Saturday, February 6, 2016

I want to give a word of testimony and praise to my Lord, Jesus Christ.

I want to give a word of testimony and praise to my Lord, Jesus Christ.

Two weeks ago I was facing a crisis coming right upon another crisis and it involved something that was supposed to be resolved in two weeks. At that moment I didn't think I could make it through another 24 hours, the pain was so deep in my heart. But I'm here to tell you that it's been two weeks and I'm still standing. I'm here to tell you that my God is faithful. I'm here to tell you to keep praising Him. What has changed? Probably for the most part, absolutely nothing, But I'm changing every day as I give my weariness and heartache over to Him. As I pray more, as I trust more as I hold on still to one of my life verses that He does work ALL THINGS out for my good; taking it a day at a time, an hour at a time and a moment at a time and I'm praying for y'all too.

Augustine said it stunningly: "In my deepest wound, I see Your glory and it dazzles me."

These three scriptures are awesome to me: "For I," says the Lord, "will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her." Zechariah 2:5  I am adding this to my life-verses, the first being Romans 8:28. And of course my new favorite: “He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won't disregard the small and insignificant, but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.” Isaiah 42:3 The Message


YOUR STORY MATTERS by Emra Smith is a small book wrote with a lot of heart. I found a lot of love and healing moments and amazing quotes within the 73 pages of this book. It is an easy read but also can be picked up and put down as needed.

At first the simplicity of the book put me off, but later as Emra shared her life in an honest way, I grew to truly love the book. It's a book I want to keep, but want to share, also.

The Sub-title is TeaTime Stories, The Essence of Why Your Story Matters and she really will encourage you to write your story as well as share your story. She includes her conversations with Jesus along the way and give resources in the back of the book that will help you realize how much your story matters. There is a salvation invitation as well as many beautiful scriptures scattered inside the book.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is at the beginning of chapter seven: "Mindful sharing your story during a dark time can be part of your healing process. As you share, sometimes you are the encourager, and other times you may need encouragement. Needing encouragement is normal; clouds surround and descend upon us all. Allowing another person to help lift the load relieves the strain from your heart. It becomes a promise of light in the night.”

Many thanks to BookCrash who sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This article was on the spot for me today but I do believe in praying Thy will be done, Thy kingdom come and also know that the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy our peace, our children and our marriages. We have to BE THE CHANGE by our choices whenever possible.

Key quote and much needed article: "I have dreams for my children and I've received prophetic words for them, but I must lay them down at the altar and trust God with their lives. Ultimately my children must know Him intimately and I need to get out of the way. I can't control their lives. My children must have their own story in God." Leilani Haywood

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

To all of our members, our moms, our sisters, and a few brave men, please know that you are in my heart and prayers every day. I only know a few of you personally but I know the spirit within you, the Spirit of the Most High God, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is who bonds us together in love. We exalt Him and thank Him for all the answered prayers we have had this year. Together we are strong. You are loved! By me.

Merry Christmas 2015

Kinsman Redeemer

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

For the first time in my life I looked at the calendar and knew my father's birthday. I am 64-years-old. What took so long? To whom do I owe gratitude for this gift?

The last time I remember seeing my dad I was eight-years-old. As far as I know we never lived together as a family in the little valley just west of Chattanooga, Tennessee where I was born. He was in the military; my mom was a child bride. We lived with my grandmother who taught piano lessons, played at Flintstone Baptist Church, raised chickens and made the best apple jelly I ever tasted.

Kinsman Redeemer is a beautiful title and that is what I think whenever thoughts of Uncle Henry Collins come to mind; an uncle I never really met until this summer, although he said he came to see me when I was a baby. Those of us who don't have roots or don't have complete roots on one side of their family might relate to the happiness of finding my 88-year-old Uncle Henry.

To find the meaning of the term I Googled, of course:
"What is a kinsman redeemer?"

Answer: The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need...

This definition resonated with me as many times I’ve been in trouble, danger, or in need. Through the years I tried to find out about my dad but my mom really didn’t want to talk about her short-lived marriage. Not having good relationships with stepfathers, I came to the conclusion, “Who needs a dad?” I lived that way for a long time. Maybe that is what pushed me to look for a Savior, a Father who wouldn’t disappoint me.

Yet many times as Father’s Day approached, I’d look online, in phone books and more, trying to find paternal roots. I thought Uncle Larry was a friend of my dad’s family and tried to talk him into giving me information and phone numbers. I found Uncle Henry’s name in the phone listings, and asked him about a Henry Collins but he said no, he didn’t think we were related. After Uncle Larry’s death I realized he’d had early onset Alzheimer’s and just couldn’t remember the connection. I grieve the lost years of joy I could’ve experienced if I’d known my Uncle Henry sooner. I'd already found out by accident that my dad, Donald, had died exactly one week after my Mama died seventeen years ago. So I knew to quit looking for him but it was only last year that I had that information.

But, lo and behold, I found my uncle by way of Facebook! Baxter Little, an old friend of my mom’s, saw a post where I was looking for relatives or kin as they still say in Chattanooga Valley. So, I'm dedicating my Christmas note to my new kinsman redeemer, Uncle Henry, not in the biblical sense, but as the redeemer of memories, dates, people, and happy thoughts. When I talk to him, I think it's nearly like talking to my own dad and I’m grateful for that. He gathered the family and gave me pictures and even made a tape for me to listen to about family roots when I went to visit. Move over, Alex Haley, I might write the next Roots book, yet! I’m blessed with his sense of humor when we talk on the phone and one day he even sang me a song. Thinking about that makes me cry, it was so sweet. I love to hear his voice and it brings joy to me whenever he calls.

Uncle Henry never had a child and I never had a real dad relationship; I give credit to my last stepfather, John, who tried to be a dad to me. But as I said before my heart was so cold towards fathers that only the Lord could melt it. I wondered for years why my own dad didn’t try to find me, but I’m letting it rest as best I can. I’m happy to have met my other family that I never knew and what I’m learning is, just enjoy each one of my family members at whatever times we can get together. Yes, I’ll probably never let go of that dream planted deep in my heart to one day have the whole family, all children and grandchildren in the house together, loving each other and having compassion for each one’s journey in life. But some of our dreams don’t always come true this side of heaven. That helps us look forward to the day that the circle will be unbroken and Jesus will make all things new for us.

Donna Collins Tinsley

Y’all know me enough to know at Christmas
I have to honor my true Kinsman Redeemer,
Jesus Christ, my Lord.

Kinsman Redeemer

Kinsman Redeemer,
Be that to me
Kinsman Redeemer,
Oh let me see
A family redeemed
By the blood of the Lamb
A family in love
With the great I Am.

Mismatched, but sorted out
Pain and bitterness aside,
Let us show love
Let the bygones slide,
This Christmas season.

Kinsman Redeemer
What a beautiful thought
That You, O Lord
My God, have brought

Kinsman Redeemer,
Lover of my soul
You, alone
Can make us whole.

Take the broken chains of our hearts
Seal them with love,
Please, give us all a new start.

Let the oil of healing
And truth be our own,
Kinsman Redeemer,
Stand up by Your throne

Declare and decree,
What I cannot do,
Bringing about
A family healed by You.

Merry Christmas from Donna Collins Tinsley 2015

Although it's Christmas Eve it's also Thursday, a great day for recovery in the state of FL.

Lord, help families to heal this day and to walk before You in peace and healing we pray.

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings

How It Works:

When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." We have then completed Step Seven.

-A.A. Big Book p.76

Reposting this video because it is holy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Southern Saga continues with Every Girl Gets Confused

Every Girl Gets Confused is the second book in Janice Thompson’s Brides with Style series.

You'll find the old favorite characters with the addition of a romantic interest  for Aunt Alva of all people. I had thought Katie and Brady were a done deal as far as romance went so I was a little confused myself at first. Then the cute turn of events when the story focused on her grandmother getting married and the showers, dress and of course, the Cosmopolitan Bridal Store. All this love with seniors is kinda a new twist in romance novels and the ooh-la-la shower for a bride in her eighties was a sight to behold. All the changes in the family, the ongoing small town happenings at the Dairy Queen and the churches kept me turning pages. There was another beautiful story interwoven also of another couple planning their wedding amidst a family feud, too.

There were some serious issues touched on, such as the many and varied seasons of our lives. One of my favorite quotes from the book is where Katie says, "I'm not constant, Jane. I'm not. But God is. And if I've learned anything, it's that I can trust him in the seasons. When things are hard, I always tell myself, 'It's winter but springtime is coming.' Because if you think about it, spring always comes. Even when dreams are dying or relationships are ending, springtime is coming. So we can't give up."
I also loved the beginning quotes either by or about Doris Day. Many in this new generation may not even know who she is, so that was very cool.

Janice is fast becoming one of my favorite authors  and her tagline, "Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!" promises a pleasant journey, especially if you're like me, and love a little fiction vacation out of this world when times get tough.

Looking forward to the next book!

I was given a copy of this novel through Revell as I am on their book review team. In return I was delighted to give an honest review of the book.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Who's Keeping Your Vineyard?

"…They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept." Solomon 1:6

How often this verse has come to me as the busyness of life abounds. Going, doing, going, doing and not even really accomplishing anything of my own at times it seems. Oh, for the beauty of time spent in quiet and contemplation. Oh, for the words of our Lord to come and how does it come except in still, quiet moments?

"They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept."

Who are “they” anyway, the ones who made me the keeper of what perhaps they should be keeping? Why would I feel it’s good to leave my unkempt vineyard, or home or family to help them out? Why do I let the world define what is important or what I should attend to in my life?

On the other hand, I find that they might be me, as in ““WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US.” (Pogo) type of thing. Without thinking about Bible study starting back in the Fall, I signed up for an outreach group, signed up to have one at our home and also was trying to keep up with some online prayer group commitments, and a few groups that I was already in. It’s so hard to turn down being in groups and events that just make me happy when they’re doing things like making desserts for our firemen, giving lunch to a local police unit and visiting nursing homes. Those are truly things that make me so happy; Salt and Light really enhanced my life, that and of course Word Weavers Volusia Group.

I found myself in a much busier season than I really needed to be in, as I’m not including anything as far as home, husband, kids, grandkids and extended family in this mix. That’s why that verse so gripped me, I think when I read it.
"They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept."

When my sweet mother-in-law, Edie, says, “Donna, I don’t know how you do it!” I’m like, “Really! We both know my house is a disaster zone.” It’s nice of her to try and not notice it, but the reality is, I’m not superwoman like some women I know who work, clean, serve in many areas and are still standing at the end of the day. I admire those women and would love to be those women but it makes me tired just thinking about all that they do. And funny thing is some of them are also watching soap operas, too, and I’m good if I hear a few minutes of news here and there.

I’ve lived long enough to know that there is no good thing I can do on my own. I’ve, in my lifetime, been one of the most messed up women alive, worse than any hot mess around, but yet I found a Savior who brought me out, cleaned me up, pressed on with me and gave me love.

I will live my life proclaiming His name, JESUS, and by His grace put the past behind me. I have to stomp on the enemy sometimes constantly to be able to press on, dear friends. I have to declare and decree to live each day and many, many days my cry is, “show me how to live.” Show me how to live with the pain that is sometimes daily that our family isn’t healed and acting in a way that shows the beauty of the Lord. Show me how to live with broken chains of relationships. SHOW. ME. HOW. TO. LIVE. And then the Bible verse comes to me once more…I shall live and not die and declare the works of the Lord or as the Amplified Bible says,

“I will not die, but live, and declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17 AMP) And this is how we roll, this is how we do it, we study the Word, we taste the Word, we devour it as our life-source of healing always remembering this, “He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won't disregard the small and insignificant, but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.” (Isaiah 42:3 The Message) We decide to tend to our own gardens knowing that only the Lord God almighty can “fix” the garden of our hearts and then we look to Him to do just that.

I need the Lord’s breath upon me to live a full life. It is a desire I have for Spirit-winds to breathe fire upon me as this verse shows, "For I," says the Lord, "will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her," Zechariah 2:5 and that His glory will be in the midst of me.
“Then may Your awakening breath blow upon my life until I am FULLY Yours

Breathe upon me with Your Spirit-winds. Stir up the sweet spice of Your life within me. Spare nothing as You make me Your fruit-filled garden. Hold nothing back until I release Your fragrance. Come walk with me as You walked." - Song of Songs 4:16 (The Passion Version, Dr. Brian Simmons)
Let me be fully Yours Lord and learn to tend my own garden in a fragrant way that will bring glory to You.
Donna Collins Tinsley 12/2/15

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I’ve Heard Worse; A call-out to teach compassion to our youth

  I’ve Heard Worse
"I've heard worse," He said to me.

My heart was pierced to the core. I could barely hold back tears as I said, "Lord, please work in my grandson's heart." I wept as he left the car for school, wondering why he could have no compassion for the situation I just talked about to him. Is it our home life, our example or the effects of a generation who seeks mindless pleasure online, with technology and the arrogance that brings? Or just the somewhat normal feelings of a boy his age, that he knows it all, even at twelve-years-old?

This subject came up as I was listening to an interview with Steven Curtis Chapman on the radio, a man whose family has experienced great tragedy and loss. I thought perhaps telling him the back story* of the man who possessed such joy as he expressed his love for music and the Lord, would be a teachable moment. Isn't that what we all look for with children, that moment where perhaps their hearts are touched and they remember it, long after we're gone?

“Grammy-winning Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman and his family suffered a profound loss on May 21, 2008 when his 5-year-old daughter Maria Sue was accidentally hit by his 17-year-old son, after she ran into the path of his SUV in their driveway. Maria later died at a Nashville hospital.”

How could I raise a child with such a lack of compassion, Lord? What can I do about it? He barely spoke as he got out of the car. Maybe he was mad at my reaction to his words.

"I've heard worse."

Yes, I have too, but that doesn't mean I have no compassion for a family going through pain like that. Pain for the grief of losing a child. Pain for the guilt that you know the older son felt as the one who for some reason didn't see his little sister as she ran towards him. Pain like that affects a family forever, just as each family has their own pain and grief. Each family, I believe it's true, really does have their tailor-made cross, a cross that they can bear only with the help of a Savior.

Yes, I've heard worse and grieve with my other grandsons on the loss of their godfather in a motorcycle accident recently. A father and grandfather that in our eyes is gone way too soon from this earth.

Yes, “I've heard worse,” when I think of a mother grieving the loss of her children, praying for reconciliation at some point in their life, yet not knowing if that will ever happen this side of heaven.

"I've heard worse," when I think of older widows who have found love again but can't marry because of loss of benefits that they need to be able to survive financially.

"I've heard worse," as I think about those who live with chronic pain, so chronic at times they feel like ending it all.

"I've heard worse," when I think of all the little children who grow up in homes where their needs are not met and they take on the role of an adult to their parents. That's the only way they will survive, it seems.

"I've heard worse," when I think of all the children who are abducted for the sex trade and all the immoral people who say they are just giving love when in reality they have stolen the very heart and soul of a child. May they have a special place in hell, I hate to say, is something I pray.

"I've heard worse," as I think of all the aborted children and all the excuses politically correct people use to justify stealing the life from a new baby.

But just because I've heard worse doesn't stop the tears from falling. Oh, I've heard worse and perhaps the worst thing might be the rearing of a generation who are compassionless to real life and real people.

I once wrote something for a contest; it was supposed to be a horror story and one paragraph. It was about people who were so mindless that they stared into a computer or television set endlessly. When you saw their faces, there were no mouths. This was the evolution of a generation who were passive and only interacted with unreality and technology. The ability to communicate had been taken from them.

Lord, have mercy upon us all and join me in praying for the next generation. I know that good will come. I know that even in my young grandson's heart a strong man of God will be raised up from what looks like a cold, know-it-all heart. I know my Redeemer lives and on the last day He will conquer the hurts, conquer the pains and help us overcome.

I'm thinking a call-out to those in youth group ministry may in order, a call for a teaching on compassion, love and just old fashioned respect.

But I'm pretty sure the phrase; "I've heard worse" will forever reduce me to tears.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Do you love dogs? You'll love Rescuing Finley by Dan Walsh

Rescuing Finley by Dan Walsh will make a dog lover out of me yet!

As always, we find compelling characters and story lines that keep you turning the pages with Dan's books but this one really pulled me in. My complete surprise came when one chapter used the point of view of the dog, Finley. I have a whole new empathy for being a dog after reading that chapter. I was utterly charmed with the idea of getting into a dog's head and found tips on dog training along the way, too.

 Dan's wife Cindi's fingerprints were all over this book, I'd imagine, since she is an Animal Behavior Manager at our local Humane Society. Cindi Walsh has trained hundreds of dogs, both privately and in group classes. Dan admits that Cindi has been his primary consultant throughout this book concerning issues relating to PTSD service dogs. I've met Cindi and have often called her the Dog Whisperer as she is so knowledgeable about their emotions.  

One thing I especially liked at the end of the book was Dan sharing how the vision for the book series came about. "The idea for this Rescuing Finley came from spending time listening to Cindi’s stories and volunteering some of my time at Halifax Humane Society, our local non-profit shelter serving the Daytona Beach area. They support a local prison program that trains dogs, many who are adopted by veterans struggling with PTSD." (Dan Walsh)

Dan always does endless research before writing his books and each book ends up being a learning experience about either a location or subject. I think those fans who read The Restoration Series will be very pleased with the story lines as well as those who've read his stand alone books, such as "The Reunion" and "The Discovery." I can already think of several people who I'll want to give this book to as I know a whole slew of dog lovers and this book is a dog lover's dream. Being  the wife of a veteran  I'm always happy when there are stories focused on these unsung heroes also.

As the story drew to a close there were some chapters that left me weeping and yet I knew that there would be a good conclusion. I really, really enjoyed reading this book and can't wait for the next one to come out.


Rescuing Finley (A Forever Home Novel Book )

Friday, October 30, 2015

Keeping Christmas Book Review: You'll always want to keep a Christmas book by Dan Walsh handy.

What a great combination of a Christmas story and a Florida story from author Dan Walsh. Dan's books always keep me turning the pages, want to get to the end yet hating for the book to end, also.
Dan always researches his locations thoroughly and now Mount Dora is on my list as a place I want to visit. Especially near Christmas time if it is as he described. Snow and hills in Florida is something I've never experienced, well a little snow years ago that melted instantly, but it wasn't at Christmas.

The empty nest pulls on our heartstrings and a mother with no children home at Christmas is one of the worst case scenarios possible for most moms. Life happens and sometimes it's not as we hoped for or dreamed about. What can Judith's husband who obviously isn't taking the empty nest as hard as she is, do to bring back the joy to his wife's life? Dan gets into the head of a woman very well and also shows us how a man's brain works, as Stan does his best to "fix" his wife's situation.

I could feel the depression moving in to Judith's soul and longed for her husband to wake up and see what she needed from him. We do find the classic Dan Walsh happy ending that we've come to expect from him; I wouldn't have it any other way, in fact. The added touches for life in the "meantime" were very believable in a small town such as Mount Dora. I loved the "Christmas snob" addition to the middle of the story and what it took to change that in a man.

I could picture this as a Hallmark holiday movie quite easily.

Baker Publishing Group Revell's division has a wonderful author in Dan Walsh. He never disappoints. Keep writing, Dan!

I received this book free of charge from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review

Friday, October 16, 2015

Show Me How To Live

Show me how to live is a phrase I'm borrowing from one of my daughters. When I first saw a post she signed that way I thought how perfect it was for my life, too.

SHOW. ME. HOW. TO. LIVE. Some days that is my plea to the Lord. Some days I know that I fail Him because I fail and disappoint myself so royally. Sometimes, me, the queen of self-control, loses control of my mouth and it really devastates me. I guess at times, it helps those I live with to know that I can't always maintain, stay strong or fix situations. I'm old. Tired. I need a break.

Unmet expectations that we read about in chapters of Dan Walsh's book "Perfect Peace in Imperfect Times" just reach out to me and I dwell on them instead of dwelling on the power of the living God, the perfect Savior, Jesus, my Lord. The Bible says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)

"Disappointment With God" a title of a book written by Philip Yancey, rings in my ears over and over again as I admit I'm disappointed at times. Disappointed that my plans for my life didn't take the road I thought they should take and the phrase, "my way or the highway," isn't happening.

Of course when I decide to ponder the people of God such as Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego who said in the book of Daniel, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty,that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

I personally have to come back to, "but if not, I will still serve the Lord." Another thing we talked about at our small book study group is without a test, there is no testimony and I'll add to that one without a mess, there is no message. The new phrase I think is a hot mess and that's what I ended up being last night. Yes, y'all after a time of a good message and focusing on the words of scripture and Dan’s book, I ended up becoming a human being behaving badly. But you know it drove me to my knees, actually it drove both Bill and me to our knees this morning as he sensed how hopeless I felt about myself and my plans for my children and grandchildren.

For those prayers I'm thankful as they did help to show me how to live. We press on and live by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. May mine ever be that Jesus always and forever shows me how to live.

A verse I turned to this morning was Psalm 105:1-2 (The Message)
Thank God! Pray to him by name!
    Tell everyone you meet what he has done!
Sing him songs, belt out hymns,
    translate his wonders into music!
TGIF, people! I want to write a song for the Lord and so the verse above was cool to read but for now I'll focus on the words to this song:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back, I know you are near

I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear

OH no You never let go through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go in every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go, Lord, You never let go of me
(Verse 2)

And I can see the light that is comin' for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be *AN* end to the struggles
But until that day comes, we'll live to know You here on *THE* Earth

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear

*You keep on loving and you never let go*

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
and there will be and end to the struggles
but until that day comes

Buy Dan's book here: