The Ragamuffin Gospel - review

I've heard of Brennan Manning before. I've read some quotes, inspiring posts about him, and of course I have heard of his all famous book, The Ragamuffin Gospel.

When I first got it I thought it looked interesting. It's the special anniversary edition so it includes a few different things than the original book, but the book in it's entirety is untouched. They allowed a few people to write some special words at the beginning, but they decided to leave the rest of the book alone, to let it speak for itself. I find that respectful and beautiful.

With that said, on to my review. Brennan has a wonderful piece here. This is a beautiful book from what I've read in it. Brennan tells the story of the Creator of the Universe and His endless pursuit of sinners in need of grace. He does a wonderful job of showing how God saves us by grace through faith and though we may wander and fall away, He loves us regardless and offers us grace to continue on this journey to love God and become more like Christ.

This book is one I would use for a small group or Bible study and I would recommend taking a week at a time. It's easy to rush through something and miss the beauty, but with this book I say take it slow. Enjoy it. Savor it. You don't want to miss what God will show you while reading. Let Him speak through the words of a former Franciscan Priest.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review. All views expressed are mine.


Words of affirmation

People want to be thought highly of, loved, affirmed.
In fact, I have spent much of my life seeking those things - love, acceptance, affirmation.

To be told you're smart, you're beautiful/handsome, you're important, you're amazing does wonders for your soul and spirit.

Tonight I was told I'm very smart. I say that not to brag about myself in any way (because seriously, y'all, I would never call myself "very smart".), but to expand a little on the point I've made.

Do you know what it did for my spirit? To be told something that maybe I don't see too much. My spirit soared a little. My confidence went up some. My attitude changed a little. I found a smile creeping upon my face.

And so I think of others. I think of whether they know they are loved, accepted, chosen, smart, important. Did God make stupid people? My short answer is no, He didn't. He made chosen people. He made smart people. He made us. And we are the ones who choose whether or not to use the smarts He has given us. We are the ones who choose whether to walk in the title of "chosen" or not. To choose not to live a chosen life does not make us any less chosen, it just makes us lost.

And that is what we were before Christ: lost.

So I have some encouragement for you tonight:

You are beautiful.
You are smart.
You are chosen.
You are worthy.
You are loved.
You are accepted.
You are His.

Whether you choose to walk in these names is your choice, but it doesn't make them any less true. Just because you think you're bad at school or your face has too many zits or you made a huge mistake, doesn't make you stupid, ugly or unaccepted. You can do better in school through Christ. Your zits will eventually go away or soften a little. And you can right your wrongs through the Lord.

Jesus loves you. You're amazing because God hasn't made anybody who isn't gifted, and that is what you are. Smile a little. Walk in His love.


Five Traits of A Christ Follower - review

I've been looking for a devotional for a while. I haven't quite come across the right one.

I saw this little book (literally, it fits in your palm almost haha!) and thought it was a new book by Jerry Bridges. Yes, I didn't actually read the description thoroughly enough. Hahaha! Come to find out it has a forward by Jerry but it's actually a devotional book.

But let me tell you, I have not at all been disappointed with this devotional, "Five Traits of a Christ Follower". 

This little book is sectioned off in (can you guess?) 5 different trait areas. They each talk about a different trait to become more like Christ. Each section has about 6 different devotionals written by different people. They are very short and quick to read, but the words written are written so beautifully that the impact of the devotional is not lost at all by the lack of pages.

Some of the writers include, Jen Hatmaker, Jean Fleming, Gary L. Thomas, Armando Diaz, Rachel Jones, and many others.

Each devotional includes 3 reflective questions to think about during and after you've read it.

I've been really blessed to have added this to my morning routine. I'm so glad I received this. I would recommend this to any Christ follower.

Note: I received a copy of this book for the exchange of a review. All views expressed are mine.


Old, new pain

I sat in the car.

Gentle drizzle of tears pouring down my cheeks.

No words. Some pain. Longing for healing.

He asked, "What's wrong?"

I answered, "It's hard, you know, when you don't have a dad. Decisions that are easier for everybody else become a little harder for me. I'm a woman... we're not always treated with respect. It's just hard sometimes."

It was odd timing, this old pain that seems to have become new, coming like it did, when it did.

I never knew my dad. I've seen him once in my entire life... and now he's not living so I'll never know him. He was a stranger, yes, but he's still my father. I still carry his genes. And maybe that's the part that craves to know why I am the way I am. What I have that came from him.

I have an amazing mother. I know that. What I wonder is, did I have an amazing father too?

I can't answer that.

But sometimes we don't get answers and we don't get healing this side of Heaven.

Sometimes we have to learn to develop peace knowing that God will heal us one day, even if it's not on this earth.

So I might wonder, I might long, I might hurt, and I might cry. But this pain doesn't last forever. Joy comes in the morning... even if that morning comes in Heaven.

It's Not What You Think - review

I was so excited to receive this book for review because I've read Jefferson's first book and enjoyed it so much. I've watched his videos and those were awesome as well, so I knew this was a book I wanted to read because of those few things.

I like things to be put simply. I believe that when we put words together in a way that everyone understands about God, His Spirit will convict, mature, place in awe, give comprehension, etc. all on His own.

So the first thing I like is how down to earth, simple, and real Jefferson is in this book. He talks in a way that everyone understands, not just the "scholars".

The second thing I really like about this book is what he addresses and talks about in it. So many people have grown up thinking that Heaven is our end goal. We want to get to Heaven, right? So we get saved and then we go to Heaven. End of story? Jefferson takes you to the beginning, like the very beginning- Genesis- and takes us through the story of God and where we fit in the story and what the real ultimate goal is for our life. Let me tell you it involves Jesus a whole bunch!

If you enjoy reading and you want to know Jesus more and understand truth more, I recommend this book to you.

Note: I received a copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing.


I sit on my bed. Joy. Finally. After weeks of hard work and endurance and patience and tears I finally have climbed another flight of stairs and made it a little bit higher.

I have felt failure so well in my life. I have felt pity and anger and depression and sadness.
Joy on the other hand has a hard time finding me. Between the hurt, the tired, the worn parts of me, only through little tiny cracks has joy made it through, and even then the joy has been small and subtle.

Am I really a Christian? I ask myself this because aren't most Christians happy? Don't they all have joy? Don't they jump to worship songs and smile during preaching, nodding their heads and underlining their Bible's?

But what did Jesus' life look like?

He was called a man of sorrows. I wonder what made Him so sorrowful? Was it the sin of other people? The lack of value they felt for themselves and/or others? The fact that they just couldn't see how much God loves them and cares for them and wants them despite their failures?

Maybe not. Maybe.

Can I be honest? Those things listed above are what bring me sorrow. My sin. The lack of value I see for myself. The lack of value I see for others. It's hard. It's hard to see sin because it's ugly and cruel to our hearts and to our lives and to others and to God. It's hard to believe we have value and are loved by God when He sees our sin and knows how disobedient we are.

But He does see value. He is the Creator of the universe so how can we say we don't have value when He made us?

One amazing thing I have learned just recently thanks to Jefferson Bethke's new book, It's Not What You Think (review coming soon), is that sin did not come first. Our identity does not start wrapped in sin. Our identity from the very beginning and even now starts with being made in the image of God. Sin came after Genesis 1 and we know Genesis 1 came first so we must follow the Word and the truth saturated in it.

So I sit in this chair and I dwell on being made in the image of God. How does one made in the image of God act? Think? Love? Live?

Like the One in whose image we are made in. We are made to be little images of the God who made us.

His love is endless.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever." - Psalm 136:1
 So we have endless ways to show love.

His mercy is new every morning.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness."

So every morning we have new mercies to receive and give.

He is love.
" Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." - 1 John 4:8
So we come to love Him more every day because He loves us and then we go and love others.

You have value and worth. Joy will find you even when sin has drowned it out. Even when the dark has seemingly overcome you. It hasn't. It won't. Hold on, friend.

Live in the image you were created in.

Live in God.


Tuesday night thoughts....

My brain rattles.

I'm supposed to be sleeping but I'm not. Instead, I'm awake. I'm worried. I'm fearful. I'm losing hope.

The things I thought would happen have not.
My hopes have remained hopes and my dreams have not yet been fulfilled.

So I think of Abraham. He was told of the promise and he held onto that hope even though it took many, many, many years.

We both serve the same God.
The same God gave him the strength to hold on.

Will the same God grant me the same strength?
He gives as there is need. I am needy. He will provide.

I trust You, Jesus.


Wrecked Faith

I bought a car a month ago.

4 weeks later, my car was wrecked and totaled.

I've been through doubt and faith and back again over and over these past couple of weeks.

Doubt that I'll find another car. Faith that I will.
Doubt that if I had taken a different path, it would've turned out better. Faith that if God didn't want it to happen, it wouldn't have.
Doubt that He will come through. Faith that He will.

It's a journey. And it's hard. It's messy and it's beautiful.


Sometimes my faith soars and many times it falters. It's that feeling of energy in the morning... the trust and the hope that God is doing something amazing. It's also that feeling of dread and fear and panic... that maybe faith isn't quite worth it and maybe it's really not there... so certain that maybe it's not. Faith can be quite good or quite bad depending on who you listen to... the dark or the Light.

The first few days after the crash, faith was hard. I was down, sad. Then, God changed my perspective. He gave a gift. Faith. My eyes shown bright again. Joy followed my steps. And the words in His pages were sung over my life.

This is what it's all about. The glorifying of the Father in the dark... when He hung on a tree and died. The glorifying of the Father in the dark... when tears were all I could find, and yet praise rose from my throat.


It's a hard journey, but He is in this journey and that is where I find comfort to keep going.



A new breeze blows.

Follow Me. Love Me. Glorify Me. Find life.

Sin lures.

Chase us. We're fun. Do it. He'll forgive you.

A choice is made.

Follow. Obey. Listen. 

But who?

The glory of the moment of the glory of eternity.

One will last forever and one will lead to eternal damnation.

The Spirit still calls.

I choose you. I forgive you. Come. Come to Me. All who are weary. I will give you rest.

Rest sounds good when sin has left us empty. And it always leaves us empty. Don't forget the emptiness. Don't let it crawl back into your mind that sin matters more... it's more "fun". It also will make you sick and lead to death.

Go. Run. Run into His arms and run away from that sin. His promises are true and far better than the empty promises sin seems to keep making. Choose life. 



It's over. Here we go again. 

My thoughts paced back and forth. In between the stress and the tears and the fears, came doubt.

I've been here before.

In this place where the storm clouds are high above my head just settling there. Waiting for me to move so they can follow. Because no matter how hard I've tried,  they still follow me.

And so I remember what to do. I force myself out of this place, out of this fear, and I pray, despite the subtle lies, I pray. I journal, take a walk/run with some praise music to the King, and I pray some more.
I fell asleep praying, woke up praying, spent the day praying.... and forgot slightly about the nightmare that was looming around me.

I can't lie. I'm still worried and afriad and annoyed and angry and doubtful at times. The storm clouds have grown lighter, but they haven't moved yet. Depression, stress, and fatigue are threatening to overtake me.

I'm scared.


He did the impossible before and I trust Him to do it again. It's not over. No, the fight is still being won.