Coffee for Your Heart and Tummy

The best coffe is the one we share together
Mmmmmmmmmm….. coffee! One of my favourite things. Especially the flavoured ones! Trying new things is a joy and passion for me, so I’ve tasted a good many types of coffee over the years. I enjoyed every single one and some were so good it’s like a taste of heaven.

Since sharing is another one of my favourite things, I wanted to let you in on some of my top-rated coffees.

Anything that comes from employee-owned Paramount Coffee in Michigan will surely delight you! Their decadent Fudge Brownie is to die for and every bit as scrumptious as the best chocolate dessert ever!  You’re also in for a sweet treat with their Chocolate Caramel Cookie, Creme Brulé, Chocolate Raspberry, and cognac-hinted caramel Jamaica Me Crazy.

With over 75 years of dedication to the coffee culture, they have come up with a huge variety of seasonal and unique blends to tinkle your tummy all year round, and over and over again. Such as Apple Crisp, Blueberry Muffin, Toasted Tanzania Cashew, Black Bottom Cupcake, Doodle Dandy (a trace of cinnamon, warm fudge and toasted hazelnut), Pumpkin Pie, Caramel Apple, Peppermint Bark, Gingerbread, Nicaraguan Rum Cake, Mackinac Island Fudge, Toasted Maple Nut, Cozy Caramel Pecan Cluster, Vanilla Sugar Cookie. Just to name a few.

For those of you who are not into flavoured coffees, they offer everything else you could ever wish for. Organic. Fair Trade. Single Origin, Signature blends. Light. Medium. Strong, Decaf. You name it.

As you savour every sip of their coffee you will also feel warm all over knowing it came from a fun, ethical company that gives back to the coffee growers, supports the community it lives in, and will even help you fund-raise for your cause.

For all you chocolate lovers, Chocolate Mudslide (hint of coffee liqueur and rich caramel added to a decadent dark chocolate) in the Flavor Xotics Arabica Coffee brand from Magnum Coffee Roastery will get your taste buds singing and dancing for joy. And to top off the list of irresistible java pleasures, I invite you to check out Southern Pecan from the Spice Exchange Specialty Coffee, Chocolate Macadamia from Casa Europa and Little Italy Caffè Caramel distributed by Life Plus Style Gourmet.

The best coffee in the  whole wide world to me? The one I share with others. Hands down. Including the encouraging Coffee for Your Heart in our weekly link-up  with the lovely Holley Gerth!

Oh, one  more thing  If you live in the USA , you can order Holley’s real Coffee for Your Heart Signature Blend coffee. :)

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

Blindsided by God!

Blindsided  by God Cover - Peter Chin

Miscarriage. Break-in. Cancer. Letter from insurance company declining coverage. Mastectomy. Chemotherapy. Another pregnancy. Disastrous launch of the church Peter Chin believed God had called him to plant. All within the same year. How could this be happening? And why now?

Blindsided by God is narrated by a pastor but far from being a preachy, whitewashed sermon on suffering, it lays out his raw, honest account of that incredible, painful, blessed time. With all the twists, turns, and surprises that make you gasp, cry, and freeze wide-eyed in awe, this book could easily make a best-selling novel.

What holds your attention so powerfully is Peter’s unmasked transparency. How he courageously discloses his feelings of betrayal by God, stark shortcomings, faith wrestling, and range of emotions that blanketed the tumultuous up and down series of events.

The beautiful irony from being blindsided by the trials in this riveting story is how it granted Peter a sharper, clearer vision of who God is. Blindsided, knocked down into the abyss of darkness, yet flooded with the light of renewed faith, God’s unfading presence, and the joy that can coexist with unspeakable pain. Through it all, Peter came to see how God was up to something all along. He had a plan and a purpose. Plans that forged the miraculous and the good out of adversity.

Like when he spotted God’s unmistakable fingerprints on his wife’s triple negative breast cancer (the worst kind) that disqualified her from hormone therapy. The same hormone treatment that would have jeopardized the life of the baby in her womb. The child they refused to abort who later arrived completely healthy despite being exposed to the trauma of mastectomy and potent chemotherapy.

That walk of faith through the valley and up the mountain helped Peter understand suffering through the lens of Christ’s sacrificial purpose and mission. He became a better husband, father, and pastor. Because they knew pain and grief, broken people were attracted to his church, stretching its reach and effectiveness to hurting people. Hardship gave him a greater measure of compassion in addition to the gift of seeing and cherishing daily blessings and glimpses of God’s love and providence. Treasures he otherwise might have missed.

There are plenty of “wow” moments in Blindsided by God. Sometimes from what was happening. Often by the effect and lessons Peter speaks about along the way. It is a book that inspires, uplifts and fills you with hope. I especially appreciated how Peter Chin sensitively included encouragement and truth to those living without a happy ending like the one God orchestrated for his family during that time.

If you are in a place where you’re wondering what God is up to or maybe questioning if He’s there at all, you will especially be touched. And even if you’re not, I would recommend Blindsided by God as a must-read to everyone. Wherever you are in your life’s journey, this book will speak to your heart. Guaranteed.

Here is the quote from Blindsided by God which pretty well says it all for me:

Nothing could hinder the Lord from saving. No circumstances are too dark for him to shed light upon, nothing so broken that it is beyond his ability to mend and make better. Not cancer, not hardship, not death, not even the cross. These are all nothing before the power of His ability to save. Suffering is terrible, but it cannot bind Christ. It does not blot out His existence or curtail His power. It cannot exclude God or stop Him or minimize Him or move Him in any way. Yes, there is suffering in life – that is true. But there is a God whose love, blessings, & power are greater than the suffering we experience.

Disclaimer – Many thanks to  Bethany House Publishers for supplying a complimentary copy of Blindsided by God in exchange for this unbiased review.

For more hope and inspiration let’s  link-up again this week at Holley Gerth’s where we can drink up sweet, encouraging Coffee for Your Heart – together!

Thank you  Holley Gerth for the Coffee for Your Heart image

Four Years and Counting…

Wow – I can hardly believe it! Four years have gone by. Actually, I should say, flown by since I published my first blog post. What a journey and joy this has been and I thank each and every one of you for making it happen. Because I write and share for you, and for some, because of you. For every encouraging word, comment, inspiration, and visit, thank you with all my heart.

Looking back on the year that was, here are some of the visual highlights since mariazwire’s third anniversary. May these bless you, touch your heart and brighten your day!

Continuing to link up with Holley Gerth today for some encouraging Coffee for Your Heart. Come, join me

Thank you  Holley Gerth for the Coffee for Your Heart image

Let’s Live Life Unstuck…Together!

What can I say about a book whose opening chapter Life Unstuck Cover - Pat Laytonstarts off with the author describing how, as she was struggling to open her eyes, was aware of only one thing – her freezing cold, naked bottom sticking up in the air surrounded by chattering voices? Makes you want to laugh out loud or bite your nails nervously wondering how she got there. Definitely sets the stage for what you can expect from Life Unstuck – Pat Layton’s unashamed willingness to bare all and get personal as she flashes the truths that lift the stinky sticky lies and debris that hold us stuck. Beginning with the fact that God sees everything & knows everything about us. So why not expose who we really are since we serve a personal God ready to use us immeasurably, for His purpose right now, the way we are?

Pat’s stories and humour blended with compelling insights accompany you through a refreshing and transforming journey through Psalm 139. The book evenly divides the verses into four sections: Just Imagine Life Unstuck, Peace With The Past, Purpose in the Present, Passion for the Future with each chapter examining a single verse that uncovers a distinct Unstuck Truth.

With every word, you sense Pat’s support, like a friend buoying you up through plunging waters in this invigorating voyage toward the land of unstuckness. In addition to her guidance along the way, she offers resources available at life-unstuck.com to strengthen you and go deeper. Practical things like the 24 Days of Prayer and Praise Study Guide, Unstuck Performance Fact Checker, The Truth About Who We Are and Ephesians Anger Checklist that enrich the content of the book and make it more real and meaningful.

A powerful gift tucked inside Life Unstuck is the Unstuck Manifesto you”ll want to keep close by to declare on a regular basis. Especially on those days when you feel stuck. Stuck at the edge of dreams unfulfilled. Stuck with ‘not enough’ glued to your heart and convictions. Stuck in the comparison trap. Stuck in the past, stuck in your present challenges, struck to the invisible wall of anger, insecurity, or unforgiveness barring you from entering the future with joy and confidence,

Life Unstuck is definitely an action book. Pat Layton packs it to overflowing with gems and veins of gold mined by her clever and encouraging insights, observations and even surprises. Such as her dress code for unstuck victory, Garden of Personality test, Six Steps to Unstuck Emotions, Three Facts about Unstuck Imperfection, and ABC Steps to Unstuck Rest & Restoration. But the unstucking happens by applying and believing them.  As the author passionately points out,  “When we live unstuck & surrender every day fully to the Lord, God can not only use you mightily, but He can transform your life into something strikingly beautiful & breathtaking.”

Whispered throughout is this unmistakable message of hope and restoration: because ” my past is redeemed, my present is hemmed in, my future is secure” by the God who made us and loves us like crazy, we can boldly claim the truths contained in Psalm 139.  We can live in freedom, enjoying and sharing who we truly are – the perfectly designed masterpiece God knit in our mother’s womb complete with the longings, personality, gifts, talents, and yes, quirks and weaknesses too, He shaped in us. We can fearlessly light up the world and change it forever like no one else can. Like the magnificent, one-one-a-kind marvel God created us to be!

One of the best things about Life Unstuck is that the journey doesn’t end on the last page. Pat invites us to continue and connect at life-unstuck.com and join the Life Unstuck Woman’s Club. That way we can “get hold of Life Unstuck together.”

Ah, nothing like togetherness! That’s why I’m so delighted to link us up again at Holley Gerth’s for some encouraging Coffee for Your Heart that’s sure to shake loose the stuff that gets us stuck. Because,  we’re all in this together. With each other  For each other.

Disclosure: Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the invitation to be part of Life Unstuck Blog Tour and the complimentary book in exchange for this unbiased review.

Thank you  Holley Gerth for the Coffee for Your Heart image

It takes a thief!

Forgiven and Loved Cross MugIt’s probably one of the quickest conversions in history. That thief, you know, the one crucified next to Jesus. One minute he’s hurling insults and spitting taunts. Then…moments later he’s humbly pleading, ” Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Luke 23:42 Somehow, he figured out, just inches away, hung royalty – our king and prince of peace. But how?

I found myself wondering what happened to change that thief’s mind. Was it the love in Jesus’s eyes? Some mysterious divine revelation we know nothing about? The devotion of someone in the crowd? Or was it something Jesus said?

Then it hit me. The words Jesus spoke that get me every time, The words that both pierce and soften my heart. “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34  Maybe that lawbreaker queried  “Who is this man who begs forgiveness for His enemies…in His darkest hour? Surely He is innocent!”  Is that what the thief saw that turned things around for him? God in flesh, the long-awaited Messiah, dying to save us? Was that his “I believe” moment?

We will never know. But I can tell you this. I’m so grateful for that thief. Thinking about him brought home the magnitude of Jesus’s love and forgiveness. The love and forgiveness He poured out on that cross. The love and forgiveness He calls me to extend.

Like most people, I always loved this story as a comforting reminder that it’s never too late or too far gone to be swept into redemption’s everlasting arms. It took that thief to help me see anew Jesus’s willingness to take us back no matter what.

It spills hope into Good Friday and into my heart as I picture that tender moment. Jesus lovingly looking that crook in the eye with the same promise He offers you and me. A reservation in paradise Luke 23:43, purchased for us with His  blood. Because, as Max Lucado puts it, “Nails didn’t hold Jesus to the cross. Love did.”

Adios perfectionism. Hello love.

You're Loved No Matter What Cover - Holley GerthIf perfectionism has been invading your turf with flaming arrows doused with doubt and fear, threatening to devour your peace and joy, I have great news for you! There’s a new book in town armed to change that and send those pesky arrows quivering in defeat. Forged by the words crafted by Holley Gerth, You’re Loved No Matter What doubles as a mighty sword. Page after page, it slashes lies whispered to keep you hostage to unrealistic expectations, cuts off the power of “not enough” at its source, and carves truth-shaped love deep into your heart.

What’s remarkable about this sword is how it operates like a Swiss Army knife ready with the tools you can whip out to combat perfectionism and live victoriously free from its strangling grip. The practical and potent toolkit covers boot camp assessment and strengthening exercises that reveal who you are so you can fully live the purpose you are wired and designed for. Holley takes you through discovery stations where you will be equipped to wipe out the perfect-person/like-so-and-so mirage with crystal vision of authentic you via personality tests, skills and strengths finding mission, love language learning curve, and obstacle-smashing course that brings the primary role that fits your strengths into view with bulls-eye accuracy.

You’re Loved No Matter What presents the ultimate field manual set up to guide you through every minefield, tactic and attack perfectionism shoots at you with simple, clear-cut, pocket-sized things you can tackle right away and carry on through all your tomorrows. Packed with brilliant strategies and useful insights it will alert you to where perfectionism comes from and why. Then clothes you with protective layers of know-how. Such as:

  • Practical plan for beating perfectionism that walks you though shifting from pursuing perfection to embracing God’s love
  • 5 elements needed to be perfect in God’s eyes, offering new perspectives that will change your life
  • Difference between guilt and godly sorrow and how to switch from guilt cycle to grace cycle with ease
  • Gratitude tools that knock-out guilt and perfectionism with a swift 1-2 punch
  • 7 steps to freeing your heart forever from the shackles of perfectionism in a ‘Magna Carta’ type declaration of new-found freedom, followed by a prayer for each step
  • 7 reasons to pick up your sword and fight to protect against perfectionism
  • Characteristics of real people
  • Characteristics of God and qualities of His love
  • Commitment of Words pledge of allegiance to each other and to the loving God who made us
  • Go Deeper Guide for individuals and groups

…and so much more!

Key to winning back your freedom from perfectionism is locking into the truth behind the title of the book. Believing that God loves you no matter what acts like a semi-permeable breastplate over your heart that deflects the fiery arrows of perfectionism while letting love flow freely both ways. It rescues us from the snares of trying harder and liberates peaceful contentment with who we are. Where we are. Because, as the book explains, God’s love has no limits, expectations or requirements; is not dependent on us, cannot be earned and has our ultimate good in mind.

Feeling totally loved and accepted by the unchanging God we naturally respond with love and acceptance in return. What better way to rouse up the troops than with a heart fully loaded with high-caliber love? The kind that stops us dead in our tracks from chasing crazy standards. The kind that causes us to drop the reins holding us back for fear of failure or not measuring up while boldly offering the best of who we are and embracing the best in others with love and grace.

That’s the cool irony about enlisting in God’s cavalry. Though the battle against perfectionism rages on, it is actually a lifelong process fired by love and with joy Together with our God leading the charge, we stand side by side and heart to heart, rifle-ready to stand guard against perfectionism. Shielding against the dangers of approval-hungry insecurities, we furnish a safe, welcoming haven for each other to come home to…the way we are.  Just like Holley says, the truths in this book become real in relationship –  in the everyday admission that none of us have it all together but we are all better together.

When we know we’re loved no matter what our hearts are freed from the need to be perfect. Free to love and be loved without reservation. Free to be all God created us to be with hearts and hands open to everything He has for us. Which makes perfect sense, don’t you think?!

So, pick up a copy of You’re Loved No Matter What. Take its truths with you everywhere you goShare it with everyone you know, That way we can all live free joyfully and lovingly forever. Together.

In the meantime let’s hang out together at Holley Gerth’s place for some encouraging and inspiring Coffee for Your Heart. See you there!

Disclosure: Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the invitation to be part of You’re Loved No Matter What Blog Tour and the complimentary book in exchange for this unbiased review.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

Now, That’s What I Call the Beauty of Grace!

The Beauty of Grace Cover - Dawn Camp

Don’t you just love it when you can’t wait for something and when it arrives it’s even better than you ever imagined? That’s exactly what happened as I read The Beauty of Grace. With so many of my favourite writers gathered together within the pages of the same book I was giddy with excitement as I delved into this compilation about God’s love. Even so, I was taken quite by surprise with more than I expected.

I thought I would be reading a lot of sweet “God’s loves you, He really does” type stories that would warm my heart. Sure enough, I did soak up words of hope and encouragement; words of wisdom, comfort, joy and peace. In between being totally bowled over and dropping to my knees over the courage, humility, and raw transparency of every single contributor! At times, I found myself literally cradling the book close to my heart, thinking “Wow, oh wow! Even if this was the only entry it would be worth it!” I saw love beyond the comfy-cozy. Love that is steadfast. Love that is sacrificial and fierce. Love that holds tight when everything seems to be falling to pieces. God’s love to and through human hearts.

The ‘love notes’ you’ll discover inside The Beauty of Grace are beautifully complemented by heavenly nature photos taken by Dawn Camp – simply divine pictures bursting with a visual metaphor for the subtle, yet definitive proof of God’s love expressed in creation. It’s all there in black and white for you.

Each short ‘heartdrop’  is a priceless reflection of God’s love bouncing off the page and straight into our hearts.  You’ll meet:

  • A terminally ill woman relay “Nothing about my life is about me, it’s about who He needs me to be”
  •  A young girl whose health silently stole her gymnastics dream wildly cheering her friend living that same dream.
  • A mama who lost two houses, gained two babies, dropped an income and didn’t have the $1.97 she owed for groceries at the same time her father’s life was slipping away in ICU
  • The family who started Mercy House in Kenya to provide hope and opportunity to pregnant teens living in extreme poverty
  • The woman with 5 children and a depleted emergency fund who invites you to join her as a fellow God-watcher; keeping a watch-full eye out for His goodness and assurances, waiting in joyful expectation for the adventure He has in store for us

…and so much more!

Divided into well-chosen themes that include Purpose, The Big Picture, Surrender, Trust, Lessons Learned, Hope and Encouragement, and Worship, The Beauty of Grace covers a variety of topics written by diverse people in different situations. You’ll hear uplifting messages for changing seasons and stubborn circumstances; tough times and hard places. With words that will renew and inspire where you need it most, this book promises to be a favourite you’ll want to go back to time and time again. And share with others

Soul-stirring right down to the last page, this collection of love-infused offerings from the heart ends “just right” with friends sharing Communion. Because that’s what it’s all about. Doing life together. Sharing our lives, and being there for each other in loving service. Standing as full length mirrors to God’s love through our stories and through our love for Him and others…in remembrance of Him. Now, that’s what I call the beauty of grace!

Disclosure: Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the invitation to be part of The Beauty of Grace Blog Tour and the complimentary book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I’m delighted to tell you Holley Gerth, who wrote the forward and is a contributor to The Beauty of Grace, invites us to link- up  together each week to share encouraging and inspirational Coffee for Your Heart. Come, join me at her place for more sips of the beauty of grace… brewed with love.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image