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!

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

6 Things I learned in September

Hurray! I made it three months in a row, sharing what I learned this month with you. This is so fun and keeps me on my toes, looking up and out for new things to discover and experience.

Here are some of the things that have made me smile…and maybe a little smarter. :)

What I learned in September

  1. You can find beauty in unexpected places. Like flowers bursting from a pole. Surrounded by wire. On a major street. In the big city.
  2. Music albums I’m excited to tell you about
  3. Sunlight is a good disinfectant. No wonder my mom loves to dry clothes outside so much!
  4. All ready to greet the arrival of fall, my hair colour for September is a violet-based red combination.  A beautiful, rich, shiny shade that brightens me up and puts a healthy glow-smile on my face. The down side is red hair dye fades quickly and has a tendency to go brassy. But I’m still smiling because I learned intermittently washing with conditioner instead of shampoo will not only preserve the colour but keep hair luxuriously soft and moisture-infused.
  5. New foods I tried & love
  6. Two new quick and easy oven recipes to warm up to as the days ahead begin to chill down
    • The lovely lady ahead of me at the grocery check-out taught me plantains turn into dessert simply by baking them for 40-45 minutes.
    • While visiting a friend she showed me how to make a mouth-watering fish entree by tossing scallops and shrimp doused with lemon, white wine and oil olive with some parsley and dash of seasoning, in the oven. In about an hour, it’s ready to serve…and enjoy!

Yes, sharing what we learn is so much fun and enlightening. Celebrating what we learned in September with this link-up hosted by Emily P. Freeman.

Change is on its way…all the way to God’s Next Best Thing for you!

Girl meets Change Cover - Kristen StrongYou could probably hear my squeal of delight for miles around when I got the news about being selected to join Girl Meets Change Launch Team! Was over the moon, thrilled to bits, over the opportunity to give back to Kristen Strong for the times her words brought me joy, encouragement, lessons, inspiration and laughter. Oh, and just think, how many more people will now hear about and be blessed by her first book. Pure bliss I tell you.

I couldn’t wait till today, launch day, to tell you all about this practical, uplifting book. Because change affects us all.

Because sometimes change takes us by storm. Sometimes by surprise. Often it takes us to hard, painful places marked by grief, loneliness or confusion. Wherever change takes you, from pink slips to divorce papers; negative pregnancy tests to positive cancer diagnosis, Girl Meets Change will guide you through acknowledging, accepting, then adapting till you reach the point where thriving becomes your faith-full destin(y)nation. Not in spite of change, but because of it.

If you were sitting next to me while I read the book, you’d hear a lot of “wow!” in between tears from triumphant, touching stories or sweet reminders of the everlasting, unchanging love of my heavenly Father who is always for me. While I took 21 pages of notes!

Because of this transforming book, I will never see limitations in the same way – or the word “bravo.” I picked up what a God-timistic attitude looks like and the gift of dropping expectations. I see windowless rooms – real and figurative – in a whole new light. Above all was grasping how God uses change and loss as stepping stones to the next best thing He has in store for me. That change is not in the way of God’s plan for us but on the way.

Big thank to Elton Baretto for this photo of Northern Ireland. <3

Big thank you to Elton Baretto for this photo of Northern Ireland!

This book is filled with a wealth of hope-filled, encouraging truths you’ll want to hang on to and hold dear. Delivered with a warm, me-too and not you-do style. Reading Girl Meets Change was like sitting in a comfy couch having a conversation with Kristen over dessert and our favourite warm beverage. While we chat like long-time friends, she shares her own struggles and stories, loops them together with stories from other’s experiences, stories from the Bible, and God’s Word, to richly resonate like a beautifully orchestrated symphony of words to live by. Then we wrap up each chapter-visit with the powerful prayer that completes the chapter.

Do I recommend Girl Meets Change? Yes, oh yes! With all my heart. I believe Kristen’s first book will quickly become a best-seller that will spark a movement where we embrace change, with all the blessings we find in it, to bless others. Where the change that comes to us changes us to change the world. For the better.

I’m also happy to announce the Girl Meets Change landing page  is all set up to welcome you with more about the book, testimonials, gorgeous graphics and click to tweets to inspire and share.

More great news: if you purchase Girl Meets Change today through the end of the month you will receive the companion guide absolutely FREE! So, pick up your copy today and be doubly blessed ASAP!

Oh, and one more thing, you gotta check out this most fun, creative, helpful quiz ever which includes a outcome-tailored excerpt after completion. You may even want to take it before you start reading and again when once you’re done.

Girl Meets Change Quiz graphic - Kristen Strong

8 Things I Learned in August

What I Learned in August 2015

When you start looking for it, there is so much life has to teach us. Simple things. Big things. Fun things. Things we learn from each other. That doubles the joy of what we learn. So you can imagine how happy I am to connect you with Emily P. Freeman‘s monthly “what we learned this month” link-up and invite you to join in. Contribute with your post or hop on board in the comments.

Here’s what I learned in August to get things rolling:

  1. Signature+ app is a quick, easy way to add text to photos
  2. Designed my first album cover using Canva. Had such fun making it for my “rock star” guitar-playing friend…and he liked it!
  3. Listening to music for an hour every day can reduce chronic pain by up to 21% and depression by up to 25%
  4. Music I discovered and love:
  5. Picked up some wonderful simple summer party decor ideas from The Nesting Place author Myquillyn Smith
  6. Grooved pavement helps fresh asphalt adhere to it
  7. It takes 28 days for concrete to cure
  8. Found it helpful to start a draft for “what I learned this month.” That way there’s a space ready to drop “scribbles” of what I’m learning as I go along.