Spira. Spera. Breathe. Hope.

Many are truly saddened at the tragedy that occurred Monday to the Notre Dame Cathedral. I confess I’ve never visited there, nor have I read Victor Hugo’s novel. It is indeed a loss when something so magnificent suffers.
I can only imagine what it has withstood in its nearly 900 years. The history it has witnessed outside its walls, the lives it has seen transformed within.
It’s always a tragedy when buildings of faith are destroyed. Those buildings are sacred to those that worship in them. Etched in Notre Dame, in a crypt I believe, are the words “Spira. Spera.” Breathe. Hope.
Perhaps the building will be restored, rebuilt as other churches often are.
However this restoration turns out, it reminds me that there is Restoration and Hope available to us as well. This restoration and hope last longer than any man-made building.
In this week especially, it’s nice to remember that with Christ’s last breath on the cross He gave us Hope.
Anytime we utter His name, breathe His name, His is right there.
Spira. Spera.
Breathe. Hope.

“…According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,…” – 1 Peter 3:3-4Untitled design(4)

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LifeVerse Books Blogger Connect Giveaway- Amazon $200 gift card

LifeVerse Books Blogger Connect Giveaway-  Amazon $200 gift card

I’m so excited to be partnering with a few other bloggers, writers and authors to offer you a chance to win a $200 gift card from Amazon!
Please take a few moments and visit, like, subscribe to these lovely women. Comment below so we know that you have visited the sites. Extra entries by using the Rafflecopter entry form below.

Christine Abraham
Carla Brooks
Denise Pass
Christine Johnson
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Giveaway runs until February 13th. So you will have some funds to bless those special people in your life, or treat yourself.

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New year, new post.

New year, new post.

Hello all,
I have been away from here for too long. It’s a new year and new goals. To post at least a bit more frequently than I have in the past. Sharing words of others even more often. Currently we, like the rest of the midwest are in deep sub zero temps and blowing snow. Time to dust off this blog and begin working towards those new goals.

Hope these older posts bless you. 2018 was indeed a year of amazing stretching for me. Excited to see what God has in store for 2019.

A Stake in the Ground Moment

Five minute free write- ready begin.

We’ve heard the phrase “stake in ground “ that issue, that mandate for your life, your belief system that you don’t or won’t stray from. It doesn’t matter what your faith is, or isn’t. Everyone has a few of those stakes. There are very valid reasons for those stakes. Those markers. It help you stay the course, keep your true North in sight.

There are times though when those ‘stake in the ground’ moments might be worth looking at. Not to change those fundamental things, but to realize that there is Grace on either side of that stake. Maybe allowing space, not too far out, but far enough to let others in. It’s all too easy to be so very firm on where you’ve planted your stake that it becomes your moment. Perhaps, allowing for Grace on either side, it becomes far enough out that you allow those stake in the ground moments to become God moments.

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Write 31 days- Day 1

Write 31 days- Day 1

Hello everyone,
I am taking some baby steps to being brave this month. First endeavoring to write either here or on Instagram every day for the whole month of October.
Every year there is a Write31 days challenge. Taking every day in the month of October to write something. Whether it’s a random post on social media, 300 or 3000 words for novel, or simply responding to a prompt someone has specifically made for this writing challenge.

So here goes…

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Day One

Everyone has a story, you were created and formed and living your life. Your stories are what make you who you are.
Seasons in our lives are like chapters in a book. Sometimes we are just slogging along, you know those book that have parts that get bogged down. Or the chapters that seem to be nothing but background and set up for what is to come. That’s you, that’s me.
We all have times in our lives where we feel like we are just getting by. We all have those beginning chapters, or flashback chapters that form our foundation.

Then there are the plot twists. Especially with mysteries. Things we can’t see coming as we are reading along. But we all love the stories where the main characters overcome loss and, or hardship. Where they find love, where they succeed and win at this story of life.

My story is pretty boring by some standards. Pretty fun and exciting by others. But the one prevailing thread that has always run through it, is writing, reading, singing, make believe. There was lots of make believe in my younger days, I was the youngest by 11 years. So mostly an only. I had friends but there was a lot of alone time. Time to create plays from books for our parents, time to write and read.
I still have those very early stories. Written in pencil that has faded over the years.

The writing, reading and music took somewhat of a backseat in college because I just never thought I could do that and study. Note to younger self, find some that believe you can do that and learn from them. As in a novel, sometimes the action shifts.

Deciding to follow after Jesus and realizing my need for a Savior has only enriched my life story. Still there are struggles. As with a novel there have to be some conflicts for the character, otherwise it lacks substance and growth for both the flow of the novel as well as the characters involved. It allows the reader to feel empathy or sympathy for that character. And maybe some recognizable traits within themselves. And in the case of our life stories those times give us testimonies a ‘here is how I made it through’ type offering to others who are in that place we once were.

God has a marvelous way of drawing you back, returning you to the place of dreams. Because, after all, whether you are a believer or not, He is the one who placed those dreams and gifts within you. In a story there is usually change in one or more characters. Just as in life, a good character isn’t stagnate, your life isn’t stagnate. Growth is stretching, it’s stepping out into unknown areas. Or areas that at one time felt familiar and known and possible. But as we grow up those previous things sometimes get over shadowed by simply growing up and becoming an adult. With adult responsibilities.

God has nudged me ever so gently back to creating.

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I’m stepping out, taking baby steps to being brave. Some know I write, some have encouraged me beyond belief that I am a writer. Some have even taken my meager submissions and published them. So this month, I may not be consistent, I probably won’t stick to a theme. (I realized in pondering this that I have lots of ideas). I may not have pithy things to say every day. So some days will be dreck. But that comes with the territory of writing, of story, of living life. Not everything is wonderful. Many parts of life are mundane.
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But I will do my best to write something. Sharing mostly this month, the honing and practice of the craft. Sharing books. Occasionally sharing my Savior and all that that encompasses.

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Photo Credits:
-Book photo by James Bold on Unsplash
-Typewriter photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash
-To Be Continued photo by Reuben Juarez on Unsplash

“Legacy of Mercy”- Release day interview with Lynn Austin

Have been so blessed to be a part of Lynn Austin’s launch team for “Legacy of Mercy”. It was such a treat to have heard her speak a couple of times and then to meet her in person this past spring.

“Waves of Mercy” is a story set in Chicago and Holland, Michigan. Time shift of sorts involving two characters. We see the time shift in the memoir one character is writing as she takes us back in time with the history of the Dutch immigrants, their trials and struggles as they settle in the ‘wilderness’ of West Michigan. And with the other character trying to find her place in the world as well as her own history.

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“Legacy of Mercy” is the sequel to the story that was begun in “Waves of Mercy”. We get to know more about the characters and how social classes are perceived in the late 1800’s. We also get to see how deep hurts can lead to despair and bitterness. But in the end grace, mercy and forgiveness also shine forth.

Living in Holland, as well as having ancestors who immigrated here and planted a church it was a treat to read both books.

So glad to share an interview with Mrs. Austin.

1. Legacy of Mercy will be released on October 2 and will be the first sequel you’ve ever written. What made you decide to write a sequel?

My readers decided for me! I received many, many letters from them asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancé at the end of the book, readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. What if he is still alive? Lots of material for a story here, especially when the other people in Anna’s life try to discourage her investigations.

2. This story is set in your home town of Holland, MI. Did you discover anything surprising while you were researching these books?

I knew very little about the early history of Holland, Michigan when I began this series—only that it was settled by Dutch immigrants. What surprised me was how much they suffered to establish a settlement here, including religious persecution, a malaria plague, and a devastating fire. Their enduring faith in spite of all their many trials was a huge inspiration to me.

3. You are known for writing multi-generational books and Legacy of Mercy is no exception. What intrigues you about writing in this style?

I enjoy creating women’s personalities from various eras and exploring how the roles and opportunities changed for women from generation to generation. I find it very interesting to see how the choices one generation makes has an influence on each generation after them. It causes me to be more thoughtful in the way I live, knowing that my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren may be impacted by my life.

4. Which character in Legacy of Mercy do you identify with the most and why?

I would have to say I identify the most with Geesje DeJonge. For one thing, she is about the same age as I am, and has lived long enough to be able to look back through the years and analyze them. She is in a position to see all of the ways and times when God carried her through—something we usually only see in hindsight, not when we’re going through the difficulties. I’m at the same stage in my life, and I can see God’s faithfulness to me in spite of the many times I questioned His wisdom.

Happy early book birthday Lynn Austin!
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The Biggest Lie About Surrender – and Why You Can’t Afford to Believe It

So blessed to have Jennifer Lee on the blog today. Sharing a piece she wrote about surrender and control. I’ve been a part of her launch team for her new book that releases today- “It’s All Under Control” – Praying it blesses you.

If you asked me five years ago, I naively would have told you that I didn’t struggle with control. I mean, seriously— as long as everything went exactly the way I hoped, I was totally flexible.

It’s not that I wanted to control other people. Mostly, I wanted to control myself. If I ever had high expectations of anyone, it was of me. I wanted to present the self-assured, together version of my whole being. Which means I craved control over my face, my emotions, my body, my food, my words, my house, my schedule, my yard, my future.

My preference was a tidy, predictable, safe life where no one got hurt, where my kids remained in one piece, where there was no pain for anyone ever again, amen.
I said I trusted God but had reached the point where I realized I actually didn’t.
As a Jesus girl, this shocked me.

Clearly, my old systems of coping weren’t working: My desire to obsessively orchestrate my whole life was burning me out.

As a mom, I heard myself snapping at my kids. As a ministry leader, I knew that I was functioning within my call, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was tired, even after a regular night’s sleep. And I found myself zoning out during conversations with my husband, because I was mentally making lists of everything I needed to get done.

In short, I ran out of gas.

Maybe the empty tank was God’s way of bringing me to a dead stop, so I would finally pay attention. It worked. God got my attention, and maybe he’s trying to get yours too.

Imagine that it’s you who’s run out of gas. Maybe that doesn’t take much imagining after all, because like me, you’re tired of trying to hold it together. You want to keep it all under control, but things aren’t working out the way you planned.

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When you and I began to follow Jesus, we relinquished control over our lives. But because we suffer from the chronic condition known as being human we constantly try to steal that control back.

My wake-up call happened when I realized that the battle for my heart was regularly being fought inside the tiny squares of my to-do list.

I began to ask myself this question: “What are the things that, if they were taken away, would shatter the identity I have created?”

Was it my work? My calendar? My efforts to shield my children from pain and suffering? This urge to always say yes?

For me, the answer was: “All of the above.” I was trying to be the CEO of everything.

Jesus delivered a sobering reminder: You will never know if you can trust Me if you don’t give Me the chance to prove it.

I recommitted myself to a life surrendered to Jesus’ plans for my life. But something felt … off … when I considered what surrender truly meant.

I accidentally bought into a weird idea that surrendered living meant mostly that I needed to “do less.” Yet that was unrealistic because so much of life clearly couldn’t be opted out of. People depended on me. I had kids to feed. A house to manage. Books to write.

Most people can’t simply fire their lives and move on when it gets too chaotic. We can’t stop managing a household, cancel all our appointments, and spend the rest of our days on a floatie in the middle of a lake.

Here’s what I began to learn: Surrendered living is much more than “doing less.” It’s being more of who God created us to be.

Yes, I totally need more chill in my life, and maybe you do too. But here’s the full truth about surrender:

Surrender doesn’t come with some unrealistic demand that you are suddenly going to stop being the incredibly brave and brilliant woman that you are. Real surrender appreciates God’s remarkable design in you.

Do you know what a wonder you are?

You don’t settle. You are the sort of woman we can count on to meet a work deadline, organize a food drive, take in the neighbors’ kids during an emergency, drive your coworker to chemo, counsel a friend at 3 a.m. by text message, keep track of everyone’s appointments, and make sure we’re all wearing seat belts before you drive us on the three-day adventure that you single-handedly arranged.

We need you. We need take-charge, charitable women like you as doctors and nurses in operating rooms where details like “proper disinfectant” matter. Let me tell it to you straight: If you have an inner control freak, I’m hoping you’ll let her bust loose like nobody’s business if someone I love is on your operating table. We need responsible women like you to control all the bleeding.

We also need you in charge of schools, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies. We need rock-star women like you to show us that surrender isn’t “lie down in a pile.” It’s “march forward like a warrior.” Sometimes surrendering to God will require you to do the hardest work you’ve ever done in your life: take in another foster child, fight for your marriage, kick cancer where the sun don’t shine, or refuse to capitulate to the persistent drubbing from Satan.

Girl, listen up. We count on you. You are a woman fervently devoted to God’s calling on your life, not only in your work but also in your relationships.
Of course, as Carrie Underwood will sing to you, Jesus is definitely taking the wheel. But make no mistake: There are times when he’s going to ask you to do some driving.

Don’t think of Jesus as your chauffeur; he is more like your driver’s ed coach.
He’s there to teach you His rules of the road. Friend, do not fear the wheel. You have been equipped to drive—and Jesus is beside you when you steer the wrong way. Hopefully He will pull the emergency brake if necessary, and I’ve personally put in a request for roads lined with padded walls.
 The windows are rolled down, the music is cranked, the tank is full, and there’s something that looks like freedom on the horizon.
Out on the open road, may you feel the reassuring love of Jesus. On this journey toward surrender, you’ll discover that, at last, it really is all under control: God’s.

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BIO: Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, “It’s All Under Control”, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic.

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Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.