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Hunting Hope by Nika Maples…A GIVEAWAY!!!

At twenty, Nika Maples learned that when hope was all she had, she claimed it boldly while defying all odds to recover from a devastating stroke. The lessons from that struggle are powerful and universal, and she shares those lessons in her new book, Hunting Hope. Doctors warned that she had as little as 48 hours to live, and—if she lived at all—she would never walk or talk again. There was no hope on the horizon. So Nika started to hunt for it. Today, she not only walks, but she speaks to audiences everywhere about the power of hunting hope when a situation appears hopeless. She says hope remains camouflaged in the daily mundane. If we are not looking for it, we will miss it, though it is right before our eyes.

Celebrate the release of Hunting Hope with a $200 Getaway Giveaway (details below) and a live webcast with Nika on May 26!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • One copy of Hunting Hope
  • A $200 Hilton gift card to give a hope hunter the chance to rest

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/24. The winner will be announced at the Hunting Hope live author webcast on 5/26. RSVP for a chance to connect with Nika and other hope hunters, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

hunting hope-enter

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

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Hunting Hope by Nika Maples {A Review}

5193EHfXjKL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_Winter is inevitable. Both in nature and in our own lives. We will all at some point in time or another face a winter of the soul.

We will encounter those times when life is hard and painful and God seems more like a figment of our imagination than anything real and tangible. Our world will be darkness, we won’t be able to see anything good.

But good is there. Crouching just under the surface, all we have to do is search for it, to pray for our eyes to be open to His working good in us and through us. We won’t see it right away, but in time, in His timing we will. And we will rejoice.

In Hunting Hope, Nika Maples gives us a road map to Hunting Hope. She lovingly, kindly and at time humorously teaches us how to be a hunter of Hope. She reminds us we are not alone, that we won’t always see death around us. She tells us that when we look around at the bare trees, the grey skies, the silent world, we can still have hope if we choose to hunt for it.

In this short book (just a hair over 200 pages), Nika shares personal stories, God stories and uncovers the hope we all have in Christ. She floods each page, not with her words, but with the words of God. I love the amount of Scripture she uses! It is so refreshing!!

And it teaches us where our true Hope comes from!

This book is so well-written, you’ll want to sit down and read it all at once. But don’t! Take your time, read it slowly, look up the Scriptures. Pray about what you’re reading. And hunt for your own hope.

I fully recommend that everyone read this book now. Not later when you’re experiencing your own winter of soul, but now, so when your winter comes, you are prepared and armed for battle.

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is revolutionary!!

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.

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Sister Dear by Laura McNeill {A Review}

sisterdearAllie Marshall has life by the tail and everything is going her way. Things in life have come easy for her, much to the dismay of her younger sister, Emma. Emma struggles for everything and she is convinced her big sister hates her.

Emma tries to compete with Allie but she always ends up on the losing side.

But then tragedy strikes and Allie is charged with the murder of the high school football coach. When she is convicted and sentenced to prison her daughter, Caroline, is 5-years old. Suddenly Emma finds herself the favored daughter and the care-taker of Caroline.

Allie is released from prison after 10-years and she has one goal, get her daughter and find out who really killed the coach. Neither one will be easy, but can she do both?

You’ll have to read the book to find out.

My thoughts on Sister Dear by Laura McNeill:

The characters were well-developed and a little over-done. The angst both sisters experience was a little over the top.

Emma’s angst is her “perfect” sister and how no matter what she does, she just isn’t good enough in anyone eyes.  Her intentionally keeping Caroline from Allie, and then pitting her against Allie was aggravating to me as the reader. Allie’s chip on her shoulder towards the sheriff was, again, aggravating.

The story is well written, but it wasn’t a story I couldn’t put down. The plot tended to drag on and on and I think there could have been a climax and solution much sooner, making the book more enjoyable.

By the end of the first chapter, the reader understands the animosity between the two sisters, yet every chapter details it further.  A few sub-plots would have made this book unforgettable and a GREAT read.

But don’t take my word for it! Go get your own copy and read it. You might love it.  Please follow this link to get your own copy. (Clicking the link will open a new window.)

 

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse for the purpose of review.

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Then and Now.

fullmewedding

Twenty-one years ago. May 6, 1995.

I was 12. No really, I wasn’t. I was 12.5 and playing dress up.

Not really. But I look like it, don’t I?

Tonight we spent a great deal of time reminiscing over wedding things. I brought out our wedding box, the box filled with wedding memorabilia. One of the goodies was “A Premarital Guide For Couples”. Some of our answers really made us giggle with glee.

 

Chortle and guffaw really if you must know the truth.

It quickly became apparent to all of us that Mr. FullCup and I are not alike. We aren’t even all that close.

“What are your feelings about having a percentage of your take-home pay set aside as a ‘non-accountable allowance’ for each of you to spend as you like, no questions asked?”
Me: HEY! Here’s an concept I can get excited about. Great idea! Mr. Fullcup said I should have more than him because I’m more likely to spend it. However, I think it should be an equal amount.
Him: I have never before considered this, but it may be a good idea.
(*Note. We have never done this.)

“What do you believe is the function of a budget?”
Me: To plan for unforeseen expenditures without going to Debtor’s Prison.
Him: To plan for immediate and future expenditures. For the purpose of avoiding a financial catastrophe.

“What are your feelings about budgeting?”
Me: Personally, I don’t like them.
Him: I enjoy them.

“Are you planning to have children? Yes_____ No____”
Me: No.
Him: No.
“How many children would you like to have?”
Me: As many as God allows
Him: At this point we aren’t planning to have any.

I’m sure I was smoking something back then. And  I didn’t smoke.

 

20160505_175947[1]

I can’t believe I can still wear it.

Stats:
Twenty-one years.
252 Months
1,092 weeks
7,665 days

8 Addresses
2 Cats.
2 Children.

Countless hours of silliness and giggles.

I would do it all, all over again.

 

 

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The Vine (John 15:1-2)

20160422_171041Jesus is the only True Vine and I am to abide (accept without objection) in Him.

I can through my own selfish, sinful desires abide in false vines. These can be anything I look to in substitution for obedience to Jesus, my True Vine. Anytime I choose my own way I am abiding in a false vine. Anytime I do my own thing, even if it is a good thing, if I do it apart of my life in Jesus, my only True Vine, I am abiding in a false vine.

I will bear fruit when I abide in alternate vines but it will not be good fruit. The fruit I will produce will be bad, rotten and downright evil. They will come from a life lived entirely for self. And myself is pretty rotten.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

Wow! To abide in false vines means we  won’t inherit the kingdom! That to me is not a good trade off!

The fruit of my sinful nature are not pleasant–not even for a short time. They bring only pain and suffering. There is no peace for those who practice the above fleshly deeds. None. There is no peace. There is no rest. There is no transforming. Just unfruitful deeds of unrighteousness, strife and chaos.

Every branch that is in Him but isn’t bearing fruit He removes because they are not doing what God created them to do.

Taking away could be simply that He stops their self-serving ministry. Or it could be a bit more drastic  as Him just taking them home because they have lost their effectiveness for Him.

We are told in Isaiah 42:8 that God won’t share His glory with anyone else. Not even His child. Not even a branch that is attached to the True Vine.

When we repeatedly and consciously choose to go our own way, abide in false gods of our own making, we are of no earthly good to the kingdom of God. So He uses His prerogative to remove everything from our lives until all we have is Him. When we still choose to abide in false gods, He will simply remove our feet from earth.

When we choose to abide in Him and allow His life to flow through us, we will bear fruit. We will not produce this fruit. This fruit is something we bear through spending time attached to His life giving Vine, and allowing His Spirit to run like sap through us, nourishing us, and nurturing us. It is God and God alone who can produce good fruit. Any fruit I produce in myself will be rotten, because I just can’t be good or produce good on my own. I need Jesus for that.

As we bear fruit, He lovingly prunes us.

I love roses. I know if I want a lot of flowers I have to keep careful watch and prune the dead flowers off. So that it will produce more of the desired flowers.

Jesus is the same way! He loves us and wants us to bear fruit. As we do that He lovingly prunes us, removes the dead fruit, and removes any dead spots. He also watches closely to see if there are places that are just growing and not bearing fruit. He prunes those back as well.

If we did not go through this time of pruning, Jesus would not love us. And He does!

Also if He didn’t love us enough to prune us back, we would stagnant in our growth. We would stop bearing fruit and then we would be taken away.

“Knowledge puffs up”. If all we’re doing is growing, we are getting more knowledge if that is all we have, without adding understanding and converting those to wisdom, we are being puffed up with pride.

Jesus can’t abide a prideful branch. (Isaiah 42:8)

His pruning is for our good. If we are growing tall and leafy, but aren’t bearing fruit, He will prune us back. So we can bear fruit.

I just pruned back a rose bush that was using all of the nutrients I’ve given it to grow tall, and it wasn’t using any of it to produce the flowers I love so dearly.  So just as I pruned back my pretty, but unfruitful rose bush, Jesus will prune us back. Even if we are growing. I planted the rose bush so I could enjoy the flowers, not see a tall rose bush with a lot of growth and leaves but no flowers.

I want the fertilizer, mulch, sunlight, and water I use to take care of my rosebushes to be used to produce blooms–not just a leafy bush.

Jesus is the same way. He doesn’t want us to merely look good, He wants us to be transformed by His sap (the Holy Spirit) so we are good. He wants to produce fruit in us that will make people stop to admire Him and glorify Him.

No one stops to admire a rosebush that isn’t producing roses! No one praises the gardener for his rose bush that is tall and leafy but has no flowers on it.

That isn’t the point of a rose. And it isn’t the point of a believer either.

We are told in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared for us beforehand.Before the creation of the world!

These good works bear fruit! This fruit is what God will use to draw a hurting world to Himself because good fruit glorifies Him and not the branch.

We can’t produce the fruit on our own. He produces it in us and we just have to bear it. This takes abiding, fixing ourselves, stationing ourselves in Him and making no objection to His work in us.

 

 

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7 Women and the Secrets of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas {A review}

7womenEric Metaxas has written a marvelous book about 7 women. Seven Great women. Seven Great Women who changed history.

I seriously could not put this book down. I lost myself completely in the pages. Inside a of a week I became Joan of Arc and Susanna Wesley. I tried on the life of Hannah Mare and Saint Maria of Paris.

I cried again with Corrie ten Boom and Rosa Parks. What a different and difficult time in our world’s history. So much hate and yet these two ladies choose love instead. I want to be like that.

I served selflessly with Mother Teresa.

With each woman I was shocked and offended when my real life interrupted and I had to jolt back to reality.

This is a must-add to every library! And a definite must read for every woman (or girl)! This would be a great book to read through as  a part of your home-school curriculum. Or to read as a book club.  It would be a KILLER Mother’s Day gift for the Momma in your life. Oooohhh give it as a graduation gift to the graduates!

So order your own copy of 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness today!! Right now. Hop to it!!

 

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

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All the Spiritual Blessings.

 

I’m kicking it old school today.  I’m going all the way back to the very basics. I’ve spent some time last night and this afternoon studying who I am in Christ. Scripture is full of verses that speak to that very issue.

Yet so many of us live defeated lives because we don’t take the time to study and then to believe that what the Word says God says is true of us.

I’ve had several eye-popping discoveries, or re-discoveries as the case is. I haven’t learned anything new, but with my mindset lately it is as if I’ve forgotten all I ever learned. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my discoveries with you. Who knows maybe someone else needs to know this.

Today I read Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (nasb)

This is such an encouraging verse!! We have been blessed, it is past tense. God already blessed us!!  It doesn’t say, “God will bless you in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” but that “God…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing…”

I know I am a spiritual being with a physical body. I am not physical-ness. I am spiritual, and so are you. We are so much more than mere flesh and blood. In fact, our skin is just a covering for our true self,  it makes us visible to others.

Which really comes in handy when you’re sitting on the subway.

So we are spiritual beings. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

I also know that when I came to the cross, confessed my sin and accepted the free gift of Jesus sacrifice for my sin, I was crucified with Christ and yet I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Also in that very moment, I was sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of Promise. My life was hidden with Christ in God.

According to Colossians 3:1 I am seated in the heavenly places with Christ because I was raised with Him.

So I am a spiritual being. I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. And I’ve been gifted with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.

But I need them here where I live in the flesh. Where I’m fighting to learn truth, where I’m struggling to see His hand. Where the rubber meets the road. Where I’m trying to be optimistic, where I view the coffee cup as full even as I’m choking on the grinds in the bottom.

Here. Where I live by faith. In the Son of God who loved me and Gave Himself up for me.

That is where I need the blessings. All the spiritual blessings.

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Coincidentally speaking

The other day I picked my oldest up from piano lessons and she excitedly greeted me with, “Momma! I have two new songs! They’re both classical, and Mr. B and I both know that isn’t ‘me’, but if I want to be a concert pianist I have to learn classical.”

(Just an aside, I love teachers like our beloved Mr. B, teachers who see talent and gifts in people and work to bring it out. Teachers who know their students so well they know what is them and what isn’t them, but also are willing to teach them the difficult things that they need to know even though it isn’t really them.)

She went on to tell me that she had been given one of the songs a year ago and had hated it. But this day something was different. She didn’t want to go to class, she wanted to play Raindrops (or some other title in D Major) by Chopin.

She hates Chopin. We call him, sometimes affectionately, Chop-In, because he’s choppy. She almost always refers to him as “that drunken Chopin”.

She doesn’t know what makes this year different or why she didn’t like the song last year at all. I don’t either.

One thing I do know. There is no such thing as a coincidence. Not at all. Everything happens when it is supposed to happen.

Sometimes God says no to something because the time isn’t right. (Or sometimes because the answer is just plain ol’ no.) Now is not the time for that. Then He in His unending grace and wisdom will pull it back out when the time is right and He will work it into a thing of great beauty.

I’ve experienced this is in my own life lately. I find myself questioning, “Why couldn’t I do that before? I didn’t do anything differently this time but it wasn’t there and then BOOM it was. What changed?”

Nothing. Nothing changed except my need and my heart.

We may never know why God says no at one time and then yes later, but that is where our faith comes in . We have to trust His heart fully. We have to rely on His wisdom. We have to rest our weary souls in Him and wait for His timing.

There is a saying, “Coincidence is just when God chooses to remain anonymous”. I call that an affront to God. God, who made the world and all it contains, who makes Himself very clearly seen in all creation, does not choose to remain anonymous. Everything He does points to Himself, we are the ones who are just to blind, to sinful to see through the facade to see Him at work in us. Through us. And all around us.

Oh Lord, please open our human eyes to see You working in us, through us…

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Monday Monday

I need a do-over for today and it’s only 8:30. Here is some wisdom from this Monday.

If you happen to be in the shower with soap covering every square inch of your flesh, when your eye itches, it’s best that you not reach up and rub it with soapy fingers.

Just sayin’.

I’m sure you’ll thank me for that bit of smartness for today.

Moving right along.

If you should happen to have gotten an email from amazon.com that you need to change your password because they might or might not have found a list online with people’s usernames and passwords posted and your name and password might or might not have been on it; so you follow the directions (for once in your life, for the love of Pete) and tell them “I forgot my password”.

Which I should just like to say, I did not. I remember it completely. So I lied. See following directions can lead to sin. And sin, people, is bad, very very bad. Much worse than not following directions. But I digress.

When you tell the nice people at amazon.com you forgot your password they want you to either give them your email address or phone number. I’m not even sure I gave amazon my phone number and they sure as anything did not send me a birthday greeting text for my birthday on Saturday so I’m pretty sure I didn’t give it to them.

I digress again. I put in my email address. My email address that I have had for lo these many, many years now, my email address that has my name in it. Now my name is something I’ve had far longer than any silly old email address.

Email addresses come, email addresses go but my name is stuck fast.

You have no idea how surprised I was to see, after giving them my email address, that they claimed to have no knowledge of our relationship. Just like that. I was forgotten. They suggested I double check my phone number or email address. I did and it looked great to me.

So what email address did I use? Hmmmm…probably one I no longer have access too. You see there was a time when I thought oh say, every other week I needed a new email address for whatever purpose. I’ve slowly killed those off…err gotten rid of them.

That’s when I looked closer and realized I had misspelled my own name.

People, I misspelled my own name.

Now I know I lost an hour of sleep and I know my birthday was last Saturday. I know. But I misspelled my own freaking name!  I had hoped to hold off any dementia until I was at least 50 and I know I’m close but honey, I’m not ready for this yet.

In honor of all things misspelling my own name, I probably put some caffeine in my coffee this morning. It’s only half-caff but still, I firmly believe that forewarned is forearmed. So arm yourselves like men.

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True Confessions

I recently sort of bumped into an old friend’s website. I thoroughly enjoyed poking around there and I even listened to some podcasts.

Those are interesting things. I’d never listened to any before and thought there was no time like the present to start. I picked one and listened to it last Saturday after my own quiet time.

And then I picked another one. I picked another one on Sunday. I picked a couple to download to my phone to listen whilst waiting for my child at a dance class.

Some of the things I heard made me question whether or not I believed that to be true. Sometimes I just argued right back with my phone. Other times I tried to tuck it away for further thought later. (And sad to say I’ve not pondered any of those because I’ve forgotten what it was I was going ponder.)

There was one statement though that made me stop, back the podcast up, and listen again. ThenI paused the whole thing and sent a text message with a quote, and asking for further clarification.

The next day I received a response. Not the kind I wanted, nor the kind I was expecting. I expected an easy answer, “Oh well, Mrs. FullCup, if you would look here, there and everywhere, you will see quite plainly why I said that. Oh and by the way, it’s been a while. We really should get caught up over coffee.” Except I hadn’t said I was Mrs. FullCup. But I did. You see the reply I received went something like this, “Who are you and why am I getting this?” Only much more polite.

When I again quoted the part in question, expecting again an answer. I was told in essence to “look it up for your own big girl self.”

(That’s a paraphrase of my own and not a very good one. But for now it will suffice…maybe.)

I’ve now spent two evenings studying it for my own big girl self, and I’m not any closer to knowing the answer than I was when I first sent the first text.  Ecclesiastes 12:12 is my verse right now, “But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless and much study wears you out.”

Amen!

My current concern: that I’ll study it all out and still not agree. There is a distinct possibility of that happening. That means of course, that one of us would be wrong.

There is no other way to look at it. The Holy Spirit (ironically what I’m studying) won’t tell one person one thing and another person something entirely different. The Spirit of God always agrees with the Spirit of God. Always.

Take that to the bank!

 

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