"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."~from ISAIAH 61 Bible verse for this Blog

APOLOGY to READERS who followed a SEARCH to HERE & didn't find it

On July 18, 2017, I drafted almost 3000 blog posts that I had published since 2008 when I began blogging, rather than edit each one. So if you clicked here from somewhere else and ended up with the post unavailable or error, I am sorry but this is why. It'd be too much work for me to go back and fix them. There's an explanation on 7/19/17 as I'm still learning.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"PILGRIMAGE ..." First Encounter

Cover Art


My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked

Since I am not an avid reader of fiction for adults, I have totally missed out on all the award winning books written by Lynn Austin, so "Pilgrimage ..." was my first book of introduction to Lynn Austin. She has now won me over to want to read more from her as one of her new fans, starting with "God and Kings" after reading this "pilgrimage".

Her "Pilgrimage ..." in the land of Israel and her life, was one that I could completely relate to and actually felt as if I too were a traveling companion with her as we discover the Biblical places and deepen our faith walk together. Her vivid descriptions definitely made me feel as if I was walking in her footsteps and that of others in the land of Jesus. I have always wanted to go to Israel and reading along through her journey somehow allows me to get a "taste of " the goodness of the Lord and what it would actually be like to venture from "the Wilderness" of Zin or "Judean" through the "Crossing of the Jordan River" to "Jerusalem" through "Galilee" and the "Far North" to behold the "Temple Mount" and "Holy Week" (each one of these was an actual chapter among the 12 in her book). 

Lynn Austin's ability to weave through biblical history, with such grand knowledge of tying places and events together, with scriptural insights and also her own personal application to reawakening her faith as she traces and walks us through the land where Jesus and others walked before us, is absolutely intriguing and amazing. I learned so much about my own faith and spiritual journey as Lynn openly penned her struggles with "spiritual dryness" due to loss and change in her own life, which is right where I was, at the time I chose to read and review "Pilgrimage..."

Israel 09 054

Reading Lynn Austin's honest depiction of her "Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked"
... moved me,  to also deepen my own faith walk as I became so engrossed in all she was contemplating as she hiked along and sharing her most intimate, inner thoughts that encouraged a renewed passion in me. I loved and began to pray the prayers that she included at the end of each chapter as if they were my heart's desire also, because I understood her and felt so honored to be able to have a glimpse of the Holy Land through her insights and masterpiece way of drawing you a visual picture. I, too, as other reviews have noted, may have liked some actual photos, but the digital book I read had images that seemed hand sketched included. On Lynn Austin's blog, I saw actual photos that would have been nice to include some, as quaint and precious as the sketches are, there is nothing like the REAL actual photos I saw. However, as I mentioned, Lynn Austin's superb descriptions definitely gave me as a reader, the image I needed of the place, even having never been there. (maybe the actual book does, since I read this on a digital reader)

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I have many highlights and favorites throughout this book, upon reading each chapter that one became my new favorite until I arrived at the final chapter as my favorite: "Going Home" (although I have favorite parts in every chapter marked by significant importance in my own journey) ...  I chose this one, because I would have to concur with Lynn Austin as she ends her book with these words: "My Pilgrimage to Israel might have come to an end but the next step in my journey is just beginning." added to these previous wise words from this same chapter:

"All of these Old Testament people accepted God's invitation to walk away from their settled, comfortable lives and begin again."

... As will I ... begin again, with a better understanding and appreciation of the biblical and historical knowledge that Lynn adds to this journey. I will be back for more reading of Lynn Austin and hope she will write more like this one. Her chapter of "Crossing the Jordan" brought me through a personal crossing as other chapters did also speaking to my spiritual walk, which then made each chapter more alive and real to me. I was intrigued and filled with awe and interest as I discovered more about me along with the Biblical insights and points that Lynn shares on her own personal journey on her holy tour of Israel. I just couldn't get enough and paused often to really grasp the magnitude of Lynn's archaeological and biblical insights and the difference she experienced as I did with her.

Thanks to Lynn Austin, even if I am never able to visit the Holy Land, I now am satisfied that I have seen it, with an additional insight that I would never had have, had I not read her book. My hunger and thirst has been filled once more with a renewed spirit, giving me the HOPE that I needed at this point in my life and blessed me with so much more. I am sure I will journey back through these pages again and again, discovering more hidden truths that will deepen and awaken anew my life experiences and faith. I would have loved to linger longer in this "Pilgrimage". I do hope I enjoy the fiction novels as much.

I recommend this book to others traveling through a "dryness" in your own spiritual journey, in need of a lift, fresh perspective or some hope, as well as those who have traveled or will travel to Israel. This book is well mapped out from the south to the north, from the beginning with an actual map to the end with Lynn Austin's conclusions. It's 5 stars for me!!! (which is well earned with the Star of Bethlehem of this blog for this season)!!

Disclosure of material connection:
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255

*[photo credits: Lynn Austin's blog]
I would have loved to included more of her photos 
but it's best if you go read and see them over at her blog.
I wonder if she has more on her blog elsewhere from her journeys in Israel?
Truly Fascinating!!! 
Wonderfully written.
Thanks Lynn. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

"COFFEE TALK WITH JESUS" Intimate Chats with the Savior {a GIVEAWAY}!!!

"Coffee Talk with Jesus" 
Intimate Chats with the Savior
by Barbie Swihart
book cover white with shadow 1300x1300

Delicious and intimate? 
even for a non-coffee drinker like me

Have you ever just wanted to sit down across the table
and chat with Jesus about 'life'? 

Well, I have and often do

Thanks to this new author, Barbie Swihart, and this sweet aroma from her new book "Coffee Talk with Jesus" I have and do chat, just like in my prayers. It's as if Barbie knew exactly what I needed to hear from Jesus or wanted to chat with Him about, like one of my best friends, after all He is! Barbie giftedly shows us how to listen and hear Jesus speaking to us as they chat. 

As I read her initial conversations, I could sense Jesus actually saying this to me, similar to other books I love and treasure by Sheri Rose Shepherd and Sarah Young. If you know and love those writers, then you'll love Barbie as well. She has a gracious way of sharing what the Lord reveals to her precious heart to encourage her and each of us on our journeys. I found that indeed Jesus' words just seemed to wash over me as I read and waited with an expectant heart through each of the 31 short, yet ever so full chats with "words" of love and encouragement that were ever so real to me! I could visualize Jesus actually sitting there and speaking this to me right where I seemed to be. 

Most of Barbie's "chats" include an actual scripture from God's Word included in it or woven in her words as she pens them so beautifully and honestly. She walks us through "who we are in Christ" as we search together, talking it over with Jesus and realizing the Truths written in His Word are now being spoken to us in "chats" like: "You are loved"; "You are Free"; "You are Forgiven"; "You are Valued". I actually begin to feel like I am; and He gets me and my doubt, or insecurity, or any lack I have had or have. I really needed what Barbie wrote in "You are not a failure" (one I really have battled with) that I seemed to read at just the right moment for me. I can see myself going back to different ones at different times to be reminded of how Jesus sees me, loves me (anyways) and speaks to me intimately. 

Barbie expresses some of our heartfelt issues then walks us through a talk where Jesus actually reassures us by helping us, holding us, quieting our hearts, hearing us, believing in us, carrying us, tearing down our walls and setting us free to dream once again {each of these are actual chats in Barbie's book} that deeply touched and stirred my heart to listen more closely.

As I read these the first time (then again and once again), I knew that Barbie should turn these "chats" into a gift that would be lasting for many of us to go back to time and time again. It's a great gift for any occasion for any age woman (although her chats are directed to "My Child" or "My Beloved One" some are to "Daughter" but are actually suited to either gender in my opinion yet I'm not too sure men would appreciate it as much, however they too need to hear these messages more from Jesus). I especially love that Barbie has added 3 sweet "ingredients" to her book: recipes, reflection questions and a precious prayer.

I highly recommend this book as a wonderful companion to my last review "His Treasure..." because both books are noteworthy "gems" of how God cherishes us, speaks to us and in "Coffee Talk with Jesus", He actually sits down as we listen to His heart as He has listened and heard our very own heart then calls to us to delight, dream, trust, believe and rest.

Barbie has a gift of expressing simple truths with tender words and such a sweet aroma, not just from coffee, but from Barbie's penned life rising up to God with a Christlike fragrance (2 Cor. 2:15) and hopefully there are more books to come from this new author. 


* I received a free pdf copy of this book in exchange for my review. I am so delighted that I was given the privilege to write this review on Barbie Swihart's first book, "Coffee Talk with Jesus: Intimate Chats with the Savior". It's a gift that keeps on giving. 

Barbie can be found on Facebook and at her beautiful blog: My Freshly Brewed Life!  You can also check out others that have reviewed her book (perhaps *their giveaway will still be open too, to give you other chances to win):
Days & Thoughts
*Simply Striving
more posting today and this week
Running this thing called life
Laura Rath~Journey in Faith
Holly Barrett ~ Reclaiming a Redeemed Life
Melanie Wilson ~ Psycho with 6


She has also made a GIVEAWAY of her book available to ALL of you that leave a comment here and on her blog, as well as others to WIN an autographed soft copy. I will leave this open all this week, closing at midnight on Dec. 7th. Be sure that you leave your email or a way for me to get in touch with you if you're the winner.  Books will be mailed en masse to All the winners by December 15th

Whether you win or not, Barbie's book is well worth the fantastic low price and makes a great gift either in soft copy or on Kindle!!!

C'mon y'all
out of 107 visits so far to this
only this many entries
My question wasn't that hard.
Final countdown
clicking away
who is

a Rafflecopter giveaway
need to notify me of the address you want the book sent
within 24 hours of notification
I have to pick again.

To my faithful visitors;
all of you who spend your valuable time here with me
I do appreciate you so much!

Thank you for taking your time to visit!

Love, Sweet blessings & Hugs!