Featured

Slow & Sweet Savor

I have one child who is the opposite of “in a rush” and absolutely savors each thing she chooses to spend her time on. Whether it’s reading a book out loud, drawing a masterpiece, or making a pretend land for her stuffed animals— she’s happiest when she’s allowed to move at her own pace. To rush her through things causes panic, annoyance and disruption to the little world she’s inserted herself into. After eight years of being her mom, I am finally learning how to not rush her and allow her her slow savoring process (school mornings are a different story 😉 but slowly I am learning to allow her more time to do what she needs to do).

Sadly, it’s a phase a lot of us grow out of, usually by necessity, but also by the tug and pull of the world and its distractions. 

To “savor” takes conscious effort to slow down and disengage or untangle ourselves from the pace dictated and instead, move to the rhythm of our own hearts. 

I had a moment like this recently. This week at our church service, I just sat there and savored the moment. The presence of God was there, so real, peaceful you could physically feel it. To tops things off, the kids had their Fall Fest and were tromping around in their costumes, happy as could be.  Tables were being set up for our community church lunch, the smell of lunch wafting in the air. Time just paused for a moment. It’s like my heart said, “Psst! These are the moments of our lives. Don’t miss out!”  The feeling of peace, no hurry, no rush, fell over me and I realized, “Yes, what is life worth living if not for these moments?” It makes me want to live with that purpose each day to SAVOR.  

I’ve had this yearning lately to JUST BE with my parents, my family, my sister and her family. Just soak them in, treasure them. Nothing fancy, planned, or even filled with nonstop talk—  just a cherishing of them and who they are in my life. Because what really matters more than being with the people you love? Everything else fades, disappears, disintegrates, but love remains. LOVE REMAINS. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

My mom often recalls a story about my Great Grandma. Years ago, they were sitting together and Great Grandma– who by that time was nearing 100 years old, confined to a wheelchair and did not talk much at all– focused her eyes on my mom, patted her face. My mom asked what she was doing… she said, “Oh, just beholding you.” The moment affected my mom immensely. If we all would take the time to “behold” or “cherish” each other, how much different would life be? Each time my mom tells the story, tears catch in her eyes, for it truly was a special moment— treasuring, savoring, truly feeling the LOVE God has given us. 

 It makes me think about our Lord too— how He lives like this and exists like this. He had everything in the world— yet there was one thing He wanted most: our hearts! Our love. Our attention.

“And in love He chose us before He laid the foundation of the universe!”

Ephesians 1:4a

Yet we flit about like the birds before a storm— busy to this tree and that, gathering food, chattering, and transfixed with what’s before us. But to pull out a “timeout card”— to realize that He’s so important He’s worth savoring—It brings a fullness, a richness, a depth to our lives. We find that the flitting back and forth to and fro, no longer draws us and we want to be at the feet of Jesus, savoring His every word. 

This reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha: 

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Being an older sister who thrives on responsibility, that story often rubs me the wrong way. (Anyone else? 😉) I mean, here Martha is preparing the meal, cleaning, readying the dishes and what was Mary doing? Sitting at Jesus’ feet listening. It felt so unfair to Martha I am sure, because “there was just so much to be done!” (Can anyone relate?! Yikes!) But the text here says, Martha was “distracted”. Busy with things that weren’t of the most importance. Can anyone relate with this? (hand raise over this way! 🤚)  Jesus said “Mary has chosen what is best”.

Friends, we got to stop our needless, unending frittering back and forth and instead lock eyes on the One who waits for us. Let’s pull away from distractions and seek Him. All He wants is our hearts.

It reminds me of a song called “We Dance” by Stephanie Gretzinger. Read the lyrics, listen to the song. I promise your heart will be filled. ❤️ 

“We Dance” by Stephanie Gretzinger

You steady me, slow and sweet

We sway, take the lead and I will follow

Finally ready now, to close my eyes and just believe

That You won’t lead me where You don’t go

When my faith gets tired and my hope seems lost

You spin me round and round and remind me of that song

The one You wrote for me

We dance

Oh, we dance

I’ve been told to pick up my sword and fight for love

Little did I know that Love had won for me

Here in Your arms, You steal my heart again

And I breathe You in like I’ve never breathed till now

I will lock eyes with the One who’s ransomed me

The One who gave me joy for mourning

I will lock eyes with the One who’s chosen me

The One who set my feet to dancing

It’s nice to know I’m not alone

I find my home here in your arms 

 So let’s have a sweet and slow dance with the Lord this week. Let Him lead— refuse to check your watch, your “to do” list , your never ending thoughts and instead lock eyes with the One who will fill your heart up with His Love. The One who is more than enough. The One who is worthy of savoring. That’s what I plan to do. ❤️

Until next time, 

Featured

Peach Promises

Maybe a peach tree has more to do with life than originally thought. Yes, the branches, the fruit, the harvest—  it all can take on very easy Christian overtones. But looking at my peach tree today, a great many of the small peaches ripening, a few of the bigger ones still with a light yellow green tint, a different principle comes to mind: the unpredictability of fruit. The prime peach we wait for still clings to the branch, not ready for harvest. But a handful of other ones, they are ready for the harvest and even fall to the ground before we have a second to pick them.

Life is definitely similar… that one event, answer to prayer, thing we are believing for — it may still be up high on the tree, green and firm to the touch. The other things, things we hadn’t anticipated, are ripe and ready for the picking, dripping their juices over us, the smell sweet and intoxicating. 

I think there is an important lessons in both of these fruits: the one ripe and ready, and the one greatly anticipated but still clinging to the branch…

Ripe and ready moments: It is amazing how many of them hit us– my daughter had one just the other day. Out of the blue, after several years of acquaintance, a schoolmate texted her with a hunger for wanting to know God on a deeper level. Her desire was raw and real and she knew she could ask my daughter about it. My daughter simply beamed ☀️ with the assignment God had dropped into her day. It was a ripe fruit, a ripe situation, that just suddenly plopped into her hand. But she was ready for it, and takes great delight in the assignment God has given her. We have all had ripe fruit dropped into our lives in unexpected moments, and like the Bible says we are to “be instant in season and out” when presented with a chance to share the gospel (2 Timothy 4:2). What great harvesting of souls has happened because of Christians being ready for these types of situations everywhere they go! 

Ripe situations also drop in our laps about things we haven’t anticipated… a new job, a move, a new friendship or relationship, a blessing that pops in out of the blue. I love when that happens, don’t you? ❤️

But what about the fruit that just stubbornly clings to its spot on the branch? It’s still as hard as all get-out, green as can be, with no notion of ripening. It seems there is no answer about that situation.

You know what I am talking about… the deliverance from a situation that seems unbearable, the healing from a sickness, the next direction from God, the redemption of a relationship, etc. You know God’s promises on the matter. You’ve prayed and prayed about the situation, but nothing has budged. That fruit is still green on the branch and as hard as a rock. When will the promise come to fruition? 

Friend, I have an encouragement for you today: All of God’s promises are true. It does not matter how small the fruit, how hard or stubborn the fruit is, or even what appears to be an absence of fruit in that area… God keeps His word.

“and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”

Romans 4:21

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

Hebrews 10:23

The fruit undeniably follows a rule: that it will ripen (yes, even that hard as a rock green peach!) It may take time… be as stubborn as all get out… but the fruit will ripen and be enjoyed by the harvester. This promise is true and nothing can change the fact. Nothing.

So if you find yourself in a season beyond expecting the fruit— the answer to prayer, the reconciliation, the deliverance, the way opening ahead of you— keep holding on, dear friend. The fruit will ripen in just the right time. God is over all, and He sees the big picture. It’s amazing to think about how He sees it all, even before we live day one of our lives (Psalm 139:16). We can trust Him, knowing He is working all things together for good, and He is the Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

The things that seem to be delayed, stalled, unanswered, or just plain stubborn… God is turning them in your direction. The peach is ripening on the branch. The color will soon change… the texture will soon soften. The smell will sweeten. And before you know it, you will have a big, ripe, juicy peach plopped right in the palm of your hand. 

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Habakkuk 2:3

This is the verse my husband stood on, and I with him, in one of the greatest challenges of our lives… waiting for his American Citizenship to be approved. There were many details in the story… and many worries consumed our minds about the situation and if he really would be approved to live here in the USA or sent back to his country of origin. (It was also very close to attacks on 9/11 in which the courts majorly shut down the USA and those wanting to immigrate to it). He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had brought him here for His purpose and plan. He found several verses, including this one, and clung to it, knowing that God’s promise for him would come true… even if it tarried… even if it delayed, it would surely come to pass. He knew it in His heart. He held onto it, even when everything was shouting that the situation would not work, that it would not come to pass. We had many times going to the court, awaiting the news, only for the hearing to be delayed a month or more. This process went on for years. Those were very stressful times… tumultuous… but God is faithful. In 2009 (eight years after starting the process) my husband became a US citizen. The promise came to pass. The hope in his heart came to fruition. 

I know it seems easy when you see the story written here… It’s solved. It’s concise and summarized. It loses the exasperation, the edge, the disappointment, the intensity that was felt during that time of waiting. It really was a situation that was doing its best to break us. It was discouraging, dark, inconclusive, and stubborn. But our God caused the fruit to ripen on the branch. Here are the pictures of that glorious day. Can’t you just feel the joy radiating from us? 😊 God’s promise for Telly (and our family) came true! 

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

Since then, of course, we have faced many other challenges… but the truth remains: God’s promises will come to pass. Find your verse to stand on, your promise from God. Sink in and hold on. It may look like the most stubborn of situations, but it will RIPEN… it will change. Things will give… and you will receive answers, even unexpected answers, to your prayers. Break throughs. Success and victory. Light and life. A deepening of your relationship with the Lord. 

My prayer for you this week: God, strengthen the hearts of my friends this week. Help them to continue to hold onto faith for the situations you have promised them. Help them stand solid upon your word, and not be moved by what they see or don’t see… but to continue to cling to the truth that “He who promised is faithful”… You are faithful and you are the one who causes the situations, answers to prayer, and blessings to flow. Thank you for sending down the encouragement of the Holy Spirit to speak into their lives… may they be encouraged. Give them strength to keep holding on. I thank you for the answers to prayers that will happen… the great breakthroughs that will happen in your name. Thank you for causing GOOD in their lives and for the fulfillment of your plans and purposes of their lives to come to fruition– to be like a plump, ripe peach in the palm of their hand. We give you all glory for this. Amen. 

May your heart be encouraged. May your “faith muscles” be strengthened. May you dig into the Word and become so convinced that He will bring to pass His plans for your life. May you be strengthened as you wait, and may the joy of the Lord be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

I can’t wait to hear about the ripe fruit God brings your way— His answers to your prayers. 

Until next time, 

PS. Here is a link to one of my favorite simple Peach Crisp recipes!

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/53110/juicy-peach-crisp/

Featured

Top Ten Moments of Summer

Before I launch my top ten moments of the summer, I want to encourage you this post is more than just “happy moments”. Yes, thank God we can find sparkly moments in this season and recognize it for what it is: Blessings from God. But let me encourage you, no matter how your season has shaped up to be— even the moments the enemy meant for destruction— God turns them for good. Yes, even the moments of ashes can become moments that sparkle with His blessing. He’s just that kind of God. 
So without further ado…


Here are my top ten moments of the summer (in no specific order)
:

  1. Falling into bed after a busy wonderful summer day full of activity with my favorite quilt around me… (click here to read about “a place of rest” featuring my favorite quilt! https://melanietalevski.com/2021/07/17/a-place-of-rest/)

2. Watching my older kids two compete and play baseball and softball (my son hitting a grand slam, my daughter striking out the side)

3. Going to the second hand bookstore and loading up on good reading (I mean a shopping cart at the bookstore? These are our kind of people!)

4. Swimming! (Need I say more?) ☀️

5. Attending the Summer Classic (All Star Game) with my oldest daughter ⚾️

6. Morning Walks (read about the restoration my morning walks bring at https://melanietalevski.com/2021/06/25/deep-restoration-2/

7. New experiences with my girls: Chinese Lantern Festival, the girls’ first experience with P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps 😋

8. Weekly writing sessions at the coffee shop 

9. Church events (oh the connections that come from a big loving family!) ❤️ Prayer night, teen and kids events, Church picnic, fellowshipping after church, park meetups, etc.

10. Family time with grandparents, cousins, etc… Any and every reason to gather together and celebrate! 🎉

And good news– summer is not through yet! The calendar still holds more fun to come along with all the fun spur of the moment items that find a way into our days.

Looking at all the fun we have had this summer reminds me of the verse in the Bible:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

He sends down good gifts from above– and oh how we enjoy and soak up every single moment of it! Thank you, God, for your flooding of blessing this summer.

What if your summer isn’t exactly as “picturesque” as you imagined? Believe me, friend, I have been there. Let me encourage you, no matter how your season has shaped up to be— even the moments the enemy meant for destruction— God turns them for good. Yes, even the moments of ashes can become moments that sparkle with His blessing. He’s just that kind of God. 

Case in point, it will definitely not make anyone’s “top ten moments of summer” list as it was a tragic moment, but one of our church families recently experienced a house fire. The entire house beyond rescue–to be leveled. The enemy tried to bring this as a discouragement, an evil into their lives… but already we are seeing God use the situation for good. 

My dad says it best… don’t confuse God with the devil. Add a “O” to God and you have GOOD. Take away the d in devil and you have evil. Simple as that. God is good and the devil is evil.

God doesn’t just watch and say, “well, I guess we have to let evil win that round”… NO WAY! God is an expert in scooping up ashes (whether brought on from the evil one, from personal choice, from a relationship, or situation, whatever the source…) and making it into beautiful diamonds. 

Let me say that again: He is an expert at scooping up the destruction, the ashes– and making it into beautiful diamonds. He redeems the situations the enemy has meant for evil.

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”.

Isaiah 61:3

He is the God we can trust… the good shepherd. He is watching over us, over our days. He is an expert at turning that meant for evil into good. We can trust Him completely and soak in/revel the moments He has brought us so far in our lifetimes, years, and even this specific season. He is good, and like David said, 

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

So no matter what events mark your summer (perhaps shifts and changes with job or expectations, helping elderly relatives, trauma, or even a tragic misplacement of home) I urge you to be confident that God is taking care of you. He is redeeming that which was formed as a curse against us and bringing His goodness to the forefront.

We will see His goodness. 

My prayer: Lord, help us to have our eyes open to see your goodness… even in the little moments like a comfy quilt, a happy moment at the baseball game, used books from the bookstore. Thank you for the blessings you have bestowed on us and the fact that we will see your goodness in the land of the living, and we will see beauty in place of ashes… we will have “surely mercy and goodness shall follow you all the days of your life”(Psalm 23:6) 

So my friend… my encouragement for you:  May you feel the arms of Jesus wrap around you in a special way and may you feel faith arise in your heart. He is the God who heals, the God who exchanges what the enemy meant for evil for good. He is a miracle worker and nothing is too far gone for Him. He will turn any ashes in your life into beauty. He will cause any evil the enemy brought in your life to work for your good. He will cause mercy and goodness to both go before you and behind you. The only ingredient you need is Him. Hold onto him, dear friend, and I pray He would open your eyes to see the blessings He has brought to your life, no matter how small, hidden or undercover they come.  And may you walk in the confidence that God is doing this good work in you and you will see His goodness…  may you proclaim boldly as David did, that you “will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. Amen.

I can’t wait to hear your “Top Ten” and how God is working in your life.

Until next time,

Want more encouragement during the week?

Follow me on facebook https://www.facebook.com/melanietalevskiwrites or at Instagram https://www.instagram.com/melanietalev/

Featured

A Place of Rest

Nothing says “summertime” to me like a good quilt! I mean, just look at these pictures and see if they don’t make you feel an ounce lighter, happier? Content? Calm? 

Something about a homemade quilt is so comforting, safe, simple. Just like the life I want to lead. Yes, quilts have been providing summer time fun for as long as I can remember…. 

  • 4th of July gatherings with our cousins in the back of the pickup truck, watching fireworks. We would lie on our backs and watch the beautiful fireworks light the night, cool quilts cushioned beneath us or resting lightly on our shoulders. 
  • The Quilt Fair with Great Grandma. She’d make it the event of the day… viewing the displayed quilts with their patterns and colors galore followed by several amusement park rides at the playgrounds and a vanilla cone at McDonalds.
  • Not to mention…Camping trips, backyard picnics…
  • Yes, quilts even served as a make shift “stage” years ago for a “Peter Pan” performance by my kids in the backyard. 

Even now, after a long and full summer day, nothing is more comforting than my cool and colorful quilt (made by Peach Valley Quilts: https://www.facebook.com/Peach-Valley-Quilts-2310090659222308/) to greet me at the end of the day!

It’s with all this thinking of comforts, simple life, and contentedness that God’s sweet Holy Spirit began to speak to me as I read my Bible. As I read Hebrews 3:17-18, I realized that THERE IS A CALMING PLACE OF REST for those of us who choose to live by faith. Another way to say it: It’s possible for us to enter into a “faith-rest life” by having faith in God alone. (Passion Translation footnotes). 

What exactly is faith again? 

Good News Translation says, 

To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:1

Yes, when we have faith—it is based on what God is doing– not what we can muster up or do or produce on our own. 

It is by having this confidence that God will do what He says– that we can enter into a “faith-rest life”. Yes, we are able to rest even in the midst of the waiting because we have faith and it upholds us and gives us peace, calm, and rest even in the middle of circumstances. Not so unlike a favorite quilt. 😉

Are you facing problems that seem unsolvable today? Perhaps you feel backed into a corner with no where to go… all your last efforts and hopes are now silent. It can be a very defeating, anxiety-producing place… but it is the place that God’s grace, love and deliverance can shine all the more. 

I was reading two different passages where this was displayed: 

  • Israelites Delivered from Egypt only to be Trapped by Enemies and Red Sea on all sides (Exodus 14) 
  • Abraham willing to sacrifice son, Isaac (Genesis 22) 

In both these situations, the main characters were surrounded. No way out. Their hands were tied. Their last efforts, the last open door or window— slammed shut. There was no hope but for God.  

  • With the Israelites, they had just seen miracle after miracle performed to deliver them from Egypt, only to be backed into an impossible, hopeless corner right out of the gate. They complained, “Were there not enough graves in Egypt that you led us out to the wilderness to die?” (Exodus 14:1) It truly looked like their success was short lived. There was no way out. Thank goodness, Moses knew better and held onto faith. 
  • In Abraham’s case he’d received the promise of God that he would be the “Father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4). After many struggles of trying to manufacture the promise himself, Abraham saw God’s goodness and he was given a son. Success to the promise seemed right around the corner… yet, now God required Abraham sacrifice the “one and only means to an end” he had. How would he receive the promise now? Yet. “Abraham believed God” (Genesis 15:6). He had faith God would be the one to work it out. 

Yes, in both these cases the people were backed into a corner…. No way of helping themselves out. And don’t you know, that is where our God continually shows up. It’s just amazing. He is “mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17).  

  • In the case of Israelites and the Red Sea, God has Moses lift his hands and the Red Sea actually split! The Israelites were able to walk through on dry ground. And not only that, but when the enemy pursued them through the sea, the sea collapsed killing each and every Egyptian who was in pursuit. The Israelites stood at the other side— delivered by God’s hand— and shouts and songs in thankfulness to God came from their lips. 
  • In the case of Abraham offering up Isaac, God provided the ram as the sacrifice. And in time, God’s promise to Abraham to be the “father of many nations” came to pass. 

God came through. The main characters job? To believe. To have faith in God alone. This is our only responsibility too. (I know easier said than done at certain times!) 

Even if the Lord has brought us through time and time again, we can often continue to go into the whole fight and flight mode over and over again (believe me, I HAVE been a master of this) when situations come up. Instead of getting caught up in that cycle of unbelief or striving for our own answers…

God longs for us to cuddle up with the comfortable, safe “quilt of faith”.

It’s in this safe place that the realization, the perspective that God is trustworthy, capable, and we can depend on Him– comes to the forefront. Our willy-nilly trying to work it out and muscle it out on our own, striving, stressing, white knuckling… it is useless. Let’s “out” that energy into our faith… into believing and trusting that He is God, He is mighty to save, and He will bring us through. His plan will be accomplished. 

Yes, I pray that both you and I would wrap ourselves in the quilt of FAITH starting here and now. It’s faith that leads to a restful, calm, trusting life. Even when we are surrounded on every side. Even when physically it looks like things can’t possibly work out.

May you find your faith rising on the inside when things get tough. May you find rest because you are learning to lean on the everlasting arms. So many of the hymns say it best…. 

“’Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus” (lyrics at https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/568

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms: (lyrics at https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/558

Or modern hymn: “Lord, I Need You” (video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA

In all these songs, the truth is conveyed: we cannot do it without the Lord. Only because of Him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). 

Another one of my favorite quilts! Thank you Mrs. Gale & Hannah!

Our struggle falls away because we are no longer focused on what we can or cannot do… or what walls and situations surround us… Now we are focused on faith in our Lord. How He has come through for us and so many others in the past and He will do it again.

He is “mighty to save”, dependable and trustworthy to deliver us no matter what we face. 

Let the quilt of faith, of a rest-filled life, a trusting life, settle on your shoulders today… let it bring you comfort, peace, rest, a sense of calm that overflows every nook and cranny of life. This is my prayer for you. 

Until next time, 

PS. I want to take a moment to speak to the friends who feel as if God has failed them. I wish I could wrap my arms around you dear friend, because I have been there. Honest ranting and wailing, why didn’t God show up for me the way I wanted Him to? If He is so great, so good, why didn’t He _______ (fill in the blank). I know there are so many views, so many components (fallen world is a big component), but may you find rest in the quilt of faith. May faith be restored to you. Perhaps something did not come to pass in the way you imagined, but it does not mean God failed. Often times, healing takes longer than we think or can be in a different way than we think. All I know is that ranting, wailing, asking the questions— it may feel necessary at times (and yes it is better to rant and wail at God than just turn away— He’s big enough to hold it all) but I pray that after the pouring of your heart before God, that you would find the comforting quilt of HIS PRESENCE wrapped on your shoulders from the Holy Spirit. He will whisper to you. Sing to you. Dry your tears. Reveal things to you. Help you heal and become whole again. Help your heart to beat again. He will minister God’s love and faithfulness to you. And in that warm embrace—that safe quilt wrapped on your shoulders— may your faith rise. May you feel the love of our Father and come to trust in Him again. Know that He never left you. His love is all encompassing. Overflowing. Compassionate. Mighty to save. And may you feel your faith rise, giving wings to your heart that has been so captivated before by hurt. May you live a new life… a deeper life… fully trusting in Our Father God. My prayers are with you. 

Featured

Deep Restoration

Are you looking for a bit of break in this harried, hurry scurry busy life? Me, too, friend. Me too. 

I have a new favorite walk. I set out one day craving a change-up to my usual walk….

What I needed was a walk that breathed some life into me, far from the busy city streets (which is not very easy for a suburb girl!) I found myself wandering down past from my house into the green field of a park. Yes, here my lungs felt like they could breathe deeper and my eyes had places to wander and settle on. Not so much hurry scurry here. I soaked it in and continued on….

And on…

until I found myself on this (still somewhat busy city-like) stretch of country road with an old farmstead on the side.

Instantly my heart relaxed… the tightness that had been wound tightly inside…. Began to unravel and release.

Maybe it was the the smell of fresh growing farm grass, or perhaps it was the feel of open air, or the melody of the birds? Or maybe it was the bray of horses or the feel of sidewalk beneath my feet softening as it becomes dirt— complete with little outcrops of dandelions, and crabgrass.

Yes, I believe it is all these things combined. My five senses realized the difference of the surroundings around here and instantly, my soul feels grounded ( To see more about how I wrote about the five senses, and how it can help us in moments of trauma, see my blog link. (https://melanietalevski.com/2021/03/13/safe-secure-and-held/). But more than any physical thing… it was the fact that mindfulness was added to my day… or that SPACE from my schedule was made through this simple walk. 

Have you found yourself in a situation like this? Perhaps it was beach side, on a mountain hike, sitting in the backyard or wandering down a neighborhood path… no matter where you find it… it always feel the same…. A deep release. A deep sigh of our souls. A release of all that heaviness that has somehow crawled onto our world weary hearts without us being completely aware. It feels like we can breathe again. Our eyes, which have been so focused and centered on the tasks before us— now get a break and we find ourselves truly SEEING the things around us. We are able to stop just surviving and (existing) and are now present… mindful of what is going on around us. And in this process, our system relaxes…. Right is restored. 

This, my friend, is God’s deep restoration. He has a variety of ways to minister to our world weary minds, bodies, souls. I find often that He does this deep ministering for me when I get out from my normal habitat and walk around in His nature where I hear, see, smell, feel… anew. We are so good at every day going through the motions and doing what is supposed to be done. But friends, we were created to be human beings— living, interacting, feeling. God did not create us to be machines…. But rather His friends. Human beings who see, feel, taste, touch…. 

I, like you, crave relief on a daily basis. Yes, coffee breaks, watching silly youtube videos, and laughing with friends (or reading a chapter of a latest fiction book) offers a break, but often it is just a reprieve. 

Reprieve (relief) is summarized as:

“a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.”

(dictionary.com)

Restoration is:

“to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition”.

Oh wow, that is so much deeper than just temporary relief! Did you know God has that deep restoration for you and me today? And every day? It is not withheld… often we just don’t take a break from our list of tasks to tap into it or we think it is beyond reach… when really it can be found in a simple moment on the back porch, a silent walk, or a deep breath after the kids sleep and we purposefully become mindful, present, and breathe. We often need to TURN OFF LIFE for a moment to see, hear, and be present to open the door to deep restoration. 

This is what God says about the situation: 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 

It is funny to think that this coming to God, slowing down, simplifying is a “skill” we all need to be taught to remember, but in the fast pace of this world, it really is a treasure to be guarded, practiced, and remembered. It is way too easy to keep busy, entertained— our mind a constant swirl with thoughts, ideas, motions. 

I know that as a mom, I am responsible for helping my kids enter these slow moments and have them as a part of life. The more I can teach them now to seek out and embrace quiet moments, still moments… the more they are going to know how to do that as teens and adults. It is really an important skill. This resting, stopping, pausing.

Let me tell you though, that more often that not, MY KIDS teach me mindfulness. We are driving to a practice… my mind is on the thoughts— “will we get there on time? What about so and so… etc.” Then I hear a voice from the back seat, “Look at the sunset! Wow!” Or “Did you see that silly dog, mom?” Moments that bring my focus back to the here and now. My youngest is especially good at this. Just today she went with me on my morning walk. As I passed the side streets, ready for the beautiful country lane part of the walk, she stopped to climb a tree. “Mom look at me!” She called, causing me to stall my walk. I stopped, watched her, and smiled. When did her limbs get so long that she was able to hoist herself into the tree un assisted? We walked a few more steps and she laughed at the birds balancing on the phone line… causing me to look up and laugh too. Friends, this is a depth of life that we all must strive to remember. We used to live like this, and I believe by having a few more of these moments in each day, our lives become deeper. 

Perhaps this is a bit of what Jesus meant when He said,

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3

Kids are amazing— they are able to stay focused on the single thing before them. They are aware, in awe, and observant— not to mention: trusting, joyful, and believing. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How can I become like a child in some of my ways of relating to God? Trusting Him completely. Believing He will do what He says He will do. Stop maneuvering, manufacturing my own way and trust Him and His way. 

How can I become more like a child in my day to day living? Take a moment to feel the grass, climb the tree 😉 , and laugh at innocent, simple things. God has been teaching me a lot the last few years about being present (see my blog all about this: https://melanietalevski.com/2021/02/26/fully-present/ ) and being mindful. The more we practice and treasure this ability, the stronger we will feel the effects. 

We can start slow….and recognize and appreciate every moment of progress we make. I believe it has a type of snowball effect… the more we encourage ourselves to live in the moment, do  it, realize it, open our eyes in awareness towards it… the more it will grow. 

Other ideas we can do this week: (I’d like to hear yours too!) 

  • We can mindfully read the word. Maybe instead of just “getting through the chapter for the day” we can try slowing down and reading until a verse catches our attention. Then we can sit with that verse, dwell on it…. Try not to hurry and scurry from it. Perhaps we’ll just place a bookmark there and (gasp) not get through our chapter for the day. That’s okay. We are on God’s schedule now. 
  • We can take “five senses” pauses in the day. We can take breaks to see what truly see what is around us. Maybe while at the coffee shop… we can stop scrolling for a minute and look around… what is there to see? Or when the call, “Mom, mom!” comes we can challenge ourselves to take a moment to truly look into our kids eyes. I know it sounds basic but at the pace of life we are living in this world, even little things like this can be lost. Just recapturing them and treasuring these moments can lead us to deeper and fuller lives. 
  • And like I said before… getting into nature automatically ushers me into a place of restoration. Whether it is sitting on the porch, taking a walk, even looking at a favorite nature picture (maybe a favorite beach or mountain scenery) all these things can lead to a heart “break”: a moment for us to truly just BE. And breathe. 

It is often in these moments… the space that is made… that we can finally see and hear God. He’s been here all along, but often our urgent to-do-lists, social connections and life situations cause us to put Him on hold— when really it would majorly benefit us to learn the skill of putting life on hold for our connection with the Lord. 

So, my dear friend, my prayer for you this week is: 

May you see, feel and experience the true presence of God through deep restoration. I pray for moments of relief in your day to day life but even so much better than that— moments of restoration. May God meet you in a deeper way in the pauses you allow for Him this week. May you follow the tug of His spirit when you are prompted to slow down, rest, or even just make space for Him. May our perspective be retrained…. May we become like children in our faith and in mindfulness in the midst of our days. May the busyness of this world be replaced by a love for the Lord, a trust in our Father God. May you find moments of deep restoration as you yield and release your life, situations, worries and schedule to the Lord. May He lead you in a deeper and fuller way of living.  

Until next time, 

PS. John Eldredge (Christian author) has a whole app ( https://www.pauseapp.com ) to help cultivate pauses in our days— to invite Jesus into our situations, unify with him… release worries to him. Check it out (it’s free)! It seriously only takes one minute and I have found that it brings a peace into my life and more mindfulness daily.

PPS. I LOVE this song and often find myself singing the chorus again and again. 

“YOU RESTORE MY SOUL” sung by Sarah Pearsons

Featured

Waves of Grace

It’s officially summer time at the Talevski house! We wished the last of school days a “good riddance” and “farewell” and are now sailing into our favorite season: SUMMER! 

I could wax poetic about all the wonderful things about summer (truly try me— I am sure I could list 1000’s as summer is my most favorite season of all!) but instead I will focus on a few of our favorite things to do in the summer… 

  • Softball and baseball. (Pictures to come soon and maybe even a blog post as it is our family’s favorite sport!) 
  • Lots of lazy days around the pool, hiking, meeting with family— cousins, grandparents, and so many others. 
  • And… vacation! One of our favorite, most favorite, places to go is San Diego. These are a few pictures from our last trip to the coast. It’s our happy spot! 

It was on this trip God met me in an overwhelming season I’d been walking through and spoke to me through the waves…. 

I was able to sneak out one morning for a quiet solitary walk down the coast. It was during this time of searching for relief— my looking for answers for deep down questions of my heart that I didn’t even know particularly how to voice— I heard the waves in their fullness, the call of the seagulls. I watched the birds come and dig up snails as the tide went back out. I stood in the ocean, standing still, while the waves would come close and lap against my legs, then fall back away slowly, until…

a new wave would come over and lick my toes again. In and out. Constantly. And there, I recognized the similarity of the waves and life. As long as we are on this earth, situation after situation will come up. Some will gently lap against our legs in a peaceful manner, some lick our toes. Some will come crashing in, the tide changing and soak us through and through. But the constant is that it comes, then it goes. It comes, then it goes. Somehow that fact was oddly comforting— impermanence of the waves. There is always a reprieve in the middle to breathe before the next wave comes up. 

I was contemplating this, (and by contemplating I mean asking God, “Why does overwhelming situation after overwhelming situation come?”). As the next wave licked my toes I heard His whisper in my heart. 

Just as sure as challenges and situations are to come and come, constantly with no stop, even more so my love, my presence comes in over and over again.

I watched the salty water submerge my toes, my ankles and listened a bit closer.

With each challenge, each situation, there is an overflow of my grace and love. So focus on that. Not on the waves or challenges or problems, but on the consistency of my love.” 

The whisper dug way down in my heart, the truth resonating through me. 

Yes, I could… I could focus on the grace, the love He sends on wave upon wave. Yes, this world will send challenges and trials and problems, but God, in His mercy, sends wave after wave of love and grace.

That’s a constant we can take comfort in. 

The waves will not overtake you. Here’s the words for your heart straight from God Himself: 

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,

    I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

    they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

    you will not be burned;

    the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Psalm 43:1-3 

I am there with you. My love bigger than anything,” He whispers to both you and I today. 

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Ephesians 3:18-19

So as the waves continued to lick my toes, then my calves, and eventually thighs… I let His love crash over me. He is more than enough for anything we face. 

Let’s take out eyes off of the challenge and instead, moment by moment, ask God to teach us to see Him, His peace, His love, and grace in every moment. Because if we will look for it, we will notice it is there. 

So friend, may you know this truth, may you be settled in it so much that when a HUGE wave crashes in on your shore bringing challenges and difficulties— may you remember that His grace comes in— EVERY TIME and offers more than enough mercy to cover the situation. Yes, this is the promise from God himself (and we always know He keeps His promises— every time!) 

“But where sin (problems, pain, separation) increased, grace increased all the more…”

Romans 5:20

Never doubt, my friend, that He is more than enough to handle every situation. The key is to be found in HIM. Tuck your hand in His, focus in on His face, and allow Him and all He is to overwhelm every situation that comes your way. 

You are safe, protected, held… (More on this topic at https://melanietalevski.com/2021/03/13/safe-secure-and-held/ ) and He is more than enough and provides more than enough GRACE for any situation that comes our way. 

Let’s trust it, believe it, and live like it is true even when we are in the midst of it. 

And to take it one step further… (I urge you to really dial in and hear this):

His love for you… it is so precious it reached down and poured LOVE upon you even when you were unaware. Even when all that you were was against Him. When everything in you pushed Him away. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8 

This is one of my most favorite verses EVER. He calls us to Himself. Sacrifices Himself. We were too blind to see it. But still He did it to provide a way. His great big ULTRA love couldn’t be pushed away, barricaded or stopped. It broke through. Changed our lives forever once we said YES. Now we take that way, walk that way… and see the precious blessing of His love and grace. We feel it coming in wave by wave each day. Now if that isn’t “super hyper abundant grace” (as the Passion Translation describes it) I don’t know what is!  (read more about GOLD GRACE here: https://melanietalevski.com/2021/05/28/gold-grace/ )

My prayer for you this week: 

May your eyes be opened to the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of the matter: that God’s grace does come in wave after wave in a super abundant way— it is much bigger than the problems. It has the power of God in it, able to handle any and every situation with grace to spare. It never runs out or falls flat, short of its goal. May you feel that GRACE rise up in your heart, given by God, and may you trust and rely on the giver of that grace— God Himself— to get you through any circumstance you face. He is more than enough. His grace and gentle love are more than enough. They are promised to you each and every time. So, let that beautiful smile slip back on your face, replace your trust not on yourself but onto the ultimate GIVER OF GRACE, and be ready to see how He comes through for you. It may not be on your time line but it is always far above anything we can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) in the long run.

I’m excited to share my grace laced stories with you and I can’t wait to hear yours as well. 😊

Keep hanging on tight to Him. Letting the waves of grace crash over you. It’s more than enough. He is more than enough.  

Until next time, 

Featured

Gold Grace

With May being the month that we focus special attention on our mothers, I would like to highlight my mom and the blessing that she is to my life. This is one of my favorite pictures of my mom. Can’t you just see abundant grace & joy radiating from her? 

I inherited my middle name from my mom— who inherited it from her mom— who borrowed it from a woman who encouraged and blessed my great grandmother’s life so much she named her firstborn daughter’s middle name after her. Jean. It means “grace of God” or “graciousness of God”. Along with this middle name, a special blessing of God’s presence and anointing for His ministry has accompanied those in my family named after it. My mother and grandmother are two of the most godly woman I know. Both have immense ministries encouraging others, praying for others, and ushering the presence of God in a greater measure into other’s lives. (I’d like to believe that passed on to me too! 😊) I have watched year upon year as God uses these ladies to draw people into His presence, into salvation and into daily communion with Him. 

My mother’s first name also means “God’s grace”. Mom will often smile and say, “Yes, I’m just blessed with a double portion of grace.” Which is a great thing for a Pastor’s wife and child of God to be blessed with, right? And let me tell you, like us all– she has needed every ounce of grace God has bestowed on her! 

I have seen my mom tap into that power and strength time and time again when challenges, hurdles and unexpected situations come her way. One of the stories to come to mind was several years ago as a group of our ladies from church journeyed to El Salvador on a missions trip. My sister and I also went along on this trip. I was three months pregnant and found the situation to be overwhelming at times: foreign flights, driving on a foreign highway (where there were men armed with machetes), and being surrounded with a different climate, food choices, and living arrangements. Each time, my mom was there, offering God’s grace and strength in the middle of my weakness. I will always value the camaraderie she offered me that trip and the reassurances she spoke during the challenges. Each time pointing me back to the Word and the grace and strength that is found in the scriptures. (She has does this numerous times in every different season of my life. Thank you, mom!) One of the more humorous moments of the trip, when our group was served a luxurious El Salvadorian dinner— fresh caught fish with their heads (and eyeballs 😮 ) still on— mom, armed with the strength God’s grace provides— began to sever the heads from the fish and serve the group of women the now headless meat. 😆 That is something I never thought I would see my sweet, four foot eleven mama do! But brave, strong, and filled great measures of His grace she was! (And is). And what a story this makes to tell the grandkids. 😊 

Yes, I would for sure say that my mom is synonymous with STRENGTH. In fact, isn’t GRACE itself synonymous with strength? When we allow grace into a situation, we allow space into a situation, a space that can bring such strength. 

Have you heard of the Japanese tradition of “glueing” broken items together with pure gold? I find it fascinating! The process is called Kintsugi.

It is “the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold” (wiki.com).

Picture credit to https://www.instagram.com/kintsugi_._/

The tradition began when an heirloom that had been in a family for generations broke. Instead of simply glueing it back together, gold was added to the glue to add extreme strength to the item. In the process of repairing the broken heirloom, it now became stronger and so much more beautiful and original.

Isn’t this just a beautiful example of God’s grace? Each of us is broken, incomplete without the great outpouring of grace and strength that God gives. But then God comes in with His grace and fills all cracks. In this process of filling in the cracks, we are made stronger by His grace and mercy. Because of His presence we are stronger than before. I see this in my mom’s life, my grandmother’s life, my own life as well. 

There is never a situation that is bigger than the grace that God supplies. 

“But where sin (problems, pain, separation) increased, grace increased all the more…”

Romans 5:20 

The Passion Translation says,

“And yet, wherever sin increased, there was more than enough of God’s grace to triumph all the more.”

Romans 5:20 

It goes on to translate from the Aramaic— it’s a grace that is “super hyper-abundant grace. An endless fountain of grace that has been opened for us in Christ” (footnote Romans 5:20, Passion Translation).  

 A fountain of grace? Yes, please! Often in times of stress many of us could prefer a fountain… a fountain of coca-cola or a fountain of endless coffee…. 😂 or how about endless bubble baths or strolls by the oceanside? 😉 But here we are offered SUPER ABUNDANT grace… fountains of it. Unending, Unyielding, Unstoppable. A double portion— to the max! Every time God’s grace will surpass any challenge or situation it faces. Every time. In fact, grace sees problems as a piece of cake! It’s no challenge whatsoever. 

Yes, I want that perspective. 

Then—just like that— a comforting song comes to my spirit, one that I sing often: 

Come Thou fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Streams of mercy never ceasing

Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above

Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it

Mount of Thy redeeming love 

— Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing

I find myself whispering back, Yes Lord, tune my heart to sing your grace….. Against any and every situation I face may it be YOUR grace that is the focus. Not the pain. Not the challenges or the problems that threaten to overtake. No, may your GRACE be the thing I focus on, speak about. May your grace be magnified in my life. May the GOLD veins that hold me together be the focus…. Not the brokenness of myself or my situation. 

And my prayer is much the same for you this week: ❤️

May you walk in the freedom and strength His Grace provides.  May you realize that no matter what you face— God’s grace has a hold on you. It won’t let go. It won’t run out, time out. It is always more than enough to surpass the toughness and hurt of any situation you face. May you feel the tangible grace of God like a strong hand on your back, guiding you, supporting you. May your heart be tuned to sing His Grace in any and every situation. Focus on that powerful GOLD GRACE holding you together. And may you experience breakthrough as you wait, strong in grace. And, may you find yourself— like my grandmother and mother— becoming a dispensers of His grace— strong and true— to the world around you. 

Until next time, 

Featured

The Better Path

One of my favorite shows, Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart, is currently showing a season in which the main character, who we all love and identify with, has a major choice between two men who have captured her heart. One, mysterious yet kind and patient, the other noble, strong, and a tad unsettled. What choice will she make? It has been the question the whole season long, or more appropriately, for a few seasons long. But with the promise from the executive producer that she will make a choice by the end of the season, we all wait as patiently (or impatiently) as we can. 

*All picture rights go to Crown Media, Hallmark Channel and the makers of When Calls the Heart.*

It makes me think about the choices we have every day. It is easy to decide when we have an obvious bad choice vs. a good choice, but like in Elizabeth’s case, both men are worthy suitors, which one will she choose? Often we are presented daily with choices that are not good vs. bad, but rather good vs. better. It is hard to see clearly when something good is competing against something better. Both options look agreeable! For our life and choices, this is when the Holy Spirit comes into play. He will speak in His gentle way and guide us. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Psalm 32:8 
“You may realize the detour is the actual path." - Anonymous 

A couple years ago, I was following down the highway of my life in what was clear and easy to see was my “right choice”. It was a great choice and great life, but then, there came a whisper from the Holy Spirit and a little plain detour came into sight. To continue with my “highway” analogy, it was like a turn off the highway with a small dirt road. It appeared to not be well traveled…. Nothing special, yet, there was a gentle tug to go down this new road. It was a “detour” of sorts. Along this new stretch of road I have found some of my most favorite treasured spots as well as I can hear more clearly the Holy Spirit’s voice. So what was that? It was trading my “good” for something even “better”.

Often we don’t hear this call to the “better” until the Holy Spirit comes and gently taps on our heart…. Sometimes over and over again until we become aware— oh, there is another path over there! Maybe from appearances it does not look to be anything special, yet the Holy Spirit leads there, His hand outstretched to us inviting us to come. 

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21

In making space for Him— for the Holy Spirit to lead— I have found some of the best peace of my life. Something about surrendering our obvious good choice and following Him admits our dependence on Him and sort of quickly gets us in over our heads. It’s this feeling of, wow, if He fails me now, I will be considerably lost and not sure what to do… getting to that place of vulnerability and complete trust is hard… it seems like it could be simple, yet, how simple is jumping out of a plane not sure if your parachute is going to activate or not? But we can know that where the Spirit leads, He will equip and provide for us what we need. It is the ultimate TRUST TEST. Yet it leads us in the path of truth each time: 

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 16:13

So today we have a choice…. Instead of a choice like Elizabeth’s between two good men, we have a choice between good and better. The better path can be risky…. It can be unsure. It draws us out from what is comfortable (read my blog post on the Hobbit https://melanietalevski.com/2021/01/30/journey-on/ for more on this).  It can be nerve wracking and lonely at times, yet it can be most rewarding, causing us to lean into God and the direction of the Holy Spirit more than ever before. We can see new sights we never thought existed. We can feel a measure of peace in our hearts never known before because we completely rely on Him and His Spirit. This better path means a deep surrender, a deep fall back and the ultimate trust test, but it can lead us to the most fulfilling and purposeful life yet. 

May we take time this week to listen to the gentle “tap, tap” the Spirit has been giving each of us, perhaps even for years. It’s simple… we can just breathe out an invitation. It can be as easy as this: 

“I hear you. What are you saying?” 

He will be sure to show us. Especially as we learn to tune our ears to His voice. Perhaps it will just be a gentle nudge to step out a different way. 

Through it all, God, help us lean on you. 

My kids often hear me singing snippets of old hymns… the latest phrase being from “Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus”,

“Oh for grace to trust You more”.

Yes, Lord, this is the cry of our hearts, help us to trust you more. (Isn’t He so amazing?  He isn’t just trustworthy, but he will also help us trust Him more! Now that’s the kind of help we need) 

Along with this path of trusting Him more comes complete honesty. Let’s not be afraid to tell him how unsure or scared or fearful we feel. We can tell Him about the twinges we feel in our hearts… the things that we notice but aren’t sure what they are about and why He is trying to get our attention. And we can take a step…. One that resonates with our hearts and what the Lord has been speaking. We might be surprised to find ourselves “exiting” the highway and going onto what appears to be a “detour”. And often that detour leads to the intimate and “better” path with the Lord. 

So, be brave Dear One… put your hand in His. Be confident in His leading. He cares for you. He will be with you, deliver you. If you are willing, He will take you from the “good” (or yes even the absolute bad, messy situations) and into the better life. No, this better life isn’t without problems or struggles… in fact you may face more challenges on the onslaught of this journey because of the presence of evil fighting against you because your destiny is about to be realized. But hand in hand with Him, you can be sure that He leads to the better path… the path that transforms you to completely and fully you— who God made you to be down in the core of who you are. It’s a place of living completely caught up in His Spirit and living from a place of abundance in your relationship with Him. 

He holds out His hand today… 

Come, Dear Heart. His hands are strong, warm and inviting. 

But I am scared, we whisper. How can I leave all that is comfortable and good? 

His smile is patient, kind, understanding. His hand remains outstretched. Come with me. 

And in that moment we realize that is the key— going with Him. Our hearts tingle with nervousness but we stretch out our hand and instantly His warm hand cups ours. 

One step at a time, He says and leads us off the well-trodden highway and onto the unknown path of the detour. 

It’s on this path that, as we travel on, we see things we never imagined…. The gentle flow of the river of God, the high tops of the mountains in God’s kingdom… a journey, a path that He leads. Yes, it is the better path. 

Friend,  there is nothing greater than saying YES to where the Lord leads and making space for Him and His plan. It seems BIG, perhaps too big… yet it starts with a step… an active choice to listen, respond, and communicate constantly with Him. I pray that your knee-jerk reaction in this life would be to breathe conversations with Him constantly… Place your trust in Him and take that next step where He leads. 

He is faithful to meet you there. And the next step and the next. 

Until next time, 

PS. I would love to talk with any of you who are finding yourself in your own transition time. Believe me, I have gone through a big one the last couple years, but am finding myself starting to emerge on the other side in a place of being even closer to the Lord, trusting Him more and more every day. I’d like to encourage you! Leave a message below and I will respond or go to my contact page and send me an email. I pray that God’s best would be realized and lived in your life from this moment on out. 

PSS. Are you a fellow When Calls the Heart fan? Give a shout out for the guy you wish for Elizabeth to pick at season’s end… the mysterious and kind Lucas Bouchard or the loyal and noble Nathan Grant? 

*All picture rights go to Crown Media, Hallmark Channel and the makers of When Calls the Heart.*

Also, I have a fanfiction devoted to the development of Rosemary’s story (written following season 4) Here’s the link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12658012/1/The-Rosemary-Chronicles I had an absolute blast writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it too. 

Here are a few pictures of my sister and I on our WCTH adventure in 2018. Yes, we were able to go to the Hearties Reunion: a gathering for fans of the show where we got to meet the cast and tour the fictional town of Hope Valley. It was an absolute trip of a life time and full of great sister memories. 

Featured

Hope of His Return

Just like the creatures of Narnia in CS Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, we are also awaiting the return of our King. In their case, the land had been covered with a curse, where it was always winter and never Christmas. The simple joyous summer nights filled with festivities around the campfire in the middle of the woods— they were gone, now replaced by cold, snow, and the rule of an evil witch. That can sound familiar can’t it? Which isn’t a coincidence, as CS Lewis’s story was written as an allegory to the Christian life. Here we are children of the kingdom, like, the Pevensie children. Our hearts know what it is like to be in God’s kingdom, and our hearts know that right will be restored, but in the meantime, we belong to a world, covered with snow and with the curse of the fall. But, just like the little whispers that started making their rounds from the creatures of Narnia— we feel a whisper stirring up in our own heart, as well:

“Aslan is on the move. Our king is returning. Everything that is right will be restored.” 

What hope that brings to our hearts. Everything will be restored. The things that make our heart heavy— the things we were not created to endure, like death and separation, sickness, overwhelming burdens and challenges— they will be melted, just like the snow in Narnia. The statues that were turned to ice from the scepter of the White Witch— like the beloved fawn Tumnus— were restored and brought back to life. What a glorious picture of the coming of Christ and of the kingdom of Christ, ruling and reigning! 

With the Easter Story fresh on our minds, I have been thinking about  how hopeless the disciples must have felt after the death of Christ. Jesus had been warning them time and time again throughout all their years together that He would be leaving, that He had a greater call to fill… yet still caught them by surprise. And when His body had laid in the grave and nothing immediately had happened— disappointment, discouragement, and confusion must have plagued their hearts and souls. I’m sure they gathered and tried to cheer each other’s spirit and remind themselves of what Jesus had said— yet before them all they could see was the dark and the hopelessness, their Savior had died, their Savior had left them. Now they were alone, but oh the hope that came on Sunday morning! 

In CS Lewis’s Narnia the creatures of the Kingdom had been under a long and weary spell. Yet hope was restored at the mere mention of Aslan’s name. “Aslan is on the move,” was the proclamation that traveled from beaver dam, to tiny house, to living trees of the woods. “Aslan is on the move,” they would say to encourage their own hearts as much as others. In the disciple’s story, those same whispers of hope, and even shouts of proclamation became more abundant around the city as more sightings of Jesus came, starting of course, with the first one, where he appeared to Mary. (Don’t you love that he appeared to her first? What a great backstory Mary has and how Jesus alone was the one who could save her. So with his death she must have been most distraught… her Savior, her hope… dead. But resurrection morning— there he was before her… fully alive! Praise God!)  The sightings of Jesus continued in many miraculous ways. But even with the whispers of His resurrection traveling throughout the city there was one disciple who doubted— one disciple who didn’t allow the hope of Jesus resurrection in his heart, until he saw it. I don’t know about you, but I sure identify with Thomas, and even feel sad for the poor fellow to be remembered for his doubt. Why did he doubt? Was there some situation in his past that he felt like God hadn’t come through for him? Or was he too cynical to hope? Had he been hurt in the past, and did not want to subject himself to opening his heart to something that could leave him short handed again? We don’t know Thomas’s whole story but what fun research that would be. (In fact, Angela Hunt has fictionalized her own story of Thomas— and his twin!— based on many facts presented in the Bible. Look it up here https://www.angelahuntbooks.com/books/daughter-of-cana/ )

 All I can say is, I want hope to arise in my heart.

Yes, let hope arise in our hearts even on the dark days, even when it’s confusing or even when it feels like we’ve been left alone, like the disciples must have felt. May we recall His words. May we recall the tenderness in His smile, the kindness in His eyes, and remember that He is God’s son. Our dearest friend. Miracle Worker. The Light in the Darkness. Because He is alive we have hope, unending unswerving hope. And it’s not just a hope that is unfounded or an illusion. It’s True Hope— hope that will carry us through the dark snow covered Narnia days where the land is ruled by evil. 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”  

1 Peter 1:3

May our hearts shine within us— may our hearts glow, telling us that Jesus is on the move. He has already redeemed us. One day He will come in rectify the whole earth— make everything right.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.”

Revelation 21:1-5 

 Another important thing that I have seen from the story in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, was how the animals who believed in Aslan and His rule and reign— encouraged themselves. There was a grapevine of gossip (in a good way) going across the land. In fact, one of my favorite scenes is the scene with the beavers and how they take the Pevensie children into their dam for dinner and protection for the night. Mr. Beaver explain who Aslan is by quoting an Narnian rhyme:

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, 

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, 

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.” 

“The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe” 

CS Lewis, Chapter 8 

They fed the children and filled the children’s spirits with the knowledge of Aslan, and who He is and how He’s on the move. They taught the children that even though it looks like the land is ruled by the evil, there is a true King who rules over all— one who will restore all as it should be. They also revealed to them their special place as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve in Aslan’s master plan. Mr. Beaver said, there were whisperings going on. “Aslan is on the move, King Jesus is on the move”. They encouraged themselves with that news. Winter and evil would no longer rule and reign… Aslan was coming to make all right again. Yes, winter would melt away and spring would return again.

May we, as the church and as fellow believers, encourage each other as well. May we tell those who have never heard the story the wonderful news and may there be a light that clears away the darkness in their own hearts and replaces it with Christ’s soft glow. May we help others understand the role that they have in God’s story and may we remember how we fit in that story as well. May we encourage each other as we speak of the Lord and speak of His Word and His promises. This is how hope is born & kept alive inside of each one of us.

We celebrate the hope that Jesus has brought us through His death and resurrection. And not only do we celebrate that, but we also celebrate the hope of His return, “King Jesus is on the move. King Jesus will return again!” 

Until next time, 

PS. If you haven’t read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by CS Lewis I encourage you to! It is a light and easy read (written for children) and the TRUTH will bless you.

Featured

Safe, Secure, and Held

If you read my latest blog post, https://melanietalevski.com/2021/02/26/fully-present/ , you know that…

This being “fully present” has a flip side, doesn’t it? It may be all fun and games while we are being present in adventures and moments of lightheartedness… but what about being “fully present” in moments of duress or trauma… how in the world could that help?

I know in my own times of extreme challenge– focusing on the present moment has helped immensely. Wait– what?  How does focusing on the moment you are so desperate to escape from cause you to feel better? Shouldn’t the opposite be true? 

In a time I found myself emotionally stressed to a max, a mentor advised me to rub my index finger against my thumb. Sounds silly right? I thought so too. But that little action brings me back from thoughts and fears going a mile a minute into the sensation of a present moment– fingers rubbing against each other. Or another  example is deep breathing. Concentrating on the air going in and out. Again, this little action brings grounding to a situation that felt like it was spiraling out of control. What about the advice to lean into the five senses… Could that help? 

 What do I hear, see, smell, taste, touch in this present moment? 

 It can feel silly at first but I found that when I take a moment to do this it helps me feel grounded and steers me away from the mental duress. It seems to give my mind a break and draws it back to the present moment– instead of light miles away in thought. 

How do you do this? Seriously it is just simply going through the five senses and coming up with answers…

  • What can I feel (touch)?
  • What do I hear?
  • What do I smell?
  • What do I see?
  • What do I taste?

I know for some this seems not only futile but also a bit “fruity” (silly) but believe me, it works! (yes, even in the most tumultuous situations)

Just like the tapping into the five senses physically, I have found I can tap into spiritual truths to ground me… Truths like: 

  • I know that God’s word is true (lay hand on the Bible— touch) 
  • I know that He listens and answers when I call (hear my voice call out to God— hear) 
  • I know His promises are true (write it, say it— see it!) 

I know in hard times, just clutching my Bible to my chest reminds me that God’s word works and that God is here with me. Never am I alone.

Reminding ourselves of these spiritual truths provides grounding and allows room for God’s sweet Spirit to connect with us– perhaps even give a new perspective on things. He reminds us: He is the same God who was there in the past, He is here in the present. He will be found in our future as well. He is good. He loves us. Surely His plans for our lives will come to pass. 

Now isn’t that a deep breath of fresh air? 

Take a breath, dear friend, and know that a huge part of being “fully present” calls us to rest… rest on His love for us, His goodness, and trust that He is working all for good.  

Isn’t that the way of a child? Even in some of life’s deepest situations–a child can lean up against his mother or father and rest. Doesn’t the Bible commend us to have child-like faith? (Matthew 18:3) Oh, how hard this is. Especially when I want to white knuckle every situation, take control, get answers, pull through. But Jesus calls in His gentle way,

“Come. Put your head on my shoulder. Rest.” 

Perhaps we are resistant at first. Our eyes still lurk on that dark and scary situation in the corner. 

He again beckons us, this time with hands outstretched. “Here, Dear One.” 

With one eyeball on that “monster-like” problem we come closer, still distracted. “But Jesus…” we point to the problem. 

He lifts us up on his lap and somehow we find ourselves looking full in his face. His eyes… so kind and gentle, his smile so sweet. His presence envelopes us and slowly, our focus shifts to him. 

“There we go, that is much better, isn’t it?” His kindness comes as a balm to our souls.

We find ourselves feeling much more at peace… perhaps quite tired. 

“Lay here and rest.” He pulls us to his chest. 

We hear the gentle rhythmic beating of His heart.

And wearily, we do. Oh, so tired…. 

and the sleep we enter is deep, peaceful. 

No perhaps that problem in the corner has not vanished as we hoped it would… but here, in Jesus’ arms, we realize it has lost all power over us.

Our burdens are no longer our own… Jesus carries them for us. 

His yoke truly is easy, His burden is light.

That doesn’t mean all challenge cease, no in fact, a bigger battle may come. 

But we can know that Jesus is with us. He is an EVER PRESENT HELP IN TIME OF NEED. 

He’s not just in our present moment…. He is ever present and willing to help us. 

God is our refuge and strength,

    an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46: 1 

So, Dear One, snuggle close to Him. Yes, press your head to his chest until you hear his heart beating. It beats with love for you. Feel the gentle kindness of His attention on you– His arm hand holding you safe. He will pull us through. All we need to do in this moment is to rest and trust. 

Yes, these tense, heartbreaking moments… they will pass. We press in and in our imperfect ways we call out for grace to trust Him more. Remember this hymn? 

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word;

Just to rest upon His promise,

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,

Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;

And I know that He is with me,

Will be with me to the end.

Louisa M.R. Stead

Yes, may this be the call of our hearts this week. Call out to Him. He answers every time. He is more than enough to get us through all our past moments, present moments, and moments to come. 

Snuggle safe, secure and cared for in the Father’s arms. 

Until next time, 

David Bowman’s “My Child”
Expressions of Christ series 

PS. This photo has always spoken to my heart. The girl in the picture looks similar to my daughter when she was younger. I remember in a period of specific hard times she faced, I found this sketch. It served as a wonderful reminder that it isn’t just her dad and I holding her… it is God holding her and He loves her so much deeper than we ever could. Know this truth for your children or grandchildren as well: Jesus is holding them and His love for them is so much wider and greater than all the love you have for them. 

Thomas Blackshear’s “Watchers in the Night”

PPS. I also love this picture… how it reminds us of what goes on behind the scenes– what our natural eyes cannot see. May God remind us, give us glimpses into the spiritual realities of our days. We are never alone. We are safe, secure, held, and protected.

Featured

Fully Present

I learned about living in the present moment from my creative, life-loving Grandma Huston. Oh, no we never had a conversation about it, but just observing her for a day (or even just a good ten minutes!) you would realize that she lived differently. She lived in the moment and said YES to the opportunities brought to her.

One of the ways I saw her model this “embracing of the present moment” was through the Famous Sledding Excursion. As kids, my sister and I watched Grandma Huston grab one of our sleds and sail down the side of the snow covered hill, leaving us both to figure out how to get along with one remaining sled. She was living in the moment and enjoying the sledding adventure with her grandkids… not content to sit on the sidelines and observe, but rather ready to be going down the hill, side by side with one of us (or the both of us crammed on the remaining sled) hearts beating with passion, fun, and adventure in the current moment.

One of the other many ways she displayed this to us was when my sister and I visited her home as kids and played in the woods she had cleared for us. A game of baseball together (using the tree trunks as bases), a sip of sugar water in a special cove she had made into a hide out, and learning to suck the sweet nectar from the honeysuckle– these were all things Grandma did with us, taught us by example. She didn’t just observe or stand by– she was there in the middle of it with us, present. She was an expert at living in the present moment.

In recent years, I called up to invite my grandma to join me for lunch as I stayed at a famous castle for a writer’s retreat that was located not too far from her home. She was quick to say YES to the opportunity presented her and we discovered the castle together, ate luxurious food and laughed– all in the moment. And somehow this adventurous grandma of mine also found out a way to finagle a seat next to the popular author and lead teacher of the event, without batting an eyelash. She sat there and enjoyed herself, even sharing funny stories (that is just how she was) and becoming the life of the party. It’s as if she was able to fully dive into the moment presented her and also fully be herself. I absolutely loved that about her.

Much of Grandma Huston lives on in me– all the way from the creativity that bursts forth from my heart to the gentle tinkle of our laughter (yes my sister and I inherited her giggle- especially when together).  One of the things her life taught me most was to be engaged in the moment– to live fully in the present moment.

Lately, I have seen my own opportunities to live in the present moment crop up in my day to day life. It’s an invitation to fully participate in the present moment. A few of the smaller opportunities being:

Sledding:  (I made sure to bring my own sled 😂) The kids and I raced to go over the jumps and compared how far we could get our sled tracks to go. By participating with them I was not just “hearing” about how awesome the jump was but also experiencing it side by side with them.

Iceskating: Again, resisting the comfortable urge to cheer them on from the sidelines and instead lace up my own pair of skates, identifying with the joy (and frustration at times too) of the experience.  

Laughter moments: It may seem like no big deal, but even just taking a moment to belly laugh with my kids  over silly things they say or faces they make or accents they make up (you can ask my youngest about that last one!)

Karate: Yes, I said Karate! Through a series of events I found myself with a choice— sit on the sidelines and cheer the kids on (no problems with that folks) or participate in class with my kids. I wanted to say YES to that “Grandma Huston moment”– living in the present moment that so innocently presented itself to me. I have to admit it was a bit intimidating taking those first steps… the adults watching, the current class filled with kids, and even the instructors were so young they could probably “technically” be my children! But I am so glad nothing stopped this mama! I was amazed after the 1st class just how much fun we had together and how empowering it is to kick collapsible boards and bring out all your ninja moves with no limits (talk about full out abandonment). I’ve chose to go back again, and again, and again. We are getting in a routine and it is fun and there is nothing like our hearts beating in tandem as we all complete our kicks and at the end of class we high five each other. And, after yesterday’s class, I just realized I am teaching my kids a powerful lesson too, that they can do what they put their mind to and they can always choose to live in the present moment regardless of age, situation or any other factor. That is the lesson of the “Grandma Huston” moment.

This being fully present (in whatever shape or form it presents itself) makes our hearts beat with excitement, passion, adventure. It adds an extra little sparkle to our eyes, a pep to our step (or a sore limp to our step depending on the week at karate! 😂) In fact, it is a bit reminiscent of the verse in John 10:10,

“I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

In Scripture we read many verses about dealing with anxiety and worry. Each time Jesus makes it clear he doesn’t want us to live in a haze of the past and in anxiety for the future. No, instead He wants us to revel in the present moment and all He has done for us through His sacrifice on the cross. We don’t have to wait until we enter those pearly gates to have abundant life- we can have it here and now because of what Jesus has done for us.

I have found that living in the present moment takes a child-like faith (Matthew 18:3). With this faith we can be brave enough to look at the circumstances ahead and the situations in the past and say: I will rest here. I will choose to live in this moment knowing God is taking care of all of my tomorrows as well as all the days past. There is an immense joy and blessing to be found in today and I will not miss my chance to say YES to it and anything else God brings my way.

This week, may you find yourself saying YES to “being fully present” daily. May you recognize the nudge that calls you out to do more than just observe… and may you have the courage to act on it. All we really hold on our hands is the moment of NOW. Trying to hold the past or the future is like trying to hold water. It just trickles out of our fingers… but the water flow of NOW– let’s splash in it, soak ourselves in it, fully immerse ourselves in it. Let’s thoroughly enjoy the time of NOW and saying YES to the “Grandma Huston” moments that come calling in our days.

Until next time,

PS. I would enjoy hearing your stories. ❤ Was there someone who encouraged you to live fully in the present moment? Comment below or message me.

Featured

An Unlimited Supply

What a sweet time of year it is! With treats around every corner, it’s easy to keep reaching for a sweet, but what happens when they run out?

Growing up, we had a crystal cookie jar. Yes, crystal! It was impossible to open that jar without alerting my mother (and maybe the whole house) to the fact that I was sneaking a cookie before dinner, which of course was against our rules. Believe me, my sister and I tried everything: muffling the lid with a towel, pulling the lid off quickly, pulling it off slowly. No matter what we did, the clang of the crystal glass would always happen in one way or another causing an echo to ring across the house.  Wherever mom was in the house, we would hear her call out our names and we knew that we had been caught. Rats! 

 As kids probably one of our best dreams would be to have an unlimited supply of cookies in the cookie jar— with unlimited hours of availability. Thank goodness, our parents knew better than to allow us to afford us that luxury as it would not be healthy in the long term. 😆  

But wouldn’t that be just dreamy? A cookie jar that we could reach into that would never run out? I guess the only better thing was a cookie jar with tasty calorie-free cookies! 😉

Well, we do have an “unlimited cookie jar” of sorts. No not a physical cookie jar (I can hear your sighs of disappointment) but rather there is an everlasting container that holds just what we need, and it never ever runs out. In this “jar” we find the unconditional love of God that’s always stocked! It doesn’t matter if it is Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July or just a plain old ordinary day in-between. It’s always stocked— crammed packed— with the unconditional love of God. Now that’s a sweet treat! (And no cavities either!) No matter how many times we dip our hand into this “cookie jar” it will not run out. Even with the crystal laid ringing and alerting others…there will always be more of that sweetness within the jar. And unlike the cookies that were not allowed before dinner, there is never a limit to the amount of times you open this jar of unconditional love or when or where you can access it. Now doesn’t that just make your little seven year old heart sing?  Unlimited cookies of God’s unconditional love! That sounds pretty good.

 Here’s some favorite “Valentine Verses” all about the love of God. (Good news- they apply to us all year long!) 

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 

1 John 4:9-10

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;

    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” 

Jeremiah 31:3

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

    His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100:5

It’s obvious through these verses that God’s love is so GREAT, undeserved, enduring and everlasting. Now, that is one amazing kind of love. In fact, God’s kind of love is referred to as Agape Love. 

Agape Love is the unconditional love of God that’s there for us. No matter what. It’s not an earned kind of love or a falling in love kind of love even though it can feel like that.

It can feel like the excitement like that of a first falling in love yet it outlasts that “newlywed” season and is so much more steady, strong and sure– perhaps like married couples who have proven the test of time.

Have you ever watched the show were teams race around the world completing challenges for the chance at a lump sum of money? The teams, usually made up of couples, either will be teams that work together or attack each other— either to their team’s betterment or their team’s detriment.  There’s often young couples or people deciding if they’re going to marry as they race around the world. And more often than not, because their relationship is just newly starting out— they don’t know how to work together. They often don’t know how to unconditionally accept each other, inspire each other or encourage each other that well. Then every once and awhile there’s an older couple in the race. Perhaps they will not last long on the race because of the physical demands, but the entire time you see them treat their partner well with respect and unconditional love, many times showing and conveying with their words, the importance of the relationship above the race. That kind of love is steady and sure. That’s the kind of love I’ve seen between my grandparents who met when they were in fifth grade and who will soon be celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary. And also my own parents who met as teenagers— set up because they were both those “crazy Christians” of mutual friends. Immediately their relationship was based on the Lord and the passion and fire in their hearts for him. It’s the kind of love I see between my husband and I, as well. It’s a love that grows and love that steady and true. (Remind me to post our story about how we met… it is Ah-mazing!) ❤️

Even though a human can’t ever convey the depth of unconditional love that God can, we can see from this example, how steady, true, strong, and supportive unconditional love can be in our lives. 

So whether you celebrate Valentine’s with your honey after many years of marriage or if you are spending your first Valentine’s with a new special someone or if you’re celebrating with your children, or even celebrating on your own— God’s sweet jar of unconditional love is filled for you. So come take off the crystal lid and dip your hand in and then dip it in again. Grab hold of this sweet love that God has for you. His love is more than enough. His love has conquered oceans and has conquered every problem to reach us. His love is the deepest, steadiest, most true unconditional love that we will ever receive in our lives. 

Thank you God for your unlimited supply of unconditional love for each of us. Thank you that your unconditional love never runs out. It’s not limited to certain times or certain seasons. It’s always there for us. Open our eyes so we can see the truth of this. Speak your words over us so that we can experience your unconditional love in a deeper, fuller, and stronger measure than ever before. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Also, you know how that crystal lid caused a clang to ring out around the house? When we reach for the lid on our “unconditional love” jar, it causes a clang too! People all around us hear it, see us dip our hand into something so wonderful they might not understand it. It’s our opportunity to invite them to the jar of God’s unconditional love. They can dip in too, maybe for the first time experiencing the love of God. Oh, they will be addicted to the sweetness from the start. So invite others to dip into that jar of unlimited supply of God’s love today! 

Until next time, 

PS. Here are a few of our pictures over the years of the kids enjoying Valentine’s. Each year, the kids go down to the table and there’s always something sweet as well as a special book on the table. And don’t forget the special card– it expresses how much we as a parents love and treasure them. And of course, Telly and I exchanged cards as well. What a special day to share the love, not just natural love but the wonderful, unconditional love of God. 

PPS. One of our favorite cookies to reach for in the cookie jar are these oversized soft sugar cookies. They are a family favorite to decorate and enjoy at any time but especially perfect for making a special cookie valentine. ❤️ I dare you to give them a try! 

Or find the recipe online at http://peppermintplum.blogspot.com/2011/03/thick-soft-sugar-cookies.html?m=1 

Featured

Journey On

Bilbo Baggins, who became the unlikely hero in The Hobbit, was completely fine with staying in his underground hobbit home, eating his normal seeded biscuits and buttered scones, wearing his normal outfit and performing his normal routine. In fact, he and his family “never had any adventures or did anything unexpected” (Tolkien, p.15) and they liked it that way.

So how could it be that suddenly he found himself whisked away on a wonderfully dangerous adventure amongst mismatched dwarves where he faced evil forces, unknown dangers, and confronting the notorious dragon Smaug? It was because there was more of a deeper plan for Bilbo than he knew or could see with his own eyes. He was a vital part of a much bigger plan.

Like Bilbo, most of us have found that we don’t want to easily move from our comfortable spot. Whether that means the job you’ve had for years, the place where you live, relationships, or even just the way you handle things— the perspective you have on life and what is expected or not expected of yourself. I believe each one of us has ingrained in us a thankfulness and a contentedness for comfort, routine, and the simple things of life— and that is so, so good. But, I also believe that, like Bilbo, we can hear a new call… deep down in our spirit. A “call” that means we are made for greater things than just our regular routine. Have you felt that call? Maybe it comes in the form of a thought, idea or dream that wakes you up in the middle of the night. Or perhaps it was more subtle, like when engaging with something new your heart just starts to sing… a new passion may be arising- a passion from our King himself. 

Like our fictional friend, Bilbo, we have been called to a higher and different purpose, more than likely something far beyond imagination. Bilbo never even comprehended the adventures he’d go on, the bravery that would rise in his heart, and the way his character would be renewed, changed and challenged.  The Bible says,

“It is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

The adventure, the break away from our own life, routine, and “normalcy” is awaiting us. And the good news is it is Holy Spirit led. We don’t know where to start, what to go, what to do… but the Holy Spirit does.

We are being led by the spirit the new things God has for us to do before we walk on from this earthly life, they are being revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

Remember the little twinges in our heart for more—the things that clue us into the fact that we were meant for more? That’s the Holy Spirit. It’s His gentle tap tap on our hearts.

“Wake up, sweet one.” He whispers whether we are physically asleep or even just “asleep” in our own normal lifestyle. “Wake up and come with me.”

We rub the sleep from our eyes, or maybe the more stubborn of us will turn around and go back to sleep until that gentle tap tap comes back again.

“Come with me.” He calls again.

“But where? How? Why?” We want all our questions answered before we inch one foot to the ground from beneath our comfortable blankets.

“Come and see.” He says with a sweet smile.

Somehow we know all will be okay. Somehow we have been waiting for this exact moment even though we did not know it. The moment we come alive again. A Great Awakening of sorts.

So, we inch one sock covered foot out from underneath our warm covers. Perhaps, like Bilbo, we look longingly at our warmth, our comfort, our place of normalcy. Will we shirk back and ignore the call or follow?

The Holy Spirit stands there like a gentleman, waiting. No pushing or shoving, but we can feel an urgency from him.

Finally, we sweep ourselves from the warm environment we have been so comfortable in.

We take one step.

His face lights with a smile. “Now let’s go.”

Together, hand in hand, we are led out to the new calling, the new adventure.

Oh, I guarantee just like the fantasyland of Middle Earth, there will be danger. There will be uncomfortable moments. But somehow, we are becoming who we were meant to be, who we really are. And there is no greater joy than to be fully alive, fully who God made us to be.

So we continue step by step on a wondrous journey that not only brings new steps, but also fulfills the longing in our heart that we’ve had all along: To be a part of HIS plan. Our true identity. Our true place.

The very best first step I have found in taking this new journey is: making space for God.

This can look like:

  • Taking a few moments each morning before getting out of bed to ask God His plans for the day
  • Realizing the next time you have that “heart zing” of a new passion for something and paying attention to it
  • Taking the opportunities God sends your way even if they seem out of the norm, uncomfortable, or something you wouldn’t usually be interested in.

In all these things, “Listening” is the common denominator.

Let’s listen for that gentle nudge towards that new path. Let’s be willing to step out from what has been comfortable.

“See, I am doing a new thing!

    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

Isaiah 43:19

The awesome thing about this “new thing” God is doing in our lives is it not only transforms us into who God made us to be— but our life is used for His purposes and for His glory— shining the truth to those who wouldn’t have seen the light. It opens new avenues for others to see Christ’s light in us and come to know and love God for themselves. (Matthew 5:16)

Yes, there are others who are dependent on the message He has placed inside of us. They need His light so desperately. So let us go forth knowing that the Holy Spirit will lead us. Our job is to take that first step, to make room for Him. He will continue to lead and guide us. And, what an adventure it will be! And the light… the light that will shine as we journey on and also as we share our stories— that will make all the difference. It will help bring a great ray of Jesus’ light into the world… and as we know the world needs the LIGHT now more than ever before.

So may you be inspired by dear old Bilbo Baggins (it might be time for you to read or re-read that book!) and may you realize that God has great plans for you— adventures! He’s calling you out to a new place… a place where you become who you are meant to be. Let’s take the first step and make room for Him.

Until next time,

PS. I love the worship song “Make Room” by Community Music. Listen to it this week and commit in your heart to acknowledge His ways this week and see where He leads you!

Another P.S. Next blog post I am so super excited to share with you our most delicious sugar cookie & icing recipe as we get ready for Valentine’s Day. (I dare say the recipe would be “Hobbit approved”, those hobbits sure love their snacks)

Featured

Snow Storms of the Soul

Living here in Colorado we are not unaccustomed to a snowy, even at times, blizzard-prone winter (and let’s not discount spring too!) We find ourselves at the beginning of the season, singing the four part harmony of “Snow, Snow, Snow” from Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, but after the successful or unsuccessful white Christmas, the snow allows for two opportunities: (1) playing in the snow (yes, all the sledding, snowball fights, and building of snowman galore) and (2) becoming discouraged with the amount of snow and frigid days (thankfully Colorado can be quite mild at times, but still…). We are always happy when the ground begins to thaw and that possible “last” snow has passed (even if it is early May- yikes 😮). It’s something akin to the “Long, Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder, although not quite as destitute, yet don’t tell our “hope for spring time” souls that, because it sure does feel long and endless. 

It makes me think about Ecclesiastes 3:1 and how Solomon wisely proclaims that “there is a season for everything”. I do enjoy living in a state that experiences four seasons, but what about the seasons of the soul? How do we endure the seasons of challenge, opposition, or disappointment? I saw a quote (although I do not personally know the author) that resonated with my soul:

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

LR Knost

I think that could be interpreted as a modern version of what Solomon was advising his readers in Ecclesiastes. There’s a time of all kinds of different seasons of the soul, and situations we face… but we can breathe and hold on through them all. And for us as Christians, we are not merely “holding on” to get through these different times, we are actually being HELD during it all. 

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 

I think about the snow, and snowstorms, and it reminds me of my favorite blizzard (yes, being a Colorado Native I have been in several!):

I remember a blizzard when I was a kid where we all got snowed in at my Grandparent’s farm. Both my family and our cousins’ family made a visit, and before we knew it, large snowflakes started to fall, and fall fast. Hearing the news updates of the conditions of the road, as well as the power going out, caused us to hunker down using candles for lighting and the stove for heat as vast amounts of snow fell. I always remember that night, because as a kid, it was so magical to be able to spend the night at the grandparents (on the couch & floor) snuggled with my cousins for warmth. I remember, even then, writing in my notebook about the experience, knowing it was a special moment in time. After figuring out cold dinners, how to borrow diapers from the neighbor for the baby, and plenty of story telling by the fire–the next morning came, the skies clear. The snowing had stopped. With plenty of shoveling, we were able to four wheel out with an Uncle’s truck and return back home via snow logged roads.

The point of the story being, what could have been a scary blizzard actually ended up being an adventure (as a kid) because we were sheltered, safe, together, and we knew the storm would eventually end. One thing about storms of any kind (as well as seasons of life and situations) is that they are not permanent. Yes, it’s the impermanence of snow and storms that gives our heart courage. During this instance, I’m sure my parents were frazzled about our house, the powerlines, the pipes, etc.— but knowing the snow would soon stop, the roads would soon clear, and things would return to normal— we were able to nuzzle in at our safe place and enjoy a special time inside during the storm. The clouds were white, the snow poured down, the power went out… yet inside, next to that stove we were all nice and cozy. In fact, we all recall that day with fondness because it somehow tore us from the endless marching on of regular days and gave us space for a deep breath and connection together. 

I know in our own lives the storm clouds can gather, situations can pour down that feel out of our control: relationship trouble, finances, health or any situation of sorts. Opposition, anxiety and fear. We feel like we must hold our breath, get through it. But God’s calling to us: 

“I’m here in the storm,” He says and motions us into the old comfy farmhouse. “Come and be safe.” 

We walk, with weary snow-covered steps to the porch, then enter inside stomping our feet as we go.

He has the stove warmed and roaring, the red hot fire in its belly. 

We would peel off layers of jackets, pants, and wet socks. 

He’d snuggle a blanket around our shoulders, light a candle and come sit next to us. 

Slowly, the cold would release from our fingers and feet, our cheeks rosy with warmth from the stove. 

He’d begin to speak and the time of sharing would begin. 

It’s the kind of sharing that would only happen here and now. It’s a treasure of sorts.

We find ourselves less focused on the flicker of the power lines, and instead, focused on the warmth of His presence, and the snap and crackle of the warm fire before us. 

Instead of focusing on the howling of the storm, we hear His voice and His heartbeat in our ear as we lean on Him. 

The place of the storm is transformed into a place of special connection, warmth, and love. 

Instead of fear, we see Him. We feel His love in our hearts, warm as the embers in the fire stove before us. 

I’m starting to learn our times of stormy, difficult weather of the soul is bearable because He is with us in the storm, providing safe shelter and protection. And not just that (like that isn’t enough! 😮) But also he provides His LOVE and the constant companion of His presence.

All fears are gone because Perfect Love casts out fear (1 John 4:8). ❤️

Nothing can separate us from His presence (Romans 8:38). ❤️

So next time the snow flurries start to fly from all angles– sending storms of challenges and opposition— Let’s get to the fire, the warmth, and the safe shelter of His presence. 

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 36:7

It is a place we can live in. 

It’s a place that we can feel at home, safe and free until the storm blows over and the sun comes out. 

Because even then, even in joy, He is with us. 

(For a great companion article to this please check out my last entry https://melanietalevski.com/2021/01/01/a-guarantee-for-the-new-year/

Until next time, 

PS. Here are some pictures of our snow adventures and fun over the years! 

Fun fact: We got engaged in the middle of a huge blizzard here in Colorado in March of 2003. We got over 32 inches of snowfall over 3 days, making it the second snowiest storm in Denver’s history! 😮 

Featured

A Guarantee for the New Year

All around us “Hallelujah” choruses break out— We are done with 2020— bring on the New Year! 

I have always loved how new hope arises at the start of a new year. Around the new year I often like to sit down and record all the best thoughts of the year we are leaving behind and record hopes and dreams for the next year. My eyes are always opened to valuable nuggets from the past year as I go back and do this, but I know most of us are saying “Good Riddance” to 2020. We are ready for a New Year with a new start and along with that hope of the New Year perhaps we’d like some guarantees for 2021…

Like maybe a guarantee that we will be home free from coronavirus 

Or that our local coffee shop will be open for dine in again. 

Or how about a guarantee of a nice vacation— perhaps somewhere tropical? 

Or guarantee of a new house, 

Or return of a loved one. 

Or freedom from an illness… 

What about a guarantee for a year of better health? For ourselves, family and friends. 

Or a guarantee of a good, productive year 

Perhaps finally doing that thing we’ve always wished to do…

Yes I’d like all these guarantees and more… wouldn’t you? 

As much as I wish these things were guaranteed for 2021 the truth of the matter is that a new year will unfold and there is only one thing 100% guaranteed for sure— and that is the steadfastness of God. 

Each Christmas season I find myself meditating on one of Jesus’ names: Emmanuel- God with us. In that name is all the treasure trove, all the help, all the secure protection we could ever hope for. 

God loved us so much He sent His Son— apart of himself— into this dark night— dark world. The Light has come! 

The same is true for us today— His name still is “Emmanuel: God with us”. He is here— in the darkest night— in the moments of 2020 we thought we couldn’t go on. 

And now we can know, without a doubt— 

It is guaranteed 

He will be with us in 2021 too— 

Steadfast to the end. 

Now the truth of that, if we’d just take a moment to mediate on it, will wrap us up in comfort and hope just like a big cozy blanket. Big cozy blankets… they are just the thing we need right now, aren’t they? They are warm and safe. Our kids each received a fuzzy blanket for Christmas, and let me tell you, it is hard to get them out of those things. Once they are snuggled in, reading a book or watching a show, it is a most comfortable spot they are not willing to forfeit easily.

The same can be true of us—sure grab your physical blanket— but also make sure to “clothe” yourself in the peace that comes from meditating on the steadfastness of God. It’s a comfort like no other. It drives away the darkest night, sends fear packing, and brings light into the situation. 

In Psalm 119: 7-12 it says is no where that we can go to flee His presence. There is no year that He is not there. No situation that He’s unaccounted for. 

He is with us. 

And perhaps in these moments of extra challenge— we see His light burn brighter than our eyes would have seen in the normal light of day— it’s in the darkness that our hearts yearn for the Great Light and, just like a cozy blanket, it brings us warmth and comfort to us weary travelers. 

I think of the shepherds— accustomed to roaming the dark fields and guarding their sheep— that night the dark sky lit undeniably with Heavenly Presence and their night of darkness was interrupted by the news of a baby in the manger. 

And the wisemen— their scopes in hand— took in the night sky, yes they had each star memorized. But there— something new— a star— a Presence of Heavenly Glory guiding them to the Christ Child. It interrupted their normal sight for a view of the spectacular that led them to the new king. 

So you see— the darkness— the normalcy— it is interrupted by a Great Light and that light shines even GREATER because so dark was the night all around.  

Perhaps in the darkest night (or a challenging year) where our normalcy is tested— we see Him shine all the brighter. 

We see that He is “Emmanuel- God with us”. 

Nothing (no virus, no lack, no fear or worry) can separate us from His presence— from His love (Romans 8:38-39). And that is about all the guarantee I need for this new year— that I will NEVER be alone. His presence is with me. And just as surely as He is with me, He is with you too. 

So cozy up with the warming truth of that statement— yes drape that warm fuzzy, comfy blanket on your shoulders— and ask God to continue to reveal who He is to you more and more. Ask Him to teach you, to open your eyes in a new understanding. I believe He will. And that truth, it will set our lives ablaze… for when we behold the steadfastness of our wonderful Father, we in turn realize that we are steadfast because we are found in Him. Nothing moves Him, nothing shakes Him. And because we are found in Him, we can be immoveable, unshakeable through the greatest challenges too. 

Yes, it is the best guarantee (only guarantee we can be sure of) is that He is Emmanuel God with us. 

“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5

Happy New Year, friends! 

Until next time, 

Featured

An Infusion of Strength

One of the best cups of tea I have ever was from the breathtaking, historic Brown Palace Hotel in Denver at their afternoon Christmas tea. The Brown Palace is featured in many books, movies, and tv series (Hallmark’s Sign Sealed and Delivered being one of them) and with its history dating back to 1892, it has been visited by royalty, presidents, celebrities and the like. And my, it is a beautiful site especially when all spiffed up for Christmas.

Our tradition is going to the Brown Palace for afternoon tea during the Christmas season with the women of our family: my grandma, my mom, myself, my sister, and just recently my oldest daughter. We make sure to dress up and take our time.

Once tea time is announced (it has been reserved for at least a year!) we make our way to the dining area where the quaint tables and chairs are. After cozying up in a spot (some have nooks and crannies) we all order: would it be earl grey, rooibos or perhaps an oolong? And your choice of finger sandwiches: classic cucumber, a turkey with spicy aioli on rye bread, or curry egg salad? (They are finger sandwiches, so try all three!)

We make our selections and settle back to enjoy conversation and the beautiful atmosphere of this historic hotel.

Soon the server arrives with the tea, and after making quite a production (at least it feels that way to me— I do not usually enjoy meals at such a refined place!) the tea is poured and the teapots set to the side. The infusion is the perfect blend— not too strong or too weak. Yes, they are masters at their craft. They also add a little server of real Devonshire cream (shipped from England) and sugar cubes (both raw sugar and the refined white). We use the little tongs to place the proper amount of sugar in our tea cups and add cream if we like, then lift our pinkies and smile as we act like the refined ladies that we are (not). 😆

The rest of our tea time unfolds as if it was straight from the pages of a story book, and far too quickly our appointment is done. But we comfort ourselves with the thought of coming again next year (or one year soon!) and enjoying this special holiday tradition. 

Having tea prepared for you at a fancy tea is much different than trying to make the concoction at home! I just recently experimented with brewing loose leaf tea at home and, without the proper strainer,  I  ended up with tea leaves floating in my tea cup. Yikes! I have since brewed a few more cups and the results have often resulted in too weak of a tea. How long should I let it soak? These things are a mystery to me! What talent goes into making that perfect infusion…

The other day, while enjoying a (imperfectly infused) tea, I sat next to my Christmas tree and the whole house was still and quiet. I don’t know if you value quiet like I do but my, it was just so peaceful! I felt the spirit’s nudging… to get out my Bible in that moment instead of waiting until my usual time before bed. I pulled out my Bible and sped read through the first few verses as if I was on a deadline…. Just grabbing the necessities. 

Slow down, my heart whispered. 

Oh yes, that’s right. This was not a race or a “read quick to absorb main gist of things” situation. This was God’s Word… God’s presence awaiting me here, beside the Christmas tree– with my Bible and weakly infused tea in hand. I took a deep breath and reread the verses, slowly— taking in the details of the angel telling Mary about his plans and vision for her, then the majesty of the birth of Jesus. And you know what? The story came alive. It was the same when I turned to my verses for the day. They spoke softly right into the crevices of my heart— the part of my heart that I didn’t even know was tender, worn, or tired. 

And let me tell you friends, this was seriously no longer than 10-15 minutes (I mean that is only 1/4 of a binge worthy show to watch, right?) and the results were incredible.

I felt that “infusion of strength” inside of me in the form of encouragement, a glow, and excitement for the Word– for God and what He has done and is doing in the world and in my little life.

I was amazed at the results I encountered from that special time away SOAKING in the word and with the Lord. It was just the perfect blend… perfect infusion that I needed for the moment.

Just like how that tea needs just the optimum time to infuse properly we need our own time to let the Word and God’s presence INFUSE into us in the proper measure.

If we allow time for the Word, for time in His presence, His infusion of strength will transfer to us and we will emerge different, new, BOLDER than we were before.

Oh, that time with the Lord is so precious! I now find myself forward to that special “infusion of strength” time again… and again. I still hold onto my nightly devotional routine (because that is just what works for right now) but I am learning to also let God speak to me in random times (not just my scheduled times).

I’m learning the strength that comes from the example of the tea brewing… the proper infusion of the strong tea leaves and the lifeless water to make the perfect blend. The blend that emboldens my heart and sets my heart on His path for the day. Do you know it can be the same for you too? Soon presents will be unwrapped and moments of the content afterglow of Christmas will linger. I plan to take time (maybe while my kids tackle their new lego projects! 😉 ) to grab my Bible and settle in by the Christmas tree. I’ll go in with the purpose to just soak with the Lord, letting Him infuse me with His strength, direction and encouragement. I encourage you to do this too. He knows just what each one of us need!

And, in being realistic…. there are those moments we aren’t able to sit still or quiet ourselves. And that is okay. Perhaps we are in the middle of errands or doing family activities or making a first cup of coffee (or tea) when we feel that gentle nudge on our hearts— the gentle tap of God’s whispered, “I am here”. Even in the busyness, we can acknowledge His presence and let the Lord transfer a bold emulsion of His strength.

Just this week we had one of those nudges of His presence while busy viewing the Christmas lights together as a family. Coming upon a beautiful scene, including the nativity scene, our youngest called from the back seat— “Mom, I feel the Christmas Spirit. Do you feel it?” I took a moment to breathe, to smile, to acknowledge the sweet reminder of His presence there with us even in the midst of the simple notion of looking at Christmas lights. “Yes, sweetie, I feel it…” we proceeded to talk all about Christ– the true Spirit of Christmas. Even in the quick, little things God has a transfer of just the amount of peace, love, PRESENCE that you and I need. 

I encourage you to INFUSE yourself in the word this week and in relationship with God. I get it, there are so many things calling our names…. Deadlines, appointments before the end of the year, children’s school work, not to mention all the things that need to be done for Christmas/New Year…. But this season is precious, so much deeper than any one of us comprehends.

Take time to slow down and savor the “royal blend” our savior Jesus has for you today. You will find it is exactly what you need! 

So grab your tea (or coffee), your Bible and head over to the Christmas tree. Sit there, and even if it is noisy… imperfect, or interrupted, let God speak to your heart through His Word. Let His Word infuse you. It’s the perfect blend every time! 

Here are a few of the scriptures that spoke to my heart the other day: 

Luke 2:1-7

2 Corinthians 13:11

Galatians 5:22

Ephesians 2:14

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 

Until next time, 

Featured

My Top 3 Favorite Fiction Reads of 2020

There is nothing like snuggling up with a good book next to the Christmas tree, warm drink in hand, fire crackling in the hearth. Whether you are looking for a good read for yourself or an inspirational idea for a book to gift, you have come to the right place. I want to share my top three favorite fiction reads of 2020 with you (not necessarily published in 2020, but books I found in 2020!) I hope you pick up a copy, whether through your local bookstore, online retailer, or library to read and be encouraged this season or you can add to TBR list for 2021.

Quite the coincidence (or maybe not– after all they do produce great writing!) all three of my favorite books for this year are by authors who are on “My Top Five Christian Authors List” (along with Rachel Hauck and Denise Hunter).

So let’s get right into it:

BOOK ONE: A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

First up is my latest read of 2020, A Castaway in Cornwall by author Julie Klassen. It just released December 1st so grab your copy online or request from library as soon as possible!

The main spiritual theme seen in this book is FORGIVENESS: Forgiveness of others and also forgiveness of self.

From the back of the book:

Laura Callaway daily walks the windswept Cornwall coast, known for many shipwrecks but few survivors. She feels like a castaway, set adrift on the tides of fate by the deaths of her parents and left wanting answers. Now living with her parson uncle and his parsimonious wife in North Cornwall, Laura is viewed as an outsider even as she yearns to belong somewhere again.

When ships sink, wreckers scour the shore for valuables, while Laura searches for clues to the lives lost. She has written letters to loved ones and returned keepsakes to rightful owners. She collects seashells and mementos, and when a man is washed ashore, she collects him too.

As Laura and a neighbor care for the castaway, the mystery surrounding him grows. He has abrasions and a deep cut that looks suspiciously like a knife wound, and he speaks in careful, educated English, yet his accent seems odd. Other clues wash ashore, and Laura soon realizes he is not who he seems to be. Their attraction grows, and while she longs to return the man to his rightful home, evidence against him mounts. With danger pursuing them from every side, will Laura ever find the answers and love she seeks?

My review: FIVE STARS! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ This story couldn’t have held me more captive! Julie Klassen takes a different and new turn in this book, adding a huge element of mystery and adventure, in an all new English location. With beautiful descriptions of the scenes off the shores in Cornwall, an action-packed journey to Jersey and two lovable characters who transform before the reader’s own eyes– Julie has a masterpiece on her hands! I enjoyed the book tremendously and felt as if I had journeyed with the characters– identifying with Laura in her need for closure from her past and Alexander in his long journey back home to make things right.

I just found the writings of Julie Klassen the end of 2019 and have blazed through thirteen of them this year! Some of her other books that are my favorites are: An Ivy Hill Christmas (New Release), The Tutor’s Daughter and Girl in the Gatehouse.

Check out https://julieklassen.com for more information!

BOOK TWO: The Number of Love by Roseanna White

This was my very favorite read of 2020! I had never read this author before and have come to find she is now one of my top favorites.

The main spiritual theme of this book is authenticity in relationship with God, relying on God. The main character, Margot, faced tragedy in the book and also wrestled with a time of frustration in not being able to hear from God. The book showcases her struggles when it seems God is silent, her authentic calling out to Him, and His answers for her– mainly through His presence. I felt this was one of the most real portrayals of a Christian walk that I have read in Christian fiction thus far and it resonated with me deeply, especially how the world seemed to come alive again when she found her faith restored in Christ. It also holds spiritual notes of love and loss.

From the back of the book:

Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together. 

My review: FIVE STARS! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (Can I please give 6 or 7? 😉)

Roseanna White’s book is a page turner! With a masterfully crafted plot and characters, she thrusts the reader into the secret intelligence hub of the Admiralty, Room 40: Codebreakers. I found myself enraptured with all the action of intercepted messages, espionage, and a good love story. The main character Margot, was so different from usual heroines with her love for numbers, quirkiness and determination to not fall in love. The love interest, Drake, was swoon worthy as a secret spy and tender brother to his sister, Margot’s best friend. Together they get into quite a tangle, including an unnamed enemy who’s narration shows up through the book causing quite the element of suspense. Things go topsy-turvy and get nitty gritty in this amazing read and this was definitely a page turner– one I couldn’t put down (I truly think I read it in record time 😮). It’s definitely on my re-read list– yes, it is that good!

Make sure to check out Book 2, On Wings of Devotion, and Book 3, A Portrait of Loyalty in the series as well. This is my favorite new series and on my Christmas list this year!

News! Roseanna has a new book, Dreams of Savannah, releasing January 5th.

Find out more about Roseanna and her books at https://www.roseannamwhite.com

BOOK 3, Daughter of Cana by Angela Hunt

And while so many books clamored to be named in this third and final book slot, I am always sure to enjoy an Angela Hunt book! She’s been my absolute favorite author since I found her in my college days with The Heirs of Cahira O’Connor series. Lately she is writing Biblical fiction and I loved how each time I read one of her books, my eyes are opened to the historical context of Biblical events (Esther, Bathsheba, Mary of Magdalene, Cleopatra to name a few) and possibilities within a fictional context. (And guess what? I have come to know Angela as a fellow writer by attending her writing conferences in 2017-2019. She’s a creative soul and such a pleasure to know.)

For this specific book, The main spiritual theme of this book is the process from DOUBT to BELIEF. Through the eyes of the disciple Thomas’ sister, Tasmin, and Jesus’ brother, Jude, we see them process the unbelief at Jesus’ transition into ministry and claim as the son of God and go on a journey leading them to their own proclamation of faith.

From the back of the book:

When a miracle-working stranger draws Tasmin’s twin brother away from her side, she becomes determined to win him back. Thomas and Tasmin, twin siblings hired to oversee a wedding feast in Cana, worry when the host runs out of wine . . . until a guest tells Tasmin to have the servants fill the pitchers by the gate with water from the cistern. Reluctantly, she obeys, and is amazed when the stagnant rain water turns into the finest wine ever tasted in Cana. When Thomas impulsively decides to follow the teacher from Nazareth, he and Tasmin argue, and since the twins have been together since birth, Tasmin can’t accept losing her brother to some prophet-magician. Aided by Jude, younger brother to Yeshua of Nazareth, she decides to find the wandering group of idealists and do whatever she must to mend her fractured relationship with Thomas and bring her brother home.

My Review: FIVE STARS! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️I absolutely love how reading this book opened my eyes to the troubling doubt that Jesus’ own brothers (and sisters) could have had about him being the Son of God. The book includes Jesus’ first miracle–the turning of water to wine– and the author is very careful to have Yeshua’s dialogue only come straight from the Scriptures (keeping it accurate and unpolluted). Hunt also weaves a fictional story of what Thomas’ twin could have been like, and her own process of coming to believe in Jesus as the son of God. So much action, history, and excitement are included in these pages making it a stellar read.

News! Angela Hunt has a new book, A Woman of Words (Jerusalem Roads Book 3), featuring a fictional account of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Matthew’s retelling of Jesus’ Ministry, coming out May 4th. (Did I mention her Biblical fiction is just soooo good?! 😉)

Find out more information at https://www.angelahuntbooks.com

So, as you can see, I gave each of these books FIVE STARS and I am very picky with my book ratings. Not many books I rate get more than a 4 or 4.5. (Ha ha!) So that shows you the caliber of these wonderful reads. Check my profile out at Goodreads Link at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/74295832-melanie-talevski to see more of my reads for 2020.

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Featured

An Unexpected Gift

I have to say that unexpected gifts are the best, wouldn’t you agree?  I will always remember the Christmas that I received the best and most unexpected gift…

I heard my sister’s soft socks muffled on the upper stairway as I snuck around the corner of the downstairs stairway to where we would meet on the main floor. The scene of the tree, aglow with plenty of presents beneath, took our breath away. It was Christmas morning, 2 a.m., and my ten-year-old self was excited to see if any present under the tree would fit the shape and size of something on my wish list. As I took a closer look, I gasped out loud, for there, sitting on top of a large box was the kindest, royalist, softest lion— a tribute to Aslan, the main character, from the stories my dad read me aloud from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. I could see, even from a distance, the flowing mane of the lion, and the kind brown eyes– just like I had imagined as we read chapter after chapter each night. More than anything I wanted to go touch it, feel the wispiness of the mane. Instead, my loyal sister and I snuck back down to my room to talk about the unexpected gifts we had seen…I don’t think we got a wink of sleep after that “sneak peek” and if my memory serves right… it was the last year we had a large unwrapped present under the tree. 😆

These pictures are a few years prior of me & my little sis at Christmas time:

That Christmas, so many years ago, remains a strong memory because the gift was exactly what I desired even though it hadn’t been a part of my official wish list. Isn’t that true of unexpected gifts? It can be exactly what we need before we even know we need it! 

This Thanksgiving weekend, I am surprised to find a gift in my hands. After all, isn’t the gift giving supposed to wait until a little closer to Christmas?

I pull back the gift wrap a bit at a time… 

I hear God’s gentle and loving whisper, “It’s a gift especially for you… and in it is the greatest power to overcome this current world and all its challenges. Every attack that would come against you.” 

Now my curiosity is really running rampant. A sword to fight my way through battles? Something that could erase all wrong? No, neither of these sound right.

I know… it’s a Bible. Perhaps that is what is inside. The Bible does hold such power to overcome every attack. But no, this box is as light as air…

I release the ribbon and slowly ease open the box… a tuft of a sweet aroma fills the air. I am suddenly at ease. All the world’s power, the enemy’s power, even my own struggles… they melt. They have instantly lost their power. Song lyrics swirl through the air causing freedom inside of my soul, the tethers that have bound me, instantly loosed: 

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I stand

“In Christ Alone”

“What is this gift?” I whisper, in awe, not wanting to break the beautiful aura around me. 

“Eternity.” He whispers and the words reverberate in my heart. 

“Yes,” I find myself saying. “That’s it.” 

“This is a gift that no one can ever take from you. No problem, challenge, enemy, not even death itself can take this gift from you. It is my gift to you and it is secure, eternal.” 

I (Jesus) give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:28-30