Friday, October 30, 2015

In Paths of Righteousness | Review and Giveaway!

Author Keri Aeschlimann graciously sent me a copy of her book, In Paths of Righteousness. But better than that, she also offered to have me host a giveaway of her book! How exciting is that? I enjoyed reading In Paths of Righteousness and think it'd be a great book to add to your shelf. As for details...

ABOUT THE BOOK

David Riley is a typical, hard-working farm boy of the late 1800s, growing up in a Midwest community where religion was a tradition that none dared to challenge. He and his friend Jill set out to explore the “Old Man’s Path,” to uncover the mystery of an old wives’ tale, and it turns into more of an adventure than they bargained for. When they discover long-held secrets in the town of Detweiler, David is determined to find the truth—regardless of the cost. As he faces opposition in his search for the truth, David also finds a battle waging within. He and his friends struggle to be kind to Henry, a cruel bully, and his mother, a widow bitter toward God. But as his hatred for Henry grows, so does the darkness in his own heart.

With an emptiness that threatens to consume him, David despairs of ever pleasing God. When all prospects of finding peace appear lost, he meets a strange old recluse, thought to be long dead, who offers him both friendship and hope. David discovers something in common with the mysterious stranger—but what binds them together threatens to tear his family and community apart. Will he have the courage and determination to stand for what is right? Facing rejection in the greatest decision of his life, David must choose which path to follow: a religious tradition to live by or a faith to die for. 288 pages. Soft cover.


MY REVIEW
When I read David's proud exclamation, "Real men are Christians and Christians don't fight. And I'm a Christian!" I knew there was something coming for him. In Paths of Righteousness follows David's life as a sixteen-year-old, searching for truth--questioning as to whether or not he is indeed a Christian--whether or not he could be righteous enough on his own. One quote sums up his struggle: "He was trying harder than ever to please God, but the more he did and the harder he tried, the greater the emptiness inside him became."

David's search for spiritual truth paralleled with his search for the truth about a mysterious man and tales that had been spread about him. I wish that the tales of the mysterious man were sooner introduced and more deeply developed before David stumbled into solving this mystery, but it did hold my interest as written. 

There was definitely tension as David questioned the teachings of his church (which were based in man's ability to keep the law rather than trust in Jesus for salvation) and, in turn, had confrontations with his parents.

While written in a style that seems geared towards younger teens, I personally recommend this book to those sixteen and above because of the many discussions (which could pose confusion to younger believers) as well as a scene in which one character, in delirium, "saw" hell and its terrors then heaven and its beauty. 

I found the spiritual plot of this book very strong and interesting (chapter seventeen was probably my favorite!). Keri summed up well the terror and confusion of a young man who strove with learning truth and pushed forward his journey to answers well. Though the writing style was somewhat amateur, I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to a possible sequel!

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.* 

TO BUY

ABOUT KERI
Keri lives in the Midwest with her family. "In Paths of Righteousness" is her first novel--she is currently working on its sequel. Find her on GoodreadsFaceBook, and her Blog.


















GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Reflections of my Father

When a baby is just learning how to walk, the parents are there, excited about every step, encouraging them when they stumble, and helping them up when the fall. That is how God is for us. He does not get angry when we stumble a step. Instead, He is there, willing and ready to help us.

"13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
Psalm 103:13-14


(thought encouraged by a Sunday School service by our pastor, Bro. Thomas)


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Word Wednesday #78

"He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen."
(Deuteronomy 10:21

"He is thy praise" -- when the day is cloudy and it seems my every step is a struggle. When my hopes are dashed. When others praise me for something I could only accomplish through Him. Is He indeed my praise in ALL things?


Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

 
 


Monday, October 26, 2015

Psalm 119:75-76

Psalm 119:75-76
(75)  I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

Similar to verse 71 ("It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes."), how do we view affliction? Do we truly believe that God afflicts us in His faithfulness (literally firmness; figuratively security; morally fidelity:)? Because God's judgments are right, and because we are His children, like the best of fathers, He must afflict us to bring us back to His commandments. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12:6-11)

(76)  Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.

Merciful kindness - OT:2617 checed (kheh'-sed); from OT:2616; kindness; by implication (towards God) piety: rarely (by opposition) reproof, or (subject.) beauty:

Comfort - OT:5162 nacham (naw-kham'); a primitive root; properly, to sigh, i.e. breathe strongly; by implication, to be sorry, i.e. (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself):

According to thy word - OT:565 'imrah (im-raw'); or 'emrah (em-raw'); feminine of OT:561, and meaning the same:

Thy servant - OT:5650 `ebed (eh'-bed); from OT:5647; a servant:

Are we deserving of God's merciful kindness? But yet, hasn't He promised it?

"Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." (Psalm 42:8)
"He shall send from heaven, and save from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth." (Psalm 57:3)
"For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds." (Psalm 57:10)


Do we trust in these promises? Do we remind God of these promises? (and thus remind us of the truth of these promises) Do we take comfort in these promises?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Danielle and Deven | Wedding Photography

You know those posts when there's so much to say and you have no clue how to begin? That about defines me as I'm thinking back to the first solo wedding that the Lord allowed me to photograph (and I know this is SUPER late in being posted, seeing as the wedding was in June).

My sister met Danielle in college and somehow, as they were talking, mentioned that I was getting into photography, check out my website, etc. From day one, I said that this event was something that God just seemed to drop in my lap. I wasn't quite ready to spread my wings and fly into wedding photography. But you know what? I loved every minute of it!

From the very first time I talked with Danielle and her mom, I was SO comfortable with photographing their wedding. I have heard many wedding photography stories and I don't know that I could have asked for a sweeter, more relaxed family to work with! Plus, I feel that being photographer, I got two bonuses: 1) Capturing this precious day for them, 2) Getting to enjoy a God-honoring, sweet wedding! Honestly, there were times during the ceremony that I caught myself with a huge grin on my face because I just loved being there.

But I know that if you haven't already skimmed the text, you're about to, because you're interesting in the pictures. :) After all, a picture's worth a thousand words, right? 

Just one last word: I am SO very thankful to the Lord for allowing everything to work out for this wedding! Despite a few "technical difficulties" (aka, having less equipment than I thought I would have because I confused when the wedding was, learning how to work with low ceilings), I am so very grateful to Jesus Christ for His grace that sustained me the whole day. I had a lot of my family and friends praying and am so thankful for their interest, support, and help. :) Seeing a half dozen texts on my phone with "Praying for you!" was so special!

Now...for the pictures! I have reserved just my favorites to share here. I think I found "the one" that I just fell in love with.


Runner-up is this one. Danielle and Deven wanted to pray together before the wedding. Keeping with the tradition of "not seeing the bride," Deven was blindfolded. Wow. No words can describe this moment!


And third...Danielle was a beautiful bride!


And this one is an honorable mention. ;) I love it when the Lord allows me to take pictures I wasn't intending. We hadn't planned for "ring" pictures, but they were sitting in the church office before departing, their hands just like this. No posing, no nothing. Just a click of the button and we had it -- a ring picture.


Now I'll hush and you can enjoy the rest:















~*~*~
"Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Matthew 19:6





Friday, October 23, 2015

Last Day

Today's the last day to get "Peace, Be Still" free on Amazon Kindle!


Feel free to copy and share this graphic on your blog or other social platform!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Shackled


"Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)

I was saved as a young child and as I entered my teens, I desired to grow in the Lord. To know more of His Word. To be holy.

In my pursuit of holiness, set-apartness, and Godliness, I put away many things. My life began to be driven by rules of what I could and couldn't do. Many times, I would add to this list when a preacher or friend would suggest something that sounded like what a Christian should/shouldn't do.

"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" (Galatians 4:9)

My salvation rests not in the good works that I have done, but in Christ Jesus and faith through Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). Now that I am saved, why would I turn again to good works and rules in my pursuit of holiness? These only bring me into bondage.

"For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." (Galatians 5:5-6)

I am to live through the Spirit...by faith...by love. Wait. Did I see "good works" in that list? Rules and regulations? This chapter, rather, speaks against works alone for holiness. While we do not circumcise today, there are many areas in which we hope, by our works, to attain the same holiness that the Jews hoped for in circumcision--a holiness that is not attained through faith in Christ Jesus, but a holiness that is attempted by fleshly works.

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16)

You see, I had it backwards. I thought that doing things would draw me closer to God. Rather, it is drawing close to God that enables me to live a holy life, spurning the lusts of the flesh. It is drawing nigh to God that comes before we can cleanse our hands and purify our hearts (James 4:8).

As a personal example, I had put away all books that were not by Christian authors when I was a teen--even "Christian" books that did not have a deep, strong spiritual message. I almost felt guilty if someone caught me looking at a cover of another book. Dirty if I read one paragraph. This rule was based on conversations I had with a friend and my personal desire to be holy and cleansed from the dirt of the world. And honestly, I do believe it was best for me in my teen years (when daydreams run rampant and the girl's heart seeks fairytale stories).

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1)

Now, a few years later, I realize that my motive for shunning these books was incorrect. I did not do it in a desire to please my Lord, but rather because it made me feel cleaner and holier. I realized that there is freedom in Christ. No, I am not saved to do exactly how I please and I know that many Christians sin under the guise of "liberty in Christ." However, just because I made myself a list of "this is right, this is wrong" did not mean that the Spirit was leading. I did not realize until later that because of the rules I had placed on myself, the life I was living was in bondage. I was shackled to regulations of my own making, not of the Spirit's leading.

Back to the books, I noticed a vivid example of the difference. A few years ago, I would not have touched a book by Jane Austen, based on my rigidity (before I go further, I do not condemn those who read Jane Austen, this is just what the Lord taught me). To do so, I would feel this guilty condemning verdict placed upon me. This year, I started reading Sense and Sensibility. As I read it, I noticed the frivolity of life and the use of the Lord's Name in vain. As I read, I began to sense a check in my spirit (particularly in "condoning" a book that used my Lord's Name flippantly) and before long, knew that I could not finish the book. God did not drive me into the dirt because I was reading this book, rather, He gently led me away from it.

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Galatians 5:25)

So...I wouldn't have read this book six years ago, and I couldn't read it this year, but there was a difference. Before, it was rooted in my set of rules. Now, it was rooted in the Spirit's rule in my heart.

Where are your rules rooted? What is your walk based in? The flesh only brings bondage, but the Spirit brings freedom and liberty.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Word Wednesday #77

"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul." Deuteronomy 4:29

So often, we get imprisoned by "how far we've gone" that we never stop where we are to seek God. But God promises when we seek Him "from thence" (where we are at that moment) with our whole heart, we will find Him.


Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

 
 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Free on Amazon!

"Peace, Be Still" is free on Amazon Kindle this week! Hop over and get a copy and then share the link with a friend so they can get a copy! View "Peace, Be Still" on Amazon.


Feel free to copy and share this graphic on your blog or other social platform!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Psalm 119:72-74

Psalm 119:72-74
(72)  The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

If we had the choice between God's Word or a million dollars, what would our honest choice be? Are our labors towards God's Word or worldly riches? "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

(73)  Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

In thinking just about the first phrase ("Thy hands have made me and fashioned me"), that should be reason enough for us to desire God's Word. If He had the wisdom to create us - to mold us, fashion us, form us (and beyond that, gift us, bless us, redeem us, save us, provide for us, sustain us) - why don't we desire to know more of that wisdom? What folly for the created to say to the creator, "Yep, I'm here and living, but I don't need You anymore!" And yet, how often do we do this?

How much we need wisdom from our creator! And the amazing thing is, He will grant it to us! ("If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5)

(74)  They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.


Does our behavior encourage other believers? Are we steadfast in our hope of God's Word or do we falter and fail? Personally, I know that the friends who encourage me most are those who are steadfast even in the midst of trouble. Those who cling to God's Word in problems rather than mere men.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Sound of Silver | Book Release

Here we are again with a new release! The Sound of Silver is the sequel to The Sound of Diamonds, by Rachelle ReaI have read both in the past month--you can see my review of Diamonds here. But today we're focusing on Silver... I have to say, I love the covers for the Steadfast Love series! They rank pretty close to the top of my favorite book covers out there!

BACK COVER
The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One is fighting for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?

MY REVIEW
Thankfully, "Silver" began right where "Diamonds" left off. Though not as much excitement was induced as "Diamonds" (not as much action). I felt a little more emphasis on romance (again, kisses, hugs, feelings, but nothing more) than I cared for but there was still a very strong message. Of surrender. Of trust. Of truth.

Rohesia's wisdom was beautiful. I loved her conversation with Gwyn.

I did NOT like the ending!! ;) Book three has some very important things to resolve (and better come quickly! :)).

*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

QUOTES
“Faith cannot be bartered or shoved or forced.”

“I was waiting for what I thought was the better thing. And God gave me what was truly best.”

What good did it do to have figuratively sat at the feet of scholars when I knew little about sitting at the feet of the Lord as Rohesia said Jesus’ followers had literally done?

I tilted my head back, reminding myself he was my friend, and friends do not break friends’ noses.

Her smile deepened yet again. “What else are mothers for?” Touching her shoulder, I said, “Praying.”


TO BUY
Barnes & Noble: coming Oct. 15
Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/oGcgO2
Books a Million: coming Oct. 15
Goodreads: http://is.gd/DsRsHC

COMING SOON!
This week is the cover reveal for the third book in the Steadfast Love series. Like I said, I love her covers so of course I'll share a glimpse! :)



ABOUT RACHELLE
Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Silver the summer after her junior year of college.


Instagram: @RachelleDianeRea

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lily of the Valley - cover reveal correct

A couple of days ago, I was a part of Faith Blum's cover reveal. She had a wrong email address on there, so if you tried to email the cover but didn't get it, you have a second chance! :) She is graciously extending the deadline to noon tomorrow. So hurry and piece her cover together for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of Lily of the Valley (in the future)!!

Email Faith your answer at:  faith.blum.author[at]gmail.com

Coming Soon--FREE on Amazon!

If you haven't gotten "Peace, Be Still" yet, you're about to have the opportunity to get it for free on Amazon! I'll be reminding you again, but get the word out! Feel free to copy this graphic and share it on your blog.


View "Peace, Be Still" on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Word Wednesday #76 | Link-up

"Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.
Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." 
(John 12:27-28)

When we face temptations and testings, how often we pray for God to relieve our pain, to ease the fiery trail, to remove from us suffering. And, in doing so, our focus is funneled on our pain, our suffering, our misery, and never on God and whether or not He is glorified. Where is my focus--the pain, or the glory of God?


Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

 
 


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lily of the Valley - Cover Reveal Tour



Happy Tuesday! Today we have a blog post with a cover reveal. But, there’s a catch. The author, Faith Blum, has split her cover into 15 different pieces! In order to enter her giveaway, you need to put it together and email her your cover. Or, if you don’t want to enter the giveaway, but you’d still like to see the cover, stop by her blog on Thursday.

The Prize

The winner will have to be patient, but the prize for this cover reveal is a signed paperback copy of Lily of the Valley. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of shipping internationally, Faith won’t be sending a paperback outside of the U.S. If you are international and would like to participate and win, you will receive an ebook copy of any TWO of my published books including Lily of the Valley. To help you a little with putting together the cover, here is the description:
Howdy, Teacher! You don’t know me, but my kids talk bout you a lot. I been lookin fer a wife and mother fer a few years and was wonderin iffen we cood meet and get to no each other a bit. I’ll come after school to git yer answer. Grover Miller 
Unruly schoolchildren, three suitors, and too many things to do. When Ruth Brookings rejects one of the suitors, he refuses to accept no for an answer. To make matters worse, when she prays for guidance, she’s answered with a challenge instead: To encourage her friend to find a wife—whether he wants one or not. Will she lose her friend just when she needs a friend the most? Will she be able to weather the storms she’s about to face?

Details

  • Stop by each blog listed below to get their piece of the cover.
  • Use a program like this website to put the cover together: https://www.befunky.com/features/collage-maker/. If you get a little extra space between each piece, your cover will still count toward the prize. It doesn’t have to be perfect as long is each piece is in the correct place.
  • Email your completed cover to Faith at faith[dot]blum[dot]author@gmail[dot]com NO LATER THAN October 14th at 9:00 PM Central time. (If you have problems with time zones, shoot Faith an email and she’ll help you out).
  • Stop by Faith’s blog to see the cover and who won.

Piece of the Cover #6

LotV6

About the Author

Faith with Rikki-croppedFaith Blum is a 24 year old home school graduate who enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, and playing piano. Her favorite genre to read and write is Historical Fiction, more specifically, Westerns. In the Hymns of the West series, she has endeavored to create clean, fun, and challenging Western stories for the whole family. She currently has three novels and three novellas published. You can find her in various places online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | New Releases Newsletter | Amazon  

Bloggers

Find the other pieces of the cover on these blogs. If you are coming in late and would like direct links to each of the blog posts about the cover reveal, please go to Faith’s website link here. She will update each link to go directly to the blog post about the cover reveal. October 12 The Overactive Imagination Rebekah Lyn Books—with Author Interview Morgan Elizabeth Huneke All Things Literary and Political Hello Precious Bliss October 13 With a Joyful Noise Ruth’s Real Life Flights from Aerie Jaye L. Knight Rachel Rossano’s Words—with Author Interview October 14 Zerina Blossom’s Books God's Peculiar Treasure Rae Wildflower Acres A Brighter Destiny Writing Dreams October 15 Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections—with full cover and winner announcement

Monday, October 12, 2015

Psalm 119:69-71

Psalm 119:69-71
(69)  The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
(70)  Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.

Similar to verse 51 ("The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law."), it is another reminder to keep God's commandments no matter what others say or do.
(71)  It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Afflicted - OT:6031`anah (aw-naw'); a primitive root [possibly rather ident. with OT:6030 through the idea of looking down or browbeating]; to depress literally or figuratively, transitive or intransitive (in various applications, as follows):

We don't care for affliction much - the idea of looking down, brow beating, depressed . . . but God does not send those experiences our way fruitlessly: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:2-4) - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5:3-5)


What is our response to tribulation and testings? Do we see them as good and able to work good in our lives? ("And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28) My response determines whether or not the affliction will draw me closer to God and help me to learn His statutes, or whether I will refuse.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Waiting for Morning | Book Review

"I think that's why God's so good to me," Hannah had smiled pleasantly. "He knows I'm not good at forgiving."

That was Hannah's childhood thought. Little did she know that the biggest trial of her life would occur when she was happily married with two daughters in their teens. Little did she know that the forgiveness she had briefly mentioned as a child, the anger she struggled with then, would blindside her in full force.

I finished this book with a "wow." I admire Karen Kingsbury for tackling hard issues like drunk driving, suicide, anger, and bitterness--and balancing them with the truths of God's Word. Her writing is well-researched and detailed. It is realistic--painfully realistic. I could easily envision real lives placed in the shoes of Hannah, Jenny, Carol, Matt, and Bryan.

At first, the multiple viewpoint changes were confusing, but as I got to know the characters, I looked forward to reading their different perspectives.

Hannah's story...it was amazing to read how she fought against all of the hymns and verses brought to mind. It hurt to read her bitter and angry progression--yet a good illustration of how it can overtake a person. She sought to find peace in the revenge of Mr. Wesley...yet instead found herself being shackled with bitterness. Her fight against forgiveness rang too true--but so did God's persistent reminder of Scripture and His promises. Oh my goodness! Hannah's restoration to the mercy of God was so beautiful!! There is no other word for it and the beauty is that the restoration is Biblically true.

Jenny's story...though not as detailed as Hannah's story, I loved Jenny and my heart cried out for her, a girl struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts while her mom was busy fighting what she thought was the most important battle.

Bryan's story...I'll admit, I was so happy the way Bryan's story turned out! How beautiful to see him using Scripture to combat his thirst for beer!

For those who are conscious of these things, there is a mention of drunk man seeing demons as well as mentions of unmarried couples living together. Nothing in detail though. There is a suicidal attempt with a bit of detail. Because of these things, I would personally recommend this book to readers twenty and above.

A couple of favorite quotes:
When Hannah finally prayed again: "Rather she had simply reached the end of herself, of everything she knew about coping."

"She had suffered much this past year, but it had been worse because she had exchanged the truth about God for a lie."


*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.*

About the Author
Karen Kingsbury is a USA Today and New York Times best-selling author, with nearly twenty million books in print. Dubbed the "Queen of Christian Fiction" by Time magazine, Karen has written more than forty Life-Changing Drama, which encompasses the Redemption, Firstborn, and Sunrise series, as well as stand-alone novels such as Like Dandelion Dust, When Joy Came to Stay and This Side of Heaven. Karen and her husband, Don, live in the Pacific Northwest and are parents to six children, including three adopted from Haiti. Visit her website at www.KarenKingsbury.com.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Reflections of my Father

As far as the east from west -- God removes our burden of sin. It is not puddling at our feet, where we can step in and get dirty from it again. It is rolled from our back and pushed away, far beyond what we can see.

"10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." 
Psalm 103:10-12

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Word Wednesday #75 | Link-up

"Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent me."
(John 7:16)

We would do well to test the doctrines to which we cling. It is easy to get swept into the doctrines of men and then cling to it with a vice-grip, not even weighing it against God's Word to see if the doctrine is of God. A good test is to consider verse 18, "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him."

Whose glory are we seeking? When someone contradicts a doctrine (or belief, conviction) that we cling to, what is our reaction? Are we grieved because such does not glorify God -- or merely upset and try to prove that our way is right? Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!


 
 



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Word of Encouragement

Reading books so often encourages me. Authors' thousands of words, forming devotionals or even stories, inspire me to encourage others in my writing.

Sometimes I get caught into the trap of thinking that the best way to encourage people is to write more stories or devotionals. But God is able to just as easily use a text, short email, or blog comment to be an encouragement as a novel. 

If you have an opportunity today, encourage someone in the Lord!

~*~*~
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." Ephesians 4:29


Monday, October 5, 2015

Psalm 119:67-68

Psalm 119:67-68
(67)  Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.

Afflicted - OT:6031 `anah (aw-naw'); a primitive root [possibly rather ident. with OT:6030 through the idea of looking down or browbeating]; to depress literally or figuratively, transitive or intransitive (in various applications, as follows):

Astray - OT:7683 shagag (shaw-gag'); a primitive root; to stray, i.e. (figuratively) sin (with more or less apology):

God uses afflictions to get our walk back to His path. Do I balk at afflictions, testings, troubles, trials? Or do I stop to ask the Lord how He's using them in my life? Can I say like the Psalmist, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." (Psalm 119:71)

(68)  Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

Just as we must believe in God's commandments (vs. 66), we must believe that God is good to be fully receptive to His truth. God is good. Can I say that at any moment of any day?

"Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart." (Psalm 73:1)

"And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matthew 19:17)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Just by the Look


Bluegrass festivals are not regular events in my family because, while we play bluegrass instruments (acoustic guitar, bass guitar, banjo, violin, mandolin), our repertoire is divided between what we call "instrument songs" and "piano songs." However, when invited for the Bluegrass Gospel Night at Pecan Ridge a few years back, we put together enough songs to make the forty-five minute time slot and went to minister. Being bluegrass exclusive meant that I was on my violin (secondary instrument), maybe the bass guitar (third instrument), but never the piano (main instrument).

After we finished singing, a man went up to Mom and made the comment, "The girl with the glasses--is she your pianist?" His accurate guess shocked me. How in the world could he know when I had no piano to even look at? He could somehow tell by my mannerism (Do all pianists have this certain "mannerism?").

This question set my mind to work and I have often asked myself since then: Can others tell, just by looking at me, that I'm a Christian--even if I'm not "in my element?"

So often, Christians rely on obvious externals to mark their walk with the Lord (e.g. T-shirts with Scripture quotes, mentioning the church we attend, toting a Bible and tracts, and even frequently saying things like "Praise God" or "Lord willing"). While our dress and mannerism is vital, anyone can wear the "right clothes" and say the "right things" to label them as "Christian"--whether or not they are genuinely so.

Have you ever been to a store and the cashier is just as lovely as can be? All smiles, cheerful, light shining in their eyes. My dad often asks these workers if they know Jesus Christ as their Savior and they just beam in reply. How did he know? There wasn't a tally of what "looked right" on the outside, but rather the evidence of what was right on the inside that could be detected just by the look.

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Galatians 5:25


Friday, October 2, 2015

All Our Empty Places | Interview and Giveaway


Alicia has been such a cheerful support to me and my writing, so when the tables turned and she asked for bloggers for her release of All Our Empty Places, I was excited to jump on board!


THE BOOK
AllOur Empty Places  is the second book in Alicia's "A Time of Grace” trilogy
Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B014JVJYCK
Read my personal review of it here.

However, you don't want to miss Book One, The Fragrance of GeraniumsThe good news, is that you can get it for 99 cents on Amazon right now! (until October 31) http://amzn.com/B00P4PB7W6
(I have read and reviewed Book One on Goodreads)

BACK COVER BLURB
In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.

Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.

However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.
Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.
Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alicia G. Ruggieri writes Christ-centered fiction that speaks of redemption. She received her B.A. in Communications and History from Rhode Island College and lives with her husband and their emotionally-disturbed pug on the New England coast.

AUTHOR LINKS
Twitter: @aliciaruggieri




INTERVIEW
I was blessed to be able to interview Alicia. Her striving to keep Christ first is such an encouragement and challenge to me.

1) What most influenced you in writing A Time of Grace trilogy?
Well, the A Time of Grace trilogy began with The Fragrance of Geraniums, and that began with a strong childhood memory of an upstairs room filled with “winterized” geraniums. They say that memories that have scents attached to them imprint themselves most strongly on our minds; this was certainly that case for that. I’m thankful to the Lord for imprinting the memory of an old, slightly-dusty room with sunlight filtering through sheer curtains, heat emitting from old radiators, table after table of cut-back geraniums, and – most potently – the flowers’ bitter-spicy fragrance filling the air. All through my growing-up years, I knew that a story lurked there.

2) With which character in your series can you most identify?
I get asked this a lot, and it’s always a hard question to answer. J Here’s why: Every (main) character I write has something of me in them – Otherwise, I couldn’t identify with them enough to depict them believably. But, in All Our Empty Places (book two), I definitely can relate to the theme of finding our sufficiency in Christ alone – not in our education, nor who our friends are, nor in our own abilities, nor even in our identification with Christianity – but in Christ Himself. It’s so easy for me to lean on something other than the Lord Christ for satisfaction, for competence, etc. But as Sarah finds – and to some extent, Grace – there is no true sufficiency but His grace. “The well is deep” (John 4:11), but He is our Living Water, who will quench our thirst utterly.

3) How do you balance writing with home duties?
It’s a combination of a few things for me – first, I prioritize. As my pastor says, we have to put God first, always. Then we have our responsibility to our families, and then to our work. So my goal is always that God gets my best time, not the leftovers. That means that I go to Him first in the morning through His Word and prayer and that I seek Him throughout the day. Then I have my responsibilities to my family; those need to get taken care of next. And my writing – my work – gets the final place. I also make lists of what needs to get done both in my household and in my work. That has proven extremely helpful for me. Finally, but not least, I seek the Lord regarding how He wants me to spend my time. He is very near to us, if we would but call on Him. So, if I’m conflicted about something seemingly small, I ask Him to give me His wisdom and then move forward with what I believe He wants me to do. J Of course, I am not saying that I do this perfectly or even well. But that’s my goal: to honor Him first, then my family and the work He’s given me to do.

4) How long have you been writing?
I’ve written for as long as I’ve known how to write, and I’m so thankful for teachers and a mother who strongly encouraged me in that. For years, I wrote play adaptations for a local children theatre, which was a great blessing! My first novel was published in 2013.

5) Do you usually plot out your novels or just write as the ideas come?
I used to write as the ideas came, but I’ve gradually transitioned to a mixing that with plotting. Funny as it sounds, I love the freedom loose plotting gives me. Having said that, if I feel that God is leading me to direct the story in a different way than I’d originally planned, I change it. And I usually don’t plot my endings. J Those just have to “flow” out of the story, and, if the story’s right, then the right end will come. Before I plot, I usually have lots of notes regarding where I think the story should head. I can’t start plotting without that composting.

6) Do you find yourself using struggles, victories, and spiritual lessons that you have personally experienced to help teach lessons in your books?
Oh, yes. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us that God gives us difficulties and learning lessons so that we can comfort others with the comfort we’ve been given by Him. It’s hard to give someone in the trenches tips on how to survive and defeat the enemy unless you’ve gone down into the trenches, too, and by God’s grace, lived to tell of it.

7) What would you say to encourage a young Christian writer?
First, seek the Lord above all else. Don’t be mediocre in your walk with Him, and don’t separate your walk with Him from your writing. Second, read classic, well-written literature widely. Third, write the way God has gifted you – don’t copy someone else. Yes, other people’s writing should influence your style, but let your writing be unique, the way God has gifted you.

8) Would you share your salvation testimony?
Certainly. J  I became a Christian when I was a young child; I am blessed to have a mother who loves the Lord and strove to bring her children to Him. However, it wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I really began to wrestle with whether I truly believed that Christ is the only Way among all other religions. At that time, I sought the Lord strongly. He heard me, and He brought me into a deeper walk with Him through my own study of His Word, through prayer, through Christian living books such as those by Oswald Chambers, and through the godly example of my older sister who lived at home.

9) What are some of your favorites?
- Song
Oh, that’s hard. J I’ll narrow it down to hymns, okay? One of my favorite hymns is “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” by Jean S. Pigott.
- Book(s) ;)
This is a cruel question. ;-) It somewhat depends on genre, but I think that I can safely say that my favorite fiction book is Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and my favorite nonfiction is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.
- Pastimes
Reading (obviously!), baking, organizing, finding more dogs to rescue on Craigslist, and enjoying my nieces and nephews.
- Dessert
I’m going to pick two. First, my mother’s Italian Easter bread – She only makes this anisette-flavored braided bread once a year, and it’s so good that I sometimes eat it for breakfast, lunch, and (shh!) dinner in the few days preceding Easter! And, second, peanut-butter cheesecake. 
- Bible verse
There are a few that are very dear to my heart. Two that God brings me back to are:
2 Corinthians 4:7 nkjv – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
and
Romans 8:38-39 – 31 nkjv – “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Thanks for having me, Amanda. J It has been a delight!

THE GIVEAWAY
One winner will receive – a signed softcover of All Our Empty Places; a mug with 2 Corinthians 12:9 inscribed on it; Caramel Apple Biscotti; and Harvest Spice Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate mix. (Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.)

Hurry! The giveaway ends tonight at midnight!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

ELSEWHERE
If you want to see Alicia's book reviewed on other blogs, have fun hopping! :)

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015 (release day)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2015
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2015
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2015
Tour wrap-up @ A Brighter Destiny


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