December 29, 2013

10 Great Reads of 2013

Well, I made my goal of reading 70 books this year! I did find it a bit overwhelming trying to read this many and sometimes choose books that were short just to reach my goal!I think I'll lower my goal this coming year. : )

My 2013 Friday's 'if' series is done now and I'll be doing something different on Friday's in 2014. Each Friday will be a surprise!

Sometimes it will be a meaningful quote, sometimes a link to a blog post that has moved me, sometimes a bit of Scripture, sometimes a favorite song or whatever else may inspire me! : ) I'm calling it 'Friday's Thought'

Before I get to my top 10 reads, I thought I'd share my favorite post from this past year. A post I really enjoyed putting together. I wrote about the stories of four men who were changed by the power of God's Word. Click on the pink link below:
                                               The Power of Scripture

Now onto my favorite reads of 2013...


No Greater Love - The story of Levi Benkert and his family and how they ended up living and serving in Ethiopia. One of the most beautiful books I've read. Read my thoughts here: No Greater Love

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking - As an introvert, I found this book extremely encouraging. Read my thoughts here: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking

Sinner's Creed: A Memoir - This is Scott Stapp's story. Scott was the lead singer of the rock band Creed and in his book he shares his trials, temptations and redemptive story which I found extremely moving. You can read my thoughts here: Sinner's Creed: A Memoir

More than a Carpenter - In this book, I felt Josh McDowell answered commonly asked questions historically, intelligently and Scripturally. Questions such as, 'Who would die for a lie?' Such thought-provoking questions and answers! Read my thoughts here: More than a Carpenter

Kisses from Katie - Katie's story and wisdom were a pleasure to read. What a wonderful example of God's love shown through a willing heart. Read my thoughts here: Kisses from Katie 


The Beloved Daughter - The author of this book asked me to be apart of her blog tour and normally I don't do tours but I think God wanted me to read this book! It was powerful fiction, about a young girl living in a North Korean camp. Read my thoughts here:  The Beloved Daughter

Iscariot: A Novel of Judas - Another powerful fiction read! This book really made me think, not only of Judas differently, but Jesus and His love for us. Read my thoughts here: Iscariot: A Novel of Judas

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte - I love the Bronte sisters novels, but I didn't know much of the sisters themselves. This book takes you into their lives, their tragedy's and joys. I loved it. Read my thoughts here: The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte

Edenbrooke - On a lighter note, this novel was so much fun. This one is definitely for the innocent romantic. Here are my thoughts: Edenbrooke

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker - I really enjoyed this story of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckle, the dressmaker who not only sewed dresses for Mrs. Lincoln, but became a good friend to her and her husband, President Abraham Lincoln. I loved the history in this one! Read my thoughts here: Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

                                                              HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

December 24, 2013

Silent Night!

Today is Christmas Eve. Ready for an neat Christmas story? This song has one.

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."  Isaiah 7:14

"It was Christmas Eve in the Austrian alps. At the newly constructed Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, a Tyrol village near Salzburg, Father Joseph Mohr prepared for the midnight service. 

He was distraught because the church organ was broken, ruining prospects for that evening's carefully planned music. But Father Joseph was about to learn that our problems are God's opportunities, that the Lord causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. 

It came into Father Joseph's mind to write a new song, one that could be sung organless. Hastily, he wrote the words, 'Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright...' Taking the text to his organist, Franz Gruber, he explained the situation and asked Frantz to compose a simple tune.

That night, December 24, 1818, 'Silent Night' was sung for the first time as a duet accompanied by a guitar at the aptly named Church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf."

Later the organ repairman, Karl Mauracher, hearing about this, began sharing the song with others. Later still the Strasser Family, which was a well-known family who sang and performed together, also heard of the song and began singing it for their audiences. Soon even the king and queen had heard it and the carol has been well known ever since.

"Were it not for a broken organ, there would never have been a 'Silent Night.'"

St. Nicholas Church, Oberndorf, Austria

Here's one of my favorite versions of Silent Night! by Martina McBride:

               Silent Night!
Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
round yon Virgin Mother and Child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
sleep in Heavenly peace!
sleep in Heavenly peace!

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
glories stream from Heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, Love’s pure light
radiant, beams from Thy Holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.

                                                            MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

*All quotes from Robert J. Morgan's book "Then Sings My Soul: Book 1" a collection of great hymn stories.

Song #1- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Song #2- O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Song #3- Joy to the World!

Buy it HERE on Amazon

December 20, 2013


I cannot bear to be like the father
     who did not soften the rigors of
     the far country;
if, in this sense, I refuse to allow the
     law of God (the way of trans-
     gressors is hard) to take effect,
because of the distress it causes me
     to see that law in operation,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                      Amy Carmichael

December 17, 2013

Joy to the World!

   "Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises." Psalm 98:4
 There is just something about the word JOY. It makes me smile, it warms my heart, it makes me want more of Jesus. : )

The author of Joy to the World!, Isaac Watts, was an English hymn writer and theologian. He is also known as the 'inventor 'of the English hymn.

"Until Isaac Watts came along, most of the singing in British churches was from the Psalms of David. The church - especially the Church of Scotland - had labored over the Psalms with great effort and scholarship, translating them into poems with rhyme and rhythm suitable for singing. 

As a young man in Southampton, Isaac had become dissatisfied with the quality of singing, and he keenly felt the limitations of being able to only sing these Psalms. So he 'invented' the English hymn."

He did not neglect the Psalms though, but rather "studied them from the perspective of Jesus and the New Testament, and then formed them into verses for singing."

In 1719, Issac Watts wrote Joy to the World! It was his "interpretation of Psalm 98, which says: 'Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.' Isaac pondered the real reason for shouting joyfully to the Lord...the Messiah has come to redeem us."

This song always gets me in the Christmas mood.

Here is Faith Hill singing 'Joy to the World!'

                   Joy to the World!
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

*All quotes from Robert J. Morgan's book "Then Sings My Soul: Book 2" a collection of great hymn stories.

Song #1- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Song #2- O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Buy it HERE on Amazon

December 13, 2013


I find myself half-carelessly taking
      lapses for granted,
   "Oh, that's what they always do,"
   "Oh, of course she talks like that,
      he acts like that,"
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                       Amy Carmichael

December 10, 2013

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

The second song I'm sharing the history of this season is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. This has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols. The music is so hauntingly beautiful. And the lyrics are a cry of the human heart for the need of a Savior to set it free.

 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel." Matthew 1:23

I choose this beautiful painting above because of the old shepard kneeling with his hands folded. He seems to be looking at Jesus with such awe. With such an expression of the heart, no words can express.

This Christmas carol is actually quite old. It is thought to have originated from medieval times around the 800's when "Latin hymns were sung each day during Christmas Vespers, from December 17 to 23."

"These hymns were apparently restructured into verse form in the 1100's, and finally published in Latin in 1710."

"In the mid-1800's, they were discovered by an English minister named John Mason Neale, who wove together segments of them to produce the first draft of 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,' which was published in 1851. Neale's original version said, 'Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel."

I thought this was really cool. Such an ancient song that has survived all these years. A song with a powerful Biblical message that is still powerful today.

I looked up the meaning of Immanuel and it said:  

-the name of the Messiah as prophesied by Isaiah, often represented in Christian exegesis as being Jesus Christ.

-literally, God is with us

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel"                                                                                     Isaiah 7:14 

I love this version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, it is by The Piano Guys:

       O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
And drive away the shades of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

*All quotes from Robert J. Morgan's book "Then Sings My Soul: Book 2" a collection of great hymn stories.

Song #1 Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Buy it HERE on Amazon

December 6, 2013


the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be
       asked of me;
if my fellows hesitate to ask it and
       turn to someone else,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

                                    Amy Carmichael

December 3, 2013

Christmas is Coming!

I love Christmas, especially the music! So during this holiday season, and for the next four Tuesdays, I will be sharing the history of some of the most beloved Christmas carols.

Hope you can join me and enjoy the deeper meaning of these beautiful songs.

The first is... "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

"Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which be to all people."   Luke 2:10

Charles Wesley wrote this beloved carol in  1739. That makes this song 274 years old! : )

I remember watching a film a few years ago about the Wesley brothers and how God moved them into ministry, which is now known as the Methodist movement.  A ministry that started out rough. They weren't exactly welcomed into the churches of the day because they preached with the power of the Gospel, something many churches had fallen away from.

Charles loved music and when he came to Christ and was born again, he began to write many beloved songs. Over 6000!

"He wrote constantly, and even on horseback his mind was flooded with new songs. He often stopped at houses along the road and ran in asking for 'pen and ink.'"

His songs were filled with Biblical doctrine and his love for the Word spilled out onto the pages of each song he wrote.

Charles's songs became very popular and many wanted to publish them, but Charles was adamant that none of his words be changed.

He is quoted as saying here:

"Many gentlemen have done my brother and me (though without naming us) the honor to reprint many of our hymns. Now they are perfectly welcome to do so, provided they print them just as they are. But I desire they would not attempt to mend them, for they are really not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse. Therefore, I must beg of them these two favors: either to let them stand just as they are, to take things for better or worse, or to add the true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page, that we may no longer be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men."

The funny thing is that "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" was not the original first line to this song. It was actually: "Hark, how all the welkin rings, 'Glory to the King of kings"

Charles's dear friend, George Whitefield somehow convinced him to change that first line to: " Hark! the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king" and later published it that way and it's been like that ever since.

I've always loved singing and hearing Christmas carols in acapella. They just seem so much richer and powerful that way. Looking around for a video to share I came across this one. I don't know who they are, but they sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" in beautiful acapella harmony.

       Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’ incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Come, Desire of nations, come,
fix in us thy humble home;
rise, the woman’s conquering Seed,
bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface;
stamp thine image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

*All quotes from Robert J. Morgan's book "Then Sings My Soul: Book 1" a collection of great hymn stories.

Buy it HERE on Amazon

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