12.02.2015

Pain in the midst of the happiest time of year

Christmas time is here.

Adelle is singing in the background of my life... or so it feels like.

Hello. 
Can you hear me? 

Why do I say that?

Because joy may be great for others right now, yet for some of us we feel that subtle pain that comes around the Holidays.

I feel it. Oh, do I feel it.
Strong, yet somehow subtle.

It wasn´t until I looked rather closely at myself that I see the sin that has easily crept into my life and my heart.

I pray to become more like Christ, but here I am- sitting in sin... in filth. When just like a mom cleans her baby, my Heavenly Father has offered cleansing from this filth.

But I hold on. I become stubborn. No, Lord, I want this.

He lets me have it. He lets me have this sin until I realize, no, I don´t want this. I really don´t.

And just like Paul in Romans 7, the things I love I don´t do, and the things I hate I do. Why?

Lord Jesus, rescue us! Rescue me!

This is why He came. Maybe this subtle pain is here to remind what this time can really be- to reflect on the One who came and has abolished the chains. To reach out our hands, our very lives and cling to the hope He gives and the mercy He offers.

Thank you, Jesus.

11.25.2015

The Ragamuffin Gospel - review

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

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

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


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


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




10.29.2015

Words of affirmation

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

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

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

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

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

And that is what we were before Christ: lost.

So I have some encouragement for you tonight:

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

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

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

10.21.2015

Five Traits of A Christ Follower - review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10.13.2015

Old, new pain


I sat in the car.

Gentle drizzle of tears pouring down my cheeks.

No words. Some pain. Longing for healing.

He asked, "What's wrong?"

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

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

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

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

I can't answer that.

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

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

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

It's Not What You Think - review

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

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

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

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


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

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

10.08.2015


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

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

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

But what did Jesus' life look like?

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

Maybe not. Maybe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live in the image you were created in.

Live in God.

9.30.2015

Tuesday night thoughts....

My brain rattles.

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

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

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

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

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

I trust You, Jesus.

9.22.2015

Wrecked Faith

I bought a car a month ago.

4 weeks later, my car was wrecked and totaled.

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

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

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

Faith.

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

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

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

Faith.

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

9.17.2015

Choose

A new breeze blows.

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

Sin lures.

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

A choice is made.

Follow. Obey. Listen. 

But who?

The glory of the moment of the glory of eternity.

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

The Spirit still calls.

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

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

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

9.12.2015

Again

It's over. Here we go again. 

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

I've been here before.

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

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

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

I'm scared.

BUT, I KNOW MY GOD WILL COME THROUGH.

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

9.05.2015

War Room - review

So if you haven't seen the trailers, the Lifeway promotions or gotten an email about it, there's a new movie out by the Kendrick brothers called,War Room. I have not seen it yet, but I had the pleasure of getting a free copy of the book to review. So without further a do, here's my review...

First off, let me say that I used to think that fiction books weren't "Christian enough" to read. Ya' know what I'm saying? Like, how could you possibly learn the things of God (ummm... Jesus used parables... yeah my little brain didn't think about that till later.) by reading about fake stories? That was my mindset for a while until I read some things on C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. Mind = changed.

War Room has been a book that God has used to slowly change my heart towards my sweetheart. This book revolves around the lives of Elizabeth, her husband Tony, their daughter Danielle, and Miss Clara. Elizabeth and Tony are encountering marriage problems but when the Lord brings Miss Clara into their lives, everybody is changed, not by Miss Clara, but by the Lord.

The power of prayer is hugely a part of this book. I must say that God has shown me how belief vs. doubt is a battle in what we choose pray for. Sometimes doubt can be the very thing that propels us toward prayer and furthermore, belief.

I have so enjoyed reading this book. It is a page turner, a faith encourager, and just an all around great read. It does have some adult situations so parents keep that in mind when thinking about this book for your children. I would place the age group to 16yrs and up.

I'm thankful that Tyndale let me review this book. Such a good read! Recommended to all married couples.

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

8.25.2015

For The Love

Humor. Truth. Honesty. Humor. Real. Encouraging. Did I mention funny?

For the love by Jen Hatmaker is one book that you will want to read and re-read (at least for me and I don't do that with very many books) for years to come. Yes, it's that good.

I read her first book, 7, and was extremely pleased with it. When I saw this come out I signed up very quickly to review it.

I read this book in a few days. It's so easy to read with the funny thank-yous at the end of each section and the truth that is put concisely, but so powerfully throughout. With chapters on church issues and wearing leggings as pants (yes, you read that right), you won't get bored with this one.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Whether you're a Christian or not, I think anyone would enjoy this book. Ladies, if you need an effortless read, go grab it!

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


8.23.2015

I want to know him

Book stacked on top of book.
Journal. Pen.
Different translations of the Word.


My heart.
Cluttered yet clean.
Restless, yet at peace.

Those books, all those Christian literature, are not there so I can mark it off my Christian checklist. These are because I truly want to know God.

No, no. Not know more about Him. I want to know Him.

Those books teach me more of who He is and more of who I am. What a blessing it is to read someone else's sentence and know you're not alone.

That journal? It's there so I can sing His praises and tell Him my sorrows. It's there to celebrate the joys and remember the hard times. I look back and see His faithfulness and my sinfulness. I look back and see His goodness and my joy in it.

The Word. There are many translations... I need the ones that speak clearly to me. The ones that aren't in some crazy code that I have to figure out to know what He says. No, I need the ones that make you dig a little, but not so much that you can't clearly understand what He says.

I mess up every single day. This life is hard and my sin makes it harder. Romans 7 was meant for me. Indeed, I am the worst sinner and He is the great Savior.

I may act like a Pharisee at times, but today I just want to know Him.

8.08.2015

The beast returning...

I felt it in the early morning.

The beast. Awakened yet again. The gloom and darkness pulls so heavy.

Go back to sleep.
Roll over. 
Close your eyes. 
Pray. Don't give in. 
Those are lies. Don't listen to them! 
Oh... it's gonna be a day. Just hold on.

The thoughts are always swirling.

But the thoughts? The thoughts I can deal with through God. The feelings though? Those are much harder to turn away from. The anxiety, the depression... oh yes. I know those too well. The lies from Satan, the lies from the past, the lies in the present... all congregate to the bottom of my stomach and the inside of my heart.

They seep through the crevices and then decide to explode. Causing not only my head to spin, but my heart to plummet as well.

Oh, God. Lord, it's dark. It's scary. It's hard to explain. I know You see. I l know you hear. I know You're here.


Tell that to your heart. Tell that to your mind. Speak it. Sing it. Know it. Believe it. Darkness cannot overcome light. 

Jesus, help me. 

8.04.2015

The beauty of ugly

Today was ugly.

I am talking, sweating in the car (because it is definitely 100 degrees outside), makeup running down my face (because I was crying and sweating... yep. At the same time. UGLY.) I said a few cuss words that I SO wish I could take back. I got mad about nothing. It was bad.

The Lord is gracious.

Was my Father sad about how I acted? Totally. He was probably disappointed too.

But He is gracious.

He has blessed me with a gracious person who loves me far more than I deserve. He has blessed with the knowledge that even when I fail, H i s love NEVER does.

Today was ugly. Yes. But it was also beautiful. I was reminded in the form of truth spoken gently by the Holy Spirit and by the love of one of the most faithful people, that though I fail, love  n e v e r  does.

Wow. Thank You, Lord!!!!

8.02.2015

Clothe

I like fashion. A lot. I like the thrill of buying a new outfit and the anticipation of wearing it. I enjoy a great skinny jean paired with a flowy top that makes the two pieces look just right. To me, there is nothing wrong with that... to a point.
As I was reading my devotional this morning this particular verse stood out to me.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. - Colossians 3:12 

Clothe.

Clothing.

Familiar to me and yet as easy as it is for to get dressed in the morning, it is quite hard for me to find these five characteristics to put on each day. Oh, get dressed? Yes, I can do that. Be nice? Be compassionate? Be humble? Hmmm... me? No, not so much.

For me personally, humility is key to all of the Christ-likeness I desire. I sometimes choose to clothe myself with greed and envy or pride rather than choosing the beautiful things that would reflect the heart of my Savior to a world that does not know Him.

Lets be real. I still need to know Him. EVERY SINGLE DAY. That is part of the reason why sin is so harsh in my life at times. Because I still do not treasure as I should. But that is another topic for another day.

Humility is hard. I have flesh. I like to be right. I like to look smart. I like to be a smart-alec. I like to be the center of the show. I want all eyes on me. Am I the only one? I hope not. But even so, that doesn't change my sinfulness.

Why should I clothe myself with these 5 things? And better yet, how on earth am I going to do that?

Well, first things first, I need to be clothed in these five things because as child of  God, He tells me this is how I need to be. Notice I said the word be and not act. If we focus merely on the outward appearance we will see results, yes, but only for a short while and then afterwards we will be left with the remnants of the ever famous attempt-but-fail Christian walk. No, I need my heart to be like this. Holy. Pure. This side of Heaven it may look dark, but each day He renews and redeems us to look more like Him.

Second, to be able to do anything or all things, we must look to Christ who is our strength. I am not naturally good at any of the attributes listed above. In fact, I think I am best at the exact opposite of each of those words... I am quite good at pride, apathy, meanness, and I am NOT good with patience at all.

So while reading this verse this morning I was humbled and encouraged and challenged. Not only will I clothe myself in that nice dress that I bought for less than $10, but looks better than $10 this morning (am I bragging? ;) ), but I will also be praying for God to clothe me in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. I want to be more like Him and look more like Him.

Oh how thankful I am for those moments where my heart is as it should be! Thank you, Highest Father!!!

What will you ask the Father to clothe you with today or this week? Let us pray over each other together for our hearts to become more like His. Yeah?


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.

5.10.2015

Untitled

We live in a society that constantly preaches to dislike yourself.

Really. Look around. How many positive things do you hear or see said about another person or, (oh my!), about themselves?

Women are supposed to be curvy or stick thin. We're supposed to have tan skin and big eyes and a perfect complexion and be able to cook and clean just right and have a college degree so we can have the 'perfect' family.

Men are supposed to be thin, athletic, kind, listen well, have a high paying job, work two jobs to sustain all the things their family may want, dress nice, do the yard, pick up the pieces to help their family remain 'perfect'.

But is this the life God intended for His children?

Obviously since The Fall we haven't been the same. The perfection we could have lived in never came and now we wait patiently for it in Heaven. But our hearts crave it. The world preaches it. So we're left with a BUNCH of broken, helpless, lost, people who are trying to do everything they can to be perfect.

And I'm one of them.

When did it become okay to put someone down because they're a little chubby? Or because they dress weird? Or because their phone is not the latest? When did it become normal to strive to get finished with college and get the best job possible at the ripe age of 22 or 23, the job that that other person worked YEARS to get themselves? When did it become the norm for women to work their butts off trying to attain this perfect position of being an 'independant woman' AND a stay-at-home-mommy? Why is it okay to belittle a man who works construction for a living or who doesn't always wear a fancy suit and tie to church every Sunday?

Image is not everything. 

When will we understand that the grace God has given to us is meant not only for us but for all the world? When will we USE it to become more like Christ and allow grace for the times we or others look little like Him? When will we decide that people are better than things? When we understand that God has gifted us with much and we can very much be thankful and content.

My heart has overflowed with these thoughts lately. Silent prayers of thanks and the desire to be more content flow through me. I don't fully know the answers to these questions, but I do know that every person is unique and loved. I know that God has a plan for everyone and those plans are always different for each person. I know the paths we have walked don't have to define us into our future. I know that it's okay to not be okay. I know that it's okay to realize that you like your somewhat chubby thighs or curly hair that no one can tame but you. It's okay to work as a janitor. All these glorify our Maker. He made us to glorify Him. If we can glorify Him scrubbing toilets, then why not? If we can glorify Him when singing off key, then why not? If we can be imperfect and still be loved by a Holy God, why can't we love others the same way and glorify God?

We can do all this through Christ who gives us strength. (Paraphrase of Philippians 4:13).

5.05.2015

Push through

The older you get the more you will realize that all people won't like you. That suffering will come. That God is faithful and He's gonna bring you through every trial you encounter.

This week started off not so good. I woke up Monday morning with more joy in my life (had to come from the Lord) than I've had in a while. I was excited for the week. Then, a couple people made some comments and my heart sank to the floor along with my joy.

I went running yesterday afternoon and while I was running the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart about how suffering will come to us whether it's consequences of what we've done or just random happenings. It will come. Do we expect it? Maybe. Do we let it ruin our joy and suck the happiness out of life? We shouldn't.

I don't handle criticism very well at all. My insecurities run kind of deep anyhow for whatever reason and when I'm doing something, especially to glorify God, and criticism comes, I get really upset. It physically hurts the heart.

But we have to come to the point where even if it hurts we push through. We forgive. We ask God for help. We look to our Strength and Provider to give us strength and provide. We ask God to give us confidence over our choices and decisions and we let Him be our Confidence because who we are in Christ does not change no matter what people say.

So, yeah. Sometimes we'll get mad and sad and be hurt, but once we have a chance to calm down we can remember who we are and that is the Lord's. So good!!! ^_^

5.01.2015

I need Jesus

If you've been on Pinterest recently you might have seen a t-shirt that's been circulating around.

It says simply: 'Y'all Need Jesus.'

I thought it was rude from the first time I saw it. Let's think through this, we are Christians because WE need Jesus EVERY DAY. We realize the need for a Savior. So telling other people they need Jesus without pointing the finger back at yourself seems silly to me. I could be reading too much into it (wouldn't be the first time! Haha!), but I don't think I am.

So, friends. Let me tell you. I need Jesus.

I need Jesus for the days where everything is good.
I need Jesus for the days I wake up and it's like a huge depression cloud is over me.
I need Jesus for the days where every emotion possible is felt and overwhelming me.
I need Jesus when I'm overwhelmed.
I need Jesus when everything is alright.
I need Jesus when everything is not.
I need Jesus for the lonely days and the days filled with people.
I need Jesus when I'm to my breaking point.
I need Jesus because who else will save me? (Answer: No one.)
I need Jesus because I don't have it all together.
I need Jesus because I'm a people pleasing, constantly comparing, insecure woman.
I need Jesus because I'm a mess.
I need Jesus because I NEED JESUS.

I'm not pointing the finger solely at me or solely at you. I'm looking at us both and saying, yes. We need Jesus. Not because we need Him to have a perfect life or get ''everything together'' but because we need a Savior who walks with us through every single thing in our life and shows us the Way through (He is the way). We need Jesus because we need Him!

Thank You, Lord!!!! Jesus, I need You.

Spiritually Strong - book review

I like to exercise. I've been trying to live out a healthy lifestyle for years. I would say for the most part, I succeed. There are times where I don't eat as well as I should or exercise nearly enough, but for the most part I do eat healthy and exercise a good amount.

I got the book Spiritually Strong by Kristen Feola because it sounded like a really good book and I like fitness stuff so might as well, right?

I set out to read a chapter a week, but I failed in that. However, reading through it I can tell you it's a very informative, helpful book on not just fitness, but on our spiritual health as well.

Sometimes we get so caught up in how well we fit into our skinny jeans that we neglect to see how well we are fitting into God's Kingdom and His plan for our lives. We neglect how well we eat, but we also neglect how well we take in God's Word and how well we pray.

I really liked how Kristen talked on both spiritual and physical health because as Christians, we know they both go together. If you're body is suffering it could be because of physical stuff or it could be because of spiritual stuff as well and Kristen does a good job addressing both issues.

Overall I would say this is an excellent book. Filled with Scripture and personal stories, you'll not be dulled by nothing but information. Really good job, Kristen!

I would recommend this book to anybody looking to be a bit more healthy in both areas of their lives and I would especially recommend this book to families because I think this would be a wonderful book to go through together.

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

4.30.2015

Honesty and comparison and where does it stop?

Long time no posts.

I know. Sorry. :/

Lots of stuff to do and lots of excuses.

But here I am. Sitting at my computer, ready to type.

--
I am tired. Of? Of us (all the peoples) constantly comparing ourselves to other people. Where did we get the idea that we're supposed to be like them when all throughout God's Word it points us to our Creator and how He has made us unique. 

Maybe guys won't admit it, ladies, but they compare themselves too. Maybe not as much as we do, but they do it. They compare their cars, how strong they are, whether their paycheck is adequate enough, whether their future career or current career is 'good enough', etc.

We girls compare our bodies, our hair, our looks, our sass (''how fast you come back, girl?''), our abilities, our homes, etc.

My comparisons? Honestly? Here goes...

Her Bible is more studied than mine.
I wish my body looked like hers.
Does my hair always have to be so stupid... why can't it be that way?
Does she have emotional breakdowns like me?
Do they think I'm crazy?
Why can't my makeup look as good as Amada Ensing (youtube)?!
Will I always be second rate to everybody else?

That final line is the killer. Literally. It kills our joy, our purpose, our happiness, our love, our contentment, and our relationship with God and others.

How do we stop this comparison game?

Getting to know God more and getting to know what His Word says more is true and a good place to start, but I also think it all starts with honesty.

Honestly looking in the mirror and understanding that my size 13 pants don't make me an ugly fat overeating food machine. Understanding that today's society is too obsessed with looks and not enough with character and godliness. It's honestly knowing that maybe you do like to eat a little too much or that maybe you spend too many hours on your phone or maybe shopping every weekend isn't the best solution to stress (but it makes us happy, right ladies?! ;) ). These are the things that make us, us... flaws and all.

Maybe your Bible isn't as studied as that girls. Maybe your relationship with God is deepening somewhere outside of the pages... maybe it's in a journal or a prayer time or a conversation with someone or maybe it's just a change of attitude.

Maybe you shouldn't eat as much, not because you want to be skinny like that girl, but because your body is God's temple and more valuable than abusing it with food.

Maybe distracting yourself from life by staying on your phone isn't a good solution for more than 30 minutes, but maybe after you've played Candy Crush (or... what game do you play?) or looked at Instagram, maybe after that we need to put it away and deal with the stuff bothering us through prayer and God's help.

There are sins and there are imperfections in all of us. There are fights and laughter. There are tears and smiles. There are messes and there are clean rooms somewhere with happy parents. ;) There are people. People God loves. People God made. People God has redeemed and people God is sanctifying. Some days you'll compare yourself to others and wonder why you don't look like ____ and why you aren't holy like _____, but for those days let's look at the Cross and remember the only perfect Man who ever lived was Christ.

Let's remember that.... you... even now.... are.............................................
LOVED.
Perfectly.
Completely.
By a PERFECT AND COMPLETE God.

3.02.2015

So I'm not married yet, but to be prepared I picked up this book, The Uncommon Marriage Adventure.

Tony Dungy is such a great man and outspoken about his faith and you know what the old saying is, 'behind every great man is an even greater woman.' Not sure how often that's true, but I think this couple is proof of that somewhat.

This book is written in a devotional type style by two strong Christians. With Scripture and personal stories throughout you'll not be disappointed with it. It feels like a pair of spiritual parents sitting down to tell you how to overcome obstacles they've already encountered. Very helpful and needed today.

If you're in a serious relationship and looking to get married or thinking about it or are already married I would recommend this book to you.

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

2.26.2015

Keep It Shut - book review

I'm definitely not the best listener. I am also very good at talking. That means that sometimes I come off as a self-absorbed person who likes to talk only about what she likes and doesn't listen at all. Unfortunately, that's how I act sometimes.

Seeing this about myself wasn't fun, but I saw this book Keep It Shut after reading The Best Yes, both of which are good books and both are written by two women from Proverbs 31 ministries.

I like books with a lot of Scriptural insight. Check.
I also like books that are written by people who keep it real. Check.
I also like books that can keep me interested AND teach me something in the process. Check and check.

One thing I learned from this fabulous book by Karen Ehman is that when we're talking to someone we don't need to just talk at them. We need to pause. We need to LISTEN.

Ladies, we stink at this sometimes. We need to brave enough to see it and smart enough to change it.

If you're like me and wanting to read a good book that will help you in learning what to say and when to say it and what to NOT say and how to do it then I think you will find this book helpful. It's also a good book to hand to a friend and *hint, hint, wink wink* ease them into their issue of being a blabber-mouth. ;) I'm just kidding! Read it and then share it in love though!

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

1.01.2015

Happy New Year!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

I did stay up to midnight which was pretty close to God's first answered prayer for me (that I didn't really pray about...) for the new year. ;) Y'all, I'm a baby. I can't stay up till 12 at night. It almost kills me... every. single. year. :P

But we did it. We made it through another year. But do we want to "make it through" this year or do we want to make it thrive this year? I want my life to thrive.

Goals are always a great thing to have, not just at the new year, but any time. God's Word says we are new creations when we accept Christ and I believe that's a clean slate and a fresh start at any point in the year.

I'm starting out this year with a prayer of repentance in my heart and mouth and for blessings both through me and to me this year.

I chose 1 Peter 3:3-4 as a focus verse for this year (at some point this week I'll write it down so I can read it day after day). It says,

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."

Y'all, I really like outward adornment. I like the makeup and the hairstyles and the clothes and the shoes and the jewelry.

But I also like my Bible. I love my God (or am seeking to) and I love the people around me. I also want the unfading beauty of  a gentle and quiet spirit. These, my friends, are most important.

I recently became allergic to some makeup so that messed up my routine a bit. Why does it matter you ask? Because I've been wearing my makeup a little different and a lot less and it's made a difference in my confidence and in realizing the eternal things and the non-eternal things in life.

Blessing in disguise. :)

Some goals for this year are:

-Draw closer to God.
-Be confident in who I am as God's child.
-Love more.
-Live more.
-Be a godly woman more and more.
-Have a better attitude.
-Glorify God in all I do.

What are your goals for the year? What has God been speaking to your heart recently?