reference
If in obedience to Christ we are going to make different choices, we have to adopt Christ’s way of looking at things. God will create a new mind in you and me, but we have to join willingly in the process. And part of thinking differently is letting go of old assumptions and preferences and accepting the preferences of God.
In Acts 10 we read the story of the early church hearing from God a “yes” that led to its dropping of ethnic barriers. A Roman centurion named Cornelius was praying, and in his prayers he was told to find a man named Peter. Peter, in the meantime, also was praying. In his prayers Peter saw a vision of a sheet holding all kinds of animals—and they weren’t kosher. Although Peter was told to kill and eat, he refused. Again the vision came, and again Peter refused to eat. Each time, Jesus confronted Peter with the following rebuke: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Only when Cornelius’s messengers appeared at his gate did Peter begin to understand the message of the vision. Nothing created by God, people most of all, can ever be called unclean.
God created Gentiles just as he did Jews, and no one—Gentiles included—was inferior to anyone else. God loves those outside the nation of Israel on a par with the descendants of Abraham. Having grown up under the influence of Jewish traditions and biases, Peter must have had difficulty processing this. But to his credit, he was obedient to Christ and changed the way he thought about these matters. And not just the way he thought, but his life and his preaching as well.
Free of condemnation
There are two reasons we should not condemn others or ourselves. First, we all are created in the image of God. And second, Christ died for sinners. This is the price God was willing to pay for our redemption. We are called to live in the glory of knowing what we are worth. And when we don’t, we damage ourselves, one another, and the world we live in. Sin devalues us as people and causes us to see others and all creation as lacking worth. Sin negates the good work Christ does in us and in the world. Where Christ speaks “yes,” sin says “no.”
We have things in our lives that cause shame or grief, and they act as a giant but to the good news of Christ. He promises us new life, which sounds great, but…“my family business went bankrupt after I misspent some accounts. I was going to pay it back, but then everything collapsed.” And suddenly we forget the promise of Christ. He promises forgiveness and second chances, but it’s hard to believe the second chance could still apply after the things we’ve done.
Why do we think that we alone committed a sin so horrible it exceeds Jesus’s ability to forgive? This kind of thinking is the ultimate heresy. What we are saying is the death of Jesus was payment enough for everyone else’s sins, but our sin is so monstrous that his death isn’t enough to cover it.
Let Christ change the way you think so you can let go of that lie. Jesus paid it all. No part of the debt has been left for you or me to pay by working hard to clean up our own lives. On our own we can’t get clean enough to impress God. Whatever we might try, we will always be unworthy of his love. The gift of God’s “yes” in Christ is unearned, given to us freely. Our relationship with God is not a contract; it is a covenant, a bond of mutual love and commitment. In this covenant the parties are not equal, but the arrangement is mutual. Christ died for us and offers us his salvation, and we accept what he did for us as a free gift—on his terms.
Christ opens the door; we need only to walk through it. We then live our lives in loving response to God’s grace expressed in Jesus. This is the mutual love and commitment of the covenant. Yet, for some reason, we have a hard time believing the gift of salvation is free. Who would give away something like that? So we think we have to earn it.
Adapted from The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Learning the Art of Self-challenge by Jason Jaggard



Learning the Art of Self-challenge by Jason Jaggard
Through taking healthy risks that make you a better person or the world a better place, you begin to develop a deeper appetite for good. At first it might not be very tasty. Taking even a small risk can be more difficult than it sounds. And that is why we have to practice. We have to develop the skill of challenging ourselves.
We want the act of making healthy choices to become a natural and authentic part of who we are. But before something can become a habit, it often is a hassle. Put another way: if we want new habits to become instinctual, then they must first be intentional. And in order for that to happen, we have to practice the sacred art of self-challenge.
I don’t want to freak you out, but what we’re really talking about is obedience. Obedience to God is the path that leads to Life. It’s the path that transforms you into the person you long to be.
And obedience always requires risk.
What’s amazing is that much of our obedience is instinctual. In at least some areas of life, we naturally make healthy choices. We naturally smile at a stranger, or perhaps we have a great work ethic or are naturally curious or easygoing.
Yet we can’t define obedience solely in terms of what comes naturally. Often our greatest moments of obedience come when it is least natural. Perhaps our natural tendency in certain situations is unhealthy or hurtful. Or perhaps what we naturally want to do is nothing, to avoid taking action when action is called for. In these moments we have to choose something else, something we don’t want to do, something that, most likely, will move us into the space of the unknown.
I want to be a person who is able to act—who is able to obey—even when it’s unnatural.
Intentionality and risk are the ways we develop a greater capacity to obey. When we say, “I’m going to do this thing that I wouldn’t normally do,” we are developing the capacity to grow into the people we were meant to be.
When Jesus invited people to follow Him, He was inviting them to obey Him. There are parts of you that already reflect God’s character, parts of your uniqueness that are expressions of something God wanted to say when He created you. Those are already consistent with following Jesus.
Maybe it’s your smile.
Maybe it’s your way with people.
Maybe it’s your work ethic.
Maybe it’s your sense of right and wrong.
Maybe it’s your intelligence or your curiosity for life.
Maybe it’s your sense of responsibility or your flare for fun.
These things are good just the way they are. It’s easy to obey when God calls us to things we naturally love. When God calls us to the stuff we already like (which happens a lot more than we realize), it’s one of the great pleasures of life.
Risk is the central narrative of the scriptures. When I do Spark Group trainings with faith communities, I always have participants do this exercise:
1. Pick any person in the scriptures that comes to mind.
2. Identify the risk God called that person to take.
This is surprisingly easy. And once people get going, it’s hard to get them to stop. Abraham: stopped living with his parents at age seventy and moved into no man’s land to start his own nation. Moses: even with a speech impediment, he stood up to the most powerful man in the world to liberate an enslaved people. Mary: endured the shame of people assuming she had been unfaithful to her fiancĂ©. Joseph: remained committed to a teenage girl, his fiancĂ©e, who in the eyes of their neighbors and extended family was almost certainly an adulteress.
Samson.
Ruth.
The apostle Paul.
Rahab.
The twelve fellas who quit their jobs to follow Jesus, most of whom were later killed for doing so.
The people whose stories are recorded in the history of the scriptures all took risks—often huge risks—to be a part of what God was doing in the world. It seems like a prerequisite for being mentioned in the narrative of the movement of God is the willingness and courage to risk.
Like God’s people throughout history, we can jump into life in ways that only we can so that God can move in ways we cannot. Call it faith if you want, but in terms of everyday life, it’s risk. And it’s through risk that God can change our lives.
Faith. Love. Hope.
Risk. Compassion. Optimism.
When we begin to live out these values, we create a context that is thick with potential. When we have the courage to take risks of compassion that produce optimism in others, we create space for God to move and work. We begin to form our souls into the kind of textured lives that gives God traction to guide us into the future He dreamed we could participate in. And we become fully alive.
This is what Jesus did two thousand years ago. He assembled a team and spent three years with them, throwing them into the deep end of serving humanity. Coaching them. Teaching them. And then He kept saying weird things, such as “Have faith in me and you will do greater things than what I have done.”
And then, before He turned His followers and friends loose to serve humanity on God’s behalf, He said: “Go, create cultures of servant leadership, of risk, compassion, and optimism out of every society.”
He looked into the eyes of folks like you and me and said, “Go.” Risk. Care. Create.
Just like the people you’ve read about in this book, you have ideas that need to be set free. God has placed potential inside you, potential for creative joy and love, strength and peace. And all of that needs to be unleashed.
So risk. Choose something. Do something. Partner together with God and others to pull off something beautiful that serves humanity. It will be hard. You will experience failure. But I promise, you will never regret it.
As Steven Ma put it: “It’s definitely a challenge. It’s definitely a risk. But most important: it’s fun.”
This is the way the world heals. It is the way God has chosen to move through the contours of history. He has chosen our hearts, our feet, our fingertips. Some people will hear God’s voice only if it sounds like ours, inviting them into the adventure of hope that we have been invited into.
This is how we spark our world. When we begin to realize that learning is a verb and that life is the best classroom. When we begin taking risks of compassion in the context of community. When we start intentionally leaning into our relationships, our careers, our faith. When we step outside of our comfort zones and experience a life that can exist only if God is with us.
Our world will begin to change.
One small risk at a time.
Adapted from Spark by Jason Jaggard with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Year: Dream Bigger, Start Smaller by Steven Furtick


This Year: Dream Bigger, Start Smaller by Steven Furtick
I’ve met a lot of people who knew what it was to burn plows and set out to live for God but didn’t know what to do next. They prayed, they made a commitment—and they got stuck. As a pastor, I’ve seen it over and over again. As a man trying to live for God, I’ve experienced it over and over again.
I’m guessing you’ve made plenty of resolutions about stuff you needed to start doing or stop doing. Maybe you were going to start praying or reading your Bible more.
Or maybe you were going to stop smoking or boycott carbohydrates or stop looking at pornography or stop saying mean things about family members behind their backs. Maybe you decided to break away from a relationship you knew was unhealthy for you.
The way I see it, there are two major reasons why well-intentioned people like us get stuck after we burn our plows.
One, we don’t think big enough. Two, we don’t start small enough.
I’m not trying to talk like Yoda here. Thinking big enough and starting small enough are two sides of the same coin. So I not only want to motivate you to dream bigger dreams for your life. I also want to challenge you to take realistic steps of obedience that can actually make God’s vision come to pass.
After all, our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). It is true that we often settle for dreams and visions that are far less than those God has for us. And He wants us to experience much more. If I didn’t believe that, the title of this book would beSamer.
So of course God wants you to believe big—it’s in His very nature. I’ve devoted my whole ministry to inspiring people with this truth. Preacher Dwight L. Moody made a statement that I love: “If God is your partner, make your plans big.” That way of thinking makes my heart race.
But we’re not going to see God’s bigger vision fulfilled in our lives just because we spend more time thinking transcendent thoughts. We don’t attain greater things simply by lying on the couch and concentrating on the possibilities of a better life. Alas, sitting for thousands of hours with my headphones on listening to Guns N’ Roses and imagining I was Axl Rose didn’t translate into my being the lead singer of the world’s most dangerous rock’n’roll band.
You do have to be willing to think big. But the active ingredient of God’s greater work through us is our willingness to start small.
I want to show you an incredible image in one of the first main-stage miracles Elisha performs after Elijah departs and leaves the ministry in his successor’s hands. It demonstrates the principle that small steps and hard work precipitate a move of God. That human action prepares the way for supernatural favor.
It comes from 2 Kings 3, and it goes like this:
King Joram is ruling over Israel during the years when the kingdom is divided. When the king of Moab rebels against him, the frightened king enlists King Jehoshaphat of Judah and the king of Edom to help him. Their combined military force should be fearsome against the Moabites—but they almost immediately run out of water for their armies and animals. Now they are preparing to face a terrifying foe while facing an even more terrifying fate: dying of thirst.
Par for the course in Israel’s history, the crisis drives King Joram to look for divine help. He isn’t desperate for God, but he is desperate for a solution. King Jehoshaphat asks if there is a prophet who could consult God for them. A servant reminds him of Elisha, the artist formerly known as Mr. Plow. So the three kings and their entourages go looking for Elisha.
Elisha confirms to the kings that water will flow from Edom by the time the sun comes up the next morning. Their armies and their animals will have plenty to drink. The drought is almost over. God is going to deliver Moab to His people just as they prayed for. Hallelujah, somebody?
But he tells the kings to take a small, ludicrous step first.
This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. (verse 16)
Why would anybody in their right mind dig ditches to hold rain that isn’t even in the forecast?
Because that’s the way faith works. When you know God has promised you greater things, you don’t wait for a sign to appear before you respond. The kings wanted a miracle. They would get their miracle. But first they got a work order: This is no time for the power of positive thinking. Tie a bandanna around your head and pick up a shovel.
It would have been great if all the army had to do was sit around thinking hydration-related thoughts or had a few guided exercises to help them visualize the water. But that’s not how God operates.
It’s as if God says, “If you really believe I’m going to do what I told you I would do, get busy. Show Me your faith, and then I’ll show you My faithfulness. Do your part. If you will do what I asked you to do, I will be faithful to My word.
“If you’ll dig the ditches, I’ll send the rain.”
The entire nation must have pitched in and dug all night, because they got it done. The next morning the water arrived. As promised. As always. The newly installed ditches were full of water, the armies and animals were refreshed, and the joint army easily overtook the Moabites.
I think Elisha used the process of ditch digging to teach Israel this important paradox of great faith:
Only God can send the rain. But He expects you to dig the ditches.
It really comes down to this: What small steps and practical preparations is God asking you to make for the greater life He wants you to live? What ditches is He asking you to dig?
You can’t expect God to entrust you with a big dream if He can’t trust you to make a small start.
You can’t have the apostle Paul’s walk with God overnight. Big dream.
But you can pray ten minutes a day beginning tomorrow. Small start.
You can’t entirely mend a broken relationship overnight. Big dream.
But you can have a conversation and open the door, write the letter, make the call, say, “I’m sorry.” Small start.
If your kid is far from God, you can’t bring him back overnight. Big dream.
But you could start praying for him every day. Small start.
Notice what Elisha doesn’t say; he doesn’t tell the kings to dig one ditch. No singular ditch digging on this prophet’s watch.
Instead, make this valley full of ditches. Plural.
Believe that God is going to send a lot of rain.
If we really believe God is an abundant God, ready and willing to bless our lives in greater ways than we could ever imagine, we ought to be digging all kinds of ditches. In our relationships. In our careers. In our ministries. In every area of our lives, there ought to be heavy-duty equipment on site. Moving dirt. Making preparation.
And we ought to dig ditches using every means available. We can dig ditches with our words. With our prayers. With our expectations. Even with our thoughts.
How many ditches are you willing to dig? How deep will you dig them? You’re not digging alone. And it’s not in vain. God has a downpour scheduled in your near future. The deeper you dig, the greater the rainfall has the potential to be.
Adapted from Greater by Steven Furtick with permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Resolve to Love by Kerry and Chris Shook


Resolve to Love 
By Kerry and Chris Shook


Right now, there are three relationships in your life that trouble you. Perhaps a good friend said something to you yesterday. It felt critical, but you’re not sure what she meant. The two of you used to be so close, but lately you’ve been drifting apart. Something’s not right. Oh, and your mother called. There’s that. You know you should return her call, but you haven’t. Why? You know there are things you should have said before, you avoided them, and now you feel it’s too late. It’s always so hard with her. Always messy. And then...your son has been missing. Not missing physically, but he’s been distant, quiet, silent. Missing emotionally. What’s that about? What’s going on in his life? You want to reach out, but he pushes you away. It worries you.

Maybe the relationships in your life aren’t exactly like these, but I’m guessing these remind you of someone close to you, a problem relationship in your life right now. Maybe it’s not your mother but your father, perhaps not your son but a daughter-in-law. It could be your best friend. Whoever it is, he or she is someone who matters to you—or else the relationship wouldn’t trouble you, gnaw at you on the inside, make you question and grumble, or even bring you to tears.

So take a moment and think, who are these three key people in your life? Which meaningful relationships are troubling you? Relationships you wish were closer. Relationships you’d like to be deeper and richer. Relationships that trouble you, bother you, even make you a little crazy right now.

Seriously, think about it. Who are they? And now take a moment to name these three key relationships out loud.

Trust me, this is important for you. In fact, this may be the most significant thing you do in your life right now. Why?

Because life is way too short. At the end of the day—at the end of The Day—in this all-too-short life we share, all that really matters is relationships. Our relationships with the God who created us and with the people we love. Compared to these relationships, the job or career goals we set now aren’t really so important, the ladders we try to climb don’t matter so much, and the objects we long to own and possess seem utterly trivial.

What really counts in the end is that special knowing look you share with your spouse, the arms of your child reaching up to you, or the quiet comfort of a friend who stands by your side in a difficult time.

The award-winning animated movie Up contains some profound truths about relationships. In a breathtaking sequence early in the film, we see the entire arc of the life of Carl, a balloon salesman, as he meets Ellie, falls in love, and gets married. They share a dream to travel to South America and save every penny for their big trip. But there’s something familiar about the way their savings are constantly being used for the urgencies and emergencies of daily life. Before Carl and Ellie know it, they’re in their seventies, and although they have a beautiful marriage, they never realized their dream adventure.

Ellie dies, and Carl is overwhelmed with regret about the trip they never took. In a desperate attempt to escape loneliness and recapture memories of Ellie, Carl attaches a bunch of balloons to his house and sets out for South America! You begin to realize as the movie progresses that this dream trip they were saving for, this object of their future plan together, wasn’t really that important after all. The real adventure was the life they shared along the way.

The same is true for us: the adventure of a lifetime is right in front of us. It’s just cleverly disguised as a familiar face.

Think about the possible loss of the relationship with one of those three people you named. You can’t do anything about death and the physical departure of one of them from this earth. That’s in God’s hands.
But you can do something about your relationship with them in life.

Much of what you’ve been told about relationships is upside down and wrong.
Researchers tell us that a baby sees everything upside down for the first few days of life until the brain can adjust the visual picture to right side up. Most relationships today are stuck in this same infant stage; we tend to see relationships upside down, and our culture only reinforces this view. The concept of love at first sight permeates our music, movies, television, and books. What we learn as children and continue to believe as adults is that a fairy-tale relationship somehow just happens. Now, I’m not bashing romance, but meaningful relationships depend on seeing other people as they are and looking at them right side up. Real love—whether romantic love, a close friendship, or a family relationship—happens long after first sight. It shows up as people get to know each other more deeply and often after they work through tough things together. Real love in relationships isn’t a magic act; it’s a journey. When people say, “It was love at first sight,” what they really mean is “I was attracted to that person the first time I saw them.” There is nothing wrong with being infatuated with someone at the start of a relationship. The real question, however, is, do you have a love that is growing stronger and deeper every day?

I don’t believe in love at first sight; I believe in love at last sight. Each of my relationships has the potential to be better the next time we’re together than it was the previous time so that the last time we see each other on this earth we’re closer than ever before.

I’d like you to join me in the Lasting Love Relationship Challenge. The book One Month to Love is the challenge, and you can do it on your own. Just read a chapter each day. There are thirty chapters, they’re short, and you can probably read one a day pretty easily. At the end of each chapter you’ll find the Lasting Love Relationship Challenge, which is designed to help you take the insights from that day and apply them to your key relationships. Also you can log on to onemonthtolove.com each day to access our personal coaching and get extra encouragement and advice or share your story. Our goal is to come alongside you to help you create the very best relationships possible. Let’s resolve to love this year!

Adapted from One Month to Love by Kerry and Chris Shook with permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 24, 2012

November New Releases Winner!



MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM CLASH OF THE TITLES!!
May your days be merry, bright, and filled with Christ's love.



The winner of  the  Clash of the Titles  November New Releases Clash is:


Southern Fried Christmas by Marian Merritt.

A hearty congratulations to Marian!


Her novel takes the honors but it went up against some formidable  competitors:

Betrayal on the Border by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Take the Trophy and Run by Gail Sattler
The Q Manifesto by Alan Schleimer
A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, CA by Erica Vetsch

Thanks to all for showing up and playing with COTT this week.

About Southern Friend Christmas :

Love: purer than Colorado snow, 
deeper than a Louisiana bayou.

The Colorado Rockies have always been home to journalist Kelly Shepherd, but after the death of her father, and facing her first Christmas alone, she accepts an assignment that leads her deep into Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Since his wife’s death, Denny Labouve has focused his attention on his ten-year-old daughter and the family business, but Kelly sparks the dying embers of his heart even as a Christmas cold front moves through his beloved Cajun country.

Will Denny and Kelly be able to trust God to bridge the span between the Colorado Rockies and the Louisiana bayou?

What our readers said about Marian's book:


* Such a FUN cover - and a Cajun hero...be still my heart! :)

* Wowsers, you're really making me pick between southern fried and saving the world?

* They all sound like fun, but the Cajun interest won my attention! Good choice of setting Marian.

What reviewers are saying about the book:

"Marian Merritt is a ‘new to me’ author that has landed straight onto my ‘to buy list’ for subsequent releases. I can’t wait to read more from this talented author who has a beautiful way of capturing scene, setting, and dialogue. I felt like I was in N’Orleans for Christmas when I read her novella, Southern Fried Christmas (how awesome is that title?!?). Love lost, love found, and starting life anew form the backdrop of the story – and it’s one I highly recommend."

--Marianne Evans author of Devotion, Finding Home, and Hearts Key, 
Hearts Communion, Hearts Surrender, Hearts Crossing, and a previous COTT champ!!

Get to know Marian better through this fun interview on Inkwell Inspirations: 


About Marian:




Marian Pellegrin Merritt grew up in a rural community south of New Orleans, Louisiana. Her love for the written word began while sitting on her grandparent’s front porch swing reading books.

Her desire to write about the south keeps her grounded in her roots and the hope that one day she can do for someone what many of the authors of her childhood did for her.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and hones her writing skills by attending writer’s conferences and reading many books on the craft of writing.

Southern Fried Christmas is Marian’s debut novella. She writes from her NW Colorado home that she shares with her husband and a Labradoodle, named Chili. To learn more about Marian and get recipes from her book, visit her website at: www.marianmerritt .com and
follow her blog at: www.marianmerritt .blogspot. com


Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Bridesmaid ~ Home to Hickory Hollow Series ~ Written by Beverly Lewis

About Book

Twenty-four-year-old Joanna Kurtz is so far proving the adage “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” Yet despite appearances, she has a beau who is secretly courting her from afar.

Eben Troyer hopes to make Joanna his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet Eben's hopes to build a life with Joanna hinge on his brother's return from the English world. Will her hidden passion for writing and his responsibilities to his family keep them forever apart?



Where to Purchase




About Author

Beverly Marie Jones (Lewis) was born in the heart of Amish country—Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the tender age of nine, she began writing short stories and poetry. Prior to that, she made up lyrics to the "little fingers" piano pieces she learned, at the age of five.

 "My mother saved everything I wrote, even the stories I dreamed up during my grade school years," Beverly says.

One such tale is semi-autobiographical, about a young girl whose parents can no longer afford to give her piano lessons. The manuscript was 77 pages long and titled "She Shall Have Music," penned under the shade of a lone willow tree. "Reading, writing, and playing piano have been top three on my list of favorite things," she says.

Not until her own children were well into middle school did Beverly seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular Cul-de-Sac Kids series of chapter books—see list of Bev's children's books).

Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, The Heritage of Lancaster County, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

Asked if she is surprised by the popularity of her work, Lewis says, "The sales response for my work is astonishing, but even more heartwarming are thousands of letters a year pouring in from readers." Fans describe how her books have "touched a nerve, creating a curiosity about the Old Ways of the Amish... a yearning for a simpler life and return to traditional values in the mainstream society, where an impersonal, high-tech lifestyle reigns paramount," she explains. Beverly still takes time out of her busy schedule to answer her readers' letters.

Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Beverly's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and spending time with their family. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."

Author's website: http://www.beverlylewis.com/








My Thoughts

Joanna Kurtz wonders if she will always be a bridesmaid at a wedding.  She prays that is not to be her fate.  She does not want to be a Maidel, she would love to have a husband and children.  But wants to marry for love not for the sake of marriage alone.  

While attending a funeral out of town she meets Eben Troyer, a young Amish man close to her age.  They spent time together visiting, sharing and talking.  There was definitely a strong attraction between the two of them.  Then it was time for each to go home to their own towns.  They wrote letters and once a week they would talk on the phone.  Eben wanted to court Joanna but he had commitments to his parents and their farm.  Joanne had also committed to her church and was sure she would not get permission to transfer her membership. Even her sister was fast to point this out.

How will this young couple overcome the barriers they face to church and family?  So many obligations and  restrictions. 

The book brought out the importance of family and church.  Prayer and reading scripture in search of God's will and His plan was foremost for this young couple.  They definitely had to endured with patience.  

This author always has a life's lesson in her writings.  As long as you are open to the Word it can be applied to your daily life.

I highly recommend this book.

I rated this book a 4 out of 5.

Disclosure
I received a free copy of this book from Baker Publishing/Bethany House for review.  I was in no way compensated for this review.  It is my own opinion.

If you found this review helpful vote yes or no here.