Eyes to See

Dark clouds twirl as news of another shooting in this country hit my ears.

“What can be done, Lord,” my heart cries. “What is going on?!”

Man against man. What is it that creates such a deep, dark hatred for one breathing soul to want to take a life of another breathing soul.

In the beginning God created.

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

In his own image.

In his own image.

Created by God. Every human. Created in HIS image.

What are we doing, Lord?

What would you have me do, Lord?

May you give me eyes to see what you see in every living soul. The person you love. The hurt in the heart  – the heart you created. Help me to see . . .

The living at work.

The living at play.

The living at home.

The living when it isn’t pretty.

The living masking pain.

Amen. Give me eyes to see the living as you see and love, dear Lord.

Awaken Me

Words and Music By: Bethany and Shane Barnard

awaken me

A Little Bit of This and a Whole lot of That

I’d like to thank the academy for giving me this award for the longest title which makes little to no sense what so ever. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Whew. What a week. Okay, two weeks or 52 weeks. Same thing.

Have you ever felt like time was flying and you are just trying to hang on and breathe? You know, our parents warned us when we were young whipper-snappers waiting foreeevvver for our birthday that time would fly when we grew up. I hate when they are right.

Speaking of parents. My dad and his twin sister (yes, I was all kinds of paranoid when we were having children since they are not the only set of twins in the family…on both sides of my family) turned the big 9-0 last week. I know, right? And, just to make it clear since I hear those calculators coming out, he was older when he and my mom married therefore older when I graced their presence.

Our families decided to celebrate them by meeting at a restaurant in my aunt’s neck of the woods. Oh, what a grand time. Hugs, smiles, laughter, and food. And, everyone seemed to take note of my dad and his twin sister wearing the same color shirt and pants…without calling each other and finding out what each would wear. And, if you want to get even more twinning, when they turned 80 years old what did they wear? The.same.color!!! Talk about twinning.

Even in the joy of celebrating them, it was especially nice to talk with my cousin whose wife lost her fight with brain cancer last year. I was so glad we could both say her name and remember the good along with the terrible at the end. I hope it felt freeing for him as it did for me.

When we celebrate birthdays around here, we do it up big. Spread out the birthday love? Pfffttt. Not around here. Our son’s birthday was a few days later. Oh my. Our youngest is twenty. I am trying to figure out how he is twenty when I’m only twenty-eight. Go figure. No. Seriously. Don’t figure.

In other news you need to know . . . I need a new clock for the living room. I know, earth shattering! I purchased one of those big clocks for the wall. You know the kind. The I’m-not-getting-any-younger-and-my-eyesight-isn’t-either clocks. I paid a whooping $7 for said clock in a box store during Black Friday. Don’t look at me like that. I waited until the afternoon. I haven’t totally lost my mind . . . yet.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Huge clock. Anyway, it was perfect. It was silent. No tick-tock noise for that bad boy. I was in love. Until last week when it decided to give up the good fight. It took a nose dive off the wall. Sad day.

It may or may not have been a little, tiny bit my fault. Maybe. I’m past the point of putting nails in our walls to hang something. I mean really. I’m past, “Where is the hammer? Why isn’t it in it’s spot?” “Where are the nails? Why did you move them and not tell me? How am I supposed to find anything when someone keeps moving things where it doesn’t make sense?!” You know. Common stuff.

A woman, I’m sure, decided to solve the marital bickering by inventing Command Strips. It was like a whole new world opened up for me. So why would I not hang up my perfect, seven-dollar clock on the wall with one of those nice little Command Strip hooks? Well, it lasted 6 months before the Command Strip gave up its fight. And, that also may or may not have been my fault. It’s a textured wall. And, perhaps the hook wasn’t big enough. Sigh.

So, now we are all looking at a blank wall and “ugh-ing” a lot because we are people of habit. Do you know how hard it is to purchase another big-ole clock when this one was only seven dollars. Clocks who are not a black Friday price are way-too-many dollars!!

Maybe I should have titled this, “Hey, Warning. Extra Long Post A Head. Save Yourself!”

 

With No Reservations – a review

“Don’t look for imperfections. Try to see the beauty.”

What a beautiful quote from With No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson.

It is only human nature to strive for perfection. We (or maybe just it’s just me) can get so focused on perfection – work, school, the mask of perfection we like to wear – and when things go wrong, it can turn our world upside-down and dark.

But, what if we focused more on the beauty around us? Rarely is a sunrise perfect. There are mornings in which the clouds are thick with only a thin ‘line’ for the sun to peek through. Yet, the colors, the light against dark, can make the most beautiful sunrise in the most imperfect conditions. Kind of makes it even more beautiful knowing the fight it went through.

In Author Laurie Tomlinson’s debut novel, Sloane Bradly has many secrets. Secrets that have her keeping to herself, building up a wall of perfection – on the outside. Graham Cooper Jr., Cooper for short, experienced a world of hurts. He’s a people-pleaser with debts to pay.

Sloane and Cooper have a few things in common – their love of food and past hurts still effecting how they live their lives. Sloane is a food blogger. Cooper works for his family and tries to open a restaurant at the same time. Let’s just say their first meeting was…interesting.

with no reservationsWith No Reservations by Laurie Tomlinson is scrumptious. In this squeaky-clean Harlequin Heartwarming novel, you will devour each word and every page.

From the first sentence, Author Laurie Tomlinson’s writing is superb. It was as if I was watching a movie instead of reading words. The characters are well developed and realistic.

Belly up to the bar and dig into With No Reservations! You won’t regret it! I give it a 5-star review. (Available for preorder now!)

As an added bonus, the author is hosting a giveaway which includes a Kindle!!! For more info and to enter click here.

>>I received a complimentary copy from the author and publisher. I am not required to give a positive review…just an honest review which I have given.<<

The In-between

Good Friday was yesterday. The day we observe as Christ’s crucifixion.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is Easter. The day we observe as Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Today is Saturday. To me, it is the day in-between. The day where I wonder.

Transparency moment warning! I do not like Good Friday. I know, I know. Yes, I am a Christian and I know, know, know what it means. He took all our our sin, past, present and future, and bore the pain of it all for you and me. I love, love, love that. I love it with all my heart. Yet, it makes me sad.

Sad that He had to suffer for us. Sad for the pain of His human flesh. Sad for the pain and sorrow He bore mentally. Sad for the things our human eyes can’t see in the Spiritual realm but His eyes could. It had to be so much more gruesome than our minds and imaginations can even fathom. Yet, I know it had to happen and it makes me love Him even more.

What I can see is hindsight. Hindsight is what the disciples and all those who knew and loved Him didn’t have the luxury of seeing/knowing. Can you even imagine? Your Savior just died a horrific death. You were told what would happen next but do you really believe? Do you understand?

100_3079.jpgSaturday. The next day (at least on our calendar). Have you ever experienced the “day after” a major, life-altering event? The wait. The unknown. The questions. The not knowing what to do.

My mom had a mitral-valve replacement surgery many years ago. Due to cancer she had as a young adult and the course of treatment she was given, she had many complications and the prognosis of surgery survival was slim. We all knew that yet she wanted to try because the outlook on her life wasn’t the greatest if she didn’t have the surgery.

The surgery lasted longer than anyone could have predicted. We were told to go home and get some rest because she wouldn’t be waking up until very early morning. We got called back to the hospital at 3 a.m. It wasn’t good.

The next day . . . the day in-between was a wide range of emotions. We would visit her in her ICU room for the time allotted to us. We would sit in the waiting room. Wondering. Praying. Hoping.

Personally, I wasn’t sure what to do or think. I called the person watching our very young children. Phoning home after the husband got off of work, checking on the kids and keeping him up-to-date. I took walks down corridors. My aunt and I stepped outside for fresh air. I slowly walked inside her room to only hear the sounds of machines and the nurses busily monitoring mom and the machines. I stood at the end of her bed as the doctor’s assistant talked to us about what happened during both surgeries and how they were trying to save her. I sat with my cousin’s arm around me trying to comfort me as I finally shed some tears even though I didn’t want to admit she was probably going to die. I stood with my dad and my brother when we finally decided to let the nurses know it was time to let her go.

Oh, that in-between day was so hard. I had faith. I prayed. I tried to stay positive. YET…the unknown, the not knowing what to do.

I can only imagine how those who were walking with Jesus and hanging on His every word just days before may have possibly felt “the next day”. Perhaps they were racking their sorrow-filled, scared-to-death brains for clues. Clues of what to do next. And, the emotions. The possible doubts. The clinging to hope.

We, in hindsight, know Sunday (Easter) is coming. But, did the disciples really know?

I’m like that. Do I really know? When going through the junk in life, do I really know it will be okay? Do I really know ____________?

Sunday’s coming! The glorious day. Yet HE needed to go through junk to get there. “Go through junk”…sound familiar? So it is with our lives. If we can just make it through the junk of life…

I know this post is a bit heavy (at least for me) but I am so glad He took my place on that cross. I am so, so very glad He is a God who keeps His promises. I am so thankful. Thank you, God!

Part of the Story

Okay, in the last four days I have started and deleted this post multiple times. Perhaps words are not necessary. Perhaps you should just watch the video without my babbling.

But, you know me by now and know I have to say something…just to give you some back story, of course.

The other night when I heard this song, even though I have listened to it hundreds of times – literally, I believe I heard it in a new way.

Our pain. Our suffering. Our hurts. Our passions. Our life. It is part of the story with our relationship with Christ. I mean, that is such a no-brainer but it took on fresh meaning the other night as I listened.

Basically I am saying I felt as if God was saying, “You know all that junk and garbage you went through? Yeah, that makes us closer. It may take you a little longer than it should, but you call on me. That junk makes you able to relate to others going through something similar. I know you want to know why you have to go through the junk. Don’t focus on that so much. Go with it and ask what is next and how you can help others.” (Sometimes God kind of gets in my face.)

I don’t know what God will say, if anything, to you through this song but take a listen.

But God . . .

But God, you could have healed her.

But God, she doesn’t deserve what is happening to her children.

But God, he doesn’t love me.

But God, I’m only venting.

But God, why couldn’t you have prevented the accident?

But God, where are you and why didn’t you show up?!

But God, I want…

But God, that’s not fair!

Oh, the “but God“. Excuses, whining, questioning, control. I’m not God. Yet, I (may I be bold and insert “we”) try to control the outcome of almost every situation.

Is questioning God wrong? No, He knows our thought before we even question Him. But when the question becomes our focus instead of what God is doing or going to do with or in the situation? Then yes.

Do you remember the old song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus?

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Focus Chart ScaleWhen our eyes are focused on “Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to HIS power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20 – emphasis mine) we can stop focusing inward and start focusing on what God would have us do for others. May we move in obedience at the sound of God’s loving voice.

Personally, I want to train my mind, body and soul to say and think,

But, God is good!

But God, what would you have me do?

But, God is on His throne.

But God, You know best.

But, God’s will is perfect.

But, God, this situation is all yours. I give up control, help me not take it back.

But God, Your grace is sufficient for me.

But God, life is not fair but I will trust you.

But God, so be it (Amen). Dear Jesus…

 

Do you struggle with this? Will you join me in this renewing of the mind?

That is the Final Verdict! (a review)

To say I enjoy reading is a bit of an understatement. Yes, I can go a few days without a book…when I’m not feeling good, when I am busy, when I am kidnapped…wait, what?! I am not totally obsessed with books….Pffft, who am I kidding! I couldn’t even type that without rolling my own eyes.

In following authors on social media, I get wind of requests for influencers or being part of launch teams. The publisher and/or author sends us their book before it is released to the public. We devour the book and post an honest review on different sites and shout from the rooftops why others should be reading this book! If we do not like the book? Well, we pass it on to someone who we think would enjoy it.

I am fortunate enough to get on teams whose author writes incredible books. And, this one I’m about to shout from the rooftop about is one page-turning, breath-holding-suspense, swoon-worthy read!

final verdictFinal Verdict by Jessica R. Patch will have the reader experiencing all the feels. I smiled and giggled at the quick witted-ness of Aurora and playfulness of Beckett. I stopped breathing multiple times as the suspense grew. I teared up with the trials of the past and reflected on how the past is reflected in the present.

Beckett is the Sheriff. Aurora the Defense Attorney. Complete opposites. Yet, each of their profession draws them together unexpectedly.

Aurora is one tough woman. The past dictated she form tough skin early. Beckett can match her stubbornness any day of the week. He is a protector by profession and by character. And, when someone is suddenly out to hurt Aurora, Beckett will do anything to keep her safe.

Author Jessica R. Patch did a fabulous job of keeping the reader guessing “who done it”. I honestly thought everyone was a suspect at one point! I believe I may have gasped when the nasty, nasty person was finally revealed.

Final Verdict is heart-warming, suspenseful and a lesson on forgiveness when life gives you lemons. The author does an amazing job of weaving the story to keep readers from putting the book down.

I highly recommend Final Verdict! Available for pre-order and it releases April 1, 2017. Go on, click over and snag yourself a copy! (Final Verdict is part of a series but is also a stand alone)

I was given an advance copy by the publisher and author for an honest review/opinion.

From the back cover:

When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it’s his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs.