Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Learn the Word Wednesday

First up, I've totally got to own my mistake. So last week I put up our new verse for these two weeks and asked how you were doing with the verse from Joshua 1:9...only I listed it as James 1:9! Yeah. Me and names, not so good, especially when they start with the same letter! And references have always been tough for me. Just means I'm going to try harder:) And thank-you to my son who pointed out my slip--with glee, might I add:)

So...on we go!

Our current verse is:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God who I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

As I studied this verse this week, a phrase from Matthew Henry's Commentary stood out to me, and I wanted to share it:


"As we must not trust to an arm of flesh when it is engagedfor us, so we must not be afraid of an arm of flesh when it is stretched outagainst us."

I've chewed on that all week. I think there's a lot of truth there, at least for me. I tend to remember not to place my trust in man because I know my help comes from the Lord. Yet, at times I can battle fear over what man can do--I mean, we live in such a fallen world. And while I know that God is for me, that arm of flesh is in my face and can, at times, seem so much more real than God's presence. But that arm of flesh is the same in either circumstance. If I don't trust it to supply my needs because that's God's job, then I shouldn't fear that it will harm me...because I've got a rather huge Protector. You know, the Man who created the Universe. So, I think He's got this.

Hoping this verse has spoken to you this past week and that over the next week it will be imprinted on your hearts...reference and all:) Let me know how it's going! And next week I'll be collecting names of who's been learning along with me.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Wash Up

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

I was having not the best of days a few weeks back. The house was a mess, I was behind on most chores, we'd barely survived the homeschooling day, and dinner still needed to be cooked. I began chopping and stirring, while simultaneously clearing off the dining table from a recent painting project my girls had taken on. (I am so not a craft mom. Not even gonna pretend here.)

My youngest came into the kitchen to check out what I was doing. Now, can I just say, she is the child God saw fit to bless us with about the time Hubby and I were sure we had this whole parenting thing down. I do believe He daily chuckles over that one--God is so good to us, isn't He?

Anyway...Raleigh came into the kitchen and eyed the paint tray I had just set on the counter to dry. Knowing what she was about to do, I calmly told her, "DO NOT touch those paints!"...however, Raleigh's fingers seem to have a mind of their own. She so badly wants to do good, she wants to listen, but sometimes her desires get the best of her, and before I could even blink my eye, her finger poked into the black paint. She just couldn't help herself.

And there her fingertip was, black paint against her white skin. One small spot that could create one big mess if I let her leave the kitchen.

My water was boiling, my meat was sizzling, and I here sat with my girl who had paint on her little hand.

Now, her sin was disobeying me, but my sin came in my anger. Isn't it great that God loves us enough to not leave us there?

I snatched her hand, flipped on the kitchen faucet, and pushed her finger under it and yelled at her, "Why can't you listen? Now your hand's a mess and I have to clean it up." Figuring I'd have to scrub, I reached my hand into the water and rubbed my finger across hers. When I twisted my hand up, the spot was gone from her hand--completely, as if it had never been--and my fingertip was now black. One round dot of black now marring my white skin, and that's when God nailed me:
Photo Credit:
 jackthumm, freedigitalphotos.net

This is what I do for you on a daily basis, Daughter--clean you up when you've failed to listen. I take your black spots of sin onto my own skin, leaving you clean and white. I wear them for you, so that you don't have to. So that you can stand before My Father without spot or blemish.

Oh, boy. Talk about hitting me right between the eyes.

I am no better than my daughter, I'm simply older. There are so many moments where I hear Him tell me to not touch something, and yet my hand reaches out for that temptation. And when I call, He gently takes my hand and cleans me up.

That's what grace is.

We need Him. Every second, of every hour, of every day, we need Him. We are far from perfect people, and yet He covers us with His perfection. And why? Because He loves us.

If you're struggling with something today--whether you are a Christian or only just finding Jesus--call out to Him. He'll wipe every one of your spots out and wash you white as snow.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

And if you want to read more about it, check out Psalm 51 here...and be blessed today:)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

I simply loved this book. If you haven't had a chance to read a Julie Klassen novel, this is a great one to start with. Up until now, The Silent Governess has been my favorite of hers, but this one eclipses it for me. Set along the cliff-topped coast of Cornwall in the early 1800's, The Tutor's Daughter brings you straight into the home of baronet and his four sons...or I should say it delivers Emma Smallwood there.

Here's a small blurb:


Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame...and which brother to trust with her heart?

I loved the little bit of mystery this book dropped in, along with the developing romance between Emma and one of the brothers. Needless to say, there were several sigh-worthy moments. Certain lines even stuck with me, my favorite: "He doesn't want to let her go." It was one of those wonderfully, perfectly time pieces of dialogue packed with double meaning, and it's why I loved The Tutor's Daughter. If I remember lines from a book, I know it has stuck with me. And Julie did a beautiful job not only with the dialogue, but with her characters. It was a slower pace than the suspense I'm used to, and yet, I still turned those pages.

So, if you're looking for a book for the weekend or to add to your never-ending To Be Read pile, I suggest this one goes up top! And I happily give The Tutor's Daughter 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here on Amazon.

If you'd like to see a break-down of what my stars equal, check out my page My Ratings System to the right there. And a big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Learn the Word Wednesday - Verse #2



If you remember, this month the verses are all about battling fear. So for our second verse of January we're learning Psalm 56:3-4.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

It comes from when David is fleeing from Saul, and I love this picture because David spent a lot of time in the mountains when he was on the run.

Hopefully by now you have Joshua 1:9 memorized and are ready to start on this one. How are you doing? I stuck the verse from Joshua on my phone and am amazed at how seeing it there has really helped me remember it that much more. I'll be doing the same with this verse. What tricks are you using?

Best of luck:) I'm praying for you all! And don't forget to click over here and add the verse to your Pinterest board!


Monday, January 21, 2013

39 & Holding

I was blessed to spend all last week in Colorado Springs. Check out the view from our room! God is beyond artistic, isn't He? Hubby and I got home late last night and I woke up this morning to...

my 39th birthday.

(Not like I didn't know it was coming, but here it is.)

I can't say I typically freak out at birthdays, because I mean, what's the alternative?? But I can say this one's making me pause.

Think about what the next year will bring.

A teenager is one thing! How am I old enough to nearly have a teen in my house? I remember being a teen! Oh boy.

But I've started to think about what I'd like to do before I'm 40. So here's my list:

~Run a 5K...well, run is a strong word. Maybe just complete one.

~Find an agent.

~Skydive--or take a hot air balloon ride. I'd settle for either.

~Travel abroad.

~Grow closer to God.

~Drive a bright orange convertible to the beach for Pronto Pups (only the world's best corn dogs)

~Apply to (and be accepted on) the Amazing Race with my BFF.

~Love my husband and kids even more than I already thought possible.

~Ride a roller coaster. (It's been years!!)

~Be a better friend. Sister. Daughter.

~Climb a tree.

~Memorize 25 verses:)

~Drink less coffee (ha...haha)

~Be joyful...everyday.

Okay. So the list could continue, but I'd like to hear some of your suggestions. These are things I'm really going to try and tackle.

I'll let you know how I do:)

And now I'm off to the gym. That 5k isn't gonna walk itself;)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Denali Dreams

This was my first compilation book to read, but when I saw both Ronie Kendig and Kimberly Woodhouse listed as the authors, I knew it was a great place to jump in!

If you're a fan of short stories and romantic suspense, then this is the book for you. While the first story in the group wasn't what I consider suspenseful, the other three definitely were just that. As I tend to like longer, more involved stories, it took me a short while to get used to the pace of these stories. That said, Ronie and Kimberly never disappoint me as authors, and it was fun during the busy Holiday season (when I read these) to have the ability to get bites of romance along with all my other bites of goodies. 

Here's a blurb about what you'll find packed into this book:

Vast and beautiful, Denali National Park brings adventure and love into the lives of four courageous women.

Karon beat cancer, but still everyone treats her like delicate china. Maybe climbing the tallest mountain in North America will be exactly what it takes to prove she’s tougher than she looks. But will “the high one” get the best of her?

Jolie is an heiress who’s convinced someone’s out to kill her. And now she’s stranded in the wilderness of Denali. Can she survive against the rugged terrain and an assassin with the help of a handsome base camp ranger?

Deline’s flightseeing tour business is stalling out. So when a nature-savvy but people-clumsy ranger hires her for glacier tours, she jumps at the chance, unaware that it’s her heart Logan truly wants. But will a string of dangerous incidents destroy her business and her love?

Ever since a stalker took her sister’s life, Deanna has been hiding out—and her remote job as a ranger in Talkeetna, Alaska, provides the perfect refuge. Until the past catches up with her. With all that’s at stake, can love conquer all?

You could tell that Ronie and Kimberly knew this area of Alaska well, and they did a phenomenal job of placing you in the setting. It was one of the things I really liked about this book. Their characters, for the short amount of time you get to know them, are well developed and you feel a part of their group. I enjoyed the dynamic of their friendships and that those friendships were threaded throughout all four stories.

The first story out of the four I didn't care for as much. Of all the characters, Karon was the hardest for me to get to know. Her brother bothered me, and Karon's interaction with him at times didn't feel real. Throughout that entire short story I struggled with the dialogue between characters, feeling like it didn't quite flow right but not sure how to put my finger on it. It very well could have been personal taste. However, the other three stories more easily drew me in, and I enjoyed reading each one.

All in all, I'd give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars and greatly encourage you, if you're looking for a set of short stories, to go out and purchase this one here. 

If you'd like to see a break-down of what my stars equal, check out my page My Ratings System to the right there. And a big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Learn the Word Wednesday

Hey all! So...fill in the blanks:

Have I not _______________ you? Be _____________ and _____________. Do not be ____________, and do not be_______________, for the ______________ you God is with ___________ wherever you ____________.

Joshua 1:__

Word Bank: courageous, dismayed, commanded, go, strong, frightened, Lord, you

How'd you do?? If you're struggling learning, let me recommend this App: Fighter Verses.
It is AMAZING!  I stumbled across it last week while purchasing the Desiring God App. and I have LOVED using it. You can add your own verses (simply type in the reference and it will bring it up) and then the APP will quiz you in several different ways. It also allows you to store the verse as your lock screen on your phone, and some verses even are put to music...LOL! I loved that:) While it's not free, for $2.99 it is a great app!

Praying it's going well for you all! What ways are you using to learn the Word?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Abundant Living


Last week I shared my One Word for 2013: Abundantly.

There are several Scriptures that I'm going to be studying throughout the year that tie into this word. Some I'll share on here, some things will be between God and me. And I'm beyond excited to see where He's taking this word in my life.

One of the verses I posted last week began to unfold some of this year's journey to me, and I wanted to share that. What's been interesting this week is that I've dug into this Scripture, looked at it in different translations and even in the Greek, and while I've been amazed at some of the things I've begun to see, what has stuck with me the most is God's impression on me the first time I read it. So that's what I want to share.

First, here's the verse:

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Obviously, I've highlighted a few things there. Those are the words that were bolded in my mind when I first read this Scripture.

Because I've been tired. Worn out. And ready to give up. So to read:

IN ALL THINGS
AT ALL TIMES
HAVING ALL THAT YOU NEED

was like water on my dry soul. And honestly, doesn't that sound like a great start to living abundantly?

But how do we get there? Well, after those words were dangled in front of me, I went back up and started at the beginning. Now, I know Paul was referring to monetarily giving here, but right now that isn't the issue God needed to peg in me.

Selfishness has taken root. And as I re-read the Scripture, here's how I heard it:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly (of yourself) will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously (of yourself) will also reap generously. Each of you should give (of yourself) what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all thingsat all timeshaving all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

See. I am not only smack-dab in the middle of my "mom" years (ages 7-12), but I homeschool. This past year I've begun to want to pursue "my" dreams and have started to get a bit selfish with my time. Lost the balance of where God has me at this moment. And was surprised when I ended up dry.

Don't get me wrong--I fully believe God is doing something in my life right now, but He never meant for it to come at the cost of what He's already called me to...my family. And as selfishness began to settle in, it spilled into so many areas of my life that I started to want to give me, well, only to me.

Then I was left wondering why my relationships with my kids were suffering. Why our schooling was becoming as excruciating as pulling teeth. Why "writer's block" had become a boulder. Reading this verse nailed me between the eyes.

It's that good-ol' backwards thinking. The more we give of what we have...the more we have. God doesn't give us money, talents, or passions so we can hoard them. He gives them for one reason--to reach people for Him. Whether it's our families or a mission field. And as we sow generously, He gives generously so that the circle can continue, and in doing so we will IN ALL THINGS, AT ALL TIMES, HAVE ALL THAT WE NEED...to abound in every good work--for HIM.

Where could God be calling you to give more generously?


Friday, January 11, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Mystery of the Heart by Jillian Kent


Mystery of the Heart is the third and final book in Jillian's Ravensmoore Chronicle's series. Set in England during the Regency time period, this book brings adventure, romance, and a unique look at the history of the Monarchy at that time.

Jillian's books always immerse you into their settings. This time we traveled into Windsor Castle and met the King himself, along with the Prince Regent. I'd forgotten much about this time period and all that was happening with King, and I loved how Jillian brought us back into that era. She also weaves in social issues of the time, and as a woman it definitely snagged my interest as I watched the main character, Mercy, try to pursue her dream of being a doctor in what was definitely a male-dominated profession. Then there was the look at the practice of Vodun and other superstitions people believed in rather than the power of Christ. This led into a great race for an artifact, which Jillian creatively used to tie the entire story together.

There were so many elements in this story that tugged my interest. At moments I wished the romantic development between Mercy and Vincent (Lord Eden) was stronger, however, as I am a sucker for romance. Still, the thread was there among the others and did deliver a Happily Ever After. Also, it was great to see the characters return from the first two books, happily married.

If you've read the first two in the Ravensmoore Chronicles, you'll definitely want to grab this one. If you haven't, you can easily start here. Mystery of the Heart can be read as a stand-alone regency/mystery/romance.  Pick it up today, here, and visit Jillian at her website, here.

And here's a little blurb about the book:

Lady Mercy Grayson has secretly been studying medicine in EdinburghScotland. She has dressed as a man to pursue the same passion her big brother Devlin, Lord Ravensmoore, pursued outside the acceptance of society. Her secret has been discovered. Now she’s running away fromScotland and her dreams. Will she be able to accomplish what she feels is God’s calling, or will the parameters of society and those who want to use her secret to accomplish their own selfish ends determine the course of her future?

Vincent Lyons, Lord Eden, is an adventurer coming home to London to deliver the mysterious Holy Lance to the prince regent who wants to see if the legends are true surrounding this relic that is said to possess both the power of healing and destruction. His life is catapulted in another direction when he meets Mercy who is pursuing a different kind of adventure that will cause him to question everything he believes.

Both will be forced to examine their personal motives when members of a voudon tribe, and the London Legend Seekers Club search to possess the ancient relic for their own purposes.

Enjoy!

Jillian Kent is the author of the Ravensmoore Chronicles series which includes, Secrets of the Heart, Chameleon, and the newly released Mystery of the Heart. These are all historical romantic mystery/suspense novels set during England’s regency era that will keep you turning pages. Jill is a licensed independent social worker employed as a counselor for nursing students. She is also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and passionate about mental health and wellness for everyone. She contributes and coordinates the writing of  The Well Writer column for the Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Escape into the past . . . Discover faith for the future are the first words you’ll find on her home page that perfectly describe her stories.

Other places to connect with Jillian: 
                       
                       

Twitter @JillKentAuthor

                         


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Learn the Word Wednesday

So I think I broke some kind of blogging rule or something. See, last year my Wednesdays were all about counting my blessings--which I LOVED--and about mid-summer I started to feel a pull toward Learning the Word. And, well, since I felt a pull, that must mean I was meant to do it right then. (yes, that sarcasm is directed at me).

I decided to start introducing Word Wednesday and smushing it together with Blessing Wednesday, making one long post. I allowed that to happen for one month, but felt convicted over it the entire time. I'd committed my Wednesdays to counting blessings, and just because God was calling me toward something else didn't mean he meant for me to do it right then. (Pretty sure that's what a preparing or equipping season is all about).

So I stopped. Cold turkey. Without even mentioning it on my blog. See...told you I broke some sort of rule.

Anyway, as I prayed over my desire to not just learn His Word, but to encourage fellow believers to do so, I realized that my counting season would come to a close and open to a learning season. So this year, my Wednesdays will be fully--and solely--dedicated to learning the Word. (Hence my clever Wednesday title of "Learn the Word" Wednesdays).

And this is how it will work. Every other week I'll post a new verse for you to learn along with me. We do this for two reasons:

Strengthening our walk: Psalm 119:11 says "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might now sin against you".
and
Warfare: Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers of darkness and spiritual forces...put on the full armor of God...take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God...for the word of God is living and active and sharper than any other double edged sword. (that comes from Ephesians 6:10-17, and Hebrews 4:12. I challenge you to fully read those verses today.)

When I post each verse, I will also link to a Pinterest board I've started so we can keep track of the verses all year long, (by the end of the year, you'll have a whole board full of verses you've learned!) and I'll post the verse on my Facebook page for that day. Here's what I want from you:

Learn the Word.

No 'likes', 'follows', or 'pins' required...I'm only putting those things in place to enable you...and let's face it, it's fun to join with other believers in a common purpose. We can encourage one another and hold each other accountable.

Here's what you'll get from me:

Fun rewards. I say this because every week my kids come out of Sunday School and Wednesday night church with verses to learn. When I was little, we did the same thing...and our Sunday School teachers always had little prizes for us if we learned them. Now, I have no idea how many of you will participate, so I can't claim to give you all prizes each month--I'd love to, but Mr. Budget says no.  I can, however, draw one name each month from those who are participating and send you a little something.

How will I know if you're participating? Simple. You tell me. Each month I'll have a Wednesday where I ask who's learning the verses. If you are, then leave me a comment on the blog, on my Facebook page, or even stop me in the hallway at church...whichever...and I'll add your name in. Then I'll draw one of your names and send you a little something. (Though I did learn last year, no chocolate sent in the middle of summer, right Michelle??)

I hope you'll join me. There is nothing better against satan's attack then tossing the Word of God in His face. There is nothing that soothes your mind, brings a smile to your face, or comforts you more than having the very breath of God flowing over you.

So....here is our first verse of the year! (linked to Pinterest here) For January I'm going with the theme of Battling Fear. Let's start the New Year off strong!

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go. Joshua 1:9

Monday, January 7, 2013

One Word 2013

Hey all! I've spent the last two weeks off with the kiddos and enjoying the Holidays. Now all the decorations are down, we're a week into the new year, and today we start homeschooling back up. I can avoid it no longer...the real world has returned.

And I had a post all planned for today, but then was nudged to go with what I hadn't planned instead. I swear, I think God does that just to keep me off kilter and hanging on to Him. See, I hadn't planned on doing the One Word for this year. Oh, I had fun last year participating. My word was Time and God used it greatly in my life. But this year I was thinking I'd forgo it. I've been in a funk and tired lately, and simply didn't feel like seeking a word.

Yeah. Great place to be, right? Not wanting to seek a word from the Lord. Well that's going to end well.

Which is why I found it so interesting when He started laying the word 'abundantly' on my heart. At first I pretended to ignore it, because again, I wasn't planning on doing a word. Not to mention the word 'abundantly' scared me...did that mean I would have to live big for Him? Did He not hear how tired and blah I'd been feeling lately? Living abundantly would require much too much work.

But God was persistent (I love that He loves us enough to pursue us even when we're sprinting in the other direction).

He grabbed a hold of me early last week as I sat down to go through the motions of doing my devotions. I began to flip through my little notebook that I keep next to my Bible, and the pages opened to a spot where I'd written--late last year--in big letters, (no lie)

ABUNDANT - WORD FOR 2013?? 

Okay. He had my attention. I'd apparently forgotten all about our earlier conversations, but He hadn't. (He is so, so good)

So me and my funk decided to take a leap of faith. I emailed Melanie Moore over at Only a Breath (she's super-sweet and you've got to check out her blog, here) and asked her to make me a One Word 2013 button. She's making them for free and aren't they pretty? (She customizes them to the colors of your site!)


But I gotta be honest. I still wasn't sold on the idea that my word was Abundantly. Nor did I have any clue why it was said word. I just had this overwhelming sense that God had chosen it for me, and I've long since learned it's better to walk in obedience, especially when He's practically shouting at you. So, even though I wasn't fully on board, I got the button made and asked Him politely to reaffirm it again.

Yesterday morning in church, what does my pastor begin with?

John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I come that they may have life and have it abundantly."

But he didn't just stop there. He took a brief moment to talk about one specific word from that verse...you guessed it; abundantly. 

As if that wasn't enough, God then brought me to these verses in Second Corinthians:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reapsparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Eachof you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, notreluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. AndGod is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times,having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:6-15)

And right there I began to understand why He chose this word for me.

I'll be taking that verse apart next week, but I know it's the verse He's given me for this year to go with the One Word He's laid on my heart. Throughout the year I'll share at times how things are going. One thing's for sure...this year I'm seeking abundant life!

I'd love to hear what your focus is for the upcoming year! And how the Holiday season went for you. I missed everyone!