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A Brew of Fresh Grace

Experiencing God Through His Names by Sheryl Griesbrecht {A Review}

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00053]Experiencing God Through His Names was an interesting review for me. I don’t really review devotionals, generally speaking, but this one was well worth it. (Fyi: This review is from my daughter who has been studying the names of God.) 

Each day we looked at a new name of God as used in the Bible. Sheryl Griesbrect introduces each name with a story–maybe a fable or a personal tale that she experienced. She then applies the name of God to that story and attaches a Bible where that Name is used. She connects the Name to our daily lives, diving into what it means for us. It’s a little…old people-y, so I don’t recommend it for teens too much, but I definitely enjoyed it. There were some grammatical errors that got on my nerves; however I still learned a lot and found myself praying more specific Names of God.

Experiencing God Through His Names was a great read I loved ending my day with it. Yaya, Sheryl!

(Yaya teenage daughter speak for “YAY!!!”)


I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

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Lessons from Captivity

I am by nature a rather competitive girl. I’ll compete with almost anyone, if I think I can beat them. If I feel at a distinct disadvantage, that takes all the fun out of it for me and I just won’t play the game. But let me feel I can win, I’ll compete with anyone.

That’s not always a good thing. Because I can be a very sore loser. I’m prone to call foul!

You know when Moses goes back to Egypt at God’s command and goes before Pharaoh. Aaron throws his staff down, it turns into a snake and then the magicians of Pharaoh do the same. As if they were playing some cosmic game of “Anything you can do, I can do better”.  The same thing happened with the water turning to blood.

It’s impossible to see God and obey Him when we think we can do the same thing. We won’t obey God when we compete with Him. We also won’t win as the competition will just get harder and harder. Sometimes God uses my own foolish competition to make my consequences worse. Pharaoh’s wise men were able to to many of the plagues as well, so they just added to the trouble.

Any time we think we can do it better than God, or know more than God, or think it’d be fun to just compete with Him, we are making ourselves into idols and God into a puppet we can control and beat. God doesn’t work that way. If I want to compete with God, I am telling God I’m just as godlike as He is and I’m probably better at being a God.

Kind of dumb, isn’t it? But we all do it.

Do NOT enter into a competition with God to be God! Humble yourself and accept His discipline. Don’t add to your own pain. We can only add to the pain, we aren’t powerful enough to subtract from it. We can increase the plagues, but only God can get rid of them and we have only to ask Him.

When we ask Him, we find Him to be so very faithful!

The thing about those plagues? They all left almost immediately after Moses prayed for the to leave. There wasn’t anything overly special about Moses, he was just a man who believed God and obeyed Him.

He had a front row seat to watch God work on behalf of His people. We can have that same seat, if we like Moses believe Him and obey Him in everything. Never forgetting that He is God and we are not able to compete with Him. He is so much bigger than we are.

He is working for our deliverance! He wants us to live free in Him. To do that we have to submit ourselves to Him in obedience and watch Him bring about our freedom from those who would keep us captive.



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Psalm 23 Virginia Style

I am the Lord’s little lamb,
He meets all my needs.

He walks with me to rest in green pastures,
He meets my most basic needs.
He encourages and strengthens my mind,
Because of His greatness.
He leads me in the right way.

When my path leads me to walk in scary places,
I don’t have to be afraid.
Because He is with me still.
His direction and correction
Bring me comfort not pain.

He puts a feast before me
While the scary people stand by.
He blesses me over and over,
I can’t contain all of them.

I can rest assured that His goodness and love
will be with me as long as forever lasts.
And I will get to dwell with Him forever.


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Whatcha doing, doing doing?

Have you ever noticed humans are always doing something? Always.  Do you ever wonder why we’re called human beings instead of human doings?

Ever notice Christians lead the pack in doing? It’s true. We’re always doing. Doing things for the church, doing things for God. Doing things for our neighbor. Doing things because we feel guilty if we don’t do something every second of every day.

If the church posts a need for workers, we’re signing up. We’re overbooked, over-stressed,  completely cranky to everyone all the time. We suffer with health issues because we won’t just take a break and rest our weary souls and bodies.  We have no more time for anything and yet, oh look there is another need for nursery workers, we’re already teaching Sunday school, singing on the praise team and serving as a greeter, baking snacks for Sunday morning fellowship time, but we’re sure we can squeeze in one more thing because “they need me. God needs me!”  And off we rush to do one more thing for Jesus all the while thinking, “Man! God’s sure blessed to have me to do all this work for Him.”

We still find ourselves wondering if we’re doing enough. Are we doing enough to please Him? To prove to other Christians and the world that we are His disciple?  Are we trying to prove our love for Him, or are we trying to just love Him at all? Are we trying to force the changes we need in our lives by our service to Him?

Do we really think if we just do one more thing, take one more Bible study, lead one more small group, volunteer for that extra Sunday in the nursery, deliver meals to those who visited is going to make God happy?

How many times do we mistake our doing things for God for being with Him?

It is so easy to forget in our rush to get the next thing done that we don’t stop to ask Him what He wants us to do. We’re simply to busy with things for God we can’t stop to chat with Him.

I’m not so sure we’re really doing them for God at all. No, I think we’re doing them for self, so we will feel better about our sin. The sin we harbor in our heart and hope if we do enough for Him He won’t notice or if He does He won’t care. Because “look at all the wonderful things you’ve done for Me! Man, am I blessed to have you!!”

I’ll let you in on a little secret I’ve learned. Lean in close so I don’t have to shout. That is called idolatry. We’re making our schedule an idol, we use it to replace time spent listening to our Savior’s voice. We’re making an idol of our own self, we are choosing to serve our flesh over serving the one who died in the flesh for us.

In fact, He didn’t just die in the flesh for us. No, in the whole process He securely killed our flesh! And made us, by His very Spirit, alive to Him.

He did not make us alive so we could rush around, wearing ourselves out in service to Him. As if our doing things for God could ever take the place of Him! He redeemed us to live a life of abundance.

A life lived in abundance of Joy!
A life lived in abundance of Peace!
A life lived in abundance of Love!
A life lived in abundance of Gentleness!
A life lived in abundance of LIFE!

Because He is our life! He is MY life. The gospel of John tells me that apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

I can do nothing. There is nothing I can do apart from Him living in me! Nothing. I can’t even make my heart beat one more time, or take my next breath apart from Him.

Last night I was pondering all the things I’ve been choosing to do of late to grow in Him. To grow up in Him. And I was a little teary because it is such a slow process. I am too blind to see the changes He is making in me, all I can see are the old behaviors I want so much to be rid of.

So I asked Him in a teary prayer if all the things I’ve been doing have worked to bring about the changes I need so desperately.

Want to know what He said?

“Virginia, your “doing” doesn’t change you. I change you.”

He changes me and He changes you one obedient step at a time. When we rest in Him and in Him abide, we will begin to listen to His heartbeat for us and we will follow His voice because we are His sheep.

So all the things you’ve been doing to gain acceptance with God, stop. Just stop. Seek His face. Seek to hear His voice whisper in your dear ear, “This is the way, my child, walk in it!” (Isaiah 30:21).  And find in Him the rest your body and weary soul needs so desperately.

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Toilet Paper Prayer

toilet-paperYou know some months are just harder than others, right? Some moments are just harder than others. At least that is true for me.

A few weeks ago I was in one of those hard months with plenty of hard moments. There were times I wanted nothing more than to cry UNCLE! every second of every day with every breath I took.

That was the time when my debit card was on life support, and I was out of cash. And we had three rolls of toilet paper and two weeks until pay day. I wondered if I would need to use some of my rationed savings to get more before we ran out completely.

I decided against it. Because three double rolls and two weeks, surely a little family of 4 could make it work, right? Especially since 3 of us were out of the house for the better part of every day.

Piece of cake.

But I have girls. Teen age girls. Girls who think they need to use a plethora of toilet paper. In less than a full week we had blown through all three rolls. One roll didn’t even last 24 hours.

This Momma wasn’t happy. At all.

I informed my family, mostly my offspring, that I would not be purchasing more toilet paper until Friday. Not going to do it. We have kleenex, use that. Momma isn’t spending another penny.

Thirty-six hours later I found myself praying for of all things, toilet paper. I listed out my needs to in prayer, and topping the list was toilet paper. Toilet paper that my children squandered. Toilet paper that is not a necessity of life, a nice feature don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of toilet paper. But it isn’t vital to my life, especially when we had other things we could use just as well.

But I prayed for toilet paper. I didn’t pray that God would supply us with toilet paper. I just listed it as a need. Along with cereal. And something equally mundane that now escapes my memory.

I somehow knew that this would be a monumental prayer and it would have massive consequences. I knew in some ways this would be a day of turning for me.

The day wore on and I occasionally thought about my toilet paper prayer but mostly I forgot about it. When it came to mind, I mostly thought what a dumb thing to pray about.

That afternoon, I picked up my leather jacket to hang it up when I remembered I had noticed a piece of paper in the inner pocket when I put my phone away  in there earlier. It was an old folded, receipt from Hobby Lobby. Curious I unfolded it to see what I had purchased and when.

That’s when I saw it.

A fresh, crisp ten dollar bill.

“Oh Lord! That is You.”

And God said, “toilet paper.”

And I said, “Yarn and coffee.”

God said, “toilet paper.”

Every time I thought of that ten dollars, I heard God say, “toilet paper”. I argued some more. Why exactly I’m not sure. Immediately when I saw it I knew what it was for. God kept just saying, “toilet paper.”

Then He changed, “Be faithful.” and I was reminded of the verse about being faithful in small things and I would be found faithful in big things.

If toilet paper isn’t a small thing I’m not sure what is. Talk about your mundane, small things. Not necessary. Not vital. Not a real need.

This taught me one very important lesson. One I had known before but not KNOWN. I knew it was true, but now I experientially know it to be true. This is one lesson I won’t soon forget.

God notices. God cares. God provides.

Why do we think something is too mundane to pray for? That God really doesn’t notice or care about that? Expect God to provide for something we’ve squandered, something we could have purchased for ourselves without a second thought but we chose not to?

Those are the very things we have to pray for if we ever hope to see God work in the big things. These are the prayers God loves to answer. Those prayers that say, “God, here is my need. You have the supply. I’m just going to sit here and watch You work on my behalf.”

He shows up big. And my faith grows big. And the next time I need toilet paper, I’ll know I can come to Him with my mundane need and find His supply.

Friend, if I can ask Him and trust Him for toilet paper, what makes you think you can’t ask and trust Him with the needs of your heart? Dear friend, He does the same for you! I’m not His favorite. He doesn’t show up big for me because He carries my picture in His wallet. He loves to show up for anyone who in humble boldness comes to Him with their need; leaves it at His feet, and watches in eager anticipation for His supply.

So go ahead, take your mundane prayers and your big ones, to His throne and you will find grace to help you in your time of need.

Trust me.


Jesus and The Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roelveld

About the book:

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life (Abingdon Press, September 2016)

What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?

Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalkexplores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:

-Affection for others

In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is the author of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and Red Pen Redemption. Her blog,, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+

My Turn:

I was so hopeful with this book. So very, very hopeful.
Like you, and the rest of the world, I have giants. Giants that need to be slain. Giants I’m powerless against. 
And that’s the whole point. I’m powerless. But Jesus is powerful! And He is the giant-slayer. 
If this book had just said that very thing it would have been a GREAT book! I would be singing it’s praises. But it fell flat with me.  
I felt as if the author was telling me to just be better at loving Jesus, produce in myself more faith. If I just DID more, the giants would be killed by MY OWN sword. But that’s isn’t the way it works! 
What works is abiding in Jesus, allowing His life to take over my deadness and my giants, submitting to His leadership, standing firm IN Him, and then I can watch those giants fall. Not because I’m strong because I’m not, but because He is strong! Apart from Him I can do nothing!

The author said a few times that we are small. But we aren’t!  We are NOT small, we ARE God’s children, infused with His Spirit. And that makes us BIG and Dangerous

We only feel small when we focus on self and those we consider giants.
I thought the author used a lot of suppositions that might or might not be true.
I did like the amount of Scripture the author used in the book. I love love love it when I can read for myself the very verses the author is quoting.
I love this line (and I really wish the sentiment was in the whole book!!)

“Longing for transformation we focus on the flesh instead of the Spirit, attempting to accomplish the work ourselves rather than submit to Christ.”

I give the book 3 out of 5 turning pages. 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.
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Prayer, Confession, and Basking.

i praise you lordThere is something so wonderful about having a time of confession, seeking forgiveness, and then taking His hand and walking away from the gunk and the junk with Him. There is something so tender and peaceful about turning over all the angst to Him. 
Sunday morning someone dropped the  note (pictured above) in the offering and those who counted the gifts left it on my desk. I’m looking at it right now. I don’t think I’ll ever throw it away. I can not even begin to tell you how much I have needed this reminder over the past two days. SO much hurt and angst of soul. I learned just how possible it is to offer a sacrifice of praise when my heart is in agony. To choose to focus on Him and then believe Him when all I have around me are sandcastles in the raging sea. I’ve learned that He takes the angst and replaces it with His peace. And He does this every time I ask Him. I’ve learned that when I submit to Him, and confess my sin, and say “Lord, I’m ready for the consequences for my actions” He is faithful. But He is also tender and always there ready with open arms, allowing me to snuggle in close and sob my hurts into His shoulder. 
I posted that on my instagram account and shared it on my facebook and twitter pages. He is just so good! You know if it had ended there, I would be one very happy girl. But He didn’t leave it there. 
I was texting my sister-in-law this morning and she told me, “I stopped by the liquor store on the way home yesterday.” I asked her why and called her a lush. She told me her day got worse. Jesus took over my mouth…or err fingers. I told her drowning her bad days would not make them good days but drowning in Jesus will! “No judgment here! I often forget Jesus and drown my sorrows in coffee. Which doesn’t fix it either. But the times I’ve run to Jesus…He has been so faithful to make it all better and bring peace. 
All of that is true. But it wasn’t something I had really thought about until I saw it there. 
Yesterday morning I needed to spend some time at my prayer bench. The angst was stifling and I needed to be with my Jesus. The very Jesus I had been fighting for days. I NEEDED Him to breathe His life into my hurting heart. As I walked I listened to David Meece’s song, “The things You never gave me”. I realized this was my time to offer my sacrifice of praise. To choose to praise Him instead of fighting Him. I sat on my prayer bench and did just that. I confessed my sin. Sought His forgiveness, asked for His help to walk in it, and I can’t even remember what else. But it was just such a tender time with Him. I’m still basking in His tenderness towards me. I so don’t deserve Him. Just thinking of it now brings tears, not happy tears but definitely not the tears of angst I’ve shed. 
This morning (I know this is disjointed and I’m sorry!) as I was closing our windows before leaving for the office I just prayed over and over, “I want to just bask in You!” 

Nameless Chicken Dinner

DSC_0042Which is somewhat similar to Winner Winner Chicken dinner, but different.

A friend of mine is, in my humble (hah!) estimation, a wonderful cook. I’ve gotten a few recipes sent me in a text message and each one is wonderful. These recipes can’t be found anywhere because I’m pretty dang sure he made them up.

In his head.


I’ve long been of a competitive nature. And well, two can play at that game, right?

Normally the first time I make a recipe I follow it exactly. Except when I don’t realize I don’t have a certain ingredient until I need to put it in. I substitute. Often I’ll put supper on the table and announce, “I followed the recipe exactly, except it called for this and I only had that. So I used it instead. Oh and it said to do this, but I did something else entirely. If it’s really bad, we’ll get pizza.”


After trying some of the recipes from my friend, I thought to myself, “Self, you could do this.”

Last week I set out to come up with my own chicken recipe. And I think I did.


Now, I’m not going to share the whole recipe with you here and now. It needs a little more tweaking. But it’s close.

Lest you think in the above that I used coconut, nope. I didn’t.

I do normally use provolone cheese with this dish, though. Today though I realized too late that my offspring had eaten nearly all the provolone so we used pepper jack instead.


So really all I’m doing is tempting you. I will tell you this, though, it’s good!


Leave me a comment if you’d like to be a recipe tester for this and as I get the kinks worked out, I’ll be in touch.

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Chicken Marsala

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. When I have time that is. Life has been at break neck speed.

I’ve also been cooking less and having my offspring cook more. They each take a day and plan the whole meal.

I’ve made a nameless chicken dish that was out of this world good, or as a friend says it’s an EO.

I’ve made Beouf a la mode, and Beouf Bourguignon.

I’ve heard about chicken marsala and I’ve been anxious to try it.

Enter yesterday.

Yesterday was the day. I found a recipe on the internet, and headed to the grocery store. I needed three things:

  • Chicken. (That should be a given.)
  • Cooking Sherry and
  • Marsala.
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions

I hit the salad dressing aisle first in search of cooking sherry and found none. I texted a friend, “Quick! What’s a substitute for cooking sherry?”

I headed to get the veggies and then the chicken.

I searched the entire liquor section for marsala. I text another friend when I can’t find it. I just grab a bottle of Merlot and head to the check out.

I decided to go to a different grocery store to see if I could find cooking sherry.


They have it. And since I’d heard from my friend about Marsala I now knew it was a cooking wine and BINGO again. They had it.

Grab the cooking sherry and Marsala and a venti iced decaf Americano for me and the mental anguish I’ve been through.

I came home and turned into a cooking freak.


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Picture Post!

Please do not use these photos without permission!

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