Monday, October 31, 2011

Don't be fooled...

My book reviews had to be posted here because I haven't changed over my blog site on my bloggingforbooks account. However, I am still officially moved to

Come and see me there!

[Close Enough To Hear God Breathe] book review

Close Enough To Hear God Breath
Greg Paul

I love the title of this book. The subtitle is just as catching... the great story of divine intimacy.

I started reading it and just before I was going to sigh in frustration, I came to this sentence:

"Whispering through every Scripture, and into the intimate details of my own daily experience- for it is his life he is breathing into me, and my life he wants to redeem." (pg. 19)

From that place forward I was hooked. Greg Paul takes you on a journey through stories and scripture, to the heart of God's relationship with his people.

It's a beautiful story. One that every Christian should understand a version of. The story of a God who is great and powerful... who willingly came and died for His people... and who chose to never leave them alone.

The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit.
Do you know and understand the three parts of God? This book will give you a glimpse.

:: I received this book in exchange for my honest review through BookSneeze blog program. ::

[A Sound Among the Trees] book review

A Sound Among the Trees
Susan Meissner

This is a story of mysteries. The story of a family line of women and the secrets they are hiding.

Adelaide is the oldest living matriarch of Holly Oak. A woman who believes the home to bear a grudge because of its past. The walls seem to whisper the name of Susannah Page, who is rumored to have been a civil war spy for the North. A traitor to her southern roots.

Marielle Bishop marries the widower of Adelaide's granddaughter. She attempts to form a family with her new husband and two step-children. But Holly Oak doesn't seem like it wants a new mistress. She decides to keep searching, trying to solve the mysteries of the past to give her and her new family a future.


Here's the deal: this is a well-written book. It truly is. But I have a really, really hard time with books based in the south. (Maybe I'm just a true Yankee at heart.) They just don't hold my interest well.

I struggled to get into it. I usually like to finish a book as soon as possible once I've started it... but this one I kept putting down and forgetting. I mean, like, I completely forgot I was reading it. Then I would see it and remember, "Oh, yeah. I think I'm in the middle of that."

Regardless. I can't give it a bad rap because I think that a lot of people will really enjoy it. So, especially if you enjoy southern style books... go for it!

::I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review::

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Those days were long and dark. Hours spent in sorrow. The time I cried from my house to my in-laws, twenty-five miles away. The time I went running from a friend’s house, fumbled for my keys and shook all the way home. In my living room I collapsed in tears.

Over and over it happened.

I would pull myself together, lecture my emotions, fight my sorrow…and end up beaten and bruised and heartbroken.

I can’t tell you how long I hid the truth from myself. The time blends together. Maybe it was a year. Maybe more.

There is one thing I can tell you though. God didn’t leave me there.

[Read the rest of this post by clicking here]

In case you haven't noticed, I'm in the process of switching to wordpress. ( Take a minute to update your "follow" list! Thanks!

Friday, October 21, 2011


When we first got our cows- milking took all of my mental focus to accomplish.

How to make sure everything in the milk house is ready so the milk goes into the tank and not onto the floor. How to hold the milker-unit just right so it wouldn’t break suction. How to work efficiently enough to make sure there are cows washed and stripped before its time to put the milker on. How to plug everything in. How to tell if a cow has mastitis. How to tell if a cow is ready to freshen. How to stand so that if it kicks, it won’t get you.

The list goes on. I’m sure you understand…there was a lot to learn and remember. At the beginning we had three milking units. Between my husband and me, it took all of our energy to keep up with them.

But things change with time. You learn patterns and efficiency. Things that once took all your focus become second nature.

This morning as I was standing in the middle of the barn, waiting for the [now] four milkers to finish, I thought about how different things are. In between changing units, I get on facebook with my cell phone. I read blogs. I text people or call them. If my husband is around, I have time to talk to him or steal a few kisses. I have time. Time to be and know and connect and think. [To read the rest of this post click here]

Monday, October 17, 2011


Every fall I dream of playing in leaves.
This fall all my dreams came true. And I taught a new set of nieces the joy of crunching piles of brown, orange, yellow and green.

[I hear His voice] whispering through every Scripture and into the intimate details of my own daily experience- for it is his life he is breathing into me, and my life he wants to redeem. –Greg Paul

Yes, Lord Jesus. Come speak to us now... redeeming, breathing life. Amen and Amen.


Want to take a mini-walk through Narnia? Visit here.
Need a new perspective on a difficult relationship? Read this.
Don't forget to be praying... for Katie in Uganda.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It happened the way it always happens. Ever since, well, a long time ago. I walked in, looked around for a familiar face. Searching for the spot where I will feel the most special, the most loved, will laugh the most…

Then the inevitable. “We have a place over here…” And once again I’m led away from the ones who make me feel safe. Once again I’m sitting at a table with people that I don’t know.

I lean over and whisper to my husband, “I hate this…” and he smiles that sad smile. The one that says, “I would change the world to make you happy, but I can’t.” So I sit back and look around and no one smiles and no one says, “Oh! I want you! Come here!” Instead I sit alone.

Then in the midst of my jumbled confusion I hear the voice. The one that I’ve trying to memorize the sound of. An hour each morning and an hour each night, I run my eyes and fingers over the words, listening so hard. Searching for inflection and thoughts.

“Embrace where you are.” He says it quietly and I know that if I hadn’t been working at listening, I would have missed it. But I hear it.

What did I have to lose? So I sat back. Breathed deeply, looked at the lady across the table from me and smiled, entering into a conversation where I felt awkward and insecure.

A few minutes later another woman entered the room. She wasn’t like the women around me who were laughing and telling jokes in private circles. She was alone. And because of a strange set of circumstances, I know some of her inside things. The pain that is trying to strangle her. So I stood and walked and smiled and talked. And for a moment I glimpsed something beautiful.

And it starts a chain reaction. Person to person I move. Talking. Not chatting but real talking. Opening and showing and being. And His voice gets louder and my flesh burns. And I see beauty.

It’s in the girl with the crooked smile who is serving my dinner. The woman across from me who is searching so hard for acceptance. The ladies to my right who lean over to each side of me and cover me in grace. In the tears of a friend who is sharing her heart- right there, in the middle of all these people.

Then the truth hits. It really isn’t any of them. It’s Him. It’s me having my eyes open to Him. And I see His reflection all around.

I look up in time to see the bridegroom sweep his bride off her feet and into his arms. Everyone laughs and cheers.

And I remember times when he was ready to give up- ready to settle for something less than beautiful- and my heart aches at the joy on his face as he looks down at his new wife, the fulfillment of so many dreams. My childhood friend has grown up to be a man worth knowing.

And I remember a time when I was ready to give up. Ready to settle for something less than beautiful. And my heart aches with joy. That my King should be so gracious to me, so loving, so patient… someday, someday, when all this flesh is burned and gone- Oh, God, let the things that are left be worth knowing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

[on the sailboat] a photographic journal

The day was beautiful. The company excellent, even when Nate showed up... (that's just for his benefit if he happens to read this) The sunset lovely. The moon on the water, breathtaking.
Outstanding for an October day in Northern New York!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

[The Harvest of Grace] book review

The Harvest of Grace
Cindy Woodsmall

I'm not usually big on the Amish genre. Cindy Woodsmall has managed to make something other than sap out of it. Which is why I chose this book for a review.

This book, like the previous two in this series (The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace) is a journey through the Amish life in a "real-life" way.

This story follows Sylvia, a quirky Amish girl, who hires out as a farmhand to avoid her ex-boyfriend who is married to her little sister.
In true Woodsmall fashion, Sylvia's story is interspersed with the characters from the previous two books and their tales are wrapped up in the end, bringing the Ada House Series to a close.

Those who have been waiting for this final book in the series will not be disappointed.

I've never liked it when a series depends heavily on additional books for the reader to be satisfied. Woodsmall's books, in my opinion, should be put together. I'd rather read one long book than three chopped up ones. That, however, is just me. Those who enjoyed her first series, Sisters of the Quilt, will love this one as well.

I was sent this book in exchange for my honest review through WaterBrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


the blood was thick and deep red. almost purple. my skin crawled. my heart ached. I looked up at the man standing in front of me, the man who had just pronounced death to my Savior. “someday you will realize what you’ve done and you’ll wish you had died in his place.” my voice caught as tears spilled and burned paths down my cheeks.

the crowds grew louder. I turned and looked. he was wearing a purple robe, thorns on his head. his face was bloody and I knew that under the robe his body was beaten and raw. I started running, calling his name. “Abba, my Abba…” I stopped short of throwing my arms around him. I knew it would cause him pain.

he didn’t stop. he drew me close, even as his face contorted in agony.

“I’m sorry, Abba.” I whispered into his neck. “I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry.”

his voice came then. rushing and running like a river. “I’m making all things new. Go, tell them.”

I looked up at his face. he was looking past me toward a field that sat below Golgotha.

I saw them then. hundreds of children playing in the shadow of a cross.

“Tell them, daughter,” he whispered in my ear, “tell my loved ones that I am making all things new.”


I woke up from that dream back in 2004. I was attending Bible School at the time and we had gone as a school to watch The Passion. That night I couldn't sleep even though I had watched the movie with eyes covered. I finally prayed, "God, let me sleep... I need to get up for school tomorrow." And that night I dreamed.

I had found my passion. It might have been a dream but it wasn't just a dream. It was God speaking. And anytime I close my eyes I can see them. The children playing in the shadow of a cross.

It was the winter of 2005. My floor was littered with graham cracker pieces, icing and candy. And five young girls with smiling and laughter. We were making "Cookie Houses" and talking about God's dreams for our lives.

I was in the beginning stages of Women of Promise, a mentoring/accountability group for young girls. It has grown and changed since those days but the purpose and heart is the same: to establish a place where girls are challenged to develop a deep relationship with God while they are still young.

I've always been passionate about WoP (as we affectionately call it) but the reason goes much deeper than just those five girls. It goes back to my childhood and the confused wanderings of a lonely twelve-year-old girl who longed for something real and deep to sink herself into.

The story of how my journey into God happened is something precious and lovely to me.

The knowledge of a God who calls lonely, confused twelve-year-old girls into a radical deep relationship that is spanning a lifetime.

I am passionate about young girls finding that. Finding something real. Not being left to wander aimlessly through a world that entices and pulls and leaves wounded aching women in its wake.

A Peek Into Your Passion at

Friday, September 16, 2011

[my gifts] in pictures

Amos and Hadassah with one of KitKat's kittens.

My journal, Bible and a lovely cup of coffee (in a mug given to me by one of my bests, Litey)

KitKat's kitten. They make me laugh every day.

My dance-floor ceiling.

Bouquets of oats (from my husband) and my prayer list that I pray over as I wash dishes.

The beautiful sunset that I went running across the field to capture.

Dominic helping me pick a basket of apples.

Four little munchkins that spent this morning at my house.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

[Hidden Things]

Reveal the Hidden Things

I’ve been thinking for weeks now about manna. Yes, the stuff the Israelites ate in the desert for forty years.

It started with a sentence.

Manna today, or I starve. –Ann Voscamp

And for some reason, God began pulling me with those words. What did it mean?

Ann Voscamp explains it as “eating the mystery”, taking whatever it is that God hands you and being thankful for it.

After all, what was it that the Israelites were punished for? Not being grateful. Complaining. Grasping, grabbing for something more- something better. “We want meat!” They whined. So God gave them meat. But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it could be consumed the anger of the Lord burned… and they were struck with a severe plague. Num. 11:33

I began watching for what the Bible says about Manna. Why will we starve without it? What is so important about it that to grasp and grab for something different causes the Lord’s anger to burn? Is it just the character flaw of ungratefulness?

As I watched, the truth began unfolding…

He humbled you… causing you to hunger, then feeding you with Manna--- to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Exodus 8:3

You did not withhold manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. Nehemiah 9:20

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32

And the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” John 6:41

And the hidden things began to be revealed.

Why will we starve without it? Because it is Jesus, himself. He is our manna. He is our mystery. We have to eat and drink of him. Our bread is every word that comes from his mouth and our drink is his blood that was poured out… and without his Word our spirits starve and without his Blood we die in our sins.

What is so important about it that to grasp and grab for something different causes the Lord’s anger to burn? Because to grasp and grab for something different- something more- is to turn our backs on God himself. Oh, Lord, forgive me for the times I have reached for something other than you!

It is not just the character flaw of ungratefulness, although that is part, but it is also the lack of trust in God himself. That he knows and he gives and he takes and HE IS GOD.

"Not me. Never me. Never the idols I build in my life. ONLY HIM."

So, I must hold all that I love with open hands. I must place all my dreams at his feet. Knowing that my understanding is so small. So insignificant. I must “eat the mystery” with thankfulness. I must take the Manna today, or I will starve.

Reveal the hidden things I was made to know. Take these mysteries and make them simple. Reveal the hidden things you have for my life. Show me your kingdom, what you’re like. I want to hear the music of heaven. I want to see all your inventions. I want to ask and know the solutions. I want to know. I want to sing the music of heaven. I want to make all your inventions. When I’m asked, I’ll say the solution is to know you.Laura Woodley Osman “Hidden Things”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011



Sunlight streams through my window. Beautiful life-giving light. [In that day] they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun for the Lord God will give them light. Rev.22:5

My journal is changing as I’m learning and growing. My Bible is once again staying open on my living room couch so that I can drink of the living water through out my day. I feel like I cannot drink enough. And I love this feeling of thirst. Like God is close and I can touch him and feel him and know him and drink to overflowing. My shoes slip off my feet as my toes touch holy ground. My hands raise to feel the love of the Father rushing and flowing…

Deep calls to deep

In the roar of your waterfalls

All your waves and breakers

Have swept over me… Ps. 42:7

Last weeks Sunday School lesson on Proverbs 3 has been rolling through my mind. The verse I knew so well. One of the hundreds memorized. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.

One day it stuck out. Acknowledge Him. Is that not what I have been doing as I fill my journal with lists of blessings? Looking at my life, the good, the bad, the painful, the scary, the beautiful, the glorious… and acknowledging Christ in each part?

23. baby calves that look like deer fawns

28. canned peaches filling shelves

33. fresh apples picked and eaten in fields

39. little boy smiles from the seat of a tractor

51. tiny barn boots lined up by the front door

59. my husband’s name on my caller ID

62. nights of no sleep/ for they remind me

of my weaknesses and my need for His strength

67. beautiful brides

69. twinkle lights in evening shadows

70. rainbows at weddings

82. soft rain that soaks the earth

83. community.

God in and around and through. I sing for joy at the work of your hands. Ps. 92:4

My mind fills with the stories from Sunday. The baby with three holes in her heart. The little girl with a blood disease. The husband with a possibility of prostrate cancer. The mother mourning her buried son. The wife facing another season of chemotherapy.

And then me. With all my own fears and hurts and sorrows. The fact that it was one year ago that I was pregnant. And in a month it will be one year since I miscarried.

Acknowledge Him. Even in pain. That God is the one who created the little girl with holes in her heart. God is the one who understands the complicated diagnoses of blood disease. It is God who has power over cancer and the outcome is His will. God who took that little boy home before he had really even lived. And it is God who knew that I would never carry that baby for more than a month. And He is okay with it. In fact, He has plans and purposes in it.

And my job is not to understand it (lean not on your own understanding) but to acknowledge Him in it.

To recognize that He is God. Not me. Never me. Never the idols that I create in life. Only Him. The one who says:

I have loved you with an everlasting love… Jer. 31:3

For I am the Lord…who takes hold of your right hand

And says to you, Do not fear, I will help you…Is. 41:13

For I will pour water on the thirsty… Is. 44:3

I long to redeem them…Hosea 7:13

Behold, I am making all things new…Rev. 21:5

Acknowledge that this world is just a moment. A breath. A blink. And pain may last for the night. But the living truth is that joy comes in the morning.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

[Dry as Rain] book review

Dry as Rain

Gina Holmes

Dry as Rain is the story of a marriage that has split in the face of the ultimate betrayal and is suddenly given a second chance to revive.

Eric still loves his wife, even though he has hurt her in the worst of ways. Kyra is done with trying. But then an accident takes away the memory of his betrayal and she is looking at him with love once again. Can he manage to win her heart back? Will he be able to keep it once the truth comes out?

I love the title. Just saying.

This book is decently written. An interesting story line.

I wish that God had a more directly position in the story. But I’m like that.

I got a bit frustrated with the couple and how they interacted. But the truth is that I get frustrated with most couples who mention their marriage problems to me. J So, I take that to mean that this book shows a fairly accurate picture of marriage.

The ending is rewarding. Not forced. Lovely.

I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

[The Canary List] book review

The Canary List

By Sigmund Brower

Jamie Piper is a twelve-year-old foster child who is running from something dark. Crockett Grey is a teacher with his own painful past to deal with. But when Jamie comes to him for help, she sets into motion a set of events that could potentially ruin them both. The only hope for them is for Crockett to unravel the mystery of Jamie’s past…before it is too late.

What I didn’t realize when I started this book was that it should be in the category of Speculative Fiction.

Here’s the truth: It’s a well written book. Excellent, actually.

Here’s the other truth: It is dark. Dark. Dark.

This book looks directly at the Catholic church and some of the gory details inside one of the richest most powerful organizations on earth. And it focuses on the presence of Satanism inside the church.

Since the novel took some of its facts from actual historical documents there is a level of fascination. However, the reader is left with feelings of darkness that overpower everything else.

I don’t mind things that address the presence of demons. But I do mind when a “Christian” book looks directly at them but does not show just as clearly the other side of spiritual beings. Satan has power, yes. But there was a cross at Calvary and blood poured out that keeps his power in check. And this novel doesn’t show that. In fact, it leaves one feeling quite helpless in the face of demonic leadership.

There is a quote by C.S. Lewis at the beginning of the book that I wish the author would have taken a bit more seriously.

“There are equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.

One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an

excessive and unhealthy interest in them…”

This book was sent to me by Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

[wedding] August 15, 2011

The morning light echos across the Oregon sky. Hot chocolate swirls in my cup. My feet are cold. Very cold! My fingers slightly numb. The cup is warm though and I hold it closer. At this moment I feel young again.
My Bible is laying beside me... the verses from Psalms, I John and Revelation still swirling through my head.
"I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands..."
How often do I raise my hands in worship? Not enough. It's so much easier to blend. To just close my eyes and say, "I praise you, God." And there are times for that. But there are times to proclaim loudly and clearly that HE IS THE ONE I WORSHIP. To take off my shoes. To fall on my knees. To live recklessly abandoned to my magnificent creator.
"My dear children, keep yourselves from idols..."
The words scrawled across the page beside that verse... "Keep yourself from anything that takes God's place in your life..." Oh, God. So many things. My time is filled with stuff and I never look at all these time-filling things as idols. Dirty sinful idols. Oh, Jesus. Set me free.
"And his voice was like the sound of rushing waters..."
I can remember a time when I lived in the place of roaring waters. I want to live there again. God, fill my life with your voice.
The wedding yesterday was so pretty. My baby brother with stars in his eyes. Oh, Jesus. Let them serve you above all else! Let their marriage be a reflection of your glory. The pictures turned out darling, despite my worrying. I was right. I can do this. Zeke's faith wasn't misplaced. Soon their apartment will be adorned with photos from the far distance place of Meyers Beach, Oregon and people will look at them who have never seen the Pacific Coast and say, "Oh, what pretty wedding pictures." And I will smile.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

[snapping beans] August 1, 2011

After twenty minutes in the bright sun of the garden we slowly walked toward the house with piles of beans balancing in overflowing baskets. I started water to boil and Lizzy and I sat across from each other as we snapped and tossed.
Across the room Mom picked up her violin and started practicing the music for my brother's wedding.
For a moment I paused my snapping to breath in deeply. The swirling sound of lilting fiddle tunes, the methodical snap of the beans and the light breeze that drifted through an open window. Perfect, priceless Beauty.

When I was a little girl I loved reading "Grandma's Attic" books. Well, scratch that. I still love to read them. The story of life 130 years ago. My favorite part about it? Some days, when there aren't cell phones or (shhh!!) computers or the need to be somewhere five minutes ago, I get to taste a little bit of the same life that they did... way back then. And it makes me smile.

At some point in life I plan to write a post about what God has been showing me these past few months but for now... you can just enjoy a little glimpse into one simple thing I love.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

[courageous] book review


Screenplay by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick. Novelization by Randy Alcorn.

Those of us who watched Fireproof have been waiting in anticipation for Courageous: Honor begins at Home. It won't disappoint. The story is filled with God moving and changing lives and bringing hope to a hopeless world.

It starts with four men, police officers, who are striving to keep the streets safe from gangsters and drug dealers. They have to face the facts: inner city fatherless kids are ending up in jail, on drugs or dead.

And then another fact hits home: What about their kids? Are they being the kind of fathers that God calls them to be to their children?

When faced with their own failings, one by one, they fall on their knees and ask God to help them change. And that's when the story really starts.

It is really really good. Funny, beautiful, full of God.

However. Yes, there is a however. The novelization isn't done very well. I hate to say that. I think Randy Alcorn is a good writer. But it isn't done well. It reads like a choppy commentary. Not a riveting story. The characters are hard to keep track of. Names are repeated over and over until you almost get dizzy.

I'm sad about that.

However. Yes, there is another however! It is still a good story. If you can ignore the choppiness, you will enjoy it. And once the movie comes out, the names won't seem so confusing.

It is hard to take a movie and make it into a book. Just like its hard to take a book and make it into a movie. The original is always the best. That's just the way it is.

But I will tell you: come September 30th, I will be in a theater watching it. Enjoying every minute.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

[shelter] July 23, 2011

"There were a few days of darkness. A few days of crawling and crying and longing for something to break free. There were a few days of me without you. Dark days indeed."

I have a good husband. Have I ever mentioned that on here? Its true. He hears my tears. Feels my pain. And takes me on Ferris Wheel rides to distract me from my sorrows. He's a good man.

Then, when I think he's done it all- he pulls me from my seat on the couch and says, "I have someplace to take you..." and off to the fair we go again so I can watch the polka dancers. Because I mentioned one time that I love that part of the fair. And he remembered. And knew I needed comfort. So we went and I laughed and when we got home he swung me around the room in our own version of the polka. And I laughed again.

God has blessed me. So deeply and richly that I am overwhelmed. But I forget. So many times I forget. I stare at the pain and wallow in fear and cry in darkness. Oh, God. Forgive me.

And then He says, when I am snuggled safely into bed without tears or thoughts of sorrow, "Tasha, your husband's love is but a shadow of mine.
I am the kind of God who takes you on Ferris Wheel rides.
In your pain, remember that I will be your shelter.
I won't take it away but I will dance and laugh with you through it."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

[Billy Graham in Quotes] book review

Billy Graham in Quotes

By Franklin Graham with Donna Lee Toney

I heard Billy Graham speak one time. I was about fourteen. I don’t remember a word he said. (we were in a stadium and it echoed badly, that’s all I can recall!)

I always thought that Billy Graham told the truth about salvation but as for his stand on anything else… it must have been toeing the line because everyone, on all sides and in all faiths, tolerated him.

That was a pretty harsh assessment and completely wrong.

The reason for his good standing with so many must simply be the grace of God in his life because he simply spoke truth.

As I read through his quotes on a plethora of subjects (abortion, the Bible, creation, greed, race, society, success, war, etc…) I was amazed at how directly he confronted the lies that have perpetrated our world.

To give you a little taste:

The issue [of] abortion is not whether you have a

right to terminate the life of a child…

The real issue is whether or not you will insist on running your own life

according to your own standards,

or whether you will instead let God run your life.

As for the book itself, there is no doubt that it would make a lovely addition to any library. The soft cover makes it easy to handle, the sections are clearly marked with an easy-to-use index.

As a writer and Sunday School teacher, I will greatly appreciate the use of this book in years to come!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. 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 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

[Never the Bride] Book Review

Never The Bride

By Cheryl McKay & Rene Gutteridge

Never the Bride: A Novel

I have to admit, it is not very often that I pick up a Christian chick-lit novel and anticipate reading it. Usually I am thinking, “Here we go…” The reason is: they’re all the same. The same story. The same situations. Often the same “popular” names used.

When I started reading this novel, I was expecting the “same”. There’s this girl, Jessie, who wants to get married (naturally). And there are eleven bridesmaid dresses hanging in her closet (reminisce of that one movie with all the dresses…?) She has an ex-boyfriend who cheated on her. And, surprise, surprise, a “best friend” that she is secretly in-love with. She’s working at a dead-end job (aren’t they all?) and has a hard time liking blonde girls because they get all the guys.

I would have been bored to tears except that the authors really are funny. And then, once I settled in to a laugh a little… the sameness disappeared.

God shows up. Jessie’s story becomes something new and different because it shows a glimpse into what life would be like if God came walking up to you one day…and asked you to surrender all your dreams, trusting him to write your life story in His way and in His time.

It wasn’t perfectly done. There are some things, like her childhood imaginary friend, that weren’t quite explained enough to make sense.

But I’ll forgive that.

And I’ll give the authors ten extra points for being original!

If you like chick-lit… this is definitely one to read and pass around. If you don’t like it… give this one a try anyway. J

I received this book in exchange for my honest review through Blogging for Books.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

[from ashes] July 5, 2011

Mornings. Chores. Tired. Garden. Laundry. Meals. Hay. Errands. Chores. Tired. Sleep.

That is pretty much a reflection of my life these days.

Some days I revel in the work. The dirt. The sweat. The feeling of the wind in my hair. The calluses on my hands. The knowledge that I am strong enough to lift twice what the average woman can without even breathing hard. The feeling of accomplishment when I see the milk tank swirling with creamy white milk. The garden blossoming and blooming with vegetables. The line of round bales growing. Thirty. Sixty. A hundred. Only a hundred left to put up before winter.

Then come the other days. The ones when I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. When the thought of hanging out another load of laundry could almost make me cry. The days when Amos can't get in from the fields and I have to face the barn full of cows and know that I'm all alone. The days that I avoid the garden and its weeds. When I turn my back on the sink full of dishes. When I crawl into bed with my eyes closed so I can't see the clothes on the floor.

And on those days I start to crumble.

A day came when I was crumbling. I cried over everything. The morning. The cows. The manure. The flies. The pigs. The laundry. The garden. The dishes. The dirt. The heat. My husband. My friends. The fact that I still wasn't pregnant. The fact that despite all our hard work there wasn't any extra money. The fact that no matter how carefully I planned or worked it seemed that I was always disappointing someone.

I looked around and only saw the ashes of the life I desired.

And I heard clearly through my tears the voice of my Father, reminding me of something he once told a friend of mine. "I would not have promised beauty for ashes, if I wasn't going to burn anything down."

I wrote a song that day. One that has been swirling through my head ever since. His answer. His promise. In the end...

He offers beauty for ashes-- strength for pain. Hope for all who call on His name.

He offers-- to hold all our tears. Clothe us in white-- turn the dark into light.

Yet so often we forget

To get beauty for ashes, something must burn

To get strength for pain, something must hurt

For Him to hold all our tears, we must cry

To turn the dark into light, we have to face a black night

All His promises are true-- He'll do just what He said He'd do

But so many times, in the fire, pain and tears--We hide in the darkness, and cry out in fear

"Where are you, God? Where are you, God?"

And He says...

To get beauty for ashes, something must burn

To get strength for pain, something must hurt

For me to hold all your tears, you must cry

To turn the dark into light- you have to face a black night,

But I promise you,

In the end,

I will make all things new.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

[Wild Foods]

I have this problem. As far as I know there isn't a name for it but if I could make one up it would be "Egeovictusferus" (ee-geo-victus-faar-us) the definition of which would be..."the need to use every food you have access to, even wild ones".

A similar disease, that goes along with this one, is the desire to make/grow everything you need to survive. Seriously, who needs grocery stores?

Yet, the truth of the matter? I mostly eat foods from grocery stores. So I live in a state of... frustration and overweightness.

But! This year I started doing some of the things that I always said I would. Basically, putting all my research to work.

How? By making clover-granola and clover-flour (for bread making) and stir-frying burdock root and cattail shoots.

And you know what... I LOVE IT!

I've been having so much fun. And the food is delish! Amos even grunted an affirmative reply...which is miraculous.

I think I love it the most because I get to spent time outside to gather... singing worship songs as I sit and smell the sweetness of the summer air. There was a time in my life when I made sure to walk outside almost everyday because I did my devotions in the woods- and this has made me feel like I'm back there again. Where I was full of life and joy and God was near.

And maybe... just maybe- I am and He is.

Monday, June 6, 2011

[Praying for Your Future Husband] Book Review

Praying For Your Future Husband

Preparing Your Heart for His

To be honest, there isn't much that I can say about this book. The title says it all. Are you praying for your future husband? Are you preparing your heart for his? Whether you are or aren't- this book is your inspiration!

Before I got married the Lord put it on my heart to pray for my future husband. I kept a prayer journal that later the two of us read together... and compared to some journals that he had kept over the years. Did you know that God was answering my prayers, even when Amos and I didn't know each other? He was.

This book by Robin Gunn and Tricia Goyer is full of testimonies and practical ideas to use in your own prayer time. I would have loved it when I was single- and I still love the ideas as I pray for my husband (by name, now!)

I know this is so short... but I really don't know what else to say. This book is filled with stories and ideas that are beautiful and inspiring. Go get it! Read it!

This book was sent to me in exchange for my honest review by Blogging For Books.

[Freedom's Stand] book review

Freedom's Stand

by J.R. Windle

I have to admit that it took me a little while to get into this book. The first chapter was engrossing by then it got a bit confusing for a time. The reason, however, was a good one- I'm not familar with middle eastern names and this author tried to write an authentic book... so, needless to say, the names confused me for a time.

However, soon after that I got lost in the story. There is a former suicide bomber, a special forces vetern, a relief worker... all whose paths cross for one single reason: they are followers of Isa Masih. (Better known to us as, Jesus the Messiah)

The story is fiction but it can serve as a reminder that there are believers in this world who are walking a difficult journey.

And there are people who are facing bitter heartbreaking lives. Like Farah, a sixteen year old who came to believe that love was an illusion, man is untrustworthy and gut-wretching pain are a woman's lot in life.

The most wonderful part of the story though is this: Isa Masih changes lives. He makes all things new. And helps us see that there is purpose in all our tears and pain.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Tyndale Blog Network.

Friday, May 27, 2011

[fall] a poem

Reaching, climbing, crying

the rain pouring down over head

and feet

and hands


Standing firm, holding fast

Who am I kidding?

I'm slipping, sliding, falling

clawing at the edge

disappearing into



My breath catches

my mind crashes

my fingers clutching tight


And the voice echoes

through the vast open

reverberating off rock and land

"Let go.

Oh, daughter,

Let go."



my scream collapses

I don't want to.

I want to be strong

and brave and lovely.

I don't want to fall.

My hands are bleeding

My screams are dying

My tears are drying



I'll fall.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

[loves] May 16, 2011

A few things that I love...

Eric, Rora and Zellie.

My little lovies.

My husband taking me out for breakfast at Lloyds.

Yes, it's a little diner with rough characters...

but I love it.

Maybe I'm just a little rough myself.

Donkey has learned to give kisses in exchange for carrots.

It's the best thing ever.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

[if I had known] A Mother's Day Post

Several days ago I went with my husband to pick up a tractor. On the way home, as has been our habit since our honeymoon, we stopped at a few antique shops.

The first one gifted us with a conversation. The owner had been in the antique business for over fifty years! In her delightful shop I spotted a beautiful set of chairs (that I hope to go back and buy when I have the cash) and a gorgeous aquamarine ring (that I will probably never buy but will always remember and be constantly looking for another like it).

But it was the next shop that started my mind spinning. For on the second floor, in the furthest corner of the furthest room, I saw a lovely wooden highchair (that matches my kitchen table), a darling doll pram (just as I dreamed of having as a little girl) and the sweetest tiny cast iron frying pans, exactly like the ones I use to cook our meals each day. I pointed them out to my husband and said, "If we had a little girl..." and my voice trailed off.

Later, as we drove on toward home, I finally found words. "It's just that I didn't know."

My husband looked at me. He reached over, picked up my hand and began twisting my wedding ring around, which is his sign that he's listening.

I was quiet for a minute, trying to figure out my thoughts. Then the words started tumbling out. "I didn't know. I thought that when I gave up that relationship to focus more on God- I was just giving up marriage for a time. I didn't know that in three years my system was going to collapse. I didn't know that I was giving up my chance to have kids...I'm not saying I would do it different, I just..."

Again I lost words.

He started rubbing circles on my wrist with his thumb. "It feels strange, doesn't it," he said, "almost like you were cheated because you didn't get the rules explained to you before you started playing."

I nodded. I stared out the window for a while. My heart was hurting pretty bad. But then when I turned back and found my husband smiling at me, something quieted inside. He said, "I hate that you hurt, Tash, but I love who you are because of the hurt."

I think I fell in love with him all over again. Again. For the hundredth, possibly thousandth time since we were married 3 1/2 years ago.

It was then that I knew.

I would have done things differently. I would have married someone else if I thought that by not doing so, I was giving up having children. I would have walked away from God's dreams to hang onto my own. My dreams and desires are too strong in me. I wouldn't have been able to leave them for God.
I'm so glad I didn't know. I'm so glad.

I'm glad that I hurt. I'm glad that I can't have children. I'm glad for every moment of pain and every second of loneliness and every day that passes by without finding my dreams.

And I'll tell you why.

Because I get to see Jesus. All the time. Every day.

He's with me. Crying. Laughing. In my husband's eyes when they meet mine from across a room. In the voices of my nieces and nephews when they stop to see me and I take them on walks through the fields to pick wildflowers or through the barn to pet the cattle. In the wind that blows across my yard. In the sunrises that I see every morning as I stumble out to do chores.

Obviously, God could have met me wherever I ended up, with whatever choices I made. Obviously, God could give me children now, despite my physical problems. Obviously.

But... well, I wouldn't have some of these precious pieces. Precious because they were bought with tears and fire and pain. I wouldn't have the knowledge that I could be so desperate and so lost and so alone that all I could do was cry and scream... and He would be there.

And I wouldn't have my husband. This amazing, incredible man of God who leads me and guides me and shows me Jesus every single day.

It's true. I didn't know. But I am so glad that I didn't know.

...what if your healing comes through tears?

what if a thousand sleepless nights

are what it takes to know You're near?

what if my greatest disappointments

or the aching of this life

is the revealing of a greater thirst
this world can't satisfy?

and what if the trials of this life

the rain, the storms, the hardest nights

are your mercies in disguise?

-Laura Story "Blessings"