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MENDED: A Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

Mended: A Book Review and Giveaway!

One of the most important relationships you can have is with your mother.

 

Mother’s Day can be a mixed bag of emotions for many.  Many celebrate Mother’s Day without their mother, or who have a strained relationship with their mom, and some can’t talk to their mothers at all because they’ve passed away.  Whatever the circumstance, Mother’s Day can bring joy and/or pain.

Today I have the opportunity to share with you the new book Mended:  Restoring the hearts of Mothers and Daughters by Blythe Daniels and Helen McIntosh.

A moment of honesty–I was a little afraid to read this book, in fear it would conjure up unwanted emotions and pains of the past.  

As a child I grew up in a divorced home and had the blessing of having two mothers.  My step-mom from the start treated my twin sister and I as her very own.  Of course there are ups and downs in any relationship but the love we had for each other grew over the years into something greater–a mother/daughter relationship.

My relationship with my (biological) mother was different.  I didn’t understand much about mental illness as a child and didn’t understand why my mother acted certain ways.  As I grew into adulthood I had to learn how to separate the person from the mental illness.  When I was hurt by something she did I had to learn how to forgive and love her for for how God made her.

As the years past, I learned how to stay away from silly arguments that only led to quarrels.  I had to learn how to make healthy boundaries.  I learned how to NOT find happiness in met expectations, but in the reality of God’s plans.  We don’t get to choose who our parents are, nor do they get to choose who their children are.  I admit, there were times in my childhood into adulthood my relationship with my mother was strained at best.

Once I learned to embrace her mental illness was a gift from God in how he made her, I was able to be set free in having the loving relationship with her God intended for me.  She wasn’t responsible or in control of my emotions or feelings in how I responded, I was.  I didn’t have to constantly be afraid of being hurt over and over because I focused on God’s kingdom purpose for her–to be loved for who she was not in what she did.  

Mended will help any mother/daughter relationship gain the clarity it needs to take steps towards healing.  Blythe and Helen do a wonderful job in asking the right questions and equipping readers to gain a new perspective.  It’s not about the argument.  It’s not about being right.  And it’s certainly not about meeting YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  

When reality doesn't meet your expectations

Disappointment in our relationships happens when we have high expectations and the reality is no where near them.  Everything in between just becomes disappointment.

No relationship is beyond repair. Our relationships with our mothers are more valuable and important than our own agendas.Click To Tweet

I had to ask myself was my disappointment always going to be the focus and highest priority?  When God’s agenda becomes our agenda we are able to embrace his ways and plans in how to love one another in the most loving way possible and let go of our disappointments.

Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7Click To Tweet

Have you put an expectation on someone they can’t meet?

Maybe instead of expecting them to change, sit with God and ask How can I love this person today in the most loving way possible?  The pursuit of relationships sometimes don’t always turn out the way we want them nor should they cost us our sanity.

Giving God your struggles, trusting Him in guiding your relationships is the best way to start in mending each others hearts.  God will tell you when it’s time to set boundaries.  He will tell you when to speak and not speak.  And He’ll most definitely show you how to love.

God is never going to ask you to fill roles you were never intended to fill.  Your role is not to be the Savior.  It’s not to change the other person.  And it’s definitely not to enable.  Our roles in strained relationships are to let go of what we can’t control by surrendering it to God and trusting in what God is able to do with it.

God didn’t say the pursuit of healing and restoration would be without heartache.  But He does promise to hold our hands to get us through.

Are you willing to pursue mended relationships?

Learning how to love my mother in the way God made her was one of the hardest things I had to do, but the reward of the mended relationship was so worth anything I had to go through to get to the other side.  

God is with you my friend, he might ask us to step out of the boat like Peter to take his hand in the storm.  He might ask us to jump into the fiery furnace like Shadrack, Meschach and Abendago.  He might even ask us to spend the night with a bunch of hungry lions at the bottom of a dark pit.

Giving up on relationships is the easy way out and we miss out on God’s miracles.  When we stand firm in God’s promises, trusting to hold our hands to get us through we will never miss out on his miracles of what He is able to do.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers!  May your day be filled with God’s abundant blessings!

   Blythe Daniel & Helen McIntosh 

Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She is a speaker at writer’s conferences and is interviewed for podcasts and webinars. She has written for Christian Retailing and Focus on the Family publications, and she links hundreds of bloggers with millions of readers through BlogAbout. Her passion is helping authors share their unique stories. The daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh, she lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. www.theblythedanielagency.com

Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug®. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children and five grandchildren. Learn more at our mended hearts. 

Mended is available now for purchase in all retail book stores.  Get your copy today just in time for Mother’s Day!  Click here to buy your copy today or enter a chance to win a free copy below.

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.  I pray we all pursue mended relationships that can only be healed and restored in Jesus.  ​In Him,

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The Second Chance That Saved My Life

The Second Chance That Saved My Life

Are you getting ready for Easter?  I love this time of year, for what it represents and the rich gifts that God gives us even when we don’t deserve them.

Have you ever been a second chance that saved your life?  

God has given me so many second chances I didn’t even deserve.  I’m so thankful for second chances and wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

One man in the Bible reminds me of a second chance that saved his life.   His name was Barabbas and he was a criminal convicted of committing murder in a rebellion (Mark 15:7).

It was during the time of Passover and every year the Roman governor would release a prisoner to the people of their choice (Matt. 27:15).  Jesus had been arrested and was in custody of Roman authorities.  Barabbas was a well-known prisoner among the people.  When Pilate asked, “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas or Jesus, the people knew exactly who each one was.

Pilate was convicted that he was persecuting an innocent man because Jesus wasn’t guilty of any crime under Roman law.  Jesus couldn’t be prosecuted under Jewish law during Passover because the Jews couldn’t crucify anyone during that time.  So Jesus was to be prosecuted under Roman Law.

When both men were in the judgment seat, Pilate’s wife tells her husband “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man (Jesus) for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”  (Matt. 27:19).

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed (Matt. 27:20).  When Pilate asked, which one do you want me to release?  The crowd shouted, Barabbas! Then Pilate asked, what should I do with Jesus?  The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him!”  Pilate then questions their decision and asks, why, what crime has he committed?  They shouted even louder, Crucify Him!  (Matt.21-23).

Pilate felt so guilty about the outcome he took water and washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (Matt 27:24).  “Then he released Barabbas to them” (Matt. 27:26).

Can you even imagine this scene?  A prisoner who committed murder being set free!  And Jesus a man who committed no crime under Roman law sent to be crucified!?!?!

I can’t imagine what Barabbas was thinking, I was just set free!  He merely received his freedom by default all because the crowd wanted to persecute Jesus.  I can’t help to think of the parallels in Barabbas’ story.  He was a man guilty of a crime and set free.  He was given a second chance at freedom something he didn’t even deserve!

Barabbas being set free and Jesus taking his place on the cross was a foreshadowing of our future story of what Jesus was going to accomplish for us.  Barabbas’ name actually means “Son of Abba” or father.  How coincidental the meaning of the criminal’s name who was released is the very thing that Jesus is to us, “Son of God,” our Father.

I wonder what Barabbas’s life was like after he was released.  I wonder if he was thankful for his second chance at freedom or if he just reverted back to his old criminal habits?  If I were Barabbas I would have been convicted of the new freedom granted to me.

Jesus someone who was innocent and didn't deserve to die took our place for us instead. Click To Tweet

I wonder if Barabbas was at Jesus’ crucifixion, standing at the cross thinking, this man saved my life and set me free (in more ways than we could ever imagine).  I wonder if Barabbas looked at Jesus on the cross and thought, he took my place, that could have been me.  

This whole scene sounds barbaric with the crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!”  In the end, we can point fingers about who was to blame for the death of Jesus.  In reality, it was all apart of God’s plan for us to be set free and forgiven. The only way for us to receive this amazing gift, was for God to sacrifice His only Son for us.

'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.' John 3:16Click To Tweet

Barabbas’s story is a physical representation of what God does for us every day.  How he extends us His mercy and grace, even when we don’t deserve it.  We are all criminals (sinners)  just like Barabbas.  I once was lost but now I’m found.  God’s second chance of mercy and grace has saved and changed my life forever.

We are all given a second chance at freedom, just like Barabbas.  

Have you ever been given a second chance that saved your life?  Please Share!

The second chance God has given me has changed my life forever.

You have been set free.  What an amazing and wonderful gift!  Happy Easter!

Prayer–Lord, Set me Free from my burdens and the things I cannot control.  Set me free from anything weighing me down not allowing me to live how you designed me to live, in freedom.  I love you and praise you, God.  I thank you, God, for sending Jesus to take my place even when I didn’t deserve it.  Thank you for giving second chances. Forgive me of my sins.  You have set me free, Lord.  Thank you, in Jesus name.  Amen

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The Clothes We Wear

I’m always so amazed when I’m in my closet looking for an outfit when I pass by something I’ve worn before at an event in my life, I’m taken back to that day.

When my eyes set on my wedding gown that’s preserved in a box in my closet, I’m taken back to my wedding day.

When I browse by an ugly sweater I wore to a Christmas party I’m taken back to that day.

When I peruse past a certain dress, I’m taken back to the day of the funeral, the ball, the function I attended.

Why is it every shirt, pair of shoes or dress I wear just by looking at the outfit I’ve worn before, my mind takes me back to that memory of the day of the clothes I’ve worn.

Yet when I put on those clothes I am branded with the memory or feeling associated with those clothes.

My memory is my memory regardless of the clothes I wore, yet I identify myself with them.

The clothes I wore don’t define me.Click To Tweet

The clothes I wear don’t make me who I am.

The clothes I wear don’t make me more important.

They don’t give me more value.

They don’t prove anything.

They are just mere clothes I wear.

So how do I rid myself of these associations?

By putting on a new wardrobe.

Colossians 3:10 MSG, “10 Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.”

Paul is telling the Colossians they don’t have to focus on past labels or the old fashions of life. He was teaching them when their focus was on their Creator, on what He had done for them, they were putting on a new wardrobe, a new self one that was free from their past.

Colossians 3:12 MSG

12 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

We have been chosen to live out a life of love and not bound to the mistakes of our past or ugly cycles of defeat. When we clothe ourselves with the loving kindness compassion of Christ we are putting on a new wardrobe, a new self.

So maybe the clothes I wear do define me?

The worldly clothes I wear don’t define me, but the clothing of Christ does.

I love the way Paul teaches because he uses analogies we all can relate to of physical, worldly things and translates them into the spiritual. He even tells the Colossians in (Col. 3:8 MSG), “Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire.”

We don’t have to revert back to old ways, we don’t have to keep putting on that old wardrobe that keeps us cuddled up to our sins. We can take them off and throw them away for good never returning back to them because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Do you have the one stand out garment in your closet, the go-to garment you put it on and everyone recognizes its unique and different?

Paul gives further instructions and tells us about stand out garments.

“13 Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. 14 And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it”. (Colossians 3:13-14 MSG).

No matter what wear love. That is our go to, must have garment.Click To Tweet

When we put on love we are able to be kind, compassionate, humble, and forgive. We are able to leave behind the past allow ourselves to walk into the future filled with hope and freedom.

When we put on love we will be filled with God’s strength and discipline. We don’t have to try with our own strength when we put on love we are free from our sinful tendencies.

When we put away our bad tempers, irritability, meanness, profanity, and dirty talk, and put on love, others in the world will notice and recognize the love and compassion of Christ. And “When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too – the real you, the glorious you” (Colossians 3:4 MSG).

What kind of clothes do you wear?

What’s in your wardrobe?

A Prayer- Lord Jesus, help us get rid of anything keeping us in the past, keeping us from you. Help us get rid of our old worldly wardrobes and clothe ourselves with your kindness, humility, strength, discipline and above all else your love, God. I pray we will choose to wear love every day. May it be apart of our everyday lives, our everyday speech and actions. May love be our choice and response above all things, Lord. Help us put on a new wardrobe, one that you have created, never to put on our old wardrobe again. We thank you and praise you Jesus for who you are and what you are able to do. We love you. In Jesus name, Amen.

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10 Thanksgiving Bible Verses

I love Thanksgiving time!  It is a time to gather with family, cook together, eat lots of food and celebrate what we are thankful for.  This year may be a tough season for many of us.  Some of us may have experienced job loss, an unexpected illness or have financial struggles.  The list is endless of what makes our seasons tough.

There is one thing we can always count on, even in our rough seasons—God’s promises.  We may experience storms and struggles in life, but there is always something to be thankful for.  We may not want our circumstances or even like them, but God will use them for His glory and will produce the greatest blessings.

This Thanksgiving let’s give thanks to God not just for the good we are thankful for but for everything in between;  the good, the bad and the ugly.  When we do, we receive God’s greatest blessings when we are thankful in all circumstances (Thes. 5:18).   

Here are 10 Bible verse to Remind us of God’s Goodness-

1.  “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” 2 Corinthians 4:15

2.  “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” 2 Corinthians 9:11

3.  “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds”  Psalm 9:1

4.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”  Philippians 4:6-7

5.  “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Colossians 3:16-17

6.  “This is the day the Lord has made;  We will rejoice and be glad in it.”  118:24

7. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” 1 Chronicles 16:34

8.  “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High”  Psalm 7:17

9.  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

10.  “In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted”  Isaiah 12:4

There is always something to be thankful for.  

What are you thankful for?

What Bible verses remind you of what you are thankful for?

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The Secret to Being Perfect

Summer is here. The sun is shining, kids are out of school, days are filled with relaxing, activities and hopefully vacations.  I love the things we learn from our seasons and vacations we go on.  There’s indigenous wildlife and landscapes we discover in the places we go.  One bird indigenous to Alaska I will never forget is the raven.

These birds live in parking lots and attack trash cans, devouring any food left on the ground. They live up to their name because they are ravenous scavengers that will eat anything. I’ve always wondered why these birds choose to stay during Alaskan winters. If I were a bird I would definitely use the wings God had gave me to fly to warmer temperatures. Even though ravens don’t migrate when the weather gets cold, I don’t think these Alaskan ravens could fly very far even if they had to. They are self-indulgent glutinous birds way too fat to fly anywhere. I have never seen ravens this big ever in my life. These birds may be sleek and shiny on the outside, but their selfish desires hold them captive in the tundra weather as a result.

These Ravens remind me of the Pharisees in the Bible.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

The Pharisees had a tradition to engage in ceremonial washing of their body before eating, so nothing dirty would enter their bodies. However Jesus was pointing out, the Pharisees were missing the point. What was the point of physically cleaning the outside of their bodies if their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence? The Pharisees thought they were perfect because they followed the traditions of men. They were more concerned with keeping the tradition of ceremonial washings then keeping their hearts clean with the righteousness of God.

How true is this for our lives?

Am I like the Pharisee trying to maintain perfection on the outside but really full of un-righteousness on the inside?

I have been guilty of trying to maintain the facade that everything is perfect in my life on the outside by keeping a clean house, car, a perfectly manicured yard, obedient kids, a successful husband the list goes on. Maybe you can relate?

Have you tried to find value and worth through your circumstances like me? Have you tried to seek righteousness in your own works? Truth is I can have everything perfect and neatly organized on the outside but really am falling apart on the inside.

Where is the hope or freedom in my failures?

Is success in life really measured by my performance and how perfect I look from the outside?

There will be times my achievements fail. Times I don’t always get it right.  There will always be another room to clean in my house. There will always be a child’s behavior to correct. There may be times my husband and I don’t get along. There will always be that certain something that doesn’t go as planned.  Does that mean I only receive hope if my circumstances are going well in my life?

Perfectionism and keeping a bunch of rules will never make me righteous or bring me peace or freedomClick To Tweet

I am not perfect.  But I am made perfect in God. Through God’s eyes even when I fall short, He sees me as his perfect workmanship and makes up for my shortcomings (Romans 3:23).

He created and designed all of us with a purpose that is greater than our next performance.

The secret to being perfect isn’t in what we do ourselves with our own strength but in what God can do in us with His strength.Click To Tweet

God cares more about the condition of our hearts than how clean our houses are. His desire is for us to love him with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds” (Matthew 22:37).

Jesus tells the Pharisees, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” Matthew 23:26. He was trying to teach them you will always be held captive by selfish desires and trying to maintain perfectionism. We will always be set free in God’s truth and love for us.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

When I seek God for my righteousness and desires of my heart he shows me “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; our souls knows it very well (Psalm 139:14). Righteousness does not come from ourselves or in anything we do, but from God himself.

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ (Philippians 3:9).

Our hearts will always find peace in His presence and freedom in His truth.

The next time there are a pile of dishes in your sink, say to yourself, “Bless this mess, because I am made perfect in God!” Thankfully God cares more of how clean my heart is than my sink!

Have you ever met someone and thought wow they have it all together, to only find out they are shattered and broken on the inside?

You never know what someone is going through. Just because their life seems perfect on the inside doesn’t mean it’s true.  Thankfully we have all been saved by his grace.  His grace and purpose are always greater.

“He has saved us and called us to holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”  2 Timothy 1:9

Can you relate to the Pharisees?

Do you allow circumstances to enslave you and determine your happiness?

Have you been victim to performance and perfectionism?

How has God’s truth set you free?

Our circumstances will always change.  God’s truth is eternal and everlasting!  There is hope when we seek our truth and identity in God. You are perfectly perfect in who God says you are. He created you and never makes mistakes. You are perfect!

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Living on a Prayer

When you read the title of this post I bet the first thing that comes to your mind is Bon Jovi’s hit song, ‘Living on a Prayer.’  It’s a song about struggle trying to make ends meet, the people in the song have to keep going and hold on to what they got.  They are walking a fine line between making it or not and they are living moment by moment–living on a prayer.

One animal sticks out in my mind who lives their life living literally on the edge of life or death is the bullhorn sheep.  Their home is on the cliffs of mountains. These sheep spend most of their lives jumping from one cliff to another, finding comfort in living on the edge of these cliffs. I’ve always wondered why do these animals choose to live so close to the edge of death every day?  Why don’t they find comfort in grazing grass from a nice flat green pasture?

The answer lies in how the food chain operates—fear of the predators outweighs their fear of the cliffs. Predators cannot get them when they live on the cliffs.

I couldn’t even imagine living the way the bullhorn sheep live every day. Hanging so close to the edge living moment to moment not knowing if they would slip—finding comfort on the edge of death. They become accustomed to living like this, getting used to slippery slopes, falling rocks and become agile to steep cliffs.

Imagine if we lived life like that?  Every moment of every day was dependant upon our prayers?

Or each moment was dependant on God for every breath, every step, every need of our day?

I am guilty of not always turning to God before making decisions or reacting to certain situations. What if instead of responding and making choices on my own, I instead turned to God first in prayer?

2 Corinthians 10:5

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Living on a Prayer:

One verse that sticks out in my mind that helps lead us to depend on God for every need is 2 Corinthians 10:5. There is always going to be something in this world trying to distract us and lead us away from what God desires for us.  The world is going to tell us that we need more love, more money, more power.  These things will never lead us to the abundant life God desires for us–only more tired and more empty because there will always be ‘more’ to chase– there will never be an end to more.

The weapon we can use to demolish strongholds is seeking God in prayer. Click To Tweet

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God when we allow God to take captive our every thought and make them obedient to Him.

The next verses in 2 Corinthians 10:6-7 say, “We will be ready to punish every act of disobedience once your obedience is complete.  You are looking only on the surface of things.  If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he.”  

We belong to Christ.  When the shouts of the world drown out the voice of God we can become deaf to His voice.  In the busyness and chaos of this world, we need to find the time to slow down, be still, sit in the presence of God so we can hear his voice.  God did not design us to keep going to the next best thing.  He designed us to depend on Him like our lives depend upon it.

I encourage you to write 2 Corinthians 10:5 down on a notecard, put it on your mirror and pray this verse every day for the next week, as a reminder to allow God to take every thought captive and make them obedient to Him. This verse trains our minds to direct our hearts to where He desires us to go.  I promise you His desires and plans will lead to the best life ever.

Just like the bullhorn sheep, predators cannot get us when we live under the umbrella of God’s protection.  The enemy will masquerade himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).  He will try to lure us into areas where we are exposed and not protected.  Satan is always prowling around like a lion ready to devour us at any moment of any day.

Molding a life of prayer like our lives depended on it is the very thing that will protect us, bring our battles into the light and hear God’s voice.

The next time you have a temptation, an impure thought, discouragement or doubts…….

Ask God to take captive every thought and make them obedient to Him.  

Prayer is our lifeline to God. A life without prayer is a life without God.Click To Tweet

Imagine what our lives would look like if we lived on prayer?

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, we pray we will focus our hearts and minds on you.  We pray you will take captive our every thought and make them obedient to you.  We pray we will stay alert of the schemes of the enemy and stay under the umbrella of your protection.  Help us mold a life of prayer that is dependant upon you for every moment of every day so we can live our lives living on a prayer.  Help us stay in prayer so we can hear your voice and have our steps directed.  We love you, Lord, in Jesus name.  Amen.

How important is prayer in your life?  Do you live on a prayer?

What is one action step you can do today to make prayer an important part of your daily life?

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Lamb of God

With the Easter holiday approaching, I wanted to take us back to the reason for the season of why we really celebrate Easter.  As I enter into stores my eyes are bombarded with empty plastic eggs, Easter baskets and bunnies.  Really the Easter bunny has nothing to do with why we celebrate Easter.  The world has made the most holy of holidays into propaganda.  The Easter and Christmas holidays have become a reason to spend money on gifts that have nothing to do with what is actually being celebrated.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus is called the Lamb of God?

In the Old Testament, those who sought forgiveness for their sins would choose a sheep or a goat to sacrifice on an altar.  A person would receive atonement for their sins from the blood of the animal being shed.

 “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.”  Exodus 12:5

Specific instructions would be given to choosing an animal without blemish or broken bones and how to prepare and celebrate the animal after being sacrificed.  The animal wasn’t just a sacrifice for sins, but something to be consumed by the community afterward, not to be wasted.

“It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.”  Exodus 12:46-47

Passover is a holy holiday that the Jewish community celebrates the Passover in which “the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.”  Exodus 12:27.  (To read more about the Passover read Exodus 12:21-28).  Every year the Jewish community celebrates Passover by sacrificing and consuming a Passover Lamb.

The last week that Jesus was alive on earth, the Jewish community was getting ready to celebrate the Passover.  Little did they know their lives would be changed forever.

The turn of events that happened before Jesus’ death was orchestrated by God Himself.  Jesus told Peter he would be the one to deny Him and that Judas would betray Him.  Once Jesus was in the hands of Pilate and the Roman soldiers He was…

flogged and a crown of thorns was placed on his head.  John 19:1

He was struck, spit on, the crown of thorns was twisted on his head and He was given 39 lashes.  Mark 15:19

The horizontal crossbar of the cross was tied around the arms of Jesus in which He was made to carry up the hill of Golgotha (which weighed 75-125 pounds, the whole cross weighed 300 pounds) John 19:17.

Jesus’ arms and feet were nailed to the cross.  Each wrought iron nail was 7-9 inches in length.  Mark 15:24

The Nails they used were 7-9 inches long

This is merely a glimpse of what Jesus endured and went through.  There were two other men hanging on the crosses with Jesus.  The Sabbath was approaching.   The Sanhedrin went before Pilate to ask him to not allow any bodies left hanging on the crosses during sundown on the Sabbath.  This particular day was the day before Passover their most holy of holidays.  They asked Pilate to have the ‘ legs broken and the bodies taken down’ (John 19:31).

Death was lingering too long, so Pilate ordered the legs of those hanging on the cross to be broken. The weight of a person’s body usually caused their death on the cross after their legs were broken, from asphyxiation–crushing their own lungs.

The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the other men first.  When they came to Jesus they discovered He had already died and did not break His legs.  “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true.” John 19: 34-35.

Why is this all so significant?

Isn’t it amazing that after all the beatings, the flogging, the crucifixion and piercing Jesus endured that not one bone was broken in his body?

These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled. Not one of his bones will be broken” John 19:36'Click To Tweet

While Jesus was on earth He was without sin and defect, He was perfect. 

“but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” 1 Peter 1:19.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed”  Isaiah 53:5.

Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities and received a punishment we deserved.  All of His suffering was not for nothing.  It was to fulfill the greater plan of God.

Jesus came so we could have life and have it to the full (John 10:10). Click To Tweet

Jesus is the Passover lamb. He is the Lamb of God.  In the Old Testament, when instructions were given for the Passover Lamb, it was to be prepared by roasting and cooking it by the fire. From the beginning of time, God was preparing us.  It wasn’t enough to just sacrifice the lamb but to also partake in it. The lamb wasn’t meant to just be observed, but also be consumed by the people (Exodus 12:46-47).  Jesus didn’t come to just be observed on the cross, but to be consumed in our everyday lives.

What does this mean for us in our everyday lives?

“God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” 2 Corinthians 5:21Click To Tweet

Jesus dying on the cross for our sins changed everything!  The sacrificial lamb no longer needed to be sacrificed for every sin.  That lamb can only atone one person for their sins.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to shed His blood making it possible to atone all for their sins.

Jesus died once to pay the price for all.

Jesus isn’t just a figure in our lives that we observe on the cross.   He desires to have an active role in our lives, a relationship with us–to give us life-giving sustenance. When we choose to partake in the beautiful message of Easter, in the good news of the gospel, we are loving God with all of our heart, all of our mind and all of our soul (Matthew 22:37).

We can nail our sins to the cross

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross”  Colossians 2:13-14

When Jesus died on the cross, it gave us a chance to nail our own sins on the cross.  Jesus’ act of taking our place, dying on the cross for our sins is something He did one time but is something that gives eternally forever more.  Jesus loves us so much, He took our place for us so we can be in heaven one day with Him.  You are loved!  I pray this Easter you will partake in the Lamb of God and celebrate the reason for the season.

'For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord' Romans 6:23Click To Tweet

His gift to all of us is eternal life.  Have you accepted God’s gift of eternal life this Easter?  When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, death has no power over us.  Have a Happy Easter!

Isn’t it amazing how Jesus became sin for us, took our place and suffered for us?

Why do you celebrate Easter?  What does Easter mean to you?

He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our Healer, our God is capable of anything.  God makes the most perfect and amazing plans.  

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”  John 3:16-17

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting. Have a blessed week!

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Edition {Giveaway}

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him” quote Abraham Lincoln.

I am so excited to announce the story I submitted last year to Chicken Soup for the Soul has been accepted and published in the Military Edition!  I am humbled and honored to have our story alongside other men and women who have served and been the force behind the forces.  And I’m thankful to have another opportunity to be published in the Chicken Soup Series!

I can’t believe how completely different our lives look now.

Never in my life did I think I’d be in this place I am today.  Never in a million years did I think I would be living in Alaska, living on a military base with my husband serving in the United States Air Force.  Never did I imagine all that we would see and learn just by taking a step of faith out of our comfort zone.  Only God.

You just never know what God has planned.

Even though we left everything we knew–family, friends, kid’s school, our home, jobs, etc.  We wouldn’t trade the military or Alaska for anything.  Coming up here we have become a closer knit family.  Moving to a place where you know no one, makes a family depend on each other in ways you never had before.  We also get to meet amazing military families who sacrifice their lives and serve just so we can be safe.

There is so much more to our story than what is published.  God has been writing our story for quite some time and is always full of surprises!

Life wouldn’t be life if there weren’t curve balls, sharp turns or detours would it?

As I am writing these words, we are getting ready to embark on our new journey to Colorado!  In fact we could really use your prayers.  There are a lot of unknowns of where we will live and what school our kids will attend.   We are trusting in God’s provision and leaving it in His hands.  Even though we don’t know how all the details are going to work, we know God has it already worked out for us.

There is something powerful in doing something bigger than yourself.

Alaska has taught us many things especially the art of camping and how to be prepared in all kinds of situations (wild life, negative degree weather).  We will be driving with our two kids and dog in our RV through Canada this summer, stopping by national parks along the way.  It is bittersweet for us to leave all the wonderful friends who have been our new military family to embark on our new adventure.  But we are excited for our new adventure that awaits.

Sometimes I question if we have to move every 3 to 4 years how are we able to grow roots?  I believe God uses us wherever we are.  He allows us to bloom wherever we are planted growing our roots deeper in every step of faith and act of obedience.  I will cherish the relationships and friendships we have made along the way and carry them in my heart wherever I go.  Each journey we go on grows us and prepares us for what God has in store (hence why we named our dog Journey ; ).

Our Journey Girl

Want a chance to win a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Military Edition for your self?  Before it is available in stores?

Here’s How to Enter:  Contest ENDS May 12th!  

  1. Subscribe to the Blog OR
  2. Write a Comment with your name, EMAIL and what branch of the service you are associated with OR
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Do all three for THREE chances to win!  I will need your email to notify if you won.  The Contest is only for those who live in the United States.  I promise I will not share your info with anyone.  If you win I will need your mailing address so I can send you a signed hard copy of the book!  Please share with others so they can have a chance too!  I will announce the winner via Facebook and email.  Please like the Facebook page or leave your email in the comments in case you win!  Good luck!

Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Military Edition is available for pre-order purchase on www.amazon.com for only $10.37!  It’s a perfect gift to give to that special someone who serves for Memorial Day!

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Finding Victory in Our Messes

I have a confession to make.  There are certain areas of my life that are in a state of continual mess.  My desk is one of them.  I probably shouldn’t admit this, but there is something very comforting about my messy desk.  Maybe because it doesn’t demand me to keep a certain appearance of having it all together all the time.  Or maybe because it doesn’t nag me to clean it up?

Do you have an area of your life that is in a continual messy state?  

I struggle to keep my messy desk organized.  One piece of paper out of place leads to a pile, which leads to a mountain of open books, to a point I don’t know where anything is!  My messiness impedes progress to move forward in completing projects.  I get to the point where my desk is so messy I am forced to organize it.  Even though there is a place for everything, somehow in my busyness and distractions my desk becomes messy again.  The time I need to organize and put away things is easily replaced by other activities or commitments.  I have good intentions to keep my desk clean, but somehow the piles seem to always appear!

My desk is a reminder of how my one decision to not put something away, leads to a big mess!

Can you relate?

There lies a constant struggle within all of us, to keep our lives without messes.  Is this a realistic achievement to have a life without messes?  I don’t think so. I think messes are apart of our lives, whether they are physical or spiritual.  I think our messes are apart of our stories in which God has written.

My mess makes me think of Joseph in the Bible when his brothers sold him into slavery.  His brothers did not like Joseph because their father showed favoritism towards him.  Their jealousy took a turn for the worse when they plotted an evil plan to kill him.  Thank goodness one of their brothers had the sense to spare his life.  Instead, they plotted to throw him in a well and sold him to the Ishmaelites traveling to Egypt.  The brothers then decided to deceive their father, making him believe his beloved son was killed and devoured by a wild beast.  They even killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s coat in blood to show their father, to make their whole story seem more believable (Genesis 37:12-36).

What a mess!  Their evil plot to kill turned into a lie, which turned into a conspiracy of deception–selling their brother into slavery!  I can’t imagine how their father felt, thinking his son died, but was really deceived by his own sons and didn’t even know it!

Oh, what God can do with our messes.  

Little did Joseph’s brothers know, what they intended for harm, God intended for good to accomplish His greater plan (Genesis 50:20).   What the brothers thought would be the downfall of Joseph, God used to equip Joseph all for His glory.

Joseph had been a slave in Egypt for about 13 years.  In that time he learned much because he was a servant of Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.  He gained favor with Pharaoh when he was able to interpret one of Pharaoh’s dreams (Genesis 41).  Joseph’s dream saved Egypt from a great famine that devastated many lands around them.  Unknowingly, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food, not knowing their brother Joseph was there, in a place of power.

In Genesis 45, Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, letting them know he indeed was still alive and had power in the land of Egypt.  He was able to spare his family from the famine by supplying them with much food, and land for their flocks and herds.

What an amazing surprise for Joseph’s father Jacob, to discover his son Joseph was still alive!  Joseph could have repaid his brother’s with revenge, but instead, he chose to love them despite selling him into slavery.  Even though Joseph’s brother’s intended to harm him, God was at work the whole time.  He turned the brothers’ horrible decision into one of the most glorious plans ever!  

There is Victory in Our Messes!

Can you relate to Joseph’s story?

Have you been in a mess and felt like there was no way out?

I promise you can trust that God is at work in your life.  If God can deliver Joseph from slavery making him a powerful ruler over Egypt he can deliver you from your circumstances.  Stay faithful in prayer, I promise God is listening!  We may not always see what God’s plans hold, but can trust he has something better for us just ahead!  (Jer. 29:11).

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The Joy of Less: The Power of Contentment

What’s your dream?  Everyone has a dream about what type of life they want to be Living.  Are you Living the best life ever?  You were Made for More, to live the Best Life Ever.  One that is filled with abundance, fullness, and richness.

Below is a story which I hope challenges you to ask important questions.

A Parable of the Mexican Fisherman and Investment Banker (Author Unknown)

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Moral of the Story:  Live Simply, Love More.  When we Live in the Present we will always find Contentment.  

This story really challenges us to ask, “Am I really Living life the way life was meant to be Lived?

Sometimes bigger isn’t always better.  There will always be another dollar to make, a bigger house to buy, a nicer car, a nicer life.   Then what?  The chase for more will only rob us of life’s precious moments that are meant to enjoy NOW not LATER.  It’s time to ask, When is Enough, ever Enough?

Where does Contentment get lost?  When your need for more money and stuff is greater than your purpose.  Sometimes purpose can get lost along the way when trying to reach your goal for more when in reality your purpose was right in front of you the whole time.

True Contentment will never be found at the bottom of a shopping bag, the bottom of a wine glass, at the top of the corporate ladder,  in a pair of smaller jeans, in an empty mansion with a bunch of stuff.  (Temporary Contentment)

True Contentment is always found in who God says you are.  God says you are worthy and valuable just the way you are, you are beautiful and you have a purpose.

You are loved by a God who loved you first.  When you have God’s love, that makes you the richest person alive.  God’s love gives you more value and worth than anything this earth could ever offer.  (Eternal Contentment).  Here are 10 Ways to Always Be Content.

More money doesn’t make us rich, the love and time we invest in your relationships do.  “Don’t put your hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but put your hope in God, who richly provides you with everything for your enjoyment.”  1 Timothy 6:17

When we have God’s love, We are RELEASED from the BURDEN of trying to do it all.
When we have God’s love, We are FREE from trying to live up to worldly standards.
When we have God’s love, We will be ETERNALLY SATISFIED never wanting more.
When we have God’s love, We learn GOD IS ENOUGH and all we will ever need.  

Living within God's boundaries of love, Trusting in his provision--We will always be abundantly filled with the fullness of everything He has to offer and live in Eternal Contentment. Click To Tweet

God desires for us to Live the Best Life Ever in Him, so he can provide us with eternal riches.  

Are you truly Living the Best Life Ever in who God says You are?  

What do you put your hope in?  Circumstances or relationships?

Do you trust God Enough to Provide the Best Life Ever in Him? 

'Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.' (Matthew 6:20)Click To Tweet

'The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.' Isaiah 40:8Click To Tweet

Going Deeper:  Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 6:17-19

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Want to know more about the Joy of Less?  Read Heather’s story in Chicken Soup for the Soul “The Joy of Less.” Click Here.

I would love to hear from you.  Leave your comments below.


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