Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Gentle Whisper

Wow, it seems like just yesterday when I was sitting on the beach with my Bible and my notebook writing out a daily prayer guide for June.

Today I am wrapping up a month of Focusing on the Father and feeling incredibly blessed by all I have learned this month.

I was reading about Elijah in 1 Kings today. I absolutely love this passage of scripture.

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12

This month as I have been taking the time to really focus on my Heavenly Father I can really appreciate this scripture.

It is in the late nights while I am sitting in the silence of the house or early in the morning before the chaos of the day ensues that I feel the presence of the Lord the most. When I quiet my heart and I am still I know without a doubt that God is here.

I know that in the middle of the chaos, He is present, but I have a hard time being still. So I cherish my quiet moments with Him.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unbreakable Bond

Over the last month my girls have been spending a lot of time together.

Being at Grandma's house without a lot of friends = Bonding time with your sisters

Don't get me wrong, we have had a few all out wars in the past month, but today they walked into the room I was in and this is what they were wearing. . .


Before we made this move we talked to them about how important they are to each other. We talked about how they will always have each other. There is something really amazing about seeing your kids have fun together.

I have a sister and I am so glad that my girls get to experience that amazing unbreakable bond.


Today I am introducing myself over at the brand new MODsquad Blog. The MODsquad Blog exists to encourage and inspire moms to raise daughters with purity, character, and hearts for God.

Next week the Blog officially launches and I can't wait!

I am also joining Emily at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped. I am unwrapping the gift God has given me to be the mother of girls in the midst of all the drama :-)

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Monday, June 28, 2010

Starting my Gratitude List

For a few weeks I have been reading some of my favorite bloggers Gratitude posts on Mondays. After I read their lists I pause and try to remember all of the many blessings that I receive. After reading a few more today I decided that I really need to join Ann Voskamp's Gratitude Community.

Every day God leaves His fingerprints on my life from beautiful sunrises to a little girl that looks at me with her great big brown eyes and says, "I love you my favorite mommy".


holy experience

I am going to start this week with ten things that I am praising God for today.

#1 Selling our house to a mother that can use the front porch like I did to pray for her family.

#2 Making memories living in Grammy & Grandpa's house for the summer.

#3 Three sisters that know they will always have each other, even though they fight sometimes.




#4 A husband that works hard to provide for his family.

#5 Waking up in the morning to see my mom reading in her Bible.

#6 A sister who will only live a few blocks away instead 200 miles.

#7 A beautiful new Bible to journal in for my daughter.

#8 Mothers of Daughters that know exactly how I am feeling on the days that are filled with drama.

#9 Watching small town fireworks and parade with my family.

#10 Riding bike with my girls to the same places that I rode my bike as a little girl.

What are you giving thanks for today?

We are In His Hands

I can hear the weariness and stress in his voice,
But I am almost 200 miles away.

I try to comfort him through the phone,
But there is not much I can do to help.

Deadlines to meet, a move to make, kids and a wife who miss him.
My words are few, I am weary, too.

Finally, I say, there is nothing we can do.
We are in His hands.

The work will get done, the move will be made, we will all soon be together.
We are in His hands.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saying Goodbye



I am sitting here on my front porch with my coffee and my Bible. This is one of my favorite places in the world to be in the mornings (when it is warm of course). Soon, I will be saying goodbye to this beautiful place. There will be no more mornings writing, reading and dreaming in this place.

Our new home doesn't have a porch. I will have an office with a big window, but I know that it will not be the same.

I should be packing up our home. Packing away memories of this place. Another stop on our journey. A new adventure lies ahead. More memories to be made.

While I am packing and the cleaning I am praising God for this stop in our journey. The people He placed in our lives in this place will never be forgotten.

The girls and I will be exploring today, taking pictures and enjoying our last few days in this place that we call Home.

Award Time

eceived two blog awards this week. I am feeling incredibly blessed. The first came from my amazing new friend Meghan from The Tuckers Take Tennessee. She has been such a blessing to me. She has been inspiring me to be a better mom!



The award comes with questions you need to answer when you pay it forward. Here are your questions:

1. What is your favorite thing about summer? Sitting around the campfire with my family. Telling stories and talking about our dreams.

2. What is your favorite color? green

3. What is your favorite part of blogging? discovering amazing women who love the Lord

4. What is the first thing you do every day? make some coffee :-)

5. What is the last thing you do every day? pray

6. What is your favorite day of the year? My Anniversary

7. What is one free activity you enjoy doing with your family? Going to the Library (especially now that we are moving to a town with a great one!)

8. What is one thing you can’t live without? my amazing family

9. What is your favorite meal? Italian anything white and creamy

10. What is your favorite children’s book? Gigi God's Little Princess


The second award I received was from Sara @ Walking With Angels. Thank you so much Sara!!!


I am sharing both of these awards with 10 more wonderful bloggers. Thank you ladies, you all area such a huge blessing to me!

3. Megan @ Half-Pint House (speaking of which, check out her cool products, very cool!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fighting For Our Families

I had the pleasure of visiting with an awesome group of ladies tonight about Fighting For Our Families on Gather Inspirit TV. Thanks Cherie, Marci, Teri Lynne and Michelle for sharing your hearts!

We talked about Media Boundaries, Family Rules and Mission Statements, Family Time and Parenting Resources.

I know that many of you missed the show so I want to share some of our discussion with you. After the show I felt inspired to make some changes in my home and relieved that I am on the right path to raising my girls in faith.

Media
  • Do you limit TV time in your home?
  • How do you set boundaries on the programs your children watch?
  • How do you control the media they are exposed to outside of your home?
These were all questions we discussed on the show. It was interesting to see the different boundaries that everyone had in their homes. Some have very limited TV time and shows and some use the time as opportunities to teach their children.

This is an issue that we struggle with in our home. Our kids love TV. We have to limit the time spent on it. We also have to be very cautious about what they watch and we are not always as cautious as we should be. I am working on setting some boundaries in this area.

The best advice for controlling the media outside of our homes is to know your children's friends and their parents very well. The other households need to know your expectations for your child and the rules you have established for your family.

Family Rules

I shared a link last week to Meghan's Family Rules on The Tuckers Take Tennessee. I am really excited to write up some Family Rules for our house and hang them up for all of us to see. Tonight Teri Lynne from Pleasing to You also shared her Family Mission Statement. Both of these posts are so good. They really focus on your core values as a family.

Family Time

I am always curious about how different families spend quality time together. I like to learn what works for them for prayer and devotional time. How do they focus on faith with their kids? Many of us spend a lot of time with our kids because we are stay-at-home moms, but we still have to be intentional about the quality of that time.

Cherie from Heart and Soul Reflections is doing a Bible School this summer with her girls. She shared about how hungry her girls are to learn. She has done her research and found some amazing products to use throughout the summer.

Resources

We ended our discussion tonight with some great suggestions of resources to help us raise our kids in faith. Hopefully there will be a list of these resources out on the Gather Inspirit site soon. A few of the ones that I would love to get my hands on are:
I would love to hear your thoughts on these topics. We are definitely in a battle for our families. One that God wants us to win. The fight won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

iFellowship

I am joining the wonderful ladies over at Seeds of Faith again today for iFellowship.
Come join the fun.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quality time with Dad

This week we decided that we didn't want to be away from Chad for another week. Families are meant to be together.

While I will be doing some writing, I will be trying to keep a house clean for showings and entertaining girls that have had all of their toys packed up and sent to storage.

Stay tuned this week for my thoughts on Fighting for Family.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Intentional Parenting

As a mother I have a lot of good intentions. Activities & Crafts we are going to do. Adventures we are going to go on. Chores that need to be assigned. But, we get busy with life and the mundane often takes over.

When I recently had the opportunity to visit some of my dear blogging friends, Stef and Stacey we talked about Intentional Parenting vs Reactive Parenting. It struck a nerve with me and I have been thinking about it often since that conversation.

My thoughts are when am I going to follow through on my good intentions?

We have a lot of teachable moments and I try to use them as times to work on behaviors or teach my girls a life lesson. But, what would happen if I was focusing on teaching them before I was correcting them?

One of the things that we have talked about as a family, but never followed through with is family rules. I found a great post from Meghan from The Tuckers Take Tennessee all about creating Family Rules.

1 on 1 time with each child is another thing at the top of my good intentions list. This happens on occasion, but not intentionally everyday. I really want to create a quiet time with each of my girls. I am really excited about Tommy Nelson's God's Promises for Girls as a starting point for my youngest daughter and Dannah Gresh's Secret Keeper Girl for my older two girls.

This is just two things that we are going to work on as a family. There are so many more things that we want to accomplish with our girls. I look forward to sharing them with you as we learn and grow.

Today I am linking up with Gather Inspirit as they focus on Raising your Children in Faith. How are you focusing on teaching your children to love the Lord?

If you have little ones in your house, head over to Unforgettable Childhood and leave a comment to win a Sneaky 3D Puzzle from Patch Products. My daughters love it and I would love to send one to you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Deep Conviction in Christ

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33

In my Bible Study time lately I have really been convicted to dig deeper. Instead of just taking the time to read a verse, I have felt the need to really meditate on it and let it speak to my heart.

The Bible that I do most of my reading in is a NIV translation. This morning I decided to find this passage in King James.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33 KJV

As you can see the word acknowledge is confess in the KJV. I enjoy going to Vine's Expository to look up greek words in scripture and reading the definitions. The greek translation for this verse is: homologeo

The definition is: to declare openly by way of speaking out freely, such confession being the effect of deep conviction of facts

The word acknowledge is a different greek word with a different definition. It is not used in this verse in the greek translation.

Scripture Dig had a great post on different Bibles last week. It really made me think about what version I am studying from.

I go back to the definition of "confess" the definition focuses on a "deep conviction of facts". A deep conviction of facts is having a firm belief in the facts, in the Word.

It reminds me that in order to develop the deep relationship with Christ that I want, I must dig a little deeper into the Word. It is easy to say that I believe, but I must know what I am saying that I believe in. I cannot pick and choose which parts of the Bible that I want to follow. If I want to follow Christ, I have to follow all of Him, all the time.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:1 KJV

What version do you use in your Bible Study time?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Daughter Needs Her Dad

Father's Day will be here soon. This year we get to celebrate his birthday on the same day.

This is our second week in different homes. After we spend the weekend together as a family we only have one week left before we are all together again.

Two nights ago our youngest fell asleep with her dolly in one hand and one of her daddy's t-shirts in the other. She said, "I miss my daddy." Last night when I was putting her to bed she put the t-shirt in the middle of us and said, "Now we can share. We can both smell daddy."

When we went separate directions this weekend as we were driving away and her daddy was still in her sight, my middle daughter said, "I didn't realize how much you could miss someone even when you can still see him."

This weekend we will be celebrating him and then saying good-bye for only one more week. A daughter needs her dad and a wife needs her husband. Being apart has reminded me again why I am so blessed that God brought us together. I am praising God today for him.



Hello iFellowship Friends! Thanks for Stopping by!

iFellowship

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

They Almost Always Come Home


A new suspense from author Cynthia Ruchti called They Almost Always Come Home kept me up very late last night.

(Wausau, WI) – At the foundation of each relationship resides the need to know love can survive even when feelings fade. In Cynthia Ruchti’s debut novel, They Almost Always Come Home, readers feel the desperation of this foundational yearning in a marriage clearly pulling loose from its moorings. Compounded by other issues—an unrewarding career and mismatched dreams—it’s enough to drive a man into the arms of the Canadian wilderness. When Greg Holden doesn’t return home from a wilderness canoe trip, his wife Libby wrestles with survivor guilt, a new layer of grief, and the belief that she was supposed to know how to fix her marriage. She planned to leave him—but how can she leave a man who’s no longer there? He was supposed to go fishing, not missing.

Libby has to find him before she can discover how their marriage ends. She plunges into the wilderness on an adventurous and risky manhunt, unsure what she will do if she finds him…or if she doesn’t. She expects to meet hardship, discomfort, and danger in the wilderness. She doesn’t expect to face the stark reality of her spiritual longing and a faint, but steady pulse that promises hope for reviving her marriage. If Greg’s still alive.

They Almost Always Come Home provides a glimpse into common, however uncomfortable, marital conflicts. Cynthia weaves a page-turning story, suspense building scene by scene. Her characters mirror ordinary people, living real-to-life situations, allowing readers to relate and sort through a myriad of emotions and life decisions. If fiction can contain adventure, riveting self-awareness, and romance all between the same covers, this is the book!

This intriguing book was a page turner. Since I am away from my husband right now, it tore at my heart to think about him not coming home. It made me think of the importance of communicating with my husband and listening to his dreams.

Here is the story behind the book from the author's heart. It is an amazing story that inspired the book.

Thank you to Kathy Carlton Willis Communications for my review copy of this book. You can find out more about the book here.

Faith in the Father

I am really working on having faith in the plan God has for our family so I turned in my Bible to Hebrews 11 to read about the many people before me that lived their lives by faith.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

(Photo Courtesy of Freefoto.com)

What did each of these people do to be listed in this Bible Hall of Faith?
  • Abel offered a better sacrifice
  • Enoch pleased God
  • Noah condemned the world and built an ark
  • Abraham was tested and he obeyed
  • Isaac blessed his sons
  • Jacob worshiped God
  • Joseph spoke and gave instructions
  • Moses chose to be mistreated for God
  • The people of Israel passed through the Red Sea
  • The people marched and Jericho's walls fell.
  • Rahab welcomed the spies
The list goes on with Gideon, Samson, David, etc. They all have a story of living by faith.

As I sit here thinking about each story. Many of them did not have easy lives, but they had fulfilling lives serving the God.

What do I want my "By Faith" statement to be?
By faith Amy raised three girls to love the Lord. By faith Amy loved her husband and submitted to him. By faith Amy served with joy.

There are so many more things I want my faith statement to say. How about you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seeds of Summer

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Seeds of Summer

Zondervan (May 21, 2010)

***Special thanks to Londa Alderink of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. As a student at Emporia State University studying English and journalism, Deborah developed a love for the Flint Hills that has never faded. In writing this series, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 21, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031029276X
ISBN-13: 978-0310292760

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Five Months Later

Metal scraped against metal, waking Natalie from a restless sleep. Again, the screech came from outside. With a reluctant groan, she forced herself from her cotton sheets and fumbled in the dark to find her boots.

What was out there? And why wasn't Jessie barking?

She slipped her bare feet into leather ropers, then hurried from the bedroom down the stairs, hoping she wouldn't rouse her younger siblings. An instant foreboding caused her to grab the shotgun her dad always kept behind the back door. Natalie loaded it with a couple of shells before heading to the porch -- just in case. As her eyes adjusted to the outside darkness, she distinguished the faint outline of a truck backed up to the barn entrance. She crept through the barnyard.

“Who's there?” Her voice wavered as she clutched the wooden forearm of the aged Winchester, prepared to fire a warning shot at the moon if necessary.

A small beam of light darted inside the old limestone barn, then disappeared.

“Tom, is that you?” Natalie eased her finger closer to the trigger.

Silence. Then the hollow clamor of feed buckets knocked to the ground as though someone had tripped over them.

Natalie held her breath. Her heart thumped wildly against her chest as she thought about the recent thefts in the county. If only her dad were here.

But he's not, and you're in charge. Slow, mechanical breaths helped her to see this might be nothing more than their hired hand returning from a night at the bar. She knew little about Tom Walker, but the idea that he'd been out with friends on a Friday night was more probable than not.

A tall figure edged from the shadows. Natalie recognized the pale shock of curls highlighted by the luminous night.

“Hey there, don't shoot.” The ranch employee rested his hands on his head. “I was only putting some stuff away in the barn.”

“Working kind of late, aren't you?”

“Just got back from a rodeo.” Tom's voice grew louder as he approached. “Sorry if I frightened you.”

Natalie lowered the shotgun, then gazed up at the sky, relief lodged in her throat. “You could've turned on the barn lights. At least then I wouldn't have thought someone was sneaking around out here.”

“Didn't want to wake the house.”

In the faint moonlight, she caught the glint of an uneasy smile on the man's face. “How'd you do?”

“Tough night for steer wrestling.”

Natalie knew all about rodeo and tough nights. “There'll be others.”

He dropped his arms, and she noticed Jessie at his side. No wonder the faithful border collie hadn't barked. Suddenly aware of how she must look, she combed her fingers through her wayward locks. Dressed in baggy shorts, a torn T-shirt, and a pair of pink boots, she held little resemblance to her former title as Miss Rodeo Kansas, or of a rancher either.

And that's what she was now -- a twenty-two-year-old ranch owner in the Flint Hills of Charris County, Kansas. She shook her head, confounded by the turn of events her life had taken in the past week. “Well, I'm sorry for interrupting your work. I'll let you get back to your business.” Hoping he wouldn't sense her despair, she turned toward the house. As she did, an engine revved in the near distance. Tracing the noise, she saw a truck tear from behind the barn, its headlights aimed for the lane.

Staggering backward, she almost dropped her father's shotgun but somehow managed to bring the wooden stock to her shoulder. “Hey, you there,” she called out. “Stop or I'll shoot.”

The truck vaulted onto the dirt road and spun gravel as it sped away. Speechless, Natalie lowered the gun and whirled toward the hired hand, expecting him to go after the culprits sneaking around her father's barn.

Then she acknowledged the panic in the man's eyes.

“What were you and your buddies doing in there?” Her brows crinkled, and she instantly thought the worst. Dark barn, suspicious behavior. Had they been doing drugs, or were they stealing?

“It's not what you think.” The hostility in the air pricked her skin as the man stepped closer. He stood a half-foot taller than her own five-foot-eight.

Natalie gripped the shotgun, her palms damp with sweat. Did she have the guts to shoot a man? She aimed the barrel at his chest. “Is this how you're going to honor my father? By stealing from him? He's not been dead a week.”

“The boys and I --we were just having some fun --talking was all.” His gentle voice caressed her.

Natalie recognized the seduction of his lie --the flicker of deceit in his eyes. “In the dark?”

“No law against talking in the dark.” He reached in her direction, much too close for her comfort.

She shoved his lanky body back with the metal barrel and thought of all the work they needed to accomplish the next day unloading and sorting cattle. Could she and the kids get along without his help if she fired him? Could she trust him to tell the truth?

His lips pulled into a pout. “Come on, Miss Adams. I've been with your dad for nearly six months. He trusted me. We weren't doing nothing wrong ... honest.”

Natalie searched the man's eyes for a hint of sincerity. “Swear on your mama's grave?” Even as the words came from her mouth, she knew she was a fool to trust him.

“Better -- I'll swear on your daddy's.”

Natalie's throat swelled as hot tears threatened to fall. Her good judgment now clouded with grief, she eased the barrel toward the ground and shook her head in embarrassment. “I guess the stress is getting to me. Sorry for being so jumpy.”

Tom nodded in understanding. “No need to apologize. A person can't be too careful these days -- especially a young woman like yourself. It's good I'm around for protection.”

Natalie disregarded his remark, finding no comfort in it. Her gut twisted at the vulnerable position her father's death had placed her in as Tom drifted back to the darkness of the barn. With a weary sigh, she studied the moon above. Like a shooting star, her life had changed in an instant and no matter how much she wished it, not even the crickets or the moaning bullfrogs could set it right again.

Returning to the house, she peeked in on her twelve-year-old brother, asleep in his upstairs bedroom. His tranquil face reflected no worries, no hint of strain from their recent ordeal.

Oh, that her rest could be as peaceful.

When Natalie opened the door to her sister's bedroom, she failed to make out a form under the covers. A flick of the light revealed Chelsey's bed hadn't been slept in. She glanced about the room, and then noticed the splay of curtains caught in a warm breeze from the open dormer window. Natalie darted back to Dillon's room.

“Where's Chelsey?” She jiggled her brother's leg and watched the young boy rouse from a deep sleep.

Dillon rubbed his eyes and sat up in bed. “What?”

“Chelsey's not in her room. Do you have any idea where she might be? Out with friends? A party somewhere?”

Her brother shook his head, then yawned. “I heard her talking on the phone to Lucas earlier. Maybe she's with him.”

Natalie's mouth grew taut. Nothing good ever happened past midnight, and it was now close to two. She hoped the reckless teenagers weren't in a ditch somewhere.

A loud thump from Chelsey's room caused those thoughts to evaporate.

Natalie rounded the hallway to find her fifteen-year-old sister crumpled on the bedroom floor.

Chelsey raised her head, her eyes glazed. “Hey, sis.” Her words came out slurred as she tried to stand. “Did ya miss me?”

Family Church in the Camper

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:7-12

As a family we had church in our camper on Sunday morning. We were getting away and spending time focusing on each other since we had to spend the week without Daddy. We decided that we would have family church.

Over the last week we have all been spending a lot of time praying for our future. We have been praying that our house will sell. We have been praying that we can buy the house we want. We have been praying that God will work out everything so that we can be together as a family settled into our own home quickly.

This morning I read the girls this scripture from Matthew. We talked about how we have to trust God and the plans He has for our family. My middle daughter said, "I have been just thinking in my head that our house needs to sell, but God wants me to ask Him, I can't just think it."

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

We talked about putting all of our hope in the Lord. He will provide for us according to His plan. The thing we have to remember is that His plan might not be exactly like our plan.

Madelyn wanted us to explain to her what it means when we say that God will provide. I turned back to Matthew, this time to chapter 6.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?. . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:25-27 & 34

I told the girls that all week I have been thinking about these words and praying, telling God that I am leaving it all in his hands and I am not going to worry about it. But, every day I am worrying about it.

My oldest daughter said, "I am not worried about it at all because I know our house is going to sell." I told her that is why the Bible tells us to have faith like a child. They believe with all of their hearts that God is listening and He will take care of everything, so why do I doubt that He will take care of my family.

As I was finding these scriptures, I flipped to Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." My eyes fell onto another verse in Psalm 37 and it spoke to me loud and clear, "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;"

I am trying hard to let go of my worry and trust in the Lord. It hasn't been easy. I am having a lot of conversations with Him. Last night when I was talking to my mom about all of the stress of the move my daughter said to me, "Mom, remember what you told us the Bible says, have faith like a child and trust in Him."

So I am focusing on God as my provider and put all of my hope and trust in Him.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Maze of Grace

I am not quite finished with this book. I will post some thoughts on it soon!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


A Maze of Grace

FaithWords (June 22, 2010)

***Special thanks to Valerie M. Russo of Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


My dream, ever since I was a little girl, was to be a super hero. Specifically, I wanted to be one of the Wonder Twins, meeting with Superman and Wonder Woman at the Hall of Justice on Saturday mornings to fight evil and save the world. Lacking a twin, I got a law degree instead, thinking it would give me evil-fighting super hero powers. As it turns out, I was wrong.

Shortly after realizing that I hated billable hours, I ended (read: fled) my career in law, and spent the next few years trying to make sense of the world. I couldn't shake the belief that things could/should/would be different - better, somehow - if only I could figure out what really mattered. I wanted to know how things like spirituality and luck and intuition worked, and how I could make them work for me. So I embarked on a quest to find the right God, but spent much of my time trying to find the right guy. At a certain point, after accumulating a heaping pile of mistakes on both counts, I came to see that the two might be intertwined.

The good news is, after much trial and error, I finally found them both: the God, and the guy.

Now I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts with my super hero-husband Steve, and our genetically-improbable mixed-breed dog. I wrote a book about my search, "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After," published by Hachette Book Group in 2008. The follow up, "A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances" will be in stores in June 2010. And while I sit at my laptop typing each day, the Wonder Twin dream lives on...

Visit the author's website.
Visit the author's blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (June 22, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446545813
ISBN-13: 978-0446545815

PLEASE PRESS THE 'BROWSE INSIDE THIS BOOK' BUTTON TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER:




Girlfriends Getting Real


I have been so blessed by all on my online friends that are amazing writers. I decided that I wanted to start featuring some of them here so if you haven't found them, you can go and check them out. The blogs I am featuring are Girlfriends Getting Real with their Faith.
This week I am featuring a group of women that just launched an amazing site called Scripture Dig.

Here is a little explanation about what their site is all about:

"Scripture Dig is a tool for you to use … a collection of resources, information, and encouragement. We’ll share what we’re learning and invite you to do the same. We’ll explain the basics … and we’ll challenge you to dig deeper into the Word of God."

There are five women involved in the site:
Julie Sanders from Come Have a Peace


Kathy Howard @KathyHHoward

Kristi Stephens @KristiStephens



Teri Lynne Underwood from Pleasing to You

Pleasing to You Button 125

Scripture Dig has been a blessing to me this week. These women are focusing on the Word and I love it. You should check out each of their sites, too. Amazing women that love the Lord!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Peace on this Journey


I sit here at my computer, trying hard not to be overwhelmed.

I am tired. I miss my husband dearly.

A wife is not meant to be without her husband.

Daughters are not meant to be without their dad.

We are blessed that it is only a short absence.

I pray hard for peace on this journey.

I pray that one house sells.

I pray that another can be bought.

I pray for my daughters as they cry about how hard it is to say good-bye.

I sit here trying to write from His Word.

But right now, I know what I need is to soak in His Word and be silent.

Today my prayer is that I can let go of the stress and find peace in my Father.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27

Sins of the Mother

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Sins of the Mother

Touchstone; Original edition (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Mallika Dattatreya and Ashley Hewlett of Touchstone/Fireside Publicity Simon & Schuster, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she tested her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self published Temptation. “I wanted to write a book as entertaining as any book on the market, put God in the middle, and have the book still be a page-turner. I wasn’t writing to any particular genre – I didn’t even know Christian fiction existed. I just wanted to write about people I knew and characters I could relate to.”

In 2000, Time Warner published Temptation. Temptation made numerous best sellers list and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written six other novels: JOY, Truth Be Told, Grown Folks Business, A Sin and a Shame, The Ex Files, and Too Little, Too Late. She was a contributor to the first Christian fiction anthology, Blessed Assurance and the Contributing Editor for the Aspire Women of Color Bible published by Zondervan. All of her novels have continued to be Essence bestsellers. In addition, Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being the pioneer in African American Christian Fiction. In 2008, Victoria won the African American Literary Award for best novel (Too Little, Too Late) and Female Author of the Year.

In 2008, Victoria’s first novels in her Christian fiction teen series - The Divine Divas – were published. “I was concerned with what our young ladies were reading. I decided to do something about that – give them stories full of drama, but with a message.” The Divine Divas has already been optioned to become a television series.

Victoria splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington D.C. In Los Angeles, she attends Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church under the spiritual tutelage of Dr. Beverly “BAM” Crawford and in Washington, D.C., she fellowships at Metropolitan Baptist Church under Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr. She is also a member of the Long Beach Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.00
Paperback: 379 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; Original edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 141658918X
ISBN-13: 978-1416589181

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


New York, New York November 2009

“Love Mama!”

Jasmine scooped her toddler into her arms. “You do love your mama, don't you?” She laughed.

Mae Frances rolled her eyes as Jasmine smothered her son's cheeks with kisses.

“Don't make no kind of sense, Jasmine Larson,” her best friend said. “Teaching that baby to say that.”

“What's wrong with him loving his mama?” But before Mae Frances could answer, Jasmine stood straight up and scanned the crowd that packed the new mall. In just seconds, her gaze locked on her daughter, crouched in front of the pet store window. “Jacqueline!”

The girl's brown curls bounced when she jumped up, startled, and skipped back to Jasmine and Mae Frances.

With a firm hand, Jasmine grasped her daughter's wrist. “I told you to stay where Nama and I could see you.”

Jacqueline bowed her head. “But Mama,” she sighed, “I could see you.”

“Well, I couldn't see you, so why don't you sit down for a moment and cool off,” Jasmine said as she wiped the thin line of perspiration that dampened her daughter's hairline.

“I'm not hot,” Jacqueline protested. It was the look on her mother's face that made Jacqueline wiggle onto the bench next to Mae Frances. With her eyes on Jasmine, she buried her head on the shoulder of the woman who, years before, had been nothing more than a friend of the family, but was now so close to the Bushes that Jacqueline thought of her as her grandmother. When Mae Frances put her arms around Jacqueline, the girl glared at Jasmine as if she never planned to love her again.

Jasmine shook her head, then her eyes widened when her rambunctious daughter rolled her eyes.

No, she didn't.

Jacqueline had never done that before, and Jasmine opened her mouth to scold her, then just as quickly changed her mind. When her daughter peeked back at her, Jasmine rolled her eyes. Jacqueline giggled, and Jasmine laughed, too. But when Jacqueline moved to get up again, Jasmine stared her back down.

Jacqueline pouted and bounced hard against the back of the bench, but the silent tantrum didn't faze Jasmine. She planned to let her four-year-old (or fourteen-year-old, depending on the day) sit and think about how she'd run off.

“Are you ready to go home?” Mae Frances grumbled.

As Christmas Muzak piped through speakers above, Jasmine realized this trip to the mall wasn't the best idea she'd ever had. But how could she have missed this day?




The new Harlem mall had been open for only two weeks, and this was the first big shopping day of the season; she had to make her own contribution to Black Friday. Now as she looked at Mae Frances and Jacqueline--a set of ornery twins, with their arms folded and their lips poked out--she wished she had thought this all the way through. Because if she had, she would have come alone.

“I wanna go home, too!” Jacqueline exclaimed, as if she was in charge of something.

Looking at her son, Jasmine shook her head. “You don't want to go home, do you, Zaya?” she asked, calling him by the name that Jacqueline had given to him two years ago when he had been born. Hosea had been too difficult for her to say, and no one wanted to call him Junior.

“No, no, no!” Zaya followed his mother's lead before he toddled over to his sister. “Yaki, Yaki, Yaki!” He called her by his own made-up name.

Mae Frances sucked her teeth and tightened the collar of the thirty-five-year-old mink that she loved. “Don't make no kind of sense, the way you manipulate that boy.”

“He's my baby. He's supposed to be manipulated.”

“Get away from me, Zaya!” Jacqueline exclaimed, and pushed the toddler away.

“Don't do that to your brother,” Jasmine scolded.

Jacqueline stood up, put one hand on her side as if she had hips, and, with the other, squeezed her nose. “He! Stinks!”

Jasmine sniffed, then hoisted her son up into her arms. “Your sister's right.” She grabbed the diaper bag from the stroller and reached for Jacqueline's hand. “Come on, we've got to change Zaya's diaper.”

Jacqueline folded her arms and sat back down next to Mae Frances. “I don't wanna go.” With a pout, she pointed toward the pet store. “I wanna see the puppies.”



“We'll see the puppies after,” Jasmine said, still reaching for her daughter.

“Leave her with me.” Mae Frances put her arms around Jacqueline. “No need for her to have to go with you when I'm here.”

Jasmine's hesitation waned after just a moment. “Stay right there next to Nama,” she demanded sternly. “And then we'll go see the puppies, okay?”

Jacqueline nodded as she scooted back on the bench. With wide eyes and an even wider smile, she blew Jasmine a kiss. “I love you, Mama.”

Jasmine laughed. Her precious little girl--always the drama queen.

Inside the restroom, Jasmine twisted through the long line of waiting women, and as she made her way to the changing station, her cell phone rang. But just as she pulled her phone from her bag, it stopped.

She glanced at the screen. “That was your daddy,” she told her son as she laid him on his back.

He giggled and reached for her cell.

“No,” she said, taking it from his grasp.

His laughter stopped. His bottom lip trembled. His body began to shake. And before the first shriek came, the phone was back in Zaya's hands.

“Love Mama,” Zaya cooed as he pushed buttons.

Jasmine laughed. God had blessed her with a drama queen and a drama king.

That thought made her pause in wonder. Who would have ever thought that she--Jasmine Cox Larson Bush--would end up in this place? She--the ex-stripper, ex-man stealer, ex-liar, cheater, thief. The jealous girl who'd done everything she could to sabotage the success of her best friend, Kyla. The unsatisfied wife who'd badgered her first husband until he'd finally left her.



The lonely woman who lived to tear husbands away from their wives. There was hardly a sin that she hadn't committed. But that life, those abominations, were far behind her.

Today, she was a proud wife and mother--the first lady of one of the most influential churches in the city. Today, her life was filled with leisure--it was difficult to call the work she did as first lady and the time she spent with the Young Adults Ministry a job. Today, each of her needs and every one of her desires were met. And she had a Central Park South apartment, a closet full of endless racks of designer clothes, and an upcoming New Year's family vacation in Cannes to prove it.

This life was God's reward for her having turned away from her transgressions. As she glanced at her reflection in the mirror, her lips spread into a slow smile. Bountiful blessings. All she could say was, “Thank you, Father.”

Seconds later, Zaya was back on her hip, her cell was back in her bag, and she was back in the mall. But then, her steps became measured as she moved toward Mae Frances. Her friend's head was down as she pushed buttons on her cell.

Jasmine's voice was as deep as her frown as she yelled, “Mae Frances?”

She looked up. “Did you just call me?”

Jasmine let the diaper bag slip down her arm. “Where's Jacquie?”

Mae Frances waved her hands. “She's right over there. With the puppies. Did you just call me?”

Before Mae Frances had finished, Jasmine's eyes were searching the crowd. With Zaya still in her arms, she pushed through the mass of men and women, arms filled with packages, children close at their sides.

“Where's Jacquie?” The question trembled from her lips to a young boy in front of the pet store. “The little girl who was here--where is she?”



His face was pressed against the glass as he answered, “She's gone.”

There was no time to question him further. A woman, two giant steps away, grabbed the boy's hand.

“Didn't I tell you not to talk to strangers?” the woman admonished as she dragged the boy from the window.

Jasmine's eyes were wide as she spun around, clutching Zaya to her chest, searching the space around her. It had been only a minute, but terror was already crawling up and down her skin.

“Jacquie!” she screamed through the holiday din.

She tried to keep herself in check as she gripped Zaya and barged through the pet store's doors. The stench of the animals did nothing to cover the fear that was already surging from her pores.

“Jacquie!” she shouted. She kept telling herself that this was nothing: Jacqueline had just wandered off.

Pressing up one aisle, then rushing down the next, she hunted through the crowd.

“Jacquie!” she yelled.

Jasmine grabbed a pink-apron-wearing teenager who was crouched down in front of the cages. “Please,” she said to the young man, obviously one of the store's employees. “Have you seen my daughter?”

The blond spiked-hair boy glanced at Jasmine and then looked around the store, his expression telling Jasmine that her question didn't make much sense to him. “There've been a lot of kids here today,” he answered before he returned to feeding the kittens.

“Jacquie!” she screamed one last time as she rushed back through the doors.

Outside, in the middle of the passing crowd, Jasmine turned slowly, exploring each face, searching every space.


“Jacquie!”
Her distress went unnoticed; the holiday shoppers were
buried under their own cares.
“Jacquie!” Now her heart banged against her chest.



Both she and Zaya were crying by the time she hurried back to the bench. In the eyes of the woman she called her friend, Jasmine saw the same unadulterated horror that was in her heart.

“Where's Jacquie?” she screamed at Mae Frances.

Mae Frances shook her head. “She . . . she was . . . right there,” she cried as she pointed back to the store.

But Jasmine didn't bother to turn around. She didn't need to look at the store or anywhere else in the mall. Because in the space inside of her where truth lay, she knew.

As “Joy to the World” squeaked out from the speakers above, Jasmine knew that her daughter was gone.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Ultimate Test

The story of a father and a son

An early morning journey

A son with many questions

A man that fears the Lord

A God that will ALWAYS provide

The story of Abraham and Isaac evokes emotion in me every time I read it. I know the story, I know the ending, yet the thought of leading one of my children away and laying them down on the altar brings me to tears.

I have spent days reading this story. One specific note in my notebook sticks out on the page. One statement that impacts me more than any other.

Give Our Children To God!

Who am I to think that I can protect them more than He can?

Here are more of my observations of Abraham as a father:
  • He feared the Lord
  • He trusted that God would provide
  • He believed that God would protect
  • He obeyed the Lord
  • He gave His son to the Lord that day
Abraham was blessed by God in one of the greatest acts of obedience recorded in the Bible. His trust in the Lord was deepened, his character strengthened. Abraham was put to the ultimate test and he passed.

I know that God is in control. I know that God is protecting my children. It is time for me to give my children to Him. I will teach them His ways and pray for them faithfully and He will provide and guide them as they grow.


iFellowship