The Gift of Hope
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope..."Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Last year, on June 25th, God gave me the most precious gift of hope. He literally gave me a "Hope" - Hope TerKeurst, the oldest daughter of my dear friend Lysa. God placed Hope with her sweet friend Joanna, and the Davidson family, in Addis for a few days before they went into the bush country where they would stay for several weeks on a missions. This was just a little over a week after we found out Aster was going to be ours.

God had placed Hope in the same city in Ethiopia, across the world in Africa, where Aster was in an orphanage. Hope was only there for a few days but she got to see, hold and love on our sweet girl, and then sent us photos. It was truly the most amazing gift!

Today they were together again playing and cuddling while I had a P31 meeting. Hope and Joanna came over to watch Aster, and it just happens to be their anniversary week! My heart filled with the memories of God's gift of hope.

God knew the plans He had for each of us, plans to prosper us with the richness of this precious child's love, hugs, sloppy kisses, infectious smile, sassy-frass spunk and contagious joy. I cannot imagine life without her! Thank you Hope (and Jo) for being such a beautiful part of her story.

"Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask or hope." Ephesians 3:29 (NLT)


Sail Away with Me...and some P31 girlfriends!
Lysa TerKeurst is giving away a cruise package for 2 friends in partnership with Premiere's Cruises' Girlfriend Get-Away!

If you win, you and a friend would be joining Lysa, Holly, Shari Braendel and me, along with almost 100 other P31 friends who’ve already signed up to sail. The cruise is October 14th-18th and sets sail from Ft. Lauderdale. It will be amazingly fun!

Click over to Lysa's blog right away to find out more details about the cruise, the gift pack and how you can sign up for a chance, or 2, or 3 to win!!!

I would LOVE to set sail with one of you!

Fun, Fun, Fun!!
There is a big bloggy party with incredible give-aways going on over at

You don't want to miss it, trust me!!

When Life Takes a Toll on You
As you may have noticed, I've had to cut back on blogging. Honestly, I've had to cut back almost everything except sleeping, exercising, reading my Bible, praying and eating.

God is taking me through a season of Him restoring my heart, body and soul after being completely wiped out this Spring. It was an intense season of ongoing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stress that took a toll on me more than I realized while it was happening. But when I stopped going in early May, it all hit me like an 18-wheeler.

While writing my book, God is allowing some hard life circumstances ( in addition to our adoption). He's walking me through emotional valleys I thought I had traveled extensively years ago. He's showing me wounds that still need healing. They've been surfacing for a while but I didn't think I had time to deal with them this Spring. So they waited for me.

God got my attention through some health problems in April that clearly indicated I can't avoid the pain anymore. It's not been easy. It's taken time I don't feel like I have. Time for me to take care of myself when I want to be taking care of everyone else. Time that wears me out because it means crying and getting those awful headaches that come when you pour out your guts to God.

But it's been worth what He is showing me as I process all of it with Him. I know wholeness and freedom are on the other side. I am asking Him to enter into those wounded places with me, and I'm praying the blood of Jesus over each hurt that surfaces through my tears and sadness.

I've been depending on Jesus and His word in fresh and life-giving ways these past few weeks. Reading and praying scriptures out loud has been an incredible source of peace and strength. Here are some verses I have been praying each morning while I run:

Search me, O God, and know my heart, test meand know my ways. See if there is any offensive (or anxious) way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, guide me and lead me in Your truth. Psalm 139:23-24

Lord, remind me each day that I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer lives, but Christ lives in me. Infuse me with confident assurance as I write, live, breathe and move, reminding me that the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20-21

Lord, help me not to throw away my confidence but to persevere so that when I have done Your will, I will receive what You have promised…freedom and a God-confidant heart! (Heb. 10:35-36) for I am not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those (in Christ) who believe and are saved. (vs. 39)

Jesus, thank you that what Satan intended to harm me, YOU intended for good, to accomplish what is (will be) done, the saving of many lives as women put their hope and find their confidence in You. Gen 50:20

Encourage my heart again and again to be strong and courageous and do the work. Help me to never give up, be afraid or get discouraged (by the size of this task) for you Lord, my God, are with me. You will not fail me or forsake me. You will stay with meand make sure everything is done until this (book) is completed. 1 Chron. 28:20

This week starts off with two solid writing days Tuesday & Wednesday, and then my mom is having knee replacement surgery Thursday. On Friday our family of 5 is going to West Virginia for the weekend where JJ/Joshua are running a marathon/half marathon. They have been training for months and it will be a special weekend. I hate being gone while mom is in the hospital, but my brother is coming so I know she’ll be taken care of. Maybe God knew it would be best for me to be gone since it would be very hard for me to see her in so much pain. I have been told the first few days are grueling. We’d treasure your prayers for her pain and recovery.

Well, that is all for now. I will try to keep updating my blog once a week until I complete my manuscript, which is due July 16. As only He can, God is making a way for it to be written, although at times there seemed to be no way it could done.

I would love to know how you are doing these days and how I can pray for you, too. Every time I read your comments from blog posts for my book, and think of your friendship and encouragement, I can’t thank God enough for bringing you along for this part of the journey!

PS. I would love to stay connected on a daily basis through Facebook. I post updates and verses on my Facebook page everyday since it's quick and easy, and would love to read yours. Just click on my Facebook photo in my sidebar and let's become FB "friends", too.

Congratulations Marybeth!!

The kids will be out in a few short days. We have two year-end assemblies and two year-end parties this week! Summer is around the corner. It's must be time to go to the beach or spend a few afternoons at the pool...and I have the perfect book to read while you do!

My friend, Marybeth Whalen, has just released her first novel today The Mailbox and it is the perfect vacation read! I got to read a review copy in January and LOVED IT!!

Centered on a real landmark on the coast of North Carolina, The Mailbox blends intriguing folklore and true faith with raw contemporary issues that affect every woman. When Lindsey Adams first visits the Kindred Spirit mailbox at Sunset Beach, North Carolina, she has no idea that twenty years later she will still be visiting the mailbox—still pouring out her heart in letters that summarize the best and worst parts of her life.

Returning to Sunset Beach for her first vacation since her husband left her, Lindsey struggles to put her sorrow into words. Memories surface of her first love, Campbell—and the rejection that followed. When Campbell reappears in her life, Lindsey must decide whether to trust in love again or guard herself from greater pain. The Mailbox is a rich novel about loss, hope, and the beauty of second chances.

Want a chance to win a beach bag filled with The Mailbox plus other goodies for a great summer afternoon?

Hop over to She Reads for your chance to win this great gift!

AND for a chance to win just the book, leave a comment on my blog congratulating Marybeth, sharing why you'd like to win a copy of The Mailbox and who you'll give it to after you finish reading it, and I'll give away a copy, too! Please include your email so I can reach you if you win my copy.

Random Integer chose... commenter #7 as the winner for my single copy of The Mailbox!
Congratulations Jekka!