The Last Bride – Book Review & Giveaway

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Having read the previous books in the Hickory Hollow Series by Beverly Lewis, I was anxious to return to this quaint community in her latest release, The Last Bride.

Like the women in Hickory Hollow, Tessie Miller was anxious to be married and start a family. Her four sisters had already walked down the isle. Tessie had her heart set on the love of her life, Marcus King, but her father makes it clear that they are not to be together. Continue reading

Fruit Salsa

As the weather begins to change from winter to spring, just as the buds are forming on the trees and the daffodils are blooming my family starts requesting fruit salsa. It has become such a favorite that I thought I would share it with you.

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Gather together the following fruits:

4-5 medium apples
3 kiwis
16 oz. package of frozen raspberries (or fresh)
16 oz. package of frozen peaches (or fresh)
2 – 16 oz. containers of strawberries
All of the fruit needs to be chopped or diced into small pieces. I prefer to utilize my food processor for all the fruit except the apples. Make sure that the pieces are not too small if using the food processor or your salsa will be runny.

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Frozen raspberries and peaches chopped in the food processor

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Stem the strawberries. Take the skin off the kiwi and cut in half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top and blend together

For the apples, the kids are always eager to help using our peeler, slicer and corer.  After they are done, I chop the slices into small pieces and add to the rest of the fruit.

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Quintin using the apple peeler/slicer/corer

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Apple after it has been sliced, peeled and cored

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I chop the apple by hand leaving the pieces small, but not too little

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it is time to make the cinnamon chips. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 7-9 minutes. These are really easy to make and so yummy!

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Cut the tortillas into quarters

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Arrange the triangles on the sprinkle with water and dust with cinnamon and sugar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was making this the other day for Easter I got to thinking about the ingredients. Although each one is good on its own, when they are blended together they are even better. The same thing is true in our lives. In Romans 8:28 it says that “God works all things together to good.” He uses everything in our life – the good, the bad, the bitter, the dry – to blend together to form something better than any of the ingredients on their own. So as you as sitting down with your cinnamon chips and fruit salsa, I want you to think about how God is using the various “ingredients” in your life to make something wonderful.

I would love to hear from you today. You can either share what God is doing in your life or maybe even pass along a favorite recipe of your own.

Memories

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You never know what each new day will bring. I was blessed to receive two treasures from my childhood this week that I hadn’t laid eyes on in close to 30 years. Even writing that, it doesn’t seem possible for it seems like just yesterday I was sitting by my grandma’s coffee table carefully playing with the bride and groom paper dolls. For those too young to know what I am talking about, paper dolls were heavy-duty cardboard people that you could dress up with an assortment of paper outfits. The outfits had tabs on the shoulders and sides of the clothes to help keep them on the dolls. I know it may sound boring to some, but I loved when Grandma would get those down for me to play with. I would spend hours changing outfits and coming up with different “stories” for my dolls to act out. Not so different from what I do in my writing these days.

 

 

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The second item my dad brought to me from grandma’s house was a pink metal Tom Thumb cash register. Grandma kept it on the top shelf in her coat closet in the living room. We would go to my grandma’s house and while the adults would talk I would “set up shop” and play store on the floor of the closet. I had customers, make believe of course, that would come to my store and I was happy to add up their purchases and make change. I even made my own money, no monopoly currency here. Scraps of paper with dollar amounts scrawled on one side in my best elementary school penmanship. For coins, my grandma gave me a few buttons and I took small pieces of masking tape to distinguish one “coin” from another. I was delighted when I opened the cash drawer after all these years to find some of the play money still there just waiting to be used again.

 

March 2013 024These items are treasures that now prominently sit on display on the bookshelf in our living room. Although these items mean a great deal to me, even more than when I was a child, what I treasure most is the Christ-like example my Grandma was to me. I remember sitting at the organ singing songs from Sunday school and her taking me to church when I would spend the night with her. Even now, at 92 years old, she still shines brightly for God.

In my mind, she exemplifies the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NASB). Every time I look at these paper dolls and the little pink cash register I will be reminded of my grandma and her love for the Lord.

**I would love for you to share your own childhood memories in the comment section below.

 

I would also like to congratulate courtneydjackson1. You have won the free copy of The Mended Heart by Suzanne Eller. Please email me your contact information.

 

 

The Mended Heart and a Giveaway

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I love to share great books with you. Today, I have the privilege to refer you to Suzanne Eller’s latest book The Mended Heart. In her incredible writing style, Suzanne captivates the reader from the very beginning of this book.

I would daresay that we have all experienced some kind of hurt or brokenness in our lives. This is a reality we cannot escape. Many have tried countless times and failed to “fix” the hurt. If you are masking the hurt and brokenness in your life then The Mended Heart is the book you have been searching for.

Suzanne gives great examples throughout the book as to how to address our brokenness. She reminds each of us that “The power of the cross is not found in what you do, but in what has already been done for you.”

I also love that Suzanne doesn’t just address this book from her opinion but has scripture verses that can help the reader’s pain and brokenness.

Suzanne shines the light on God’s truth that Jesus came to set us free and heal our brokenness. This is not something we were meant to do on our own. The Mended Heart gives you the courage you need to take that first step to healing – trusting God.

I highly recommend you take a look at the first chapter of this book and then order it today. Words can’t begin to express how deeply Suzanne’s words touched me. She is willingly sharing the message God has given her. Don’t live in hurt and brokenness anymore; trust God and let Him mend your heart.

 

As a special bonus, Revell has generously offered to give a free copy of Suzanne Eller’s The Mended Heart to one of my readers. So, please share this on facebook and twitter as well as commenting below to say why you would like to have a copy of this book.

Rejection is Painful

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As adults, we no longer send the cute little notes, “do you like me? Check yes or no.” However, that does not mean that we do not have to deal with rejection. In fact, if anything, it attacks adults more times and in more ways. Rejection can come in several different forms – passed up for a promotion, friend turned his/her back on you, love not returned. The pain of rejection is real, but do not lost heart Christ is all too familiar with your pain. He walked on earth and was rejected by his hometown, siblings, church officials and the nation. The Bible tells us that we will have trials and troubles in this life. It is not a matter or if, but rather when. We can’t begin to think that we will not face rejection, Christ did…

 

This is a portion of an article that I have featured on Encouragement Café today. This article lines up perfectly with the series this month on our true identity in Christ. I would love for you to read and then come back and share your thoughts in the comment section.

Crash the Chatterbox – Book Review & Winner Announced

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Since Steven Furtick’s book, Greater, turned my world upside down I was anxious to read and review his latest book, Crash the Chatterbox.

So many of us today deal with insecurities, fears and discouragement. These all work to keep us so discouraged and defeated that we are no longer effective for Christ and what He has called us to do. Steven brings light to these struggles and shows what they really are – lies from the enemy. The chatter in our heads that becomes so loud that we can no longer hear God’s voice.

The great thing about this book is that Steven doesn’t just present the problem. No, he walks you through how to “crash” the voices. He presents the biblical truths and shows how to apply them to your own life. He also has included some discussion questions in the back of the book that you can use for your own personal study or with a group.

I would highly recommend this book. This is something we all deal with from time to time and we must learn how to Crash the Chatterbox in order to hear God’s voice.

 

 

**I would like to personally thank each and every one of you that participating in the March blog series over our identity in Christ. And now to announce the winner of the signed copy of Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask…..LeQuita Jones.

Please email me, jamywhitaker@yahoo.com, your mailing address as well as whom you would like the book signed to. Thanks again for participating in this blog series. I love hearing from you, so if there is a series you would like to see me address on the blog please let me know.

Victorious

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The last identity I am going to delve into is that of a victorious child of God. This characteristic is mentioned several times in Scriptures, including this one in Romans, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 NIV). Did you ever think of yourself as a conqueror?  In my mind, the word conqueror evokes the idea of a conqueroring hero who rides in and saves the day. Through Christ, we, as Christians, are even more than that conqueroring hero. Paul takes this idea one step farther, “But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NIV). God has made us victorious. Examining this verse, we discover,

Paul emphasizes that suffering and distress, particularly suffering that results from believers’ faith in Jesus Christ, cannot separate them from Christ. On the contrary, suffering in union with Christ leads to glorification with Christ, to a triumphant victory, which means infinitely more than merely the end of suffering (The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1253).

Since our identity is wrapped up in Christ and He had victory over sin and death, we as His children are victorious.

The truth is, even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, God’s love is real and active in your life. Nothing can ever separate you or me from His love. Nothing can ever cause Him to love you less. God loves us without constraints or limits. In the midst of difficulty, cling to God’s love for you, and ask Him to keep revealing His love to you.

We can begin to take the wall down, that has been built by other people’s views, our own insecurities and the influence of the world around us, brick-by-brick, if we start by simply replacing each one of those lies with the truth. By taking these pieces down, one-by-one, you and I will be able to walk to the other side paved on the road of God’s truths. We will then be free from the masks we have been hiding behind for far too long.

We were made to be set-free, holy, new, loved and confident, by having our identity tied to Christ. Because of this, we cannot allow ourselves to partake in anything that negates our true God-given identity. The real reason for grounding ourselves in the truth that we are made for more is so that we may know Him better. The more we operate in the truth of who we are and the reality that we were made for more, the closer to God we will become. Your identity and mine does not depend on something we do or have done. Our true identity is who we are in Christ. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation, the old has passed away. It is time to stop living as the person others expect you to be and take hold of the truth of what God’s Word says.

**I will be announcing the winner of the signed copy of my book, Get REAL: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask on the blog Wednesday, April 2nd. Be sure to comment today to get entered in the drawing.

Confident

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After examining the other identities already covered this month, we can be assured that we are confident children of God. Paul writes in Ephesians, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12 NIV). This means that not only do we have the freedom to approach God whenver, but also we have the confidence because we have put our trust in Him. According to The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, “This age-old, unanticipated plan he carried out in the person and work of Christ, Lord of the universe (3:11), in whom we have full confidence, by faith, to come freely and boldly into the presence of God (3:12).” By being in Christ, we do not need to fear; we have full confidence.

Our confidence is also mentioned in the book of Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV). You and I can be confident that God is working everything out for our good because we love Him. I am sure that as a Christian you have heard this verse several times. You might have even quoted it to someone who was facing a difficult situation. I encourage you to work on memorizing this verse, if you have not already done so. It has such power behind it.

Let me ask you a question; do you believe the promise in Romans 8:28? It is one thing to say it, but it is quite another to live like we believe it. One reason why this may be difficult to believe is because the storms in your life may be so overwhelming. However, no matter what the situation is or how all encompassing it may seem, God is right there with you. He did not create everything and simply walk away. He is intimately involved in the details, both big and small, in each of our lives. Take a moment and think of the dark times in your life; how did God make Himself known to you?

Another key point in this verse is the wording His purpose. Often we lose sight of this. We think everything needs to work out according to our purpose. Keep in mind that God has a greater purpose and plan for each one of us, and this gives us confidence to follow His lead in our lives. Sometimes, however, that means we have to go through the fire or trials of life. Think for a moment about a piece of steel. Alone it is worth only about five dollars. However, when it is shaped, hammered, and put through the fire to make springs for a watch, the value increases to hundreds of dollars. The same principle is true in our lives. Through this refining, God will shape and mold us into even more valuable individuals.

Because God is powerful and loving, we can be confident that He will work out all the details in our life for good, according to His purpose. What a wonderful promise to rest upon. Keep in mind that we do not need to be confident in ourselves, but rather in Him.

I’ve Had Enough

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You are running your race, no thought given to where the other runners are. You have set your pace and are on track for breaking your personal best. Nothing can stop you. The weather is ideal, the scenery is gorgeous, but then the unthinkable happens, the racecourse alters. Suddenly, you are down a stretch of road you have never been on, the clouds beginning to build. It feels like you cannot possibly continue on.

This happened in my life just a little over a year ago when the doctor said the results came back and it was cancer. This was not the path I was on. I couldn’t understand why, when everything was going so well that I had to deal with this twist and turn in my life. Fear crept in and gripped every aspect of my life. I couldn’t enjoy the present because I kept focusing on what I might miss out on in the future. I had hit a wall…

This is a portion of an article that I have featured on Encouragement Café today. This article lines up perfectly with the series this month on our true identity in Christ. I would love for you to read and then come back and share your thoughts in the comment section.

Close

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Our identity is also a close child of God: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 NIV). The blood of Christ has brought us near to God: “But those outsiders [Gentiles], formerly excluded and far off, have now been brought near, within the circle, by the sacrificial death of Christ.”( The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1361). Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we are able to come close to God, our sin and shame no longer keep us at a distance. His blood washes us clean.

A great example of the identity of close that comes to mind is a thunderstorm. Some people absolutely love storms. They find them calming, while other people are simply terrified by storms. They run for cover as soon as the storm begins. I recall as a child being scared of storms, especially those that happened at night. It seemed as if the combination of darkness and storms was too much for me. I went running to my parents’ room. They calmed me down and invited me to sleep on the floor next to them.

In the same way, we have storms, or trials, that roll into our lives from time to time. When these storms come, we each have a decision to make. Will we run and hide from the storm or will we seek the shelter of our Lord? Hiding from our trials, or storms, will not make them go away, as much as we would like. We need to face whatever trials may come our way. However, without God’s strength and refuge, we will not be able to withstand the storms of life. In Psalms 9:9 it states, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (NIV). He longs to comfort us, just like a parent does when a thunderstorm comes. God will pull you close and guard you until the storm passes.

We know that the storms of life will come. The choice we have is how we will approach and respond to those storms. Our identity in Christ states that we are close children of God. Therefore, we do not need to worry about the storms that this life will bring because when we are standing in His shadow the storms may rage, but we are safe.