Category Archives: Kisses from Heaven

Sea Rose Lane

Sea Rose Lane CoverSometimes life gets punctured by loss. Dreams evaporate. Love life disappears in a mist of deception. Aging body ransacked of usefulness and energy. Precious loved ones taken, leaving a gaping void.

The characters Irene Hannon brought to life in Sea Rose Lane know all about that kind of pain and loneliness; heartbreak and disappointment. Yet, the shattered pieces of their lives, like multifaceted rare and radiant gems, come together to become a mosaic resplendent of something beautiful, strong, and resilient. In Hope Harbor. The place where “hearts heal…and love blooms.”

Book Two of the Hope Harbor series was enchanting as it was inspiring and thought-provoking. It’s the perfect beach read where you can easily lose yourself in the storyline unraveled by characters I immediately fell in love with and had compassion for.

The first people we meet are the recently relationship-scorched architect BJ, the new face in Hope Habour, and Eric, the lawyer knocked off the fast-track to the partnership he longed for with the wave of a pink slip. Sparks fly as they literally run into each other on the road…by accident.

Transforming the house Eric grew up into the bed and breakfast his widowed father dreamed of shaped the framework for a restorative romance with BJ. It also introduced Luis, the Cuban refugee struggling with the death of his wife and career as a physician swept to the wayside by bureaucracy and impossible hurdles.

BJ’s desire to help others, combined with her gift for home repair, draws the window into the life and heart of elderly Eleanor whose ailing health makes her question “Why I’m still here God?” Serving no useful purpose – no worthwhile role to play.

Then there’s Charley, the professional artist who sporadically opens up his fish taco stand on the side. He stole the show for me with his loveable, quirky personality that doubles as Hope Harbor’s resident sage with uncanny sixth sense.

Sea Rose Lane is a heart-warming story laced with faith, hope, and wisdom. The people and setting captured my heart and imagination and left me refreshed, inspired and happy. I loved and appreciated Charley’s reminder that brightening someone’s day, adding a touch of joy when they might need it most, has great merit and is something anyone can do. Also these encouraging words from Eric’s father, “No one ever said life was easy. Besides, taking the easy route doesn’t always lead to the best views.” I also liked how he pointed out when things don’t go as hoped it may be an opportunity, not a disaster at all.

Turning the last page was bittersweet.The ending brought tears of joy to my eyes for the way things worked out. But was sad to leave Hope Harbor, the town and the people that were true-to-life and unforgettable.

Many thanks to Revell Publishing for the opportunity to be part of the Sea Rose Lane Blog Tour and the complimentary copy of the  book in exchange for this unbiased review.

I am a hope writer

 

For the Joy of the Cross

Jesus was born on Christmas Day to bring joy to the world.

For the Joy Cross

On Good Friday He died to make that joy complete. And that gave Him joy, knowing His mission for the people on earth was nailed by way of the cross. He would soon be returning to our heavenly Father with a place reserved for us. The road through Calvary leading us home.

 And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. – Hebrews 12:1-2 

Hebrews 12:1-2 was always a moving passage for me. With joy being my one word for 2016, it means even more. When I think of what my redemption cost Him and how much love was poured out in His suffering, it blows me away that as my savior hung on that cross, gasping for breath, He actually felt joy. For me.  And for you.

So today, at the foot of the cross, I commit anew to run with endurance the race God has set before me. For the joy that ransomed me. His joy rooted in sacrifical love. The joy that set me free. For the joy that awaits when we see Jesus face to face. Home at last in heaven with Him forever.

I never make it through Good Friday without crying. This year, those tears will be mingled with joy as I ponder the joy of the Lord who lived and died for me.

I am a hope writer

 

With joy, I invite you to link-up  with Holley Gerth for a Good Friday and every day cup of encouraging Coffee for your Heart. 

                                              

 

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.”

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

Though They Stumble…

Got so mesmerized by the beauty and grandeur of this gorgeous photo of Northern Ireland I nearly missed seeing the teeny tiny people walking along the carved passage through this marvel of nature. I wonder what was going through their minds as they trekked through the snake-shaped path to the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. The slim, suspended bridge made of wire rope and Douglas Fir steps that swings over a 23m deep and 20m wide chasm.

Would they be able to stand steady? Slip, stumble, or fall? Lose their lunch or their nerve? Can they depend on the lattice ropes to prevent them from dropping into the waters below? Might they need to hang onto something (or someone) along this exhilarating, frightening adventure?

They knew the challenge before them when they bought their ticket. That a spectacular scenic view and birdwatcher’s paradise, not to mention the captivating wildlife on land and sea, awaits once they cross. And they knew there’s only one way to make it happen. Trust the bridge.

Northern Ireland Pic with Psalm 37:23-24 Looking at it, that bridge looks fragile and scary, yet has a history of holding people up. Keeping them from plunging into danger. God is like that. He is our faithful bridge that secures safe passage over life’s troubled or consuming waters. The bridge that connects us to each other and to Him with love and forgiveness. The bridge that keeps us from falling when we stumble. When we mess up, fess up and get knocked down by the wind and debris life pelts at us. He holds us when we’re on shaky ground and carries us when we’re too weak and broken to go on.

He is the bridge to good things ahead and the heavenly view marked by joy on the other side of forever after. The God who laid down His life for us lays a rock-solid pathway to everything we need until we reach our final destination –  eternity with Him.

There is nothing to fear, for He is with us and for us. We can trust Him. Every step of the way.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what would happen if anything goes wrong or someone can’t make it across the rope bridge, a boat will come pick you up. God does the same with you and me. He gives us each other to be His hands and feet…and heart. Like we do when we link-up at Holley Gerth’s. So let’s head on over for some Coffee for Your Heart that will pick us up and take us to the bridge of encouragement.

Photo CreditHuge thank you to the talented Elton Baretto for permission to use his breathtaking picture of Carrick-a-Rede. For your viewing pleasure, here is the original photo I’m sure you’ll love!

Carrick-a-Rede  Rope Bridge by Elton Baretto

See, I told you he was talented!

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

I Have Heard your Prayer…

She was hardly someone we would rush to invite to dinner. After all, wasn’t the shame of an empty womb painful enough for Sarah without Hagar taunting her with contempt? And that kid of hers Ishmael! Was it really necessary he mock and make fun of his half-brother Isaac? Rather nasty I’d say. No wonder they found themselves on the run and the eventually evicted from Abraham’s household.

But I have to admit my heart goes out to them whenever I read about how they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness. Rips my heart to bits imagining the scene:

When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears.  ~ Genesis 21:15-16

Brings me to tears too. Obviously moved the heart of God as well. True to the “God hears” meaning of Ishmael’s name the Lord …

…heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.  Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.” ~ Genesis 21:17-18

Their needs reached God’s ears and He saw every tear fall. In desolate wilderness Hagar started referring to God by the name “You are the God who sees me” because she knew first hand how He sees, He listens, He cares, and He responds. It held true for a lowly servant girl and her wayward son. It held true as He assured royal King Hezekiah years later:

I have heard your prayer

The same holds true for me and you this very day. And always.

Isn’t it comforting to know that whatever we are going through, we are never out of God’s watchful eye? We are not alone. Our heavenly Father is looking after us and will see us through. One day, one moment at a time.

As I read 2 Kings 20:5 recently I remembered the time peace washed over me as “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears” echoed in my heart like a voice from heaven. I just knew it was God speaking to me and the tears stopped. My prayer is that those words do the same for you whenever you cry out to God or cry your heart out. That your heartache will be replaced with peace, your tears washed away with joy, and you feel the love and presence of God who hears each prayer and sees every tear.

One of the most beautiful stories of God hearing our prayers and seeing our tears is about a couple on their knees longing for children and a girl without parents who just wanted to be loved. Our loving Father who listens with His heart wide open answered their prayer and silenced their tears when He brought them together in an unexpected way. Holley Gerth is the mamma in this circle of love and shares more about it in a way that will encourage you and move you to tears…the good kind. You’ll also see Mary, the mother of Jesus, in a new light as her words bring comfort for when your hopes seem to be on hold.

Oh yes, and there’s more. Lovelle Gerth-Meyers, that child who ached for love just got married Jan 3.  Her What My Wedding Meant to Me will touch your heart beyond words as she pours out  “It was about God, His ability to answer even the craziest of our hearts’ desires, and His ability to redeem.” 

Yup! Sometimes God gives us each other as an answer to our prayers and tears. That’s why I love linking us up  to Holley’s site where we gather together for Coffee for your Heart made with love, encouragement and the promises of God.

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image

All Things New…

Look at those cute little feetsies! Isn’t it amazing how something so tiny can leave you in awe of how big God is? Especially when you know those feet belong to a beautiful miracle child. Once again our great big God made the impossible happen…and filled my family’s world with mountains of  joy and laughter. Behold I make all things new - baby feet

Photo Credit – Thank you Joe Pittari!

In fact, I do believe God specializes in making things new. With each new day He gives us new opportunities, renewed strength, and never-ending chances to start over and begin anew.

That’s what I love about the arrival of a new year. It ushers in hope at the doorstep of infinite possibilities. We look back at what was and open our hearts for God to work in us and through us to create something new and better out of our yesterdays.

As we begin this new year we can celebrate these promises from our heavenly Father – ours to embrace 365 days of the year.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. ~Isaiah 43:19
If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new. ~2 Corinthians 5:17
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulnes. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Welcome 2015! May this be your best year ever, overflowing with love, joy, blessings, happy endings to your new beginnings and leaps and bounds of success from where you left off.

Released just in time to get your new year off to an encouraging start my dear friend Holley Gerth’s newest ebook The Encouragement Project is now available. To find out all about this inspiring resource and enjoy more renewable Coffee for Your Heart together let’s head on over to today’s link-up. See you there!

Happy New Year everyone!

Thank you  Holley Gerth
for the Coffee for Your Heart image