My #CoffeeforYourHeart Playlist

A little while ago I started building a “Coffee for Your Heart” music playlist. I named it after Holley Gerth’s blog moniker since it has become synonymous with encouragement. Which is exactly what the collection was created for. As I come across a track that might encourage someone, I save it for when someone may need to be uplifted, comforted, or affirmed.

Coffee for Your Heart Playlist CD

The other day, it occurred to me that maybe people might appreciate a peek at that list to spread encouragement in their circles too. Would you like a sample of what I’ve been compiling? Perhaps there’s even a song that will speak to your heart and be just what you need to hear.

This selection is, of course, just a small beginning. When we share, things grow and get better. So, I invite you to join in this music mission. Would love to hear about songs you believe will bring hope, healing, joy and peace; melodies that soothe and help people carry on with renewed courage and strength.

Here are some of the titles I hope will touch and bless others. Can’t wait to hear yours!

  1. In Your Hands by Unspoken
  2. Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns
  3. What Faith Can Do by Kutless
  4. The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Poets
  5. You Shine by Brian Doerkson
  6. Don’t Give Up by Sanctus Real
  7. Walk by Faith by Jeremy Camp
  8. Verge of a Miracle by Rich Mullins
  9. Stronger by Mandisa
  10. Fighter by Jamie Grace
  11. Flawless by Mercy Me
  12. Carry You by Amy Grant
  13. All You Got by Michael Tait
  14. God is Watching over You by Phil Joel
  15. Beyond Me by Toby Mac

…and two bonus tracks to pick you up and make make you smile out loud.

16. God is Bigger by VeggieTales
17. Cartoons by Chris Rice

Holley’s  words are always encouraging music to my heart. So delighted to link up at her place with you today for a cup or two of refreshing Coffee for Your Heart together. See you there!

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

The day I met Jesus

The Day I Met Jesus Cover - Frank Viola & Mary DeMuth What if you could step into the pages of history and experience first-hand the effect Jesus had on people while He walked the earth? That’s exactly what you can count on throughout The Day I Met Jesus. The authors transport you into the first century latched onto stories of five broken women and their encounter with the Lord of healing, redemption. and grace.

Your journey takes off with biblical narratives written as diary entries from an adulteress caught in the act, prostitute who loved extravagantly, multiple divorcée currently living in sin, defiled, isolated patient with an incessant flow of blood, and a friend who was one of Jesus’s much-loved disciples.

Each one masterfully prepares the scene where we get to live in their skin; see things though their eyes, feel what they felt. Their first-person account brings you to a better understanding of who they were and what their lives must have been like. Each word pointing to that moment in time that changed everything, setting the stage for us to eavesdrop on their transforming encounter with Jesus. Words that paint, in living colour, what it means to be loved, forgiven, restored, healed. As we slip into their shoes, we detect footprints of someone we know much like them and catch glimpses of ourselves. Their stories, though experienced long ago, contain a timeless universality that seamlessly joins past events to present relevance.

As I came to know those women from their perspective, I was eager to overlay their memoirs onto the Sacred Text that immediately follows. Comparing their reflections with the Gospel made what took place more real, vivid and meaningful. Even more so with the Walking it Out section that concludes the chapter. That’s where it’s our turn to meet Jesus. Where the authors zoom in on more insights and finer details of the culture, lifestyle and beliefs at the time of Christ. They also put together the Talking it Over questions at back of the book to help us interact with the biblical narrative on our own or in a group setting,

The Day I Met Jesus reveals how there is so much than what meets the eye. Things I never thought of before. Like how was it the accusers just happened to catch that woman in adultery? That Mary of Bethany who brazenly sat at Jesus’s feet, boldly poured expensive perfume over His feet, quietly held back defending herself against disapproval. It was a real eye-opener when the authors pointed out the unlikelihood the Samaritan woman, marred with a stained reputation, would be taken seriously when she returned to her village telling people about her exchange with Jesus. Yet, they followed her back to see for themselves and were subsequently converted. Clearly, they noticed something different about her.

I loved the way this book captures how the Jesus who touched the lives of those women wants to do the same for you and me. Forgiveness, grace, acceptance and boundless love are ours. Today. Here and now. Sins, mistakes, hurts washed away to make room for life redeemed and free. Shame is wiped away and new life springs forth. Once we  meet Jesus, our lives will never be the same again. Just like the five women.

I met Jesus in a new and powerful way through this book. I think you will too.

I meet Jesus a lot in the words of Holley Gerth and am delighted to link us up today to share some encouraging Coffee for Your Heart together.

Disclosure – Many thanks to BakerBooks for the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this unbiased review.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

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.”