If God Is Good - book review

I've never read anything before by Randy Alcorn but early last year I went through a very hard season of doubt and struggle and someone recommended I read this book. When I saw it was available for review I decided to pick it up.

When I first saw it I was at Lifeway checking out more books (can you say book junkie?). It's almost 500 pages... to be honest that kind of scared me. Who wants to read that many pages of a non-fiction book, especially on the goodness of God? You could find yourself in deeper waters than you thought, right?

Well, don't let the number of pages scare you. I've read several chapters of this book and it is just so good!! One thing I absolutely enjoy about this book is how it's PACKED with Scripture. Few books nowadays have the Word in them and I think it's a great benefit, especially to a book this important.

Who hasn't asked, God, why does this happen? Why them? Why her? Why ME?

In the midst of trials and suffering and pain we get real and raw and we ask questions, but more than that we start to SEEK. Is this all there is? How do I live after something like _________? 

Randy Alcorn uses grace and truth to help guide you through the questions to find yourself growing closer to your Maker and having a better understanding of evil. I wish I had had this book when I was going through doubt and depression and questions because he so beautifully points out all the bits of truth I needed to hear. Not all your questions will be answered, but the ones that really count are addressed here and I think you'll be blessed for reading it. If you know someone who is a skeptic or doubting or just struggling through life, I definitely recommend this book. It's lengthy so grab some coffee or hot chocolate and your Bible and get to work.

Note: I received this book for the exchange of a review.


The missing ring

So the other day I was at work. I was in the middle of washing my hands when suddenly I noticed that the ring I wear all the time and has a very special meaning to me, was gone.

Um.. what?!

So I began looking through the trash quickly and couldn't find it. I looked through the other trash and still couldn't find it.

I told myself (being the drama queen I am) to calm down and not cry because this was not worth crying over. I began to look through more garbage and re-trace my steps and still couldn't find it. My co-workers helped me and still I couldn't find it.

I began to pray, because recently I've been trying really hard not to get overwhelmed and be overly emotional, but to tap into the self-control that God gives and be patient.

So I prayed and then went about my day content. I thanked God and tried to get over it.

As I prayed I began to realize that sometimes I get SO wrapped up in things that don't matter that I forget and take for granted the ones I love. More than that, I forget to show that love.

After work I made my way home and there it was... on my dresser. (If you were wondering... yes, I felt dumb.)

Maybe it took that experience to remember that love is important and things are not as important as people...

God works in wonderfully mysterious ways.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13

Plush Bible - review

Reading God's Word is SO important to getting through life, and not just getting through it, but enjoying every day of life.

Enjoying God's Word is also important. Finding the right Bible helps with this because if you don't understand the translation, then you can't apply what you read and application is just as important as reading and understanding what you read.

Zondervan's Plush Bible is an excellent Bible. It's good for pre-teens and teens alike because it comes in several different styles. The font is very easy to read (extra points for that) and guess what? It's fuzzy! That's right, they have a furry, fuzzy Bible for the older kids too now.

Benefits of this Bible:
- Hardback with a fuzzy cover, front and back
- Good size print
- Measurements table page listed in the back
- Words of Jesus written in red
- Durable (for those tough on things ;) )

If you have a younger child or teenager and you're looking for a Bible to get them for Christmas, this would be a great one. I'm not a big fan on finding "stylish" Bibles because I think that we need to remember that the words inside are the Life and Bread and that everything else is not of much importance, but teens will be much more satisfied with a Bible that looks good too and this Bible offers that.

Note: I received a free copy of this Book for the exchange of a review.


The mind and the mouth

The battle of the mind and the mouth is so difficult to overcome.

We're told in the Word to take every thought captive to Christ, but do you ever just get mad and not want to do that? Yeah, me too...  more than I care to admit. I allow those ugly, not good thoughts to fester and at some point the filth spills out of my mouth into the air and I'm left wondering how I could have failed in my words... again.

No matter how tired we get, we need to depend on God's grace and help to not even think bad things, because once the thoughts are there the actions surely follow.

Let me tell you that I have to pray about this A LOT. I'm a very emotional, wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve type of person and keeping my thoughts and opinions to myself is very difficult so I doubly have to watch my mind. I have not mastered this at all, but I have learned a few things.

One thing I learned is if you're thinking something rude or wrong or bad, sleep on it. Pray about it first and then leave it until the next day. If after prayer and some sleep (sometimes, ladies especially, we are just exhausted. Don't be afraid to take a nap.) you still think this is something worth saying and thinking about, then continue on in grace not with a hypocritical, rude, or mean attitude.

The second thing I have learned/am learning is not all thoughts need to be voiced. Sometimes it's a prayer sent up telling God alone what's on your mind and heart and sometimes it's worth journaling about, but telling your family, your husband or wife, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your best friends about what's bugging you can easily turn into a complaint, "here's what's in my head" ordeal. Be careful.

The third thing I have learned is to dwell on Truth. Read God's Word. If what you're thinking lines up, continue on. If not, reject it and find a verse or a prayer to think on. I promise this helps so much with the battle between the mind and the mouth because you'll find you slowly are becoming more like Christ because you're getting to know Him more.

Finally, pray for help in the battle. Pray for His help thinking pleasing thoughts and saying pleasing things.

Alone we cannot overcome, but through Christ victory is ours.

"Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always."
- 1 Chronicles 16:11


What's YOUR Story?

Being a girl, I know what it's like to have insecurities and constantly compare yourself to everyone around you. It's really hard not to get sucked into it when you're watching youtube videos, looking at instagram, and liking things on facebook.

Don't you ever just want to be content?

Me too.

Life is filled with more joy when we learn to be content with what God has given us now. We find it difficult to be thankful with our much and end up giving God less. I find it easy to get into a foul mood when I want something and end up thanking God for little to nothing when He has given me literally everything.

So I thought today, why do we compare our stories to other people's stories? God made us unique which means your story and mine may be similar, but they are vastly different. We may have struggled through the same things but in different ways and different thought processes.

Guess what? That's okay.

If we are following the Lord, then how your story turns will be different from other peoples but it will also be beautiful because His hand is on you. It may be messy and ugly at times, but there is redemption in Christ.

So what's your story? Be thankful God made you you. You are His. Embrace that and live in confidence.


Vanishing Grace - review

Philip Yancey is probably one of my favorite authors. I like his honesty and authenticity in his writing style. I enjoy how he humbly presents his beliefs in a very Biblical way without seeming like a Pharisee.

Vanishing Grace : Whatever Happened To The Good News? is a really good book. Yancey points out how in Biblical days, people were excited and joyful about coming to know the Christ (as he illustrates nicely), but how today people hear the name 'Jesus' and dread what follows.

I wanted to read this book because I find myself on the compassionate side (because I've dealt with it) of wanting to share the Gospel with the unnoticed and the skeptics. Yancey himself, struggling with doubts in the past, shows grace in a fresh, unique way that I think we can learn a lot from.

The whole purpose of this book is not to bash other Christians. That's hard to do when problems are brought up in the Church, however, we are called to love. If love were a person and you honestly think love would say, do, or think that word, action, or thought, then go ahead. If you have doubts though, think and pray.

I was impressed with all the stories that were included in this book. Stories that tell of heartache, faith, and how Christians have done a good job representing Christ and how others have done not so great a job and how we can learn from past mistakes to a better future.

This book is well written and I would recommend anybody, Christian or not, to read it. I would ask that you would read it through grace filled eyes and not judgemental. I hope you're as blessed and challenged by the writing as I was.

Note: I received a free copy of this book for the exchange of a review.


Daughter of Highland Hall - review

I adore love stories. When I read the first book of this series, The Governess of Highland Hall, I knew it was a series I would want to continue reading. With the release of the second book of the series, Daughter of Highland Hall, I was not in the least disappointed.

Daughter of Highland Hall tells the story of young Kate who is to be presented in London and to find someone to become her husband. She catches eyes with a man named Edward, but soon after realizes that maybe the riches and big houses and fancy dresses are not what she desires in life. As she seeks to follow the Lord more her heart's desires become clearer. She meets a man, but does she fall in love with him? Does she find all she longs for? (Hmm.. have to read the book for that piece of information).

I read this book rather quickly and found each page delightful. Carrie did another excellent job and I look forward to reading the 3rd book of this series which is to be released next October.

For those familiar with Downtown Abbey, you will enjoy this book as the writing style and time period are very similar. If not, then to all the romantics at heart, you will definitely find this book thrilling and enjoyable.

*Note: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.


Beside Bethesda - devotional review

I really enjoy devotionals. I think they're a good way to just connect with God for a few minutes, whether it be before bed, after work, before school, during your day, etc. I just think they are really good and helpful.

So naturally when I saw Beside Bethesda by Joni Eareckson Tada for review, I had to get it. I've heard many good things about Joni and her writing and I have nothing more than good things to say about her.

For about 2 weeks I've been reading her short devotions before bed and they are simply beautiful. I've been blessed to read them and have a few moments of prayer. Each one talks about healing in some way. At the end of each devotion is a scripture and some thoughts to reflect on.

Joni is very honest and open in her writing which makes it feel more like a good friend or sister is writing to you. Her heart for the Lord makes you want to draw closer to Him.

If you're looking for some quiet moments with God and you're not sure where to get started, I recommend grabbing this devotional. It's a great kickstart to your time with God.

*Note: I received a free copy of this book for the exchange of a review.


Palace of Darkness review

Cassia is a nice young woman with a very difficult husband and a wonderful son. When tragedy strikes Cassia makes a choice that forever alters both her life, her son's life, and the people who soon become friends... or enemies.

Palace of Darkness is a page turning thriller. I must admit that the first chapter had me a little down because it just seemed to start slow, but as I progressed through the book I ended up really enjoying this author's writing style and how the story continued. It's definitely a hard one to put down.

I really liked how the author, Tracy L Higley, placed so much emphasis on the Lord in this fiction book. I was really impressed to be honest because that's not easy to do. I also liked how the character's all seemed to have very realistic lives and how relatable they were even though it's based back in Biblical days.

I give this book a 9 out of 10. Highly recommend to all fiction readers. You won't be disappointed with this one.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for a review.


Let go, fix your thoughts, get over yourself, and rest (what I've learned)

Today I cried. I cried because anxiety had me bent double and the thoughts in my head were swirling so greatly... all in the wrong direction.

They don't like me.

I'm so out of place.

I don't belong anywhere.

Nobody wants me.

Nobody loves me.

The problem? Everything revolves around me. My thinking is too much about me. My mindset is: how can I please me? What makes me happy? What do people think of ME?

Then there's God.

Do people see HIM in me? Is HIS love made known through me even when the insecurities are thriving? Does HE get the praise through the good and the bad?

My mom gave me great advice today. She said, 'Don't let those problems ruin your time today. Let them go.' Amen. And I cried sobbed for 10 minutes after. I told God, I don't know how to let go. But slowly, one breath at a time, one intentional moment after another, thankfulness sprouted and peace... however little, made a home in my heart.

So, yes, I am an overly emotional, heart-on-her-sleeve, somewhat over-reacts drama queen/diva at times, but it's not about me. It's about Him. It's about Cristo. Today, I'm reminded to let go, place my thoughts on Him, get over myself, and rest. Thank You, Jesus, for the encouragers in my life.