Tag Archives: purpose

Review: Silent Shadows, by Natalie Walters

Silent Shadows, by Natalie Walters (Revell, 2020)

A single mother hiding from a gang. Her young son. And a military intelligence officer discharged with an unexplained movement disorder that causes seizure-like muscle contractions.

Pecca Gallegos loves her job as a nurse at the Home for Heroes. Her son, Maceo, is unhappy at school. And Captain Colton Crawford, her newest patient, may be what they both need—if he can see beyond his limitations.

Maceo has a prosthetic leg and what seems like an impossible dream to play football. Helping him may be what Colten needs to help himself.

My personal preference is for an understated romantic thread, so I found Pecca and Colton’s swoony thoughts about one another a little much in the first half. That said, their first true date was definitely an “aww” moment.

And there’s a lot to like in this story. I appreciated the clean suspense and the frank wrestling with the tension between faith and painful circumstances. I also enjoyed the camaraderie among the “D-Wing” patients. Team dynamics, belonging, and purpose play an important part in the book, along with faith and second chances.

Favourite lines:

You look at yourself as less than. Is that the message you want your life to reflect? [Kindle location 3755]

“…Allow yourself to believe that even though this isn’t how you planned your life, it doesn’t mean it’s not exactly where you need to be.” [Kindle location 3761]

Silent Shadows is book 3 in the Harbored Secrets romantic suspense series. I haven’t read the previous books, but had no trouble settling into this one. Books 1 and 2 are set in the same town of Walton, Georgia, but feature different characters.

Natalie Walters’s author bio says that she “comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past.” For more about the author and her books, visit nataliewalterswriter.com.

[Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.]

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Remembering Our Purpose

I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
1 Corinthians 1:2, NLT*

Do we sometimes forget our purpose as Christ-followers?

God called us “to be His own holy people,” and He made us holy through Jesus. He gave us “everything we need for living a godly life” (1 Peter 1:3, NLT*). Paul said, “you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:7, NLT*).

Too often it seems our focus and energies become tangled up in our own interests and goals, or in the behind-the-scenes struggles to keep our churches running smoothly.

These and other short-term issues fill our sight until we forget it’s all about God.

He called us to live for His glory. Not in flashy holiness, larger than life but surface-only. True holiness, depending on Him, following His lead. Trusting Him, so that others can see the difference He makes in our lives.

Our holy and so-merciful God, thank You for saving us from darkness and spiritual death. Remind us of our calling, and of who You are. Overwhelm us with a glimpse of Your presence. Give us perspective, and the joy of belonging to You, and help us to live for Your glory.

Today’s song is one of worship and surrender: “The Potter’s Hand,” by Darlene Zschech.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Intentional. Present. Contented.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:6, NIV*

I usually think of this verse in the context of counting my blessings, but it came back to me this weekend as I sifted through my gleanings from the 2014 LIFT retreat.

Before leaving home, I had opened two email devotionals that spoke about rest. The retreat theme was “Run YOUR Race,” yet those devotionals tuned me into God’s message for me.

Our retreat speakers shared many things, and these are the tidbits that spoke most directly to me:

  • own your journey; accept/embrace who God has created you to be and what He wants to do in/through your life
  • how we journey is as important as the arrival
  • listen
  • discern the things you’re called to do, and the things you’re called to put away
  • intentional living: what does God have for today?
  • fully trust God to show up

Speaker Amanda Andrus compared “today” to one square in a waffle. It’s surrounded by many other squares, but this is the only one I’m in. How does God want to fill this day? What might He want to do with this square of time?

Somehow this spoke to me about being present in the moment—instead of always pushing forward, straining to get into the next measure of time. There’s so much to do, but we can’t do it all anyway. How much better to be faithful in the moments we’re given? How much more contented will we be when we’re not pushing the boundaries God has set?

Yes, this is about living a Christian life, and yes, it’s active, but do you sense a soul rest here? Tie it in with this tweet I saw from Ann Voskamp the next day:

God our Creator, You made each of us unique and gave us a place in Your plans. Quiet our spirits to know Your leading, and help us to follow, day by day, in Your strength. Let us not miss the opportunities of today because we’re itching for tomorrow. Find us faithful, in the little things as well as in the big. Help us be contented in the now.

Here’s the song that blessed me most in my time at the retreat: “Oceans,” from Hillsong United.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Working with Purpose

That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
Colossians 1:29, NLT*

Paul’s motivation and passion is “to present [everyone] to God, perfect [or ‘mature’] in their relationship to Christ,” and he pours his whole life into it.

It’s different when we don’t have an overriding sense of calling or mission, or if we don’t have a felt purpose or deadline.

I’m in the happy state of being an at-home mom to almost-grown sons. They don’t need a lot of care, although they’d appreciate more home baking.

There’s plenty of housework that needs doing, but… it waits quite patiently. And there’s more writing I’d like to be doing, but… it too waits. As much as deadlines stress me, I often find I get more done when my time is tighter. Daily life (and email) seems to spread to take up all the available time.

I had full-time work from October through December, a repeat of my previous year’s seasonal job. It was a great opportunity that stretched me and demanded more than I had to give. When I told people God sent me back to the same role to re-learn the lessons He’d taught me the first time, I was only half joking.

The task was too big for me. I had to rely on God. That meant getting up early enough to start each day with prayer and a Bible reading. It meant committing the day to Him and depending on His intervention and provision.

There wasn’t much of me left over at the end of each day, but He was enough. And somehow the other details of my personal life (little things like preparing for Christmas) fell into place.

God our Sustainer and the Director of our paths, thank You for demonstrating Your goodness. Help me—help us all—to view each day as the assignment You have for us, however simple or complex. Help us to anchor ourselves in You and to work diligently, relying on the power of Christ in us. Nourish us daily from Your Word and Your presence. When things come up that aren’t on our agendas, give us discernment to know if they’re redeployments to obey or distractions to ignore. Help us do all to Your glory, with willing hearts.

Geoff Moore’s song, “Your Day,” is a good one to start each morning.  (Click to listen to Your Day at Last.fm)

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


The Lord Will Fulfill His Purpose for Me

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.”
Psalm 138:8, NIV 1984*

Not everyone has a large and visible calling-type of purpose, but we’re each called to the “long obedience in the same direction,” to the faithfulness and openness to God that lets us touch many people’s lives in small ways.

And it’s His purpose, not my plans. Oswald Chambers writes, “We have to maintain our soul open to the fact of God’s creative purpose, and not muddle it with our own intentions.” (My Utmost for His Highest, Sept. 21)

This takes the pressure off. Instead of trying to keep track of everything and move it forward, I need to be looking to see what He’s going to do in any situation. What He might want to do through me.

I’m under authority. I’m neither the strategist nor the victim of circumstances. I’m a vessel the Potter has made, to fill and pour out as He sees best. And I believe on the other side of this life we’ll look back from His perspective and see that He has done all things well.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me…”

Simple. Straightforward. I think I can hold onto that today.

Father, help me keep perspective and balance. Help me not get too self-absorbed or take too much responsibility for my own usefulness. Help me trust and obey You.

Here’s Robin Mark with “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)”. (Note the line “The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures…”)

* The 2011 NIV says “The LORD will vindicate me…” New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

On God as Our Source of Comfort, Why Praising Him is Crucial, and What’s the Point of Life?

I manage most of my blog subscriptions through Bloglines (thank you, MerchantCircle for keeping this service going) and hadn’t logged in for a while. Among the posts waiting to be read were three that I’d like to share today:

What Satisfies You?” at Captured by God mentions an idea from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made to Crave.

What we think about most is an indicator of what we are trying to fulfill ourselves with. Is it God? Or is it something else? [Read God’s Girl’s full post here for a practical example of what this can look like–and the difference it can make.]

In “Tuning our Harps” at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, Judith Lawrence writes:

We may not feel like singing God’s praises when things go wrong in our lives, we may want to wallow in our misery. However, a difficult situation is not the time to hang up our harps but a time to sing the Lord’s song with even more vigour. [Read Judith’s full post here, and consider what freedom from captivity might look like for each of us.]

In “What’s the Point” at InScribe Writers Online, Karen Toews shares “a twisted version of inspiration for 2011 or my dose of ‘this is the real world, girl'”. Selections from the book of Ecclesiastes convince her that there is a point. [Read Karen’s full post here.]

Thank you, God’s Girl, Judith and Karen, for encouraging words for the journey.

Good Works

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV*

Good works aren’t the cause of salvation, they’re the effect of it. Christians know that, although sometimes we catch ourselves trying to “earn” our way.

What strikes me about this passage today is the notion that God has prepared the good works for us. They’ll flow out of our obedience to Him; we don’t have to go hunting them. After all, if we initiated our own good works, that might be grounds for boasting.

The good works, like everything else, are not about us. They’re about God, “to show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7b, NIV)

They’re not all big things, or dramatic. Remember what Jesus said about giving a cup of cold water in His name. A lot of them will be opportunities in our daily routines.

For me, those good works include preparing nutritious meals for my family and keeping the laundry up to date. They include my daily interactions with those around me. As I learn to ask God, “What did you give me to give today?” I’ll fit better into His plans.

For my friends who were on a short-term mission trip to Haiti when the earthquake struck, the good works weren’t what they expected when they signed up! But God has used them in many ways to provide support and comfort and to show His love.

Precious Father, it amazes me that You would love us like this—and save us when we were helpless and very unlovely. Thank You it’s all a gift from You, and not something we have to earn. Thank You for giving us a part to play in Your work, and Father today please help each of us to recognize what You’ve given us to give—and to whom. Help us serve in Your strength, because it’s about You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

I think an appropriate song this week is “Oh, Master, Let Me Walk with Thee.” If you have time (it’s over 8 minutes long), there’s a beautiful, orchestral version here. Otherwise, here’s the 2-minute version nicely rendered by a choir:

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God’s Purpose for Me

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.
Psalm 57:2, NIV*

Lately I’ve been thinking this verse is about more than some “greater purpose” or particular calling God may have for my life.

What about the “ordinary” purposes that take up most of my day? Wife, mother, daughter, neighbour, church member. Each role has various responsibilities that I can see as chores or obligations if I view them as keeping me from what I really want to do.

My whole perspective changes when I remember that God has a purpose for me in each of these roles. Instead of being mundane stuff that interferes with my “greater purpose,” they may well be my greater purpose.

Father, please give me Your perspective on life. Help me start each day and enter each role with a prayer for grace and an attitude of loving gratitude to You. Remind me that You want to work out Your purpose for me.

Our song this week is a quiet prayer for all areas of our lives: “(In My Life, Lord) Be Glorified

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Declaring God’s Praises

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV*

As Christians, we are chosen, changed. Rescued, because God loves us. Having experienced God’s mercy, we get to tell others how wonderful He is.

And our message isn’t just “trust Jesus so you can go to Heaven when you die.” It’s “trust Him now, to experience new life now.”

Jesus paid to rescue us from the darkness that trapped each one. For some of us it may have been twilight-level darkness, for others the pitch black of a deep cave. Compared to God’s clear light, it restricted our vision and diminished our quality of life.

“Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me” and I need to share the amazing opportunity with those who want to hear. Not a pushy “sister, are you saaaaved,” but “tell me your story, and let me tell you mine”.

When I see God at work in my life, touching my day, I need to praise Him and I need to share it. It may cause someone who doesn’t know Him yet to think about Him. It’ll definitely encourage the heart of someone who already knows Him. We’re on this journey together, let’s help one another along the road.

Father, please open my eyes to recognize what You’ve already done in my life and what You’re doing each day. Grant me a grateful heart, and help me share You with others.

Most days our stories aren’t as dramatic as the one in this song, but I pray the LORD will stir us to want to share them. Here’s Don Francisco, singing “Gotta Tell Somebody.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.