Lord, I'm Weary

Psalm 119:116, "Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed."

Today, as I readied for work, I felt so tired.  My spirit is drained. I've been fighting this battle for my grandson for a long time. We have good days and we have bad days and there's no predictable pattern. When we get a good day, I am afraid to rest on my laurels because another war might be just ahead. 

As I prayed, I immediately remembered the scripture:
Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls"

I recited it a few times and then said, "OK Lord, you said to come to you if I am weary and burdened. Here I am!"  

I'd love to say that I immediately felt better, but instead, it has been a gradual increase in strength and energy. My heart is praising and my burden does feel lighter. Isn't that the promise?  He is gentle and He is gently restoring me. 

A Promise...

Things have been really challenging for my family.  My grandson is in the PICU waiting for a heart transplant.  He was placed on an artificial heart two weeks ago. This past Wednesday, he had a massive brain bleed and a stroke. The neurology team didn't want to intervene and insisted that he simply spend his remaining hours with his parents. The cardiac team fought them and insisted that they give him a chance by taking him into surgery. (Lord, please bless that doctor!!)

When we received the news that he was headed into surgery, my husband and I threw clothes into a bag and left for the hospital. We managed to make the four hour drive in just over three hours. Along the way we read Psalms, prayed, and sang worship songs. At some point, peace settled over us and we both felt strongly that he would be OK.

Just before arriving at the hospital, we received the news that Nolan was out of surgery and that it had gone much better than expected. Today, four days later, he's stable and still recovering.

Through all of this, one thing that has been constant is the presence of my Lord. He's been constant and faithful. I am painfully aware that He never promised me a trouble-free life. However, He did promise He'd never leave me!  He has kept that promise.

Please, pray for my grandson.  Updates on his story are here: We Heart Nolan

My Plans...God's Plans

Proverbs 19:21~ Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

This scripture has always spoken to me because in my very nature, I like to plan.  I plan everything...or I should admit, I tend to over plan.  I make lists and I consider every possible outcome and I come up with a plan b and c...because that's how I am.

Sometimes, God steps in and interrupts those plans.

In December 2010, my husband and I learned that we were going to have a baby.  We were so excited. I immediately set plans into motion and within weeks we were remodeling the kitchen, shopping for nursery furniture, and arguing over names.  And then...we lost the baby. We were devastated.

We waited three months and started to try for another baby. Again, I put my planning skills into work.  I used a fertility monitor and made sure we were...a hem...being intimate on the proper days. Month after month went by with no positive results. Finally, I made an appointment with a fertility specialist.

I appreciated working with the doctor. He had a plan!  I love plans!  I took medication, kept tracking my ovulation, and I eventually received several IUI's. After months of going through the routines, we learned that I was again pregnant.

I'll admit, I was nervous about this one.  I didn't immediately celebrate and it was in the back of my mind that we could have another loss. I was completely out of control in this situation and I hated being there. I'm much more comfortable when I am planning...

At 7 weeks, we went in for a sonogram to check for the heartbeat, which was there, but was very weak. The doctor gave us a 50% chance of having a healthy pregnancy.  I prayed.  I did all the things I knew to do.  I prayed Psalm 91 for my baby: Our baby dwells in the secret place of the Most High and shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty, whose power no foe can withstand...

I prayed that with all my might! I also sang to my baby, rocked her, read scripture to her...very aware that this might be my only chance to spend with this child while on this earth.

We were scheduled to return on the following Tuesday for another sonogram, but on Monday, I felt the baby leave. I felt the presence just leave my body and I knew...the sonogram confirmed it.  The heartbeat had stopped. Our baby was gone.

The following morning, I was in the shower and thinking about it all.  Had I missed something?  Had I failed to have enough faith?  Did I pray enough? And then, I remembered the prayer of Psalm 91 and it suddenly hit me- IT WAS STILL TRUE!  In fact, it was more true than it had been before- My baby DID dwell in the secret place of the Most High!!  My baby was indeed under the shadow of the Almighty!  I was instantly set free from my doubt because I had a revelation; Everything was OK!  My baby was with Jesus, my faith was intact, my marriage is solid, God was still on the throne!

My husband and I went back to trying to conceive, but we were not successful. We learned that our second loss was a healthy baby girl and we'll never know why I miscarried. Then, my beautiful grandson was diagnosed with a heart condition that has had him hospitalized for months. He's waiting for a new heart right now.

If I had not had that second miscarriage, my baby would have been born on October 17th.  This would have been a terrible time to bring a little one into the picture. I would not be available to fully support my daughter or make the bi-weekly trips to spend the weekend with them, four hours away.

God knew what was coming for my family.  He had a plan and, at the time, I didn't understand.  Now, I see that He was making decisions that were loving. The best thing is that I have two children waiting for me in heaven. I'll spend eternity with them, far longer than this time on earth. It was a loss and there was pain, but the coming joy will far outweigh all of it.

A Difficult Journey

I've mentioned my beautiful grandson who is waiting for a heart transplant.  It's been 9 weeks since he was taken via ambulance to Children's Hospital. The journey has been long and hard.

We are waiting on something that has no firm timeline. I can't wrap my mind around the thought that another child must die to save Nolan's life. I cannot and I will not pray for that. Instead, my prayer is that when some family faces a loss, the Lord will be present with them for comfort and that they will have the courage it takes to make the decision that will save lives.

In the mean time, I pray that God will sustain Nolan.  A dear friend send me a scripture:

Psalm 73: 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

How perfect! I am trusting God to continue to sustain Nolan until his perfect heart arrives.  Please, pray for him and for us.

Five Symptoms of a Hardened Heart

Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples. They heard him teach, watched him heal and perform miracles. Out of anyone, they certainly had to know that Jesus was the Messiah. Right?

And yet, they still struggled. After seeing Jesus feed 5,000 people with only a few loaves and fish, they were in a boat on their way to the other side of the sea. They were struggling because the wind was strong and progress was slow.

Then, they saw Jesus walking on the water and initially, they were very afraid. I can understand that, we don't expect to see someone walking on water and they didn't know what to make of it.

Jesus immediately told them, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid." (Mark 6: 50)

Jesus joined them in the boat and then calmed the wind for them, making the rest of the journey a lot easier. However, in verse 52 it says, "For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened."

That is hard for me to understand. They were seeing miracles on a regular basis and they had direct access to Jesus. How could their hearts be hardened to Him?  And yet, that was the case. We see further evidence of their doubt throughout the gospels.  For example, Peter ended up denying Jesus and Judas completely betrayed Him.

Most Christians, myself included, would like to think that our hearts are not hardened to Jesus. A hard heart can manifest itself in several ways. Take a moment and do a self-check.  Do you have any of these symptoms?

  1. Indifference to the power of God
  2. Lack of compassion for the unbelievers
  3. No passion in your worship
  4. Not nearly enough prayer
  5. Neglecting the word of God
If you are finding yourself on this list, take a moment to repent. Then ask the Holy Spirit to soften your heart. He'll meet you where you are and assist you in getting your heart in the right place. 

Psalm 103:2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits

Sunday Selah~ I Cannot Hide~ Psalm 139

Psalm 139

1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.

21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Powerful Praise

This song speaks from the depths of my soul. I can listen to this over and over again, and never get tired of it.

I will praise you  oh Lord
with my whole heart
I will glorify 
your name
I've fallen in love
with you, my King
and my heart is consumed with your praise!

Treat yourself. Close your eyes and listen.


Thank you to Marci at Life with Joys for giving me this award!  I'm so EXCITED!!

Facts of the Liebster Award:The Liebster Award's origins are pretty much a mystery. Bloggers nominate other bloggers that have 200 or less followers. It's basically a "Hey, that's a sweet little blog you've got there. Here's an award!" You can't just accept the award. You have to play by the (ever changing) rules and pay it forward. Then you can put the award on your blog for all to see.

The Rules:
1. List 11 facts about yourself. 
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you. (My 11 questions for each of the 2 nominated blogs are near the bottom of this post!)
3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate. (At the very bottom of this post you will find the links!) I only selected two because I don't know enough bloggers that fit in the category. I wanted to select blogs I actually like and follow. 
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog. (see the intro of this post!)

Eleven Things You Might Not Know About Me

  1. I was raised on welfare by a single mom and I was destined to repeat the cycle...but GOD!!!
  2. I love dark chocolate. 
  3. I hated high school so I graduated a year early. 
  4. I didn't start college until I was 25. 
  5. I dance to commercial music.  As soon as a commercial with a good beat comes on, I am on my feet and dancing. My husband laughs. 
  6. I don't have a lot of real life friends.   
  7. My secret dream is to reform the welfare system into one that works for the people dependent on it. 
  8. I can only sleep on the left side of the bed.  
  9. I'm completely deaf in my right ear. 
  10. Every time I mow the lawn, I manage to break the mower. 
  11. I love walking in the woods. 

Eleven Questions from Marci:
1.   What is your favorite season and why? I love SUMMER because it's warm and we spend a lot of time together as a family.    
2.   Are you a morning person or a night person? Night person.  I can stay up till very late every night.  
3.   What did you want to be when you were a little girl? I wanted to be a teacher.
4.   What is your favorite movie? I love Grease, mostly for the music. 
5.   If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why? I'd love to talk with Lisa Bevere because she has a similar personality to mine. She proves that you can be a bit 'spicy' and still be in ministry. 
6.   What is your favorite decoration you have in your home? I have a thing about chickens in the kitchen. I have several of them and they are all cute. 
7.   What is your favorite color nail polish? I like pinks.  
8.   What is the craziest thing you have in your closet? I have my wedding gown in my closet.  Not exactly crazy, but it's there. 
9.   Where is your favorite place to go for date night? Dinner and a movie. We're old school. 
10. Do you prefer chocolate candy or gummy candy? Chocolate
11.  Do you prefer to be barefoot or do you prefer to be in shoes? I am barefoot all summer long. 

Eleven Questions for My Nominees
  1. What is your favorite book of the bible and why? 
  2. Who was your favorite teacher?
  3. Did you have a mentor (or do you now)?
  4. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
  5. If money were no object, where would you vacation for a week?
  6. What is your greatest accomplishment?
  7. Tell me about your first car?
  8. Are you close to your parents?
  9. Who taught you about Jesus?
  10. What goals are you currently working on?
  11. What is your favorite meal?

My Nominees

My Confession, My Secret

I'm about to be very honest and real with you. I was raised in a religious home and I have heard about Jesus my whole life. I sang "Jesus Loves Me" as a child and I've heard that God loves me. I guess I believed that.

I made a commitment to Christ about twenty years ago. I set out on my faith journey under the wing of a solid church with sound biblical teaching. I've read my bible, sang the worship songs, and prayed a lot. There are times when my journey has been sidetracked and my faith activities have fallen by the wayside. My heart is committed to God, but I've let life get in the way from time to time. I've given myself excuses for doing things I knew that I ought not do.

Often, while talking with a Christian, I'll hear them proclaim their love for Jesus. I always agree, of course, because that what we do in church. I know the lingo and I know the proper phrases. Except, I had a secret, I really didn't know if I actually loved Jesus. I was certain that He was wonderful and He deserved every bit of my praise and respect, but I didn't actually feel 'love' and I was deeply ashamed of this. I did not want anyone to know. What kind of Christian doesn't love Jesus?

I heard a song about someone being excited to get to heaven because they couldn't wait to see Jesus face to face.  If I were honest, I'd admit that, at that time, I was more excited to get to Heaven to see my grandma because I desperately miss her. I felt so ashamed, and of course I would admit that to no one.

Over this past summer, I decided to start reading the gospels. Although I felt that I'd read them all, I wanted to read again, carefully. I started with John, reading one chapter each day, journaling  along the way.  I pulled each passage apart and looked for hidden gems that might help me to better understand.

The big shift started when I read about Jesus leaving us the Holy Spirit.  He said that the Holy Spirit had a lot of jobs and one of them was to teach us. A light bulb went off in my mind.  I started to ask the Holy Spirit to explain things to me as I read and there was an immediate shift. My bible exploded and my devotions took on a whole new level. Subtle nuances and insights into the character of Jesus were revealed.  I began to see Him in different, more tangible way. Instead of approaching my devotions as a chore or a 'faith activity'- I started to look forward to my time in the Word!

Recently, I was driving and talking to God.  I was thanking Him for so many things and suddenly, I was thanking Him for JESUS.  My heart started to swell and for the first time, I realized that I LOVE JESUS!  I actually LOVE HIM and I can honestly say that I am looking forward to meeting Him face to face, even a little more than I want to see Grandma.  (Sorry Grams, but you are already there so I bet you completely understand.)

If you are a Christian and you are not sure that you really love Jesus, please don't feel bad. You simply need a deeper revelation of who He is and then the love just pours into your heart.  Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you because that's His job!

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

There's something so special about many of the traditional hymns. I'm thankful I had a grandma that loved Jesus and taught me to love singing about Him. This hymn is one of my favorites.  It runs through my mind daily and I sing it often.

If you have about 5 minutes, hit play, close your eyes, and let this bless. you.  Tis So Sweet...

Sunday Selah ~ Striving and Resting

I'm a planner. I like to keep things under control. When planning  a large gathering for family, I set up a several lists that include a menu, shopping list(s) for each store, a cleaning list, a 'to-do' list, a guest list, and eventually I'll have a schedule for the 24 hours prior to the gathering. I'll admit that I am over the top and I make myself crazy and my family doesn't seem to like hanging out with me when I'm in this mode.

The reason I plan so much is because I have this crazy notion that I can control the outcome. I sincerely believe that if I have all my bases covered then nothing can go wrong. As if it's not possible that something beyond my control might affect the special day, I drive myself insane, striving to create a perfect gathering.

I'm wrong. My attempt to control everything does nothing but upset my life and my household. Approaching life in this manner completely circumvents God and His role. I'll admit that I've thought God would just go along with my plans and He'd assist me in making everything go smoothly. I'm blushing at this ridiculous thought.  I'm so sorry Father.

My life has recently spiraled out of control as we've learned that my infant grandson needs a heart transplant and we are currently waiting for a donor. He's in a very serious situation and it's really frightening for all of us.  I can't control any of it. I'm learning quickly that I need to learn to submit and rest in my Father's care. I need to stop scurrying and striving.  I need to be still and know that HE is God!

Book Review: Love's Providence

YA Edgy Christian Romance

Date Published: May 24, 2012


 Collegiate athlete Lily Brennon has always been the piece that doesn’t quite fit in the puzzle, especially in her fragmented family, and no amount of rule-following perfection seems to bring her any closer to the love and acceptance she desperately seeks. If not for Jackson Carter, her childhood best friend and the only boy she’s ever loved, she’s sure she would have run away years ago. But when Jackson loses his father and a future basketball career within months of each other, his faith is so shattered, he shuts out everyone, including Lily.

After months of heartache, Lily begins to piece together a life without Jackson, and while vacationing on a beautiful island off the Georgia coast, she begins a long-distance romance with Alex Walker, a police officer with a quick wit and a cocky grin. He revives her hope in love again, but their intense attraction and his devastating secret test Lily’s values, stretching them until they break. Through her struggles to remain true to her principles, an agonizing choice between Alex and Jackson, and a series of terrifying events that threaten all of them, Lily must endure losing everything she’s been grasping so tightly. Only then will she discover the depth of the love that already surrounds her.

Purchase Links: 
Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Lulu 

My Review
This author is well on her way and she's created something wonderful in this story. I love how she created characters that are easy to related to, even when you didn't agree with every choice they made. Westall takes her time and doesn't rush to the conclusion. Right to the very end you feel the tension of the situation.  

It's labeled "Edgy Christian Fiction" because, I assume, it involves a Christian who makes the mistake of having premarital sex. I'm glad this author took on this subject and was not afraid to talk about this topic. Let's be honest, a lot of young Christians make that mistake. This author clearly portrays it as just that; a mistake. 

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I am looking forward to reading more from Jennifer Westall in the future. 

Excerpt from end of Chapter 1
Later that evening, Lily stood on the playground and squeezed the sand between her toes as a warm, moist breeze swirled strands of hair around her face. The village shops by the pier had been teeming with tourists all afternoon, but most of them had closed down hours ago. The sounds of traffic and screaming kids had faded into a gentle lapping of the ocean against the nearby rocks.
Her feet ached from walking around for the past several hours, and her head was beginning to throb as well. To make matters worse, her dad had insisted that she keep an eye on Kara and her cousin Rachel, which meant an evening full of aimlessly wandering through tourist shops and listening to shallow comparisons of one guy after another. At this point, she wanted nothing more than to go back to the beach house, put her feet up, and relax with a good book.
A few yards away, Kara and Rachel competed to see who could swing the highest. As much as they insisted on being treated like adults, it was amazing how childish they could be. She rolled her eyes and sighed, glancing down at her watch. Nearly time to go.
“Y’all about ready?” she called.
Rachel jumped out of her swing first, followed by Kara who narrowly missed landing on her rear. Rachel doubled over with laughter, and Lily couldn’t help but laugh too. Kara flushed bright red as she glanced around to see if anyone else had seen her stumble.
“Nice,” Lily said.
Kara ignored her and straightened her clothes. Rachel slid her feet into her sandals and tugged her shorts back into place, though they still left little to the imagination. She smoothed her dark hair and picked her purse up off the ground. Then suddenly she squealed like a mouse and waved Kara toward her.
“Look, those cops over there are cute!”
Lily followed her gaze to the massive live oaks that provided a canopy over a picnic area of the park. It was empty now except for two officers talking quietly at a picnic table in the lamp light, their bikes resting in a rack nearby. From several yards away they appeared similar—broad shoulders, dark hair, well-built. Nothing spectacular.
“You’re hopeless,” Lily said. “They’re way too old for you to even think about.”
Rachel shrugged. “So? Cute is just cute. Age doesn’t factor.”
Lily looked at them again. Maybe Rachel was right, but she wasn’t interested in another lame discussion about guys like they were a tasty dessert item.
“They’re all right, I guess. Not really my type.”
Kara snorted. “Oh please. I think you have to date more than one person to have a type.”
Rachel laughed and looked away from Lily’s glare.
“Well, you are the expert,” Lily said. “How many boyfriends have you had?”
Kara took a few steps closer and jutted her chin at Lily. “I know a lot more than you think. I know that hanging out with one guy since you were nine years old doesn’t make you an expert. You wouldn’t even know what to do if a great guy was interested in you.”
“Sure I would. I’d say thanks but no thanks.”
“Oh my word, Lil. Seriously. There’s something wrong with you.”
“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t want to date right now.”
Rachel’s mouth fell open. “Really?”
“Look, I just want to enjoy my vacation. You know, relax a little, read a good book, take a walk on the beach. I don’t need drama.”
Kara shook her head. “I’m not talking about a serious relationship here. Look around. There are cute guys everywhere. Loosen up and have some fun.”
“I don’t need a guy around to have fun.”
Kara winked at Rachel. “Well, if you’re going to be hanging around us, you better get used to cute guys being around. In fact, I think we should start right now.” She nodded toward the tree where the cops were still seated. Rachel’s face lit up.
“Oh no,” Lily said. “We’re going back to the house. It’s nearly midnight.”
But they sped away before she could stop them, so she threw her hands in the air and followed. This was going to be humiliating. As she approached the officers, the girls sang hello in unison. She could just imagine what these two gentlemen must be thinking. Leaning back on their elbows in identical poses, both of the officers grinned at the girls.
Then she caught a glance from the one on the left, and his eyes traveled down her legs. A sliver of a smirk played at the corner of his lips. Maybe gentleman wasn’t the right word. Kara rattled off introductions, oblivious to the amusement on their faces.
“I’m Kara. This is my sister, Lily, and our cousin, Rachel.”
Lily offered a polite nod. There had to be a way to exit gracefully, but she couldn’t think of one. Kara and Rachel dropped onto the bench of a picnic table opposite the officers, looking entirely too eager. They were practically panting.
“I’m Steve,” the one on the right said. “It’s nice to meet you, ladies.” His smile lit up his whole face, and his eyes had a warm puppy-like expression. Lily relaxed a little. At least one of them was friendly anyway. 
“You can just call him Poindexter.” The other officer’s eyes sparked with mischief, and Steve slapped him across the chest.
“I know you don’t want me to tell them what they can call you, Rambo.
“Rambo?” Rachel asked, tilting her head.
He waved his hand to dismiss the question. “Forget it. It’s not that funny anyway.”
On closer inspection, the nickname seemed fitting given his dark waves and bulging muscles. He probably did think he was some sort of action hero. She could practically see him admiring his biceps in a mirror.
“So what is your name, Rambo?” Lily asked.
Their eyes met, and his lips tipped into a smirk.
“Walker. Alex Walker.”
Yep, definitely an action hero.
“So what are you supposed to be?” she asked. “Double-oh-six-and-a-half?” The retort slipped out before Lily could catch it.
Steve snickered and looked away from Alex’s murderous glance.
“Well, you can just call me Daddy.” He cocked an eyebrow at her, an obvious challenge, but his grin never changed.
Lily held his gaze, irritated by the way her stomach flipped. Must have been something she’d eaten.
Rachel finally broke the awkward silence. “So, um, is it usually this quiet around here?”
Steve shook his head. “Nah, it’ll pick up tomorrow, trust me. This place’ll be crawling with people and screaming kids.”
“And plenty of little boys for you girls to play with, I’m sure,” Alex added.
Rachel’s chest sprang out as she huffed. “We are not little girls, and we are not interested in little boys.”
“How old do you think we are anyway?” Kara asked.
Lily couldn’t wait for this response. Alex had wandered into dangerous waters, but he seemed oblivious. He put his fingers to his chin and assessed them.
“Hmm, let me see.”
Steve waved off the challenge. “I can’t ever tell.” He sent a knowing grin at Lily, and she couldn’t help but smile back. At least he had some sense.
“Well,” Alex said, looking first at Kara, then at Rachel. “With all the make-up, you look about twenty-one. So I’d have to say you two are about thirteen, maybe fourteen.”
Kara’s mouth dropped open and Rachel gasped. Lily could barely control her laughter.
“What?” Rachel exclaimed. “I am fifteen, almost sixteen!”
“And I am already sixteen!” Kara folded her arms across her chest.
“Whoa! Don’t get your panties in a wad.” Alex threw up his hands in surrender. “I was just giving you a hard time.”
As the girls continued to sulk, he winked at Lily. Something about him sent a shiver down her arms.
“And how about you?” he asked.
She hesitated. She shouldn’t let him bait her into comments she might regret. Arrogant or not, he was an officer of the law, a position she had always been taught to respect.
Rachel finally spoke for her. “She actually is twenty-one.”
Kara lifted a brow, a puzzled look that seemed to ask if she was okay. Lily decided to ignore it and Alex as well.
She turned and looked out over the ocean, wishing she could enjoy it alone. The ocean and sky had melted into one large black expanse, but she could hear the waves tumble into the rocks not far away.
“So, how long have you been police officers?” Kara asked.
“Seven years for me,” Steve answered.
“You’re kidding. You don’t seem that old.”
Steve laughed. “I went into the police academy right out of high school. Been doing this since I was eighteen.”
Lily glanced at Kara and caught the slight nod toward Steve. She knew she was being rude, but what did Kara expect? Flirting with a stranger wasn’t going to fill the hole in her chest. Still, she supposed she should at least be polite.
“That’s pretty young to become a cop,” Lily said. “You didn’t think about going to college?”
“Nah.” He grinned like the thought was absurd. “I never wanted to do anything but be a cop. Dad’s a cop. Mom’s a cop. Just seemed natural.”
He smiled at her again, and the warmth of it reached out to her. It wasn’t much, but it made her smile. Maybe getting to know Steve wasn’t the worst idea in the world.
Alex caught the flush in Lily’s cheeks as she smiled at Steve, and he took a quick glance at his partner. Steve was the nicest guy he’d ever met. Too nice. And he wasn’t about to let some snobby chick get the wrong idea about him. Besides, no matter how nice he was, even Steve could be tempted by a hot girl, and he had to admit this one was a looker. Her legs had caught his attention first—long, athletic—but it was her eyes that he kept coming back to. They were cool and aloof, wandering over everything in the park, except him. He could tell from the moment she walked over that she’d rather be anywhere else. Until now.
He’d have to nip the flirting before she mistook Steve’s goofy grin for something more than friendly conversation.
“So that makes you about, what, twenty-five?” Lily asked.
“Yep, I’m getting old.” Steve’s chest shook with his chuckle.
“Thankfully you finally found a good woman to take care of you in your waning years.” Alex darted his eyes over to Lily as he spoke, satisfied with the subtle fall of her smile.
Steve’s face lit up with his crooked grin, unaware of the hope he’d just crushed.
“Yeah, I got a good one alright.”
“How long is it to the wedding?” Alex threw that one in for good measure.
Steve looked up at the stars as if he expected the answer to be spelled out as a connect-the-dots puzzle.
“I guess about six weeks or so.” He looked back down at the girls and grinned. “I don’t have much to do with the planning. I’m just supposed to show up on time.”
The younger two dove into questions about the wedding, though Steve never seemed to give good enough answers. Lily hung back, of course, her eyes drifting down the beach. She crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her weight back and forth like she couldn’t wait to get out of there. The lights of the ice cream parlor across the parking lot went dark, and she looked down at her watch with visible relief.
“We should probably get going.”
The blond glanced at her watch as well. “We still have a little time left. What’s the big hurry?”
“You two are supposed to be back by midnight.” Lily pointed a look directly at the brunette with all the make-up. “Your parents would kill me if I let you stay out late, and you know it.”
“A few minutes isn’t going to hurt anything,” she whined.
He watched Lily squirm. She looked like a kid in desperate need of a bathroom break. Too damn good to hang out with public servants probably.
“Yeah, Lily,” he said. “What’s the hurry? Don’t you like us?”
“Uh, well…” she stammered. “It’s not that. I just don’t want them to get in trouble.”
“Let me guess,” he said. “You do everything you’re told and you’ve never disappointed anyone.” She opened her mouth to respond, but he cut her off. “You’ve never missed a single curfew in your life, have you?”
“What’s it to you?”
“Well, that must be an exciting life.”
She swung her weight to the other hip and shot bullets of contempt from her eyes.
“Just because I take my responsibilities seriously doesn’t mean I can’t have a good time.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re the life of the party.”
Little Miss Perfect was making this way too easy. She turned and jerked her head at the other two.
“Let’s go.”
They stood up and flashed adorable smiles. Then they sang their goodbye as bubbly as they had their hello. The brunette flipped her hair and winked, and he stifled a laugh. That girl was going to be trouble in another year or two.
Lily, on the other hand, was already trouble. He could feel it. Something about her still lingered after she’d disappeared, like the aftertaste of an expensive wine. It reminded him of why he hated the stuff.

Author Bio: Jennifer H. Westall
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and Holly Pond, Alabama, two very different towns that I love for so many reasons. Holly Pond is my soul, the place where I go to remind myself of who I am and where I come from. It's a quiet place that allows me to reset when I've fallen off track. 
Birmingham is my heart, the place where I lived out my story. I go there to remember my best friend, my first love, my first job, my first heartbreak. 
And then there is Saint Simons Island, the place I go to feel alive, to feel the breeze off the ocean, the salt on my tongue, the excitement of my first (and only) summer fling. 
I may reside in the suburbs of Atlanta, creating memories with my sweet boys, but I call several places home.

Contact Links:

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Into the Word Wednesday~Jesus is in the boat!

John 4: 49 
(Jesus) said unto them, "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"  

The disciples spent the day with Jesus as he preached to large crowds from a ship. Afterward, he spoke with them privately, expounding on the teachings in greater measure. Can you imagine what it would be like to sit and listen to Jesus?

At the end of the day, Jesus told them to pass over to the other side of the sea. They did as he instructed and started on the journey. During the night a great storm arose. Jesus was sleeping in the lower part of the ship, seemingly unaware. In a panic, they woke him asking, "don't you care if we die?"

He rebuked the storm and then addressed them asking, "Why are ye so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"

Can you blame them for being afraid?  It's not like they could call the coast guard. The storm was beating on the ship and it was taking on water. Things must have been pretty bad for them to decide to wake Jesus. I bet they were talking about Him before they made that decision. "He doesn't realize we are in the midst of a storm. He's sleeping away and we are about to die!"  They thought he was literally and figuratively sleeping on the job. 

The disciples had just spent the evening talking with Jesus personally, He was physically present on the boat, and yet they gave in to fear. In fact, Jesus had given them the instructions that led them directly into the storm, and yet they didn't have the faith when they needed it.    

I've been there many times. The storm is raging around me, my life is taking on water, things look like they can't be any worse and I'm looking up to heaven asking, "Are you awake up there?"  Thankfully, God does understand and has tremendous compassion and mercy. When I cry out to Him, there's always a response. He'll send someone to give me encouragement, or I'll suddenly remember a scripture, or I'll hear a song that calms me. Sometimes, He simply rebukes the storm.

I've noticed that as I grow in my faith, it takes a bit longer for the storm to calm.  It's as if He's growing my endurance and working me toward the time when I will finally remember that He's leading me. He's not asleep on the job. He's on the boat with me!

Learning to Pray

I never feel like I am praying enough. The scriptures tell us to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17)  and the effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

I'm not a theologian and I won't pretend to have the comprehensive answer on how we should pray.  Instead, I'd like to share my thoughts based on my own journey. Prayer, in its most basic form, is simply talking with our creator. I've read some wonderful articles and even a few books on the topic but ultimately, it all comes down to communication with our Father.

As a child, I would lie in my bed at night and pray with my head under the covers. I was simply talking to God in the manner that I understood Him. At some point, I started to feel that this wasn't right because I was not in the proper 'prayer pose'-- on my knees,eyes closed, head bowed, hands placed together in the traditional prayer manner. That idea seriously affected my prayer life because it's not very practical to spend much (or any?) time in that pose. Who thought that up?  Where did we ever get that idea?

Thankfully, I now feel a lot more freedom in my prayer life. I talk to Him while I am in the shower, while I am readying for the day, while I am driving, between the classes I teach, during a grocery shopping trip, pretty much anywhere. Sometimes it's an ongoing discussion about the things that are happening in my life. Other times it's praise for everything He provides. Often,but not nearly enough, it might be for someone else.

I'll bare my soul here and share a typical conversation I have with Him:
Good morning Father. Thank you for this day and the opportunity to be used for YOUR GLORY. Lord, you know what's been on my mind and I want you to know that I'm trusting you.  I know you will never leave me and I know you promise to use everything for the good of those that love You.  I LOVE YOU so I am in that group! 
Sometimes, I get a little afraid, and I have felt my hope waiver. Please forgive me for that.  Thank you for your mercy, your faithfulness and for being my help in the time of trouble. My hope is in YOU....and Father, I'm trying really hard to walk this journey in a way that brings honor to your name.  If there's something I need to change, please make me aware of that. Thank you for loving me.  Amen.