Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Fear Monger - What If?

There is a place in my mind where fear continues mongering. It spews relentless questions at me that threaten to drive me crazy if I do not take the time to hush them. It must be murdered for the villain it is within; it cannot be trifled with there is no room for it. It can be absolutely destructive if it is not killed off completely.

I know many moms struggle with this too.

  • Will my child return home after I give him the keys? What if an accident occurs?
  • Will my child ever be able to live without me? What if someone takes advantage of her?
  • Will my child be kidnapped? What if someone steals him?
  • Will these people I am entrusting with my child treat her correctly? Will they understand her? What if they crush her with their words?
  • Will my child be okay after another bout of sickness? What if I lose them to death?

     Fear has a way of mongering, dealing itself in unfair questions, stealing faith, joy and contentment that we should rest quietly in but fear grips us.

However, where is the fear-monger? Because these questions come in thoughts, how do we identify the invisible?  How do we do battle within the mind? First, this kind of fear is not from God, it is from the accuser of our souls or the depths of our own hearts. It exposes places where we fail to trust God's deep love for us.

When we are washed in His love, His perfect love drives out fear. Fear has to do with punishment. The enemy of our souls want us to believe this punishment or darkness of things that probably will never happen. We cannot no let our minds run away with fear of the future.

The truth we must believe and hold fast to is God's steadfast love for us. Any punishment that we do deserve was already paid for fully and completely on the cross by the One who loves us fully and completely. He took it all. Sure, life is hard and there is still trouble. We are in between the full arrival of the Kingdom but because of His death and resurrection we are free from the chains of fear and doubt. We can say with confidence yes, what if? but what if has not happened and I trust all things fully to the One who has my best and my children's best at heart; a heart of true love.

Let yourself be washed in His love; swim in it. Splash around and bask in it. You are fully loved because He chose you which in turn you accepted. That's all. If you are His, stop letting the fear-monger influence your thoughts and rob you of the joy and peace that are yours; they are sent by the Father, were purchased by the precious blood of Christ and poured into you by the Spirit. Let that truth wash over you and let the fear-monger fall to the wayside.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Being the Grace Recipient is Hard - A Lesson Learned at Starbucks

Today I was at Starbucks. That sentence should not surprise anyone. However, this day was exceptionally busy. The car line wrapped around and was congested so I took that as a cue to go inside to place my order today. I had my little guy with me who has problems waiting but today he did fairly well. We were discussing needs versus wants and the cost of things because it seems no matter where you are with kids in tow, they want to get whatever items are calling out around them. A great marketing ploy I say.

As we were there waiting for quite a while, the lady in front of us starting talking to us a bit. I was relieved because she glanced at us once or twice before this and I was thinking perhaps she was annoyed with us. Waiting in long lines does that to people you know. However, she started polite conversation with me and little guy. As we got closer to the cash register she asked Dakota what he would want out of the food case. I quickly replied, "oh no, he wants a kids hot chocolate and knows we cannot get anything out of the case today." I did ask him however if we did get something what would be your favorite thing? He pointed it out and I said good maybe next time.

The lady in front of us ordered her coffee and purchased a gift card. She turns around and hands it to little man and says, "Now he can get whatever he wants." I was overwhelmed. At a loss for words and pressured to put my order in, I took out the card and let little man get the cake pop and a hot chocolate with it. I thought it was only a few dollars but then ordered my coffee too. The card covered all of it! What a blessing.

Though now because it was so busy we had to wait with the lady. I felt embarrassed and obligated. I questioned in my mind how much was actually on that gift card. I was suspicious. I had little man thank her and I thanked her as well. She said we should come to the airport and see the planes sometime because it is what she works with. It was so kind; but awkward.

I cannot help but to wonder why? Why is grace so hard to receive? Little man seemed to have no problem receiving it. Oh to have that faith; the faith of a child. I however have lived life. I have trusted and received the crippling pain of deception and betrayal. I have lived enough to know life hurts. I have toughened my heart so to avoid this pain. Yet, a gift as precious, not earned, is difficult to receive. That is grace.

Grace is unearned favor from God; not that we can earn it anyway. The Father is different from human beings. Though we are created in His image we all are flawed and fallen. We all need a Savior to save us from this bent toward sin. I don't know the reason for this unexpected gift from this lady however I do know that every good and perfect gift comes from above; from the Father. The Father who never changes, never gives up on you, who chose you in Him before the creation of the world, who is delighted in you, who loves to the point of death on a cross for the simple reason of saving us. He benefited nothing from this act, it was purely grace; a free gift from the heart of our Father.

If I struggle with receiving a gift card from a stranger then of course I struggle with receiving His grace. I find it hard to believe that the unlovely and unloving could be loved in such a way. Maybe that is why I love the story of Beauty and the Beast. I see myself as the beast who let love change him. That is how the Father works. He pours His unstoppable love on us over and over again with the hopes of us trusting Him. It is that love that holds me and keeps me running back to Him over and over again. That is precious grace.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More About the Broken System and Our Story - Part Three

There was a family in need. We heard word of it. We HEARD. Too many people out there do not have ears to hear because they are so self focused. I understand. This was me and still is me in many ways. However, we heard, we had a choice of how we would respond. We all have a choice. The response of entering into a broken situation would not be easy. It would not be defined by black and white rules. It would be messy. It would be hard. It would be painful. Isn't that all the things we like to run away from? I know I do. BUT GOD.....

Christ has given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5). He is working to restore all things to Himself and when we are in Christ that is the ministry we are given. Above all, we as His ambassadors; are to be in the business of reconciling others to Christ. Bumping our way through this process; we did this. It is not clear cut how you accomplish this, yet I know you must keep your eyes focused Heavenward and keep Christ and His resurrection in the forefront of your mind.

The problem with the system is that it is secular in general. Motivations are wrong. The only thing that should matter most is what is in the best interest of the child but this is often not the case. Children need love, food, clothes, shelter, and stability. The system tries to give them these things but more often the needs of birth parents are looked at over the children. Perhaps it is because they are the ones causing the disruption in the the family. Services are thrown at them but sometimes these parents need someone to walk through the process with them as to how to accomplish the assigned goals. I remember having to role play making a simple phone call with a parent who needed assistance with getting her electricity turned on. The simple skills needed for this task; she was lacking. She needed help learning to take care of herself and the basic needs of her children.

Institutional care for children is not best or what God instituted. God is the Creator of the family unit. All children deserve and thrive best in the context of a family setting. Foster care systems have been established to mimic this but they are far from best. Now, let me clarify this statement, there are, in lower numbers, great foster parents and homes who make the kids feel secure and fully accepted as their own. There are foster parents who get into this to truly give children in need a home and love on them as they need. However, it is not best. It leaves children in limbo. They are not freed up to be adopted into a forever family so they live with a fear of placement changes, their foster parents discontinuing services, their birth parents instability, and other factors.

By the grace of God when we saw this family in crisis we were able to step in and help. We were able to meet with the family on a regular basis in order to try to mend the situation working through this ministry of reconciliation. Typically in the ministry of reconciliation people are not in a right relationship with God, this in turn affects relationships with others and with themselves and then this greatly impacts the situations they are in. The book, When Helping Hurts has helped me see this and I wish I had read it before we started the process we ended up in.

An example of this is as follows;
You see these people in front of the stores/parking lot during the Christmas season holding up signs that say they are homeless or in need. They are there daily for most of the month of December. If they are truly in crisis, giving them the immediate need is good then you go from there working out the true issues behind the crisis. This is where the ministry of reconciliation starts working out. The problem with the people holding up the signs is that many people will throw cash at them but not take the time to really walk through the true issues they may be having. No reconciliation takes place. The cycle continues.

How this translates into childcare is entering into a situation where a family is in crisis. When this happens it is an opportunity to walk with them in order to help facilitate reconciliation. In some situations this is possible yet in others it is not. It depends on if the family is willing to work toward that reconciliation. This process takes a long time. Sometimes it can take a lifetime. The question is are we willing to walk with them?

I understand not all people can take another into their home, but we can all walk with hurting people with the hopes of reconciling them to God and one another. More to be discussed in the next post. This one was quite long. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: Love and Respect in the Family by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

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

I chose to review this book because I enjoyed the first book I read that the author wrote about love and respect in marriage. I thought this book would also be an interesting read and I was correct in that thought. This book helps the family see the crazy cycle it can find itself on if it does not take the time to really assess the reasons why. Every family has issues from time to time with all members feeling unloved or disrespected. This book helps the reader learn how to stop that from happening.

I especially love the chapters at the end of this book. There is a chapter on the differences of parenting male and female children. It tells how mothers should relate to their sons and fathers to their daughters. This is great information because we do not readily understand the opposite sex. At the end of each chapter the author offers additional resources on their website that can be accessed. I found this very helpful as well.

I think this book is good for Christian parents. It addresses issues we all face in families. It reminds us that we are parenting as unto the Lord and we are accountable for what we do unto Him alone. It reminds us that we must control ourselves not our children. Children have a free will to act the way they chose and we can only control ourselves. We must make it our best effort to parent as unto the Lord raising them up in His instruction. I appreciated those reminders. The book also reminds us that we need the strength of the Lord to do what He has called us to do. It also reminds us of the gospel and how despite the difficulties Jesus died for our sins because of His love for us. Overall I recommend this book.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent In-depth Bible Study Resource from Refresh My Soul

If you are enjoying reading the advent devotions that you can find all around you at this time of the year, consider this, a more in-depth Bible study that explores the family line of Jesus. This study will take you deeper into the lives of the people that God ordained to be in our family line too now by adoption. God has grafted each one of us into this family if we are in Christ. Learn about these people and how they point us to Christ. Learn how God can use and mostly does use the most ordinary things to point and lead us to Christ. Be encouraged as you see bits of yourself in these people.

This is a study of that genealogy in Matthew one. It is a simple study. It was my favorite project and is dear to my heart. I would love for you to get it. It is featured for $2.99 on kindle, the lowest we could mark it. However kindle is just a convenient way to get it. As always our resources are always available free to you. I am more than happy to email you a PDF file at no cost. Just shoot me an email at angela [at] refreshmysoul [dot] com and I will get it right out to you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Broken System - Part Two

This 13 year old boy I mentioned in the first post is just one of the many children who desperately need us. He is a real child who has been forced to grow up too fast. Instead of being carefree he has learned to manipulate to get what he wants. It is key for his survival and he is good at it. He has also learned how to throw a super sized scary tantrum that requires police assistance. This should not be!

I have seen this kid thrive in a loving home. I have seen him full of joy. "Professionals" want to diagnose him with some disorder and medicate him. I see deeper into his heart. All of our hearts desire to be loved. Instead he has been shifted from home to home. He has been passed by and labeled. He has been let down by a system who holds up too much red tape making it impossible for one family who loves him to intervene.

This kid has experienced hunger, abuse, horrible things many cannot even fathom. He is much too young for this. Of course he is a handful. No one has taken the time to give him stability continually. Though the home he was in was not safe for kids, he is still no better off in "the system".

So what do we do about this? It certainly is much easier to just turn our heads. It is easier to let someone else handle things. Yet I do not think this is the solution at all. I believe if everyone did something by investing in one family things could change. These people do not need more advice or hand outs. The "system" is filled with those. These families need someone who is willing to walk this path with them. This family needs someone who will encourage them along the way. This does not come in the form of hand outs or platitudes, it come through long term commitment with people. It comes through friendship and community.

We are all broken. Sin has done that. Yet we are restored in Christ alone. We all need Him. Christ is the one who reconciles all things. We are to be His ambassadors calling others to reconciliation. This will look differently in individual situations. But reconciliation is the key. It is best. This happens when you walk with someone. When you take the time to assess the real root problem they are struggling with that got them into the situation they are in. It is never a superiority thing. We must remember we are all broken in some ways.

I cannot imagine losing everything I had by disaster or fault of my own but it could happen. However, I have support through people. God calls us to live in community with others. I would have somewhere to go. I would have people to walk with me. They would help me get back on my feet again. When people lack this type of community we need to be this for them.

I will stop here because this will be a series of posts. Again there is no solid one way solution to this. It is messy business when you get involved in people's lives. It will not be too long before something uncomfortable comes up in the best of relationships. We need to be willing to give our lives to those around us. We do this by helping to restore and reconcile things. Again, we will look deeper at this in more posts. Also for true reconciliation to really take place we all need Jesus, the reconciler of all things.

Please share your thoughts I am pondering all of this and would love some of your thoughts!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Children's Book Review: God's Great Plan by Melissa Cutrera

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

This book is an incredible book! It is beautifully illustrated. It is an easy enough read for my four year old to understand and keep his attention. That is really not an easy task! However, between the pictures and simple phrases on each page it does the trick. It also must be said that my ten year old child loves it as well.

The simple phrases in this book are so powerful though. This book traces the steps from creation to Jesus. It is simply gospel centered. It is such an amazing book that is a simple presentation of what the gospel is and why we need it in the first place. I ADORE this book. I think all parents should get it.

You can get a copy of this book at Amazon here.

Book Review: Preaching? Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching by Alec Motyer

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

First, I need to say I am not a preacher or trying to be, however, I have a ferocious love for the word and the study of it. It contains priceless treasures to be unearthed and discovered day by day in an unending way. This is the absolutely amazing thing about the Bible. It is such an incredible living word. With that said, I enjoy reading anything that helps me unearth the Bible's treasures easier.

Just as an archaeologist can unearth things discovered in the earth in an in-proper manner, Bible study can go the same way. We must understand the point of the discovery and move on from there. The Bible is about Jesus. Once we have that bearing we will be able to move forward in study and interpretation. This book is a very easy read. It helps you greatly in the study of the word by looking at practical examples and endless tips. It is a wealth of information that would be helpful to any student of the Bible, however, even more so for ordinary people like me.

I don't know what else to say, if you like Bible study then get this. You can get it at Amazon here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Broken System - Something Must Change

There is a 13 year old boy I know but instead of doing normal 13 year old boy things he is worried. He worries daily about the rejection he has experienced all his life. People have not come through for him the way they should have. He sits by watching as the others close to him are placed in homes while he remains homeless.

This is the reality for many kids in the United States. The governmental system for child welfare is broken. Honestly, it is not the governments place to be in charge of children. If families would stand up and help other families in need then these situations could change.

During my college years, I observed this system that was very broken up close as I practiced social work. I watched as children who would thrive in a home were overlooked. They just aged older every year until they aged out of the system. Then these children who were not raised in stable homes are now expected to function as adults in an unforgiving society. Many of them repeat patterns of the past resulting in crime and unexpected pregnancy. It is a cycle that we need to get a handle on.

Honestly it is not that difficult. If every family took the time to see the people around them and take the time to help, "the system" would not exist. We, instead, are selfish and keep to ourselves not wanting to involve ourselves with other people. It is inconvenient and hard so most of us find it easier to turn our heads or let the government handle it.

I AM OVER THIS! There is a better way and I am going to explore this through a series of posts. I hope you join me! I hope it spurns your hearts on to take a stand for the sake of our children.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Posting at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos Today. Check it out.

I am excited to be guest posting at Comfort in the Midst of Chaos today and monthly. This is an encouraging Christian blog that takes a look at living with special needs.

The Slumber Party Dilemma
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 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 4:16-18, NIV

I heard a rumor of an upcoming party from my daughter. I said to her that if the parent called me about this party I would consider it. Often I hear about parties but the official invitation never comes. I just considered this to be the same kind of situation.

However, this ended up to be a real party that she was invited to. Not only was it a party but it branched further into a slumber party. For any "normal" family this is probably not a big deal, however, I have a daughter with many anxiety and social issues. Now I am in a dilemma. Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Love for the Refugee

Help Children Affected by Philippines Typhoon
Have you ever considered as you were out that some of the people you pass by are actual displaced people because of persecution or tragedy of some kind? They exist all around us. These are people who are moved out of every comfort they know and placed into a very unknown place with little to no worldly possessions. They are given minimal familiarity. They often do not even know the language of the new society they are now expected to live.

These are the people I get to work with every week through ESL(English as a Second Language) ministry. They are broken and cast out but not destroyed. I am often encouraged by them because they are brilliantly resilient! They often are very thankful. Honestly, to think of this happening to me, I cannot even fathom. I do not know if I would have the strength. Yet God pours out His grace on each one of us for every situation we face. I get to participate in their lives by helping them learn English. I pray that God will really let me see them, know them, and welcome them to this new and unfamiliar place of southern America.

I imagine the smells, sounds, temperatures are so vastly different. The trauma experienced followed by all the changes is incredibly hard on these people. They are in more places than you think. As  you are in the shopping market or on the go do you take the time to really see the people all around you? These brave people are there. Just by seeing them you can help. A smile, encouraging words, small helpful acts can mean so much to them.

I wonder about these people who have endured this horrible tragedy in the Philippines. My heart aches for them. Many of them are displaced now because of the destruction of a massive hurricane. Much tragedy. I pray. I wonder if any of them will be relocated to my location of the world. I wonder how to help? One way you can help is by donating to Compassion. They are there currently assisting these people now. Whatever you do be mindful of the refugee.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review: Seasons of the Heart Compiled by Donna Kelderman

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

This book is a year of devotions written by women of the past. I have really enjoyed reading these. They are taken from twelve women from different stages of life and time periods. Some were married, some single, some struggled with various issues. Either way they were women just like us living their lives for God. They were mostly ordinary women just like us but learned things through life and experiences. I think these are very encouraging devotions for other women to read. We can definitely learn from things written by those in the past.

Practically speaking the books format is very user friendly. There are pages with dates on them. Each one corresponds with every date of the year. This helps you to use these daily. I really appreciated the biographies of each woman contributor. The biographies are located in the back of the book. You will also find a Scripture index in the back if that is the approach you would like to use.

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

Listen in Tonight to Inspired Living Radio

I have been invited as a guest on Inspired Living Radio, 94.7 FM. It is in the North Georgia/Chattanooga area but you can live stream it as well on the web at This is an exciting and humbling thing for me. I have always loved radio and now I get to experience it first hand. I would appreciate your  prayers tonight as my hope is that God would be supremely glorified through our conversation. If you ever wondered what Refresh My Soul is all about this should answer your questions. It is such an honor He continues to allow us to partner with Him in His work. If you cannot catch it live tonight it will re-air two more times. You can listen in later on Wednesday at 11am and/or Saturday at 9am EST.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book Review: Growing Up by Robby Gallaty

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

I live in the community where the author pastors Brainerd Baptist church. I do not attend this church but I hear and see many great things happening for the glory of God in this church. Naturally, I was very excited to get the chance to review this book just because I see God at work within the community and now after reading this, I am certain that this book explains some of the reasons behind the wonderful work they are doing.

This book is all about being a disciple who makes disciples. The book goes through the process of how to effectively do this. It not only gives you a philosophy for discipleship that is biblical but it also gives you a practical plan for how you can personally work it out in your life with others.

I think this method has been tested and proved true on several occasions. It is important that we grow up in the Word and that we grow up in God. We need to do this in community and these discipleship groups are a great way to do this, as you grow together and become more like Christ, you become more effective for Christ in your community. If you are looking to start a discipleship group then this would be a great book to start with. I recommend you get it.

One quote that the author poses in the form of a question was, "Who are you currently disciplining and who is disciplining you?" It was a great way to be challenged because it is clear in the Bible that we should always be making disciples and being discipled.

Also just to clear up the misconception of the definition of discipleship I will define it here. When Jesus told us to make disciples He made it clear that we are to share the good news of Christ with everyone. However, He also told us to teach these disciples to obey what Jesus commanded. This book is mostly about helping you walk alongside disciples growing them up instead of just sharing Jesus and moving on. I really like that aspect as well. Everyone needs to learn how to walk out this faith and discipleship is how this happens.

You can preorder the book and get some great free resources by going to the link here. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Real: Becoming A 24/7 Follower of Jesus by Jamie Snyder

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

I loved this book. It was a great book that challenged believers to live up to what God has called us to but not in a guilt driven way. It was grace filled and encouraging. It is biblical and a great reminder of what really living the Spirit driven life is suppose to look like.

Anytime I read something written by a passionate believer who is really following hard after God I am inspired. I think it is a good read for anyone wanting help in fanning the flame of their heart for God. The author is trying to help believers see and get back that "sold out life of the early church followers" with topics like,
Unbridled generosity
Daring courage
Rebellious joy
Risky faith
Relentless hope
Scandalous grace
Mad love

It is worth your time to read.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon here.

Book Review: His Treasure by Sheri Rose Shepherd

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

This book is like the rest of the books from the His Princess series. I really do like the format and I do like how the author writes as if God is speaking to you. I know this kind of writing from Shepherd and some other authors get some flack at times but I really enjoy them. God does woo us and would talk to us in these ways. If we took more time to slow down and practice listening prayer then we would see that clearly but instead we live in a loud and fast paced society where listening prayer is lost.

Now is listening prayer always correct? No, we are human and we err at times mixing our thoughts with God's thoughts. This book is helpful in helping others with seeing God's love for us. It is something that many need to know and receive, God's love. The author is not claiming this is inspired like Scripture just thoughts that are likely that God thinks about us. I found it biblical and believe it is a good resource for many women who struggle to see God's great love for them. We are His treasure. This book helps us see it.

To receive a copy from Amazon go here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Death by Living by N.D. Wilson

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

Death by Living, really puts life into perspective. It was a fascinating read. The author writes with a beautiful poetry, sometimes too much but often just right. It is thought provoking to the mind because the descriptiveness of common life is visible to the reader.

I found myself with the author in various places because his writing made me able to see, feel, smell wherever he took me with his written word. This is uncommon with the non-fiction genre however was greatly appreciated. It made a book about life being just a vapor more enjoyable to read.

I think this book has a place in everyone's home. Simply because we need to consider and ponder the concepts of what this flash of life we have been given is really about. Also because it is sheer written poetry.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: Memoirs of the Way Home by Bilkes

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

Memoirs of the Way Home: Ezra and Nehemiah as a Call to Conversation was a great read. It took you in great detail through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah then gave the reader great application. At the end of each chapter there is also a good list of thought provoking questions. It is an easy and enjoyable read.

The ideal way to read this book would be with a group. I think in a group environment and study of these books the reader would gain the most however, reading as an individual you get much out of this as well. I was challenged and inspired and over all really enjoyed this book.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Book Review: The Spiritual Life of the Hobbit by James Stuart Bell

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

I absolutely loved this book! I believe anyone interested in The Hobbit or any of the other books by Tolkien should take the time to read this. This book was well formatted and had wonderful background information ready for the reader from other books Tolkien had written. It was also an easy read. I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

I learned a lot more about J.R. Tolkien as well from reading this and what he personally thought made up a good story. It stretched me as a writer and reader. I love how someone as gifted in imagination as Tolkien was explored because it only helps us grow through it.

Another thing the book did was help me to understand how he paralleled our world through his stories but did not like to write in analogy. That helped me see the spiritual side of his story more clearly. I appreciated this. I also appreciate how the author referenced the various Scripture verses that could go along with different scenes and passages of The Hobbit.

This is probably why the title says the spiritual world of the hobbit, however, I was not thrilled about the title. It was a bit skeptical about this book because of the title but I am so glad I decided to read this one. It was a great read and I highly recommend it, especially to Tolkien fans.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon here.

Book Review: A Hope Deferred by J.Stephen Yuille

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

I read the words in my Bible that said, in Christ I am an adopted daughter and heir. I even believed those words, however, I did not understand the depth of those words until I walked through the process of adopting a child of my own. It is the most beautiful yet painful picture. This book paints the story of the author's own personal journey through infertility and adoption while applying these concepts to God as our Heavenly Father whom we belong to by adoption. It was beautifully done.

The book also took us through Romans 8. It is a book that I will probably read again and that is saying a lot because rarely do I reread a book unless I really loved it. Here are a few reasons why from the book:

On us calling God Abba, "I think of the accounts of people who have visited some of the orphanages in Russia and China. Upon entering, they immediately notice the silence. There are dozens and dozens of children but none of them are crying. Why? They learned not to cry. Why? They learned that no one responds to their cries. What happens when someone adopts one of these children? Slowly, they learn to cry--give an expression of utter dependence. That's us. The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life. The first sign of this life is that we cry Abba."

I do not know why exactly but this passage struck me right at the core of my being. Maybe it is because my own baby boy was observed always in darkness, never moving a muscle, never making a sound. Anytime he was seen, his condition was the same. I often thought, what would make this now boisterous, loud, and fun loving child not make even a sound? I see now, he has security, safety, and attention. He now has parents who take care of him. He is free to be dependent. It is in the freedom of being dependent that we can truly experience the great love that comes through adoption.

Then there was this regarding trials, "But we had learned that we must embrace the fact that God often entrusts his people with the unexplained. That's a crucial lesson to grasp, because it necessarily means that --in the midst of difficulties--our faith isn't rooted in understanding why, but understanding who."

If we could learn this as a body of believers it would help us from going off course in thought so often during trial. It would help us learn to lift our arms to our Father in Heaven and entrust ourselves to Him in return. It would allow us to stop trying to figure these things out and just trust. This would allow us to be supportive of others in their trials.

What I included above is just a small sampling of this books brilliance. I do believe this book would be helpful for any Christian. The doctrine of adoption is important to understand as a child of God and this book does it justice. You can get a copy of this book from Amazon here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I Don't Like Being A Parent

There I said it. It is so very hard to live in a world among people who just look like they have it all together. I mean, they are all joyous and happy all the time. Their kids sacrifice for others without complaint or squabbling. They say yes, maam or yes, sir when given a task. This is what drives me insane. Yes, insane is the right word as I sit here typing trying to figure out if I need to go to the hospital over my mental state.

As a mother, I love my children. I pour my life out for them daily, almost moment by moment. However, when I think that love will be reciprocal, I am dead wrong. They fight. They argue and complain about simple requests I give them. They treat the stranger in the store so much nicer than a sibling.

All I can think of is that I did this. Somehow there is something so deficient in my parenting that I have failed. I have tried so many different things with them from charts and kind words to rewards and special treats. I have even experimented with yelling or not yelling--no difference. None of it works. None. I am not sure why I am even surprised by this either. Sin is the cause of all behavior issues and it is rooted deeply in the heart. Shedding it takes time, it is a process. Therefore, I am feeling powerless and I just want to give up.

Have you felt that way before? Have you? Am I the only ill-equipped and deficient mom out there sitting and wondering why so many others look like they have it all together while I am here eating my tears? Seriously, I am eating them because I sacrificed a nice piece of pizza earlier simply because I knew the children wanted it. In turn, that is what a good mom does? Sacrifice, right?

I just cannot help but to think that, really, I have missed the point. Keeping an outside of a cup clean does not mean the deep recesses of the interior is. I need to press forward and keep at the target of the heart. When I do this we will never appear to have it all together. We were never meant to. It is grace that I depend on and trust my Father knew what He was doing in giving me these children. He knows what it took to pay for sin.

I am writing here as a mom who has her hands up. I surrender. I give up. There is absolutely nothing I can do with this. Only my Father in heaven can move in their hearts. I press into Him. I beg Him to show me something happening in those dark places and I have the faith to know He will do it for it is He who has done a good work in them that will see it on to completion. He will see it through. He must! It is His work.

However, it is trusting by faith He will do this. I want the change now and I understand this is a process so what do I do in the meantime when I am seriously struggling with what to do with them? As a mom surrendered I must also walk what this looks like out before their eyes. I must admit my own heart struggles and my desperate need for a Savior. Through watching their father and I they will learn how this process goes. We can model what true humility and brokenness over sin looks like. Then model the joy of a Savior who was so in love with us He chose to die anyway.

I think the real reason why I do not like being a parent is because I don't like discipline. I want to be more of a friend maybe but I cannot be, not at this time. It also robs me of my comfort. It challenges my need to control. It certainly depletes my approval rating. However, in the end, I must trust that they will see it was all for their better good. As the law was put in place for the children of Israel to see their great need for a Savior. It is too hard to try to obey. We all need a Savior.

Our Savior is One who pours forth grace, enough for each moment. I must trust by faith how I will get through the next day. That day has the grace needed of its own. He will be trustworthy to pour it out on me then. He is a good Father. He never leaves or forsakes us. He isn't even shaking His head at me now as I struggle with being a mother. He is not judgmental like that because all sin was judged on the cross. He is well pleased with me in Christ. I take the grace He has given now freely and trust He will provide the grace I need the next moment. I trust He will use every bit of my mess to beautify something in our lives. He is good like that. Maybe even one day He will show me how to delight in being a parent, even in the pain and sacrifice. For He is working in my heart too. Uprooting sinfulness, exposing the dark places in my heart. He is truly teaching me how to love the unlovely.

Mom, do you struggle with liking the parenting thing too? There is hope for us. God is the perfect Father to us. He delights in us. He will help us to learn that perfect balance as well. We can trust that. Let us pray for one another. We will get through this well in HIM. In HIM alone for it is the only way.

Friday, October 11, 2013

When A Failed Test Deserves A High Five

My daughter who has been known to thrive on perfectionism brought home a failed test the other day. She responded so well to it that I high-fived her! Now that probably sounds preposterous to high-five your kid for failing a test. I mean, it was a bombed test, not one question was answered right. However, she responded well and accepted responsibility for it. That made me so happy. 

I was happy because I saw growth in what really mattered. Her heart did not see her worth in her performance. She did not let performance define her. This, my friends, is progress. The only way we will learn how to work toward excellence is by taking chances and while we take those chances we will at times fail. However, when you fail there is only one way to go and that is up. This was a great moment for us.

I am accused at times for over spiritualizing things and well if that is the case so be it. As we live and move and breathe in Christ, His Holy Spirit indwells us so everything should be looked at through spiritual eyes. He came down for us so when He opens our spiritual eyes let us not be blind but use them.

There will always be tests. Tests that contain material that can easily be learned. This is really not a big deal, however, our hearts will always battle idols like perfectionism and what others think of us based on our performance. These idols are sneaky and the more we deal with them the better off we are. You see, when we deal with them as lies then replace our thoughts with truth we will indeed thrive.

Truth says;
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do," (Ephesians 2:8-10).

There is nothing we can do to separate us from God's amazing love for us. We never have to work for it.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35,37-39).

Now please do not take this as me saying you shall be slack in your work. The truth also speaks clearly on this issue;

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," (1 Corinthians 10:31).

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesusgiving thanks to God the Father through him," (Colossians 3:17).

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ," (Colossians 3:23-24).

As followers of Christ we should work hard and up to our best, however, not for the reason of pleasing others or even pleasing God, for we already have fully pleased Him in Christ. He is delighted in us even when we are lazy. We are fully accepted performing or not because of Christ's finished work on our behalf on the cross. Now that should spurn your heart. For He is so good to us. We are free in Him. That is the most important lesson I want my daughter to learn--freedom in Christ alone.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Confession, I Am Fearful

There I said it. I have been struggling with a fear for a very long time. Too long actually that I cannot even tell you the amount of time. It is rooted in pride. It is a fear of man and their opinions of me. It is a reason I have stopped writing so personally on my blog. I have recently been challenged though to push through this fear so it is what I will be doing. I will be writing more often. I will be writing encouragement for life in Christ. I know this will help me but I hope it helps you too as you live and go about your day.

In this season of my life I am often finding myself around many intellectuals. It is intimidating. It is good for me because I am truly challenged but I have lost part of myself in that challenging process. I have never been to seminary but I have a deep rooted love for the Word of God that pours through my veins and my thoughts all the time. I have an all consuming desire for a balance of love and truth. Daily I strive for that as I wrestle with the Word.

Yet that fact that I am not an intellectual as far as man would see it with a degree in Bible, I have felt like I fall short. Yet God has called me to be who He has made me to be. I am a student compulsively. I study deep things for fun. I will never have the degree to back that up though and perhaps that is a great thing. God is protecting me from an even deeper deception in my own heart. An idol in the making per say.

Now I have confessed it, this lie is out in the light. I will not let it hold me back anymore. Christ has made me for the fullness of all that He has promised. He will finish the work He has started. After all, don't most people need to hear about life lived out in authenticity described in real life terms anyway? This is my hope and if it is the case I am writing for you.

I live a crazy life that is full of its challenges, like you do as well. I work to find humor and thankfulness even in the messy. If your life is messy and you are in the same place I hope this blog will encourage you. I hope we can walk this path together. Most importantly I hope we can bring supreme glory to God in the process.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: Bake Through the Bible by Susie Bentley-Taylor and Bekah Moore

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

When I first saw the title, "Bake Through the Bible," I was a bit skeptical. My first thought was, "here was yet another book that was given a biblical title which probably related only a little to the actual Bible." However, this title has proved me wrong. After thoroughly exploring this book, I can tell it was well thought through and does keep Christ at the center. What makes it most interesting is that it gives you and your child an interesting activity in baking something together while you discuss God and His word.

We did enjoy doing one of these recipes together as a family and I do believe we will find it beneficial to do more of them. This book fits the category of talking about God together in whatever you are doing as you walk about, lie down, or go about your day. This time of baking together is the perfect environment to discuss God and His goodness to us.

The recipe we made did encourage some good discussion. Plus we got to eat a tasty treat to remind us of God's good gifts. The recipes are easy enough that most anyone can do them. They are very easy to modify as well to meet your personal families needs.

We had a good time with this because it encouraged us to work together, look at God's truths together, and eat a tasty treat we created together. Emphasis on the word together. I loved that about this. It does encourage family togetherness in the Lord. I do recommend this title as a creative way to come together doing an unique activity as a family.

You can get a copy of it from Amazon here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: Let Hope In by Pete Wilson

I am participating as part of this book launch team and received a free copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

I really liked this book. It was written with a friendly feel and was an easy read despite the content. That is a gift and why I appreciate this book. The author's purpose was to point readers in the direction of keeping their hope in Christ because it will get you through any situation. Christ is what gets you through any situation.

The author tacked several key topics that keep people hung up which limits their ability to move in the freedom of Christ that is theirs if they are in Him. Our choices are so important in response to what kind of freedom we walk in. We must address these hang ups at the heart of the matter which is the deeper places of our thoughts. The author helps the reader do this honestly and authentically.

Topics addressed are:
Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer
Choosing to be Okay with not Being Okay
Choosing to Trust Rather than Please
Choosing to Free People Rather than Hurt Them

Overall this is a good book. I do recommend it if you are struggling in moving forward in the freedom that is yours in Christ.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon you can go here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Wounded by God's People by Anne Graham Lotz

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

I really enjoyed this title. Anne writes with an authentic, gentle, inspiring way which oozes gracefulness. I was so thankful to get glimpses into her life and others who have been through periods of hurt. Not just hurt from anyone but those who do claim to be believers in Christ. This kind of hurt carries a level of pain that is deeper than any other kind of hurt. It is because we are connected in the family of Christ and should be in unity with the same goal that this kind of hurt catches us off guard.

The truth is we are all sinners and we are not God so we will at times behave in ways that are not godly. Think of the time period of slavery, this was a period when Christians would justify this horrid practice using even the Scriptures to back them up. This was not however God's plan or how others should ever be treated. It is like this today as well. As long as we are living in a sin stained world, we will inevitably hurt one another at times. However, we must consider, what is it we are to do with that hurt? This book addresses this topic fully. It is encouraging and inspires forgiveness. Like I stated before it just overflows with God's grace and most importantly focuses on what really matters in Christ Jesus.

To get a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


When I think about that word hope. I can think of many things. Hope can be used in a variety of ways.

I hope it does not rain tomorrow.

I hope I can get all my work done.

I hope I will have food on my table.

I hope this is not all there is.....

The word hope can be used in many ways. However the most important way it should be used is that my true hope in this world is found in Christ alone. He is my hope of glory. He is what everything in my life hinges on.

Think about this, if Christ did not do all the things that the Bible says He did or what I believe He has done then the point of this life would be sorrowful. We live in a world full of pain, suffering, and sorrow. Sure there are times of joy but then there is sorrow. We are in a broken and fallen world. If this is all there is where is my hope? If this really is it, I feel depressed.

I have a real and thriving hope for more. We were made for more and only in our hope in Christ is that hope realized. This is not all there is. Right now Jesus is building a home for us in Heaven. We will one day live in a place where there is no more suffering, no more heartache, no more sin. Poverty will not exist. Children will not be sold or go hungry anymore. We will be home in the security of where we were always meant to be. I put my hope in these truths through Christ.

Where do those in poverty around the world put their hope? How is there someone to tell them of this great joyful truth? Through Compassion International children and families in poverty are helped. The love of Christ is shared.

I want you to meet my sponsored child Sylvia. She is 20 years old. She lives in Uganda where AIDS is rampant. She has lived longer than many who are without help. Disease thrives. Poverty thrives. These people are at risk for so many things. However, a program like Compassion comes in and really helps. I see it in the smile on Sylvia's face. I read it in her letters. I love all that our minor amount of money can do for her and her family. I love in dark places hope can thrive.

This is a great time for you to consider sponsoring a child. Would you take the time to look now? It could be the very hope that this particular child needs. Click here to start browsing the many you could help.

Book Review: Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber

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

I loved this book! It was filled with many glimpses of the authors life alongside spiritual lessons she is learning. It was the perfect book because it was written in such a way as if I was listening to a friend over coffee. However, though Mrs. Weber was not present I felt as if she was. It was warmly written but in a way that stirred my heart and Spirit toward Christ. I think it is an encouraging read for anyone.

This book does take you through a few trials and life experiences in this authors life but the way she sees God in them and can even consider them gifts is encouraging. I would love to see more books like this. It had a feel of an autobiography but was not stuffy like some of those can be. This book flowed freely and was just a joy to read. Get it you won't be disappointed.

To purchase a copy of this book from Amazon go here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Philippians for Tweens - Week Six

You are doing a great job keeping up with this study! I hope the fruit of consistent Bible study is showing up in your life right now!

MondayRead verse one below.
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.

Paul is referring to not being tired of telling them how to live a life worthy of the gospel. He also does not tire of telling them about the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Jesus came and lived a sinless life then died on the cross for our sin, on the third day He then rose to life. When He did this He defeated the enemies work and set us free. We can put our hope in this good news everyday. We must believe this good news of what Jesus has done for us everyday! When Jesus said, it is finished He meant it. All that needed to be done to make us right with God has been done. Can you trust that?

When you sin, can you confess it and admit you are desperate for a Savior. Can you remember He is at work in you? Can you thank Him for the grace He pours out on you daily? He has completed everything that needed to be done. We just have to trust it and He opens our heart to do so. Isn't that amazing! We should never tire of hearing it! As we ponder the cross and what He has done for us it should take our breath away. He loves us enough to trade His perfect standing with our marred one. Now that is love!

Another point is that we need to remember this to keep our faith safe. It will help us not to turn away when we see daily what He has done for us. When we consider and ponder it it helps us to not lose heart.

Think About ItHave you ever considered the length that Christ went to save you? Why or why not?
Take time to thank Him now! It is so amazing that even the angels long to look into it. We will never stop learning what it means to live in that good news day by day. As we grasp it more and more God sets our hearts more free in HIM. Now that is good news!

Read verses 2-3

"Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort"

Paul is warning them here to be on guard. Watch out for people who will tell you that Jesus is not enough. They are people who will tell you to be right with God you need to have Jesus and be good or have Jesus and pray alot or many other things. They are stomping on the grace of God. We are saved by His grace alone. We trust in what Jesus did on our behalf and nothing else. 

In Paul's day the Jewish people were to be circumcised of their flesh. This was a sign of a true believer. However, many people came to believe in Christ who were not circumcised and there were teachers who were saying they needed to be circumcised to be authentic Christians. 

Paul's argument is that believers are of a circumcised heart. We get a new and pliable heart when we belong to God and that is enough. Believing in what He did on our behalf is enough. Essentially we need Jesus plus nothing else. 

Think About ItDo you have to go to church to be saved? Though church is a good thing that helps all believers and something that God desires for us the answer is no. We are not saved by anything we do.

If you are good enough will you get into Heaven? No. The Bible says no one is righteous. Only Through Christ can we be acceptable to God.

Do you try to add anything to your salvation? All we need is Jesus, we need to trust in His finished work on our behalf. Now there is nothing wrong with going to church or doing good works. In fact they are good and needed things but they will not aid in your salvation. It is through grace in Christ alone.

WednesdayRead verses 4-6
"though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault." 

This section is Paul telling us what his pedigree is. If there was anyone to take pride in all they achieved in his time it was Paul. He was among the strictest sect of religion. He was greatly obedient to the law of the Lord. He even hurt Christians because he believed they were wrong in their beliefs while he was right as a Jew. He was circumcised. He was of a noble tribe. He was a true Israelite.

In his day this resume would be very impressive, however Paul is saying we are not to put confidence in our fleshly works when it comes to God. All of our confidence must be in what Christ has done for us. Period. 

Think About It.Maybe you are tempted to think you are alright because your parents are in church ministry. Or maybe you serve in many ways. Or maybe you follow all the rules. It is tempting to think we are something special without Jesus. However it is Jesus and Jesus alone who makes us right before the Father. 

What kind of works of the flesh are you holding onto that make you feel good enough for God outside of Jesus? Are you tempted in this way any? Or do you really believe that Jesus is enough? 

 ThursdayReady verses 7-9

"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith."

Though having a good job or doing amazing works are not bad, they become bad when they are a god to us or a way of trying to earn God's love or favor. They are also wrong if they are things we want to hold up so others will glory in us.

The word for garbage in the Greek is really a word much stronger than garbage, it actually means poop. Now isn't that gross! But Paul is literally calling all those good works that in comparison to trusting Christ.

Paul once considered these things very valuable. However, Christ has opened His eyes to what really matters. Knowing Christ is all that matters. We can never be righteous enough before a holy God. Only Christ can make us this.

Think About It
There is nothing you can do to make God love you more or less. Do you believe this? Why or why not?
God sent His only Son to rescue us from our sinful state. He did this because of His great love for us. Faith and trust in what He has done is what matters. Do you trust in what Christ did for you? 

 FridayRead verse 10-11

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!"

Now these verses are powerful! Paul wants to know Christ and the power that raised Him from the dead even if that needs to come through suffering! Do you want to know Him that badly? It is a lot to consider! 

Often these days the American church seems to be asleep! We entertain ourselves silly. Do we see any power of Christ working? Often ways we see His power at work is through suffering. It is when we are not enough that we see He is. This is often realized through suffering. The Bible tells us when we are weak, He is strong. That is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in each one of us who trust in what Jesus did for them.

Think About It
When you enter a time of suffering, do you view it as an opportunity to see Christ and the power of His resurrection?

We need to wake up and see He is all we need. All other things are worth nothing compared to Him.
Great job this week! Praying you know Him more and more and can understand His great love for you!

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