Faith Forward Family Devotions by Patrick and Ruth Schwenk plus Giveaway


Raise faith-filled kids who know, love, and live for God. Patrick and Ruth Schwenk have written 100 devotions for families to do together, at your own pace. Each devotion includes:

  • A Bible passage—from Genesis to Revelation

  • Teaching applicable for kids of any age

  • A key idea to learn and remember about God

  • Questions designed to spark family discussion

  • Guided prayer for the entire family


***Scroll Down for the Giveaway


I love this Devotional because it has interactions between children and their parents. I love the discussion time and that is gives questions to discuss after the devotions are read. There is also help for prayer time. It gives a sample prayer to pray together, or you can just pray the prayer they have here. I would add that anyone can pray that wishes to as well.

Now a bit about the book itself. The blue color is beautiful, with the nighttime scene on the cover. It all make you feel like its night, and time to read about God’s word together. You will also find Bible passages for each devotion.  And the pages are thick, shiny and durable. And it even has a front page you can gift it to someone. This beautiful Devotional book would be an amazing gift to a family. This is one I highly recommend!

A copy of this book was given to me by the author or publisher. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions here in this review are totally mine alone. I am disclosing this with my review in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Grow closer to your kids as they grow closer to God in Faith Forward Family Devotional.




Patrick and Ruth Schwenk are the coauthors of For Better or For Kids: A Vow to Love Your Spouse with Kids in the House and the creators of, which is home to,, and Patrick and Ruth have been married for more than twenty years, have four children, and have been in full-time ministry for more than fifteen years. They live in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Win Faith Forward

How Great Is Our God Devotions by Louis Giglio



Show the children in your life the awe-inspiring connection between the natural world and the God who created it. 

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The bestselling children’s devotional Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science resonated with more than 200,000 kids, parents, and teachers. Now Louie Giglio offers 100 more devotions about God and science that will expand the curiosity of your 6- to 10-year-olds. Including amazing scientific facts, beautiful photography, fun illustrations, and simple activities, How Great Is Our God covers topics like

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  • Space and time
  • Earth and weather
  • The human body
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • And more!
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With this science devotional, which is based on Giglio’s well-known “How Great Is Our God” and “Indescribable” messages, children will embark on a journey to discover more about God and His incredible creation. From the pink lake in Senegal to the earth’s trip around the sun to the water-holding frog that can live up to five years without a drink, the wonders of the universe will deepen your kids’ appreciation for God’s wild imagination.

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We here the phrase How Great Is Our God all of the time, we sing the song, we talk about it, and now we have a devotional that kids can read about the greatness of our God. This Devotional has 200 indescribable devotions that go through the Bible with amazing stories of God. The devotions are on a child’s level, they are short, there are pictures on the pages that go with what the kids are reading. Another thing with each devotion is a section that says HOW GREAT. I think this section is great for the kids because it is a scientific fact about something that goes along with the devotions. Like one of the devotions talk about Butterflies and the scientific facts are about Butterflies. Which I found amazing because it’s something I’d never heard! So you can see adults can benefit from this great book as well.

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This is a really great book of devotions. The book itself is beautiful with its blue cover and the globe with all of the kids at different places in the world. And as you can see in the pictures that the inside is just as attractive, with pictures of kids and they are pictures that will capture any kids attention. If you are looking for a new devotions for the kids in your life, this would make an amazing Christmas gift or stocking stuffer! Though it says it’s for ages 6-10, I know younger kids that would love these devotions read to them. As you can tell, I love this Devotional book, and I sure hope you love it as much as I do.

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A copy of this book was given to me by the author or publisher. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions here in this review are totally mine alone. I am disclosing this with my review in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Learn more about this Devotional HERE



Louie Giglio is Pastor of Passion City Church and the Original Visionary of the Passion movement, which exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.

Since 1997, Passion has gathered collegiate-aged young people in events across the US and around the world, and continues to see 18-25 year olds fill venues across the nation in pursuit of lives lived for God’s glory. Most recently, Passion hosted 40,000 college students and their leaders in four venues linked together across three cities at Passion 2019.

In addition to the collegiate gatherings of Passion Conferences, Louie and his wife Shelley lead the teams at Passion City Church, sixstepsrecords, Passion Publishing and the Passion Global Institute.

Louie is the national-bestselling author of Not Forsaken, Goliath Must Fall, Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God & Science, The Comeback, The Air I Breathe, and I Am Not But I Know I Am.

Louie and Shelley make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.


Words of Comfort for Women by Carolyn Larsen

Words of Comfort for Women

by Carolyn Larsen


Words of Comfort for Women

Where do you turn on the days that don’t go as planned? When you experience friction in your relationships, challenges at work, or uncertainty over the state of the world? You don’t have to succumb to fear, worry, and anxiety. Instead, reach out to the One who promises comfort amid life’s trials.

Words of Comfort for Women offers you ninety inspiring devotional readings that will remind you of God’s presence in your life during challenging times and help you see your world from a positive perspective.

Words of Hope for Women

In the face of our trials, it is easy to become discouraged. We can only see the pain of the past and the challenges of the present, leaving no room for hope for the future. But God is not limited by the confines of time as we are, and he is working all things out for our good and his glory.

Words of Hope for Women offers you ninety inspiring devotional readings that will remind you that God has a plan and a purpose in everything–even the hard stuff–and you can trust him to keep his promises.


I am reviewing both Words of Comfort and Words of Hope together, since they go so well with one another. I find I need something from both of these readings about every day. I hope you give these books a try, and enjoy them as much as I did.

Both of these little Devotionals are really nice to have around. Author Carolyn Larson writes both to encourage women on their daily walk with our Lord. Each of them have 90 awesome devotions remind us of God’s presence in our lives and His promises He gives us.

I really like both of these little books. They are small, which is great for me because it will fit in my purse, or my pocket. I carry one around with me because I always need encouragement throughout the day. I don’t use these as day by day devotions, I read them any time during the day, and more than one a day. I like trying to find a reading that goes with what I need at that particular moment. Sometimes when I face upsetting issues that drain me emotionally, I need to be reminded that I can be comforted by reading God’s word, or reading devotions such as God’s comfort. And when I need the assurance that God will do what He says, or assurance that God is with me no matter what, that’s when i need his promises that He is with me.

These two Devotionals or readings, are wonderful and I recommend both of them. They would make a nice little, but powerful gift to slip in someone’s Christmas card or as a stocking stuffer.

A copy of this book was given to me by the author or publisher. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions here in this review are totally mine alone. I am disclosing this with my review in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.



Carolyn Larsen is the bestselling author of more than 50 books for children and adults. She has been a speaker for women’s events and classes around the world, bringing scriptural messages filled with humor and tenderness.

Books by Carolyn Larsen

  1. Words of Courage for Women
    Mass Market

    Words of Courage for Women

    Mar 2020
  2. Words of Courage for Women

    Words of Courage for Women

    Mar 2020
  3. Words of Peace for Women
    Mass Market

    Words of Peace for Women

    Mar 2020
  4. Words of Peace for Women

    Words of Peace for Women

    Mar 2020
  5. Words of Comfort for Women
    Mass Market

    Words of Comfort for Women

    Oct 2019
  6. Words of Comfort for Women

    Words of Comfort for Women

    Oct 2019
  7. Words of Hope for Women
    Mass Market

    Words of Hope for Women

    Oct 2019
  8. Words of Hope for Women

    Words of Hope for Women

    Oct 2019
  9. Being Brave

    Being Brave

    Jan 2017
  10. It's Okay to Feel Sad

    It’s Okay to Feel Sad

    Jan 2017
  11. My Stuff, Your Stuff

    My Stuff, Your Stuff

    Jan 2017
  12. Sharing with Others

    Sharing with Others

    Jan 2017
  13. Sharing with Others

    Sharing with Others

    Jan 2017
  14. Being Nice to Others

    Being Nice to Others

    Sep 2016
  15. Being Nice to Others

    Being Nice to Others

    Sep 2016
  16. Keeping Your Cool

    Keeping Your Cool

    Sep 2016
  17. Keeping Your Cool

    Keeping Your Cool

    Sep 2016
  18. Playing Fair

    Playing Fair

    Sep 2016
  19. Telling the Truth

    Telling the Truth

    Sep 2016
  20. Telling the Truth

    Telling the Truth

    Sep 2016
  21. Little Boys Bible Storybook for Fathers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Boys Bible Storybook for Fathers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Sep 2014
  22. Little Girls Bible Storybook for Fathers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Girls Bible Storybook for Fathers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Sep 2014
  23. Little Boys Bible Storybook for Fathers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Boys Bible Storybook for Fathers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Sep 2014
  24. Little Girls Bible Storybook for Fathers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Girls Bible Storybook for Fathers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Sep 2014
  25. Little Boys Bible Storybook for Mothers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Boys Bible Storybook for Mothers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Feb 2014
  26. Little Boys Bible Storybook for Mothers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Boys Bible Storybook for Mothers and Sons, Revised and Updated Edition

    Feb 2014
  27. Little Girls Bible Storybook for Mothers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Girls Bible Storybook for Mothers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Feb 2014
  28. Little Girls Bible Storybook for Mothers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Little Girls Bible Storybook for Mothers and Daughters, Revised and Updated Edition

    Feb 2014

View All

2019 Ellie Claire Devotionals plus Journals! Three of Them!



Not only is Ellie Claire offering three of the most beautiful Devotionals for 2019, for each devotion, you will find one page for the devotions, the page beside it has plenty of journaling room for you to write your thoughts on each of the 365 devotions. See my reviews below for all three of them. And check them out for that perfect person on your Christmas list this year! 


Peace Begins With Me


MY THOUGHTS ON “Peace Begins With Me”

First of all, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I like all three of them. This one, ‘Peace Begins With Me’ is my favorite as far as color. I love this light teal color. And the simple marble design on the outside is beautiful, as well as the white places inside with the teal color border. I would have snatched this one from a bookstore shelve first thing. 

It will be calming for me just to see this color every morning when I do my devotions. I also love the writing space. There’s plenty of room to take notes, write favorite verses, list people you want to pray for, praises, or just special thoughts or maybe a song. I’m sure I will find many things to write in these spaces throughout the year! The pages are a thick quality that you can use any pen, and it won’t bleed through. Though I didn’t try a marker. I won’t be using a marker in mine. And I already have a teal pen to use! Gotta match things up. 

The very first devotion, January 1, is “The Promise if Peace.” Talking about God’s Promise of Peace and encouraging me to pray for that peace in my everyday life. And one thing I noticed too while reading, the dates are only the month and day, not the year so these can be used any year, over and over. As I looked at many of the devotions, they were all something I can’t wait to read for that certain day! As I’ve already said, this Devotional Journal will be mine. I’m so excited about using this for 2019. 



Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus



MY THOUGHTS ON “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

If you love flowers, this 365 day Devotional Journal will be for you! I love it myself. Love the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” and I think about it every time I see this devotional journal. The inside pages have flowers in the top corners and a beautiful border to match along the bottom. 

And the first devotion in this one is Jan 1, and is called “All About Him!” What beautiful and better way to start off 2019, talking about it’s all about Jesus! Because that is what life is all about. This Devotional & Journal also has about a half page on each day to write notes, thoughts, verses, songs, prayer request, or just about anything you want to. And these pages are think and high quality so you can safely write on them and not worry about the ink bleeding through. 

I haven’t decided what I will do with this one. I want to keep it, but her I feel I need to give it away so someone else can be blessed by using it. Either way, it will be used and loved! 



The Earth is the Lords and Everything In It



“The Earth is the Lords and Everything In It”

Another beautiful Devotional and Journal that will bless someone this year. If you are a peacock kind of person, you will dearly love this one! The outside cover is absolutely stunning with the beautiful peacocks, two of them, sitting on a branch with pink flowers! The inside it perhaps the most beautiful if the three, with flowers on a top and bottom corner and a peacock adorns the other bottom corner. There’s a space for To, From and Date on the inside front cover. 

This Devotional Journal will go to a sister, or friend. Anyone will love this gift of something this special and beautiful. With plenty of writing space, it gives room for anything you feel you need to write during your devotion time. The pages are high quality paper, very nice. I would buy me a pen that matches! Draw pictures or doodle or do whatever you like with it. 

And for all three of these Devotional Journal’s, Ellie Claire has outdone themselves with three of the most stunning works I’ve seen from them. It’s seems as though each new Ellie Claire is so much better, more beautiful and higher quality than the next. You can’t go wrong with the company. Whether it be for yourself, or a gift, check them out! 

Retail Links

A Spoonful of Grace by Annette Hubbell

New book offers families a fresh resource to recapture an old tradition

For Immediate Release (San Diego, CA) – According to a Pew Research Study, only 59% of parents of children under 18 pray on a daily basis, and 19% seldom or never pray. Though recent statistics show that a majority of families eat together at least most nights of the week, there continues to be a disconnect between family time and spiritual growth. With her new book, “A Spoonful of Grace: Mealtime Blessings in Bite-Sized Pieces,” author and actor Annette Hubbell seeks to bridge that gap.

“A Spoonful of Grace” is a collection of 366 evening meal graces taken from all 66 books of the Bible. They are designed to provide meaningful exposure to prayer and the Bible at a most opportune time: the family meal. Each one is inspired by its companion Bible verse(s), designed to be read in its entirety in about two minutes, and enhanced by a section called “Grace Notes” which are quotations and ideas to further illustrate the theme of the verse, promote more conversation, and to even answer questions generated by the Scripture. Hubbell says the idea for the book came about during lunch with friends.

“During lunch our host led us in a Lutheran grace prayer before the meal,” says Hubbell, “and the idea struck me like a bolt of lightning. I had grown up with the Catholic grace, and that was the only formal grace I knew. There must be others I don’t know about, I concluded. What if I were to collect them—from all over the world—and create a book out of it? I began to imagine the diversity of prayers said by families from across the globe. What I got back surprised me. It seemed there were, in fact, only a very few standard graces; most of them are made up every evening according to how the day unfolds. Even more surprising were the responses of those who never said grace but wished they did, and would if they had some structure.”

The graces and devotionals on Sundays in “A Spoonful of Grace” are celebrated with readings that are a bit longer to allow for favorite stories such as David and Goliath, Daniel in the lions’ den, or Jonah and the big fish. There is also a “Special Graces” section for celebrations such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays. Hubbell says early responses to the book have been positive.

“Mealtime conversation can often take on an intermission-like quality in a busy day, or saying grace can easily fall into an uninspiring routine, or something to get over with quickly,” says Hubbell. “Designed to capture a young person’s interest, especially in response to the social media evolution, these graces are witty and to the point. With minimal effort, mealtime conversation is refocused into conversations about faith and values such as sharing, honesty, friendship, and honorable conduct. When I tested A Spoonful of Grace with some families, one said, “This consumed the entire conversation during dinner.” Another family told me that their 15-year-old appreciated his family more because they spend quality time together.”

For more information, visit or





About Annette Hubbell:
Annette Hubbell earned her undergraduate degree in Marketing from San Diego State University, her M.B.A. from Cal State University in San Marcos, and a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. She has been featured in over 160 performances, and starred in the DVD, of “Witness to Gettysburg” edited by 33-time Emmy Award winner, Robert Gardner. She was awarded Presenter of the Year twice at the Civil War Round Table of San Diego, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Hubbell lives in San Diego, California with her husband of 33 years, Monte. They have a daughter, Amy, who lives with her husband, Scott.

A God of all Seasons from Celebrstion Lit Tours




Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book


Book title: A God of All Seasons


Author: TH Meyer & Amy Breitmann


Release date: August 28, 2017


Genre: Non-fiction

What if your spiritual life landed in the grip of a wintered soul? How does one’s faith survive?
Discover the beauty and challenge of spiritual seasons as Tammy & Amy remember parts of their stories in order to draw out your own. Learn to perceive God’s companionship even when you don’t sense His nearness. And unearth, not only a God who created the seasons, but one who also walks with you through them.”
Book Trailer Video:
This is such a great devotional book to read. I read a chapter each day as I would s devotional and here was always something that spoelke to my heart in each chapter. I love the way it is separated into the four seasons, with each sections devotional to that particular season. The authors do a wonderful job of writing this book, making it very clear and easy to understand. This I like very much when reading a non fiction book.
The stories Tammy Meyer and Amy Breitmann share are sweet, refreshing and I could really relate to so many of them. I loved reading this down to earth little book and I very highly recommend this to every woman to read!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, AND Celebration Lit Tours for me to read. I was not required to write a review. The words and opinions in this review are mine, and mine only.

About the Authors



After living in Asia and Europe, T.H. Meyer’s family planted roots on their Texas farm in 2008 where they live among fields of Rye and Bermuda. Tammy is a writer and creative strategist who also moonlights as a social media specialist. She’s the mother to three children and author of, A Life of Creative Purpose: Embrace Uniqueness, Explore Boldness, Encourage Faith and Social Media Strategies: Discovering Powerful Tools of the Trade without Losing Your Soul for Christian entrepreneurs maneuvering the daunting and soul-sucking world of online marketing.
Join Tammy on her website: The Art of Fear Not: An Adventurous Life of Faith
Or stay in touch with her at:
Instagram: for personal photos and thoughts from home.
Or Twitter: & find out what’s on her Twitter “Lists.”


Amy’s (Amy Breitmann) bio: Amy weaves together ministry and writing alongside her husband and two children in Augusta, GA. She is a writer, speaker, and founder of “The Lydia Project,” a national ministry for women facing cancer and is a storyteller for ViBella Jewelry, an international company that employs artisans in Haiti and Mexico. Her published works include pieces in Chicken Soup of the Soul, Mosaic: Sojourners of Faith, and Guideposts Magazine.

Blog Stops

August 10: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

August 11: A Baker’s Perspective

August 12: Just Jo’Anne

August 13: Avid Reader Book Reviews

August 13: Splashes of Joy

August 13: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

August 14: A Reader’s Brain

August 15: autism mom

August 16: Captive Dreams Window

August 16: autismchristianmom

August 17: Karen Sue Hadley

August 18: Moments Dipped in Ink

August 19: Bigreadersite

August 20: Eat,Read,Teach,Blog

August 21: Margaret Kazmierczak

August 22: Breaking Ordinary

August 23: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

August 23: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations




To celebrate her tour, T.H. Meyer is giving away a Kindle Fire!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

21 Days of Grace by Kathy Ide plus Giveaway

21 days of grace FB cover

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

21 Days of Grace
Book: 21 Days of Grace
Author: Compiled by Kathy Ide
Genre: Devotional
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Love fiction? Looking for a devotional? Check out 21 DAYS OF GRACE, book one in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series (published by BroadStreet Publishing Group). Fictional stories followed by brief life applications written by best-selling Christian novelists and debut authors, including Angela Hunt, Cindy Woodsmall, and Deborah Raney. Great for individual or group study.



21 Days of Grace is different from any short stories or devotions I’ve ever read, and I love it. This little book is a collection of  very short stories, written short enough for a devotion, but it’s a fiction story. At the end of each story is a Life Application for you to apply the principles from the story to your every day life. 21 stories from some of the very best Christian fiction has to offer.

As I read through these stories, I thought about the many times I could use encouragement, and any one of these stories would be good to read to encourage me that God does love me and he does care. If you are looking for encouragement when it comes to God’s love and care for your everyday living, this beautiful little book would be a wonderful choice. I highly recommend 21 Days of Grace to every woman out there.

I received this book from Celebration Lit Blog Tours to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

About the Author

Kathy Ide-rectangle (1)
Kathy Ide is the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. She’s a full-time freelance editor and writing mentor, working with Christian authors of all genres at all levels. She teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and is the director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. She’s a co-owner of the Christian Editor Network LLC and founder of the four divisions that comprise the CEN: Christian Editor Connection, The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, PENCON, and The PEN Institute. To find out more about Kathy, visit

Guest Post from Kathy Ide

I’ve always loved Christian fiction, and I’ve seen the power of fiction to touch hearts and change lives, both firsthand and hearing about the experiences of others. But you know, in my quiet times with the Lord, reading a chapter from a novel just doesn’t seem quite appropriate. So a devotional with short fiction stories seemed like a great solution. And you can take these purse-sized devotionals wherever you go, to read when you have a few minutes of down time. It’s a great way to get “inspiration on the go.” And they make fantastic gifts for friends and loved ones.

Blog Stops

March 23: Reading Is My SuperPower

March 23: A Reader’s Brain

March 24: ASC Book Reviews

March 24: autism mom

March 24: It’s Storytime with Van Daniker

March 25: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

March 25: Inklings and notions

March 26: Blossoms and Blessings

March 26: The Power of Words

March 27: Lighthouse Academy

March 27: Because I said so – and other adventures in parenting

March 28: Moments Dipped in Ink

March 28: A Greater Yes

March 28: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

March 29: Captive Dreams Window

March 29: Donna’s BookShelf

March 29: Southern Chelle

March 30: Pause for Tales

March 30: The Scribbler

March 31: Carpe Diem

March 31: Faithful Acres Body Soul Spirit

April 1: A Baker’s Perspective

April 1: Splashesofjoy

April 2: Christian Bookaholic

April 2: Karen Sue Hadley

April 3: Ashley’s Bookshelf

April 3: Lane Hill House

April 4: Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet

April 4: History, Mystery and Faith

April 5: God is Love

April 5: Reader’s Cozy Corner

April 5: Simple Harvest Reads


[Insert Giveaway Picture Here]

To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away:

1st – 4th place winners: A set of all four devotionals in the series.
5th & 6th place winners: An autographed copy of 21 Days of Grace with a novel written by one of the contributing authors!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family, and Faith

My Mother’s Quilts: Devotions of Love,
Legacy, Family, and Faith

by Ramona Richards

my mothers quilts

Inspired by thirty family heirloom quilts, each devotion in My Mother’s Quilts shares the enduring legacy of faith, family, and tradition in our lives. Rich, personal, sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, readers will find their own lives reflected in the author’s memories and the lessons and encouragements drawn from the quilters whose legacy lives on in their work. Woven through it all is the message of God’s grace and faithfulness, as strong as the bonds of the generations and as comforting as the oldest and softest quilt that your grandmother ever sewed. Beautiful, four-color photos of each quilt are included.

Read all about the author here….



I’m not sure what I was expecting when I signed up to review this book, but I am so glad I had the honor to read and write a review. First of all, this devotional is absolutely beautiful, inside and out. It is hardcover, very high quality paper, and the devotions are wonderful, each one reflecting on a special quilt and its meaning in author, Ramona Richard’s life.

I love all of the pictures of the quilts. My grandmother was an avid quilter, not having all of the matching quilting materials and supplies that are available today. She matched what ever fabric she had on hand, making beautiful quilts, some of which I still have today. As I read some of these devotions, I could relate with the author. I highly recommend this beautiful devotional, and I pray that you will enjoy it as much as I did!

I received this book from Worthy Publishers to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

Litfuse Presents Come Empty Devotional by Sandra Dalton-Smith

Come Empty Devotional
by Sandra Dalton-Smith

Come EmptyAbout the Book

When a water vessel is filled with dirt and stones, it cannot be used to quench a thirst.

But, when this vessel is emptied, there is an opportunity to fill it until it overflows with fresh, cool, life-giving water. Water that quenches. Refreshes. Soothes.

Our souls are the same: filled with fear, doubt, and disappointment. Running over with unanswered prayers and lingering questions. When we empty the mess of our lives in the presence of God, we’re offered an invitation to come. An invitation that allows us to come empty – so that we can be filled until we overflow.

Come Empty: Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love guides you through fifty days of experiencing the fullness of God’s love and His ability to overcome life’s hurts. Each day, you will receive assurance of God’s presence in your difficult situations. Each devotion gives new vision and perspective when you’re hindered by emotional blind spots, and leads you to experience God’s peace and wholeness. When His invitation is accepted, He will set your captive mind and heart free to live fully by His grace. The question is not if you will get an invitation. The question is, will you come?

Learn more and purchase a copy.



Come Empty by Saundra Dalton Smith is a not just a devotional, it is a book that will help you deal with the hurts, fear, doubts and any other emotion that is strangling you and keeping you from living you life free in Jesus. Each devotion goes deep into your emotions and helps you deal with the root of the problem. Ms. Smith shares these special devotions from her heart, and helps us to start our own journey. And even though each of us will go this journey in our own way and in our own time, the end results are the same. We will be able to live our lives free of the things that pull us down. And I enjoy the way Ms. Smith shows us that nothing can happen without surrendering out lives to Christ Jesus.

Sandra Smith has an awesome way of writing that I thoroughly enjoyed and this book is not just a devotional for me, its a book that I will go to time and again when I need encouragements and hope. Many different topics are dealt with here, and there is sure to be something you need in your life. I highly recommend this wonderful devotional books. To me, you just can’t get enough good devotions!

I received this book from Litfuse to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is a Board Certified internal medicine physician. She shares with audiences nationwide on the topics of eliminating limiting emotions, finding grace in difficult places, and experiencing personal renewal by drawing near to God. Dr. Dalton-Smith is a national and international media resource on the mind, body, spirit connection and has been featured in Women’s Day, Redbook, and First For Women magazine. She is the founder of I Choose My Best Life. Her other books include award-winning “Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves.”

God, Me and Sweet Ice Tea, a devotional by Rose Chandler Johnson

God, Me and Sweet Ice Tea

by Rose Chandler Johnson

God, Me and sweet ice tea




Back Cover Blurb
In the South, nothing is more refreshing than a glass of sweet iced
tea. Nothing, that is, except experiencing God in those small, everyday
moments. God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is a deeply personal collection
of spiritual treasures designed to help readers experience new mercies
each morning. Seasoned with insight and grace, this tender devotional
points to the divine presence of God in everyday moments. Whether
purchased as a personal resource or given as a heartfelt gift, God, Me,
and Sweet Iced Tea will help readers develop a daily habit of turning to

God in those quiet moments of reflection.



Have you ever read devotionals and could feel the heart of the author? This is how it was for me reading Rose Johnson’s devotional God, Me and Sweet Ice Tea. Rose has written a sweet book of devotions that reflect on scripture from God’s Word. Each devotion is about a different scripture, they are very short, it only takes a few minutes to read each one. After each devotion you will find a collection of scripture if you want to read more on the topic for that day. There are lines for journaling and answering questions, there is a prayer, a prayer focus, and Today’s Sweet Tea Moments. Each devotion is three to four pages long.

First of all, I love this little book, and it is small enough to slip in your purse and take with you. The devotions deal with issues such as, Resolutions, what the Lord requires from us, complaining, obedience, taming the tongue, perfect peace, a life of service, and this is just a small insight at what is in this special devotional. This is a devotional you can use in several ways. If you only have time for a quick read, you can read just the devotion, or you can take more time to look up the scripture, answer the questions and meditate on what God has for you for that specific day. Either way, you will find this to be a very important book to keep around. And I especially appreciate the way Ms. Rose puts her heart into each thing she writes. As I read this book, I could feel Rose’s love for the Lord and her willingness to serve Him. To me, this is what makes God, Me, and Sweet Ice Tea such a special devotion for you to have. I love my copy, and appreciate Rose Chandler Johnson providing it for me to read and review this book, and the opinions I have expressed her are mine only.

I really want to encourage you to check out God, Me, and Sweet Ice Tea and purchase a copy for your library. You will be more than pleased with this wonderful heartwarming devotional.


 Connect with Rose:






God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is available for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and through your local independent book stores.


Author Bio:  

Rose Chandler Johnson’s devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments was released in July 2013.  Her devotions, poems, and articles have appeared in numerous Christian publications. She enjoys writing for her popular blog, Write Moments with God, and engaging with her readers.  Rose is from Burke County, Georgia and has lived in Martinez, GA for the last twenty-eight years.  She has been a French and English teacher for the last twenty years.  Rose enjoys baking, gardening, and spending time with her six children and their families.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Robert Morgan
and the book:
All to Jesus
B&H Books (October 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

Robert J. Morgan is a best-selling, Gold Medallion Award-winning author whose over twenty-five books include Then Sings My Soul, The Red Sea Rules, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart and The Children’s Daily Devotional Bible. A staff writer for Dr. David Jeremiah and Turning Points Magazine, he has also served as pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, for three decades. Morgan and his wife have three daughters and ten grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.


“Cast all your cares on him.” “Love the Lord with all your heart.” “I can do all things . . . .” Most would be surprised at how often the word “all” appears in the Bible-literally thousands of times. And with each description of God’s comprehensive promises, each reminder of our complete blessing in Christ, each appeal for our full and total surrender, His reputation grows larger before our eyes. We see again what He can do. We see again who we can be.

Based on the Bible’s sizeable emphasis on this tiny yet powerful word “all,” best-selling author and pastor Robert J. Morgan has created a remarkable 365-day spiritual growth experience in his new devotional, All to Jesus: A Year of Devotions (B&H Books, October 2012). A choice sampling of the Bible’s most “all”-encompassing statements, All to Jesus will surround believers each day with inspiring stories, personal reflections and the encouraging assurance that they are cared for in ways they never imagined.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: B&H Books (October 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1433677865

ISBN-13: 978-1433677861



All to Jesus by Robert J Morgan is a 365 day devotional. This book doesn’t have dates, just days such as day 1, day 2, etc. so you can start your devotions any day of the year. And this devotional is beautiful, and very high quality.

But the special thing about this devotion is that you will see how much the word ‘all’ is in the Scripture. Each of the 365 verses have the word ‘all’ in them along with a devotion that will help you for the day. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of this devotion for your library. And I can’t forget that with this book, you will have access to more than 40 songs and other resources to go with the book.


He is all in all to me,

And my song of songs shall be, Hallelujah, O My Savior,

I am trusting only Thee.Fanny Crosby


One evening several years ago when troubled about a particular matter, I sat at the dining room table and picked up my Bible. I turned to a little book near the back and read through 1 Peter, thinking the old fisherman might have an encouraging word for me. When I got to the last chapter, I came across verse 7: “casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you.” It was a verse I knew well, indeed had memorized it; but now I saw something I’d never seen before. It said: “casting ALL your care upon Him.”
The Divine Author could easily have omitted the word all without hindering the flow or force of the text: casting your care upon Him. But the Lord deliberately dropped that little all into the sentence like a pearl in the pathway, and I had overlooked it for years.
But what a word! The “all” indicated this was an all- inclusive promise. Nothing is excluded from the invitation. No problem is too small for His notice, none too large for His power. He’s concerned about each and every problem I have or would ever have, public or personal, large or little. He can handle them, and I should give them all to Him in total trust.
Then a thought came to me. I wondered if there were other “alls”  in the Bible that I’d missed. Continuing my reading, I noticed three verses later that God is “the God of all grace.” Four verses later: “Peace to all of you.” Three verses down the column, in 2 Peter 1:3, I read, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us” (NKJV).
Looking up the word in a concordance, I was amazed to find 5,675 “alls” in the Bible. This word shows up in a remarkable number of verses, and it amplifies many of our greatest truths, commands, and promises:
•   “All things work together for the good of those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).

•   “You have thrown all my sins behind Your back” (Isa. 38:17).

•   “Even the hairs of your head have all been counted” (Matt. 10:30).

•   “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt. 22:37).

•   “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov.3:5–6).

•   “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened” (Matt. 11:28).

•   “Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6 NIV).

•   “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Matt. 6:33).
The Lord doesn’t waste words in His Book. In the verses above, the alls could easily have been left out; yet there they are. Seems it’s one of God’s favorite words. He used it thousands of times, often in passages that would have read nicely without it; yet the all maximizes the meaning to the absolute. It’s the largest little word in the world, taking already strong statements and broadening their applications to virtual infinity, which, after all, is what one would expect from an omnipotent Father.
The frequency of this word in Scripture speaks to the all-sufficient grace of our Almighty Savior. It highlights the infinite omniqualities of God, and the complete devotion we should afford Him. He is the Lord of All, our All-in-All, our Almighty God, our All-Sufficient Savior from whom All blessings flow; and He is All we need.
Looking up all these alls was the simplest Bible study I’ve ever done, but one of the most bolstering to the soul, because all Scripture is given by inspiration of God—even the thousands of occurrences of this little monosyllabic term.
So for each day of the year, I’ve selected an “all” from Scripture—365 of them, all told.
The other 5,310 occurrences you’ll have to dig out for yourself.
Day 1  2 Corinthians 9:6–11
God is able to make all grace abound toward you;

that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things,

may abound to every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (KJV)
Missionary Amy Carmichael attended a meeting featuring the renowned preacher Dr. Andrew Bonar. “He was very old and could not speak very plainly or strongly,” she recalled. “The hall was full, and I was near the back. I could not catch a single word he said, except this word all. He read 2 Corinthians 9:8 and he put every bit of strength he had into it, so that the one word rang out—all—always—all—all. I have forgotten thousands of great sermons, but that ‘all’ I have never forgotten, and it has helped me countless times.”
The context of this verse involves giving to the Lord’s work, yet the promise is larger than its context. The words God is able represent a recurring divine promise:
•   He is able to establish us (Rom. 16:25).

•   He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

•   He is able to keep what we have committed to Him (2 Tim. 1:12).

•   He is able to aid us in temptation (Heb. 2:18).

•   He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24).

•   He is able to deliver us (Dan. 3:17).

•   And He is able to make all grace abound to us in all ways at all times for all things.
Our God is able! He isn’t going to impart some grace or some sufficiency in some things for some good works. It’s all—all—all—all!
Day 2             Proverbs 3:1–5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5
Many times I’ve preached this verse to myself, repeating over and over: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . . Trust in the Lord with all your heart, . . .” Recently I dug a little deeper into that word trust. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the original term here in Proverbs 3:5 is batucha, which literally means to “trust in, feel safe, be confident, careless.”
Careless—care-less, as in carefree.
The TWOT goes on to explain that this word expresses the sense of well-being and security that results from having something or someone in whom to place confidence. The basic idea behind “trust” goes beyond intellectual belief; it emphasizes an attitude or emotion of feeling safe and secure, unconcerned—being confident to the point of being care-less or carefree.
That doesn’t preclude a healthy concern for things we’ve entrusted to the Lord. It does mean that the Proverbs 3:5 variety of trust liberates us from toxic anxiety, fear, worry, and crippling concern. The old French mystic, Jean Nicolas Grou, said, “Give yourself to Him, trust Him, fix your eye upon Him, listen to His voice, and then go on bravely and cheerfully.”
Don’t trust Him with some of your heart, which taps into some of His peace. Abide with total trust. That’s His desire and His command for you today: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”

Day 3  Proverbs 3:5–10

Think about Him in all your ways,

and He will guide you on the right paths.

Proverbs 3:6
One time I spoke to students of Bryan College in Tennessee about God’s guidance over matters large and small in our lives. Afterward I was bombarded with questions. Another speaker had suggested that God establishes certain parameters for our lives but doesn’t involve Himself in specifics, that He doesn’t specifically know or ordain our steps. But I believe God’s guidance is detailed, daily, personal, unfailing, and preplanned, as Psalm 139:16 says: “All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.”
If He has planned all my days, I should acknowledge Him in all my ways. That means developing the habit of deliberately pausing to ask God’s will before making a purchase, giving an answer, writing a letter, making a decision, or taking an action. Acknowledge Him as Lord of that matter.
This was Nehemiah’s habit, as we see in chapter 2 of his book: “Then the king asked me, ‘What is your request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king.” In the royal palace in Susa that day, no one noticed the slight pause in the conversation. But during that strategic second of silence, Nehemiah shot an arrow of prayer heavenward and consulted God, quietly asking: “Lord, give me wisdom and grant me favor!”
Strategic pauses like that throughout the day would save us from many mistakes.

Day 4  John 21:15–19
Lord, You know all things.

John 21:17 (NKJV)
One day while perusing A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, I came across a peculiar idea. Tozer asserted that God has never learned anything. He cannot learn; it is impossible. Imagine the lifted eyebrows if a pastor started Sunday’s sermon with that declaration. But Tozer was right. Because God is omniscient, He possesses perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn. There isn’t a scrap of information, a byte of data, or a spark of genius that He hasn’t known from eternity past. He compasses and surpasses all facts; He comprehends and transcends all reality; and in Him are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
That means all truth is God’s truth, and true science will never contradict the realities of Scripture. It means He knows the future as well as the past, and He is guiding His creation toward pre-appointed ends. Yet it means more. As Peter acknowledged in John 21, Jesus also knows the world within us.
He knows my strengths, so He can use me for His purpose. He knows my weaknesses, so He can perfect what concerns me. He knows my anxieties, so He can reassure me with His promises. He knows my hurts, so He can apply His salve. He knows my sins, so He can cleanse my soul. He knows my failures, so He can work all things for my good. He knows my past, so He can lead me toward maturity. And He knows my future, so He can lead me all the way.
All wise, all good, almighty Lord,

Jesus, by highest Heav’n adored.

—Charles Wesley, 1745

Day 5  Psalm 5
Let all who take refuge in You rejoice;

let them shout for joy forever.

Psalm 5:11
During two periods of my life I’ve suffered bouts of depression, so I know something of its perils. According to the World Health Organization, major depression is the fourth- leading cause of disability in the world, and it’s on its way to becoming the second leading cause, just behind heart disease.
It’s a complex illness, and I don’t want to oversimplify it. Yet our depression, anxiety, anger, or fear is often the by- product of discounting the unfailing promises of God. Israel’s King David suffered periodic depression, as revealed in some of his psalms. He often brought his heavy heart to the Lord and replenished his emotions in the endless reservoirs of God’s grace. In so doing, he developed this formula in Psalm 5:11—

Relying on the Lord – Rejoicing in the Lord.
That’s simple enough for a wall plaque, yet it’s one of the most profound equations for emotional health ever discovered: “Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You” (NKJV). The word all signifies that this truth is applicable to everyone on earth. We can all learn to rely, and thereby to rejoice.
My daughter Grace once gave me a figurine of a lazy frog with his hands behind his head, resting on a rock, legs folded leisurely. Knowing my penchant for worry, she thought it a good reminder of the acronym FROG: Fully Rely On God. It’s hard to be depressed when there’s a frog on your desk; and it’s hard not to rejoice when you’re fully relying on Him.

Day 6  Matthew 6:25–34
After all these things the Gentiles seek.

For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,

and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:32–33 (NKJV)
England’s Queen Elizabeth I once asked a British merchant to undertake a mission for the crown. “But your Highness,” said the man, “such a long absence will be fatal to my business.” To which the queen replied: “You take care of my business, and I will take care of yours.” When the man returned, he found that the queen’s patronage had enlarged his company immeasurably.
Alice Taylor was a missionary to China whose four children were captured by the Japanese and interned in a concentration camp during World War II. Alice suffered galloping anxiety. But she recalled her pastor once putting Matthew 6:33 like this: “If you take care of the things that are dear to God, He will take care of the things that are dear to you.” Alice forced herself to focus on the Lord’s work while trusting Him with her cares. In time her children came home safely to the glory of God.
What’s our greatest need today? Whatever it is—financial, relational, physical, or emotional—it’s included in that universal all. Jesus said, “All these things . . . all these things

. . . all these things.”

Day 7  Genesis 6:13–22

Thus Noah did; according to all

that God commanded him, so he did.

Genesis 6:22 (NKJV)
Total trust results in total obedience. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, after being warned about what was not yet seen, in reverence built an ark.”
By faith Noah obeyed.
Some scholars believe no rain had fallen to Earth prior to that time. Genesis 1:7 speaks of the waters above the expanse of the sky, perhaps indicating that a vast thermal shield of vapor encased Earth and maintained a greenhouse effect. This blanket of moisture filtered the sun’s destructive rays and may have contributed to the long life spans listed in Genesis. When the vapor canopy collapsed, torrential rains lasted forty days and nights. So in an age in which people knew nothing of rain, God told Noah to build an enormous ship, and Noah obeyed completely, down to the last nail.
To measure your faith, pull out the dipstick of obedience. Does God tell us to build up others with our words? To be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another? To do the work of an evangelist? To avoid sexual immorality? To keep our eyes from vanity? To meditate on Scripture?
Scottish novelist George MacDonald said, “You  can begin at once to be a disciple of the Living One—by obeying Him in the first thing you can think of in which you are not obeying Him. We must learn to obey Him in everything, and so must begin somewhere. Let it be at once, and in the very next thing that lies at the door of our conscience.”

FIRST Wildcard Tours presents It’s Just You And Me Lord…….by Marion Stroud

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Marion Stroud
and the book:
It’s Just You and Me, Lord : Prayers for a Women’s Life
Discovery House Pub (September 2012)
***Special thanks to Susan Otis, Creative Resources, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Marion Stroud has been a bookworm since she memorized the rhyming couplets of the

Rupert Bear stories when she was three years old. Marion always wanted to be a writer but trained initially to be a physical therapist.

As soon as Marion “retired” from physiotherapy to have her first baby, she decided to fulfill two ambitions at once: to become a mother and a writer. She now has five adult children, seventeen grandchildren from ages eighteen months to nineteen years, and twenty-four published books to her name, many of which have been translated into up to fourteen different languages.

Living in Malaysia as a child gave Marion a heart for people from different nations. She works with Media Associates International to mentor and encourage writers in countries where little Christian literature is written or published.

Marion and her husband love entertaining, walking, reading, and traveling. They are activein the church they helped to found more than thirty years ago. They also lead a small groupwhere they offer pastoral support, and together learn more about living out their faith in daily life.”

Visit the author’s website.


As women journey through life a lot can be said about their relationships, responsibilities, and concerns. Often influenced by emotions and feelings, women are most likely to express their deepest thoughts to a trusted friend.

It’s Just You and Me, Lord offers heartfelt prayers to inspire and encourage women no matter where they are in life’s journey. Addressing common issues and providing practical prayers, Scripture, and quotes, author Marion Stroud encourages women to express honest and heartfelt communication with God.

From personal prayers to prayers about family, friends, and the world, this inspirational resource helps women of all ages to genuinely connect with God, talk with Him about their concerns, and build and maintain a strong prayer life. Discover how you can go to God in prayer and have confidence in knowing He is your trusted friend.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Hardcover: 224 pages

Publisher: Discovery House Pub (September 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1572935731

ISBN-13: 978-1572935730



It’s Just You And Me Lord is a collection of prayers by women throughout their lives, and just about any issue you can think of. Where I don’t usually read my prayers, I’d rather pray from my heart. But I also enjoy reading prayers like these, because reading these prayers gave me a new insight about praying. Even thought I know I can pray about anything, some of these prayers were so refreshing, and gave me ideas on how my prayer life can be different and better. And each prayer has verses to go with them too!

I like a statement made by the author in the beginning of the book which says. “Whatever words you use, you can approach Him{God}boldly, confident that as you honestly and openly share your joys, your pain and your perplexity with Him, you will come away from the encounter changed and strengthened.” This is what each of us need in our lives. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book to keep and use. I rec’d my copy from FIRST Wildcard Tours to read and review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.


One of my favorite ways of spending an evening is to share a meal with old friends. What we eat and drink is not particularly important—it’s the conversation that matters. We look back and laugh about our youthful escapades. We talk about the issues that confront us now and wrestle with questions of faith and family. Nothing is off-limits. We challenge each other’s presuppositions and get fresh glimpses of truth through the eyes of a trusted companion.

Prayer, at its best, is like sharing a meal with a loved and trusted friend. Jesus says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20 NLT).

Some of the topics I have written about in these pages spring from my own experience, but many are rooted in the pain and challenges faced by others. In some cases the details of the situation have been changed to protect their privacy. But all these conversations with God spring from life as we experience it in the twenty-first century.

You may want to make my words your own, or simply use them as a prompt for your own communication with our loving heavenly Father. Whatever words you use, you can approach Him boldly, confident that as you honestly and openly share your joys, your pain, and your perplexity with Him, you will come away from the encounter changed and strengthened.

Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.

Mahatma Ghandi

A Woman Within

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but only to pour them all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

George Eliot

God loves me unconditionally. And He will love me into perfection. With Him I can be absolutely open, sharing the best and worst of my life, my joys and my sorrows, because He knows about every detail already. Nothing I can say or do will affect our relationship for good or for evil. I am His beloved child who delights His heart. He is the always available, unshockable friend, the relentless lover, and the hiding place in which I can rest safely, whatever storms may rock my world.

Summer Suns Are Glowing

Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,

and come with me.

See! The winter is past;

the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth;

the season of singing has come.

Song of Solomon 2:10–12


and the livin’ is easy.

Fish are jumping,

and the cotton is high.

DuBose Heyward


The long dark days of winter are over, Lord,

and everything within me

wants to make the very best

of this bright time of year.

As I awaken to the song of birds,

cause me to add my song of praise

under my breath,

beneath the rattle

of the commuter train,

or ringing round the bathroom as I shower.

Thank you for opportunities to walk and talk with you

while, as the old song puts it,1

the dew is still on the roses,

and the earth

smells fresh and sweet.

Thank you for ripening fruit on trees,

fields of standing corn,

and farmers’ markets


with fruit and vegetables of every hue.

Thank you for opportunities

to stop and stare, dear Lord.

For some there will be no vacations

in peaceful countryside or by the sea.

But all of us can pause for one brief moment

to smell a rose,

to watch a spider spin its web,

or simply be aware

of all the little things

that bring your joy into the present moment.

Thank you for the fun of outdoor eating.

The clink of ice in glass and fragrant smoke

from barbecue or campfire embers.

Help us to grasp the opportunity

to open up our hearts and home

to old and young,

inviting friend and stranger

to share in our enjoyment.

And as the evening darkens,

calm our hearts

to see the glory of the sunset,

and the bright twinkle of the stars

against the velvet darkness of the sky,

as treasures from your hand,

filling us

with reverence for the things you have made,

and thankfulness

for summertime.

You care for the land and water it . . .

You crown the year with your bounty,

and your carts overflow with abundance . . .

The meadows are covered with flocks

and the valleys are mantled with grain;

they shout for joy and sing.

Psalm 65:9–13

It’s Just You and Me, Lord: Prayers for a Woman’s Life

© 2012 by Marion Stroud

All rights reserved.

Discovery House is affiliated with RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Requests for permission to quote from this book should be directed to: Permissions Department, Discovery House Publishers, P.O. Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, or contact us by e-mail at

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Published in association with the Books & Such Literary Agency, Mary Keeley, 52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170, Santa Rosa, CA 95409-5370.

ISBN 978-1-57293-573-0

Printed in the United States of America

First printing in 2012

Straight Pipes Devotions for Bikers by Barbara Ann Derksen

Straight Pipes Devotions for Bikers  

by Barbara Ann Derksen


This devotional is designed to encourage bikers in their Christian walk and, at
the same time, provide them with a tool to disciple others. Readers will find
encouragement to spend time with God daily, study His Word, share their faith
with others, and then disciple new believers.


I have read many devotions for lots of groups of people, but this is the first one I’ve read for bikers. What a great idea and wonderful devotional from author Barbara Derksen. This book starts off with a list of Promises for Bikers, which is scripture verses taken from The Message version of the Bible. Then with scripture taken from the NIV Bible, Ms. Derkson has written devotions geared just for those bikers our there.

And to just give you a little taste of what is in this book, here are some of the devotions you will find here:
Biker Blessings
Turning Ourselves In
Biker Laws
Cruising with the King
Band of Brothers
Tattoo the Image
Bad Company
One Track Mind
Oh and if you want to know what each is about, well pick up a copy of this and read all about it!

Wow, how cool is this? Barbara Derksen not only gives devotions just for bikers, but she uses biker talk and that language unique only to bikers. I think it is so neat that Barbara picked verses that go with the biker lifestyle. What a great book for bikers to take with them on the road, for encouragement to themselves, and also to help them minister to others and be an encouragement to all they come in contact with. But if you are not a biker and you are curious to know what Barbara wrote in her book, not to worry because this devotional can be for anyone. The most important thing in “Straight Pipes” is that the author tells people about Jesus, and how to live for Him anywhere, and in anything they do!

I highly recommend this really neat book of devotions for the biker out there, or the biker in your life. So why not pick up your copy today HERE.


Watching the expressions on the faces of her readers as well as answering questions about her characters is what drives author and speaker, Barbara Ann Derksen to write yet another book and another. Her favorite genre is murder mystery but each book brings forth characters who rely on God as they solve the puzzle in their life. Her readers also have a tremendous amount of input when they wonder what happened to this character or that one, even if they are secondary to the story.

Barbara’s devotionals are sought after each year when she publishes a new one that reflects what God has placed on her heart. From Straight Pipes, her first, to Chaps, the latest, Barbara’s devotions take people to the place where God can touch their heart and leave a lasting impression. 2012 will see the release of her fifth about the Sermon on the Mount.

Born in Canada, Barbara lived in the US for 12 years. There her writing surfaced as she worked as a journalist for six years with over 2500 articles published in newspapers and magazines during that time. Her readership expanded while in the States but now the Canadian public has discovered the gift that God has given yet another Canadian.

She is a member of The Word Guild, Manitoba Writer’s Guild, The Writer’s Collective, and Christian Motorcyclists Association where each summer her books are used to inspire and encourage.

Barbara has spoken across the US and in Manitoba, Canada for women’s groups and in church services on topics such as The Writing Experience, working in the ministry of Christian Motorcyclists Association, Love, Parenting, Time Management, and a host of others.

With 11 books to her credit, each one surpasses the last, according to her readers. They look forward to Silence, the fourth in the Wilton/Strait mystery series, and Road Trip, her fifth devotional about the Sermon on the Mount in 2012. Barbara will allow some new characters to tell their story in a new series Finders Keepers which she plans to begin in 2012.

Developing a social media presence, getting published at and adding her books to their kindle collection in Canada, the US, Great Britain, France and Germany, and also adding her books to has kept her busy this year. She has also attended a few workshops to add to her skill level. Barbara Ann Would love to meet you, whenever she is in your area. Check her schedule to find out when she will stop by.

You can find more about Barbara Derksen HERE

From Spice to Eternity……. by Yvonne Pat Wright

From Spice to Eternity

by Yvonne Pat Wright


I am thrilled to post my review of From Spice To Eternity today, written by my friend from the UK, Yvonne Pat Wright. Yvonne is one of those special people that you love from the start. I love her spirit, and her love for the Lord. You will find her book truly amazing, as she uses her love of spices to share the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I encourage you to pick up a copy of her book, and you can find a copy on AMAZON

About this book!

Book Description

Publication Date: May 28, 2010
What does life have to throw at you to wake you up. Spices and herbs
What does life have to throw at you to wake you up. Spices and herbs does it for recipes, but in life, the answer is much more elusive. An intriguing journey with Yvonne Pat Wright into her life of heartbreak, disappointment and despair and how she found her way to fullfilment and purpose through a love she never thought she would find.From Spice to Eternity is a compilation of inspirational stories drawn from personal life encounters while living on two islands: Jamaica and Great Britain. Stories of tears, loss and grief are balanced by joyous, exciting and triumphant tales, which above all, demonstrate the unrelenting and indefatigable love of God.
Go HERE for the website about this book
My Thoughts on this book!

Spices for a Christian book? Knowing that Yvonne wrote this book I knew it would be good, but I didn’t know what to expect with the spices tied into her Biblical writings. I found out that I was in for a treat! I used this book for a devotional, reading a few chapters each night and I was blessed with each chapter I read. In each chapter of From Spice to Eternity Yvonne gives us a spice and its meaning and purpose, then follows by a devotion tying this spice into our spiritual lives, then a recipe to use the spice she talks about.
One of my favorites is Cinnamon; because this is a spice I love and use a lot. Cinnamon is a healing spice and is credited to helping blood pressure and cholesterol. In her devotion for this spice, the author ties this healing spice to a healing story using scripture about the healing power of God. A few other spices she uses is cloves, vanilla, allspice, mace, mustard, nutmeg, and many more.
I really like Yvonne’s style of writing because it is easy to read and understand, and make a wonderful devotion to read each day. In addition to the devotion, you will find lots of information about each of the forty two spices in this book as well as their uses in recipes as well as for our health. And to top it off, there are many healthy, mouth-watering recipes to try for yourself.
I highly recommend this spice and devotional book for your personal library. It is a resource that you will use over and over! Grab a copy and check it out. You will not be disappointed!
This book was provided by the author for me to read and review. I was not required or expected to give a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

About the Author

Yvonne Pat Wright has just completed her first novel, From Spice to Eternity, released on May 14, 2010. She’s working on its sequel now. A young-at-heart grandmother Yvonne Pat was born in Jamaica. She spent the first twenty years of her life there, married and had her two daughters before migrating to the United Kingdom in the 1960s. There she attended Tottenham College and earned her Certificate in Business Studies. She also holds a Certificate:Seasoned Chef Cooking with Herbs and Spices from the SA Herb Academy.
After 25 years she returned to her native Jamaica. She worked in Advertising, writing News Releases. She joined the staff at the then Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, and for a time was in charge of Radio and Television. She’s appeared on both Radio and Television, writing the scripts for her programmes.
She returned to live in the United Kingdom in 2006. She fulfilled her desire to write with her debut book From Spice to Eternity, an intriguing journey looking back at her life and interweaving exotic details of herbs, spices and recipes. She reveals how her heart gets captured for life. Visit her at

Welcome to the blog tour for Mornings with Jesus!

Welcome to the blog tour for Mornings with Jesus!



About the book:

“Be still and know that I am God.” is one of the most beautiful verses from the Bible, but it’s not easy to practice in this busy world. Mornings with Jesus will help you do just that—“be still” in Jesus’ beautiful and powerful presence. For those who are seeking a deeper experience in their relationship with Christ, Mornings with Jesus offers a fresh perspective of who Jesus is (the Healer, the Son of God, the Comforter, the Good Shepherd) and what that means for day-to-day life. With a warm and friendly voice, 365 short devotional writings on the character and teachings of Jesus encourage readers to greet each day by drawing near to Him and inviting His presence into their day. Spend time with Jesus at the beginning of each day and experience His nearness and peace in a new way throughout the year. Each day’s selection includes: • a Bible verse • an entry based on Jesus: His words, miracles, and parables; His wisdom, compassion, and comfort; His mystery, power, divinity, and humanity • a “faith step” that will inspire and challenge readers to apply the day’s message to their lives

My Thoughts on this Devotional

I’ve been using this devotional “Mornings With Jesus” each day for a while and what can I say except I Love It!! It seems as though each day the devotion is just what I need for the day. There are 366 devotions in this wonderful book which covers a little bit of everything. And the devotions are written by some of our all time favorite authors like Judy Baer, Gwen Ford Faulkenberry, Tricia Goyer, Sharon Hinck, Keri Wyatt Kent, Erin K. Marshall and Camy Tang.

This is a book of devotions I highly recommend to everyone, and especially us ladies, since it is written by women authors. These women deal daily with some of the issues we all deal with from time to time, so they know just what we need. And isn’t it just amazing that God knows what we need when we need it! And even though we all are facing different things each day, the devotions still minister to us in a unique way. That is just the way God is.

I urge you to go out and grab a copy of this wonderful devotional just for you. And don’t worry about being a little behind. You can read them anytime and catch up, or just wait until next year and start over.

This book was provided by Guidepost through LitFuse Publicity Group for me to read and review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

Link to buy the book:   

FIRST WildCard Tours….Live Reflectively and Live Abundantly By: Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose

FIRST WildCard Tours….Live Reflectively and Live Abundantly   By: Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card authors are:
Lenya Heitzig
Penny Rose

and the books:

Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses


David C. Cook (November 1, 2011)


Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians

David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. She and her husband founded Calvary Church of Albuquerque—one of the fastest-growing churches worldwide. She is the author of Holy Moments: Recognizing God’s Fingerprints on Your Life and also contributed to the best-selling New Women’s Devotional Bible. Heitzig serves as Executive Director of She Ministries of Albuquerque, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. She and her husband Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Rose is the award-winning author of numerous books. Penny thrives on teaching at conferences and retreats nationwide. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, Kerry, a pastor at Calvary of Albuquerque.

Visit the authors’ website.


The Fresh Life series was created for women who crave a profound experience of God’s Word without an overwhelming time commitment. Bible teachers Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose challenge readers to dig deep into Scripture by using a directed study method that only requires twenty minutes a day. With a fresh approach to studying Scripture that gives newcomers as well as seasoned students deep insight into God’s Word, the latest two additions in the series explore the life of Moses and the riches in the book of Ephesians.

Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses (Heitzig) is an engaging Bible study on the life of Moses. He was saved from death on the Nile and raised as an Egyptian prince. He met his wife at a Midianite well, witnessed the birth of a nation as the Red Sea parted and watched water gush from a rock with one touch of his rod. He died overlooking the Jordan River. Through viewing the water moments of Moses’ life, readers will be encouraged to consider the moments in their own lives that shape who they are and who they are becoming.

Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians (Heitzig and Rose) challenges readers to dig deep into the book of Ephesians to find the spiritual treasure God has for them. The book of Ephesians is God’s “last will and testament” that bequeaths his spiritual treasures to His beloved children. Covering topics such as living in God’s will and receiving peace no matter the circumstances, it reveals the magnitude of every Christian’s inheritance—a gift “exceedingly abundantly above” what you could ever ask for.

The Fresh Life series teaches readers to:
· Lift up…a prayer
· Look at…God’s Word (answering questions concerning what the passage says)
· Learn about…what the passage means (sidebars define words and profice background information)
· Live out…what they have learned (personalizing the text and learning how it can impact their daily life)
· Listen to…quotes from well-known figures to build on the truths uncovered in Scripture

Readers will develop a deeper intimacy with the Lord and walk away feeling inspired to move forward in their walks of faith. Live Abundantly and Live Reflectively continue the rich biblical tradition of the Fresh Life series. They offer wisdom that will leave readers encouraged in their present situations and hopeful for the spiritual journey ahead.

Product Details:

Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (November 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781405939
ISBN-13: 978-0781405935

Product Details:

Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 2 edition (November 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434703304
ISBN-13: 978-1434703309

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER (Click on images to expand):

Live Reflectively: Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses

Live Abundantly: A Study in the Book of Ephesians (Click on images to expand)




My Thoughts

Wow, these are the best Bible Study books! They are truly for the busy woman because each day the lesson is fairly short, though it it very detailed and I love being able to answer questions when I study. It just re-enforces what I read. Living Abundantly is A Study in the Book of Ephesians. Live Reflectively is Lessons from the Watershed Moments of Moses. Both are great studies. I haven’t had the time to really study them book since I haven’t had the books that long, but I love them so far. And I plan to go through both of these wonderful studies.

I’m just really excited I found these because they are just the kind of studies I love. And I can’t say enough about them! So go grab a copy of each and start your study in God’s Word. And these books can be used as an individual study or with friends, as a small study group or Sunday school class. I highly recommend both of these books!

I rec’d this book from the publisher through B&B Media and FIRST WildCard Tours. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.



FIRST WildCard Tour Letting Go Of Worry By: Linda Mintle

FIRST WildCard Tour Letting Go Of Worry

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today’s Wild Card author is:


Linda Mintle


and the book:


Letting Go of Worry: God’s Plan for Finding Peace and Contentment

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James | Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Linda Mintle is a national speaker and bestselling author of more than 15 books, including I Love My Mother, But…and I Married You, Not Your Family. She appears regularly on several national television and radio shows and is a network news contributor. She also hosts her own website. In her general clinical practice, she specializes in marriage and family therapy, eating disorders, and infertility. A licensed clinical social worker, she holds a PhD in urban health and clinical psychology. She and her family live in Virginia.

Visit the author’s website.


Dr. Linda Mintle confesses that for years she believed worry was an inevitable byproduct of our modern, busy lives. But as she explored God’s Word for guidance, she discovered that worry isn’t supposed to be managed. It’s supposed to be released completely.

Through personal and biblical examples, Mintle reveals reasons and ways for readers to rethink their core beliefs as they surrender worry to God and discover:

· the spiritual roots of worry
· what to do when anxious thoughts arise
· how to have peace about their health, job, money, and relationships
· practical ways to cultivate a truly worry-free life
· the biblical secret to lasting contentment

With godly instruction, Scriptures for meditation, and the hope of a renewed perspective, readers can let go of worry and embrace a transformed life of peace, forgiveness, and faith.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930582
ISBN-13: 978-0736930581


Everyone Worries, Don’t They?

There is a great difference between worry
and concern.  A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.

Harold Stephens

Everyone worries, don’t they? Maybe, but that does not mean it is good for us! At the risk of sounding like a mom, I’ll say that just because everyone is doing it, does not mean we should. To believe worry happens and it cannot be stopped or controlled is wrong thinking! Our physical, emotional and spiritual health depends on dealing with worry the proper way.

You see, worry feeds on itself. It devours the soul and makes life miserable. It wastes a great deal of time and effort that could be applied elsewhere. Worry takes us down a negative path that typically ends in anxiety and distress, a path most of us want to avoid. And while we cannot change the facts associated with our worry, we can change our decision to worry. Worry invades our thoughts, but we decide if we will focus on it.

So the question is, is worry something we accept as a given and try to manage, or is it something from which we can be free? The answer is yes. Yes, we can learn to manage our worries. We can schedule a worry time each day, write down our worried thoughts, and do much more to manage it. Any therapist will tell you that worry can be managed. That is our job. We have an arsenal of tools that includes medications and behavioral strategies to help manage it. But is this the best we can do?

A better goal is to rid our lives of worry and learn to cultivate a life of peace and contentment. Personally, I am opting for a worry-free life, one that allows me to break away from the worry habit. Managing worry is too time-consuming and depressing. I have done it many times in my life. But from my faith perspective, managing worry is like managing adultery—both are just plain wrong and need to be stopped.

Like any habit, worry can be broken. To do so will take patience, intention, and understanding. We must pay attention to our bodies, examine our thinking, and look closely at our feelings. This means challenging the notion that worry simply happens and there is nothing we can do about it. There is much we can do about it, which is the focus of this book.

One of the reasons we hang on to worry is because it is easy to do. Worry helps us avoid the reality of the moment. It pulls our attention to an illusory world and allows us to disconnect for a short time. Although we may not be aware of it, a purpose is served when we worry. This is why it is so attractive.

In addition, most of us are good at worry. We have had many opportunities to practice. Worry has become a normal way of operating in our day-to-day living. It is like drinking our morning coffee, a habit we perform regularly without giving it much thought.

So here is the deal—you can worry and try to manage it, or you can choose to eliminate it from your life. The choice is yours. This book will focus on letting go of worry, not managing it. It will look at worry holistically and give you exercises at the end of each chapter to help you release it.

In order to say goodbye to worry, we begin by understanding the not-so-obvious but important difference between concern and worry. It is fine to be concerned about any number of issues, but not so fine to worry about them. Concern and worry are different.

What is worry?

The word worry is related to the ancient German word wurgen, meaning “to strangle.” Now there is a pleasant thought. Any word that has such a negative root cannot be good for us! Worry strangles the life out of us! It certainly feels that way when we worry. Worry is defined as “something or someone that causes anxiety; a source of unhappiness.” It includes both how we feel and think.

The word’s meaning has changed a bit through the centuries. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines worry as “to disturb, to tease, to harass, to weary.” Today’s Webster says to worry means to harass, to annoy, or to bother. As a noun, worry refers to a state of mind; anxiety; distress; care; uneasiness. In other words, worry involves a state of mind and engages our mental process, leading to anxious feelings or an anxious state.

Thus, worry is a way to think, a mental habit. And this mental habit leads to feeling anxious. The focus of worry is typically future events where there is uncertainty about the outcome. To the worrier, the future is perceived as potentially negative, which creates feelings of anxiety.

Based on these definitions, are you beginning to see that worry is not associated with good things? Strangling, distress, disturbance, anxiety—not exactly the words we want to describe our behavior or thoughts! And certainly not words we associate with peace and calm.

Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my…

In the famous movie The Wizard of Oz, our heroine, Dorothy, cautiously proceeds down the yellow brick road searching for the Wizard, unsure of what she might encounter. Word is that lions, tigers and bears lurk in the dark of the forest, waiting to pounce on Dorothy and her companions. Concerned, Dorothy asks, “Do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals?” The Scarecrow answers, “Mm, we might. Animals that eat straw?” The Tin Woodman replies, “Some, but mostly lions, and tigers, and bears.”

Dorothy, a stranger to the land, has no way of knowing how real or unreal the threat of attack is. She responds with her now famous “Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my…” Was that an “oh my…” of concern or worry? What is the difference between being concerned versus worried?

Both concern and worry involve thinking, taking energy to focus on important issues. Yet they are distinctly different. Concern is normal and natural. In her travels, Dorothy does not know what to expect and is asking questions. She is in a strange land and making a long journey to an unknown destination. What might be on the road ahead?

Worry, on the other hand, is destructive, unhealthy, and misplaced. Worried thoughts focus on negativity and the what- ifs in life. Whereas concern moves us forward, worry keeps us stuck. Worry is the Scarecrow paralyzed by fear. He does not want to move on down the road—what if the animals eat straw?

Concern involves caring and meeting a need. Concern is the Tin Woodman reassuring the Scarecrow that while there might be wild animals that eat straw, it is unlikely, and there is a bigger goal—finding the Wizard. In other words, Scarecrow, it is not all about you and the slight possibility of being eaten. Stop looking for trouble and start thinking about finding the Wizard!

Concern comes out of a maturity and growth. It involves the ability to see reality, feel empathy or compassion, and care about others. Concern says, we are in the forest, let’s take precautions but not lose our cool. Keep moving down the yellow brick road and solve problems when and if they materialize. Dorothy gets it, and she mobilizes the group to action.

Worry, on the other hand, is pointless and immobilizing. It circles the same problem with no real solution or control over what is happening. Most often it leads to anxiety.

In fact, worry causes more problems. It distracts from the goal, gets in the way of our destination, disrupts our plans, and creates havoc along the way. But concern prompts action that is in our control and works to solve the problem. It allows us to focus on a problem with the intent to do something about it.

Consider these comparisons between worry and concern. They will help you examine your thoughts and feelings:


Circles the problem Solves the problem

Brings inaction Brings action

Feels out of control Takes control where possible

Distracts from the problem Focuses on the problem

Disrupts a plan Puts forth a plan

Concern is normal—worry needs to be eliminated

Once we understand the difference between concern and worry, it is freeing. It is normal to be concerned about life, people, and circumstances. We care about others and plan for the future. However, what we do with normal concerns is important. The temptation is to allow them to become times of worry. This example illustrates the difference between someone who is genuinely concerned and someone who is worried.

When Bill lost his job, he felt terrible. There were bills to pay and mouths to feed. Without an income, there would soon be a problem for his family. Instead of worrying about what could happen if he failed to find employment, Bill immediately applied for new positions. He updated his resume, worked his contacts, and stayed active and positive looking for a new job. His appropriate concern over losing his job spurred him on. He realized the consequences and took action. And that is what concern does—gets us to focus on the here and now and not be distracted by the negatives of a situation. Concern also helps us plan and move forward. It does not disrupt our plans or keep us stuck.

A worried Bill would have acted differently. Worried Bill would have been up all night, rehearsing the possibilities of debt while feeling paralyzed by fear. Mentally, he would be thinking about what he could have done to avoid losing his job. While this might have been productive if it had changed his behavior for future employment and brought clarity to his job loss, all worried Bill does is focus on those things he cannot control—the terrible job market, his age and ability to compete with younger colleagues, finding a salary commensurate with his experience, and so on. Panic sets in, and worried Bill believes there is too much working against him. He is immobilized by worry—stuck. Anxiety overtakes him, and he makes no moves forward.

When you are concerned, you live in the moment but do not ignore the realities of life. You see problems and challenges but keep moving forward. When you worry, you also see problems and challenges but get stuck in them. There is no moving forward.

Concern does not need to become worry

So if our goal is to say goodbye to worry, how do we stop concern from morphing into worry? Is there a line between them? I believe so. And we must recognize when we have crossed that line.

To give an example, let’s say you had a fight and your spouse threatened divorce (this is a no-no in marital fighting!). The fight was heated, but you eventually worked through it. Apologies were made. Your spouse insisted he did not mean the divorce comment. The heat of the moment led him to say hurtful things.

The next week, another conflict arises and, for a moment, you recall the last fight: “Maybe he does want a divorce…” But you do not dwell on that thought and decide to deal with the present conflict. Once again, the two of you work through the conflict. Nothing about divorce was mentioned this second time. But then you revisit the thoughts you had a fight ago: “Maybe he was thinking about divorce and did not say it. He probably wants out of the marriage. What else is he not telling me?”

Your thoughts have now moved from normal concern to worry. Your “mind-reading” is causing you to feel distressed and think your relationship is in trouble. Rather than ask about that past comment, you fret over what could be real or unreal. The mental gymnastics of worry begin!

Something negative from the past is not a problem as long as you do not dwell on it and assume it will repeat. Worry is created when negative thinking sticks around long after the fact.

So in the example above, there was concern about the divorce comment, but that comment was over and done, a thing of the past. However, resurrecting the negative thought brought worry to the relationship.

Now, if you were bothered by the potential meaning of the divorce comment (was it careless, intended, a way to provoke, or something else?), then the proactive strategy would be to ask your spouse if he meant what he said, because it was hurtful and raised doubt in your mind. This is an action step and a way for you to take control over those potentially worrisome thoughts. With no move to action, the comment can take on a life of its own and turn to worry.

When we take apart the above example, we notice two things:

Something from the past was revisited and resurrected.
The negative was assumed, and the person operated in doubt instead of clarifying the comment (a problem-solving skill).
Concern moved to worry through revisiting the past and assuming the negative.

Here is another example. Jennifer noticed she was gaining weight. Her pants felt tight and she was eating when bored. Jennifer was concerned about the weight gain so she decided to make a behavioral change. When she felt bored, she worked crossword puzzles instead of eating. This activity distracted her. Concern about weight gain moved her to action and pushed her to make a plan and take control over an area of her behavior that felt out of control.

Jennifer could easily have moved her concern to worry. Here is how. She could focus her thoughts on how difficult it is to lose weight. After all, she has failed many diets and gained weight in the past. She could obsess on past dieting failures and also on how difficult it will be to break the current habit of eating when bored. What if she fails again? What is she does not lose weight? She will not be able to fit in her clothes. Her pants are already tight. This is depressing. Anxiety rises and she feels hopeless about doing anything. There is no moving forward because she is stuck in anxiety.

Basically, Jennifer is now circling the problem, becoming immobilized and doing no problem-solving. She allows distress to distract her from planning any helpful strategies. Her focus on past failures feeds worry.

Can we be concerned about events, issues, and people in our lives? Absolutely. Can we cry out to God about our concerns and feel deeply emotional? Certainly. King David did so regularly, as documented in the Psalms. Concern and catharsis are not worry. Worry goes beyond concern and catharsis and leads to a host of problems. In a word, worry looks backward and revisits failure and looks forward and assumes the worse.

Fear, a close relative to worry

Worry is often associated with fear. As with worry and concern, there is a difference between worry and fear. Consider this. If we are swimming in the warm Gulf waters and someone yells, “Shark!” fear is our natural response. Fear is a warning system built into our bodies as a natural reaction to danger. The danger is specific, timely, comes and goes quickly, and sharpens our senses. It is healthy to feel fear in the midst of a shark sighting. Fear acts like an alarm and often prompts us to action—in this case, swim as fast as you can and get out of the water!

Worry deals with what might happen and is a type of manufactured fear. So, for example, worry is when we again take a swim in the Gulf. There is no shark danger this time, but we worry that there could be. The entire time we swim, we feel anxious, thinking something bad could happen even though there is no evidence of it.

In this case, worry develops by thinking that danger could be hiding in those waters. In other words, worry takes fear and adds what if…to our thinking. Our thoughts move from the present reality to the possibility of danger. Although there is no present danger, we act and think as if there is. Worry remembers a time when a shark sighting happened and assumes it could happen right now. This resurrects fear.

Fear is often at the heart of worry. It motivates us to begin the what if cycle of worry. What if a shark is hiding? What if I get caught in the water? What if I cannot swim fast enough? What if no one sees me in trouble? And so on. Worry takes a real threat or a perceived danger (fear) and turns it into a way to focus on the uncertainty of the future: You could get hit by a car, struck by lightning, lose your money in the stock market, and so on ad infinitum. While fear can be traced back to a specific event or experience, worry is vague and ill defined.

In an article for Psychology Today, psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell, a former Harvard professor, described worry as “a special form of fear.” He explained that simple fear becomes more complex once we add anticipation, memory, imagination, and emotion to the mix. This “special form of fear” consumes both time and energy and threatens our mental and physical health. He was right. When you break down worry, fear is usually behind the scene. And that fear can translate to worry when we allow our thinking, emotions, and imagination to take us there.

Worry and anxiety

You may also think that worry is not all that different from anxiety. I believe there is a difference, but it is a matter of degree and complexity. Anxiety has physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral components to it. When we are anxious, our heart races, palms sweat, blood pressure rises, and pupils dilate. Mentally, anxiety involves negative self-talk and negative automatic thoughts. Behaviorally, anxiety causes us to avoid or escape situations.

Worry could be thought of as the mental part of anxiety. It is a type of negative self-talk that promotes negative possibilities. It goes beyond normal thoughts of danger and threat and becomes a form of self-harassment that keeps us stuck and distressed.

Worry triggers anxiety arousal in the body. And when this arousal remains for a period of time, it can result in health problems, procrastination, relationship stress, and more. Like fear, chronic anxiety creates stress on the body and can get in the way of everyday living. On top of that, it steals our joy.

If unchecked, worry can lead to a host of anxiety-related disorders. When it becomes a way of life and involves multiple areas of living, it can develop into a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Health anxiety, or hypochondria, develops when benign body signs are interpreted as potential illness. Worry that takes the form of self-criticism, guilt, feelings of incompetence and helplessness, or pessimism can lead to depression disorders. Obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive behavior that is intrusive and frightening are what characterizes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Panic is felt when worry involves a loss of control and fear. After a trauma, worry about more danger and flashbacks of the trauma can develop into posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Worry about embarrassment and social performance can intensify to a point of developing social anxiety or a social phobia. Finally, fear regarding an object or thing can turn in to a specific phobia like being afraid of dogs, spiders, or heights.

Here is the challenge. Understand that your body reacts to normal situations of fear and anxiety, but do not allow fear or anxiety to linger, like a dysfunctional friend. Become aware of worried thoughts before they become a chronic problem that is fear-based or anxiety-producing. Know the difference between worry and concern, between fear and anxiety. Do not allow worry to lead you to a state of anxiety and fear. The rest of this book will help you to achieve these aims.

Worry-Free Exercise


Check for physical tension. Do you have any of the physical signs of anxiety such as a racing or pounding heart, sweaty palms, difficulty breathing, stomach upset, frequent urination, diarrhea, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, or insomnia? Be aware of your body and the physical sensations that creep in with stress, anxiety, fear, and worry.


List your concerns—those things that bother you and could potentially become areas of worry. Using the table on page 21 (the differences between worry and concern), go through each concern and determine:

Is this a concern, or has it turned into a worry?
Is this concern something that is in or out of my
If it is in my control, what am I doing about it?
If it is not in my control, can I allow it to be that way without worrying?

Your goal is to empty this list by the end of the book.


Take your concerns to God. Meditate on Deuteronomy 31:8:

The Lord himself goes before you
and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Note: If you feel you have excessive worry or worry to the point that it interferes with your everyday living, consider seeing a mental-health therapist trained in treating anxiety disorders. An evaluation can help determine if your worry has become anxiety. Anxiety disorders are treatable. There is help.

My Thoughts

In the beginning of this book, Dr. Mintle encourages us to take the worry challenge. In this she suggest that we start saying goodby to worry and this is what here book is about. I think she sums it up in one sentence in the beginning when she says, “In regard to worry, we must learn to let go of what looks bad and trust the possible.” In each chapter of this book, the author gives us an insight of how we can trust the Lord and live a worry free life. It doesn’t happen overnight, it comes over time, but we can live worry free.

Grab a copy of this book and see for yourself! This would be a good book for a Sunday school class, small group study or women’s bible study.


FIRST WildCard Tour…….Sifted…… by Rick Lawrence

FIRST WildCard Tour…….Sifted…… by Rick Lawrence
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Rick Lawrence

and the book:

Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand

David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Rick Lawrence has been editor of GROUP Magazine, the world’s most widely read resource for Christian youth leaders, for 23 years and is the co-leader of The Simply Youth Ministry Conference. In his role as “Youth Ministry Champion” at Group Publishing, he leads the organization’s expeditionary efforts to challenge, encourage, and equip youth pastors. Lawrence has authored hundreds of magazine articles and is the author, co-author, or editor of 31 books, including JCQ’s: 150 Jesus-Centered Discussion Questions, Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry, and the adult/teenager small-group curricula Make Their Day and Ten Tough Things. He’s a consultant to national research organizations and a frequent conference and workshop speaker. Lawrence and his wife, Beverly Rose, live with their two daughters in Denver, CO.

Visit the author’s website.


Worn down by the troubles in your life? Overwhelmed by piled-up problems? Worried about others who are hurting? In his book, Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand, Rick Lawrence offers fresh biblical perspective on pain, based on a single Scripture snapshot: Luke 22:31-32.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1434700747

ISBN-13: 978-1434700742




“Show me a hero and I’ll show you a tragedy.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

For my birthday one year my wife gave me a book about Sir Ernest Shackleton, the legendary explorer who in 1914 attempted to be the first to circumnavigate Antarctica from sea to sea, only to endure epic hardships after his ship (prophetically named the Endurance) got stuck in pack ice.1 For most of the ensuing year the Endurance slowly morphed from a seagoing icebreaker to a ghostly frozen outpost, with its rigging sheathed in ice and its desperate crew counting on the spring thaw to set them free again. But instead the thaw sent hulking blocks of bluish ice crashing into the ship’s thick hull. And after a month spent bracing themselves against the pummeling, the twenty-seven men of the Endurance abandoned ship, camping on the pack ice as the sea’s frozen incisors slowly chewed and swallowed its timbers. The last to slip below the surface was the mast, a barren tree on the frozen expanse. And in the eerie aftermath Shackleton’s men knew that catastrophe was about to accelerate into tragedy. They were almost a thousand miles from help, with dwindling provisions, subzero weather, no means of communication, grinding ice behind them, and treacherous waters in front of them. And no Endurance.

One thing they had going for them—some historians would say the only thing they had going for them—was the remarkable will of Ernest Shackleton, a man whose capacity for hope seems borrowed from heroic fiction. By the following summer he had willed the entire party—every last man who’d been on that ship—safely home. They had to eat their beloved sled dogs to survive. They had to fit up salvaged lifeboats for a harrowing five-day journey over open water to the temporary safety of Elephant Island. They had to fashion a makeshift sail for Shackleton and five of his men, then point the largest of their lifeboats toward a distant whaling station on South Georgia Island, across the widow-making Southern Ocean. Along the way they had to survive twenty-foot swells that often engulfed their twenty-two-foot boat, a kind of sleepless dementia that reduced some of the men to a catatonic fetal position, frostbitten fingers encased in ice and frozen to the oars, and navigational challenges akin to sinking a basket from the upper deck (historians call it the single greatest feat of open-boat navigating ever). Once the men were in sight of South Georgia’s craggy shores, hurricane-force winds threatened to smash the boat on outlying rock formations. Finally, the half-dead men hauled their little boat onto the shore of a tiny rock cove. And then Shackleton and two of his men had to cross the width of the island’s forbidding, unmapped, mountainous interior in one thirty-six-hour all-or-nothing death march to the whaling station on the leeward side of the island.

The men, determined apparitions, stumbled out of the frozen mist of the mountains and shuffled into the Stromness station, where the shocked workers at first insisted their story couldn’t be true. From that moment, Shackleton’s name was legend.

Apsley Cherry-Garrar, writing about his experiences with the great Antarctic explorer Robert Scott in his book, The Worst Journey in the World, says: “For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time.”2

Now, that’s some kind of a man.

It’s an understatement to say Shackleton’s story captured me— the effect was more like addiction. I took the book with me on a four-day vacation, and every morning I’d get up at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. and eat through its pages like a starving man. Shackleton’s courage romanced me—his capacity for swallowing pain and then persevering mesmerized me. It was hard to resist the lure to worship him as if he were a kind of god.

But the final scenes in Shackleton’s life are unbearably and heartbreakingly human.

Away from the heroic challenges of his Antarctic explorations, he was ill equipped for the normal life of a husband and father. He grew restless for the financial security that had eluded him all his life, so he launched many wrongheaded and failed business ventures, ultimately descending into alcoholism and dying of a heart attack more than $1 million in debt.

The story’s end bashes hard against the soul.

How is it possible that the same kind of everyday frustrations and failures common to you and me should cut the legs out from under a man of this magnitude? How could he survive the harshest conditions on earth but crumple under the weight of his mortgage?

The thought of a transcendent figure like Shackleton disintegrating because of the assaults of his day-to-day disillusionments fueled a kind of outrage in me. I turned the last page then snapped the book shut to punctuate my frustration and dissonance. If the drip drip-drip of our everyday pains, those familiar discouragements and imploded hopes, can eat away the soul of a giant, then what chance do we relative midgets have? Titanic resolve compressed Shackleton’s soul into granite; then a thousand tiny pains consumed it, like rock eating termites.

Later that year I read about a similar dismantling at work in the story of Meriwether Lewis, the incomparable leader of the greatest expedition in North American history.3 He, like Shackleton, led a handpicked group of brave men in one of the most improbable feats of survival ever recorded, returning from his explorations of the western frontier with every last man (save for one who died of an unknown illness) safely home. But forced to merge back into the flow of normal life, Lewis tried and failed to handle its challenges, slowly disintegrating into a shell of his former self and ultimately committing suicide.

In my soul something dark and dreadful grows. How am I to beat back the rock-eating termites when they swarm? In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction Eugene Peterson writes: “Unpleasant things happen to us. We lose what we think we cannot live without. Pain comes to those we love, and we conclude that there is no justice. Why does God permit this? Anxiety seeps into our hearts. We have the precarious feeling of living under a Damoclean sword. When will the ax fall on me? If such a terrible thing could happen to my friend who is good, how long until I get mine?”4

The Damoclean sword (“the threat of imminent harm”) that is Shackleton’s story reminds me that it’s so often not the big things that bring us down; even we midgets somehow summon the courage to face obvious life-threatening challenges. Rather, it’s the everyday holocausts that carry the leverage to take us out—the sucker punches that buffet us when all we’re trying to do is raise our kids, work our jobs, and make sure we have perpetual access to a good four-dollar cup of coffee.

The Attack of the Termites

In an email response to a close friend who’d written to encourage us, my wife chronicled our own infestation of termites after a church leader blindsided us with a painful accusation, leaving us feeling

pummeled and crushed:

Life has simply been overwhelming for me. I

received your emails after a very trying and exhausting

time. I haven’t had the energy to respond. Your

words were nourishing for my soul. Actually, it was

hard to really take them in. I wanted to dismiss

them in light of what recently happened to Rick

and me. On top of [the accusation], in the last ten


• Both of our cars have needed expensive

repairs—Rick’s just suddenly stopped

on the street and could have led to a

catastrophic accident if it had been on

the highway where he does most of his


• We have mounting financial pressures

from my extraordinary medical care, and

we’re scrambling to find ways to address


• Emma broke two bones in her wrist the

night before we were to leave for Seattle for

a friend’s wedding—we spent the night in

the emergency room with her, wondering

if we should simply cancel the trip.

• A copper water pipe broke in our crawl

space, pouring water into our basement

area an hour before we were to leave for

the airport.

• I reached a tipping point in my parenting

challenges, and we went to meet with a

family therapist this week to deal with our


• Our garage door broke, leaving us stranded

in our house an hour before Rick was to go

and teach a new class at church.

• I started on an antidepressant drug because

things just became too overwhelming for


No, there are no capital-T tragedies on this list—they are simply the vanguard of the army of rock-eating termites. And, as you might suspect from your own termite infestations, a little over a month after my wife wrote this note we’d already fumigated most of them.…

• We’d met face-to-face with the person who’d

accused us and had started down the path toward


• We’d somehow found a way to fix both cars.

• We’d refinanced our house to put ourselves in a

better financial situation.

• My six-year-old daughter, Emma, was out of her

cast and somersaulting around the house again.

• We’d met twice with a family counselor, and our

home environment was much more peaceful and


• A plumber fixed our water pipe while we were

away in Seattle.

• The garage door is as good as new.

• The mild antidepressant Bev took helped stabilize

a downward spiral of emotions.

No one died. No one was abducted by aliens or Richard Simmons. No one gave up or gave in. But for a long while we wondered how much we could handle before the walls crumbled around us, as Aragorn and his warrior companions must have felt defending the gates of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers. So we survived the swarm … again. And the wizard Gandalf thunders down the mountain with his army of horsemen to save the fighters at Helm’s Deep—a day-late rescue that smells a lot like most of our own rescues.5 But what’s left of our ramparts after the assault? Smashed walls. The dead. The traumatized survivors. I’ve always heard that “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”—well, it might also be true that “whatever doesn’t kill you maims you.” We walk with limps, but we hide them well behind our stiff upper lips.

Max Lucado writes: “Many live their lives in the shadows. Many never return. Some dismiss…. ‘Well, everybody has a little slip now and then.’ Some deny…. ‘These aren’t bruises. These aren’t cuts. I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been. Me and Jesus? We are tight.’ Some distort…. ‘I’m not to blame. It’s his fault. It’s society’s responsibility…. Don’t point the finger at me.’ When we fall, we can dismiss it. We can deny it. We can distort it. Or we can deal with it.”6

We know this truth about following Christ: Pain abounds, but grace abounds more. But is this alchemy mutually dependent? Has God decreed that we gorge on one to taste the other? And why is it such a certainty that pain abounds?

One of my favorite songs is Tonio K.’s “You Will Go Free”—the first stanza perfectly sums up what C. S. Lewis called “the problem of pain”:

You’ve been a prisoner …

Been a prisoner all your life

Held captive in an alien world

Where they hold your need for love to your throat like a knife

And they make you jump

And they make you do tricks

They take what started off such an innocent heart

And they break it and break it and break it

Until it almost can’t be fixed 7

Pain breaks and breaks and breaks. It’s as if we stumbled into the middle of the gods at batting practice, our heads repeatedly mistaken for the ball. And in the devastated emotional landscape that remains after our breaking, these questions sit in the rubble:

• “Who are the ‘they’ that are ‘breaking and breaking

and breaking’ my heart?”

• “Why are ‘they’ doing this to me?”

• “Why does God feel like such a fickle ally—if

He’s supposed to be for me, why does it so often

seem that He’s against me?”

• “Where can I find relief, and what will it cost me

to get it?”

• “What can I do to stop this from happening

again, and who will show me the secret formula?”

• “How will I go on, now that I know this can and

will happen to me?”

Our False GPS

Our questions about the pummeling we experience seem scandalous— we know we’re not supposed to ask them out loud in polite company. Our job is to be good soldiers, keeping our noses to life’s grindstone

even when God seems terribly unconcerned about the rock-eating termites chewing away at us. So we stumble our way around in the dark, trusting a kind of false GPS for our souls—the fundamental belief that the universe rewards good people with a good life and punishes bad people with their just deserts. When bad things happen to good people our first reaction is disbelief and amazement—it’s a sucker punch—because “it doesn’t make sense.” Right? Our GPS is no help here. And even though we wouldn’t phrase it just this way, we treat the universe of non-good people as if it were as tiny as a mustard seed—Hitler, for sure, and Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and Pol Pot and child sexual abusers and the DMV in general. But pretty much all the people we know consider themselves “good” and therefore fundamentally undeserving of the beating they’re taking from the pain actually meant for the tiny secret society of “bad people.”

Peterson writes:

We have been told the lie ever since we can

remember: human beings are basically nice and

good. Everyone is born equal and innocent and

self-sufficient. The world is a pleasant, harmless

place. We are born free. If we are in chains now, it

is someone’s fault, and we can correct it with just a

little more intelligence or effort or time.

How we can keep on believing this after so

many centuries of evidence to the contrary is

difficult to comprehend, but nothing we do and

nothing anyone else does to us seems to disenchant

us from the spell of the lie. We keep expecting

things to get better somehow. And when they

don’t, we whine like spoiled children who don’t

get their way.8

Several years ago I surveyed almost ten thousand Christian teenagers and adults serving together in a summer outreach program and asked them this question: “Can a good person earn eternal salvation through good deeds?”9 One out of five Christian adults answered yes, and twice that percentage of teenagers agreed. And, I have to say, I think these were just the honest ones. After decades spent asking

Christian people questions like this one and comparing their answers to how they—and I—actually live, I’m positive that most of those who answered with the theologically correct no are functionally living

their lives in contradiction to their beliefs. I mean, we say it’s God’s goodness, not ours, that saves us. But you’ll understand your own “functional theology” when you realize how quickly you get defensive when someone hints that all is not “well with your soul” or how quickly you think ill of someone who’s going through repeated hardships.

As an elder at my church I’m on the list to receive a weekly report of all the prayer requests that have been formally submitted to us. I’ve noticed that there are a handful of people who always show up on the list, and I’ve also noticed that I must fight the temptation to agree with a subtle-but-brazen judgment that whispers in my head: “That person must be messed up.” Can you relate? If you can, we’re both in the company of Job’s friends, who were pretty sure the great man was hiding his festering sins under a legendary veneer of goodness. And they were even more sure that God had pointed a sewer pipe of catastrophic circumstances at their friend and opened wide the valve, essentially blasting away at him with the brown stuff until he admitted what had to be true—that he deserved what he was getting. In the functional theology of Job’s friends—and, as it turns out, our own—God is well qualified to work as an interrogator at Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib. He will surface what we’re hiding by torturing it out of us….

This is exactly why the book of Job is known by most but studied by few—its premise frightens and confuses us. Good thing the outcome is a fairy-tale ending, or the whole thing would be unendurable—an even less likely choice for the midweek women’s Bible study. Job’s friends, later discredited and lambasted by God, believe exactly what we believe: that no matter what we tell ourselves to the contrary, good people are rewarded in life and bad people are punished. The certainty of this equation means that Job, because of his kitchen sink full of tragedies, must assuredly be hiding some secret (and whopper) sins. His friends’ approach to counseling makes logical sense—reveal what you’ve done wrong, repent of it, and maybe God will turn off the spigot.

So some of us, following the advice of Job’s friends, respond by repeatedly begging for God’s blanket forgiveness for the vaguest of sins or by finding someone or something to blame for our catastrophes.

Many more of us respond by determining to work ever harder to be good, or by keeping our bad carefully camouflaged, or by vowing to trudge on under an ever-increasing burden of doubt and guilt—or by metaphorically jabbing our finger at God and threatening to outwit and outlast Him, as if we were the last two competitors on Survivor. In the seasons of our lives when we feel as if we can relate to Job, we often struggle with shame. It’s the shame of our failure to measure up to God’s exacting standards of goodness, the same unreasonable shame that Job’s friends “gifted” their friend with.

We Still Haven’t Found What We’re Looking For

One Saturday afternoon, I was running errands in my car and listening to National Public Radio’s award-winning show This American Life. Host Ira Glass is the medium for the life stories of average people

who’ve experienced extraordinary moments. On this day, I was captured by the story of a young woman, Trisha Sebastian, whose best friend had died suddenly from an aggressive cancer. She told Glass that

her friend was “such a good person,” and, therefore, her death was all the more a tragedy. Why, she asked, would God allow “someone like me to still be here when someone like Kelly … who spread so much good throughout the world, in her own little way … it just doesn’t make sense.” This was the reason, she told Glass, that she no longer believed in God. Soon after her friend’s death, Sebastian decided on a whim to contact a Christian football coach who’d been in the news recently. The coach had encouraged his school’s fans to root for their opponent, a team made up of kids from a juvenile detention center. Sebastian was looking for answers about her friend’s death, for a pathway back to God, and she admired what this man had done. “I’d been struggling with this grief that I feel over my friend’s death, and I thought that he would be able to counsel me and console me,” she told Glass. “And what happened instead was that he basically brought out argument after argument, like, saying that the theory of evolution is contradicted by a seventh-grader’s textbook, and—” Glass broke in to say, “Oh, I see—he was trying to argue with you about the existence of God instead of trying to comfort you.” Sebastian responded, “Yeah, I think that was it.… And that completely turned me off towards him. And now I’m left with all of these questions…. Deep down, I really want to believe again.” So Glass suggested she call the coach again, with him on the line, so that her real questions about her friend’s death could be addressed.

But instead of directly focusing on her fears and confusion, the coach tried to explain the ramifications of original sin to her. And that left the desperate, grieving woman full of angst and unanswered questions. I listened to the whole interchange and could feel my own tension mount as the coach tried to answer this disconsolate woman with an earnest lesson in apologetics. When she asked the coach to, instead, help her understand a God who would do this kind of thing, he responded: “This is the most common question that folks who are anti-God ask—this is the most common objection to God. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? You have to understand that sin entered the world through one person: Adam.

Now, if you read what the Bible says happened as a result of sin, every single person who’s ever been born was born into sin—” And at this point Sebastian interrupted him with this: “So, I’m sorry to break in, but you’re saying cancer is caused by sin?”

As earnest and good-hearted as the coach was, his explanations did nothing to bring peace to Sebastian’s soul. We, like her, just don’t understand the basic unfairness of pain. Even though we’ve prayed and read books and listened to sermons and talked to wise friends, we agree with Bono’s wail—“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Ultimately, the “Why this pain?” question haunts us because we’re profoundly unsatisfied with the answers we get. I’m inexorably drawn to Shackleton’s story at the same time I’m haunted by it, like a moth circling a bug light at night. It’s a mystery, and the solutions our theological Sherlocks offer us don’t seem to solve it for us. They explain it, it makes sense, and it does nothing to calm our souls. That’s because the Job story hints at something that is simply unacceptable—that not only does God Himself not intervene in all of our tragedies, He’s actually a coconspirator in some of them. If our good God, like a double agent, can unpredictably join in the destructive schemes of our enemy, “how great is the darkness” (Matt. 6:23)? In the wake of his twenty-five-year old son’s death in a climbing accident, philosopher and Yale University professor Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of

heaven and earth and resurrecter of Jesus Christ. I

also believe that my son’s life was cut off in its prime.

I cannot fit these pieces together. I am at a loss. I have

read the theodices produced to justify the ways of

God to man. I find them unconvincing. To the most

agonized question I have ever asked I do not know

the answer. I do not know why God would watch

him fall. I do not know why God would watch me

wounded. I cannot even guess.11

These are not entertaining mysteries—they are mysteries that wound and pummel and empty us. We can’t help ourselves; we’re driven to extremes just as King David was in the Psalms: “Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1). This is why the conspiracy embedded in Job’s story is so unnerving to us, and it would be even more so if it wasn’t relegated to the Old Testament where, we tell ourselves, the stories seem so distant and over the top that they’re really more like moralistic fairy tales than actual accounts of actual people and their actual dealings with God. So we put stories like this not on the back burner of our lives but hidden under the stove where we don’t have to really look at them … ever.

But these stories, like cockroaches, keep creeping out from under the stove—especially at night, when the lights go out. We’re reading along in the comfortable environment of the Jesus-loves-me New Testament and we ram right into a story about Him that, finally, makes it nearly impossible to avoid the scary truth. It happens at the end of the Last Supper, right before Jesus is betrayed, stripped, scourged, paraded through the streets, and nailed to a cross:

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,

saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood,

which is poured out for you. But the hand of him

who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.

The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but

woe to that man who betrays him.” They began to

question among themselves which of them it might

be who would do this.

Also a dispute arose among them as to which

of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said

to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over

them; and those who exercise authority over them

call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be

like that. Instead, the greatest among you should

be like the youngest, and the one who rules like

the one who serves. For who is greater, the one

who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not

the one who is at the table? But I am among you as

one who serves. You are those who have stood by

me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom,

just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you

may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and

sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as

wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your

faith may not fail. And when you have turned back,

strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with

you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the

rooster crows today, you will deny three times that

you know me.” (Luke 22:20–34 NIV)

Here we are at the Last Supper, with the cross shading every interaction, and Jesus turns to Peter and reveals something that’s most certainly happening behind the scenes, right then at history’s crossroads.

He confides in Peter, like a friend who whispers in your ear what the neighbors really think of you, that Satan has asked to “sift [him] like wheat.” And, even more disturbing than this revelation, Jesus doesn’t reassure Peter that He will not allow this terrible thing to happen—instead, He tells him that He has prayed that his “faith may not fail” and “when you have turned back, [that you would] strengthen your brothers.” This “sifting” is going to happen, it’s going to happen with Jesus’ permission, and it’s going to happen for a reason.

You Will Go Free

Is it possible that God is a coconspirator in our own stories of sifting?

And if so, what is He really after in us?

And however I answer this question, can anything be worth the price of the pain I’ve experienced, or will soon?

In this story—in these three sentences uttered by Jesus to Peter— He pulls back the curtain on what’s happening, all the time, in an unseen spiritual world where the forces of darkness demand entrée into our lives. He also bares His goodness. I know this makes no sense on the face of it—our realities are too cruel and the pain too central for the shallow and offensive formulas that are pandered to us. But this is no formula—it’s a journey into the deeper recesses of the heart of God, a path well stumbled by the saints of God throughout history and in the lives of those who’ve had the biggest impact for good in our own lives.

All of the people and books and music and films you and I love the most are encrusted, like priceless jewels, with pain. Name something that captures your heart that was not formed by pain. It’s ironic, of course, that pain repels us more fundamentally than anything else in life but it produces things that are magnetic to us. Why do we live in fear of pain while, at the same time, we find ourselves drawn to its “produce” in the people and stories of our lives? And why does all great art, and why do all truly great people, seem positively marinated in pain?

The mystery of our sifting is a trek into the kind of raw intimacy God once shared with His beloved Adam and Eve—it is the brutal outworking of redemption, hope, and joy in our lives. But the journey

is no stroll—it’s an epic and terrible adventure. A treasure hunt.

And that treasure is our freedom.

Paul reminds us of the fundamentals: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1 NIV). And, it turns out, the “epic and terrible adventure” that is the story of our journey from bondage to freedom is fraught with danger and heartbreak. Danger is an essential aspect of any adventure; without danger, it’s not really an adventure. Stopping to buy a cup of coffee does not qualify as an adventure, but it might if you’re in Baghdad. Landing an airplane on a runway is usually no adventure, but it is if your runway is the Hudson River. The danger we must face down in our own adventures is the threat of the rock-eating termites—it’s the pain that eats away at us and the terrible offense of our sifting. But the point of our lives is not the pain—we are not pawns of a capricious deity or the collateral damage of an ancient metaphysical feud. We are prisoners—freedom is our only hope and sifting is its currency.

While the first stanza in Tonio K.’s song “You Will Go Free” describes the “breaking and breaking and breaking” we experience in life, his refrain is the counterpoint—it exactly describes the promise that carries us through the tunnel of our darkness:

Well, I don’t know when

And I don’t know how

I don’t know how long it’s gonna take

I don’t know how hard it will be

But I know

You will go free12

Copyright 2011 Rick Lawrence. Sifted published by David C Cook.

Publisher permission required to reproduce in any format or quantity. All rights reserved.

My Review
Sifted by Rick Lawrence
What will your troubles reveal about you?
Does life seem overwhelming for you? Does everything seem to go wrong at the same time? Has your life been ripped out from under you, and you’ve lost most everything that meant anything to you?
Well, you need the book Sifted! I have heard several people say that people are at one of 3 stages in their life. You have just come through a difficult time, you are going through difficult times at this moment, or you are heading into difficult times in the future. Which means, at some time or another, we all face troubles and trials, difficult times whether it be financial, home life, infidelity, divorce, sickness, loss of a loved one, whatever it may be, we all face these times.
Rick Lawrence has written a powerful and encouraging book about how to face difficult trials in our life. He helps us to see that even though God doesn’t cause the difficult times, He allows us to go through them, sifting the bad things from our lives, and leaving the good so that our lives might glorify Him. When people see how we handle trials, they will see who we really are.
I encourage everyone to purchase a copy of the powerful book, keep it around handy for a reference when you face things you don’t understand. I think you will find encouragement, joy and peace in what the Lord is doing through you!
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher David Cook through B&B media Group and FIRST WildCard Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine alone.

Trusting God for Everything–Psalm 23 A Personal Retreat Guide by Jan Johnson

Trusting God for Everything–Psalm 23 A Personal Retreat Guide by Jan Johnson

ISBN-13: 9781600066610

Trim Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4

Cover: Paperback

112 Pages

Read first chapter HERE

My Review

This book is designed for a ladies retreat study with seven sessions taking you through Psalm 23. In this study, you don’t just read the verses and read a little bit about each verse, you read, and re-read over and over again. After you read the verses, you meditate on what you have read, you immerse yourself into Gods message to you. You read and understand the meaning of the words, the theme of the scriptures you read, and you picture the passage you have read. Then you respond to God’s message to you and you rest in the message God has given you. Throughout each lesson there are lots of questions to answer which I love, because I seem to understand so much more when there are questions about what I’ve read to answer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this study, though I didn’t do the study in a retreat setting, I studied through the book on my own. This is one great thing about this book. It can be used many ways, not just the retreat setting it was designed for. The author so wonderfully designed this book breaking down each chapter and each section in the chapters to make the study more profitable to those using it. She did the planning work for us, we just need the book, along with our Bibles and start studying. This book is a valuable resource for any library as well. I encourage ladies to seriously check out this book for themselves, and request it for your next Bible study.

I received this book free from NavPress to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55

About the Author

Jan Johnson

JAN JOHNSON enjoys speaking at retreats and conferences, hoping to ignite within listeners a burning desire to know God in an authentic way and to live out a kingdom life in the daily companionship of Jesus. Unwilling to minimize the mystery of God or the human struggle, Jan presents biblical principles and characters in down-to-earth ways so that people can connect with God and become more thirsty for God. Her observations about life’s dilemmas give listeners a lot to study, ponder, and laugh about.

As an author and spiritual director, Jan holds degrees in Christian education and spiritual direction (D.Min.), which along with many years of Bible teaching, have equipped her to write hundreds of published Bible study sessions. She is also the author of sixteen books and more than a thousand newspaper and magazine articles. Jan is the author of 13 books and more than 1000 Bible studies. You can find out more information at

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