December 29, 2012

10 Great Reads of 2012

This year my goal was to read 75 books. I didn't quite make it but I was able to read more books then last years 61 with 65 books.  : )

If you are a reader of my blog you know I had difficulties with reading and comprehension as a child and I'm still amazed at how far God has brought me in this aspect of my life.  Even though I was never diagnosed as dyslexic, I struggled with reading and spelling and was often made fun of for not pronouncing words properly. (I still to this day check and double check and triple check my spelling!)

I recently read this post from Mark Hall on the Casting Crowns Facebook page and it really encouraged me, so I thought I'd share it here:

"Dealing with dyslexia and ADD keeps me dependent on God. Keeps my knees on the ground and my head on straight.
"God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong and the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. "
"We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us."
Instead of left brained, I'm right brained. Instead of organized and calculating, I'm a dreamer who can multitask.
Dyslexia is not a learning disability. It's a learning difference.
God knows what he's doing.
Romans 12

Love you guys,

No matter what difficulty you face in this life God can use it for good. Like Mark says, 'God knows what He's doing.' : )

Here are my favorites I read this past year in no particular order.


Knowing God - For My Thoughts Click HERE

I started this book in 2011 but didn't finish it until 2012 so I've included it here. This was a hard one to get through but so worth it. It's definitely one of my favorites now. :)

Grace for the Good Girl - For My Thoughts Click HERE

This book was a little slow at the beginning but went on to be a very profound book for me.

Handle with Prayer - For My Thoughts Click HERE

Great insights into prayer and how God always hears us and answers, just not always the way we expect.

The Titanic's Last Hero - For My Thoughts Click HERE

Amazing memoir of pastor John Harper who boarded the titanic. Filled with testimonies and tributes and originally published in Scotland in 1912.

Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading- For My Thoughts Click HERE

Some great Biblical insights into what and how Christians should read.



In His Steps - For My Thoughts Click HERE

A very inspirational classic with a challenge for all believers.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott - For My Thoughts Click  HERE

Beautifully written novel based on Louisa May Alcott, author of 'Little Women.' 

Heiress - For My Thoughts Click HERE

A beautiful story of redemption for women searching to be loved.

The Reunion - For My Thoughts Click HERE

I have to admit I've never cried this much reading a book. Such a heart-warming story.

Great Expectations

I haven't written anything on this book as of now, but wanted to include it in my great 2012 reads list because I really loved it! I've been reading a book on Dickens called 'God and Charles Dickens' by Gary L. Colledge and finding it so interesting how Dickens wrote his beliefs into his books. He was a great supporter of the poor and incorporated at least one character in each of his books which represented Christ and His kindness and unconditional love towards us. This book is no exception and in Great Expectations, Biddy is that character. :)

December 21, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 8: Joy

 "Almost every traditional Christmas carol includes such words as joy, joyful, rejoice, glad, gladness, and merry, because the birth of Jesus Christ was a joyful occasion for the whole world. God had fulfilled His promises and the Savior at last had come."

I loved this section on 'Joy' and it's true meaning. Did you know joy and rejoice occur 132 times in the New Testament alone? The authors explain the difference between real joy and happiness:

"Is there a difference between joy and happiness? Most dictionaries say that there is, for joy is defined as 'a deep-rooted rapturous great as to be almost painful in its intensity.' Happiness, however, depends primarily on happenings. We're happy when everything is going well for us. Joy, however, fills our hearts even when circumstances are difficult. People who are outer-directed are happy when circumstances are favorable; people who are inner-directed - meaning having faith in Christ - are joyful even when circumstances are unfavorable. They can say with Paul, 'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.' (Phil. 4:11)

For Christians believers, joy comes from the Holy Spirit within them and not from the happy situation around them, for 'the fruit of the Spirit is love,joy, peace.' (Gal. 5:22) It is 'joy given by the Holy Spirit' (1 Thess. 1:6), the very joy of Christ Himself who prayed that we might have the 'full measure' of His joy within us (John 17:13). This joy isn't something that we manufacture or imagine; it's the miraculous fruit of God's life within us. 'For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom. 14:17).

Christmas is often thought of as a time of happiness and joy, but for many that ends when the decorations come down. It shouldn't for the believer, for His joy is with us always. We can 'Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!' Philippians 4:4

The rest of this section goes on to talk about the joys of Christ's birth. The joy Mary felt to carry the Son of God, the joy Elizabeth and Zechariah felt to been given a son in their old age, the joy John the Baptist felt while still in his mother's womb when he came into contact with the Savior in His mother's womb, the joy of the angels, the joy of the shepherds and the joy of the magi. Needless to say true joy is from the Lord.

"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE  for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word
Click  HERE  for Part 5 of C is for Christmas: King
Click  HERE  for Part 6 of C is for Christmas: Peace
Click  HERE  for Part 7 of C is for Christmas: Hope

This concludes my posts for C is for Christmas by  David W. and Warren W. Wiersbe. Hope you enjoyed them.

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 19, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 7: Hope

"May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

What is hope? The authors explain here:

"Hope is not optimism based on positive circumstances. Hope is the ability to believe in the good when things are bad. 'Hope means hoping when things are hopeless or it is no virtue at all. It is only when things are hopeless that hope begins to be a strength' (G.K. Chesterton). Hope is an undefeated forward look.

Christian hope is facing the present reality with confidence in future good because of God's action in Jesus Christ. Hope is living now, knowing that God is preparing something better. Hope expects God to take what's painful and mysterious and turn it ultimately into eternal good (see Rom. 8:24-25). Hope also prevents us from getting comfortable when all is well."

The authors go on to tell us where we can find Christ, in the gospel, in God's promises, in the Holy Spirit and in Christ's return. I thought I'd share what the authors say about how the Holy Spirit sustains our hope:

"The Holy Spirit does not let us focus on what is wrong or painful. He consistently points us to Jesus, who is our source of hope. The spirit works to reproduce the character of Jesus in us, genuinely transforming us. The hope provided by the Spirit is not a trickle, but a constant stream, so that we 'overflow with hope.' That doesn't mean we ignore life's realities or turn a blind eye to serious issues. It means having an undefeated forward look because the Holy Spirit is present and at work in us."

 'An undefeated forward look'...I love that. Hope always looks forward, not back. :)

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE  for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word
Click  HERE  for Part 5 of C is for Christmas: King
Click  HERE  for Part 6 of C is for Christmas: Peace

December 17, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 6: Peace

The angels proclaimed 'peace on earth!.' So where is this peace? If Jesus came to bring peace to earth why is the world full of violence and pain?

In the book the authors talk about a poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote called 'Christmas Bells' and quote:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play;
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head;
'There is no peace on earth,' I said;
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Longfellow had lost his son to the Civil War and wrote this poem to express his feelings. When hate is so strong in the world, where is peace? The authors go on to say:

"Why is there no peace on earth? Because people have rejected Christ and are at war with God.

 'What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?' (James 4:1)

People and nations are at war with one another because they are at war within themselves, and they are at war within themselves because they are at war with God. The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart (see Mark 7:17-23), and the heart is 'deceitful above all things and beyond cure' (Jer. 17:9).

The peace on earth the angels were talking about is found in Jesus and is in the heart of those who trust Him. The author's say here:

"...God's people may enjoy peace on earth because peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), and if we are prayerful and thankful, the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds (Phil. 4:6-7).

'You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.' (Isa. 26:3)."

This quote from the book, shares the prophecies that Christ will bring peace on earth for good one day:

"And he will be called...Prince of Peace' (Isa. 9:6). One day there shall be peace on earth when Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, returns and reigns in His kingdom. 'Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end' (v.7). One day the Spirit shall be poured out from heaven and the desert will become a fertile field and there will be justice and righteousness on the earth (see Isa. 32:15-16). 'The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest' (vv.17-18). 'They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore' (Mic. 4:3)

Longfellow ends his poem with these lines, lines that show his faith in God, and his hope in Him:

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Is your hope in Him? Do you have His peace?

Here is a video of Casting Crowns singing Longfellow's beautiful poem:

 Or Click here: Casting Crowns: I heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Click  HERE   for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE   for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE   for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE   for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word
Click  HERE  for Part 5 of C is for Christmas: King

December 14, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 5: King

There are millions of Christians in this world, each from different backgrounds and denominations. Christians can sometimes argue over doctrine and beliefs but one thing we all agree on is that Jesus Christ is the King of kings. All Christians long for the day of his return. I loved this section of the book on Jesus as King:

"What kind of king is King Jesus? 

King Jesus defeats His enemies and He defeats them so they stay defeated. Jesus has conquered sin, death, Satan, and hell. King Jesus establishes peace, not only ending war but providing adequate resources for His people. Jesus is a king who loves His people. He graciously meets their needs, heals their wounds, and hears and answers their requests. The subjects of King Jesus always have access to Him. King Jesus secures justice for His people. Legally justice means resolving differences fairly; law and grace are always perfectly balanced in King Jesus' court. Justice in the Old Testament includes a relational dimension. Under King Jesus, His subjects don't merely coexist, they thrive together. King Jesus is wise. He doesn't always reveal what He is doing and He works at many levels of life simultaneously to achieve His purpose over time. He knows the end from the beginning, so His plans always work to perfection.  

The reign of King Jesus is eternal. Because His position is permanent, His subjects don't have to worry about changes in policy or law. King Jesus lives forever, so there is no worry about His growing old or dying. Under King Jesus, there will be glorious, multifaceted continuity. Jesus is the only King who is worthy of worship forever. He suffered for our sake on the cross and rose again to give life eternal. King Jesus is His people's treasure, their source of endless joy and eternal delight.

How should we act in the presence of a king? Reverently - with open ears and closed mouth. Submissively - the proper posture in the presence of the King is to kneel. And boldly - Jesus is the King who loves us, who knows us completely. He wants us to enjoy a respectful intimacy with Him...

King Jesus is without equal and He tolerates no rival. Only Jesus truly had the 'divine right' of kings because only He is fully God and fully human, the rightful heir of David's throne. He is 'KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS' (Rev. 19:16). All hail King Jesus!"

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas
Click  HERE for Part 4 of C is for Christmas: The Word

December 12, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 4: The Word

At the beginning of John's gospel he says; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In this section of the book the authors do a great job of explaining this verse and then breaking it up into sections. The section that spoke to me the most was 'The Word That Encourages.'

Here the authors talk about the Word (Jesus), who became flesh, being fully God and fully human:

"Jesus is also the Word that encourages. 'The Word became flesh' (John 1:14) affirms that Jesus is both fully God and fully human, two natures coexisting in one divine, unique Person. Greek philosophy and Muslim theology both deny that God can or would become human. In those systems, matter is evil, so God would devalue Himself by becoming flesh.

But the Gospel of John tells us that the preexistent Son of God permanently took to Himself a human body and nature (vv. 14-15) and He remains the unique God-Man today. John affirms that the incarnation is a way to see the glory of the 'only begotten of the Father' (KJV): the Son of God coming in humbleness, stooping to serve and sacrifice and triumph. When we see the incarnate Son of God, we also see grace and truth.

So it is good to be human - because Jesus is. He has experienced life as we do, and He understands what it means to live in this fallen world. Jesus knows about temptation, rejection, hostility, loneliness, sorrow, and pain. He also knows about love, family, joy, prayer and friendship. That makes Him our great encourager. He, of course, did not sin. He helps us resist temptation and avoid sin. When we fail, He doesn't criticize us or desert us. He understands and encourages us to move forward. He transforms us by His grace and truth. With Jesus, life is worth living."

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click  HERE  for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem
Click  HERE  for Part 3 of C is for Christmas: Xmas  

December 10, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 3: Xmas

I've never been a fan of using 'Xmas' in place of Christmas, but is using 'Xmas' taking Christ out of Christmas? According to the authors the answer is no. Xmas is not disrespectful or taking Christ out of Christmas, but rather, honors God. The authors explain here:

"Since the mid-twentieth century, Christians have complained that the use of  'Xmas' was a deliberate attempt to 'take Christ out of Christmas.' While there is no doubt that today's secular culture wants to remove 'Christmas' and 'Merry Christmas' from the English vocabulary, the original use of 'Xmas' had no political or spiritual overtones.

That the first syllable of Christmas comes from the word 'Christ' is indisputable. In Greek the name Christ is xpiotoc (christos). The first letter looks like the English letter X. Every vocation has its shorthand, and those in the church used the letter chi (X) to represent Christ in words that began with 'Christ-.' So 'Xmas is an honorable abbreviation for Christmas. It was not intended to take Christ out of Christmas."

Click   HERE   for Part 1 of C is for Christmas
Click   HERE   for Part 2 of C is for Christmas: Bethlehem

December 8, 2012

What 'It's about giving' means to me

I'm blogging for Compassion International again today and the theme is giving and what it means to me.

For me I believe everything we have is a gift from God...everything (That includes our pay checks) :) And He expects us to share what He's given us. (not just 10%) :) I know this is a hard concept for some, but for the believer it should be our way of life. God gives and He takes away, all for His glory and for His children's ultimate good.

The story in Luke 18 is a hard story to swallow. A very wealthy man comes to Jesus and asks how he can inherit eternal life. He's a man who has done good in his life and keeps the commandments, but Jesus says there is one more thing he needs to do. He needs to give all he has away to the poor and come follow Him. This is very distressing to him and the man leaves heavy-hearted.

I believe it is necessary to have an attitude that everything is God's...everything. We have to let go of the attitude that what is ours is ours, we earned it. We need to share everything.

I've been sponsoring children since I was 18 years old and I couldn't imagine not helping the poor in this way. It's become part of me.

I've tried to teach this to my children. And I am a proud mom because my 2 oldest children sponsor children and I know my youngest will when she gets old enough to send in support.

I also believe giving should come from the heart, not from duty. Giving should come from compassion, not because others are doing it. It should be done in love.

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." 1 Cor. 13:3

God blesses those who give from the heart.

"Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." Deu. 15:10

To please God we must give 'poor in spirit.'

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:3

What does this mean 'poor in spirit?'

I found this chapter from A.W. Tozer's book 'Pursuit of God,' explains it well. I love the way Tozer explains how God taught Abraham how to be 'poor in spirit' and therefore teaching us. Click  HERE  to read.

Would you consider giving a gift this Christmas to someone in need?

Click HERE to give a gift this Christmas


December 6, 2012

C is for Christmas - Part 2: Bethlehem

If you celebrate Christmas, you've heard of Bethlehem. That little town where Jesus was born. I especially loved this section on Bethlehem.

From the great love story of Ruth and Boaz, to King David's birth home, to the meaning of Bethlehem, to the prophecies from Micah, to where Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin and finally to being the birthplace of Jesus. So much incredible history from this one little town!

"The Bible mentions two towns named Bethlehem, one seven miles northwest of Nazareth in Zebulun (Joshua 19:15; Judges12:8-10), and the other five miles southwest of Jerusalem in Judah, the Bethlehem where Jesus was born. That Bethlehem is mentioned nearly 30 times in the Old Testament and has a rich history that relates directly to Jesus Christ and helps us better understand Him and what He came to do for us."

This section goes on to talk about this incredible history and the meaning of Bethlehem:

"Bethlehem means 'house of bread,' and Ephrathah means 'fruitful,' because the land around Bethlehem was very productive. It was common knowledge among the Jews that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (John 7:42). Seven centuries before Jesus was born, the prophet Micah wrote, 'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.' (Mic. 5:2).

That Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:33-40), should be born in the 'house of bread' is no accident. The Father sent manna from heaven to sustain the people of Israel in the wilderness but He sent Jesus to give life to the whole world. It cost Jesus His life on the cross to give the bread of life to a world of lost sinners. Eat the bread of this world and you will always hunger, but receive Jesus and feed on Him and you will never hunger. His earthly life as the incarnate Son of God began at ' the house of bread,' and our eternal life begins when we trust Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life."

Click  HERE  for Part 1 of...C is for Christmas

December 2, 2012

C is for Christmas: The History, Personalities, and Meaning of Christ's Birth

Such a great Christmas book!

Filled with history, Biblical people and the deeper meaning of Christ's birth and why we celebrate it. Laid out like a dictionary, chapter one being titled  'A' with sections such as Advent and Angels, chapter two titled 'B' with sections on Bethlehem and Baby and so on through the alphabet.

I was surprised at how much I didn't know about the Christmas story and I loved how the authors simply explained biblical situations.

I also loved learning the deeper meaning behind the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.

I underlined a lot in this one! So instead of sharing all the great things I learnt from this book in one post, I thought I'd share them in several posts throughout December.

Hope you'll join me and maybe read something new about Christmas you didn't know or understand before.  : )

 Buy it HERE at Amazon

November 28, 2012

7 Ways to Trust Your Conscience

Have you ever wondered about the evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life? How do you know if it's the Holy Spirit speaking or just yourself? When can you trust your conscience?

I found these seven great points very helpful in answering these questions.

They are taken from a sermon by Charles Stanley.

Hope they encourage you! :)

You can trust your conscience...

1. When Jesus is your Savior and Lord

2. When the Word of God is the basis for your conduct

3. When you have a strong desire to obey God

4. When you prayfully consider decisions

5. When it alarms you immediately when you consider wrongdoing

6. When you feel guilty immediately upon disobedience

7. When you feel compelled to repent of disobedience

November 26, 2012

Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom

This book was not what I was expecting, coming from a pop star's mom.

Instead I found a heart wrenching testimony of an abused girl who desperately wanted to be loved.

I also wasn't expecting an overly Godly book from a pop star's mom.

But that's what I found, a story of a woman who sought God in her pain and glorifies Him through her story.

Pattie's experiences of sexual abuse are shared in an honest and no holds bared way, which may be hard for some to read. It was hard for me. You feel her pain, a pain God is healing, but is not completely gone. I really appreciated this honesty. Just because you become a Christian doesn't mean you don't suffer with pain or mess up sometimes. God heals in his time, not ours. And He often does this by building our trust, letting us learn in time, He is trustworthy.

I'm reading another book right now called 'C is for Christmas' by father and son, David and Warren Wiersbe. In a section about hope they talk about how the Holy Spirit sustains us and builds us up in our walk with God. I found it encouraging and thought I'd share it here:

"The Holy Spirit does not let us focus on what is wrong or painful. He consistently points us to Jesus, who is our source of hope. The Spirit works to reproduce the character of Jesus in us, genuinely transforming us. The hope provided by the Spirit is not a trickle, but a constant stream, so that we 'overflow with hope.' That doesn't mean we ignore life's realities or turn a blind eye to serious issues. It means having an undefeated forward look because the Holy Spirit is present and at work in us."

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

I learnt a lot from reading this book. One thing that was really interesting to me was how she thought of God before she became a Christian. She was completely disinterested in Him. It gave me a better understanding of how non-believers feel and think and how to be more sensitive to this.

This also reinforced how we as Christians are not here to convert people to our religion, make them agree with us or prove that we are right, but we are here to share the Truth and love as Christ loved so that HE can change their lives.

Pattie just needed one person to love her like Christ loves her. That's all it took.

After I read this book I went online and read a bunch of reviews. Most were kind and respectful, but some were not. Some said things like she needs to 'get over it' or called it a' pathetic book' mocking her abuse.

This is why so many women who are abused never speak out. They are afraid of being mocked or told to get over it. They are afraid the feelings of unworthiness will be affirmed by comments like this.

One reviewer said the book was too 'Jesus-y.' But for me that's what made this book so special.

Jesus is the one, and only one, who will never  let you down, never  mock you and never  tell you to get over it.

He is a man of sorrows, which means he feels our pain and grief deeply and suffers along with us. Long ago a prophet named Isaiah described Him this way:

"He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him."

When he sees us weeping in our pain he comes and sits and weeps with us.

In the gospel of John we see a woman weeping because her brother has died. Jesus doesn't go to her and tell her to stop crying and get over it, instead he weeps with her, then takes her to the tomb and raises her brother from the dead! That's what he can do for you. Come to Him and He'll weep with you, He can raise you from the pain and deadness in your life.

He also knows what it feels like to have your trust betrayed, to be hated and despised.

The name Judas brings up thoughts of betrayal, but what we often forget is that Judas was one of Jesus's closest friends. Jesus knows that feeling of complete betrayal from someone he should have been able to trust.

Jesus asked "Whom are you seeking?" They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them" John 18:5

Unlike those who abuse and betray, Jesus is trustworthy and kind. He will build you up and remind you, you are worthy in Him. When you come to Jesus, you will never be alone.

Pattie is a brave woman to share her story. The amount of women who have scars of child sexual abuse is staggering and I pray this book speaks to woman out there who have been used and abused, that there is a God who loves you, you are not alone. And when you mess up He's a God of second chances, third chances, seventy times seven chances. His grace is sufficient, He is enough, He is all you need.

On the lighter side, if you are a Justin Bieber fan, yes, she talks a lot about him too. :)  From when she first heard him cry (sing), to raising him as a single mom, and how he got into the music business. I loved reading about their relationship. Pattie loves her boy and Justin is a wonderful example to kids everywhere on how to treat your parents with love and respect. I highly recommend this one.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians4:6

                                          To all my American readers! : )

November 19, 2012

All Things New

I was so excited to see Lynn Austin had written another Civil War novel. Her books from her 'Refiner's Fire' series have always been favorites of mine. :)

Set at the end of the Civil War, when southern families are trying to piece their lives back together and slaves are adjusting to their new found freedom, Josephine Weatherly has harden her heart and turned away from God.

Josephine, the main character in this story, is a woman of 22 who has lost her father and brother to the war and finds their plantation has fallen into ruins. Everyone around her is also facing their own struggles and heartaches, her family, their friends and most of all, the slaves.

Josephine's mother is also struggling with letting go of the old  ways and finding it hard to cope with this new life.

Then there is Lizzie, a former slave, now free. Her and her family, though free, still find themselves faced with hatred from the southerners.

I thought I'd share two things that really stood out to me in this book.

Firstly, was the attitude of the mother in this novel. She was so stuck in her ways that she was afraid of any change in her life. She desperately tries to piece her old life back together. A life where she is comfortable and slaves take care of all her needs. As her daughter struggles with what is right and wrong and begins to see the former slaves as people with dreams and goals, she questions the old ways and wonders why her mother seems to have such compassion for her neighbors, but none for her former slaves who are now her paid servants. Her mother senses her daughters changing views and is frightened by them.

Here in this conversation with Josephine we see her mother's attitude of fear:

"Josephine, I know you think I'm being harsh and unreasonable, but I want what's best for you. It's important that you continue to be accepted as part of this community, and that means you can't go against our established values.' 

'Even if those values are wrong?'...

'I don't want you to end up all alone. You'll be considered strange, an outcast.'

'But it's my life--'

'Yes, and I won't let you destroy it. The war has left us in ruins, and we can't afford to act as individuals. We're part of a community. We need each other, especially now. If you go against the accepted social norms, your life will be so much harder, so much more painful. No one will accept you. Please understand that my criticism is intended for your own good. Your family needs you. I need you. I'm trying to direct you down a better path, an easier path.'

'But so much has changed. The South isn't going to be the same as it was.'

'All the more reason why we need to hang on to our traditions and to each other. The future will be less frightening if some things can remain the same."

Many of us are sometimes like this mother, scared to do the right thing when it means we may face opposition. Many live in fear of change and would rather live in our comfort zone, even though it may be the wrong thing to do.

Here are a few questions that went through my head:

Do we worry to much about what others think of us? Do we worry to much about not being accepted? Have we become so politically correct that we have no integrity left to stand for what is right? Are we, like Josephine's mother, afraid? 

"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults."       Isaiah 51:7

"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled."         1 Peter 3:14

"In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"      Psalm 56:11

Secondly, the novel brings up thought-provoking questions of suffering and pain. Why does God allow it? What is real happiness? Are we willing to trust God through our suffering?

Josephine has a conversation with a new friend, Alexander, about this. Alexander starts by saying:

"God takes no joy in our suffering.'

'Why does He allow it, then?'

'Sometimes it's His way of coaxing us to come back to Him. God used the war to draw me back to Him. People do more praying on the battlefield than they ever do in churches.'

'But if that's true, I would have to believe it was good that Daddy died, good that my family and I suffered during the war and lost nearly everything we had.'

'You can never know for certain what your life would have been like if the war hadn't happened. Suffering is part of living in a broken world. Your father might have died another way. Your family might have lost their fortune in some other kind of disaster. We're wrong to except our lives to be perfect on this side of heaven. And it's wrong for parents to shelter their children and make them believe that the most important thing is to be happy.'

'If life isn't supposed to be happy, then why live it?...'

'Because there's a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is external and can change when your circumstances change. If you believe that money will make you happy, for instance, and then you lose all your money, you'll be very unhappy. But joy is deep inside us and isn't dependent on circumstances. Even poor people can have joy.  Didn't you tell me that doing simple chores like working in the garden brought satisfaction?'

'Yes, and it gives my mother fits. She claims the work will ruin my hands, among other reasons.'

'...when we walk away from God, we walk away from any chance of joy. Joy doesn't come from circumstances, but from God."

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."   Psalm 16:11

"The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel."   Isaiah 29:19

"Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."                                                                                   Habakkuk 3:18

I highly recommend this book! It's one of those novels that has so much depth and really makes you think. It's also a beautiful story of redemption and love and how God makes all things new.

Note: I've left some parts of these conversations from the book out of the quotes because they may give away some of the story. I've put  ... where these parts are. I've also italicized the words of Josephine.

Buy it HERE at Amazon

November 14, 2012

Quote of the Week

"The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances." 
                        Elisabeth Elliott

November 12, 2012

Anne Boleyn:One short life that changed the English-speaking world

It's easy to judge someone by what others have said about them.

It's harder to take the time to get to know someone and see for ourselves who they really are or what they actually did.

This book does exactly that. It takes a hard long look at what Anne Boleyn did in her short life and examines the things people have said about her.

I'd never really thought of Anne in a positive light until I read Sandra Byrd's novel "To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn." It brought up a lot of questions and a curiosity of this English Queen's life.

At the back of Sandra's novel in her recommended reading, was this little book (130 pages) called "Anne Boleyn: one short life that changed the English speaking world" by Colin Hamer. I'm so glad I picked it up!

This book does a great job introducing us to the way of thinking, traditions, superstitions and mode of life in the middle ages. Helping us, in the 21st century, understand it.


At the age of 12 Anne Boleyn was sent to France for her education. There she became close friends with Marguerite d'Angouleme (Duchess of Alencon, later Queen of Navarre) who was also the sister of the French king, Francis I. It is well know Marguerite was an evangelical believer.

She once wrote:

"I have found only one true and prefect remedy, which is reading the Holy Scriptures. In perusing them, my mind experiences its true and perfect joy; and from this pleasure of mind, proceeds the repose and health of the body...I take up the Psalms and sing them with my heart and pronounce with my tongue, as humbly as possible, the fine hymns with which the Holy inspired David and the sacred authors."

The book goes on to show her influence on Anne:

"...It seems clear that Anne came to know for herself that same joy Marguerite had, probably some time during her stay at the French court; she saw for herself that faith was placed in the heart by the Holy Spirit. For a thousand years Europe had been taught that the Christian religion was about submitting to a ritualistic system, a system that had no basis in the Bible. Now Anne realized that no amount of penance could atone for sin; forgiveness was entirely God's gift and the appropriate response for a believer was heartfelt joy and thankfulness. It was a life-changing experience for Anne -- as it is for all those who receive it. It was to sustain her through some heady, triumphant, and tragic times that, unknown to her, lay ahead."


It is also well know Anne was serious about keeping her virginity. While King Henry VIII continued to  pursue and pressure her, she resisted. The Vatican holds several letter from the King to Anne:

"There exist in the Vatican library in Rome seventeen letters that Henry wrote to Anne, probably secretly taken from Anne in her lifetime by a representative of the Church in an effort to prove that the real motivation for the King's 'divorce' from Catherine was a sexual relationship with Anne. But instead they show Anne resisting this most powerful of monarchs as he pleads with her in increasing desperate terms. Anne's replies have not survived; they were almost certainly destroyed on her death by those wishing to eradicate any memory of her."

We have almost nothing written from Anne's hand and no original or authentic paintings of her. This picture of her found in her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, ring, is the only image of her which we can be sure is a close likeness.


It is clear Anne did not want to be courted by Henry at first, but after 2 years of relentless pursuit she finally relented by sending a gift. It says here:

"...hear is the crucial question. Why did Anne send this gift and so signal to Henry that she would accept him as a suitor? He was a married man, and she had rightly resisted his advances for at least 2 years. What had changed?

There are several possible answers:

-Anne had simply given up the fight. she had been worn down by Henry and feared the consequences of resisting him anymore.

-She had become attracted to him. He was undoubtedly an impressive figure - tall, good looking (at least at this stage), and accomplished in many areas including the arts.

-She saw that an annulment was possible and that she could become Henry's legitimate wife and queen, a tremendously powerful position from which she could advance the reform agenda."

This is the big question, at least for me.

Anne was a very intelligent and well learned woman. She not only had read the Bible, she had studied it. How could she have thought it was ok to date a married man? The author tries to explain the Christian beliefs of the middle ages and how Scripture was misused.  Anne and Henry as well as the church had taken  certain verses and misinterpreted them. Because Henry had had no sons after 20 years of marriage to Catherine (his brother's wife) he truly believed this was a sign from God that He was displeased. The author states here:

"The 16th century mind thought that events displayed the specific will of God - a will that could be interpreted. In Henry's case this meant that if he had a son God was personally endorsing his kingship - and his marriage to Catherine, papal dispensation or not. But there was no son: God must be expressing his disapproval. 

All the original objections to the marriage had been based on two Bible verses, Leviticus 18:16 ('Do not have sexual relations with your brother's wife; that would dishonor your brother') and Leviticus 20:17 ('If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless').

Henry and Catherine had no children, or at least no sons, which amounted  to the same thing to Henry, so here was a certain proof of God's displeasure. Some have argued that Henry VIII's subsequent scruples about his marriage to Catherine were based solely on his desire to have Anne Boleyn. But this does not give sufficient weight to the 16th-centurt mindset. The fact that a papal dispensation was required clearly shows the contemporary thinking that Henry and Catherine's marriage was indeed a forbidden relationship. Secular historians of today sometimes find it difficult to grasp the reality of these spiritual issues and can lose sight of this perspective - a perspective Henry VIII certainly had. Henry was not casual in his religion - he prided himself on being a theologian. He was presumably reassured by the papal dispensation - but then, when there was no son, surely God was punishing him as Leviticus 20 said he would? This lack of a son was a double blow to Henry: his kingdom was threatened, and his marriage condemned by God."

If Anne believed this as well it is a little more understandable to see her start a relationship with Henry. In their eyes he was never really married to Catherine. I guess we will never know exactly what they were thinking but this gives us a glimpse of what they may have.


Another questionable act of Anne's is her consenting to consummate her relationship with Henry before they were officially married in a ceremony. The author explains here:

"If they were free to marry, why didn't Anne wait for a proper marriage ceremony - especially after waiting more than six years already? 

The state registration of marriages only began in England in 1857; until then marriages were controlled by the Church. Myles Coverdale (the Bible translator of the latter part of Henry VIII's reign) stated in 'The Christen State of Matrymonye' that it was possible to contract a marriage, often with a 'handfasting' ceremony (where the couple literally tied their hands together), and then have a separate wedding service performed in a church several weeks after the consummation of the relationship. The Church fully accepted this position."

So if Anne and Henry had participated in this 'handfasting' ceremony, they would have been considered married in the eyes of the Church before the ceremony.


Once they were married Anne set out to promote her evangelical views. John Foxe (author of 'Foxes book of martyrs') said of Anne:

"What a zealous defender she was of Christ's gospel all the world doth know, and her acts do and will declare to the world's end."

Here are 10 points of action from Anne:

1. She was a catalyst in the break with Rome
2. Key figures (such as the Archbishop of Canterbury) could count on Anne's support
3. Anne pressured Henry to protect evangelicals at home and abroad
4. Anne influenced key Church appointments
5. Anne saw the Bible in English as a goal
6. Anne promoted the trade in Bibles and evangelical books
7. Anne was keen to see the monasteries reformed, not dissolved
8. Anne was concerned about education
9. Anne believe in a religion of practical action
10. Anne sought to influence Parliament on behalf of the poor

The author goes into more details with each of these points, but for the sake of keeping this post from becoming another book I'll leave it for you to read in Colin Hamer's. : )


Anne was queen for only 3 years before accusations of adultery and treason against the King where set against her. Many believe these were false and created for the benefit of those, namely Thomas Cromwell, who hated her and her views. The author says here:

"The exact sequence of events leading up to the first execution of a queen in english history, and what lay behind them, has been the subject of debate by many historians. But what is certain is that sometime early in 1536 Cromwell had it in his mind to move against Anne - and when he eventually did it was with ruthless, cold efficiency."

By May 1536 Anne was dead, Having been sentenced and beheaded.

There are still so many questions about Anne Boleyn, but I found this book made a lot of things clearer and gave me a better understanding of the mindset during the middle ages. I highly recommend it.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

November 8, 2012

The Reunion and a Remembrance Day Story

Wow! Another moving and beautifully written novel by Dan Walsh.

This is the story of Vietnam vet, Aaron Miller, who comes back from war broken and lost. Though he is a hero, there is no hero's welcome on his return.

He soon turns to drugs and alcohol to deal with the pain of war and in the process he loses everything.

After years of being lost and alone he finally finds the Lord and turns his life around.

Though the story doesn't go into this part of his life in detail, you can see how it shaped him and how the Lord works to restore him.

This is where the story begins.

Now in his sixties, he lives in a trailer park where he works as a handyman. He lives a simple life but often think of the family he lost so many years ago.

Then he gets an unlikely call that could change everything in his life.

This was definitely a 'keep your Kleenex box near'  book...and let's just say I needed a lot of Kleenex. : )

A Remembrance Day Story

This coming Sunday is Remembrance Day here in Canada. A day we remember and honor those who have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms. Canada didn't fight in the Vietnam War but we did fight in World War I and II along side our American and British friends. In honor of those who fought and fight in wars to protect our freedoms and the freedoms of others I thought I'd share this personal story.

This past summer my 20 year old daughter helped out as a councilor at a Christian childrens camp. There she met other kids her age who had come from all over the world to help counsel as well. One weekend she decided to bring a few of them home to show them around. Two were from Brazil, one from New Zealand, one from France and the other from Ontario. They were all wonderful kids with a zeal to serve the Lord.

My husband and I got to talking to the young man from France and he noticed some videos we had on our shelve about planes used in World War II. This led into a conversation about the war.

He then said something that struck both my husband and I. With great sincerity...he thanked us (Canada and the States) for coming to France and defending them. He said 'we really needed you and we thank you.' 

Coming from a 20 year old, this really touched us. We found it so moving to hear a young person express such respect and thankfulness to a generation of men who fought to liberate his country years before he was even born.

Here is a map showing where American, Canadian and British troops came onto the shores of France on D-Day June 6th 1944:

It's wonderful to hear people of all generations remember and honor those who dedicated and dedicate their lives to servicing and securing our freedoms.

On behave of our home, this Remembrance Day, we thank-you too.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

November 3, 2012

Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?"             Psalm 27:1

Today I thought I'd share a couple videos with you, that have uplifted and strengthened my faith.  Hope they do for you too.

The first is Chris Tomlin talking about his new song 'Whom Shall I Fear"

I got chills listening to how this song came to be. It's such a great reminder of the battle we face and that the Lord is on our side. : )

The second video is the powerful song with the lyrics.

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 

above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 

praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints"              Ephesians 6:11-18

October 23, 2012

Quote of the Week

"Dear friend, you can trust the Man who died for you. You can trust Him to thwart each plan that should be stopped and to complete each one that results in His greatest glory and your highest good. You can trust Him to lead you down the path that is the very best in this world for you." 
                                                                                  J. H. M.

October 18, 2012

In His Steps

Inspiring, thought-provoking and convicting, that's how I would describe this classic.

For some reason I thought this book was non-fiction, but it's actually a moving work of fiction. Written and set in the late 19th century, it took me a bit of time to get used to the language style and way of life.

Most of the main characters are wealthy men and women who attend a prominent church in the city of Raymond. They do all the 'politically correct' Christian things like giving to charity, reading their Bibles and being polite.

But then one day the pastor encounters a beggar at his door and decides to turn him away. Later the man shows up at the church during one of his services.

Convicted by the Holy Spirit, the pastor then takes the man into his home. After great thought and prayer the pastor challenges his congregation to live like Jesus and not to make any life decisions without asking 'what would Jesus do?'


What happens to the people who choose to go through with this pledge and the circumstances they face are so inspiring. Giving their lives over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and learning to obey, even if that means being ostracized, losing their business or the comfort and luxuries of their station.

There were several powerful scenes where the characters bowed their heads and cried out to God, these scenes really got to me. To envision a man weeping before God asking Him for guidance and strength is so beautiful, it made me think of David, a man after God's own heart.

"A Psalm of David. LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You." 
 Psalm 141:1

"And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will." 
 Acts 13:22

Sometimes when we obey the Spirit of God's leading we may be precieved as fanatics, but we can't let that keep us for obeying. I can recall many times in my life where I obeyed and been ostracized for it, and sadly many times I didn't obey and had to ask God to forgive my lack of faith.

In some ways the theme of this book reminded me of David Platt's book 'Radical' A book which encourages us to not just live for Jesus but to suffer with Him, to imitate Him.

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,

 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." 

1Corinthians 10:31-33 & 11:1

Here's a challenging quote from the last chapter of the book:

'Jesus, I my cross have taken
All to leave and follow Thee?'

"If we can sing that truly, then we may claim discipleship. But if our definition of being a Christian is simple to enjoy the privileges of worship, be generous at no expense to ourselves, have a good, easy time surrounded by pleasant friends and by comfortable things, live respectably and at the same time avoid the world's great stress of sin and trouble because it is too much pain to bear it - if this is our definition of Christianity, surely we are a long way from following the steps of Him who trod the way with groans and tears and sobs of anguish for a lost humanity; who sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, who cried out on the unreared cross, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'

Are we ready to make and live a new discipleship? Are we ready to reconsider our definition of a Christian? What is it to be a Christian? It is to imitate Jesus. It is to do as He would do. It is to walk in His steps."

I recently started watching a BBC show called 'Call the Midwife' which is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and set in East London during the 1950's. It is one of the most beautiful shows I've ever seen. One that holds life precious.

Here I found 2 wonderful examples of suffering with Christ:

A young nurse goes to help an old man with ulcers on his legs. She doesn't just go and do her job and leave, but makes an effort to spend time with this lonely man and get to know him. Later he is forced out of his home due to bad living conditions and forms gangrene in his legs. Both have to be amputated. The young nurse comes to visit him in the hospital and weeps by his bedside for him. I think that's what suffering with Christ looks like. It's putting someone's pain ahead of yourself and sharing in it with them. I know this is what Jesus would do.

An older woman in her 40's finds out she is pregnant. Her husband is over the moon with excitement. He is even older than she. They met late in life after her first husband past away and though she didn't love him at first, she married for comfort. When she goes into labor she is terrified because she worries the baby may be black. She had had a one night stand and fears abandonment from her husband. When she delivers, the baby is in fact black, but when her husband comes into see them he falls in love with this beautiful little bundle and never says a thing. It's obvious he knows but his love for his wife and her child out weight it and he forgives and calls the little one his son. I know this is what Jesus would do.

God, please help us be real Christians. Help us not to just follow You, but imitate You.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

October 15, 2012

5 books on my future reading list

More than a Carpenter

I've never read anything by Josh McDowell before but have heard of many people who have be touched by his books.

'More than a Carpenter' is one of his better known, which I recently picked up at a used book store.

"Josh McDowell thought Christians must be "out of their minds." He put them down. He argued against their faith. But eventually he saw that his arguments wouldn't stand up. Jesus Christ really was God in human flesh.

In More Than a Carpenter, Josh focuses upon the person who changed his life--Jesus Christ. It is a hard-headed book for people who are skeptical about Jesus' deity, his resurrection, his claims on their lives. Why is it that you can talk about God and nobody gets upset, but as soon as you mention Jesus, people often want to stop the conversation? Why have men and women down through the ages been divided over the question, "Who is Jesus?" 

Love Story

Have you ever listened to the album 'The Story?' It's a two disc album, filled with moving songs from the perspective of people from the old and new testaments of the Bible. People like Adam and Eve, Moses, Esther, Joshua, Jesus, Paul and many others. The songs are all sung by Christian artists such as Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns and Matthew West.

I LOVE this album! Nicole co-wrote all of these songs. So when I heard about this book, I knew I'd want to read it. Goodreads describes it here:

"Love Story is an exquisite narrative that exposes the emotional and human underside of major biblical events, including Adam and Eve’s dramatic fall in the Garden of Eden, Sarah and Abraham’s struggle to have a child, Mary’s surprise at being pregnant with Jesus, Paul’s trauma on the road to Damascus, and concludes with a triumphant picture of the second coming of Christ. This book is a dramatic connecting point for all readers, inspiring them to grasp the poignant nature of God’s immense, all-consuming love."

Anne Boleyn- One Short Life

After reading To Die For: A novel of Anne Boleyn by Sandra Bryd,  I was interested to read more about her. In Sandra's afterwords she included several helpful books she used for research, and this was one of them.

Was Anne the conniving marriage wrecker the world sees her as? Or was she a woman used by others for their own gains. I've always wondered this about her. Did her growing interest in the things of God have anything to do with her later execution? Did she find Christ and suffer for it?

The back cover says:

"In this well-researched look at Anne, Colin Hamer sets her in her context as a young woman who had come to true faith in Christ, and shows the impact for good she made from her position of influence, an impact we still benefit from today."

C is for Christmas: An A to Z Guide

I love Christmas! It's a time to remember the birth of Christ and be thankful for God's gift of salvation through Him. I love that we have the freedom to celebrate this!

This book looks so interesting. It's an A to Z guide on all sorts of traditions handed down through the centuries. Here's a description:

"Throughout the centuries, so many traditions have woven themselves into the celebration of Christmas that it's difficult to understand just what the season of Christ's birth is all about. Now beloved writer Warren W. Wiersbe and his son, fellow pastor David W. Wiersbe give adults their very own A to Z Christmas primer, cutting through the wrapping paper and pretty bows to expose and explain the backgrounds and reasons for our various symbols and traditions. From angels and Bethlehem to yuletide and Zechariah, the information in this unique collection is sure to enlighten. Anyone who wants to have a deeper understanding of Christmas will love this insightful resource."

Be Still My Soul

I've heard and read so many wonderful things about this book, things like, "Absolutely moving, lingered on my mind and gripped my heartstrings."

Set in the Appalachian mountains, Lonnie and Gideon are forced into a marriage neither wants because of one simple kiss. She is shy with a quiet faith, he a ladies man who resents her.

Goodreads states:

"What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?"