God is Watching Over You!

I know, pictures can’t talk but when I came across this photo the other day the words “God is watching over you” spoke to me. Considering the kind of week I was having, the thought could only be God-ordained. Isn’t it just like Him to knock me off my self-defeating perch and land on this timely truth? Something told me the message was also meant to be shared. 

God is watching over you - downtown Toronto skyline - original photo by Mary Morganelli

He really is watching over you and me.

When life’s got us tied up in a tangle of frustrating, convoluted knots, it hard to look beyond the mess and see the lifeline pulling us loose. We come to the end of our rope and gasp until we look up and discover God’s hand reaching out to us. It’s true you know. We are never out of His sight. Or far from His protective shield.

Just when we feel ourselves sinking quickly and it seems like all hope is gone, he pulls us out and carries us above our circumstances. Sometimes with the words of a friend, the just-right scripture, the song we needed to hear, the kindness of a stranger, the affirmation of a loved one.

You find something you need on sale on a day you hadn’t planned on shopping. There’s only one left and it fits! The person seated next to you just happens to know a doctor who can help. You get stuck in traffic long enough to not be there at the scene of an accident. The storm comes after  you make it home safely. Out of the blue, unexpected good news.

Little things and big things that show us God is looking after us. Always watching over us and watching out for us.

While I was thinking and praying about what to say to you in this post, I was lead to Psalm 121. And it’s no wonder – the word “watch” appears 5 times!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. ~ Psalm 121:3

The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. ~ Psalm 121:5

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. ~ Psalm 121:7-8

We can count on it. No matter what you’re going through. No matter how deep your pain or huge the loss. God is watching over you and He’s got you covered. Now and forever.

Trust and believe. He will see you through everything every single day. It’s a promise!

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.
~Genesis 28:15

 I have often felt God’s watchful touch in-site the words of Holley Gerth. That’s why I love linking ya’ll with her each week. So let’s head on over for some encouraging Coffee for Your Heart with Holley and friends.

Photo credit – the beautiful Toronto skyline photo was taken by the talented photographer and artist Mary Morganelli.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

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CATch the meaning of Christmas!

The Christmas Cat - Melody Carlson

Sure, he had severe cat allergies, but how could he refuse the dying wish of the angel who took him in when both parents were killed in an accident? The woman who arranged a reverse mortgage on her home so he could go to college. His solid rock. The fountain of love that never gave up on him.

Garrison Brown’s grandmother was known as the Cat Lady who doubled as a “magnet for abandoned and abused cats” that get crazy attached to her. Naturally, she would want to make provisions for the critters who were like family to her. A wish for a good, loving refuge to curl up in. But with such specific stipulations, Garrison wasn’t so sure he could pull it off. Could he really find caring families for his grandmother’s feline friends? It seemed impossible.

The first cat Viola was easy to place. Gram’s next door neighbour and best friend Ruby already had a heart for that furry creature and their compatibility was perfect. One down, five to go. Maybe, just maybe, Garrison might find a home for all six and then head back to Seattle to the promised job and fresh start after malaria benched him from his well-digging mission in Uganda.

Like matches made in heaven, one by one, the cats were taken care of. Furball and new owner fit exactly like they were hand-picked and meant for each other. As if Gram was orchestrating the whole thing from above. Even more fascinating were the new kitty guardians introduced through the one person who didn’t qualify. Sweet, beautiful Cara would have made an excellent cat-mom and Garrison really want to give her Harry, the most darling of the bunch. The one she really wanted.

But he couldn’t depart from his grandmother’s instructions. Not even for her. Then again…it’s that time of the year. If God found a way in a manger to save the world, could He not make a way to bring the two of them together? Miracles do happen. Especially at Christmas.

The Christmas Cat was shaping into a warm and fuzzy, feel-good story that left everyone purring contentedly. Including this reader. But then. Just as I was settling in for a predictably smooth trip to a happy ending, the unexpected jolted me into “oh, no!” turbulence.

When things didn’t go quite the way Garrison hoped, he was faced with the same questions and challenges that tore at my heart too. “Where is your faith now?” asked the troubled young man who was helping fix up his grandmother’s house. “In my heart, I am sure you’re making a big mistake” concerned Ruby protested.

Could playing Santa Claus delivering the last piece of his grandmother’s cat adoption package turn things around for Garrison? Would it be a Merry Christmas after all? Wouldn’t dare spoil it for you, but I can tell you this. Like the true meaning of Christmas, it ends with hope. The story of selfless love and a promise for the future.

The Christmas Cat is a heart-warming story with endearing characters tucked inside humour, romance, and life lessons. It was a hot chocolate wrapped in a cozy blanket kind of read I didn’t want to see finish.  Plus, while following the storyline that traces Garrison’s placing his grandmother’s beloved cats, my heart got scooped up in the arms of compassion for the quirky felines and the human lives transformed. The widowed, divorced, emotionally shaken, socially challenged, financially strapped, childless, never married, and ah yes, those orphaned kitty cats all touched by the offering of a generous, loving woman.

I like how Melody Carlson sews up the novel on a satisfying happy note with a whispered hint of what’s to come. An open door for imagination to step in…or perhaps a sequel waiting to make an entrance. Now, that would be purrrrrfect!

The line in The Christmas Cat that says it all for me is “God will provide.” In everything. Always. And sometimes he uses us to provide for each other. Like we do each week when we link-up at Holley Gerth’s for an encouraging Coffee for Your Heart.

Disclosure: I’m delighted to be on board The Christmas Cat Blog Tour with Revell who generously sent me a copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

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Like Stars in the Sky!

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This greeting card was inspired by the Everlasting Light Jewelry and Decor Collection that has captured my heart and imagination. With its beauty and message there’s so much I love about this new product line from DaySpring. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I invite you to see for yourself what’s got me so excited. I’m sure you’ll be touched and delighted!

You are also invited to join us at Holley Gerth’s today for some encouraging Coffee for Your Heart. You’ll feel right home connecting with other bright twinkling stars that shine God’s light through their hearts and words.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

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How sweet it is to be loved by you!

Oh, how sweet it is to be loved by you! Takes the bitterness out of hard times. Sticks it to the sour taste mistakes leave in our mouths that forgiveness washes away. Takes a bite out of disappointments, struggles and heartaches. It whips up a batch of fun, generosity, kindness, support, encouragement and freshly baked hugs. A real treat to be sure!

Making Life a Real Treat Dessert Plate

Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. ~ Proverbs 11:25

For everyone who has sweetened my life in more ways than I can count, I boil over with gratitude. Thank you for warming my life like goodness from the oven, stirring me to move in the direction of my dreams, slathering joy sandwiched between tough times and smooth sailing. For every minute you have made my life sweeter than chocolate… thank you with all heart!

Thank you for inviting me into the kitchen of your life, setting a place at your table for me to hear your heart and be there for you too. Thank you for accepting my humble offerings of refreshments, love, and recipes for homemade happiness.

Yup, we go great together you and me. Like cookies and cream. Now, that’s refreshing!

Celebrating all the sweet people who are such a treat! One of them is Holley Gerth and I’m delighted to link you up with her and the Coffee for Your Heart community today for more sweet, refreshing encouragement and inspiration!

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

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Everlasting Light

Boy, oh boy, I’m more excited than a child on Christmas morning to introduce you to the Everlasting Light Collection today! I was smitten at first sight and am sure you’ll fall in love with it too. Every piece has its own alluring beauty and captivating message. Something special for your eyes to behold and your heart to embrace.

The Lord Will Be Your Everlasting Light

There are so many ways this collection reflects everlasting light, the Light of the World that lasts forever and lives in our hearts. The light that spills from heaven distributing joy, peace, mercy, love, generosity, forgiveness…and charges us to release that light like stars that brighten up the sky.

Each item in this refreshing collection calls to mind the light that penetrates every corner of creation and touches the lives of every single one of us. Once you catch a glimpse of just one, I’m convinced you’ll want to head on over and check them all out. Please do. I’m sure you’ll be delighted!

Get ready to catch these rays of Everlasting Light that inspired me the most. See how they warm and brighten your day.

Everlasting Light Jewellery we wear close and goes with us all day long

Personally, the most meaningful piece is the Shine Bracelet because it beckons people like me who shy away from the limelight to bravely stand out and shine. Not because we’re such hot stuff but because we are filled with much good stuff from God. Brilliant stuff He commissions us to share with the world. With reckless abandonment.

Everlasting Light - Shine Your Light Bracelet

Designed like an ID bracelet it serves as a beautiful reminder that our identity is wrapped around Christ whose life brought light to the world. The “shine your light” inscription and Philippians 2:15 engraved on the back confirms the invitation to step out and go light our world. With our hearts. With our gifts. With all we got! With nothing held back. Like stars in the sky.

You will shine…like stars in the sky. ~ Philippians 2:15

I love how this collection points up to God as our North Star guiding the way and points out how the creator of the universe who knows each star and calls them by name also knows us. The same God who hand-picked the exact spot to hang each little star has set you and me at the precise point in history to light up the world like no one else can.

North Star Trio 

The necklace hangs close to the heart as God’s light guiding us with shining love. The earrings bend to hear His voice and lovingly listen for the needs of others. The ring circles our fingers with the promise of God’s never-ending love and everlasting light. Like the North Star that lights the way and illuminates our path even in the darkest forest of uncertainty and sorrow.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8

Layered Shimmer Necklace

Everlasting Light - Layered Shimmer Necklace

Like the layer of open-cut stars that slides smoothly to open up the shimmering light inside, we are made to let the light shine in and through us.

                 Star Cluster Necklace

Everlasting Light Star Cluster Necklace

Just as the stars in the heavens sparkle in clusters this necklace is my together piece. Stars lined up side-by-side for a stunning remembrance of the stars in our heart and how it always shines brightest when we’re together. Each individual star can represent people we love, prayers, promises or attributes of God, signature verses, things we’re grateful for….and more.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:  Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. ~ Isaiah 40:26

Everlasting Light Decor that casts light into our surroundings

              Starburst Mirror

Everlasting Light - Starburst Mirror

Like a giant starburst the words of Philippians 2:15 whimsically swooping out from the base of the mirror echo how God is the light source bursting through us, radiating onto others. I think it’s amusing yet powerful how whenever anyone looks into it, the mirror responds with the encouraging “You will shine…like stars in the sky.” Even on your worst bad hair day! Even when you’re staring fear in the face.

             Wooden Candlestick Holders

Everlasting Light - Wooden Candle Holders

Like mismatched dishes that have a charm of their own, these three come together as a distinctive set…with a touch of elegance and inspiration. The threesome, each inscribed with a different message, disperses light in a variety of ways. Together or separate the words on each one can simply be appreciated for what they mean. Or the three can stand for the trinity, me-you-God, the 3 days of Easter…the possibilities are endless.

                     Taper Candle Holder

Everlasting Light - Taper Candle Holder

By far, this is the most fun and creative piece. Its versatility shines through and through. Cleverly designed to celebrate the season of advent, with a splash of greenery or Christmas decor, this 4-candle holder easily transforms into a modern advent wreath.

The star shape transports me to star that guided the three wise men to Bethlehem where the Light of the World was born. The place where I’m lead to bow down in awesome wonder before the saviour of the earth, laying the extravagant gift of my life at His feet.

Crafted as a finger candle holder, it strikes me as a metaphor for the light we carry with us as we walk through life, wherever we go.

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. ~ Psalm 89:15

I like how, with a little artistry, switch in candle colours and themed decorations, it can be customized to suit special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, birthdays, weddings…and every celebration under the sun.

For good measure… “pure gold” treasures I couldn’t resist sharing with you

Everlasting Light Star Garland Banner

Disclosure: I am tickled pink to be on the Everlasting Light launch team with (in)courage. I will receive a Dayspring discount coupon plus free shipping for participating in getting the word out about this enchanting and inspirational collection. But my big reward is the joy of sharing my discovery with you.

I’m delighted to link you up  again this week with Holley Gerth and the Coffee for You Heart Community for a cup of light encouragement and inspiration stirred by our God, the Everlasting Light!

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

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Let Your Light Shine!

Everlasting Light Pillow CoverShe was so strong. With courage, determination and love she beat the odds and baffled medical science. For years. I always hoped and believed a miracle for my beautiful sister was just a breath away. On October 22, 2013 that hope vanished.

If you’ve seen someone you love and cherish suffer and die you know what I mean. If you don’t, I hope you never find out. Saying goodbye to my “Filli” was indescribably heart-wrenching. Grief rocked me to the core. The day I never wanted to come assaulted me like a raging hurricane.

Numb and broken I didn’t think anything could soothe the crushing blow. I was wrong. Thank God. In my darkest hour, I was handed a gift bag filled with light – Jesus Calling devotional, the light of His presence and a beautiful cross bracelet, the light of His love. The perfect present from an amazing woman who is a bright, shining light in my life.

After the funeral, confirming a doctor’s appointment before heading down for our meal together put me in the exact spot to meet up with my sister’s best friend and her family who promised to share photos of the remarkable woman we had just lost. The light of compassion and healing in the dark, gloomy dungeon of affliction. I can’t even begin to express what those pictures meant to me and my family. After watching my sister suffer so much for so long, seeing her happy smiles was such a comfort and even joy in the darkness of sorrow.

Under the dark cloud of our first Christmas without her, a  precious childhood friend made me a beautiful angel that I treasure. The gift of the light of her love and friendship whispering a reminder that my “glee club” sister is now joyfully singing with choirs of angels. Out of the darkness, light shines.

It’s been almost a year of struggling, shrouded in the darkness of grief. Almost a year of just enough light to see the way and go on. Pockets of radiance flickered by Tulips in Winter, the rekindled friendship I thought was lost forever, kind words, encouragement, hugs, visits, gifts that made me laugh and smile… Sparks of light that conquered the dark.

The theme of light has been pouring like a steady stream into my days lately. A continuous flow of  light deposits finding its way into my devotional time, inbox, social media…It was everywhere. Just the tap on the shoulder I needed for that moment in time.

Not so coincidentally, I discovered the Everlasting Light Product Line which has touched and inspired me – with it’s beauty and declaration. I just love everything about this collection and so smitten I jumped at the invitation to join their launch team. I know you’ll fall in love with this collection too and will tell you more about it soon. I promise.

For now, I’ll introduce you with the message that spoke volumes to my broken heart. In this year of sorrow, loss and pain for me and too many people I know, it pointed to how special and loved we are by God and that he call us out of the darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). So we can shine His light and love to others. So we can shine and light up our world.

Wherever you are today, there is no darkness that cannot be shattered by light. By the light of Christ. By the light inside you and me. The God who counts the stars and calls them by name (Psalm 147:4) knows you through and through and loves you lots and lots. He calls you worthy. He calls you His. He calls your name and chose you to “shine your light!” as the Everlasting Light Pillow Cover photo above reflects. Shine like crazy. Go light your world with who you are. Let your light shine. Like only you can.

There’s more light waiting for us at Holley Gerth’s place today where we can link-up with her and the Coffee for Your Heart community. So let’s head on over for an enlighting, delightful cup of encouragement and inspiration!

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

 

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Chasing Blue Skies With a Prayer for New Beginnings

Northern Ireland by Elton Baretto

Thank you to the very talented Elton Baretto for this gorgeous photo!

Would you believe Chasing Blue Skies  is one of my favourite things in the world to do? That’s because I get to catch an exhilarating rush of fresh-air-hope with the enchanting, fun-loving, beautiful-hearted  and oh, so talented Kristen Strong. I just about squeal with delight whenever her posts pop up. It’s like opening up a box of Cracker Jack –  a little nutty, sweet to the core and packed with a special prize inside.

From Kristen I’ve picked up great book recommendations, snatched a peek into getting a “Stitch Fix” and wrapped my heart around leaving a real deal legacy. I’ve been shown what it’s like to be a military family,  25 Ways to Be a {Lovely, Appreciated, Bomb Diggedy} Friend and how “God never asks us to skim over troubles but to trust Him with them.”

I love her encouraging spirit, how she shares the things of everyday life and challenges, and that she uses silly phrases like “Stressy McStessersons!” So much about her to love, enjoy and be grateful for.

Today I am especially thankful for her permission to share the prayer from her  When Your New Beginning Does Not Begin Well (in)courage post. This prayer brings tears to my eyes and gets me every time. I read it often and suspect you will want to too.

You may want to copy this and keep it close to your heart so I pulled out the prayer to provide easy and quick access. I invite you to also read the post in its entirety. No doubt you’ll be glad you did and be blessed by it…especially if you are facing a new beginning or season.

               Dear Heavenly Father,

I stepped out to make a place for myself, and I tripped up rather than took off. I feel embarrassed, nervous, worn out and just plain tried out. I know You understand, and because of You, this stumbling block to my new beginning is only a part of my story rather than the end of it.

Where would any of us be without Your daily (hourly?) offerings of fresh starts? A splayed-out mess at the bottom of the stairs, that’s where. Thank You for giving me a fresh start right here, right now. Thank You for showing me that walking in Your will is walking in success. Thank You for giving me a sure identity in You, not in outcomes.

When I contemplate retreating, let me retreat in Your love. When I think about running, let me run confidently forward in the abundant gifts You’ve tailor-made specifically for me. Give me the ability to see how my decisions today affect the story of my future. When I flip through the memory books of my life, may I see plenty evidence of taking Your hand and walking courageously in Your plans for me. Along the way, may I learn the art of taking myself less seriously. And thank You that no matter if I fly or fall, You make every story good.

And You end every story well.

In the name of Jesus, the One Who is head over heels in love with me,
Amen

I met Kristen through Holley Gerth’s God-sized Dream link-up last year and it’s been an amazing ride looking up to heaven with her while taking in the view of life’s twists and turns along the way. This year we’re hooking-up to pour out a little love and Coffee for Your Heart  encouragement at Holley’s place each week. Won’t you join me there today for a cup of refreshing inspiration?

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

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