5.22.2015

Review: The Choosing - Rachelle Dekker

Alright. So, I am so excited to talk with you guys about this book. When I read the little description for The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker, I thought... YES!! I want to read this!! 

So of course I got it from the lovelies at Tyndale to review.

I thought it was going to be a book similar to the type fiction you find with The Hunger Games or Divergent series. I really enjoy that type of fiction so I wanted to read this and see how it was similar and different in the way her world was written. While the writing could be said as similar to those books, the content is very different but in a wonderful and freeing way.

All people struggle with being enough. From the time we're little to pre-teens to teens to young adult-hood we are constantly trying to be this image of 'perfect'. Rachelle's message in this great piece of fiction is very different from that and says we are enough in our Father's eyes and that once we realize this we'll find identity and freedom.

The Choosing has many characters but a few are Carington, Larkin, Remko, and Helms. The world they live in is supposed to be under God's rule, but The Authority (men who are supposed to teach the people the law and help uphold God's commands) have abused their power and caused people to miss the beauty of life. They find themselves each in different roles, yet wondering if their roles in society, as deemed by The Authority, are really the place God would have them be. The struggle between acceptance and rebellion is strong. Carrington searches for herself and struggles with whether she will ever be enough for anyone, including herself.

This book will grab you in a just a few pages. It's beautifully written and the truth speaks so subtly at first and yet so profoundly through this book that you might find it hard to believe you got so much more out of it than you thought you would. Highly recommend to everyone. Wonderful summer read!

Rachelle, you did so good, girl!! Keep writing. You're a blessing.

*Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the exchange of an honest review. All views and opinions expressed are mine.

The Author: Rachelle Dekker 


About the Author . . . The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her online at rachelledekker.com.

5.17.2015

The Limit

The limit.
The place where exhaustion hits.
Prayers not yet answered.
Sins not yet mastered.
Fear.
Doubt.
Shame.
The devil's work, not God's.
Too much thinking.
Just call out to the Father.
Healing.

5.10.2015

Untitled

We live in a society that constantly preaches to dislike yourself.

Really. Look around. How many positive things do you hear or see said about another person or, (oh my!), about themselves?

Women are supposed to be curvy or stick thin. We're supposed to have tan skin and big eyes and a perfect complexion and be able to cook and clean just right and have a college degree so we can have the 'perfect' family.

Men are supposed to be thin, athletic, kind, listen well, have a high paying job, work two jobs to sustain all the things their family may want, dress nice, do the yard, pick up the pieces to help their family remain 'perfect'.

But is this the life God intended for His children?

Obviously since The Fall we haven't been the same. The perfection we could have lived in never came and now we wait patiently for it in Heaven. But our hearts crave it. The world preaches it. So we're left with a BUNCH of broken, helpless, lost, people who are trying to do everything they can to be perfect.

And I'm one of them.

When did it become okay to put someone down because they're a little chubby? Or because they dress weird? Or because their phone is not the latest? When did it become normal to strive to get finished with college and get the best job possible at the ripe age of 22 or 23, the job that that other person worked YEARS to get themselves? When did it become the norm for women to work their butts off trying to attain this perfect position of being an 'independant woman' AND a stay-at-home-mommy? Why is it okay to belittle a man who works construction for a living or who doesn't always wear a fancy suit and tie to church every Sunday?

Image is not everything. 

When will we understand that the grace God has given to us is meant not only for us but for all the world? When will we USE it to become more like Christ and allow grace for the times we or others look little like Him? When will we decide that people are better than things? When we understand that God has gifted us with much and we can very much be thankful and content.

My heart has overflowed with these thoughts lately. Silent prayers of thanks and the desire to be more content flow through me. I don't fully know the answers to these questions, but I do know that every person is unique and loved. I know that God has a plan for everyone and those plans are always different for each person. I know the paths we have walked don't have to define us into our future. I know that it's okay to not be okay. I know that it's okay to realize that you like your somewhat chubby thighs or curly hair that no one can tame but you. It's okay to work as a janitor. All these glorify our Maker. He made us to glorify Him. If we can glorify Him scrubbing toilets, then why not? If we can glorify Him when singing off key, then why not? If we can be imperfect and still be loved by a Holy God, why can't we love others the same way and glorify God?

We can do all this through Christ who gives us strength. (Paraphrase of Philippians 4:13).

5.05.2015

Push through

The older you get the more you will realize that all people won't like you. That suffering will come. That God is faithful and He's gonna bring you through every trial you encounter.

This week started off not so good. I woke up Monday morning with more joy in my life (had to come from the Lord) than I've had in a while. I was excited for the week. Then, a couple people made some comments and my heart sank to the floor along with my joy.

I went running yesterday afternoon and while I was running the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart about how suffering will come to us whether it's consequences of what we've done or just random happenings. It will come. Do we expect it? Maybe. Do we let it ruin our joy and suck the happiness out of life? We shouldn't.

I don't handle criticism very well at all. My insecurities run kind of deep anyhow for whatever reason and when I'm doing something, especially to glorify God, and criticism comes, I get really upset. It physically hurts the heart.

But we have to come to the point where even if it hurts we push through. We forgive. We ask God for help. We look to our Strength and Provider to give us strength and provide. We ask God to give us confidence over our choices and decisions and we let Him be our Confidence because who we are in Christ does not change no matter what people say.

So, yeah. Sometimes we'll get mad and sad and be hurt, but once we have a chance to calm down we can remember who we are and that is the Lord's. So good!!! ^_^

5.01.2015

I need Jesus

If you've been on Pinterest recently you might have seen a t-shirt that's been circulating around.

It says simply: 'Y'all Need Jesus.'

I thought it was rude from the first time I saw it. Let's think through this, we are Christians because WE need Jesus EVERY DAY. We realize the need for a Savior. So telling other people they need Jesus without pointing the finger back at yourself seems silly to me. I could be reading too much into it (wouldn't be the first time! Haha!), but I don't think I am.

So, friends. Let me tell you. I need Jesus.

I need Jesus for the days where everything is good.
I need Jesus for the days I wake up and it's like a huge depression cloud is over me.
I need Jesus for the days where every emotion possible is felt and overwhelming me.
I need Jesus when I'm overwhelmed.
I need Jesus when everything is alright.
I need Jesus when everything is not.
I need Jesus for the lonely days and the days filled with people.
I need Jesus when I'm to my breaking point.
I need Jesus because who else will save me? (Answer: No one.)
I need Jesus because I don't have it all together.
I need Jesus because I'm a people pleasing, constantly comparing, insecure woman.
I need Jesus because I'm a mess.
I need Jesus because I NEED JESUS.

I'm not pointing the finger solely at me or solely at you. I'm looking at us both and saying, yes. We need Jesus. Not because we need Him to have a perfect life or get ''everything together'' but because we need a Savior who walks with us through every single thing in our life and shows us the Way through (He is the way). We need Jesus because we need Him!

Thank You, Lord!!!! Jesus, I need You.

Spiritually Strong - book review

I like to exercise. I've been trying to live out a healthy lifestyle for years. I would say for the most part, I succeed. There are times where I don't eat as well as I should or exercise nearly enough, but for the most part I do eat healthy and exercise a good amount.

I got the book Spiritually Strong by Kristen Feola because it sounded like a really good book and I like fitness stuff so might as well, right?

I set out to read a chapter a week, but I failed in that. However, reading through it I can tell you it's a very informative, helpful book on not just fitness, but on our spiritual health as well.

Sometimes we get so caught up in how well we fit into our skinny jeans that we neglect to see how well we are fitting into God's Kingdom and His plan for our lives. We neglect how well we eat, but we also neglect how well we take in God's Word and how well we pray.

I really liked how Kristen talked on both spiritual and physical health because as Christians, we know they both go together. If you're body is suffering it could be because of physical stuff or it could be because of spiritual stuff as well and Kristen does a good job addressing both issues.

Overall I would say this is an excellent book. Filled with Scripture and personal stories, you'll not be dulled by nothing but information. Really good job, Kristen!

I would recommend this book to anybody looking to be a bit more healthy in both areas of their lives and I would especially recommend this book to families because I think this would be a wonderful book to go through together.

*Note: I received a free copy of this book for the exchange of a review. All views expressed are mine.

4.30.2015

Honesty and comparison and where does it stop?

Long time no posts.

I know. Sorry. :/

Lots of stuff to do and lots of excuses.

But here I am. Sitting at my computer, ready to type.

--
I am tired. Of? Of us (all the peoples) constantly comparing ourselves to other people. Where did we get the idea that we're supposed to be like them when all throughout God's Word it points us to our Creator and how He has made us unique. 

Maybe guys won't admit it, ladies, but they compare themselves too. Maybe not as much as we do, but they do it. They compare their cars, how strong they are, whether their paycheck is adequate enough, whether their future career or current career is 'good enough', etc.

We girls compare our bodies, our hair, our looks, our sass (''how fast you come back, girl?''), our abilities, our homes, etc.

My comparisons? Honestly? Here goes...

Her Bible is more studied than mine.
I wish my body looked like hers.
Does my hair always have to be so stupid... why can't it be that way?
Does she have emotional breakdowns like me?
Do they think I'm crazy?
Why can't my makeup look as good as Amada Ensing (youtube)?!
Will I always be second rate to everybody else?

That final line is the killer. Literally. It kills our joy, our purpose, our happiness, our love, our contentment, and our relationship with God and others.

How do we stop this comparison game?

Getting to know God more and getting to know what His Word says more is true and a good place to start, but I also think it all starts with honesty.

Honestly looking in the mirror and understanding that my size 13 pants don't make me an ugly fat overeating food machine. Understanding that today's society is too obsessed with looks and not enough with character and godliness. It's honestly knowing that maybe you do like to eat a little too much or that maybe you spend too many hours on your phone or maybe shopping every weekend isn't the best solution to stress (but it makes us happy, right ladies?! ;) ). These are the things that make us, us... flaws and all.

Maybe your Bible isn't as studied as that girls. Maybe your relationship with God is deepening somewhere outside of the pages... maybe it's in a journal or a prayer time or a conversation with someone or maybe it's just a change of attitude.

Maybe you shouldn't eat as much, not because you want to be skinny like that girl, but because your body is God's temple and more valuable than abusing it with food.

Maybe distracting yourself from life by staying on your phone isn't a good solution for more than 30 minutes, but maybe after you've played Candy Crush (or... what game do you play?) or looked at Instagram, maybe after that we need to put it away and deal with the stuff bothering us through prayer and God's help.

There are sins and there are imperfections in all of us. There are fights and laughter. There are tears and smiles. There are messes and there are clean rooms somewhere with happy parents. ;) There are people. People God loves. People God made. People God has redeemed and people God is sanctifying. Some days you'll compare yourself to others and wonder why you don't look like ____ and why you aren't holy like _____, but for those days let's look at the Cross and remember the only perfect Man who ever lived was Christ.

Let's remember that.... you... even now.... are.............................................
LOVED.
Perfectly.
Completely.
By a PERFECT AND COMPLETE God.

3.02.2015

So I'm not married yet, but to be prepared I picked up this book, The Uncommon Marriage Adventure.

Tony Dungy is such a great man and outspoken about his faith and you know what the old saying is, 'behind every great man is an even greater woman.' Not sure how often that's true, but I think this couple is proof of that somewhat.

This book is written in a devotional type style by two strong Christians. With Scripture and personal stories throughout you'll not be disappointed with it. It feels like a pair of spiritual parents sitting down to tell you how to overcome obstacles they've already encountered. Very helpful and needed today.

If you're in a serious relationship and looking to get married or thinking about it or are already married I would recommend this book to you.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for a review. All views and opinions expressed are mine.

2.26.2015

Keep It Shut - book review

I'm definitely not the best listener. I am also very good at talking. That means that sometimes I come off as a self-absorbed person who likes to talk only about what she likes and doesn't listen at all. Unfortunately, that's how I act sometimes.

Seeing this about myself wasn't fun, but I saw this book Keep It Shut after reading The Best Yes, both of which are good books and both are written by two women from Proverbs 31 ministries.

I like books with a lot of Scriptural insight. Check.
I also like books that are written by people who keep it real. Check.
I also like books that can keep me interested AND teach me something in the process. Check and check.

One thing I learned from this fabulous book by Karen Ehman is that when we're talking to someone we don't need to just talk at them. We need to pause. We need to LISTEN.

Ladies, we stink at this sometimes. We need to brave enough to see it and smart enough to change it.

If you're like me and wanting to read a good book that will help you in learning what to say and when to say it and what to NOT say and how to do it then I think you will find this book helpful. It's also a good book to hand to a friend and *hint, hint, wink wink* ease them into their issue of being a blabber-mouth. ;) I'm just kidding! Read it and then share it in love though!

Note: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.

1.01.2015

Happy New Year!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

I did stay up to midnight which was pretty close to God's first answered prayer for me (that I didn't really pray about...) for the new year. ;) Y'all, I'm a baby. I can't stay up till 12 at night. It almost kills me... every. single. year. :P

But we did it. We made it through another year. But do we want to "make it through" this year or do we want to make it thrive this year? I want my life to thrive.

Goals are always a great thing to have, not just at the new year, but any time. God's Word says we are new creations when we accept Christ and I believe that's a clean slate and a fresh start at any point in the year.

I'm starting out this year with a prayer of repentance in my heart and mouth and for blessings both through me and to me this year.

I chose 1 Peter 3:3-4 as a focus verse for this year (at some point this week I'll write it down so I can read it day after day). It says,

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."

Y'all, I really like outward adornment. I like the makeup and the hairstyles and the clothes and the shoes and the jewelry.

But I also like my Bible. I love my God (or am seeking to) and I love the people around me. I also want the unfading beauty of  a gentle and quiet spirit. These, my friends, are most important.

I recently became allergic to some makeup so that messed up my routine a bit. Why does it matter you ask? Because I've been wearing my makeup a little different and a lot less and it's made a difference in my confidence and in realizing the eternal things and the non-eternal things in life.

Blessing in disguise. :)

Some goals for this year are:

-Draw closer to God.
-Be confident in who I am as God's child.
-Love more.
-Live more.
-Be a godly woman more and more.
-Have a better attitude.
-Glorify God in all I do.

What are your goals for the year? What has God been speaking to your heart recently?