Book Review: God’s Notes: Daily Devotions of Divine Encouragement

So many times, our writings, especially nonfiction, come from a place of hurt and a place of healing. Such is the case of Jackie Trottman’s “God’s Notes: Daily Devotions of Divine Encouragement.” The introduction tells the reader of some of the things that Jackie has gone through in her life. It is a moving, touching story that eventually led to the writing of this devotional book.

The chapters in the book are divided by themes: how God speaks to us, how he leads and guides us, how he restores us and how he empowers us. Each devotion is arranged alphabetically within each chapter and each devotion is written as if it is God speaking. The chapters and themes are arranged so that the reader can start in the chapters where they need help, or of course, can read the book straight through.

The devotions offer comfort, encouragement, and healing. They reassure the readers that God loves us unconditionally and He has not forsaken us.

I highly recommend “God’s Notes” to those who need healing and comfort, but also for those who are looking for meaningful, but short, devotions.


Good Friday – Why is It Called “Good?”

I’ve never understood why this day is called “Good” Friday. It is one of the most mournful days in Christian history. It is the day that the son of God was flogged, ordered to carry the cross on which he would be crucified and then put to death. It’s difficult to see what is “good” about it.

Some sources suggest that the day is “good” in that it is holy, or that the phrase is a corruption of “God’s Friday”.

The Oxford English Dictionary, the adjective “good” traditionally “designates a day on (or sometimes a season in) which religious observance is held”. The OED states that “good” in this context refers to “a day or season observed as holy by the church”.

However you choose to interpret it, and whatever you do today to observe Good Friday, I invite you to listen and watch this most beautiful version of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.”

Holy Week

Maundy Thursday

My prayer for you this week is that God’s love for you will become a new reality, that your spirit will be refreshed and that the presence of the Almighty God will surround you and fill you.

Jesus shared the final meal with his disciples, called the Last Supper, on the night before he was crucified. The institution of the Holy Eucharist occurred during this meal, as indicated from the gospel excerpt below:

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29 RSV)

The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man.  “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of love.”* (John 13:1) (*Some translations read “he loved them to the end.”)

After the meal, Jesus rose and with a basin full of water and a clean towel, he washed the feet of the disciples. He did this to teach them humility and service, evidences of love.

If you’ve never had your feet washed by another Christian, it is the most amazing act of love and humility a person can do. It is a true demonstration of Christ’s love for you and it will humble you greatly  – to think that this person, kneeling in front of you and washing your feet, loves you so much that they would do that for you…amazing love!

It’s all about His love for you and for me.


The Fourteen Stages of the Cross

A Brief History:

In past years, when people visited the Holy Land, they were, of course, eager to visit all of the places where Jesus had visited during His three years of ministry. This was a very real connection to the life of Christ. Over the years, some of these sites became almost impossible to reach and villages and cities all across Europe began creating replicas of the way of the cross. These replicas became the set of the fourteen Stations of the Cross and were placed in almost every Catholic Church in the world.

Other denominations also observe the Stations of the Cross, as does my former denomination, the Charismatic Episcopal Church. In their sanctuary, the Stations of the Cross are displayed pictorially around the room in chronological order. Each station represents a time during Holy Week. For me, it is another visible and participatory way of understanding how much God sacrificed because of His love for you and for me.

The First Station: Jesus is condemned to die

On the Mount of Olives, Jesus prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” God did not remove this action of love from Jesus, and Jesus submitted to God and placed His life in God’s hands. Now, He has been beaten and tortured. But that is only the beginning. There is much more He will endure before the end. He has been wrongfully charged and condemned to die. He endured the beatings, the torture and the condemnation because of His great love for you and for me.

Jesus’ love for us is vast and unconditional.

The Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross

The soldiers and guards made Jesus carry His own cross. This cross must have weighed more than one hundred pounds, but to Jesus it felt so much heavier. This cross represents the weight of our sin. With every step, the cross becomes heavier as He begins to experience the humanness of the world. Our sins cause the cross to grow heavier and heavier.

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 Amplified Bible

The Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

The weight of the cross has become unbearable. Jesus falls to His knees. Sweat is rolling down his back, His legs. Blood mixes with sweat as it rolls down His face. His body is growing weaker. The heaviness of human sin, misery, and sorrow prevents Him from rising. But the soldiers make Him rise and continue on the journey.

The weight of my sin—and yours—causes Jesus to fall from the burden.

The Fourth Station: Jesus Sees His Mother

I cannot imagine how it must have hurt Jesus’ heart for His mother to see Him in this condition. Not that He was too proud; but that He loved her so much He did not want her to see Him suffer. I think of Mary, His mother. How her heart must have shattered into pieces—seeing Him broken and bleeding—and not even realizing the worst was yet to come. Even comprehending just a small amount of Jesus’ suffering for us, I cannot fathom Mary’s grief. As a mother, I would not be able to walk that path.

Jesus’ heart broke for his mother, but it broke for us as well.

The Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”  (Mark 15:21) The cross has become so heavy, and Jesus is so weakened, the soldiers have no choice but to draft someone. That someone was Simon. I wonder what was going through his mind. Chosen randomly out of the crowd, did he know it was Jesus? Did he feel Jesus’ love for him, even as he assisted in the ultimate end?

Would we have accepted the assignment, knowing the outcome?

The Sixth Station: Jesus’ Face Wiped

As Jesus continues through the streets with Simon helping Him, a woman leaves her home and meets Him as He passes by. She offers Him her veil to wipe His face of the sweat and blood that continues to trickle down from His head. When Jesus returns the veil to her, His face is imprinted on her veil.

How compassionate, how courageous this woman was, risking the wrath of the Roman soldiers as she offered her veil to Jesus.

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

Although Simon continues to help him, Jesus falls a second time. The exhaustion is bone-deep and He experiences the disability, aging and disease that is experienced by humans down through the ages.

Not only did Jesus bear our sins, but also our diseases and our disabilities.

The Eighth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem 

The Daughters of Jerusalem, as they are named in the Bible, come to see Him, mourning and crying. But Jesus tells them not to weep for Him; rather weep for themselves. He knew that the days and months ahead would be harder than those in the past.

Just as Jesus loved the Daughters of Jerusalem, He loves us equally as much.

The Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time

The last time Jesus falls is the most injurious of all. He can go no further for He has no strength left. Only the strength of God will see Him up the hill. I pause here to wonder what was going through the onlookers’ minds. Were they afraid to help Him? Afraid of the soldiers’ retaliation against them? His friends and supporters had abandoned him – in fact, many had turned against Him. But how can any person with even an ounce of compassion watch this cruelty and not speak out? Had I been there, would I have spoken out? Would I have tried to assist my Lord? Or would I have abandoned Him? Denied that I knew Him?

Jesus unconditionally loves us, right where we are in our lives.

The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments 

As if being publicly crucified wasn’t degrading enough, those to be put to death in this manner were also stripped of all but the most essential garments. What humiliation our Savior must have suffered. Not only is He stripped of His clothes, but also of His dignity. The wounds on His back that had begun to close were ripped open again as his clothes were ripped from His back.

Jesus understands our pain, our sorrow, our humiliation because He bore all of that and more on the cross. And He did that because He loves us, without reservation.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

The cross is laid on the ground and Jesus is made to lay on it. Soldiers grab each arm and stretch them across the wood. They line his feet up. And the terrible noise of hammers hitting spikes begins. BAM! WHOOSH! BAM! WHOOSH! With every hit of the hammer against the spike, the ears of the bystanders ring. As the hammer is lifted, one can hear it fly through the air as the soldier raises it high, only to bring it back down to drive the spike further into His hands and feet. When the sounds finally stop, sobbing can be heard throughout the crowd. The soldiers take long white strips of cloth, wrap it around the cross, raise it, and drop it into the prepared hole. With every jerk of the cross as it is being lifted, the nails bite into Jesus’ flesh a little more. I cannot imagine the agony that flowed through His body.

Even in the midst of pain and agony, WE were on His mind. He bore all of this because of His great love for us.

The Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross 

Jesus was crucified between two criminals. Before dying, He pardons the sins of one. He sees His mother standing at the foot of the cross and John standing close by. He gives John the task of taking care of His mother. With His earthly responsibilities discharged, He breathes His last breath. Imagine how Mary must have felt. Grief that her Son was no longer on earth, but relief that He was no longer suffering.

Jesus did this because He loves you, just like you are, no strings attached.

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross 

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Accompanied by Nicodemus, the two men lovingly wrapped Jesus’ body in strips of white linen and herbs – aloe and myrrh. Some of their tears of grief mixed with the aloe and myrrh. What an act of service and love and sacrifice. Just like Jesus.

Jesus sacrificed His all for us because of His great love for us.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Jesus is laid in a tomb that Joseph and Nicodemus thought would be His final resting place. The huge stone that was rolled in front of the tomb, sealing it off completely, was the final sign of Jesus’ death.

This not-so-final station was part of God’s plan all along. Jesus was crucified, bearing the sins of you, me – all of humanity, so that we will have eternal life with Him. This is part of His plan of salvation.

(Romans 5:6-11) “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7) Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10) For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11) Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (emphasis mine)

Re-read verse eight – over and over again. Knowing we were sinners, knowing we deserved only death because of our sin, God STILL sent His Son to die in our place. And He did it because He LOVES us – unconditionally, extravagantly, recklessly, beyond our comprehension!

If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, may this Easter season be the time you become His child. If you do know Him, take this season to deepen your relationship with Him.

God is not angry with you. He has not forsaken you. He has forgiven you. He loves you.


Book Review: Morning Star

In Kristen Terrette’s third book, “Morning Star”, of the Moanna Island Series, she ramps up the romance, the danger and excitement.

Sparks fly, although at first, they’re more sparks of irritation than attraction when Shane Armstrong and Addie McHenry meet. Shane has come home to his grandmother’s house to recover from a tragic job-site accident, knowing he will have peace and quiet there. It’s anything but that when he pulls onto his grandmother’s street and can’t get into her driveway.

Addie McHenry has taken over the house next to Shane’s grandmother’s to remodel it for a TV home-makeover reality show. Cars, vans, and trucks are parked up and down the street and even a camper is parked in the driveway of the house being renovated. The noise level is about to break the sound barrier. So much for peace and quiet!

This book has all the great qualities of a good Christian romance. God plays a major role in this story, but there’s also plenty of heart-pounding romance and edge-of-your-seat danger.

i give this book my highest recommendation and a rating of 10 out 0f 10.

I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is strictly my own.