Embraced by Holiness {Stuck Tight in a Turnstile}

One Life Surrendered

I own all six of her books. They read easy and yet call you to action with relentless conviction. She shares simply, straight from The Word, while providing everyday examples of how one can press harder. Love deeper. Seek further this scandalous love affair we’ve been invited into by our Savior. The one I love to share about here.

Her newest book is no exception.

Embraced by Holiness: The Path to God’s Daily Presence by Kathy Howard helps you discover a deeper intimacy with God through a life of holiness. This six-week, interactive Bible study explores why believers should pursue holiness and guides you through practical steps to pursuing a holy life.

In honor of her latest book and how excited I am about it, I’ve invited Kathy to share with you from her own heart. Friends, please welcome my friend and author, Kathy Howard:

We all have them – those funny family stories. The stories when retold bring peals of laughter from everyone. Well, almost everyone. Sometimes one family member simply responds with an embarrassed chuckle. That’s the way it is with our daughter Sarah and the turnstile story.
It was the last week of summer and time to get ready for a new school year. Back then we lived in a small town about 25 miles outside Calgary, Alberta. The kind of shopping we needed to do required a trip to the city. So the three kids and I piled in the mini-van and headed off for a day in Calgary.
We had almost hit the city limits when the smallest voice from the backseat announced he had gotten into the van without any shoes. Mom made a quick decision. We would not return home; six-year-old Mark needed new shoes anyway. Our first stop would be the sports store not far into the city.
It didn’t take long to pick out a nice pair of sneakers and socks and get to the check out. While trying to explain to the checker why I was paying for an empty box, I heard a familiar scream close behind me. Sarah, our 9-year-old, had somehow managed to get herself caught in the turnstile at the store entrance.
I can’t even explain how she did it, because I didn’t see it happen. The best I can determine is she tried to push through the turnstile on the wrong side where it spun under a crossbar. When she discovered she couldn’t get through that way, she tried to back out, but instead wedged herself between the turning tripod and the stationary crossbar. Head and shoulders hung out one side and lower half out the other. (I know you’re probably thinking I’m a horrible mother, but honestly I only took my eyes off her for a second.)
She wasn’t hurt, but she was mad. While she continued to scream, the rest of us couldn’t help but laugh – while trying to help her of course. But she was stuck fast. Her release required the manager and a special turnstile key.
Have you ever been trapped with no hope for escape? Held in slavery and in need of salvation? Just like Sarah’s turnstile prison, we’ve all been caught fast in sin with no way to save ourselves.
Yet, while we were still held captive, God called us out of the bondage of sin and into the freedom of holiness. Loosed from sin, we are free to be bound to God with cords of love and righteousness. Free to embrace the holy life to which He calls us. Free to embrace the Holy One Himself.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6:22

Do you long for deeper intimacy with your heavenly Father? According to Scripture, a close connection exists between living a holy life and experiencing God’s presence. Sin strains our relationship with God and creates distance, but holiness breaks down barriers and moves us ever closer. Embraced by Holiness: The Path to God’s Daily Presence practically explores why believers should pursue holiness and how living a holy life will draw us into the circle of our holy God’s loving embrace.

Embrace holiness and be embraced by the Holy One!

Kathy Howard writes to have something to do while drinking coffee and eating chocolate.
The author of 6 books, Kathy helps women live an unshakeable faith for life by encouraging them to stand firm on our rock-solid God no matter the circumstances. Find out about her Bible studies and get discipleship and leader helps at her website: www.kathyhoward.org

You may view the first week of her latest book, Embraced by Holiness, FREE HERE.

Or read a fabulous interview she did about the reasoning behind the book HERE.

How about you, friends? What does Holiness mean to you? Have you embraced it? We’d love to hear!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


There’s a Book For That {A Parent’s Reflection}

My faithful readers: The next post in my spiritual journey series will be posted no later than Tuesday. A local friend invited me to join in a blog hop that I’m so passionate about I had to participate. I hope you’re blessed by it, too.


I am a fan of the written word. Sometimes I’ll blame the old soul I seem to harbor as I’m always last to jump on the latest technological craze. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s not the real reason I prefer bound books over powered tablets and web searches.

There’s something to holding the words tangibly in your hands. Whether those words make you laugh, cry, or simply be informed, there is power behind them. And to be able to touch where that comes from is a gift I will always cherish.

If you were to visit my home, you might notice there are bookshelves in every living space we have. Including the hallway. Though my husband and I might not have every shelf lined wall-to-wall with books, one thing is certain: books are prominent here. Especially now since we’ve added the title of parents to our names.

It’s no secret that a parent’s passion will transfer, in some respect, down to their children. And the passion for reading was one we didn’t want to leave behind.

Books can take you places you would never experience otherwise. They can reveal insights you might not have thought of on your own. They can bring humor, perspective, and confidence to your very being.

IMG_0346So we started early, reading the board book classics to our children before they could even coo. We said goodnight to the moon and hello to the brown bear so many times I could recite them backwards if necessary.

Soon we were laughing at the piggie and the elephant, rhyming with Dr Seuss, and were curious right along a little monkey. And I don’t know how many times our firstborn has asked us for a big red dog of his very own.

It wasn’t until later he realized these books were transformed into tv series. And I wouldn’t want it known any other way around.

Now, when my 1st grader has a question, we look it up in a book. He learned to savor a dictionary early on. And when we make our weekly library requests, he gives me lists of things he wants to learn or books/authors he wants to read.

And I’m starting to see … me.

I’ve personally exhausted the library’s offerings of Madeleine L’Engle (A Circle of Quiet being my favorite), C.S. Lewis, and even Lynn Austin (Chronicles of the Kings series — look it up!). When I’m feeling stagnant in the kitchen, I check out cookbooks (America’s Test Kitchen books are my favorite, although Pioneer Women holds a close second). When I’m feeling flat in my spiritual life, I’ll check out a devotional (too many to mention, though I’m currently reading Beth Moore and Francis Chan).

When I’m curious about how to parent better, I’ll dip my hand in the pool of all the Christian parenting help books (Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp being the only one I’ve read more than once– and one of the only ones that holds a space on my bookshelf).

But all of that is nothing if we don’t show our children the most important Book of all…

You see, it’s been our goal from day one to create a passion for seeking out the truth. And though we may use many books now as examples, we’ll always resort to the one simply known in my home as The Book.

  • It’s the only Book I know that you could call Living…
  • It’s the only Book I’m aware of that could have an exhausted author list (over 40), but all writers point to One.
  • It’s the only Book to my knowledge that was originally written in 3 languages and has been translated into more than 2,000 today.

There’s a reason it’s the best-selling book in the world and there’s even a more important reason we want it to be the number one book for our children.

Maybe if we instill a passion for the written word now, they’ll be drawn to seek The Living Word later on. Perhaps if we show them how to seek answers in pages today, they’ll seek out Its answers when they are planning their tomorrows.

One thing I do know: Reading the Bible each day can bring humor, perspective, and confidence to your very being.

Friends, I do believe it all starts with me. This is one passion I need to have personally as it’s the most important one to pass down.

So in our household, when we’re faced with an issue, instead of saying “There’s an app for that”, we say “There’s a Book for that.” And we pull out the Bible placed on every bookshelf or even on our smartphones. We show our children the Written Word so they can know where to turn when questions rise within.

And tonight, when I’m reading another chapter aloud of the Sugar Creek Gang, or when the boy begs my husband to do just one more I Spy riddle, we’ll happily oblige. And find he’ll do the same when we’re tucking him in, asking him to read just one more verse…

How about you, friend? What children’s book do you enjoy? What book have you been reading lately? How do you instill the value of The Bible to your children? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


NOTE: Though I prefer you check out your local library and am not an affiliate, I have provided Amazon links to books mentioned for easy reference. Thank you, Amazon, for providing an app for that.

This post was written for the blog hop at:

Please feel free to visit!


Keeping My Sister {And a Giveaway!}

keeping my sister

I’ve reviewed this author before so some of you will know Nancy is a childhood friend. I need to confess, though, that I never knew her sister, Heather. And after reading this book, my heart aches for a childhood do-over.

Keeping My Sister: A Story of Sibling Survivalry is a story of two parallel lives on divergent paths, separated by miles and happenstance.* It’s Nancy and Heather’s story. The book will tug on every sense you have, especially the need to survive. Towards the end, that urge will morph into the desire to save. And if you allow your heart in to the story, you’ll gain a glimpse of how God feels for us. My how He loves each one of us…not wanting to leave any behind.

After reading, I desperately wanted to sit down with Nancy and talk more. We are separated by states now, but she was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had. I thought I’d share them with you so you can know the heart behind the story.

I can think of a number of reasons Keeping My Sister needs to be read. Which ultimate reason gave you the purpose and drive to finish it?

This is going to sound cliché, but it was God from start to finish. I felt burdened with this project (and sometimes, if I wasn’t careful, by it). I needed to tell my sister’s story because she was so much more valuable and beautiful than what her life was able to reveal. I needed to show the grace and consistency of a redemptive Father and the truth that if you look for Him, He can always be found. He never leaves or forsakes us. NEVER.

How long did it take you to write your second novel from beginning to end?

This was another whirlwind project for me. I started on June 23rd, 2013, and finished by Feb 2, 2014. These were significant dates for me, as the first is her birthdate and the second is her re-birthdate.

Unlike my first book, which was a completely creative, fun write, this one was tough. I knew going into it two things—I would be facing things I’d much rather suppress, and I could trust God’s lead completely. I was right, and He did not disappoint.

An author once told me you can’t help but picture someone holding your words while writing them. If that’s true for you, whom did you picture?

I honestly didn’t think about that at all while writing it, other than picturing reading it “to her” at her memorial. I know she’s not “there”, but this is a part of my grief process and healing. I can’t explain it all yet, I just know this book has profoundly affected me and seems to be doing the same for others.

There is a quote at the beginning that says, “When the little girl speaks, healing will come.” I thought that quote was just for me, but as I get readers’ responses I realize that God had more in mind than just my healing. Readers from all walks of life seem to be given permission, just as I was—to grieve, to feel, to celebrate, to hope, to worship, to find their voices and to use them.

It’s safe to say this novel is a caricature of you and your beloved sister, Heather. Your writing is so vivid it’s hard to picture which details are spot on historic and which ones you had to imagine or gain insight from the Holy Spirit first before writing. Tell us, which portions were the hardest to write for you?

The hardest part to write was my sister’s descent into self-destruction and victimization. I chose to write it all through her eyes, in first person, to fully give her a voice. I dreaded going there with her. Finally, it was the last thing I needed to write.

God surprised me that night. I wrote feverishly and joyfully what I “saw” in my mind’s eye. It ended up being the most beautiful thing I’ve ever written about Heaven, and reunions, and the heart of the Father. It fueled me in the next weeks as I courageously went into the darkness of her story with her. I would re-read the ending; it gave me the strength to not only work through the details of the difficulties she experienced, but to do so in a way that was personal without destroying my own heart in the process. Knowing the ending kept me from being discouraged by the beginning, or destroyed by the middle.

If I were able to ask your sister what message she hopes others gleam from your story, what do you think she’d say?

She’d joke, smirking, “Stay in school, don’t do drugs.” Then she’d get all serious, shrug and say, “The best things in life are the things worth running toward instead of away from—family, sobriety, help, healing, and especially the loving arms of the Father.”

NOTE: There is an awesome Epilogue and Author’s Note at the end of this novel that brings the story even more to light. When you pick up your copy–don’t skip it! And if you find yourself wanting to do something about the feelings you have after reading, Nancy has a section of options for you at the end as well.
*I didn’t write that brilliant sentence–it’s on the back of the book. I just couldn’t find a better way to describe it.

keeping my sister - back

This double giveaway is now closed.
Winners have been contacted. Thank you for reading!

IF YOU DIDN’T WIN OR CAN’T WAIT TO READ: Click HERE for an easy link to Amazon (not an affiliate). Or contact the author directly via her BLOG or Facebook Page.

Thanks for sharing your time with us.

Simply striving,


Chronological Study Bible {A Review}


It came in the mail just before Christmas and I was anxious to dig in during the New Year. Most of you know I like to read through the Bible in a different translation each year and the thought of reading it chronologically excited me. In fact, I decided to use it for the 90 day challenge I was going to participate in for Lent.

Ruth and Naomi At-A-Glance

Ruth and Naomi At-A-Glance

Confession: I couldn’t get through it in 90 days. Not with this Bible as the helps were so distracting! In a good way. I would read and find myself drawn to their points in the margins. Their at-a-glance sections. The colorful maps and the nuggets of wisdom worth dwelling on.

I’ve had it four months now and I’m still in the Old Testament.

(Although I did skip forward for Lent.)

While I assumed I would simply enjoy this Bible for the chronological aspect, I find myself enjoying the Study Helps the most. Even my Sunday School class has benefited from it as I’ve read some of the highlights to them. Such as their little tidbit on the Yoke. And we’ve used the chart listing all the disciples and their occupations, etc.


Reading through the path Jesus took to the cross in this format impacted me greatly this Lent. Maybe my heart was simply softened to receive it deeper this year, but one thing I do know: It was easier to picture the story unfold. And it amazed me to see how different the four perspectives of the disciples were and how they recanted the story for us uniquely.

I had planned on getting through this Bible before I wrote my review, but I can tell that’s going to take some time and I feel guilty for having it as long as I have with nothing to show for it. So maybe you simply knowing how much I’m enjoying it is enough?

This isn’t the type of Bible you buy and use one time, then set it on a shelf. This is one you can go back to over and over again. I’m partial to the NLT translation when sharing it with children, as well.

Overall, this Bible is one I would recommend. I’m so grateful for the chance to review it and share it with you.

For more information regarding the Bible, please visit THIS LINK.

How about you, friend? Have you ever read through any portion of the Bible chronologically? Ever read the NLT? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Note: I am a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network. I have received this book for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and thoughts listed above are my own.

Epic Grace {A Book Review}

I assumed it would be a light read. A simple testimony on how one has grabbed hold and clung on tight while being flipped upside down. That’s what grace does, after all, in epic proportions. And I was intrigued to know if the author’s experience was similar to my own…or worse.

The funny thing about grace, you learn to realize, is that once you understand what it’s capable of, there is no worse. Only similar. None of us can be the exception. We wouldn’t want to, anyway, because look at where being the exception leads you — hung on a tree, left alone to die. And no, there’s no graceful way to say that.

What I enjoyed most about this book was that the author felt like my next door neighbor. One I could meet with at the fence any time and gain some perspective I hadn’t seen in my everyday — how every circumstance is laced in glorious grace. You just can’t get high enough on the fence to see it sometimes.

I like what he said about perspective:

At best, we humans have a three-dimensional ability to see the world around us…Our vision is limited. It is restricted by our humanness on the one hand and by circumstances beyond our control on the other…Why is it, then, that we are so surprised when things sneak up on us? Why is it we’re so easily blown away by the circumstances and trials that seem to come out of nowhere? ~ pg 156

Friends, do you see where grace sneaks in and grabs hold? Some day I’m determined to become merely blown away by grace freely offered rather than the circumstances and trials. For they both creep in when you’re not looking, but only one offers any form of control…even if we have to give it away to obtain it.

I really enjoyed the real life, personal examples Kurt Bubna shared in this book. And the journey this life has lead him on provides many. I could relate to each one. Some hit too close to home for comfort. Others made me appreciate my path a bit more.

After reading, there was one topic he touched on a few times I couldn’t stop thinking about. And I wanted to share it with you. I’ll quote directly:

God will use whatever means necessary to create in us the likeness and character of His Son. He is absolutely committed to our spiritual growth. In fact, God is far more concerned with our growth than He is with our comfort. ~ pg. 144

So, when life surprises you–and it will–what are you going to do? Who will you trust? Where will you turn for help? Who will you love the most? Remember this: God will use whatever means necessary to bring ongoing spiritual development into our lives. ~ pg. 153

It’s the “Who will you love the most?” question that haunts me still. Because think about it, friends…God is passionate about me becoming whom He has made me to be. He won’t rest until the job is done.

And what I can’t seem to wrap my mind around is this:

  • God loves me in spite of me.
  • What’s more, He loves me enough to not be satisfied with the me that spites.
  • Not only that, He’s willing and offering to help me become what He has created me to be — a likeness of His perfect Son.

So I don’t have to do this alone–even though He has instilled in me all that’s required.
THAT is epic grace!

I know it deep in my marrow, and still I struggle with loving Him…the most.

Friends, I long to say I love my Creator above all. And some days, I can. Other days, grace does it for me. I’m so thankful…

So if you’re like me…if you need to cling tightly to the lifeline that grace is. If you desire to feel you’re not alone in the battle. If you realize you are far from perfect yet He loves you anyway — this book is for you.

You can view the trailer of this book HERE. It is a very good depiction of the testimony shared within the pages.

You may also purchase the book HERE. (I’m not an affiliate. Just making it easy)

How about you, friend? What does grace mean to you? Do you still struggle with the perspective grace gifts us with? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Note: I am a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network. I have received this book for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and thoughts listed above are my own.

Nubby {A Story of Redemption and a GIVEAWAY!}

Nubby Quote

We met on a youth group trip in high school. She sat window-side with her nose pressed in the newspaper, seeming too preoccupied and uninterested in removing her new-girl status.

Fresh out of braces, my new perm smell nearly gone, I sat directly behind her, determined to crack this puzzle before me. I aimed to show her what God’s love was capable of. She was going to walk off this church van as my new best friend.

For I had decided…she needed me.

Little did I know the tide would turn as I was reeled in hook, line, and sinker.

We hadn’t even made it to the edge of town before she had me looking in the classifieds for livestock. And I would squeal with delight when I would find what seemed to be a good deal. (Keep in mind, I didn’t even know the difference between heifer and Herefords.)

It took me longer than I care to admit to realize she was completely fooling me. I saw then how it was quite possible she didn’t need me — I needed her. And our friendship began as we laughed about my vulnerability, both sitting on level plains.

I tasted redemption firsthand.

Nancy is hilariously complex. That’s how I would describe her. For the fibers of God run deep within her and it’s pure joy discovering how He has made her to be.

Fast forward 20 years and you’ll find us both in different states with not-so-different missions. Though our lives appear opposite, we both aim to show what God’s love is capable of. We both have no trouble admitting we’re nothing without Him. Everything we have is because of Him…

Neither of us deserve it. Except, to me, she does…

And now, I’ve discovered Nancy putting her complex talents to good use in new ways for His glory. She has written her first novel. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I had no idea what to expect. But I knew it would be worth it…

Nancy gifted me with a copy and I devoured it in less than 2 days. Even though I knew how intelligent and unpredictable the author was, nothing could have prepared me for where this story took me.

It was wrought with the kind of evils I try to stay away from and keep my mind clear of. And yet I couldn’t look away. Because He was there. Every step of the way.

The characters gripped tightly from page 1. Some I wanted to adopt while others I wanted to sentence to death.

And in true Nancy fashion, it took me longer than I care to admit to realize all the characters looked the same in God’s eyes. Oh how He loves and offers to save each one…of us.

While I was reading, I kept thinking:

  • I’m no better.
  • I’m as sinful as they are.
  • How does He see hope in a wretch like….me?

That’s when you discover the main character of the book: Redemption. In true Godly fashion.

Nubby by author Nancy Paul

Friends, if you enjoy reading novels laced with glory. If your heart is drawn to others whom have suffered and lack more than you dared imagine… If you’ve ever prayed, “Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours”, this book is for you.

Because it will peel a piece of you away. It will lower you to a level plain. It will reveal a glimpse at the full weight of the cross. But more importantly: It will show you how God can use you. No matter how small it may feel to do something so big that one could only describe it as glory. By His grace.

And now that Nancy has once again shown me He doesn’t need us, but will use us if we’re willing, I find myself looking with eyes wide open. Anticipating His next move.

I have no idea on what to expect. But I know it will be worth it.


Worth mentioning:

  • I received a free copy for my review, but Nancy didn’t ask me to write all this. This post is entirely my own.
  • THIS IS WHERE you can read more about Nubby and pick up your own copy (I’m not an affiliate).
  • THIS IS WHERE you may follow the story of the book on Facebook.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some might be surprised to find a few swear words in this book. Nancy has addressed this well, so I will quote her directly:

I am a follower of Jesus and my book has decidedly heart of the Father themes. When I was writing NUBBY I wrestled with foul language being in the book. I changed some choice words to G-rated ones at one point but it just didn’t work. The evil character represents an insidious, genuine depravity. I had to portray her as such and I made the decision, with the Lord, to keep those words in there, even though I knew it would offend and I couldn’t submit it to Zondervan or whatever. That’s maybe why I kept it, too…it should offend, just as some of the subject matter introduced should offend. I felt that as I portrayed darkness with some accuracy, it added to the strength and awe of the Light penetrating. This is an explanation, not an apology. It is the same one I gave to my little Baptist granny and to my pastor.

NUBBY author Nancy Paul


Congrats, hugapoohlouise, for winning!

Because I love Nancy and a good redemptive story, I am giving away a hard copy of this book!

The rules are simple.
Just share in comments you’d like to read this book and you’ll be entered.
I will draw on Sunday evening (Aug 4th), 9pm Central Time and will notify the winner.
They will have 48 hours to respond before another person is drawn.
I’m sorry my out-of-state friends…this is only available in the US of A…

How about you, friend? Have you seen the story of redemption unfold lately? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist {From Someone Who Didn’t Think She Was}

I was steaming veggies when my husband opened a package and set the book down where I could see it. Its arrival was expected, as I had agreed to write a review, but wasn’t anticipating the author’s name to stop me in my tracks.

Before cracking the book open, I felt I knew her. Turns out I kind of did…

While I am not well-known for being a perfectionist, I am a bit of a control freak–though I prefer to claim I have a leader personality…

Do you think there’s a difference?

I like to pretend I don’t associate with the perfectionist side of control, because I strive to exude grace. And I don’t need perfection. I just prefer you try to do things the best way…my way.

This is embarrassing. It gets worse.

When I agreed to review this book, I assumed it would be a light, quick read, possibly funny, with great tips to bullet point in a review for all my dear readers-turned-friends who have caught this perfectionism bug. Me not being one of them, but one who gets it enough to share the light on the other side.

It was that. I just wasn’t expecting there to be so much more.

Friends, the way He keeps pursuing me…how He insists He has better things in mind for me…the way He has never given up on me…May I never get over it. It is truly amazing grace.

“But God knows our need, which is ultimately to experience and know more of Him, and He gives Himself freely and generously. And constantly.”
~Amanda Jenkins, Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist (Learning to be Free)

You all know the name of my blog, so it is no secret I am striving to become all He has made me to be. But He keeps showing me in places unexpected…His goal isn’t the same as mine. For He’d rather have me get to know Him and what He can be in me. What He can do for me…not the other way around.

Oh mylanta, does He ever love me.

I remember Amanda from college (this is why I will call her by her first name). Which is rather bizarre as I don’t believe we ever had an actual one-on-one conversation. But I could tell you where she sat in chapel each day. A few rows up from my now-husband and I. Now that I’ve read her confessions, I regret I never made a point to truly see her when I had the chance.

Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist is written in a way that feels as if you are reading Amanda’s personal journal. She doesn’t share her discoveries, she walks you through them. She doesn’t tell you the answers, but rather shows you, through scripture, how she came up with the solutions. She doesn’t shy away from sharing the ugly realities we all have in the caverns of our souls…she surfaces them and hands them over to her Savior for us to see. For His glory.

I loved it.

Some of the places she’ll walk you through:

  • How we often misplace our worth (pg 12)
  • Money doesn’t satisfy. It’s never enough. (pg 17)
  • The stuff we’re good at pales in comparison to the stuff God’s good at (pg 28)
  • When it comes to intimacy, God follows our lead. (pg 37)
  • God is not the taskmaster (pg 73)
  • God’s bigger than the scary stuff. He’s got it covered –worry doesn’t work (pg 50-52)
  • God is the only good in me. That’s it. He’s it. (pg 59)

And the thought I lingered on for days:

“Little did I know how filthy my righteousness was” (pg 87)

I’m not even bringing up all that I gleamed from a few of my favorite chapters, as they deserve a blog post all on their own. (The Chapters on Obedience, Testimony, and if I’m brave enough, Pride)

Friends, God spoke loudly to me through Amanda’s words.

If I had to pick the best part about this book, I would say the discussion questions in the back. She doesn’t hold back and challenges you to answer the hard. I’m tempted to take some of the most difficult ones and share my answers here in this space — my simply striving confessions.

Questions like:

  • What do you want to be known for?
  • Who do you work hard to impress?
  • What weakness do you try to hide? And what would it look like for you to delight in it instead of hiding it?
  • What does God see when He looks at you? (I’ve answered this one HERE).
  • Who do you love more than God? (ouch)
  • Why is it difficult for you to put God first? (she’s killing me here)
  • What are your current expectations of God?
  • What are the attributes unique to you that make you beautiful in God’s eyes?

Don’t you think we should talk about these?

I’d love it if you would put this book on your must-read list. I’ll tell you what–you can get started now by reading the First Chapter for FREE HERE. (When you’re done with it, let me know and we’ll talk about how beautiful your feet are. Oh yes, I’m serious.)

There’s also a wonderful Q/A with the author found HERE that’s worth your time.

Some more reviews and one place you can purchase is found HERE. (I’m not an affiliate–just trying to make it easy.)

And you can expect to hear more about this from me sometime soon. I’ll let it sink in a bit as I know (and Amanda talks about it), God’s not done writing my story.

How about you, friend? Are you a perfectionist? Are you intrigued by anything I mentioned above? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


Note: I am a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network. I have received this book for free in exchange for my review. All opinions and thoughts listed above are my own.

The Cost of Much Forgiveness {Fed Up With Flat Faith}

drift-wood-Courtesy of Greg Abel Photography

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown Me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:47-48

This “sinful woman” had no right…who was she to invade on such a respected home and its elders. Yet nothing could stop her from loving on Him. All else faded into the backdrop. It might as well have been just the two of them.

“She did not care what her actions looked like to others.
Her love for Jesus made that inconsequential.”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

I’ve fallen that hard before. I remember the very moment I fell flat for my now-husband and made the conscious choice to stay smitten. How I could tune out everything in the room but him–when I could calm down the pounding of my own heart that is. I’d often have to remind myself to simply breathe…

Yes, I want that. Again. With Jesus…my First Love.

Friends, I want to be able to drown out this world and focus on the Home I’ll have with Him… I want to recall the nicest thing He’s ever done for me…and hear His voice saying, “Father, forgive her…she didn’t know…”

I want to gasp for air at the very thought of Him.

“We must remember. We must go back to the beginning of our salvation, contemplate our sin, and once again consider Christ’s saving act for us. Then we must not forget.”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

The tearful woman in Luke…the one who drowned her sorrows right on the very feet of her Savior. The one who didn’t let the expectations of this world stop her from pursuing Him. The one who didn’t deserve a response from Him let alone a pardon.

That woman…who gave all, shed all, bore all, confessed all… The one who held no position of authority or decent resumé…I aspire to be her. She got it. And because of it, she got Him.

I’ve been reading this book lately, Fed Up With Flat Faith by Kathy Howard, and I have to tell you, friends, the author–she gets me. Some of you might know my One Word I chose for this year. I haven’t talked about it much, as I couldn’t wrap my mind around how I was going to achieve it yet, but now I see I don’t have to…this book covers it all.

“No substitute will ever permanently  quench our spiritual longing for God. Only an intimate, passionate relationship with our Creator can fully and completely fill us up to overflowing.”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

  • You see, I want to live out a vibrant relationship, not practice religion.
  • Forget less of me and more of Him, I want NONE of me and ALL of Him.
  • I want Him to use me or use me up for His glory.
  • I don’t want to watch what He’s doing, I want to be involved in it.
  • Temporal activities overwhelm, I want to focus on eternal matters.
  • I don’t need more once-in-a-lifetime memories. I want moments that impact eternity.
  • I don’t want to read the Bible, I want to absorb it.

Which are exactly some of the things Kathy talks about on pages 40, 55, 64, 81, 90, 97, and 104.

“Jesus willingly gave His life so we could be forgiven, but we hesitate to give ours to Him. If we have truly received forgiveness of our sin through the blood of Christ, then how can we have any response other than surrender to Him?”
~Kathy Howard, Fed Up With Flat Faith

Friends, when I started reading this book, I desired to be this woman in Luke Kathy talks about a couple chapters in. Now that I finished the book, I realize…I am that woman.

For my sins are many. I don’t deserve a second glance let alone a pardon. And yet…my First Love proved otherwise.

I’m starting to see how my word “Radiate” could look on me, friends. I invite you to stick around and join me on the journey.

And by the way– this book, Fed Up With Flat Faith by Kathy Howard, I recommend.

How about you? Are you fed up with flat faith? How do you remember what He’s done for you? How do you pursue Him? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


NOTE: I jumped on the chance to get this book for free when offered in exchange of a review of some kind. But please know, this post above comes straight from my own heart. No coercion necessary.

God Is My Refuge {What Gets You Through}

Matthew 4:4

I was ten the first time Daddy asked me for a real favor. He called me over to his favorite chair. The only Book I’d ever seen him read lay open on his lap. It was there he shared with me what had been weighing heavy on his mind.

He was still a preschooler in his journey of faith and my did he ever want to grow up. He anxiously explained the exercise he wanted to start to aid him in that effort. Then confessed quietly how he couldn’t do it alone.

Could we do it together, he wondered? Could I push him further, encourage him deeper, strengthen his mind so his heart could follow? Could I help him memorize The Word?

Now that I’m grown, I see what he was trying to do here…but, friends, it worked.

The first verse we memorized together was the one that started this desire to begin with. Twenty-six years later, I can still quote it chapter and verse. And I could spend a half-dozen posts explaining what the words have meant to me over these decades, as they have carried me through many seasons.

It wasn’t long before I was up in front of the entire church, quoting chapters in length. And though I haven’t tried in ages, I discovered this week I still could. The excitement grew thin as I hit my teen years. But it hasn’t stopped me from tapping into what was embedded in my heart long ago when I’ve needed it most.

Lately, God has tugged on my heart to pick up where I left off. So when I received an offer to review a new book, and saw the premise behind its pages, I knew I was up for the task.

God is My Refuge

God is My Refuge is a 12 week devotional geared for women faced with trials and difficulties. Let’s face it, friends, that’s every woman on earth. Jesus warns us of this

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

The author, Kathy Howard, shared in an interview recently that most Christians believe God can help, but many don’t know where to go in the Bible to find the comfort, peace, and guidance He longs to give. God Is My Refuge provides the direction Christian women need to discover, understand, and apply the “ever-present help” God brings.

Friends, I’ve read a lot of devotionals. Most promise to help guide me to The Rock. Telling me they can show me the way to my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.

But I’ve never read one like this one.

Let me be very clear: Although her take is refreshing, it doesn’t mean Kathy provides a new way. On the contrary.

Kathy Howard sticks to what’s been tried and true and has stood the test of time: His Word. She takes it a step further as she encourages women to guard their hearts with it. To embed their thoughts with verses and keep His Word hidden so when troubles come their way –and they will — they will know in their very marrow where to go to find comfort. peace. shelter in the storm.

God is My Refuge is a 12-week devotional that provides twelve key verses to memorize (one a week) each focusing on a specific trial we all face. Burdens such as uncertainty, temptation, grief, fear, loneliness, illness, etc…

For five days a week, Kathy will provide additional scripture readings followed with a personal illustration and brief commentary. She will give you questions to reflect upon, a prompt to help you pray specifically, and quick tools to help you memorize the key verse.

You all know I only promote things here I fully support. So I have to be honest and tell you I do recommend this book.
  • If you would like to read more about the devotional, please visit Kathy’s website and follow-up with the reviews on Amazon, etc…
  • If you would like to read a FREE sample devotional from the book, CLICK HERE.
  • If you would like to hear how I have personally applied one of the devotions in my everyday life, check out THIS POST.
  • And if you have any questions for me or the author, please let me know. I will follow-up with you.

How about you, friend? How do you guard your heart for troubled times? How do you remember God is your help in times of trouble? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


The Current of Circumstance {An Invitation to Come}


It was a white flag kind of day. You know the ones. Where the current of circumstance is so strong you just want pull the cord for the floating device and hope for a tan as it carries you to a deserted island.

Because that’s what it feels like. When your child is sick, the dryer won’t dry, the toaster over-toasts, and the paper boy hits the only wet spot on your driveway. Then you discover your vehicle has issues and your cellphone is MIA and what was that loud crashing sound? Later you receive an email from someone who disagrees with you and as you listen to the news you wonder: how can some people live with themselves? When will they see and where are their mothers?!?

Finally, it was time to write the day off the books.
Every muscle moaned as I slipped under the down comforter.
I’m not sure if I was too wound up or too exhausted.
Regardless, I couldn’t fall asleep
and reached for the devotional on my nightstand instead.

Friends, it was as if God had orchestrated the entire day, building to this one event…

She invited me to read Psalm 73:12-26 and I found myself nodding furiously in agreement with the psalmist. He got it. He knew the days. The ones where no matter how hard you try, it’s never enough.

Yet he also knew how to deal with it. Whom to turn to when questions like what, why, or how start creeping in.

My heart began to slow while reading the author‘s thoughts:

“God wants us to take our questions, disappointments, and frustrations to Him. The process of grappling over our weary circumstances with God grows us spiritually and draws us closer to Him. The deeper the intimacy we forge produces comfort and fresh strength to keep going.

Our circumstances may not change, but God prepares us to meet them…Come into His presence. Bring your pain. Allow Him to strengthen your heart.”

Kathy Howard, God is My Refuge: 12 Weeks of Devotions
and Scripture Memory for Troubled Times

I closed the book and my eyes as I finally brought my day to Him. We talked about the moments I had wished for a do-over. I poured out my frustration over this and that and the other thing.

Friends, I talked to Him like He was my unconditional friend. Because He is…
How easy I forget that I’m not in this alone.

I don’t need to have all the answers, He does.
I don’t need any superpowers, He shares.
I don’t need to worry, He’s here.

And as I sat in the peaceful silence, my breaths grew deeper. slower. My heart warmed with each release. And I was reminded why He bids us to come.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

How about you, friend? Where has your current of circumstance taken you lately? How do you enter into His presence and accept His invitation to come? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


NOTE: I’ll be reviewing this book later next week. I hope you come back again as I have more to share with you!