Monday, October 5, 2015

A Great Resource For Children

I am always looking for a great resource for proclaiming the Gospel to children. I have come across a new one that is a gem!

Sally Lloyd-Jones has put together some of the most well known Bible stories in a storybook form. She retains the interest of the reader, but what she does best is point that same reader to Christ. I believe each page of the old and new testament points us to the Savior. The Gospel is the antithesis of the Book of Books. And as Mrs. Lloyd-Jones paraphrases each story she reminds the reader for the reason of the story: to proclaim the Mighty Acts of God. David and the defeat of Goliath is not about David; it's about the Gospel. The Great Yahweh!

She reminds us redemption is the great story!

As to a critique, this book is labeled for teens/young adults, but I would say my 10 year old enjoyed it more than my 16 year old would have. But they have been raised in the church. If I had knew a teenager who knew nothing about the Gospel and the work of Christ and the Bible, I would not hesitate to hand this book to them.

As a part of the Booklook Bloggers Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

True Freedom

Freedom comes in all shapes and sizes.

And for Mitchell Rutledge, this rings true. He finds himself behind bars, but totally free.

Mitch grew up, essentially an orphan who had to learn how to fend for himself. He got involved in the wrong crowds from an early age and got involved with drugs and ended up murdering someone. He found himself on death row facing the death penalty in Alabama. This is where Burton and Anita Folsom enter the picture.

In their book, Death on Hold, the Folsoms relate their story through the lens of Mitchell. He speaks candidly about life in prison which led to his redemption, spiritually speaking. Burton and Anita Folsom interject their story throughout the book as well.

This book shines the truth on the life-changing Gospel as well as what love can do for one person who has never experienced it. Mitchell never knew anyone who loved him. He was uneducated and was seen as a retard. All because no one took time to invest in his life. Although he remains behind bars, he was able to have his sentence reduced and lives his life for Christ each and every day.

This book will push you to love. It is a powerful thing. Ultimately, Christ's love is what makes the difference. We have such an incredible responsibility to be a mirror of that love to a lost and dying world.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book as part of the Booklook Blogging Network.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Biblical Happiness

Joy is something all believers have to fight for. I have heard it said, "One chooses to be joyful. It is an act of the will." Yet, it seems so often directly related to our emotions. And this, I find, is where we believe a lie.

As I read Randy Alcorn's new book, Happiness, I was challenged afresh by many things; First and foremost, accepting the word happiness as synonymous with joy. He directed the reader to dive in and learn what the original languages in the Bible say in reference to happiness and proved quite successfully that happiness is a Biblical truth. So often, in Christian circles, we shy away from the word happiness, possibly, because it denotes more of a emotional response, and even more possibly, because the world mostly uses it in a way to describe their own joy. A joy that is a response to circumstances.

Mr. Alcorn reminds us that we have the ultimate reason for happiness. Our happiness should be found in our deep-seated faith and love in our Savior. Our happiness shouldn't be founded on our emotions, but our emotions are a God-given resource in which we can express all that God has done. Our happiness as believers comes from truth. The Truth, The Life. The Way.

This book is loaded with truth. It really is a theological study on happiness and how it fleshes out in a believer's life. It can be a bit overwhelming at times. The reader must take it slow and try to digest each section he lays out. Happiness is also a great reference book to redirect our minds when we are in the struggle for joy. This one will be next to my Bible study helps on my shelf for a long time.

Note: As part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I Will NOT Give Up!

"My plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle [small boat]. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws, and when I can swim no longer, if I’ve not reached Aslan’s country, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise."

These words were spoken by Reepacheep in the Narnia book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. When the warriors and the characters of the book are weary and wanting to give up, he reminds them of the final goal. 

We must keep our sights set! We must keep our aim on the eternal. This life becomes weary of suffering, of trials, of pain. We too often think, we can't keep going. But Jesus' promises are true.

Psalm 199:50 reminds us : "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."

He will not forget us, Beloved. When the ground gives way, He will catch us. When we take our last breath, He will welcome us. When we cry such tears we feel we are drowning, He counts all of our tears and knows. Knows how many we have shed. Knows the pain our hearts and bodies feel. Knows that we are but dust; frail and incompetent to continue on our own.

Beloved, we too, need to have our aim on Beulah Land! Our Great God and Father will welcome His children home at the end and we can have peace and hope now on the this side of eternity. He desires we use all the things He brings into our lives to bring Him glory and shine forth as shining gold. 

So, just like Reepacheep, no matter what obstacles come our way we keep going. We seek for strength from the the Almighty "Aslan".

Eight Years

Today marks the day that a special little girl came into our lives. 

Eight years ago a cute little button was moved in after a long couple of months of day visits. This sweet Hannah was in a home that took our hearts with her each time we had to leave her. Foster homes can be a difficult place and that's where our girl lived for almost 2 years before we were able to take her home.

Many days, my heart is wrenched by compassion at the decisions that adults make and how they affect little ones. My little lamb struggles in many ways. Most of all, how to love and accept love. 

So today, we remember that day well. And we are so grateful God chose her for our family. She has brought much joy to us. She has taught us how to love better too! Our prayer is that as she loves all God's creation she would see her Creator as glorious!  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Plain Choice - Book Review

I have always been drawn to the Amish. I think most everyone is at some level. They live a very interesting life. A life that many people crave a bit of. Slow. Less distracted. Simple. Plain.

Personally, I have written many other books on the Amish or Mennonites and what they believe. I have read articles and books about others who have grown up in the communities and left them behind. This book was the exact opposite so I thought it would be interesting to hear Ms. Gore's story

The Plain Choice, written by Sherry Gore, is a down to earth story of her and her family's journey from poverty, homelessness, a life without Christ, and living for themselves, to one of salvation and simple choices. Sherry Gore grew up in a rather dysfunctional home and after many flawed attempts to bring happiness to her life, she was befriended by a believer in Jesus Christ. After Sherry came to know Jesus in a personal way, she was very convicted on many levels from dress, to television, to music; all the choices she made for her family afterward came from wanting to please the Lord and live drastically different than what she had. After she met the Amish/Mennonite communities, she knew this was where she would land to live and rear her children. She was thrown into many trials along the way; some extremely painful, but sees Jesus as her source of strength.

As I came to the end of the book, I was rather pleased at how she processed being part of this community as a believer. She never once said, "If you aren't living this way, you are in sin." She makes it very clear that the way she chooses to live is not works based salvation and that this is the plain choice for her and her family.

I respect that.

Note: As part of the booklook blogging network, I was given a free copy of this book.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Adoption and One of Our Favorite Books

Lorilee Craker has done an amazing thing! She has written about two subjects very close to my heart. Adoption and Anne of Green Gables. Not only is she an amazing author, a writer comparable to Lucy Maud Montgomery, but she is also an adoptee who has also adopted a child herself. 

Miss Craker has taken all the amazing characteristics and personality of the Beloved Anne of Green Gables and parallels them with her own life. She does this in a most extraordinary way. Her writing brings so many pictures to life. The way in which in she shares her story is full of raw emotion; from sadness, grief, and confusion to joy, laughter and love. This is a book that will take you inside every aspect of adoption. Being an orphan is tragic and yet she opens the door to every person acknowledging that we are orphaned at one point or another in our lives. She takes us through all aspects of the adoption journey.

Personal Note: When I requested this book to review I had no idea it would impact the journey of my life over the past few months. No, the last 18 years.

Having four adopted children of my own, I get Lorilee's Momma's heart, but I had no idea she would share her own journey of being adopted herself. 

This year has brought about events in my life that I knew would happen sooner or later, but never realized the grief that would come along. Full days of weeping that wouldn't stop, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't really understand the feelings my Boy-Man was going through. Mrs. Craker voiced her emotions and life events in a way that helped me work through many things my boy probably was feeling. Good and bad.  Her words brought comfort as she expressed things that have not been voiced to me but pray were things he felt. 

I take this book as a gift from God! A gift that has brought a measure of peace to a tumultuous year of raw emotions for this mother-son relationship.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sacred Marriage - Book Review

Marriages are being fought for on the battle lines of our culture war. And sometimes marriage can seem a battle itself.

Gary Thomas, in his book, Sacred Marriage, asks many thought provoking ideas; the most important being that the ultimate purpose of marriage is "to equip you to love your God more and to help you reflect the character of His Son more precisely." This thought will eternally change your view on all aspects of marriage; from conflict resolution and divorce to how to love better and better every day.

Mr. Thomas quickly gets to the heart of every person's motives and objectives as he takes the reader back to the Gospel and how our marriages are about displaying the glory of God. He delves into the difficulties all marriages have in fighting self, because that really is one of the key to holiness and happiness.

Every single marriage can benefit from this book, no matter how bad or good you may see your own as. Gary Thomas gets right down to nitty-gritty.

Marriage is for the glory of God. It will make you cry, laugh, and definitely ponder what you can do to do this thing called marriage better. With the help of Christ.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

'Til We Meet Again - Book Review

Everyone loves a great Love Story. But I love it when there's that extra dimension of the Ultimate Love Story. One of God's saving love.

Ray and Betty Whipps have written their beautiful story down in the book, 'Til We Meet Again'. Ray was a staff sergeant in the US Army and Betty was a nurse working in France during World War II. They met due to an injury inflicted on Ray out in the fields and foxholes of war. But were separated after only a month as he needed to go back to the war zone. After a time of separation, which included being taken prisoner at the notorious POW camp, Stalag VII-A, they were reunited and were married. They are now a beautiful elderly couple having raised seven children, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Betty walks two miles every day at 94 years old. God has blessed them indeed.

 As I read this book, I was awestruck by a couple of things. First of all, we are losing the generation that Ray group up in, very quickly. There was a fortitude in these young men as they went off to war at a very early age that we have forgotten and have not passed down to the next generation. But, it was also very evident Ray had a strong faith in the Lord, who saw him through many life and death situations. Betty shares that strong faith from the get-go as well. Secondly, God's providence and sovereignty are seen so clearly! And it was particularly stunning to read about the truth I have so often heard, "There are no atheists in foxholes."

My gratitude to men like Ray Whipps is overwhelming. Men like these have fought courageously for the freedoms we enjoy today. I say, "Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Whipps. For your testimony. For your faith and perseverance in all the hard times you went through. Your light shone brightly."

America needs to continue to thank men and women like these two as well. I am trying to make an effort when I see someone in uniform to offer verbal thanks to their service.

(As a part of the Tyndale Blogging Network, I received a free copy of this book.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Loneliness Cries Out!

I think one of the worst pains to a parent's heart is knowing your child is hurting and in pain themselves. We want to fix things so they don't have to feel that emptiness or loneliness. We want to fill their hearts with love and if we know that love won't fill it we give them things to make them smile. But eventually, the pain comes back.

This year has been tough for some young 'uns on the Ponderosa. New loves have left. New relationships didn't last. Life throws a curve ball. Accidents happen. The story doesn't end as lovely as one may picture, although I know the story's not over yet.

My littlest's two best friends moved away in February. God brought two new friends and they are leaving at the end of this week. For another state. Her neighbor friend is moving. So it was no wonder that the entire way home from church she cried out the window saying, "I want a puppy!" (Her love languages is obviously anything animal related.) Tears flowed hard! It is so so hard to see

Loss comes hard to this love of mine. She takes these very seriously and feels the deep separation!

(I know you are thinking how nice it would be to end this post with a picture of a cute little puppy that she has adopted!) Not so fast....


But what I can tell her that I know to be true is that Jesus is the best friend we can have. In fact, He is our Good Shepherd that promises to never leave His sheep.

My prayer is that through these losses she will feel the emptiness that only Jesus can fill. Sooner than later.

For later will bring so much more pain.

Lord, as this week begins and our friends move on and start new relationships elsewhere, I pray for your special healing touch to my little one's heart. May this be the year that the Truth, the Way and the Life become real to her. Open her eyes to your love for her, and help her to know you are always there for her and will never move away or leave her. Show her stability through this is from you. May she feel your arms around her and assurance of your acceptance of  her little life as she confesses you before others and seeks forgiveness for her sins. Thank you for being that constant to Your children."

P.S. Please give this momma patience through this too. As the meltdowns occur, give me compassion to feel as she feels.