Heart Wide Open - book review

Heart Wide Open sounded intriguing to me when I read what it was about.

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson writes with such authenticity and honesty... I like that.

Heart Wide Open is about seeking an authentic love for Jesus; an authentic relationship with Him. It's a book about fighting through the pain and struggles of life and finding yourself resting in the arms of Christ. It's about learning that perfection is not what Jesus wants from you, but your heart and your life that He is after.

One of my favorite things Shellie talks about in this book is how there are many ways to live out this life for Christ and there's just as much goodness in living in Rwanda to share God's love with others as much as there is in keeping a good attitude when you have cancer or being a friend to someone who is lonely.

Because this life is about God's glory, if we seek to glorify Him in all things, then He will be use that to glorify Himself. The desire is just as important as the action.

It's not a light read. You'll face questions and tears and maybe be a little bit of being uncomfortable while reading, but it's a good read. I recommend it for anyone seeking authentic faith in the Lord.

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


Storm Siren - book review

3 days is all it took for me to finish Storm Siren by Mary Weber.

Aside from an amazing cover (major props to whoever designed it), this is a very thrilling book (hence why I read it in just 3 days).

Storm Siren has a Hunger Games, Divergent type feel to it. A very unique story-line with characters that will make you want more.

This is book 1 of the series and it tells the story of a Nym, an Elemental who has powers that cause storms. As she struggles to deal with her past, she sees new potential in her future... and that scares her. Summoned to defend the place she calls home or face death, she chooses to be trained for war. As she falls in love, she begins to realize her potential and the freedom that comes with it.

There are many areas you will see glimpses of the amazing grace and love of Christ in this book, that is if you look for those glimpses. You'll also find yourself, most likely, somewhere in one of the characters. For me it was Nym because what girl on this plant has not dealt with self-hatred and the battle for confidence in who she is and how she was made?

I very much recommend this book. It's great for pre-teens, teens, and young adults but I think any fiction reader would really enjoy this book.

If the author sees this review, just want to say well done, Mary!! You've got yourself a hit. (Also, feel free to make it into a movie because I definitely will go see it. ;) )

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


Saving Amelie - book review

Saving Amelie is a historical fiction book written by Cathy Gohlke.

This is a page-turning, suspense, thrilling book that will leave you wanting more of your favorite characters.

This book tells the story of Rachel, Lea, Amelie and the trials of living during the takeover of the Nazis.

Rachel grew up with most everything she wanted. She wasn't denied any opportunities, but when secrets are discovered, Rachel realizes the one thing she's always wanted, the one thing she thought she had, was never really there- love.

Lea grew up with less. But she's been blessed with a good family, a wonderful husband, and a strong faith. But when the war hits close to home, will she be able to withstand the pain and struggles she's been enduring?

This is a good fiction book for anyone looking to pass some time reading, but I will tell you that it will break your heart to remember the truth and realities of what happened during WWI.

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


When you apologize for being the jerk

There are a lot of "you did me wrong" songs, movies, quotes on Pinterest and Instagram, etc.

But where are the quotes for when I do someone wrong and hurt them?

For about a year I've dealt with severe mood swings and anxiety. I don't always tell people because they give you two looks, 1. pity, or 2. you're crazy. I don't enjoy those looks so I've learned to keep it to myself.

Last month was particularly rough and I felt like every time I turned around I was hurting somebody with my words, my thoughts towards them (that eventually turned into words, so guard your thoughts and give them to Christ, friends!), looks I would give, or just being grumpy all the time.

I let my emotions rule me.

And I had enough.

July 1st I woke up so convicted and saddened that I had acted like a total jerk to the people I for real love the most. So I got up and apologized because I knew I needed to and I've been trying so very hard to rely upon the Lord and His strength and allow Him to help me when I'm grumpy or upset or insecure about something ever since then.

So far, it's been hard. I forget and let my guard down and Satan picks up where he left off. But when the Lord reminds me to stand guard, I ask for help and try really hard to move forward into love, and not backwards into anger.

Things that help me?

  • PRAYER!!!!

  • Enough rest, but not too much.

  • Reminding myself where my identity comes from and Who gives it.

  • Staying constant in the Word.

  • Sharing my struggles.

  • Not listening to the lies of Satan.

Because while we all would prefer not to be a jerk, there comes a time when you need to apologize and seek the help of God. Amen?


Living life undaunted - book review

I've read many quotes from Christine Caine, but I definitely was not prepared for this fantastic devotional she put together.

Living Life Undaunted is a 365 day devotional that talks on a variety of topics. I've read on being selfless, falling in love with the Lord, being a servant, seeking God, and many other things and each devotion is such a fresh and inspiring word for the day.

I prefer to read this devotional before I dig into God's Word because I find it helps me go in  with a more reflective mindset and kind of prepares my heart like singing worship songs before a message... it just kind of sets the tone. I would definitely recommend using it that way or you could use it as your night-time devotional to read before bed. Do what works for you and brings you closer to the Lord.

If you've been looking for a devotional that won't take you 30 minutes, but won't leave you in 30 minutes either then I would highly recommend this one!

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this devotional for the exchange of a review.


Finding Spiritual Whitespace - review

As I girl I learned that crying wasn't okay, so I learned to control my crying. As I grew older I learned to control more and more of me. Somewhere along the way I found myself restless and struggling to breathe and live.

When I read about Bonnie's book and how she needed some people to team up with for the book launch I knew I had to join in.

Reading this book has not been easy. It takes you through those uncomfortable and hidden places. There are times where I've been sad and angry and just exhausted, but part of life is seeing how God turns our messes into beauty.

Part of the journey to spiritual whitespace is learning to surrender our controls in faith and trust to the God who is always in control of everything. That is not easy and it's not a one time decision, but the more we do it the more we begin to see that life is alright and God is gracious.

If you're struggling for air today, I would encourage you to pick up Bonnie's book. May it bless you with more of His presence.

*Note: I was a part of Bonnie's book launch team and received a free copy of this book. Opinions expressed are mine.


Meant To Be Mine - book review

Meant to be mine by Becky Wade is the stories of Ty and Celia.

Their paths cross and they begin to rekindle some of the flirtatious romance that was there back in highschool. In just a few days they make the decision to ''go for it'' and get married. Hours later there are regrets, goodbyes and hurt that ensues.

Years go by and then their paths cross again. This time, there is a new person on the scene, one that wasn't expected but very much loved.

What makes this such a good book is it keeps you interested. The characters are filled with wit, humor, and authentic qualities.

If you enjoy romance novels then you'll for sure want this one on your bookshelf. A really good summer read.

*Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of a review.


Little girl inside

This is something I wrote in my journal a while ago after being prompted to by chapter 6 of 'Finding Spiritual Whitespace'. These are my thoughts coming from a wounded heart that seeks peace and healing.

She said, "Imagine yourself as a little girl again. You're looking at Jesus.

What do you see?"

I see myself in younger form staring at Him. It's that stare I know very well from myself. The stare of curiosity and fear.

Are You safe?
Can I trust You?
Will You hurt me?
Could You understand me?
What abuse will You heap on me?

I see myself refusing love again because I'm scared.

I sense disappointment and disgust, not love.

Love is foreign to younger me. She knows hate and anger and unkind words and punishment. Not love and kindness and beauty and sweet sentences and delight.

Oh, Jesus, show the little girl in me how to accept these things and enjoy them. Thank You.


Receiving the gift to receive.

I'm on chapter 3 now in Finding Spiritual Whitespace and this journey to spiritual rest is already difficult, but it's also a blessing.

Bonnie Gray writes these words on page 48,

''So, I taught myself that day: I do not need to receive to be happy. Avoiding pain and figuring out whom to please was more important.''

I recognize this sentence. It's very familiar to my soul. Why? Because I learned it too. I learned saying, ''I'm okay.'' and ''No, thank you.'' was better than opening my heart to rejection or disapproval from someone.

And my life continues in this crazy pace of trying so hard and doing so much and realizing over and over again that I. just. can't.

No matter how hard I try, somebody will eventually get displeased or "that thing" won't work like I want it to, or I'll still be carrying those 15 extra pounds and hearing those words, ''You're so fat.'' again.

Jesus says receive.

Receive Me.
Receive rest.
Receive My gifts.

I confused being a servant and self-denial with starving my soul and never stopping to take a break.

But as He says, ''Come.'' so I say, ''Help me, Daddy.''


The blank page.

Bonnie Gray has a new book coming out.

I agreed to read it because Bonnie's story is similar to mine and she has an excellent gift from God in writing. She's very real and I like that. So within the next few weeks I'll be posting blog posts on what the Lord stirs in my heart as I journey through this book...

it (the book) is called: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: awakening your soul to rest.

Journey with me.

Tonight's prompt was to read the list of images written on the page and find yourself- that one thing that sends a peace soaring through you- and then figure out why you identify with that.

Mine was the blank page.

You know what I'm talking about if you read some.

It's that space right after a chapter ends, and just before a new one beings. It's just one. blank. page.

And I really like it.

I guess you could say I'm drawn to it. Why?

Because that space is rest to me. It's the removal of striving and the invitation to just be.

The layer of fat around my middle; the slow pace of my jog, the way my nose tans faster than the rest of my face so it's two shades darker, the constant fear of letting down my family and friends and church family. It's the constant dread of being told "You're not good enough." and finally giving in to that voice that tells me that almost every day.

It's all that... removed.

It's freedom. And isn't that what Jesus gives us? True freedom from sin, from unrest.

But too often I can't find it. I could paint you a perfect person and name her "me" but she wouldn't be real and that's just stupid.

Right now I feel a mixture of peace and fear. The journey to rest isn't as simple as some think. And I can dwell on that and let dread overwhelm me (because sometimes real rest seems like a myth.) but I won't.

I'll let this time be my blank page and I'll just speak, "Thank You, Jesus. Help me trust You."