Monday, August 31, 2015

Celebrate Fall with the New Sept/Oct Issue of CW Voice!

Well, it's here!!! The new September/October issue of CW Voice is ready and available.

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Certified Health Coach, Nancy Sullivan shares her incredible journey of weight loss and better health in "Winning at Losing."
Heidi Avery talks about the constant and unwavering presence of Jesus in our lives in "Live in His Presence."
Christine Wright shares her struggle as a new Christian with letting go of our old self and beginning our new life in Christ with "Scared to Change."
Frugal Living expert, Kim Wolf shares her dear grandmother's recipe to help fight the cold and flu season in "Easy Cold Remedies with Horehound Herb."
Family-Friendly Movie Reviewer, Maggie Johnson gives her honest and in-depth review of "Minions" and "Inside Out."
"Peace After Divorce" Author, Renee Ettline talks about a common problem people face after divorce in "Dealing with Guilt and Regrets."
Robin Prater shares how she made the choice to follow Jesus in "A Love Journey."
"If you're having a difficult time letting go of summer..." these two recipes will plunge you right into fall! Debbie Dillon shares her recipe for "Ban-apple Bread" and "Chicken Penne Casserole."
This article from National Mill Dog Rescue is wonderfully written (by Princess Eleanor) from the unique perspective OF THE DOG! Learn what it's like to BE a puppy mill dog in "Dog Beautiful."
Fit2B's Bethany Learn answers reader's questions about exercise, pregnancy and maintaining a healthy you in "Q & A with Bethany."
In "Robin's Book Nook," Robin Prater shares her review of "A Sparrow of Terezin."

There truly is something for every heart in each issue of CW Voice! Order yours today:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Do You Know?

It was the question of the day. The one that resonated with me long after the final Amen and dismissal.

Funny how words can echo through the heart like that.

It was the question asked by many still yet to believe and how we, as those who’ve surrendered ourselves to the One who saves, should respond.

How do you know God exists? How do you know He’s real?

Insert the collective awkward shuffling in the pews…but for me, the answer was simple. I guess I wasn’t prepared to speak it out loud, yet I could hardly contain the words.

Inside, I wanted to stand up and proclaim, “If there was no God, I would have perished in the fire! When it seemed the flames of evil intent rose up around me, I would have been destroyed. I would have been swallowed up by unimaginable pain and devastation, and when my world crumbled from beneath me, it was my Jesus who put the pieces back together again and showed me that I was not a pile of brokenness meant to stay lifeless at the bottom of that pit! It was my Jesus who gave me hope and purpose. It is He who rebuilds the broken! That's how I know He's real!”

Sometimes, the answers we seek are not in front of us. They are behind. We have to look at where we’ve been. How far we’ve come from where we were to where we are to truly see Him.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance 
about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015


The iron gate creaked with a high-pitched “Where have YOU been?” tone. I tried to brush away the guilt of dead, forgotten plants and the crunch of dried up, soon-to-be-dust weeds beneath my feet.

“I’m only here to snip a sprig of cilantro,” I said to all the little down-turned flower faces. Hmmm…if only it were still alive.

I closed the gate behind me biting my lip. If only there were more hours in a day. If only I could get to all the things needing my attention.

If only…

It doesn’t take that much time, really. After years of gardening, I know that my little space responds well to a little water and a little pruning here and there, and yes, even a little prayer. All it takes is a little time, patience and sacrifice. There’s always potential. There’s always still a bit of life left way down deep even if the exterior looks close to death.

And once again I’m reminded that one should never give up on something…or someone…with the potential to be lovely. With a little time and extra work, life and God-given beauty can be restored. There isn’t a garden that doesn’t benefit from a little love and attention, the nurturing that comes from a willing heart.

That which is meant to grow and bloom…will. I believe we’re put here to thrive in our elements…or in spite of them and that nothing or no one is beyond repair or redemption. There's a God-shaped need in all of us.

Every garden has potential.

There isn’t a soul that isn’t worth saving. There isn’t a soul that CAN’T be saved. When it comes to the effort and dedication of making this new creation in Jesus’ name, nothing is wasted. Never. Give. Up. on a soul needing Jesus.

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
(1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are You Ready?

I gathered up my plans for the weekend, one by one. The few precious days stretched out long before me and I knew exactly what I was going to do. Had it all figured out. It was going to be great. Fun. Beautiful. New. Delicious. Exciting. Perfect!

And just as quickly, one by one…each plan, each exhausting effort crumbled, shattered to the ground leaving me spent and very frustrated wondering why God would allow me to waste my time and energy for absolutely nothing.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

Are you ready to gather up all your hopes, ideas, dreams and thoughts about how your life should look and place them firmly in the hands of Jesus? One by one, day by day? It's like gathering all the important elements to create the perfect floral ensemble. We strive to create the perfect contrast in color and texture and maybe we hand Him one stem at a time when we're to hand over the entire bouquet. It's His. Only He can assemble the perfect balance of such things.

It’s a process. Doesn’t happen overnight. We can’t just flip a switch and suddenly know how submission works. It’s painful. Uncomfortable. Unsettling. Handing over full control…as if it ever belonged to us in the first place…takes our obedience and His faithfulness.

I’m learning to praise God when that thing I’ve wished for, hoped for, prayed about comes back to me broken, unfixed and unrealized like God saying, “No, child. Not this one – not this time.”

I’m learning to praise Him in the “no” and in the failed attempts because they aren’t really failures at all. They’re just me taking bigger strides up the mountain trying to own my chunk of it. It’s just me stretching my limits and reaching my arms out farther to embrace my vision of achievement and all the while I’m growing my need for a Savior.

When darkness falls on my plans and all the little pieces struggle to come together as I think they should, I’m learning to shout, “Praise, you, Jesus! Thank you for this challenge and this experience! I know that you have something far better planned! My plans, hopes and dreams couldn’t POSSIBLY compare to what you have in store for me and I trust you! I will praise you regardless!”

With all that I am I submit and surrender it ALL to God! All that I truly own in this life is the surrendering of my will to His. The commitment of my plans and dreams. All my tomorrows. All belong to Jesus.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:10)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Beauty From Ashes

Flower In The Hand

 was such a dense and heavy log and it refused to burn. Instead, it only smoldered and smoked in the fireplace until I finally gave up the fight, closed the doors and walked away. I’d so wanted to wake up that cool and misty morning with my coffee and a nice fire, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Later that evening when the chill returned with the setting sun I replaced the stubborn log with some drier pieces I’d found in the wood pile. I very carefully took the log and sat it on the back patio…not the wisest thing I’ve ever done…

That night, it was the chaotic clanging of the wind chime that woke me. The Santa Ana winds were a bit of a surprise as they kicked up but I had no idea what was really happening as the autumn moonlight and swaying tree branches shadow danced across my bedroom walls.

We woke the following morning in complete bewilderment. It looked like a bomb had gone off on our back patio. Ash and burnt wood pieces littered the whole area from the lawn to the back door of the house. Every patio chair cushion and pillow suffered small burn holes and then I noticed the log!

I never knew concrete could burn!

Apparently, the log that refused to burn in my fireplace ignited with the overnight winds and got so hot that it actually weakened the concrete leaving us with two large missing chunks of patio.

My husband…..was not happy.

I was speechless.

But as we surveyed the damage, I quickly realized what COULD have happened if God hadn’t been protecting us. Our entire house could have gone up in flames and we could have lost everything while we slept.

But then yesterday…..

When I looked out the window and saw this, a little bird making great use of my "mishap," I immediately thought of this verse:

“and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3)

Only our Lord Jesus can bring about beauty from ashes.

Blessings from our mistakes.

Grace in our weakness.

Only Jesus can bring about new growth from devastation and loss.

Only. Jesus.

Glory to God!

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