Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh The World of Invisible Illnesses...Let's Call Them Thorns

It is kind of comical that our family was chosen to bear these invisible illnesses. I really do not get it. Paul did not get it either but surrendered to it. That is where I am too. We can declare together:

"I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
~2 Corinthians 12 7b-10 NLT

God revealed to Him and to us that a thorn like this was to keep him humble. Yet he did beg for it to be taken away. I think we all would. No one wants to be plagued by a thorn. They are pestering things. Then even though it is beyond our understanding God tells us it is better to leave the thorn. He does not take it away. Reread the verses above. Do you see the reason?

In God's upside down kingdom, up is down/down is up. Me being weak is God being strong. I am surrendered to Him. He can work strongest in that. I have to trust and watch Him work. Anytime He uses me to serve in a physical way I am amazed at the strength He provides, strength that I do not have in and of myself. That is His strength and it is an amazing experience of surrender and dependency. It is letting God be strong in me. An intimacy you cannot experience when you do everything in your own strength.

I am learning to surrender all things to Him. I am glad that He has chosen to give us these thorns. Can I even go a step further and call them a gift? That may sound absurd to some but they are instruments that God uses to draw us closer to Him. It inspires intimacy with Him. If left on my own I venture out on my own. I am by nature independent and desire no one to help me. So I am thankful for this gift. He keeps me close through it. I am dependent. 

No matter what the "thorn" is in your life remember if God says no to taking it away there is a better reason for it to stay. You are given a gift that will grow you more like Him and closer to Him. It is a beautiful thing. Hang tight to Him. He knows best and loves you enough to know what is best for you. Surrender. Enjoy Him. Lean on Him. Be strong in Him.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Featured Blogger on Dee Brestin's Blog

I love Dee Brestin so much. She has been an amazing mentor to me. I have learned so much and been drawn to God so much through her work. I would not be the woman I am today if it were not for the work that God allowed her to do. She is an immense blessing to me.

I just had to share that I am the featured blogger this week on her blog. Every week a blogger has been featured who has been participating in her online Bible study. I have invited you all over a few times but seriously this has been a great study. It is not too late to join us. I am feeling lighter and freer in Christ because of it. Come on over and check it out.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Do You Know Your Worth? Going Back to a Younger Me

This is a picture of me at 18. I look at this girl and see beauty. I wish I could go back and tell her things. But going back would have to start much earlier than 18. Rewinding back to maybe 13 would be a good age. See, I look at her and I see how beautiful she is. Yet when I was her age my self esteem was so low. I felt incredibly bad about myself and ugly. Because of that I fell into much compromise and sin. I missed out on God's best for me. Choices we make do this to us. The problem is I had not idea who I was in Christ.

Do you know who you are in Christ? If not learn who you are in Him. Read Ephesians 1. Let it truly sink into the core of you. Rest in that and believe it. Trust that God is for you. God loves you so much He sings songs over you (Zephaniah 3:17). If I really knew who I was and Who held me no matter the circumstances I would have been protected. I would have known my beauty and been okay because I am a daughter of the King.

Mean words, worldly values, tragedies, none of this can shake you if you are truly rested in Him. Our value is based on what God thinks of us not what others think. We are valuable because He greatly loves us. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our mess. He loves us. Christ took the punishment of our sin on Himself. Only because of love. He woos us to Himself. If we truly believe this we will stand solid in Him.

Do you know your worth? Do you know who you are in HIM? I pray you do. Rest in Him and you will be secure. He is our Rock. He holds us in His hands. He never leaves or forsakes us. Do you believe this? Do you believe His word?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CD Review: Amazing Grace: Celtic Hymns and Blessings

I received a copy of this CD free of charge from Discovery House for the purpose of review.

I really love Celtic music so when the opportunity came around to review this item I was excited. This CD went beyond meeting its expectation as well. I loved this CD. I can see myself listening to it over and over again. Another bonus is that it had two of my favorite hymns on it. The voices were heavenly. The music was beautiful. It was a great CD. Even my children loved this one. I really recommend it. It had a mixture of upbeat and slower songs, beautiful voices and instrumental. All which drew my heart to worship. And isn't that the point of a good Christian CD? The point is to draw us into worship. This one did that.

To get a copy of this CD from Amazon.com go here.

Here is a bonus - Go to our ministry page on Facebook and like it and leave a comment of what your favorite hymn is. When you do this you will get an additional entry for each action you take into the contest we are holding for a free $10 gift card from Starbucks and a $15 dollar gift card from Lifeway plus a free copy of my  Bible study Abundant Grace. Full contest details here.

We are now on Kindle! Celebrate with us!

So excited to share that our Bible study is now listed on Kindle!! Check it out!

Also celebrate with us by entering the summer contest below! You will get additional entries for liking our facebook page here and tweeting about the contest.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

School's Out Let's Celebrate! Win a Starbucks and Lifeway Giftcard by entering our contest.

I love this time of year! We made it through another school year and not only survived but thrived! Summer is when we can relax a little bit. So I was wondering what are your favorite ways to relax? My favorite things are reading a book while sipping a Starbucks soy mocha. Because those are my favorite things I am doing this summer give away! Win a $10 Starbucks, $15 Lifeway giftcard and our e-Bible study Abundant Grace just for following the steps. The more things you do the more entries you get to enter in.

What is your favorite Starbucks beverage?

What book would you buy if you win?

What are your favorite summer things to do?

I am hoping to do more giveaways this year so this is a great way to kick things off this summer! The winner will be chosen May 31st!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Social Issues and our Atlanta Visit

Of all the places in all the city of Atlanta, Michelle Obama was actually having a short meeting at our hotel. After getting acquainted with our where abouts in the city we told our youngest that we would go back to the hotel and swim. She had waited very patiently for this and expected it to happen.

When we returned to the hotel lots of people and security were waiting around outside. We inquired as to why and they said that the first lady was due to show up any minute. What a random chance of a lifetime to see our nations first lady up close.

However, our youngest was not okay with waiting around any longer afterall we promised upon return we would go swimming. We could not get her to understand the random chance that this would ever happen again in our lifetime but she could not understand why we would want to wait. After about 10 minutes waiting we got ready for our swim.

When we found the pool it was on the same level the meeting was taking place. Everyone there was dressed so elegantly. Then there was that security force again. We approached dressed in our swimming garb while the others there were dressed to classic perfection. It was quite humbling. The first ladies meeting was in an area we had to pass so security ushered us through to the pool area. Humbling.

Then in Olympic Park were several homeless people. I even saw a man going through a garbage can looking for food I assume. Thinking of the over abundance we had and it just did not seem right. Another day there was another bench that was taken claim for what I believe was the persons home for that day. They had all their possessions in Walmart type bags when I had my suitcase packed with too much clothes for four days. These are hard things. I tried to shelter and protect my children but it was not something that could be done.

My youngest noticed this as a great injustice and suggested we leave all our food we brought with people in the park or go out and buy them some. Those were sweet suggestions by a sweet hearted girl but they don't put an end to the problem. It grieved my heart.

However I got to see some interesting things in my young asperger like girl. I use that term asperger like because we are not certain this is the condition she has but most signs point that way. It would make sense she would not understand these social kind of situations but I love how her mind saw them.

First I wanted them to see the first lady. I did not want them to see the homeless. Yet they are both people in the same right. It is the homeless people who are the ones who need to be seen. My girl understood this and wanted to help. The first lady would have been fun to see but for what reason? To say we saw her? What is the purpose? Her mind thinks like that very literally.

Second, she always seems to see and feel for the underdog. She has a keen understanding and sense of protection and justice for them. Anyone who is wronged really fires her up. I think this is a lot like God. He chooses to use the less likely and tells us to be concerned for those who need help. These are just some lessons learned through the eyes of my sweet baby girl. I am so thankful for her perspective and the way she sees life.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review: The Gospel For Real Life by Jerry Bridges

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

This book was a great book. I have really been loving everything written by Jerry Bridges. This book was no different. He writes with a style that is easy to understand and that moves you. I am better off for reading this book. It is definately one that God used to draw me closer to Him. It has given me an even better understanding of the gospel in everyday life. I found myself in spontaneous worship many times when reading this. I am deeper in love with Christ now and feel freer in Him.

It is one thing to need the gospel for saving grace. But the gospel is needed just as much after that day by day. We must learn to preach the gospel to ourselves no matter how long we have been believers. It is a must to live the life that God intended for us.

I think every believer should read this book. It is a must for every believer to truly love the gospel and appreciate the true meaning of it in everyday life.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon click on the link and picture above.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: Amish Prayers complied by Beverly Lewis

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

I have to tell you that I was very excited to receive this little book. It is the first time that this collection of Amish prayers has been translated from the original German. They are beautiful heartfelt Christ based prayers for various life situations. They are vary similar to prayers from the book of common prayer.

Most of these prayers were usually memorized by the Amish and Mennonite people. They would use them as a regular part of their worship daily. The reason why these are so precious to me is because I found out that my ancestors on my Father's side were Mennonites from Germany. They were persecuted for their faith probably around the time of the reformation and fled to Switzerland then eventually came over to North America.

I had often wondered and even asked God what kind of prayers they prayed. I wondered if they prayed for their ancestors yet to come and that they know Christ and Him crucified. Seeing these prayers makes me think that they did pray for the generations to come which I am one of! Love seeing that. Love their faith and love those sweet prayers. This book is comparable to that of a gift book. It was a nice little book full of prayers and Scripture.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Review: When the Hurt Runs Deep by Kay Arthur

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

I started this book already biased because I am a personal fan of Precept Ministries and Kay Arthur. She is one of the women I would like to be like when I grow up. I knew I would like it but it brought much more into my life than I expected.

I have been through much hurt and pain in my life. This book addresses this topic very candidly and clearly but most importantly it addresses what God's word says about it. I wish I had a book like this to read 10 years ago.

I always love how Scriptural Kay's books are. They are always filled with God's word fully and in context. Yet she beautifully tied in personal stories of peoples lives. Some that I felt were too candid (which bothered my mind). I did not need to know details in order to get the gist of a person's suffering. However, the fact is we all will suffer in some ways here on earth and ultimately we can let it draw us to God or away from Him. Satan would have it draw us away but God desires for it to draw us near. He loves us fully and completely and we can trust Him. He sent His One and Only Son to the cross so that we could be clean before Him. Jesus willingly laid His life down and has experienced all suffering and can fully relate to us. That is the greatest love.

This book would be great to do in a group but also good for a personal reading. Healing occurs best in a safe group so I would really recommend you do this with a group of women ready to discover God's word for yourself. It will greatly bless you.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon click on the link and picture above.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Book Review: The Band That Played On by Steve Turner

I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of review.

This book is an account of the eight band members that played until their deaths on the ship the Titanic. They were credited as heroes for their sacrifice of staying in place to inspire and bring comfort through music instead of securing a place for themselves in the lifeboats. There was not enough space for all the people to be lowered into these life boats. So they assembled and played music to keep the passengers from panic.

 This book was written as a "Christian" book because it explores the faith of these eight gentlemen. Unfortunately there is not much information on them to know clearly where they all stood in faith. Some had more information than others. It was interesting to read of their backgrounds. However among this interesting information there was also too much of the dry and boring technical information. Things like different addresses they lived at and the like. It was really hard for me to get through because it was very boring in many places. This book would have been better if it was written with more of a flow that made it easier for reading. Instead it was just like a list of historical records. Because of that I would not recommend this book unless you are doing a very detailed research project or these men are one of your ancestors.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon at the link above.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Book Review: ishine NLT tween Bible


I received a copy of both of these Bibles from Tyndale at no charge for the purpose of review.

I really loved these Bibles for tweens. They are cute or cool (if you are looking at the boys one). They are something that my girls love carrying and looking through. There are pictures in places among the pages with some tween related questions and answers about Christian life. I really like their look and so do my tweens. Along with the questions and answers there is a place where you can view a video online with more information. Something that would appeal to this technology driven generation.

In the very front pages there are topics about various things relating to tweens. There are Scripture references to help them find more on those topics like anger, getting along with siblings, why am I here, and etc. I am really excited to have these great products for my tweens. I know you would enjoy them as well. Another point is that even though the blue one is directed to boys it can be used by boy or girl. They are not gender specific. However, I know a boy would not want the pink one. :)

To get a copy of one of these from Amazon go here.iShine Bible NLT (Bible Nltse)

A Really Vulnerable Post - Anxiety/Depression

I have a good life. The best part of it is that I am loved and saved by Jesus Christ. I am secure in this. This is the only real thing that matters in life. Yet because we live in this fallen, decaying world, sin abounds. Now our bodies are weak and slowly deteriorating. Some faster than others. This includes our minds.

However, even though we readily accept this truth, there is a big stigma about mind issues even among the Christian community. This makes this struggle even harder. I am blessed to be in a wonderful family of believers who love me regardless. I praise God for putting this support together for me. Yet this is something that does not need to remain in the dark.

People struggle out there with things like depression and anxiety. And there are some of us who need to be medicated to resolve the issue. Yet many just live this out in silence struggling or feeling condemned because they need medication to help them through.

I hate needing medication, I hate how weak it makes me feel yet it clears my mind and helps me to focus on God. There are times that medication is necessary and times it is not. Our bodies are sensitive in this fallen world and chemical imbalances can occur. God provided people who have made these medications to help this. But why does it make me feel shame? Shame is not something from God. There is no condemnation for us who are in Him, period.

Now, I am not trying to promote medication either. However, when you do all the things you know to do and they are not helping then maybe your body is out of balance and there is no shame in that. I have been through periods that flux from balance to imbalance. It will remain this way until God heals me completely here on Earth or when He does it in Heaven. I trust Him for that.

Yet for now, it is good to be so dependent on Him and if this is one of those ways He uses then I am okay with that. I have read of many saints of old who struggled greatly with this same issue so it should not surprise you that Christians struggle in this way no matter how strong they seem. Maybe part of their strength is stemmed from their weakness and desperate dependency on God. None of my strength comes from me so if you think I am strong in Him it is because I am truly weak in me.

My request is that you please love those who are weak and listen to them. Also, don't judge. If you need glasses to help your eyes work you run out and get them without thought, if you had diabetes you would run out and get insulin, this is no different. Stop treating it like it is. Love others even when you do not understand. It is not something you can will yourself out of. It is a medical condition like any other. Don't leave those suffering in silence and alone, that actually makes things worse. Thanks for listening!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Review: Set Free to Live Free by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith

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

I really enjoyed this book. It is broken up into seven common lies women tell themselves. It was also an easy read. Dr. Dalton-Smith writes in such a way that makes you feel like you are sitting across from her sipping coffee or tea. I really like that. She also has the experience to write on this topic based on all the women she sees in her medical practice. Often times I found myself wishing that I lived near her because she would be the doctor that I would want to go to. She has a deep care and compassion for women to be set free to be exactly who God created them to be. Unfortunately we get hung up on many things in life that hinders our freedom.

The seven lies she writes about are:
1 - Perfection
2 - Envy
3 - Image
4 - Balance
5 - Control
6 - Emotions
7 - Limits

I think if we are honest with ourselves we will be able to relate to lies we may believe in a few of these areas. It is God's truth that will set us free. This book is saturated in Scriptures that aid in this. It is worth the read.

To get a copy of this book from the publisher go here.
Another fun thing with this review is there is a great contest you can enter for Mother's day. Go here and like her page for info on entering.
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