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Feast for Thieves

Renee Ann Smith —  October 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

I guess I was predisposed to love Marcus Brotherton’s Feast for Thieves for two reasons . . . 

feast for thievesFirst, the Band of Brothers connection:

I’m a great admirer of Richard Winters and the men he fought side-by-side with during World War II. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched Band of Brothers, the docudrama that memorializes their lives.

Author Marcus Brotherton—who wrote books about Band of Brothers heroes Shifty Powers & Buck Compton, and then shared the men’s personal memories in A Company of Heroes and untold stories in We Who Are Alive and Remainbased his Feast of Thieves main character on a real life, little-known paratrooper from the 506th.

Second, the bad boy hero with a heart of gold:

Rowdy Slater is a grown up Huck Finn type main character. He looks like the rest of the disobedient boys, but his crimes have a noble cause at the root. He’s been damaged by the dark side of life, yet always finds compassion in his heart for those around him.

He’s one of those men who know violence well and could easily end up on the wrong side of the law when defending their own and how can you not love them? . . . Think Sawyer from LOST, Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights, Hook from Once Upon a Time, Raylan Givens from Justified . . .

Yeah, Rowdy Slater is that kind of guy . . .

Until the day he learns that Jesus’ 1st congregation consisted of 2 thieves

. . . and that maybe there’s hope for him, too.

What’s the story? Sergeant Rowdy Slater, formerly the most incorrigible paratrooper in Dog Company during WWII, finds himself beholden to the desperate sheriff of a crime-riddled town. He’s offered an odd choice: serve one year as the town minister or go to jail. Though he’s the most unlikely candidate imaginable, Rowdy takes the deal. Fortunately, the sheriff’s pretty daughter knows a thing or two about training up a preacher. Unfortunately, a ruthless criminal with a hold over Rowdy, is hot on his heels.

What I liked best . . .

  • Rowdy’s open & honest search for meaning and desire to change
  • The quirky characters Rowdy meets up with in Cut Eye, Texas
  • Especially, the poetry-spouting sheriff’s daughter
  • The heartbreaking four-year-old who holds Rowdy’s heart in her delicate hands
  • The action-packed plot & fun dialogue
  • The water motif—various creative “baptisms” mark Rowdy’s inner growth & faith journey

My favorite quotes . . .

Feast for Thieves“Bobbie called this grand idea grace. It was all about giving a man a favor he didn’t deserve . . . Grace meant a man could truly change with God’s help, no matter what the fella had done.”

Feast for Thieves“Once I was so hungry, so scared, so desperate, and a tree broke loose like a strong hand moved it. A tangle of branches passed over my head, and I shot to the surface from the river of destruction.

That’s when I heard him. I swear I did . . .‘Hey, fella! You want to live?’

How that man’s voice was reaching me so far under the water, I couldn’t rightly fathom, but there under the river, caught as I was and speeding along in the current of destruction, I nodded my head . . .

‘Then find the good meal and eat your fill.’”

What you should do next . . .

Follow this link to grab your copy of Feast for Thieves.  It would make a great Christmas gift for the avid readers on your list—teen boys included! ***Thanks to Marcus Brotherton & Side Door Communications for providing a copy for me to review.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made the first graphic with a background from my account at RGB Stock Photos & the second from an iPhone pic. Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for editing. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

About the Author: Marcus Brotherton is a journalist and professional writer known internationally for his books and literary collaborations with high-profile public figures, humanitarians, inspirational leaders, and military personnel. He has authored or coauthored more than 25 books.

marcus brotherton Notable works include We Who Are Alive and Remain, a New York Times bestseller, A Company of Heroes, which ranked No. 1 in the country among World War II/ Western Front books, and the widely-acclaimed Shifty’s War.

Collaborative works include projects with Lt. Buck Compton (one of the original Band of Brothers), apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias, NFL quarterback Colt McCoy, speaker Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, youth ministry expert Doug Fields, radio show host Steven Arterburn, youth speaker Ryan Dobson, university chancellor Rev. Wayne Cordeiro, and more.

Born in Canada in 1968, Marcus earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical education and journalism from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and a master’s degree in practical theology and writing from Talbot Seminary at Biola University in Los Angeles, where he graduated with high honors.

Marcus lives with his wife and children in Washington State.

You can connect with Marcus

At his website

On Facebook

On Twitter

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When God Sings

Renee Ann Smith —  October 16, 2014 — 11 Comments

Delight in her

I will take delight in her. I will rejoice over her with joyful songs. ~Jeremiah 3:17~

It’s been a crazy, busy week filled with much discouragement. After an especially difficult day, I lay in bed with tear-filled eyes & remembered this verse. What a comfort to imagine God singing me sleep.

The next morning, my circumstances had not changed. But maybe in some small way, I had.

So I’m re-sharing an old graphic. May it send you to sleep with a picture of your Heavenly Father sharing your tears, taking joy in you & singing a sweet song of comfort & peace as He watches over you and yours.

I’m sorry I haven’t been around to visit your blog as much this fall, sweet friends. And this week is no better. On Thursday I’ll be at a day-long seminar for teachers. Then this weekend at a retreat with the ladies from my church. We hit the road Friday morning to make the six hour trip to cabins in Maine. From there, I’ll be cut off from the internet world for a time. See you next week!

***Photo Backstory: I made the background for my graphic with bits & pieces from RGB Stock Photos PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world! Continue Reading…

Like Any Other Day

Renee Ann Smith —  October 13, 2014 — 8 Comments

SamaritanIt began like any other day.

Since she was an outcast, she approached the well late in the morning, after the daughters and mothers and grandmothers of the town had returned to their homes. This passage in John 4 lets us know that she’d been divorced or put away by five different men and now lived with a man who was not her husband—either he had refused to marry her or was already married to someone else. In any case, no respectable woman would have wanted anything to do with her.

Most men, too, would have shunned her. In spite of the fact that some of them should have publicly shared her guilt. They took refuge in a culture which under-valued and demeaned women.

Little did they know how far they’d strayed from God’s measure of the value of the individual.

Jesus ignored these social mores and did something completely shocking and revolutionary. He approached the woman in public and spoke with her. Not only did He speak with her, He asked her to give Him a drink.

He asked her to serve Him . . . That speaks to me.

Being needed is a powerful motivation within a woman’s heart, but few of us enjoy all the daily chores that come with being caretakers. However, our relationships with the ones we serve transform those household duties into acts of love.

The Bible doesn’t describe what events set this woman on her lonely path in life.

Samaritan Woman

(Click to Tweet)

But however it began, in my imagination I see her as someone who looked longingly on the homes around her, homes filled with friends and relatives and precious children.

Perhaps she wished she might be drawing water for just such a household.

Instead, she was asked to draw water for the Lord, Himself.

Then Jesus used something the woman would understand, thirsting for water, in order to introduce spiritual truths to her. Their initial interaction went like this . . . 

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

She said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?”

At first, she related to Him on a concrete level. She couldn’t understand why He’d asked her for a drink if He was hiding some secret stash of fresh water.

As their conversation continued, He threw out what seemed to be a completely irrelevant request, “Go call your husband and come here.”

Now Jesus was stepping into even more controversial territory. The woman responded, “I have no husband.” Not exactly the whole truth, but all she wanted Him to know.

Jesus said, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.”

Sounds like quite a judgmental, critical statement, doesn’t it? And, surprisingly, she didn’t walk away.

They talked further, and the woman mentioned being told of the Messiah, who would come to explain all things to them. At that time, Jesus fully revealed Himself to her with the statement, “I who speak to you am He.”

At those words, the woman ran to get the people she knew best, the men of the city.

And here’s the part I find truly amazing. She said to them, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

Why was it a good thing that Jesus knew everything about her?

Not only the damage six men had done to her heart but her own sinful thoughts and acts, as well.

I believe that somehow—through the look in His eyes or the tenderness in His voice or the respect in His manner—Jesus communicated this thought . . .

“I see all that you are, the good & the bad, and I cherish you anyway.”

He doesn’t join the ranks of our critics, who unfairly judge our words and actions.

He doesn’t need to create some false image of us as saints who never do anything wrong.

Samaritan Woman(Click to Tweet)

He clearly sees the reality of the true us—all that He intended us to be and how we have both fulfilled and fallen short of His vision—

And Jesus simply loves us.

How can we resist loving Him in return?

And how can we not submerge ourselves in the cleansing, life-giving water that washes the specks and motes and logs out of our eyes—and allows us to see others as He sees them?

As for this woman’s story, the Bible account ends with, “Many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman.”

Eternity changed for so many in just one ordinary day.

Now it’s your turn to share, dear friends! How have you seen the Lord work during the course of an ordinary day? Or what Bible story have you been amazed by lately?

***Photo Backstory: I made the backgrounds for my graphics with bits & pieces from RGB Stock Photos PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world! Continue Reading…

Message in the Skies

Renee Ann Smith —  October 8, 2014 — 9 Comments

Sky Jewelry Scripture Graphic(Click to Tweet)

Psalm 8
(The Message)

“GOD, brilliant Lord,
Yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;
Toddlers shout the songs
That drown out enemy talk,
And silence atheist babble.

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
Your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
Why take a second look our way?

You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
Repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us lords of sheep and cattle,
Even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
Whales singing in the ocean deeps.

GOD, brilliant Lord,
Your name echoes around the world.”

Don’t you love this Psalm? Let’s praise His name together!

I’m so thankful for your encouragement and that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I snapped this iPhone pic of a majestic beach in Florida during last year’s Deep Thinkers Writing Retreat.

Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world! Continue Reading…

Voices with No Words

Renee Ann Smith —  October 6, 2014 — 13 Comments

I love words. But sometimes my ears ring from the many voices of the media world, all clamoring for attention with “me first” intensity.

How easily all that noise dilutes the Voice of Truth I strain to hear.

I love words. But sometimes words fall short, and there is no language rich enough or strong enough or true enough to express the longings of the heart.

That’s when I turn to Psalm 19 and ponder the paradox: How can a voice communicate without speech, words, or sound?

unspoken truth Psalm 19

(Click to Tweet)

Psalm 19:1-4

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
Night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
 No sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
 Their words to the ends of the world.”

In The Message, verse 4 reads, “Unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.”

Quite a paradox. But I know it to be true.

Wordlessly, God’s creation forges a direct route to my heart—maybe because we’ve both felt the touch of the same sacred hands.

For the fingers that fashioned the heavens knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

Sacred Hands Psalm 139

(Click to Tweet)

So I adjust my spirit to perceive the voices without words. 

Deep in my inward being, questions are silenced and doubts are stilled as I respond to the invisible qualities that nature reveals. 

And I treasure those precious glimpses of my Father’s strength and smile and heart.

I’m thankful that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics from iPhone pics. I snapped my niece as she stood mesmerized by our beautiful Hudson River on a sunny fall day and used again the pic of our majestic Catskill Mountains from last week.

Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

Here’s the rest of Psalm 19:1-4 from the Message . . .

“God’s glory is on tour in the skies.
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning.
Professor Night lectures each evening.
Their words aren’t heard.
Their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth.
Unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.”

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You Are Autumn

Renee Ann Smith —  October 1, 2014 — 15 Comments

Every Season Nichole Nordeman

To me, Fall has always been a time for fresh starts and second chances.
Perhaps because I’m a teacher & my new year truly begins in Fall.

The irony is not lost on me that Autumn’s beauty comes forth from death, as the leaves release & make way for new life.

Maybe being a teacher makes me see that as a good thing—the older ones giving their lives that the next generation may flourish.

So on this Autumn day, “I offer thanks for what has been & what’s to come.” 

(Click to Tweet)

***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic from an iPhone pic of our beautiful Catskill Mountains, the constants in every season of my world.

Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

I’m thankful that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world! Continue Reading…

What God Says About Us

Renee Ann Smith —  September 29, 2014 — 12 Comments

Are your ears burning?

That’s because God and His Son are talking about you.
But unlike gossipers and critics,
their words always seek to build up and protect.

Even when Satan brings a case before God of all the reasons why we don’t deserve Heaven, Jesus intercedes for us . . .

Scripture graphic “In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues. You keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.” Psalm 31:20

(Click to Tweet)

I love knowing that accusing tongues don’t sway Him. He cherishes me and sticks up for me no matter what.

When I think of the emphasis God places on showing us that His Word is

  • Sharper than a two-edged sword,
  • Enlightening enough to be lamp to our feet,
  • Unchanging in the slightest jot or tittle,
  • And completely free from any error,

I’m amazed to see what He says in His Word about us . . . 

1. God considers us family—with all the privileges that go with that special relationship.

“’I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” II Corinthians 6:18

2. God will not remove Himself from our lives. He is always present & aware of all that is happening in our world.

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” II Corinthians 6:16

3. Jesus claims us as His own.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” John 10:14

4. Jesus knows the details about ourlives like no one else.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

5. Jesus assures us that we have great value.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

Scripture Graphic Birds

(Click to Tweet)

6. Jesus asks that we would be where He is. Our final destination is assured.

“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me, right where I am, so they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, having loved me long before there ever was a world.” John 17:24

May these words give us confidence today.  Because, truly, “if God is for us, who can stand against us?”

***Photo Backstory: I made the first graphic on an image I downloaded from my account at RGB Stock Photos. The second graphic is on a background I put together. Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

I’m thankful that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!
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Self-Pity Be Gone

Renee Ann Smith —  September 24, 2014 — 16 Comments

Max Lucado Before Amen“Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts. It flushes the self-pity out of our system.”
~Max Lucado, Before Amen~

(Click to Tweet)

***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic from an iPhone pic I snapped during last week’s school trip to Camp Iroquoina in Hallstead, PA. I had a wonderful time “planting seeds” with my students & soaking in the Autumn beauty all around me. How has Fall changed the landscape where you are?

Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & adding text. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

I’m truly thankful that you stopped by today. Blessings, friends!

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!
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