Living Beyond Yesterday

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C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Honestly, there was a time when I had difficulty believing this. When I was younger, I had little problems in my world, if any. No trials. No complications.

Then reality hit like a punch to the gut. Circumstances threatened to swallow me whole, leaving nothing but devastation in its wake.

My strength depleted and it was a fight to get through the day. I envied my previous times of simplicity, longing for that ease to return.

When the wind blows furiously, the tree extends its roots, digging deeper than before. That was what I had to do. I faced the challenge of the moment, but I discovered as I pressed on, His grace pressed in my heart. I learned to rely on a confidence braver than my own, and a wisdom smarter than my own. In the struggle, I found mercy. In the ferocious rage of the storm, I found a new hiding spot—under the shadow of His Wings.

Even though years back my life was simpler and easier, it wasn’t as glorious as my imagination had portrayed. For one, I was completely oblivious to life. Almost apathetic. And two, I couldn’t beat my way out of a wet paper bag. When life had roared, I’d cowered. But now, that I’ve tasted the trials, drank from the well of adversity, I had found that it couldn’t cripple me, because God’s strength was made perfect in my weakness.

He took the fragmented, brittle pieces of my life and forged them into a stronger, more resilient existence. No, I wasn’t thankful for the circumstance but I’m overwhelmingly grateful to my God who’d not only shown up for the fight, but stood right there in the ring with me, being the power behind each punch.

So bring on 2017. I expect far, far better things than this past year, because I serve a God who can do exceedingly abundantly above all I can ever ask, think or dream. 🙂

Maiden of Surrender

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Lately, I’ve been pondering over the idea of surrender. And with the holiday approaching, I’ve been zeroing in on Mary the mother of Jesus.

As a young maiden she was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter who lived in Nazareth. Most likely Mary’s days were filled with thinking and preparing for the upcoming ceremony. Then something unexpected occurred.

An angel visited her relaying the Almighty’s message- You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus.

I couldn’t begin to imagine the impact of the angel’s words had on her heart. Having a visitation from an angelic being is miraculous enough, but then to discover she’ll give birth to the Son of God? Talk about mind-blowing!

The angel ends his message with a holy punch! “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Do you believe that? Life has a way of hardening our hearts. Trials strive to desensitize our faith. But the fact remains—Nothing is too hard for Him.

Consider Mary. She’d probably woken up that morning feeling like any other day. Going through her routine. Nothing out of the ordinary. But one moment, one divine encounter, drastically changed her life forever. She had a heart for miracles. But what did it take? The answer lies in her response. “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” Surrender. She yielded her will, and God moved.

And that’s all He needs to work with in our lives, too. A surrendering heart. When we line ourselves up with Him and His Word, the miracles follow.

I mean, that’s how we got saved, right? We yielded our hearts to His saving power, accepting His word at face-value that we were forgiven. And an enormous miracle occurred—redemption. What if we applied this concept to other areas of our lives? Surrendering our will in both the little things and the big?

I truly believe if we make room for him, He’ll come occupy our lives at a greater level and bring along His miracles. :

The Thorn Healer Review

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It’s universally known that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, right? But guess what, I found the exception! Pepper Basham’s The Thorn Healer’s stunning cover equivalently  matches the beautiful and heart-warming story.

Here’s the Blurb:

Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of a world at war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans and, much to Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of them.

August Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents, but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he find Hot Springs and the intriguing, Jessica Ross, a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance, but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs.

Will August’s tender pursuit show Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a ‘true’ enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?

My Review:

Starting from page one, I was wonderfully swept into the gorgeous setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But to me, I was more captivated by the complex character of Jessica Ross. Being a nurse at the warfront of WWI, she’d been exposed to death, hatred, and every sort of evil that lies beyond the battlefield. The scars on her body are not comparable to the ones scored on her heart. Layers of bitterness stretched across her soul, but God’s grace outspreads the hardened depths.

August’s character was well-developed and genuine. He encountered prejudice at every turn, yet his spirits never fatigued. Very inspiring. His gentle yet confident nature stole every scene, leaving me championing for a blossoming romance between him and Jessica.

Yes there were some extremely emotional parts, but there were also moments of humor shining through engaging banter. As the story progressed spiritual gems unearthed, leaving me refreshed and strengthened. The scarlet thread of love’s healing power and residual fortitude is woven throughout the pages, and somehow wrapped around my heart.

About the author:

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015 and has garnered awards such as Reader’s Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, shortlisted for the Inspy Awards, and a finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards. Her second historical novel, The Thorn Keeper, released in Feb 2016 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, released in April 2016 with a 4 star review from Romantic Times. You can get to know Pepper on her website, http://www.pepperdbasham.com, over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley, or her author Facebook page  where you can sign-up for her newsletter.

For a chance to win a kindle copy of The Thorn Healer leave a comment below. Entries are accepted until Tuesday December 13th. The winner will be announced on Wednesday December 14th.

If you are so inspired to read this fabulous novel and just can’t wait until the giveaway ends, then purchase your kindle copy here or your paperback copy here.

*I was provided a copy of The Thorn Healer. All opinions are my own.