It’s going to be a joy-full year!

Oh joy! Can you guess what My One Word for 2016 is?

As you can see, I’m already having fun with it! :) For some reason I’m plum giddy about focusing on joy this year. In the eye of a stormy, challenging season, this girl is choosing to be swept away by the many things that bring joy. Even more, so looking forward to seeking and finding more ways to bring joy to others. Committed to touching hearts with joy every chance I get.

One of the things that has sparked a surge of such joy so far this year is joining the hope*writers community. It’s a brand new adventure initiated by  Emily P. Freeman, Myquillyn Smith, Gary Morland and Brian Dixon– two sisters, their dad and a marketing genius. I have learned so much already and have been over-the-moon overjoyed with all the wondferful people I have come to know and treasure.

The words

I am a hope writer

has joy written all over it!

As always, it is my joy to connect you to Holley Gerth’s weekly link-up where a unique blend of Coffee for Your Heart awaits for your enJOYment and encouragement. See you there!

                                              

Amazing Wild and Crazy Dare!

Come on, I dare you. Double dare you, Triple dare you even.  Actually it’s more like an invitation. I signed up to join Holley Gerth in her wild and crazy dare to make 2016 an amazing year and wanted to tell you all about it! That way you can get in on all the good stuff that awaits. I mean, how could we refuse her free “LifeGrowth with Holley Gerth” newsletter offer which includes encouragent, exclusives like free printables, and life-coaching resources? All kinds of tools to make it happen.

Holley gerth 2016 Amazing Dare

She will also be introducing You’re Already Amazing LifeGrowth Guide an interactive workbook along with videos to empower us to embrace who we are and become all God created us to be. It releases in March but her book You Are Already Amazing is available right now to give us a jump start. I read it and can assure you it’ll be worth it!

So, what do say?  Are you in for making this an amazing year together?

For more details and freshly brewed hope, inspiration, and a generousd measure of encouragement head on over to this week’s link up for the most amazing Coffee for Your Heart!

                                                                

In Your Hands

It all started when I heard the song In Your Hands by Unspoken earlier this year.

That theme has been following me ever since. In so many ways and circumstances. All the things I wish I could change, fix, and make a whole lot better. All the things that are beyond my control and understanding I’ve been prompted to hand over to God. Trusting Him to cover each one in the palm of His care and providence.

Into Your HandsIt’s like God is trying to tell me something. Look at what turned up in this fuzzy photo of the moon from my window. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I see hands formed into a cross. The hand of Christ’s love nailed to a tree. Open hands pinned to outstretched arms and surrendered heart, crying out, ” Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit” as He gave up His will and His life. For us.

Jesus entrusted His heavenly Father with everything. Without fail. To the very end. What a powerful life-message to emulate! And what a liberating relief to acknowledge the fate of the world doesn’t rest on my shoulders but in the almighty hand of God. Every burden that weighs heavy on my heart; all the things that are too big and hefty to grasp, I can confidently lay in the Lord’s hands.

And, you know, I can’t think of a better place for them. Because God is faithful. His love is deep and everlasting. He is good and merciful. He knows what’s best and will deliver it on time.

My beautiful friend Holley Gerth has such a gift for drawing people around the steadfast heart of our trustworthy Creator. So, with huge gratitude and the joy of sharing, I invite you to join in her weekly link up. Come see what I mean and be refreshed by a generous pouring of hope-filled, encouraging Coffee for Your Heart. Together.

 

 

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

 

Where is God when horrific things happen?

It’s been 10 years since Nikki Boyd’s sister Sarah was abducted. And she blames herself. Still. Now special agent to the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force the school teacher turned officer throws herself into fighting with everything she’s got to spare others from the devastating trauma her family knew all too well.

The call caVendetta by Lisa Harris Cover me from her boss while rappelling not too far from the cabin where another teenage girl, the daughter of his diseased friend, disappeared. Coincidence? Maybe not. Especially when similarities to her sister’s kidnapper kept surfacing. Mingled with clues conveniently scattered like bread crumbs to taunt and tease while luring her to fall into a lethal trap. Could it be the man dubbed the Angel Abductor is back? Is there hope Sarah is still alive and both girls will be rescued?

If you’re the type like me who loves the challenge of solving a mystery as it unfolds, Vendetta will keep you at the edge of your seat, guessing, second-guessing; surprised and enthralled as the fast-paced, action-packed suspense builds. I got so wrapped up in the story I found myself praying, pleading as if it was all happening in real life.

While my heart was breathlessly racing from the chase to bring justice, my imagination took off in wild awe and reverence for the great Smoky Mountains. Scene after scene of dangerous trails and breathtaking beauty; of nature at its finest and most deadly. Making the spine-chilling plot more intense, captivating, and believable.

There was plenty of drama, twists, turns, head-spinning, and questions begging for answers to keep me riveted from beginning to end. More than that, Lisa Harris’s gift for infusing warmth and humanity, even romance, into a thrilling storyline made for an extraordinary reading experience.

With haunting sensitivity she pinpoints what it feels like to experience loss and the effect it has on people. Without syrupy sentimentalism or in-your-face-religion, she made it easy to empathize with the three-dimensional main characters, plagued with doubt, yet clinging to faith. Battling to stay strong even “when you do everything right and it still isn’t enough.” All the while inviting a huge appreciation and respect for those out there taking risks and making the sacrifices to protect, defend. and rescue. Laying their lives on the line to make the world a better, safer place.

In narrative style she draws out the cost of revenge and the challenge of letting go of the past; of finding your way back home or out of the darkness after tragedy strikes. Her words casting a window to the heart that asks “where is God when horrific things happen?”

Vendetta is the compelling first novel in the Nikki Boyd Files series. And I can’t wait till the next one comes out in the summer of 2016! Especially since the excerpt from Book Two promises to be every bit as exciting. Maybe even more so.

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

Another author that has made a huge impact on me is Holley Gerth.  Linking y’all with her today to be uplifted by why our lives don’t have to be a perfect performance and share heart-warming Coffee for Your Heart together with other encouragers.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

Things I Learned in October

What I learned in October

October was a great month to celebrate beauty and decor. Both from nature and people. Little did I know when I set out to capture the combination of God’s artistry and human hands in my neighbour’s adorable and creative fall decor I would find out, when you take pictures on a sunny, humid day, a rainbow appears.

From my home inspirationista The Nester, Myquillyn Smith I picked up the secret to a charming grocery store centrepiece.  Gorgeous, inexpensive arrangements like this one.The Nester Pumpkin Floral Centrepiece

She also taught me simple ways to make something fabulous and FUNky from a sofa you hate….or one that’s old and shabby, tattered and torn. Check out this under 5-minute how to syle a sofa video and see what I mean. Be prepared to be amazed and delighted!

New delicious foods I discoverd:

Hot Chili Pepper Taralli - Terre di Puglia

Hot Red Pepper Taralli made in Italy by Terre di Puglia.

Crunchy, savoury, bite-sized snack with a bit of a kick. Just enough to zap your taste buds without having to run to a fire hydrant.

Caramel Nut Delight - Fall in Love Coffee from Paramount Coffee

If you could fall in love with coffee, Paramount Coffee’s seasonal Fall in Love Caramel Nut Delight  would definitely qualify! Sweet, smooth caramel accented with a touch of almond..Mmmmmmmmm. Mmmmmm. A new favourite!

31 Days of Seeking Him - Kristin Smith - Riches of His Love blog

The most precious thing I learned was how much I would appreciate and benefit from seeking God together with my beautiful, open-hearted friend Kristin Smith. Each day in Octobder we hung out together at Riches of His Love where she shared #31DaysofSeekingHim. Thank you so much Kristin!

6 Things I learned in November

What I learned in November

November came with lots of wind gusts, splatterings of rain, and even a measure of sunshine. Each day brought something to be grateful for and things to learn along the way. Things I never knew existed. Things that brought me fun and joy.

1. It all began at the top of the month when  Oh Nuts Sweet and Crunchy Blog taught me how to make the chocolate pine cones for this gorgeous, decadent chocolate cake.

Oh! Nuts chocolate pine cone cake

2. Picked up 7 ways to trick myself into cleaning the house  thanks to The Nester, Myqillyn Smith.

sugru kit3.  Myquillyn also introduced to Sugru the playdough-like glue  that cures into a strong but flexible waterproof rubber that bonds to just about anything. It comes in a variety of colours and is ideal for fixing things, making them work better, and all sorts of fun, crafty creations.

4.  Discovered these adorable Balocco Faccine  (little faces in Italian) cookies.  A crispy, chocolate-hazenut, not too sweet smiley-faced treat. Balocco Faccine Cookies

5. New Music that grabbed my hEARt with every beat:

6. One of my favouite places to shop is Winners. Because you never know what treasure you’ll find… always at a great price! That’s where I spied this beautiful Christmas Homes china pattern by Royal Stafford.

Royal Stafford Christmas Home Dinner Plate

The moment my eye caught this dinnerware I felt a warm, coziness envelop me – an air of coming home to a welcoming, inviting place. And I fell in love on the spot.

What got me even more than the charming beauty was the candlelight beaming from the window. A signal reflecting the Light of the World who came down that first Christmas and still makes His home in our hearts. A beacon calling us to shine His light and love as we open our hearts and homes to others.  At Christmas. And every day of the year.

Want to see more things we learned in November?  Check out this Chatting at the Sky link-up  hosted by the lovely Emily P. Freeman.

When We Build on a Firm Foundation

On This Foundation Cover - Lynn Austin

There is much to be said about being totally wrapped up in a story when you know how it ends. That’s what caught me laughing at myself when I couldn’t put On This Foundation down. Especially since the book is cast long, long ago and traces multiple storylines to take in and keep track of.

I’ve always wanted to better understand what life must have been like when the crumbled Jerusalem wall was being rebuilt under Nehemiah. So it was no surprise I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. What I didn’t expect was being so moved by the characters that brought the ancient biblical account to life. I came to appreciate, grieve, rejoice, celebrate, and get angry at what was going on at that period in history. Through the eyes of two district leaders and their families, the young bondservant who sacrificially laid down her freedom to relieve her drought-afflicted family’s debt, the aging slave who could have gone free yet chose to stay, and Nehemiah, the man God called to the lead the restoration.

What really got me was how Lynn Austin blended captivating storytelling with biblical accuracy to vividly draw out the past and frame it with contemporary relevance. So many of the questions, fears, challenges and truths are as much part of current reality as they were in circa 500 BC.

Questions such as  “Why isn’t God answering our prayers?” and “How do I know it’s God who called me and not my own desire or imagination?” The timeless proof of what is possible when we follow God’s prompts and work together. Like rebuilding a wall in record time. Events that covered dealing with enemies, bitterness, and grief while uncovering evidence of God’s faithfulness and love. And why prayer is so vital. At all times.

Through it all, was the underlining theme that the Jerusalem wall stood because it was built on a firm foundation just like we can stand strong and secure when we build our lives on the firm foundation of faith and trust in God. The God who was at work then, is still working now. Even when we don’t see it. Even when it looks like He has abandoned us. We can celebrate the presence of the Almighty One who restored the ruins in their time and is still in the restoration business. No matter what we’ve done, or has happened to us. He can repair broken hearts. Piece together something good from shattered dreams, losses and defeats. Like the Israelites, we can lift our hands in jubilant triumph. Because the most famous truth from the book of Nehemiah still holds true today:

“The joy of the Lord is my strength!” ~ Nehemiah 8:10

On This Foundation is the dramatic conclusion to The Restoration Chronicles. It is a powerful, uplifting volume on its own. And one that that beckons you to go back and read the first two books in the series. I recommend it highly as a compelling story and source of encouraging inspiration.

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing the complimentary copy of On This Foundation through NetGalley in exchange for this unbiased review.

That firm foundation of faith and trust in God is often strengthened and built together. Like when we  link-up at Holley Gerth’s for faith-full Coffee for Your Heart.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image