12.31.2014

Fierce Convictions - book review

I must say that I had a hard time getting through this book, and didn't finish it. :/ I tried, but for some reason I could not stay interested.

Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior is a book that tells the story of Hannah More - a woman who was a reformer, abolitionist, and a poet. She came from a family of quite a few women, which could be why she was such a passionate, unordinary one. She had good people pouring into her and good came out, though not at first.

This book is written very historically and factually based. It's not told from a story-type perspective (I've read a few biographies that were and tend to enjoy them more), rather, the author who happens to be a teacher, I think wrote it from a more teaching based mindset which means this would be a great book for home schooled children or bold teachers who want to include more in their classes.

This book wasn't my cup of tea, but it may very well be yours. If you enjoy exciting stories, I think you'll like this one. If you like history, you might enjoy it. Like I said, I think this would be great to use for teaching purposes because it is filled with so many facts and discussion starters.

Note: I received a free copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

12.30.2014

Christmas Undone And The New Year Almost Begun

Christmas can be such a crazy time and by the grace of God, I've missed of the craziness.

Until this year.

This year was different. The struggle to find peace was real and the to-list/to-get list was a lot longer and more time consuming than expected. But I managed to make it through and get the gifts and go to the parties and have a genuine smile on my face (despite being sick on Christmas Eve. Yuck.).

But then my church family had a few unexpected deaths. As I was praying for them one night, I felt conviction. They weren't running around searching for gifts or seeking help getting the house decorated for Christmas because their loved one was not there anymore.

Perspective changer.

They didn't have the stress of finding that "just right" gift because that person was no longer with them and wow... can I say we might be missing out on the great gifts God has placed all around us that aren't things at all??

How I've missed this. The people. The people, y'all, are the beautiful ones. The blessed ones. The chosen ones. The gifted ones. THE GIFTS. God gave us companionship after He sent His only Son to save us. After giving us the GREATEST GIFT, He gave us many others to bless our lives year after year.

What do we do to show people we care? That we love them? That we cherish them? That they are wonderful?

This thought left my Christmas a little undone because it just seems ludicrous to only enjoy people and appreciate people and show them love on Christmas day. Shouldn't we be seeking to pray for them, listen to them, love them, hug them just because, buy them a gift because we want them to know their thought about... all year long?

Oh, but it's not too late. The New Year is coming and with that I have resolved to love God better, myself better, and others a whole lot better because the people in my life are the gifts and I love them.

What's some of your new year resolutions? Has God spoken anything to your heart lately?

11.17.2014

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.

11.14.2014

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.

11.07.2014

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

11.04.2014

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.

11.03.2014

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.

10.23.2014

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.

10.11.2014

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.


10.08.2014

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.


9.25.2014

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.

9.23.2014

Thankfulness

Thankfulness.

Does giving thanks in your every day life come as hard to you as it does to me?

I mean, I've read the books, the Psalms, the "cool quotes", and yet that doesn't help me too/too much in actively giving thanks to the Lord.

But thankfulness opens the door to contentment and happiness where you are. Thankfulness opens the door to hope.

For a few months doubt, pain, anxiety, and bitterness has come into my mind and heart. The Lord has been gracious enough to show me this and then in and through His grace has helped me to pray for help in giving thanks - and then to do it.

Answered prayer: joy! Thanks has opened the door to joy and peace. God has helped me to get over my need for control and helped me to love better.

So maybe you're a little bitter tonight, and maybe this week has just stunk (and we've only been in it 3 days!). Have you tried giving thanks to the Lord anyway? Have you asked for help to give thanks to Him? Yes, it's hard, but oh the joy that waits at the end of those prayers.

9.20.2014

Diva in waiting...?

Sometimes I am such a diva. Where this comes from, I have no idea. I've always been a bit of a rebel and a bit of a go-getter, but when that go-getter attitude starts to become a prideful, I-know-more-than-you mindset, I'm ready for it to GO.

Last night I spent a couple hours in tears. Sometimes life just seems too hard. I forget to repeat Bible verses to myself. I fall into a pity-party and trying to get out... well the hole just seems to dig deeper.

And I don't like that version of myself. I hope it's not who I truly am. During those times, it's hard to tell where this stuff comes from and where it's going and when will it come back.

But every morning I read His Word and pray for help to understand it. I pray for help in living it out. I pray for help in loving more like Him and looking more like Him. I pray for healing in the deep, dark, so wounded crevices.

And I wait.

I wait for diva me to be redeemed.
I wait for patience to build.
I wait for love to overcome.
I wait for peace to heal the thumping in my heart.
I wait for calm in the storms.
I wait for deliverance.
I wait for Jesus.

He will come just as rain comes. Hold on. Give thanks. Thankfulness is an arrow that can penetrate the ugly. He can turn the ugly into beauty for His glory. Hallelujah.

9.09.2014

Honest.

Have you ever gotten to that point where everything looks black? Like life can't be good because all you find yourself in are messes on tops of messes?

And you know that you have a lot to be thankful for. You hear it in church all the time and you really do try to have a good attitude but you're tired and sad and life seems like it's not worth living because shame follows you around like a shadow.

Been there?

Yeah, me too.

Too many times than I'd care to admit.

It's hard. Life. Love. Grace. The Christian life.

Was it supposed to come easy? Were you meant to face challenge after challenge? Would life be worth it if it was all easy?

Question after question comes to mind.

Last night I cried for probably 2 hours after facing the same obstacle I've faced for the past 4 years and it seems like I continue to hit the same wall every year.

But the light is coming.

I'm having trouble seeing the positive and choosing it but I'm thankful for the struggle. This struggle is showing me how helpless I am and how much I NEED God.

I was raised to be independent and rely on myself and now I'm seeing the struggles in that. I struggle to rely on God and not go my own way.

His grace is enough and He is enough even when the dark surrounds and even when you have to make the best out of what seems to be nothing, and you don't know how to believe that God has got you. He does have you though. Honest. It might not seem like it now, but please hold on, He will come.

8.23.2014

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.

8.09.2014

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.

7.19.2014

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.

7.11.2014

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?

6.26.2014

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.

6.17.2014

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.




6.16.2014

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.

6.03.2014

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.

5.22.2014

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.''

5.19.2014

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."

Amen.

5.14.2014

Love-ology - book review


It took me way, way too long to read this book. Just wanted to get that out of the way before I actually start talking about the book. ;)

Okay, so Love-ology is written by John Mark Comer and it's a book on, well, you probably already guessed it, love. He talks on what a God honoring relationship looks like, how to have one, how far is "too far" when you're dating, etc., etc.

I really like the way the book is written and I think most girls will appreciate the color scheme (pink and white. holla!). While I didn't agree with some of the author's opinions or views, most of them are pretty solid and will benefit any couple or single. Yes, I did say single. This book isn't just written for those who are dating or looking to date, it's written to singles as well. Because 1) you never know if God will send someone your way or not, but best to be prepared, yeah? and 2) this is FILLED with lots of history regarding the creation of the world and how it relates to males and females; our differences, similarities, how that points to the heart of God, how we point to the heart of God... stuff like that.

The author has a very honest writing style which I think most people will appreciate and most everything in this book is stated plainly so everyone can understand it. Towards the end of the book a Q&A with the author and his wife is included and I found that to be a very interesting read.

I would definitely recommend this book to anybody. It's great for all ages and all people. Go out and pick up a copy!

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

5.13.2014

30 Days to a More Beautiful You: A Devotional for Girls - book review

Tyndale sent me an email a while back asking if I'd agree to review this little devotional book for girls, and of course I said yes.

Kylie Bisutti is someone I've heard of, since her story of choosing to quit being a Victoria Secret model in pursuit of the Lord became quite large, especially in the Christian community. I've yet to read her book, 'I'm No Angel', but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through this devotional.

Kylie encourages young women to pursue the Lord and His calling on their lives, not this world's. She speaks from her heart and because of her modeling career is able to speak to girls a lot about what value personal appearance has and what character in your life you should strive towards.

This is a beautiful book and I would encourage women of all ages to read it. Very refreshing. Thanks, Kylie! And big thanks to Tyndale for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book.

5.12.2014

Death, grief, and where faith is birthed

''Ain't even gray, but she buries her baby. The sharp knife of a short life.''

No parent should ever have to follow their child's body through a door to their physical body's resting place.

But it happens and today I saw it.

I watched as people came pouring in to both celebrate and mourn the loss of a 22 year old guy.

22 years old.

I cried and looked on as others cried, talked, laughed, and were somber. I didn't even meet this young man, but the testimony of his life was beautiful and an excellent tribute to his parents and his Heavenly Father.

It's these times of sorrow that we begin to ask questions and wonder why the world works the way it does. Why did he die so young? Could it have been prevented? Was there a reason it all happened the way it did? Can we trust a God that allows this to happen?

And it's the moments where everything seems gray and nothing is clear that faith is birthed.

It's not the cliché Christian quotes or the ''how to deal with grief'' books that birth faith. It's God's work within us, the Holy Spirit, that allows faith to grow. It's the choosing to trust for the next step, and the next step, and the next step.

I don't know why these things happen. I hate when they do. But I was reminded today to live life well, to love deeply, to forgive quickly, and to let the stupid stuff fall where it may because it doesn't matter. I was reminded that our Father God doesn't like when things like this happen either, that it breaks His heart too, and that that's one of the reasons why He sent His Son to die for us, so He can draw us near to Him in these times of grief. Thank You, Lord!!

God bless their family and may we all live and love each day as if it were our last.

5.07.2014

My womanly issues...

I know a lot of nice people. A lot of people I like to compare myself to. A lot of people I compare to myself.

And can we just stop with this stupid comparison game already?

Yet I find myself once again jealous (shocking, right?), depressed, upset, and joyless. What about grace, though? Grace seems lost as well.

I've been praying a lot about being gracious, kind, pure, holy... and maybe the problem is I've yet to pray, "Make me Christ-like." My motives are always, make me like her. Make me sweet and kind and let others be impressed with me. 

Oh boy.

But He says we should be less and He should be greater and I just can't move myself out of the way. Oh Jesus, help me.

I've tried to be thankful for all the times He's shown me to be less loud and shall we say.. blunt? But each time I'm just flat on my face, begging for mercy, and a new personality... or maybe just a nicer one.

Today I'm asking for help to be joyful and confident in Him. To be Christ-like, not Beth Moore-like, not Stasi Eldridge-like, not like my mother or my sister or my friends, but more like Him in and through the unique personality He gave me. All those women are great for who they are, but we aren't the same. And it's okay. Oh Lord, help us to see it's okay. Maybe when I become more thankful for how He made me, I'll be more thankful for the way He made others, si?

Happy Wednesday!

4.19.2014

He came to bring us life

He came to bring us life.

But how many times have I thought He was here to try and destroy it? Or that in the waiting, in the pain, there was no hope. How I had forgotten the power of Him and His resurrection. How numb I have been to it.

But I woke up with renewed hope. A reminder that His mercies are new every morning. That my sin is not greater than my Savior and that, yes, the Savior died, but He didn't stay dead.

Even death couldn't contain Him.

So on this Saturday we wait. We wait for Sunday. We wait for the celebration of His resurrection. We wait for Him. We've been waiting for hope and Hope has a name and a face and He died for you and for me. Thank You, Jesus!

Sometimes that waiting is longer than a day and sometimes we (I) can't see why He doesn't just show up already but in everything He has a plan.

He died to give you life. He died to make a relationship with you possible. He died to make our sinful state one of waiting and not permanence. Because we won't stay this way forever.

We can say hallelujah together. Amen? 

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..." - Philippians 3:20

4.18.2014

The faithfulness of our God

I'm listening to Kari Jobe, crossing the street, and out of no where a car hits me.

You think I'm kidding?

Nope.

Instantly, my mind goes crazy. Shock ensues.

I just got hit by a car. Oh my gosh! God, please help me.

I'm on the road. I'm looking at the back tire of the car that hasn't stopped yet and I hear, "Roll." So I did. I rolled out of the way.

I stand up and then the driver of the car hops out to ask if I'm okay. I say yes and they ask if they can give me a ride home. Um, no thanks. You just hit me, so I think I'll walk.

I make my way to the side of the road where I can examine myself to see what injuries I may have. A messed up ankle and a pretty nice looking scrape to my leg.

But that was all.

Compared to what could have happened, broken bone(s), broken face, head injuries, or death... I couldn't help but say thank You, Lord over and over. Because of His goodness and faithfulness and grace I lived. Hallelujah!

As this holy week continues I've had more gratitude in my heart than I've had in a long time. My Sunday school teacher told my class to read Psalm 136 every day this week. I didn't just read it, though. I was blessed enough to live it. Thank You, Father!!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." - Psalm 136:1

4.17.2014

Girl at the end of the world - book review

Girl at the end of the world by Elizabeth Esther is a book where the author, Elizabeth, is
telling her story of how she was raised in what almost sounds like a cult and how she found redemption from it.

I got half way through the book and stopped. I was disappointed by various things but I felt like many of the stories included in this book are not very appropriate. In the context of a conversation at the beginning of the book there is a use of God's name in vain that I thought the publisher should not have included.

Many people have said that this book is hard to put down, but I would have to disagree. This is someones story, I know that, and it will be told from an honest perspective, and I understand that. However, I think some of the stories included were a bit too much in regards to information and some sexual context.

I wouldn't recommend this book to anybody under the age of 18 just because I think it's a very adult subject matter. Maybe this book was just a little too much for me. Some people need to hear the very blunt, honest stories with nothing left to the imagination, but I'm just not one of those people.


Note: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4.16.2014

Raw Faith - book review

What if you are a Christian and get cancer. You know what God's Word says about giving thanks in all circumstances but right now you're just not okay. What then?

Raw Faith written by Kasey Van Norman tells you her story and what happened to her.

Kasey gets the call that she has cancer and that really rocks her world (but not in a good way, obviously). She then embarks on a journey of brokenness, pain, and triumphs. She begins looking at her faith and wondering what makes it real. She begins to ask the reader to take this journey of "raw faith" with her and invites the reader to be honest and open to the Lord as they go through the process.

Kasey feels kind of like a good friend who is there to pat you on the back and let you know, "It's okay to not be okay." I really was blessed by what I read on each page.

Her honesty, heart, and writing style make this book a must-read for all women and I would dare to say many men. Pick up a copy if you haven't already. You won't regret it.

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

4.15.2014

Light flickering in the dark

Four walls and darkness surround. You huddle in this space, scared to breathe, bracing yourself for the panic, the fear, and the pain that you've come to know for so long. 

But then something happens.

There is that little corner you're huddled in a light begins to flicker. First, it's just a little flick and then gone. But you let yourself relax a little, hoping against hope that maybe this time it'll come back- and stay.

As you continue straining those beautiful eyes in the darkness the light flickers again... and again... and again.

Faith and hope turn on and you start to breathe a little easier. 

His presence seems a little stronger and then fear seems a little weaker and you praise- for the first time in a long time- real, true, authentic praise to this God of light, though your voice be strained from the weeks of sobbing and the prayers that seemed unending. 

Because what looks hopeless and faithless and dark and scary, might be for a season, but keep the faith even when it's hard because one day His Light will shine brighter than ever before and you can sing the thanks loud and clear. 

"Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD." 
- Psalm 27:14

4.08.2014

In due time...

Do you ever feel like you're stuck on a merry-go-round that is just messy and not always so fun and the name of it is called 'life'?

Yeah. And I've told people that and written it in my journal and prayed it and sobbed over it and been angry about it.

When my future seems to be going as I would like it (i.e. how I have it planned in my head) but then that "next step" takes longer than expected to actually happen, then I get discouraged and sad and panic sometimes ensues.

I was reading 1 Samuel 1 this morning and was greatly encouraged by the story of Hannah. One verse really stood out,

"So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” (emphasis mine)

ESV says, "in due time". Hannah prayed, she sought the Lord, she begged for a child and then in due time she received it. I'm not saying God always grants our requests this way because sometimes He says no, but I was so encouraged to know that not only are our prayers heard, but God answers them... just not always in an instant (as I, and probably you, would prefer).

I don't know what you're praying for or waiting for but there is hope. Draw near, be patient, and wait, for in due time, if the Lord wills, you will receive... a job, or joy. A child, or a friend becoming His child. An opportunity, or a laugh.

Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers and answering them. Help us to be patient and wait, and hope, and endure. Amen.

3.31.2014

Wait...

I'm a go-getter, don't wait kind of girl.

I've been that way since I was young. I like to get done what I can get done and do as much as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Wait is not a word I like to hear. Wait takes me back to my childhood and temper tantrums and tears and anger.

Oddly enough, I still cry, throw a pity-party, and get mad when I'm told I have to wait. (In case you're wondering, I had me a moment today. Yep, Christians fail. Thank God for Jesus and grace!)

I read this today and was absolutely blessed by these words,

"My motto tends to be why wait when you can do it now…. Like right now. However sometimes we are simply called to wait, wait in the unknown and trust that we will be taken care of."

Yes.

Trusting God will take care of you when school is overwhelming, your job stinks, you're tired, your life isn't as "awesome" as you'd like it to be... trust.

Trusting that when you're crying, He cares. Trusting that when you're happy, He cares. Trusting that when all around you is falling apart, He cares. He cares enough to walk with us through the pain.

Stand tall, little heart, or bow low. Either way, take some time to rest tonight in the fact that no matter what you're going through, God will take care of you. Amen.

3.29.2014

Spoken For - Book review

Spoken For is a book written by two fearfully and wonderfully made ladies who seek to share the truth with other girls.

Alyssa Bethke and Robin Jones Gunn speak to the heart of every woman in embracing the truth about who they are in the Lord. Definitely not an easy read for anybody. Each chapter takes on a different area in our lives that the Lord claims and how He views us/it. Some of the topics include knowing we are loved, pursued, valued, set free, and of course, spoken for.

I've found myself nodding along, fighting back tears, and hoping as I've read through the pages of this book.

I'd encourage any woman to pick up a copy when it releases on April 15th. I'd especially recommend this book for pre-teens and teen girls as it's always good to set the foundation of understanding your identity in the Lord early on.

*Note: I received a complimentary advanced readers copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing. All opinions and views expressed are mine and do not reflect that of the publisher. 

3.28.2014

He came for those days too...

My soul can become so weary. All the work, the little amount of rest, the fight for peace and holiness that leaves me bone-dry and facing up to the fact that holiness and peace and perfection are impossible for me.

Jesus came for me on those days.

Not just the days where His promises are like chocolate cake to me- oh so sweet. But also for the days when He seems distant and maybe not as nice as I thought He was. On the days where I don't understand and the panic attacks come from worries and over-analyzing life and when I'm reading the blogs, the books, and thinking, hmm... why are they this joyful?

He came for us when we look at ourselves and hate what we see and yet don't know how to change it or don't even know how to hope for change... or hope itself. He came to give rest to the weary and burdened.

He came for the sick. He came for the bleeding woman, and the prostitute, and the thief on the cross, and for us.

Maybe what we really need is to stop and be still. No working, no analyzing, no book reading, movie watching, etc. Just. be. still.

God holds us even when we just can't dare to believe that.

Lord Jesus, Salvador, help us overcome our unbelief. 

3.26.2014

At Peace in the Storm - Book review

"3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (emphasis mine)

If there has ever been a book that verse 4 could be posted on every page, it's At Peace in the Storm  by Ken Gire.

I got this book because I've felt the tug of war from the world and the Devil and life's daily struggles and the lack of peace that has followed my heart for a year. I wasn't one bit disappointed by reading it. Every page felt like a cool drink on a hot day. I felt understood... and the hopelessness that has been my un-wanted friend for a while started to dissipate and was replaced by the hope that is found in Christ.

Ken shares some of his experiences in life that have threatened to steal his peace (and how some did) and then shares how the Lord gave him comfort in many different things- worship music, Bible reading, hugs from friends, etc.

If you're going through a hard time, you won't experience condemnation while you read this book. It reads like a good friend who desires to help you. The chapters are short enough that if you wanted to you could read it like a devotional for a couple weeks. No matter what you do, I encourage everyone who has ever felt the pull of life and the fight for peace to pick it up and read it.

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

3.17.2014

Tired from war

There is a constant war between the flesh and the Spirit. The heart and the mind. The Body and the Devil.

I get tired. Today I woke up tired.

Tired and worn from a fight that never seems to stop.
Tired and worn from trying so hard to do right in His eyes and failing over and over.
Tired and worn from valuing so many different opinions that His voice seems all but completely drowned out.
Tired and worn from trying to look like I have it all together... because I don't.

Psalm 23 says that the Lord is my Shepard and in Him I lack nothing. 

I may be tired and worn from all these things because I'm not relying on my Strength. I'm not relying on the One who lacks nothing, nada.

So, though I'm tired, I praise God that He provides, walks alongside us, and sent His Son to show us that Grace has a face.

Happy St. Patty's day. :)

3.14.2014

By the grace of God

At the beginning of the year I started going through a Chronological Bible study plan. I've always thought it would be cool to go in order of the things that happened so many years ago. So that's what I did... am doing.

Since it's still at the beginning-ish stages, you can guess I've been camped out in the Old Testament. I'll be honest and let you know that some days, no matter how focused I am (though, to be fair, I am can get really unfocused while reading the Word), I don't get a special word from God... some form of enlightenment to take with me throughout the day. Sometimes it's just a subtle form of peace.

Today, though, I was reading through Deuteronomy 8-10. All 3 of those chapters blessed me so much. I can't pinpoint all the things that touched me but I was extremely blessed to read about how God told the Israelites through Moses, not to be prideful because of their righteousness when they entered the promised land because they had none- righteousness that is. He told them that they were stubborn and disobedient. After reading about how many sacrifices you had to make for all the different sins, I was kind of excited and saddened to be able to finally relate.

I was excited to be able to see myself in this particular period of time, I was saddened because I saw more of my sin and less righteousness and perfection.. those things I try to attain so badly.

Many times I've noticed in my life how badly I want to be perfect. How badly I want others to see me and say, 'Wow. Look at her.' I am prideful, and selfish, and stupid sometimes. I can be that disobedient and stubborn Israelite stuck in the wilderness. I can get snappy at people, apologize for it, and then somehow find myself doing it again in not even 10 minutes. I can be too hard on myself and too hard on other people and when it comes to grace, no matter how many times I experience it, I still seem to be at a loss for understanding it (and maybe that's because love and grace are better experienced than understood). Relying on the Lord and His strength is not my strong suit, but I still try and when the Lord tells me to cease striving and know He is God I sometimes cry.

I've found myself uttering the words, I can't do this, I can't do this, I can't do this. many, many times in the past few weeks. I've reached my breaking point in certain areas and yet somehow I keep going. How? By the grace of God. And maybe that's the whole point of this post. To show you that  I'm just as imperfect as you are and I have struggles, and dry seasons, and temper-tantrums too. To show you that the girls and guys with blogs aren't this clean-shaven, cookie-cutter, sinless person. We are all sinners. Yet His love came down and He died on a cross because when we utter, I can't do this, He says, 'But I did.'

I'm not as righteous as I want to be and I see myself more in the Israelites than in Moses but I'm thankful that Jesus took my place to lay His righteousness on me. I'm thankful that I don't have to strive to be perfect and try to earn His love and grace because I already have it. Let's strive to be more faith-filled and believe Him than to try and be Him. Amen?


3.04.2014

Restless - book review

We all long to have lives that matter. We have all felt the ache to do something that matters. But far too often fears, anxieties, sin, people etc. hold us back from pursuing those things that matter... from seeking out the things that matter. Or we simply just don't know where to start and our solution to that problem is to just not start at all (I know this because I've lived this many times).

In her new book, Restless, Jennie Allen presses women all over the world to seek out their God, to find the gifts He's given them, and use them to glorify His name and reach their bigger goals, dreams, and ultimately their purpose.

Restless is filled with stories of women who are wrestling, struggling to reach their bigger dreams, the ones they know God has given them and they just don't know how to get there or where it ultimately leads. Restless is also filled with stories of women who are still seeking out their purposes, dreams, and desires that God has placed within them and has for them. They are still struggling and still searching.

Somewhere in there is you and me. Somewhere in there is the story of how you're beginning the search or in the midst of it. Maybe you need some direction, some guidance. I think this book would be a good place to look. Not because Jennie has all the answers (I think she'd be the first to tell you she doesn't), but because she helps to point us to the God who does.

I read Jennie's first book Anything not too long ago and was completely blessed by it (also, I think it sounds really good when you say that you read the author's first book when writing a review for their second one ;) ). That's why I got Restless when I saw it was up for review. I was not disappointed by it and I don't think you will be either.

If you need guidance or direction about where and how you should go about taking the next step God wants you to take, pick up this book. It is filled with love, grace, wisdom, and honesty.

"To know that we do not measure up and that we don't have to because of Jesus, because of grace, means that life gets a whole lot more fun." - p. 184

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

2.26.2014

Through the waters...

Pain, anxiety, worries all flooding my mind.

I can't do this. I can't do this. Lord, why is there always pain? Always fears? Lack of trust? Lack of confidence in You? in me?

Opening my Bible. Daily devotionals. Eyes look over a verse...

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you." - Isaiah 43:2


Explanation of the verse? We will go through waters, and rivers, and fire, but God will be with us and will not allow us to be overcome. He'll be with us.

It's my lack of faith and trust that allows the anxieties and fears to take over, but it's my God that stands firm and says, "Be still." and then helps me to do that.

Take heart, friend. If the anxieties are flooding over you today, ask for help. He is with us and we can trust Him. He is our hope. <3



2.24.2014

Doing the hard, weird things

Today I did something a little weird (for myself and definitely for the world).

I prayed for someone who hurt me and I struggle (a ton!) to love. Even typing that sentence hurts. Because in my mind they don't deserve love.

But in reality neither do I.

So I prayed for them and I really didn't feel too much better, but I did feel a little relief (call it more of God's grace?). I felt a little more peaceful. And though the tears threatened to roll, I knew that this was what He told me to do and so I must.

Why am I telling you this? Not to toot my horn and say, "Be like me." but to say look at how our Lord can strengthen us to do the really hard things that hurt. Look how He can show us His strength and power and healing and grace. Look how once you've been graced, you can show grace.

What's hard for you right now and downright painful? Maybe you're not completely at that point where you can pray for someone who has hurt you (it's taken a few weeks of wrestling for me), but maybe you can ask God to help you reach that point... because He will. Grace to you.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." - Philippians 4:13

2.23.2014

Perfectionism- the good and bad of it

Perfectionism can be such a thief in life.

But can I tell you a secret? When I'm being really honest I can admit to the fact that perfection is what I crave and desire... A LOT of the time.

One mess up and I'm ready to go back to start because life is a lot easier when you can start over and not have to deal with the mess. But real life? Yeah, real life means you don't get to go back to start, but you do get to see how the Redeemer does His work and how He uses bad things for good in our lives.

Perfection robs us of experiencing true grace. It robs us from seeing true Grace.

However, you know what perfection also does? When we strive for it, and fail to measure up to it, we get a deeper understanding of just how awesome Christ is. For every way I fall short, He intervenes and stands in my place. Um, yeah, I still can't grasp that, but seriously- wow!

Why did I write this post? Well, for a few reasons:

1. It's been on my mind.
2. I haven't written a blog post in a while and I thought I should.
3. Because I want to remind myself and you that's it's okay to not measure up or be perfect because our Father God already knew that when Jesus took the cross. Hallelujah.

Happy Sunday!

2.20.2014

Be still my soul {devotional} - book review

I've always loved music. Ever since I was a little girl my radio and I have been attached. So you can imagine that when I found a devotional that includes many different hymns and the stories behind them (eeek!), I was pretty stoked.

There's a writer inside us all that dreams of amazing stories and this devotional has told many, many of them. From Fanny Crosby to John Newton to the anonymous people that wrote words that touch the soul at it's core, we find amazing stories of faith, fear, truth, and our Redeemer.

I've been reading a page each day since I got this devotional and each day I am both challenged and encouraged by what I've read. It's amazing what happens when we surrender to the Lord (though I am not saying it's easy) and how He works through all of us broken ones.

If you're still looking for a devotional, I would really recommend this one. If you know someone who likes stories and music this would be a great gift for them... and you. ;)

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

2.08.2014

A Godward Heart - Book Review

John Piper has to be one of my all time favorite authors and pastors. He can put things so profoundly and yet still keep it simple for those of us who don't have theology degrees.

When I saw A Godward Heart up for review I knew I had to get it. When I realized it was a devotional, I thought, "Even better." As soon as it came I started it that night. I have not been a bit disappointed with it.

John Piper has chosen several different things he's talked about before and put it into short and concise devotional form. The point? To treasure God more and more each day. For us who live in the world but fight not to be like it, this proves to be quite the task that we cannot do apart from Him (Jesus). I've found this devotional to be a great tool to help with that.

If you're looking for a new devotional (we're still at the beginning of the year, so I'm sure there's a few out there still looking) or you have a friend looking for one, pick this up (and maybe pick up a copy for yourself?). Definitely won't be disappointed.

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

2.04.2014

Why I can't help you...

Why do we think that we can't run along someone who is struggling with the same thing that we are still struggling with?

Yes. I just asked that. Because for the past week I've been wanting to write this post and haven't. I asked that question because I think it reveals something about my heart and maybe yours- we think we don't need saving because we are the savior. That's not to be blasphemous or anything of the sort.

I'm saying that sometimes I see somebody struggling with the same thing I am and because I'm either afraid to tell them that I'm having the same problem and break that, "I-can-handle-anything, I've-got-it-all-together" look, or because I don't think there's anything I can do, I remain silent and sit on it for weeks, months, years, until later on I wish I had told them they weren't alone. Those three words: you aren't alone, can be the greatest comfort in times of struggle.

Back to my question. Do you think that we can help others who are struggling with something we still struggle with? That depends. Do you think that you can save them? When we believe ourselves to be the Savior (and we aren't.) then we believe we can save and therefore, friends, we cannot help them at all. But when we come alongside them and tell them, "Hey, you're not alone. I struggle with this, but let's pray about it together and go to God's Word and seek His face and see how He works." then not only are we helping them, we are also helping ourselves.

Kelly Needham is an excellent writer (definitely one of my faves and someone should notify her to write a book for real. ; ) ) and wrote this little gem earlier that I think fits well with this post. Go check it out.

I can't save anybody and neither can you. I don't have it all together. In fact, I am a huge mess every day pretty much and sometimes I cry just because I can, but I have a Savior who says, "Come to Me." He says come. No strings attached, just come. I'm still learning what it looks like to walk out this life for His glory and I fail so many times, but thank God, He gave us His Son and we can come to Him and find rest and life. We can run to Him together and watch Him work out our struggles for our good and His glory. Amen.

1.30.2014

Perfection, hope, and the world that screams there is none.


You wanna know what makes me mad?

The appearance of perfect lives.

You know what makes me madder? Not being able to actually live a perfect life.

I see pictures of smiling girls with babies on their hips, or people with lifted hands praising the Father God and in those moments life seems perfect. Seems.

But then reality sets in. The darkness falls over us. The fallen world we live in screams, "There's no hope!" and sometimes, if I'm being honest, I believe it. I feel it. Deep within me.

It's in the moments where hope seems lost that's it's most important to cling to Hope- Jesus.

It's on the days where depression is looming in the shadows, my feet feel heavier than anything, my breath becomes short and labored, and my mind becomes the biggest battlefield I've ever known that I look to Him.

"Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock." - Isaiah 26:4


I read this verse yesterday and a peace settled over me knowing that my God is the ROCK. He is sure and stable. Not only is He is the Rock, but He is the Rock ETERNAL (or everlasting). Never changing. Forever. Hallelujah!

I'm able to live and breathe today, not perfectly, not even close, but all because of Jesus. All because HE is the Rock Eternal and I can stand firm through Him. I'm a mess sometimes (read that: pretty much all the time), but I'll keep living and hoping and dreaming because in the LORD, I can.

1.28.2014

When Psalm 139 doesn't seem true

Sometimes the lies are just so loud the truth is hard to discern. Salty tears sweep your face because all you can think is, did I eat that? Am I really gross to everyone like I am to myself? What does God think of me? Am I disgusting to Him?

And no matter how many times someone quotes Psalm 139 to you, you just struggle to believe it over and over and over again. It's a vicious cycle really because you have periods where you can't get enough Psalm 139. You believe it firmly and shout it to everyone you know.

But sometimes the fog pools over and numbness and fear and hurt and pain settle in and then what?

You pray.

You pray for help through the fog and the pain. You pray for help believing when it's hard. You pray for strength to realize your value is so much greater than your pants size or how much of a stomach you have. You pray for help in not only ignoring the lies, but in believing the truths.

And when you're done, sweetie, pray some more. Because we can never reach a point where we'll regret praying to our Lord and we can never reach a point where our prayers are pointless. Believe that. <3

1.15.2014

I want my life to matter

I want my life to matter.

Words that have been prayed, written in my journal, prayed some more, spoken to others... and tonight God gave me a small glimpse of what a life that matters looks like.

We walk through life sometimes completely unaware of the people watching us; completely unaware of the people God can impact through us. We (I) think it's all about us (me) when we're here to glorify Him and point others to this great God of love and mercy.

What ways does your life matter?

Maybe you talk to that one person everyone else ignores.

Or maybe you see the potential in others that they can't see themselves and point them towards the life God has for them.

Maybe you quietly serve in the background, not looking to receive the praise or credit but looking to be of service because you love Christ and those around you.

Maybe you take the time to sit and pray before every church service that God would send an outpouring of His Spirit.

Those things matter. More than any of us may know. Oh friend, it matters what you do. Always.

Serve God in the small things and He'll for sure be glorified in the big stuff too. Seek His glory above all. Seek Him. I'm preaching to myself.

Sometimes I think going to a third world country would be awesome because then I'll be able to witness as much as I want and have so many opportunities and blah blah. But let's be honest. That's looking at world missions in this glimmering light that makes everything look smooth and perfect when you'll really be met with mess and hard.

"You don't have to go anywhere to minister if you minister everywhere you go."

I'm learning what that looks like in my life. It's hard, it's scary, but it's also exciting and rewarding.

God, live through us and be glorified.

1.13.2014

Actively seeking

160 pages in, 4 hours later, and 2 journal pages filled, I'm almost done with Anything by Jennie Allen.

We all have that ache at some point in our lives to go beyond our normal and embrace what God wants us to do- bringing glory to His name.

Not easy. Definitely worth it.

It saddens me how quickly I can embrace God's will and miss it within consecutive days and sometimes hours. Yet His grace is enough for me at all times.

I'm struggling to figure out what His will looks like in my life. I desire something beyond the American dream, beyond the "normal" and yet somehow I fail to glorify my God in the normal. So I think maybe the challenge is to learn to glorify God in the mundane so if and when the "radical" comes you're prepared to embrace it too for it is no different from your mission every day of your life.

God, help us. Help us be about Your glory and Your mission no matter what it looks like. 


1.09.2014

The Reason For My Hope - Book Review

I'm not really sure where to start this review. This is the first Billy Graham book I've ever read and it did not disappoint.

The Reason For My Hope is a wonderful book
to start the new year off with. The message of this book is the message of Christ: hope through Him alone. Billy Graham does an excellent job of pushing home the truth of Christ and what Christianity looks like in our lives today (or should) and how Satan has been blinding us to the truth from the beginning. He states the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith in an easy to understand way.

However, this is not an easy book to read. There were times it hit me in the gut like you wouldn't believe. But this is a book every generation needs because Billy Graham reminds us that Jesus is the only Savior and the only way to eternal life.

Next to the Bible, I would recommend this as a book every person should read regardless of age. I had a hard time putting it down and found myself underlining things in every chapter. It took me 4 days to read it and I was blessed by it. So now that you've read this review, go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy. You won't be the worse for it. :)

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


1.02.2014

Failing in the new year, being lifted up.

One moment of weakness.

Regret, feelings of panic rise.

Stop.

Thank God for His voice and conviction.

Stopped.

Conversation for half an hour ensues. "How can we glorify God and keep Him the center?" Ideas flow. Prayer was offered and life moves on.

In His grace He turns the ugly and the mess ups into beauty, redemption, and a tool that draws us closer to Him and further from the things that bind. Thank God.

Morning dawns. Regret fills, shame blasts me. Satan attacks.

Pssh! You? Holy? God's child? Yeah, right. Remember __________? How do you expect to glorify God after that?

Hmm. Those thoughts filled and filled and I began to wonder and God began to release mercy and grace over my troubled heart. He redeems. He works. He is constantly shaping us for His glory. Me holy? Yeah. But not because of me. Because of Him. Because of Jesus. He took the cross and chose to clothe me in a robe of righteousness instead of a crown of thorns.

I would love to live a perfect life. To be able to stand before Jesus completely faultless because I escaped sin but the actuality is I won't. I will fail. Do I want to? No. Will I? Yeah.

My issue for years has been running. I'm a great runner (I'm not talking physically, 'cause y'all, I'm slow when I go run... yeah. :P What I'm talking about is spiritually and emotionally), but relationships take work and so you can either run from all struggles or face them, no matter how ugly, and depend on His strength.

By God's grace I will do the latter and attempt not to do the former... in His strength.

"Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!" - Psalm 105:4


So I already messed up in the new year, BUT one mistake will not define or set the tone for this year. Because on my own, no I'm not holy. But maybe instead of turning holiness into a list of "I do _____, _____, and _________." and "I didn't do __________, _________, or ___________." we should realize holiness for what it is, or rather Who, the precious Messiah taking our place so we can be free to choose Him day after day no matter the mess up. Whoa. That's soooo freeing and exciting! Thank You, Jesus!

Happy new year! Messed up already? Depend on Him. Repent and move forward. He's got you.