7.28.2015

What Keeps You Up At Night - book review

What Keeps You Up At Night by Pete Wilson is a wonderful book.

When I first read the description of it I knew I wanted to get it. Being a 20-something, there are many choices and pressures I am faced with and sometimes they can keep you up at night wondering how on earth you are going to get through it all.

I have not read anything by Pete Wilson before. I had heard many great things about his book, Let Hope In, so I knew wanted to check this one out and see if all the hype was true.

I cannot speak for his first book, but I can speak for this one. I have been so encouraged and challenged by this book. Pete gives you insight into so much. From having faith to pursue your dreams to waiting on the Lord to provide, you are constantly encouraged to draw closer to the Lord and trust Him.

Probably my favorite thing about this book is the quick summary at the end of each chapter. He gives you a quick summary of the chapter and then questions to ask yourself afterwards. This aspect of the book would make it really great to do a small group book study together using it.

Overall, I think this book is great for people of all ages and in each facet of life. I would say that some chapters are repetitive and feel more like you are being preached at then talked to. However, there is something in this book for everybody, because really, who hasn't had trouble in their life before? We have all had doubts and fears that kept us up and prevented us from using faith. This book will challenge you to have faith in every area of your life no matter the circumstances.

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

7.10.2015

Breaking up with perfect

Everyone is so obsessed with perfection today.

Perfect engagements with perfect rings and then the perfect wedding.
Perfect closet with perfect clothes and perfect shoes to match.
Perfect nails and perfect hair and of course, perfect makeup.

What are we doing? It's for show. Like the Pharisees we are making the outside perfect while neglecting the inside. We're crazy!

We can't be perfect. A look in the mirror and a glimpse at the Old Testament will tell you that. How many times have we failed? How many times have we forgotten God? How many times have we disobeyed Him??

His love never fails. 

Love. Love fulfills the law. Love never fails. If we want perfection we should be looking at Jesus and striving to love like 1 Corinthians talks about instead of seeking the perfect looks to our lives and becoming disappointed when it doesn't look ''instagram worthy''.

I'll be the first to admit that my life is a mess. Not only on the outside, but on the inside too. I mess things up all the time. I beat myself up over it or I beat others up over it, but to be sure, someone always gets the short end of the failure-felt-attitude.

Today I'm breaking up with perfect.

I'm looking to the only perfect One and that's Jesus. I'm letting my life be the mess it is and embrace. I'm no longer going to wait for joy. I'm gonna grab it. I'm doing things that make me smile and if they don't turn out 'pinterest-like', that'll be okay.

I'm gonna love. Love is beautiful and messy. It's worth it too.

6.26.2015

The story within...

Can a Bible hold hurt and pain? Or is it merely the person holding the Bible who carries the hurt and the pain?

I've carried this Bible to church and my room. To the outside- the outside of my home and the outside of me.

I've searched it's pages.
I've asked God to speak to me.
I've highlighted and written and underlined. And learned.
I've cried reading it.
I've read the book of Job in almost two days. The anxiety and fear that kept me so near to Him that week. The pain I now remember and pause... paralyzed thinking of how it could happen again.

But I'm stronger now because of Him and this Word I'm free to carry where I want. A freedom I sometimes take for granted, but very rarely forget.

Your Bible and my Bible they carry stories. Stories of how God has seen people through and fulfilled His promises even in the gloomiest of days. Our stories are carried within our Bibles too. The highlights, the worn pages, the notes. They speak forth His praise much like the stories written within, though they aren't the same as the very holy Word, they are still good and His mercy is still shown.


--
Shame and fear from the past threatens me this morning. Healing is coming forth like a blooming flower. One little bulb, one little seed, one little growth, someday becoming a flower. The growth bearing pain... to grow there must be pain, right? Even if the pain is scary. Joy comes in the morning, remember?

 I may be afraid at times. Afraid to confront the past. Afraid to move forward. But my God is with me. He is here. Here in the mess. He creates order out of chaos. My chaos. Your chaos. The world's chaos. So the story might be plastered across my face or your face or it might be deep within your heart, festering like a disease. We must release the pain to receive the joy. We must release the hurt and receive the grace. We must release the past and receive the hope for the future.

The Bible I have held by myself or next to an incredible person, has a story within it that is both mine and not mine. It is the story of a God who used His wonderful Word to paint beauty instead of ashes.

Thank You, Lord!!!

6.24.2015

Hard

So many people quit things because it's hard. Sometimes, they don't even attempt at doing anything in life because it's hard.

Hard doesn't mean 'don't do it'. Hard means you're gonna learn to stick it out in endurance and perseverance and in the grace of God. You're gonna learn to lean on the Maker and trust Him. Hard means you might have some nights where you think you can't do it anymore and you're on the verge of quitting when God breaks through or your spouse speaks truth to you or your family encourages you and tells you to keep going.

There are many hard things.

  • School
  • Work
  • Marriage
  • Family
  • Relationships
  • Church
  • The Christian life
  • Etc.
All aspects of life can be hard. Very few will seem easy. I work out on a regular basis and let me tell you, it's HARD. When it's 90 degrees and you still have to get off your butt and run... yep, it's hard. 

My point is this: hard is not an excuse. We can't use it to not even attempt at living life. We need to push through the hard and realize that it is a part of life. We need to look to God and let Him help us along. We need to LIVE. 

Hard is not an excuse. You can _____________ (whatever your hard is) because we can do all things through Christ. It might be hard, but we got this. Let's lean on Him and LIVE! 

6.17.2015

Anything - Jennie Allen

Anything by Jennie Allen is a book written and centered around a prayer and the journey that ensues after praying, and meaning, that prayer.

I read this book last year, if I'm remembering correctly. I marked a few places in it and read it in about a day and a half. I love honest people with honest writing and honest storytelling and with this book, that's what you get.

You might be wondering, well, what was the prayer? Oh that.  ;) Yes, the prayer was that Jennie and her husband would do Anything to get to that place where they were satisfied with God and living the life He wanted for them.
anything.

Anything is a hard prayer. It's a hard lifestyle. Anything can mean so many things. It can mean giving up your home or giving up your money. It can mean giving up your shopping addiction or giving up your constant coffee runs. It's not the giving up we need to focus on though. Rather, it is the gaining we should place focus on. We gain more of Christ. We gain becoming more like Him. We gain less world-focus and more love for people. As many things as we lose, we gain in the spiritual realm.

I think that's what Jennie wanted people to see in this book. It's not that we lose anything, but that we gain because of Christ.

This new-edition copy includes an updated letter from the author, Jennie Allen; a study guide included at the back of the book, and an exclusive chapter titled Since Anything that is pretty much self-explanatory, what they've been doing since the book was written.

Be sure to grab a copy if you enjoy a challenge or just need a little boost in your walk with the Lord. You won't be disappointed. :)

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

6.07.2015

Imperfections and the perfect God

I'm not perfect.
I'm really not that Christ-like yet.
I am a work-in-progress.

Sometimes I read my Bible too fast and don't take enough time with the Lord.
Sometimes I am REALLY selfish and hurt people because of it.
Sometimes I have this perfect image in my head and when it doesn't come out like I wanted it, I get upset.
I can be drama queen.
I eat my food too fast or too much of it.

Those are just a few of the things I struggle with. I can also be a shop-a-holic... and it's gotten so bad that I have to limit myself from it.

Sin.

It gets me everyday no matter how hard I run from it. No matter how many times I look at the cross and go to church and take the notes and read the Word and pray prayers. Sin gets me. But Christ gets me more. He is there, covering me in the blood, teaching me to love, forgive, be free!

Yes, I am one hot, stinking mess. Yes, Christ is a great Savior. Yes, together we will conquer the trials and sins of this world. He's not finished with me yet...

6.05.2015

Siren's Fury - Review

We all have things within us that can be good or can turn to bad. We all have fears that threaten to either harden us or bring about compassion and love.

For Nym, she comes in contact with both.

Mary Weber's first book, Storm Siren was so excellent and thrilling. I knew the second one would be just as good and had anticipated it coming out. When it did, I grabbed it. (Literally. Y'all I stayed up till 11:00pm at night just to ensure I got my copy to review... I would've bought it had I failed. ;) )

Siren's Fury picked up where Mary's last book left off. From joy and excitement to chaos and confusion to more battles in need of winning. Nym is right in the middle of it and less prepared for it than she knows.

When faced with many trials, Nym struggles to make the right decisions. The ones she makes can lead to good or bad and the results so far are shaky at best. Will Nym find the courage she needs to do right even when everything within her screams not to? Can she overcome the darkness both she and her former trainer, Eogan are faced with?

A must-read this summer!!! Great for all ages, it's a page-turner, and you might have a few late nights until you finish this one. Great job, Mary!! I can't wait for your next book! (Oh yes, there will be a third book coming next year!)

Note: I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions expressed are mine.

5.30.2015

Thoughts. Literally.



''Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.'' - Philippians 4:8


Life would be so different if we actually thought like this. If I actually thought like this.


Instead of thinking about myself all the time. Instead of constantly putting myself and others down. Instead of forgetting my worth and letting the world tell me who I am. Tell us who we are.


Why would God want this in the Bible? Can you see His goodness in this??! I see it now. For the first time. God knows that the battle in our minds is one of the greatest we will have on this earth. So He tells us what to think on so we won't have to struggle so blindly. It's not like He said, 'Don't think on __________ (bad stuff).' and then left us to figure out what the good stuff is. No, He tells us what the good stuff is, it's right and lovely. It's pure and noble. It's excellent and praiseworthy. THESE we think on.


Some days, though, my thoughts and I have the biggest battle. I pray. I ask God for help. And then I wrestle.


Some mornings I wake up feeling very dark. It's like being in a little bubble of clouds and there's no sunshine. All you feel is coldness and sadness. It's the days I live in the 'I cannot' that God's 'I can' shine so brightly and give me more strength even in just the thought of nothing is impossible for God than my weak self could ever give. It's a wrestling match for sure because darkness and light just don't co-inhabit. So the dark shows up, the light feels snuffed but then somehow the light overcomes. Crazy but beautiful.


Then there are the days where I feel like I can take on the world. Those days are joyful and hopeful but guess what. Sometimes things go wrong and those are the days that the disappointments hurt way more than you would think. I'm a feeler so when this particular disappointment happens (you know the one that hits in your stomach and makes you feel like you're gonna throw up?), I'm on my face again reaching for help... again.


And here's a thought... do you ever get tired of asking for help? I saw a billboard yesterday that said... Hand out UP. I like that. I sometimes think of God giving me handouts and He's just waiting for me to mess it all up and take it all away. Yeah, I know. Faulty thinking but aren't we sharing how we need that true, pure, noble, lovely thinking here? I've lived in my failures for my entire life. I've listened every time I've heard, 'You're the problem.' I can take it, that's what I tell myself. I can take it. So no handouts this time, right?


Problem is, HE already took it ALL.


I do mess up. I have MANY failures but Jesus took it. Look at the cross. There goes our failures and here comes His victory forever! He must just sit in Heaven looking at me like, 'Daughter, will you please understand now? Let it go.' But I don't. I feel I can't. All these thoughts scattered in my brain from early childhood until now. How my dad didn't want me. The rejection I felt. The pain of never fitting in at school. The pain of being the overweight kid and the bullying that happens. The pain of being the misunderstood. The 'odd one'. The pain of letting down my family. The pain of letting down my God. The pain of just knowing with all your heart that you will never be perfect and you never be good enough.


He knows it all.


Every thought. Every failure. Every old replayed memory, He knows. Every pain. Every tear. Every angry thought. Every single broken moment, God knows.


Maybe my thoughts will never exactly look like Philippians 4:8, but I believe that the longer we hold onto our way of thinking, the longer we let our thoughts drag us into ______________ (despair, fear, anger, hatred, dislike, unhappiness, fill-in-your-blank) the longer we will miss the noble, pure, holy, lovely, admirable things. We can't just put a stop on those old thoughts, but through Christ we can do all things. All means all, as my Sunday school teacher always says. Maybe if we just have enough faith in His all we can begin taking up thoughts that lead to joy, hope and peace in Christ. Amen?

5.22.2015

Review: The Choosing - Rachelle Dekker

Alright. So, I am so excited to talk with you guys about this book. When I read the little description for The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker, I thought... YES!! I want to read this!! 

So of course I got it from the lovelies at Tyndale to review.

I thought it was going to be a book similar to the type fiction you find with The Hunger Games or Divergent series. I really enjoy that type of fiction so I wanted to read this and see how it was similar and different in the way her world was written. While the writing could be said as similar to those books, the content is very different but in a wonderful and freeing way.

All people struggle with being enough. From the time we're little to pre-teens to teens to young adult-hood we are constantly trying to be this image of 'perfect'. Rachelle's message in this great piece of fiction is very different from that and says we are enough in our Father's eyes and that once we realize this we'll find identity and freedom.

The Choosing has many characters but a few are Carington, Larkin, Remko, and Helms. The world they live in is supposed to be under God's rule, but The Authority (men who are supposed to teach the people the law and help uphold God's commands) have abused their power and caused people to miss the beauty of life. They find themselves each in different roles, yet wondering if their roles in society, as deemed by The Authority, are really the place God would have them be. The struggle between acceptance and rebellion is strong. Carrington searches for herself and struggles with whether she will ever be enough for anyone, including herself.

This book will grab you in a just a few pages. It's beautifully written and the truth speaks so subtly at first and yet so profoundly through this book that you might find it hard to believe you got so much more out of it than you thought you would. Highly recommend to everyone. Wonderful summer read!

Rachelle, you did so good, girl!! Keep writing. You're a blessing.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the exchange of an honest review. All views and opinions expressed are mine.

The Author: Rachelle Dekker 


About the Author . . . The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her online at rachelledekker.com.

5.17.2015

The Limit

The limit.
The place where exhaustion hits.
Prayers not yet answered.
Sins not yet mastered.
Fear.
Doubt.
Shame.
The devil's work, not God's.
Too much thinking.
Just call out to the Father.
Healing.