Monday, July 28, 2014

Is This All There Is?

As I stood at the kitchen sink doing yet another pile of dishes (there is no dishwasher in my home, so dirty dishes time is my time to look out the window and engage in some dangerous thinking time), I thought to myself, "Is this it? I've been at this for 7 years, and it doesn't seem like I have come very far. If this is what my life will continue to be, I'm okay with that Lord...but I just feel like there's so much more. Maybe just not for me." 

As a single Mom of three children under the age of 11, I'm often tired, worried, hopeless, and frustrated. I'm sure many of you can relate to that. I am often left wondering why I've done wrong along the way to not have life in abundance like I see others having. We barely squeak by each month with the bills, don't have gas money most days to even go anywhere, and having all of the responsibilities and decisions on my shoulders alone without help from the other parent can be very exhausting. Then I stopped myself...

This is a pity party...this is the enemy's scheme. I felt The Holy Spirit come over me and urge me to look to the "Who" I am suppose to be focusing on instead of the "What" we don't have. Only when we take time with God can we be reminded of how blessed we truly are in all circumstances. My attitude immediately shifted and went to the things that bring me joy and fulfillment, instead of the things that are lacking or feel like they are breaking me. Yes, we barely squeak by...but we DO squeak by. Yes, we may not have has to go all the places we want...but we have our own vehicle and the ability to get where we need to. Yes, I may have the sole responsibility of all of my children emotionally, physically, and financially...but I also never miss a moment of their lives and it makes my heart whole to know I'm sacrificing very thing in my life so I can give everything to theirs. I was called to be a mother, and that is exactly what I am doing, albeit not in the circumstances one ever intends or hopes for.

That doesn't mean I'm not broken, I am. And I will continue to be for years to come, but there will be progress and healing along the way. You see, the world takes broken things and throws them away...but Jesus takes broken people and lifts them up! Our biggest burdens are sometimes brought to lead  is to our greatest blessings. But we cannot get their in our own strength, it just is not possible. But with God, all things are possible. He is our strength and our portion. So as I look around at my openly and vividly imperfect life and world...I can now see that I am living life in abundance already. Because life in abundance involved the things that matter most to our hearts and souls: family to lean on, friends to share life with, a relationship with The Lord that continues in its growth, serving others and sharing our stories, and waking up every day laying all we have at the foot of the cross. When we do that, we can bear another day. When we do that, we can trust that our load will be lightened. When we do that, we can see the bountiful blessings that already surround us, and not focus on what doesn't. 

Life in abundance, simply put, is a life spent living for Jesus Christ. That is good news for us all, because it means we ALL can have life in abundance...if only we will CHOOSE to accept what Christ is freely offering us. Are you? Are you living your life in fullness? Are you seeing abundance in all circumstances? If the answer is no, go back to basics, pick up your Bible, and remind yourself of God's truths and how He loves you and how He sacrificed the blood of His only begotten son so that we could not only live, but live life abundantly. His gift is waiting for you, you need only accept it and trust in it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tempting Tomorrow


I'll take care of that tomorrow. I'll call them tomorrow. I'll try that tomorrow. How many of us of have ever said that? And how many of us have had our tomorrow's turn into weeks, months, maybe years? We all live as if we are promised tomorrow, but the truth is, we aren't.


"Never boast about tomorrow. You don't know what will happen between now and then. ." (Proverbs 27:1 GNT)


We are to remain hopeful for tomorrow, expectant for tomorrow, and it's okay to plan for tomorrow. However, that does not guarantee that we will all have tomorrow. We must hope, plan, and dream like we have a thousand tomorrows, but we need to live like there's only today. That is not to say we are to do reckless things and throw caution to the wind just in case there is no tomorrow. We are still called to be responsible and diligent in our actions, but we are not called to expect God to give us each day just because we want it or we have plans for it. For He has plans of His own, and they far out measure ours or our understanding. But what if we took each day as the blessing that it is? Grabbed onto the steering wheel with both hands, put that pedal to the floor, and embraced every single moment of the day right in front of us? Not worrying about tomorrow, not worrying about 10 years from now…enjoying the blessings that the day we are already in brings.


"So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries." (Matthew 6:34 ERV)


We've all seen it happen, or been a victim of it ourselves. We go along in our daily lives, too busy to get to this or that. But we'll get to it tomorrow. We find out that friend we just talked to or that relative that we just saw has had a horrific tragedy and is no longer with us. Now what? Where's that tomorrow? You were going to call, you were going to write that letter, you were going to stop by and see them – but life just got too busy.


"Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31 NIV)


Or maybe you have experienced that situation yourself. Strolling about and living the abundance of life one moment, the next finding yourself on a gurney in the emergency room or in a hospital lobby waiting for news of your husband or children. In an instant life can change, and many times not due to your own actions or negligence. The world is full of irresponsible people, the world is full of just plain accidents. We can't live on edge like we always might be a victim, but we also can't tempt tomorrow by assuming it will be there. On the little things, sure. There's a few dishes in the sink, a load of laundry in the dryer that needs to be folded – but it's ten o'clock at night and you are exhausted and have work in the morning. That can wait until tomorrow. But telling someone you love them, chasing that dream that you've only been thinking about for years but never taking a single step towards achieving. Those things can't wait. Live those things like there is no tomorrow, and watch how it changes your life. So what if we tempted tomorrow in a different way? Tempted it to bring us it's best. Tempted it to give us all it's got. Tempted it to challenge us and grow us. That's the right way to tempt tomorrow, in the way that will grow you in a relationship with the Lord and with others. In the way that will help you embrace life in the abundance it has been given to you. Don't tempt tomorrow in expectant attitude and habit and ritual. Tempt tomorrow and live today in faith and hope and joy!


"But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." (Galatians 5:22 MSG)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blog Tour For "OUT OF AGONY", Book #4 By Lynette Endicott!


I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour, and to help promote Lynette Endicott's latest book in her Starting Over Series! Please see below for a description of the book, a bio on Lynette, a great giveaway, and last but not least...my review of this book, as well as my interview with the author! Grab a cup of coffee, put some music on, and relax...because this is a great read!

Gliterary Girl Book Tours presents the blog tour for the release of OUT OF AGONY, Book #4 in the Starting Over Series, by Author Lynette Endicott.

OUt oF Agony Tour

OutOfAgonyCoverArtBrian Van Pelt has barely survived an anguished year of loss, hiding his sorrows under the facade of a cool and uncaring attorney. Not able to deny his grief any long, heartache drives him to collapse and his life takes an unexpected turn.

When Jessie Ingram comes to work at his law firm, she is intrigued by the conflicting darkness of Brian's behavior and the tender inconsistencies that hint at something deeper within him.

Despite her interest, she has her own pain, supporting her niece Sara, who has a virulent cancer with aggressive treatments that take such a toll they would not be worth it — except they are Sara's only hope of survival.

Will life’s hardships bring Brian and Jessie together? Will they be able to heal and possibly find love?



BUY NOW AT:




ABOUT Lynette Endicott

Lynette EndicottLynette Endicott grew up in Illinois, met her husband in Western Nebraska, lived 25 years in Kansas where their daughter was born, and has been in Fresno, California since 2000. She has a son-in-law (who lives with her daughter nearby), and has rescued a dog, a bird and three cats. She and Ollie, her terrier mix, volunteer as a team at the local library, where children read to the dog.

At a youth camp when she was 14 the editor and teacher of a writing class challenged her to submit something to his youth magazine. She did and it was the first of 10 articles and stories accepted by the publication over the next few years.

Nothing like front end success to keep her writing! Lynette enjoys reading contemporary romance and speculative fiction and writes both. Her debut book, Starting Over Book One: More Than A Job, and two more books in that series, The Return of Joy and Finding Her Voice are available now. The first three of the Time After Time Saga with Tami Dee are available now, including Animal Instinct, Survival Instinct and Pioneer Instinct. The fourth in the series of six, Protective Instinct, will release in August 2014.

Because she didn't have pets until after her 50th birthday the animals she enjoys find their way into all her books. Usually you will also find a character with a disability as part of the day-to-day fabric of the story. In More Than A Job, Paige works in services to people with disabilities until she loses her job and starts over. In The Return of Joy, Atlas, the yellow lab, becomes a Therapy Dog. In the Time After Time series animal helpers assist the hero and heroine in all six of the books in the series.

Lynette loves hearing from her fans! Please connect with her on:


 



To celebrate the release of OUT OF AGONY, Lynette will be giving away a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card to one grand prize winner, a $10.00 Gift Card to either Starbucks or Teavana to the second runner up and an ecopy of OUT OF AGONY to the third runner up. Enter the giveaway every day for more chances to win. All entries must be received by July 25th before midnight.

Monday, July 21st


 



Debbie's Review:
Brian is a man in deep turmoil, with a past that just won't let him forget...or move on. And what else would you expect from a man who has literally lost it all? His daughter Trudy has recently passed away, his divorce just became final, and his attitude toward light is dim, at best. We also meet Jessie, who is experiencing her own agony in this engaging plot as she is trying to help her brother cope with the cancer diagnosis of his daughter Sara, while at the same time trying to deal with her own grief of the situation. This is where we find what sets the stage for the common ground Brian and Jessie experience, in the suffering of life-altering events, and in understanding where the other is at in life...and leads to the question of  whether they can find love and healing together in the midst of their circumstances. And if they do, can either of them learn to trust again and not let fear and the agony that the thought of being left alone again brings if it doesn't?

Lynette allows Brian's character to unfold from page one in a way that grips you and keeps your eyes moving to paragraph after paragraph. She is able to convey her characters with such emotion and writes in a such a way that you can actually visualize each scene in its entirely, as if you were there watching it unfold. Other characters in the book, no matter how large or small their role, are brought into the story with a beautiful flow and allows the characters (particularly Brian and Jessie) to capture you in a profound way and draw you in, causing you to almost speak to the characters yourself as if trying to help them along towards the outcome. I loved the length of this book. It was not incredibly long, which was a draw for me because with all of the "on-the-edge-of-my-seat" material as this book contains, it is long enough to convey an amazing story which is written in an attention grabbing way, but still leaves you wanting more. Lynette has a gift in the structure of her words and the way she unfolds a story for her readers. This was truly a great read, and the end will leave you biting your fingernails as you wait for the next book in the series to reveal itself!

Debbie's Interview With Lynette:
Debbie: What has been your biggest milestone in writing this series of books?

Lynette: When I finished Finding Her Voice, what I believed at the time was the last book in the series, readers asked me to tell the story of the ex-husband, the man who deserted his wife after they lost their daughter. Now I didn't like him very much, but to have more than one reader ask me for the next story was a writing milestone for me.

Debbie: What do your readers/reviewers say they connect with most when reading your books?

Lynette: Everyone has had tough moments, or knows people who have. My readers like the real life difficulties, and the process of finding a way through the difficulties. They want to see the hero or heroine  manage and one day even experience joy on the other side of the event that caused them to start over.

Debbie: When you tend to draw a blank in the process of writing a new book, what things help you to reignite your creativity again?

Lynette: I have a three-prong strategy. First, I walk away from the keyboard a few minutes. Usually I make another cup of tea. If that doesn't work I take my keyboard outside and look at my garden and let my mind wander a few minutes. Each of these is a 5-10 minute exercise. If neither of these work I just sit back down and type anyway. I let it wander, and type and type some more. When writing a book I give it my full attention for a couple of hours a day and write until the story unfolds. Do I have to edit out some sloppy transitions? Sure. But these moments of being stuck have revealed some of the most interesting and unexpected plot twists.

Debbie: What inspired the idea for this particular book (Out Of Agony) in the series?

Lynette: When I wrote the first book in the series, the heroine lost a job. The stakes got higher book by book -- the loss of a spouse, the loss of a child. There are people in my life who have lost a child, and there is no more devastating event. There is no “getting over” the loss of a child. Somehow, though, the grieving parent has to move through the days, to put one foot in front of the other, to somehow keep going. I wanted to capture that journey, and to show that he or she could move forward in faith, even through this loss.

Debbie: How has being a published author changed your life?

Lynette: I still have to pinch myself now and then. This is book 7. Isn't that amazing? I still live in the same house, still have a day job. I guess we are the same inside whatever else happens.

Debbie: What advice would you give (and what hard truths should be known) to up-and-coming writers, or those whose dream about becoming an author and seeing their books in print?

Lynette: Readers often tell me that they want to be authors. When I ask them what they are writing they tell me, “Well, I have this idea.” Whatever your idea is, you are only a writer if you write it. Sit down and put in time at the keyboard. Get words down. You will find people to help you hone your craft. We can give you advice about how to sell that book once it is written. But the first three chapters, carefully honed for contests, are still not a book. To follow your dream, you first need to finish the book.

I hope you all have enjoyed this jam-packed post! Where else can you get the heads-up on a great new book, enter a giveaway, read the book's review, and get an interview with the author all in one place! Please feel free to leave any comments below, and thank you for spending this time with me! Be sure to save this title (and all of the books in her series) to your wish list. Happy reading!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week #3 Winner, and AMAZING Week #4 Giveaway Announcement!!!

Hello lovelies!

Well, yesterday was my 40th birthday, and what better way to spend it than writing a blog for you beautiful people! It was a day of relaxation, calmness, and lots of cake! What more could one want, right?

Okay, I am so excited to announce the winner of week three, which was for the book "Fierce Beauty: Choosing to Stand for What Matters Most" by Kim Meder, as well as a homemade bookmark from yours truly. Our winner this week is.....DRUMROLL.....Christina Sabra Spicuzza! Congratulations, and I hope this will bless you and help you in your walk with Christ!

Alright, heeeeeere we go! In honor of my 40th birthday, I am doing an AMAZING giveaway this week! I am a single Mom, but most of the people I know are not. So this is a gift to hopefully honor you married couples (or those with serious significant others), and I hope this will bless your relationships and give you plenty of laughs along the way. This giveaway is for a SET, plus a handmade bookmark customized for you in your favorite colors. The set includes the following:

*Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences" by Bill and Pam Farrel
AND
*Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti - Devotional Study Guide" by Bill and Pam Farrel


These books help a man and woman to understand and relate to each other better...in a HILARIOUS and fun way. The book has discussion questions for each chapter, and the devotional is a wonderful addition to the study and has advice, activities, prayers, journal assignments and more to help you connect closer to one another in a positive way. This is a REALLY fun study!

Okay sweet readers, you will want to be sure to pass this giveaway on to friends and family, because this week's prizes are over the top! Have fun everyone, God bless, and happy entering!




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Being A Mom Is Tough

I'm a real Mom, with real kids, and real messes. I have come to the conclusion that there are two areas in my home that will never be a spotless or as tidy as I like: the kids craft area and the dining room. For whatever reason those areas are where the children gravitate when they want to spend time doing things, dragging out toys, drawing, you name it. The rest of my house stays clean as can be, so I have learned to put that aside and let those two areas be areas of joy and creativity for my children, and I've stopped trying to make them into two other perfectionist parts of the house for me. As a single Mom it's even harder to keep on top of everything while you're working full-time, going to college full-time, and have three kids under the age of 11. I should also let you know that I've been a single Mom for 7 years and do it with no help from the father or my family either physically, emotionally, or financially. I truly am a one woman show! 

I used to be a perfectionist and it was became almost the death of me. I'm learning to let that go little by little and although I look around and things still bother me, I do not rush over to try and correct them. Sometimes I stop and smile and look around at the different things in those areas and the joy that they brought to my children. Sometimes I stop and I look up to the heavens, smile, and thank God that He is refining me and relaxing me to be a mother of quality instead of quantity in  the things that I do. That He is allowing me to see the beauty in the mess and imperfections of my life. That He is showing me that although being a Mom is tough, it is also one of the greatest blessings that The Lord has bestowed upon women. I could not imagine my life without my kids. 

Being a Mom doesn't come with instructions. There are no easy answers to some of our most difficult times, at least not answers that we can see. Children go through so many changes, and we as parents go through changes along with them. Being a Mom is frustrating, stressful, sad sometimes, joyful many times, worrisome, full of fear and anxiety about the future, a beautiful learning experience, and crowded with daily decisions and emotions. Are we doing our best job? What are we doing wrong? How is it going to affect them? Are we too lenient, are we too strict? There are a million questions we could ask ourselves on a daily basis. The bottom line is--being a Mom is tough, but the rewards mirror those of the treasures that we store up for heaven. There never has been and never will be anything like the experience of motherhood. So embrace the messes, laugh at the frustrations, smile at the trials, and remember that our strength comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He will see us through all, and thank goodness he has such a beautiful sense of humor to allow us to embrace even the hardest of times with joy, peace, and continuous learning. 

Kids may not come with instructions, but our life does have an instruction book of the best kind to help us handle things and show us where to go when we need help. That book has always been, is, and always will be the Bible. In it you will find all you need to know about how to live a godly life, how to teach your children in the right ways, where to go when you need to cry out in anger, hurt, frustration. What to do in overwhelming moments of joy and gratitude, and how you can share that and spread that to others. God gave us the most perfect gift when he created the Bible and it is a gift of the written Word that is never out of date, it's information is never old or ineffective, and it is a lifesaver for this single Mom! So yes, I'll say it again--being a Mom is tough…but our God is tougher!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We Say, God Says

We say, "If only you would answer me".
God says, "If only you would trust My Ways". (Psalm 62:8)

We say, "If only I could hear you". 
God says, "If only you would be still and listen for Me". (John 10:27)

We say, "If only you would listen to me".
God says, "If only you would have faith and believe in Me". (Matthew 21:22)

We say, "If only I had a little more money".
God says, "If only you would stop and look at the blessings surrounding you". (Hebrews 13:5)

We say, "If only I was prettier and thinner". 
God says, "If only you could see yourself how I see you". (1 Peter 3:3-5)

We say, "If only I could have a life like them".
God says, "If only you would embrace the life I've chosen for you". (James 3:16)

We see, "If only I could have a different career".
God says, "If only you could be grateful for My provisions". (1 Timothy 6:17)

We say, "If only I could understand what You want".
God says, "If only would stay in The Word, you would know". (Proverbs 30:5)

We say, "If only I could know you like they do".
God says, "If only you would seek Me as deeply as they do". (Psalm 119:2)

We say, "If only you would help me".
God says, "If only you would see that I never leave your side". (Isaiah 41:10)

We say, "If only I had more time".
God says, "If only you would prioritize the way you spend your time". (Ecclesiastes 8:5)

We say, "If only I had more energy and motivation".
God says, "If only you would lean on Me for your strength". (2 Samuel 22:33)

We say, "If only someone would love me".
God says, "If only you would put me first and accept the love I have already given you...from the moment my son Christ gave his life on the cross for you". (1 John 4:8-10)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Week 2 Book Giveaway Winner, And Week 3 Giveaway Announcement!!!






I just love announcements. We have our week 2 winner of the brand new Beth Moore Study "Children Of The Day" which is an amazing study in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. And the winner is....................Doreen Hayes! Congratulations Doreen! You also will receive a handmade bookmark, sewn with love by yours truly! Happy mail will be on its way to you very soon!


Thank you everyone for entering, and I hope you will continue to not only enter, but share and encourage your friends to enter as well, and read my blog. If you do not see an icon on the right hand side under the followers area, please make sure to click on the blue button and joint the site. This will ensure that you receive all of my blog posts and contest announcements to your email so you do not miss one! Be sure to spread the word, because as soon as we get to 100 followers, there will be a HUGE surprise for everyone! I am so excited, but I cannot let the cat out of the bag just yet. So I pray that you gain some encouragement and insight from my posts, and if you do, please share them and ask your friends and family to follow as well. Thank you all so much for your support!


Now, week #3 giveaway is going to be for a wonderful book entitled: "Fierce Beauty: Choosing To Stand For What Matters Most". This book is written by Kim Meeder, who is also the author of the well-known book Hope Rising. Fierce Beauty teaches us that true beauty is not about how we look, but instead is about how we live. This book is designed to help you "...discover life lessons about trust, transformation, surrender, forgiveness, and genuine purpose. It poses the question, "Will you live for yourself or your King?" What an exciting read!  The contest link is below, so enter as much as you wish, and best of luck to everyone!


http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/a519335/


Blessings,
Debbie