Friday, December 31, 2010

Book Review - The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

I have really grown to love the author Jerry Bridges. He writes with a style that lovingly and humbly makes one look at their own heart and really assess it in the Lord. I am continually challenged by his books and it is an amazing blessing to be able to review these.

I am thrilled this is my last book for 2010. I know that if anyone desires holiness or seeing the Lord more fully that reading any of this author's titles will be to your advantage. These books are all packed with Scripture. They are really worth reading but only if you are serious about your walk in the Lord.

This title in particular speaks very much of our need to balance pursuing holiness and grace. We are to pursue a life pleasing to the Lord while at the same time surrender to the Holy Spirit in this so He can do the changing work. The author consistently emphasises the need for us to preach the gospel to ourselves in this process.  I like this as well because it takes away and need to feel guilt or condemnation which I am prone too. Christ took that away. It is a freeing book that allows us to do what we are suppose to and allow God to do His work in us. It was a perfect balance.

To get a copy from Amazon click on the link above.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Praising God for the Window - What's Happening Now in Gatlinburg

I am just amazed! You have to read this story about Gatlinburg if you have been following our adventure.

If we didn't take that small window yesterday we would have been stuck!!! Probably til the end of year atleast. So overflowing with thankfulness to be off the mountain. So thankful!

Please continue to pray for those stuck up there. They are still there. Don't forget.

Thanks for Letting Me Vent

Okay no more posting or ranting about the roads...Thankfulness Journal may need to come again soon!!!

I am thankful for all of you who helped us with your prayers. God is truly amazing how He works through the prayers of His people. I am in awe of Him.

God did some really amazing things in us while we were trapped and I pray we see those through. Cannot wait to see all that comes from it.

Love you all tons!!!

Straight from their Website -Provides Snow Removal


Sky Harbor

Located in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Sky Harbor is a luxury resort community of beautiful home sites. The changing seasons provide spectacular views.

Property Owners Association (POA)

The POA is an important part of the Sky Harbor experience. The Association's responsibilities include
  • maintenance, repair and snow removal for the 35 miles of private, interior paved roads
  • mowing and trash pick-up along the roadways
  • maintenance of the club house, Sky Harbor Lodge
  • electric street lights throughout the community.
The POA elects its board members each year in August.

Super Speedy Exit from the Mountain

I want you to picture a good roller coaster, one that you really need to be strapped into. The track takes you up and down really steep, up and down then twists in crazy ways on you. It is suppose to be fun right? However if you like that sort of thing you know that you are mostly safe. The track keeps the car on the ride well. You are strapped in well. No worries, all fun.

These coasters must have gotten their inspiration from these roads we were on. They were not only steep but there was one complete 90 degree turn. I really wish I had a good picture to demonstrate this. In the best conditions on them I have to close my eyes. There are drop off edges to these as well. No guard rails for safety. Some serious danger if not handled carefully.

We got word yesterday that a guy named Junior was hired to plow these roads. The cabin owners pay $180.00 a year for specific road maintenance which includes snow. Snow happens on the mountains sometimes in Tennessee. This drop of snow which was about a foot was not expected by anyone, even the weather people.

The situation could have been avoided if the plow trucks were out right away keeping the roads clear but because they waited so long to hire someone (because the other contract guys plow broke and he just left the area) the roads got worse and froze over. They were sheets of ice. 32 vehicles tried to get off the mountain but were ditched because of the conditions. Injuries occurred that did not need too if it was tended too like it should have been immediately.

Back to yesterday. Junior took his job seriously. Right away all day he worked on chopping the ice on the roads then had guys behind his work salting it. Then he was going back after that sat for a bit to chop it more. The temp warmed up enough to be above freezing. The roads were looking more like slush making if safer and possibly passable. However, we do not have a four wheel drive but instead a small car.

Word came that the weather was going to be coming in as freezing rain that evening and the day following. That would mean a few more days stuck. So we had a small window to chance getting down. Would the roads be okay on those treacherous drops and twists to make it off safely? I cannot imagine the amount of pressure on my husband to make this decision.

We knew this was a small window of opportunity and decided to do it. We speed packed the car, prayed, and in faith took off. We have never been more scared in our lives. It was quite a bit of slush but still some ice. One the road with the 90 degree turn and twist which had a drop and no guard rails we found ourselves sliding. Then up a hill we almost did not make it because we could not get the traction but finally it came. It was such a dangerous thing but we made it. We are so thankful for God keeping us safe. We know He was watching and guiding us down. We have never been more thankful to be home.

So roller coasters may be fun on the track when safe but they are not fun when they are icy roads with the opportunity of fatal injury. So much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thankfulness Journal While Being Stuck

No matter how nice the place is you are stuck in, you still are stuck. Being stuck has a way of making you feel claustrophobic and weary. Your mind continually wars with you. We are not in the worst of situations because we do have each other, health, electricity, shelter, tons of entertainment, heat, and food. All the things and more we need to survive.

Still the fact is we are stuck. No option to leave this place and that is what wears on you. Sunday morning is when we were suppose to leave. Now it is 3 days later. Very wearing. Unless you are in this situation it is probably very hard to really understand it. We just want to return to our normal life at home. So for my own therapy I am going to make a list of things I am thankful for. That is the only way to win this war of the mind.

1. We do have what we need. We are thankful for that. We were thinking of putting some of our Survivor Man or Man vs. Wild skills in place for food but we opted to take the chained taxi instead.

2. The chained taxi was price gouged. The thankful part is that we got cash in the amount it took to take the taxi for Christmas. Otherwise we do not carry cash.

3. We are getting to see that there are truly good people who care for one another here. Though we are from all over the country there is still a love for each other. People are sharing and kind.

4. A plow finally came through last night. The sun has not risen brightly today. Ice still packed on roads. No salt down. Thankful that finally at least a plow came through.

5. We are creating lasting memories. We are together and seeing God in many things. He is our constant Sustainer.

6. As I type just got word that salt trucks are now out. Good news.

7. God is showing up as Provider. Though we almost ran out of food He has stretched it and provided it through many means.

8. God is showing up as Healer. I experienced one of the worst migraines ever up here. Probably stress and bright lights of the sun off the snow. It made me severely ill but God healed. He is also healing broken things in our family. Things probably ignored or not even seen in normal situation.

9. We are learning the discipline of self-control. I think I may have lost a little weight here. But being mostly sedentary may prove that wrong.

10. We are learning to have fun together and enjoy each other. This is good because it could go the other way being in such tight quarters.

It boils down to seeing God in the center of it all. He knew this was going to take place. He is not surprised. He continually provides for all our needs. We have been so conditioned to be spoiled. Having our needs should be sufficient. Here it is. We can really live on less than what we think we can.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Original Christmas Plan

It is so funny to me that my article about our plans for this Christmas trip and making memories posted on Heart of the Matter and I read it today. I so needed to read my article and the perspective that God gave me then about this trip. Words needed to be heard to myself written much earlier by myself. LOVE how God works that way. He is so amazing to remind us of things that are important. Go check it out here.

Our Cabin Christmas

We took a trip to the Smokey Mountains with the hopes of having a fun Christmas time together as a family. Making memories and bonding. Well that is exactly what we got! Just not in the way we planned or imagined.

We have been challenged in some really good ways this trip. It started as a three day trip. We were to leave returning home the day after Christmas. As I type this (Tuesday am) we are still stuck in this cabin. It is a really nice cabin. But we are starting to get a good feel for what cabin fever is. We are so ready to be out.

When you plan a 3 day cabin trip you plan the food to last that long. You want to leave with the hopes of bringing nothing back. Or atleast that is the way I plan. Unfortunately we got snowed in. We had a little food left but not enough for 3 more days. Again, I am thankful we had something, but it was a test of our survival skills. It took a toll on all of us. It still is.

We have been seeing good in this. God is showing us His provisions. A family came up right before this happenned so they were well stocked with food. Our neighbor got food from them and came over to share it with us.

So people have tried to get off the mountain but cars are turned sideways and upside down in the ditches. This is the worse snow Gatlinburg has seen in quite a while. The temperatures are not warm enough to melt the snow and ice. The police have closed the road coming up to us so no one can come up or down unless they have chains on their tires.

A taxi service started with those requirements. Yesterday Tony got the chance to speed shot for some supplies...What is absolute? That is what he had to decide unknowing how long we are stuck here. Oh and the taxi service, it is $50 down the mountain and $50 back up. Nice, right?

Tony was able to get us restocked with some food. Our morale is up. We have plenty of games and heat and electricity. That is a blessing for sure. But we are all ready to be in our own home. We are making memories for sure. Cannot wait to just be home.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thoughts about Mary

First Merry Christmas! What an amazing Savior we have who left all His splendor to put on flesh, who humbled Himself in the greatest way! I adore Him and He came as Emmanuel which means God with us. If you are His He is not only with you but lives in you. You could never be any closer. Amazing stuff.

Anyway, enjoy Him. Today, my last devotion for Radical Revolution is featured today at Check it out.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Hospital Visits in Two Weeks - Yet His Praise is Continually on My Lips

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
~2 Corinthians 12:9b-10

I had surgery on a Friday that I almost missed because on our way we got locked out of the house. Then could not break into the house but by the grace of God a door (that is difficult to get too) was unlocked (which is NEVER unlocked). We got in got our keys and left.

I pondered if this was a way to stop me from going on with the surgery. It is something that had to be done but maybe not that day, however when things worked out I decided to go on with it. All throughout I had a crazy peace (what my pastor calls it from Phil. 4:7) that can only come through God.

Surgery went well and they found some things that were causing other issues. I was so excited to hear this because though now it was more extensive in the long run that will mean good news. I am hopeful. So we went home for recovery. All was well.

Then a week and a day after surgery I develop this excruciating arm pain in my muscle. I could not lift it without shedding tears. This was crazy pain. My husband insisted we go to the Emergency room since it was a Saturday. So off we went to the hospital again.

Turns out I had rotator cuff tendinitis in my shoulder. How crazy is that? I got it from resting. Not being an athlete or from some repetitive movement, unless if angry birds can cause that. Got a shot to help and now I am told I need to rest some more. Well, I see a key here. The key is REST.

I am not very good with resting. I like to run and do a million things. Yet I am continually humbled by being limited. My health has always been crazy like this. You would never guess a person resting after surgery would end up with a sports injury. But that kind of stuff happens to me. It happens all the time.

I have learned and affirmed that God's grace is continually sufficient in all circumstances. No matter the reason the circumstances come into our lives they are all permitted by God. Whatever He allows has a purpose. It is a way to teach us. He best gets our attention in the stillness. It is where I do hear Him more clearly. I can be thankful because I trust.

I read an amazing quote that really encouraged me. It was a statement made by a man dying with cancer. He said, "I'll be praising God for all of eternity but only during my brief time on earth can I bring Him joy through praising Him in the midst of pain." I love that because in Heaven we will be praising God but with no pain, no tears, no inconvenient circumstances. It will be praise in bliss.

However right now and here on earth it is really a sacrifice to praise in the midst of your trials. So what is it you are struggling through? Can you give God a sacrifice of praise through it now? After all these things here and now are only temporary and as Paul says it best, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

So let us give Him His due praise in whatever season we are in. We can trust that in everything we are being made more and more into His image as we learn to praise and trust.

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ~2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Fun contest through Tyndale and NLT

See all the details here

You could win some great prizes and three special ministries chosen can as well. Check it out!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Review: Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

I am very interested in the middle east and the reasons for the conflicts over there. The tension is so thick at times. It is an interesting topic in my opinion to study. This book was an amazing write up of the history of the conflict. I learned so much reading this.

Written by a Christian, it fairly looked at the history of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. All centering on one key historical figure of Abraham. The history goes all the way back to him and his one decision. It was interesting tracing the ancestry of his children and how some of them play into this conflict as well. Really to sum it up I would say it is interesting. I really enjoyed the read. If you enjoy history this book would be a good read for you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Review: If God is Good, Faith in the Midst of suffering and evil by Randy Alcorn

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

It will be very difficult for me to find the proper words to give this book the proper credit it deserves. It was a very long book, 494 pages in all. As much as I enjoy reading I do not think besides the Bible I have ever made it through a book that long.

With that said I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for this book. It is an amazing work that has now made its way to my favorites list. Which if you read me often you know that is not something that happens lightly. I am all about not wasting your time in reading something outside of the Bible. This book is one you will not waste your time reading.

It has a great biblically sound outlook on evil and suffering in this world. It is a topic I wish the church addressed more. This book was right on with all that it discussed. Filled with great stories and testimonies of others and how God has sustained them through trials. It even addressed views of unbelievers and other types of faddish views of suffering and offering a correct biblical perspective on those. This is an extremely helpful book and one I would recommend to anyone because we all experience evil and trials in this world. The question is how do we cope? How do we properly see the trial? How do we view God in it? Trials bring our theology to the test. It is only through those struggles that God can work out the wrong beliefs in our thinking.

Trials challenge us to put God in His proper place. I am eternally grateful for mine. I love everything about this book. I wish I had my hands on it 13 years ago when the biggest trial of my life started with my health. It would have helped me avoid some of the pitfalls of wrong thinking. However though I did not have a book like this I did have my Bible. The challenge of others opinions on the very topic of trials drove me deep into the Word of God and I would not trade that for the world. It was there that God gave me this same perspective written in this book.

So to end I will say what my daughter always says when she reads the cover of this book, If God is good? Mom, the answer is YES! He is so good and this book will help you see that if you cannot see the good in any trials you may be struggling with. Also, if you just need some strong solid biblical encouragement this book is also for you.

Book Review: Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room by Nancy Guthrie

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the sake of review.

This little devotional book is a sweet and easy read for the family. It covers Days December 1st through the 31st. The devotions are great for the Christmas season. It is good to have a resource that keeps you focused on what the holiday season is really about.

The book starts with a devotion for each day then a prayer. After that there are discussion starters to use with your family and Scripture verses. We would start by reading it out loud and discuss the questions listed. There are also songs listed as well. It was a neat thing to do together as a family.

To purchase a copy of this book click on the link above.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Cards

I am writing this update as I recover from surgery. I gave you this link for an update this year instead of sending a letter. Plus this way we can save paper! Hope you enjoyed the Christmas cards sent and the pictures. I know it has been forever since I have sent them. So I really hope you enjoy. We are amazed by our Savior and love to celebrate His birth.

We are sending our love to you. We are thankful for each of you. So on with the updates.

Tony has been busy with work, teaching, and running his video game ministry, CGO. Check it out. He is good at this and it is an amazing outreach. He even designed the website and I am proud of all of his hard work. Plus this year we are serving at a church we love. Tony has found a place in media. :) Of course. He also had a chance to go to Peru to help with a house church started there. He really enjoyed it.

With all that said though and Tony being so busy I have been like a single mother some of the time and with my various health issues randomly appearing has not made it easy. But God's grace is always enough. I have found a place to serve in our church as well that I love. I get to minister to new mothers in a Sunday School class formed. It is a blessing. Also, I have had quite a few speaking opportunities this year through our ministry Refresh My Soul. But my main dedication has been teaching the children and mothering so Tony could be free to do the things he has been called to this year. I am blessed to do it. My goal for this year is to write a bit more.

Kaitlyn and Hannah are in 3rd and 2nd grade. They are doing really well. I love teaching them and seeing that light bulb go off in their head. Kaitlyn is take charge and likes to get all her work done with or without me. She has an intense drive in her. Hannah has those ADHD, OCD, learning issues and we are learning together how to work with this. She is so incredibly smart and working so hard. She does not let it stop her. I am so proud of her diligence.

The girls are in gymnastics this year and LOVE it. They are coming along really well in it. By the time you read this Hannah will have gotten baptized. She also lost her first tooth this month. They are both growing so fast and it is my goal to treasure it in my heart. It goes by so fast!
Love to you all!
Tony, Angie, Kaitlyn, and Hannah.
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