I'm in the middle of reading several books right now, one of which is Kristy Cambron's newest, A Sparrow In Terezin. It's the sequel to her debut, The Butterfly and the Violin, and I'm already in love:) Next Friday I'll be posting a review on Sparrow, AND Kristy will be here Monday guest posting. So, to celebrate her upcoming new release, I wanted to give away a copy of her debut, The Butterfly and the Violin OR her sequel, A Sparrow in Terezin, your choice! Butterfly was one of my favorite reads last year, and you can catch my review here. Then leave a comment on this post or on my Facebook post and come back next week for my review of Sparrow and to see who won!
Hey everyone! It's Wednesday. Time to focus on the simple joys in our lives. For some it'll be like a harvest spilling over, others...well, we might need to hunt and peck a little. But one thing I know is that God delights in delighting us. Sometimes in the hunting and pecking we find we have a lot more to collect than what we thought. We often times cannot change our circumstances, but we can change our thoughts. (Doesn't mean it's always easy though!) So let's start!
Blessings: (things to be thankful for, moments of happiness to note...)
1) Unexpected help on a day when my to-do list was longer than my hours to do it all in. God really does multiply our time!
2) the ability to laugh at myself
3) steamed milk with honey added...I'd forgotten the comfort of this!
4) sleeping in until 8 am and feeling rested
5) curling up with a good book and a warm cup of tea in a quiet house
6) seeing my children's creativity come out--in their own unique ways--during a project
7) snuggling in bed with my littlest
What I found beautiful this week? The number "one". I posted about it on Monday, you can read it here, and I've been thinking about it ever since. This picture is taken on my front stoop where I sit a lot in spring, summer, and fall. It's my thinking and praying spot. (In winter that spot is my closet. For real.) As I sat there I thought about the number one and my Monday post. I'm one person. I'm not eloquent or as educated as the next gal. I won't be gracing the cover of any magazines or tv screens in my foreseeable future. I don't have a huge social media following or a tribe.
But I do have the One and only thing I need...God.
And that was the point of this week. The power of one is amazing--in my life and in the lives of those around me. One kind word. One hello. One phone call. One hug. One card. One look. One invitation. Did you know some people have never been to church or heard the Gospel simply because no one has ever asked? It only takes one! Oh, please, BE that one! Because the story of Jesus' one sacrifice can radically change lives.
Remember, you are enough! In Christ you have everything you need. Courage. Talent. Beauty. Authority. Your wrinkles, age, eloquence (or lack thereof), "likes", or "follows"...none of that matters. God knew what he was doing when he created you. He knows what he can do with your abilities AND imperfections. He only needs your willingness.
“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14
Numbers. In this day and age they are everywhere. Whether it’s the number on the scale, how many “likes’ or “follows” we have, the pairs of shoes we own, or the amount of gray strands on our head, numbers impact our life in a big way.
But our worth is only determined by one number: One.
One sacrifice by the one God who loved us enough to send his one and only son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that we would be made perfect in and through him.
Oh, friend, did you hear that? Perfect? We’ve spent several weeks now walking around that word. Perfect looks. Perfect body. Perfect job. Perfect family. Perfect social media following. Go ahead and add your own, but in short what we’re looking for is our worth through the perfect life. We strive for a perfection the world will notice yet in one single moment Jesus Christ delivered ultimate perfection to us. It’s not anything we deserve or anything we can obtain outside of him—nor is it anything we will see while our feet are still on this earth. Yet God sees it the moment we accept Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior. After that one decision, every lens God views us through shows us nothing short of perfectly beautiful in his sight.
And God is the only one who matters.
He is the one who created us.
The one who gives us beauty from ashes.
The one who redeems our past and makes a way for our future.
The one who wove into us our purpose.
The one who overflows us with immeasurable worth. The only one you need. Jesus.
Lord, today help us to forget all the numbers invading our life. Rather let us only see the impact you have on our life. Let us not weigh or measure our worth by anything other than you. Who you created us to be. How you redeemed us. How you value us. Transform the way we see numbers, Lord, until the only thing we see is you.
Today before you log onto social media, step on a scale, or look in the mirror, hold up your pointer finger. Look at it. Not only does it represent the number one, but it’s pointing up to the only One who matters. Every time you’re tempted to believe the other numbers in front of you, hold that finger up and believe the One it’s pointing to.
I call this day Blessings & Beauty over here but it's really a day to stop and just be thankful. Take a deep breath and notice those things around me that too often I take for granted. We get so caught up in just doing life, sometimes we blow right past those moments God gives us to simply savor. My goal is to notice on thing each day and write it down...so here's my list from the last week.
1) a fresh breeze that was warm enough to enjoy
2) watching my girls curled up reading a book and smiling
3) hearing my husband teach my son so I can have a break
4) grace extended from my children in the mistakes I make as a mom
5) hugs from my kids that nearly choke me...pray they always hold on tight
6) dirty bare feet on my children on the first day warm enough to run outside without shoes
7) a free coffee on a night I really needed it
I've noticed this thing happening lately that at first I struggled with. In fact, it's been a struggle for the better part of a year...gray hair. Nothing has made me feel older. Oh, a few things have come close, but this is the one that puts me over the edge. Not even going to lie, I make sure to cover it:) Easy to do right now as it's only a few strands, but they are still there. Still, as I've challenged myself this year (and let's be honest, it's really a challenge from God) to measure my worth through him and him alone, even the site of those gray hairs is changing.
They are beautiful. Each one earned. Each one a reminder that God has blessed me with life. And wisdom. I'm aging, no denying it. No denying either that as we age with God it is a beautiful thing. We are more than a number:) And I'm going to take as many numbers to my years as he wants to give!
Praying you know you are more than a number today and that your eyes are open to the blessings around you and beauty in you today!
Make these into a
sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the
sacred anointing oil. Exodus 30:25
For we are a fragrance
of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
2 Corinthians 2:15
Let’s look at the verse from Exodus first. That verse came from God’s instructions to Moses on how to build the
Tabernacle. That was the place where God’s presence dwelled as Israel traveled.
It was a holy place full of his anointing, and only certain people who’d been anointed with that specific oil
could approach this tent. The oil for anointing was fragrant. It was a special
perfume only used in that specific application. A distinct and beautiful scent
worn only by those covered in it.
And if Christ hadn’t sacrificed himself on the Cross, we’d
still need a special anointing to approach him. Except he did sacrifice himself
and then he left us his Holy Spirit. Every believer can receive the anointing
of the Holy Spirit the moment we ask Christ into our lives. Here’s the best
part, that anointing still comes with a fragrance unlike any other known to
We don’t have to carry the stink of old sin with us. God
covers it with his holy perfume. Don’t you love that he is into beauty? Even when it's what we smell like to others? Gone is the waft of something unpleasant, that
smell we never could wash away. With one dose of his blood over us that
stench is gone forever.
We become pleasing to those around us. When we walk past
they turn, catching on the breeze the scent of something attractive. Which is
what that second verse is talking about. We are a fragrance of God to those
next to us. An aroma that draws others to him.
Oh, may we be one that is bathed in him! Nothing else.
Lord, please let us
wear your scent today. Help us to remember your beautiful fragrance is free and
all-consuming. Allow us to not only inhale it today, but to bath in it so those
around us will be enticed toward you.
Today I challenge you to set aside the scent of
old sins you may still be carrying and to roll in the aroma of God. If you wear
a scent—lotion or perfume—as you spray it on let it be a physical reminder of
all God has removed from you and his sweet love for you. Allow that scent to
become a daily reminder of his fragrance in your life.
This book has been out since spring last year...how have I not read it? Especially when I love Karen Witemeyer's book! But this past weekend I had time to curl up and read, so I purchased it and dove in. Here's the blurb, and we'll chat on the other side.
Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.
Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.
After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.
Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?
As usual with Karen's books, I was immediately drawn in. I loved Nicole and her strong personality, and I loved how this played into the lessons she needed to learn. To watch it dawn on her where her worth came from...to see her worth for herself, that was a beautiful journey. And funny. And adventurous. And romance--great romance!
Darius was a perfect leading man for Nicole too. The truth-giving conversations she would have with him were spot on and his story arc was well written and believable. We knew what motivated him, and that Nicole could both stand up to Darius as well as be gentle with him made a perfect combo. In fact, at times I thought about the fairytale Beauty and the Beast while reading this novel. (sidenote: that's always been my favorite fairytale. I think it's when he gives her the library...)
All together Karen paired several elements to make this a page turner. The cast of characters were lively and endearing. The setting pulled you right in. Even the history she wove through made for an interesting layer. I loved this book, but I can't say I was surprised. I'm already watching for her new release which comes out this spring, only this time I won't wait a year to read it:)
I happily give Full Steam Ahead 5 out of 5 stars!
Also, it's time for my February Bookshelf Giveaway. If you'd like a chance to win your pick of one of these books from my bookshelf, let me know here or "like" the picture on my Facebook page:) I'll announce the winner next week!
Happy Wednesday, friends! Time to pause and count things we are thankful for and glimpses of beauty we've seen during the week:)
1) hearing the strands of a worship song as my youngest learns it on the piano
2) the ability to homeschool my kids - even on the bad days
4) homemade bread warm from the oven that I didn't have to bake
5) hearing the snow melt! Yes. Melting snow makes noise.
6) safety on the roads when I'm taxi-mom all day
7) comfy furniture to sit on
Melting snow. Yes. In November it's the fresh fallen snow we all snap pictures of and fall in love with. But now...now it's the melting icicles and muddy puddles of water that bring us glimpses of beauty. Just goes to show you, it's all how you look at things, because this, dear friends, is gorgeous!