Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Word Wednesday #87

And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.  Amos 7:15

God called Amos from where he was.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 
1 Corinthians 1:26-27


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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! Did you post on your blog? I'd love to see -- share your link in a comment!

 
 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Until the Dawn | Book Review

A mysterious old mansion. The family who returned to claim it. And the girl who refused to be kicked out of her haven.

I was swept into Sophie's tale immediately. She was a sweet and kind heroine (perhaps a little too perfect). Her part in Dierenpark was believable and unforced. It seemed natural the reasons she was allowed to stay. And then there's Quentin. He was a very interesting character whose progression from cynical to kind seemed fluent. From an analytic standpoint, his character was my favorite, being the most mysterious and complex yet well developed. Oh and Peiter. The story would be much less without him!

The plot was super intriguing. My mind was spinning as the story of the Vandermarks took so many twists and turns. I honestly couldn't guess what would happen in the end, as far as the family history went (the lives of the people in the "current" story--that was a little more predictable). Reading the book was like watching a mystery unfold satisfactorily. As far as writing quality, the author's ability to snag my interest, and flow of the story, I give a definite 5 stars.

There were a few things that bumped this book down to a personal rating of 3.5 stars:
-The dialogue did not seem accurate to the time frame. As I was reading the story, I had to remind myself that this was the 17th century because it just didn't "feel" that era.
-The spiritual plot seemed weak. The salvation message was not very clear (though it did show a person turning to follow God, it was more of a groping towards). Though Sophie was all sweetness and kindness, I would have personally preferred if it was mentioned that the only way one could be sweet and kind is because of Jesus Christ. Instead, there was more of a Pollyanna type emphasis on "everyone has some good in them." It is commendable that she takes council of her pastor, but I'm afraid that kissing and developing an emotional attachment to a man who is still see-sawing on atheism is a little shallow. And one character used the Lord's Name in a way that I would consider vain (he used it in an exclamation of surprise).

There were a few quotes I liked, but I didn't take the time to jot them all down. Here is one though:

“I don’t think God dwells on when we fall down. I’d like to think he is more interested in helping us get back up again.”

*NetGalley provided me a copy to review with my personal opinions*

Buy Until the Dawn for yourself!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Biblically Speaking -- All Unrighteousness

Part 8 in my study on what is abomination in the sight of God.

Recap:
Many believers have fallen into accepting that which is abomination in the sight of God. Unless we study God's Word to learn His Mind on what is abominable, how will we know to purge ourselves from abomination? Lord willing, I will be posting the fruits of my study on the word "abomination," but feel free to leap ahead of me and study it for yourself. What is an abomination to God?




All Unrighteousness
Deuteronomy 25:16 - For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.


Here it is summed up: ALL who do unrighteously are abomination to God. How then, can man be made right before God? Praise the Lord for Jesus Christ, Who, through His blood, cleanses what is abomination before God, purifies the heart, and places His righteousness upon us!

Friday, December 25, 2015

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours...

video

Merry Christmas!

Merry CHRISTmas! 

I had a little time to do this graphics "just in time." One of my favorite Christmas hymns (though there are several ;)).


What is your favorite Christmas carol?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Word Wednesday #86

Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.  Hosea 10:13

Read backwards: "because didst trust in thy way, ye have plowed wickedness, reaped iniquity, eaten the fruit of lies." It is rooted in trusting in our own way--not God's way.


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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! Did you post on your blog? I'd love to see -- share your link in a comment!

 
 


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas -- free on Amazon!


I'm having another eBook for free on Kindle! Fitting the season, "Noelle's Gift" is a Christmas story--short and sweet, about a little girl who desires to give her mom a special gift for Christmas. Why does her mom need happiness? Well, I guess you'll have to read the story and find out.

Grab a copy for yourself and be sure to tell a friend about it!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Biblically Speaking - Diverse Weights

Part 7 in my study on what is abomination in the sight of God.

Recap:
Many believers have fallen into accepting that which is abomination in the sight of God. Unless we study God's Word to learn His Mind on what is abominable, how will we know to purge ourselves from abomination? Lord willing, I will be posting the fruits of my study on the word "abomination," but feel free to leap ahead of me and study it for yourself. What is an abomination to God?



Divers Weights
Deuteronomy 25:13-16 - Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.
Proverbs 11:1 - A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.
Proverbs 20:10 - Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the Lord.
Proverbs 20:23 - Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good.

When dividing money, grains, or other materials, a system of balances and weights were used. To have a scale calibrated lighter or heavier than "true" would give the seller unjust gain and profit. God, being the God of order, does not smile at the unjust gain of one. Rather, He lists it in what He finds utterly distasteful.


Today we might find it difficult to identify with this issue unless we think hard. I personally find it applicable in issues such as owing money--do I owe $10.10 to a sibling and try to round it down to $10 without their knowledge? Do I divide the restaurant bill so that I pay less than the others with whom I'm splitting? Am I honest in my tax returns? Those are a few areas that come to mind that parallel with the thought of false balances. What are your thoughts?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Orphan Journeys

Imagine yourself as an orphan, struggling for survival in dirty New York streets, where disease and crime run rampant. Journey from these wretched streets to a temporary lodging in an overcrowded orphanage and then to the train station. After riding the train for hours, picture yourself lining up with other children, waiting as adults look you over. Would they choose you--or would you have to hold onto the hope that maybe, at the next station, someone would want to bring you home?

Charles Loring Brace had a vision for New York orphans that brought them through the journey from streets to homes. He began his orphan work in 1853, then in 1854, because of lack of orphanage space, Brace sent the first orphan train to Dowagiac, Michigan, where the children could be sheltered by local families. The orphan train continued until 1929, bringing at least 150,000 children to new homes.

From the 1850s up through the 1920s, abandoned or homeless children in New York City were uprooted and put on trains that took them to rural communities. Here several children are lined up with the hopes that someone will take them to a new home.
Pictures via my Pinterest Board

Brace desired to place children in good, Protestant homes but this did not always happen. Siblings were often separated and some couples would take orphans for cheap labor. Though many orphan train riders ended up as successful men and women, not all of them turned out to be trustworthy citizens.

Such is the preface of Orphan Journeys, a fictional novella series based off of the American Orphan Train saga, following orphans not only as they adjust to a new life, but also as they travel a spiritual journey. The first installment of this series, Journey to Love (which you may remember a little from here and here), is on its last leg of the journey and should be open to the public in winter 2016. I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I submerge into editing. I have some pretty amazing beta readers who are not only encouraging, but also aren't afraid to be bold in their critique. Keep your eye out--I might give you more of a peek into Marie's life in the next few weeks.

Children's Aid Society placement card

Have you heard of the orphan train before? 
What projects are you working on this winter?

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Daughters of Jim Farrell | Book Review

DaughtersFrontCoverFinal"How do I know I can trust you?"
Joshua Adams glanced at his razor case. "I think the better question is, how do I know that I can trust you?"

Living in the shadow of her father's assumed shame, Kate hires a detective from Pinkerton to clear the murder of which her father was accused. She has persuade her sisters to agree, but as Mr. Adams searches and digs up information around town, will it tear the family apart? Above that, will each of the girls be able to solve their own, very different struggles?

Let's just say that in less than a week, this book was read by myself, one of my sisters, and my mom, and we all loved it. Ms. Bambola chose a very unique setting and researched it well. I could easily see how things ran in the coal mines and the prejudices of the richer society. In a way, it made me think of Elizabeth Gaskell's "North and South." I personally liked how Ms. Bambola portrayed the girls learning how all people are on the same level in God's eyes, though they may be on different levels socially.

I also enjoyed the very different (and likeable) personalities of Kate, Virginia, and Charlotte. I was interested in each of them and the choices they would make. This book definitely mentions God and seeking Him, but I didn't find the message quite as strong as I would prefer. However, it is a very clean book.

Younger readers might want to know: there are mentions of prostitutes, but nothing is gone into detail. There are several kisses in the book and characters fall in love; I found it more mentioned than detailed, emotions and feelings were not the foundation of the story.

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Sylvia
Buy on Amazon

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"When the House is Built"

Some of you probably laughed when you read this title--or maybe you rolled your eyes. Yes, this is the #1 Tero phrase going around right now.

"When the house is built, we'll have to have you over."

"When the house is built, maybe we can meet up for coffee."

"When the house is built, we'll plan on that."

"When the house is built, we'll have some free time!"

"When the house is built..." 

You name it. Almost everything has been tagged onto that one phrase.

It is best to accept the long house-building process with good humor, so we laugh at ourselves about it (yes, as one of our church friends suggested, we'll probably be having Jessica make us a sign that says "When THE HOUSE IS BUILT!!!!!").

One thing I have begun to notice, though, is that this attitude of "When the house is built" started to seep into my spiritual walk. "Ah! I'm behind on memory verses. Oh well. When the house is built, I'll do them more faithfully." Now, instead of being faithful to do what I could, I was tempted to just do enough to "get by." Yes, there have been (and will be) seriously busy days in which I will only be able to spend a few minutes in God's Word, but because I started waiting for "when the house is built," I missed those less-busy days in which I could have done more.

Thankfully, the Lord brought my attention to this attitude and has helped me to be more faithful until the house is built. This is not the first time something like this has happened in my life. We all have those times of thinking, "When ____ is over..." You may not be waiting for a house to be built, but is there something that has tempted you to pause in your spiritual walk instead of continually climbing forward? I encourage you to take a moment and ponder your spiritual walk.



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Word Wednesday #85

But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.  Hosea 1:7

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.  Psalms 20:7

I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.  Psalms 71:16

Reminder after reminder of having the Lord as our strength, the Lord as our "weapon."


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Monday, December 14, 2015

Biblially Speaking - adultery (whoredom, remarriage after defilement)

Part 6 in my study on what is abomination in the sight of God.

Recap:
Many believers have fallen into accepting that which is abomination in the sight of God. Unless we study God's Word to learn His Mind on what is abominable, how will we know to purge ourselves from abomination? Lord willing, I will be posting the fruits of my study on the word "abomination," but feel free to leap ahead of me and study it for yourself. What is an abomination to God?




The Hire of a Whore
Deuteronomy 23:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

God will not accept a monetary offering from funds gained by adultery.

Remarriage after Defilement
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 - When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.


For a woman to be divorced, remarried, divorced again, then come back to her first husband, is abomination in God's eyes.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Word Wednesday #84

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.  Daniel 6:10

The laws of the land did naught to diminish Daniel's faithfulness to God. We are seeing the days where the U.S. may change laws for believers' freedom--will it dampen our open service to God?


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Monday, December 7, 2015

Biblically Speaking - Mixing Garments

Part 5 in my study on what is abomination in the sight of God.

Recap:
Many believers have fallen into accepting that which is abomination in the sight of God. Unless we study God's Word to learn His Mind on what is abominable, how will we know to purge ourselves from abomination? Lord willing, I will be posting the fruits of my study on the word "abomination," but feel free to leap ahead of me and study it for yourself. What is an abomination to God?



Mixing Garments
Deuteronomy 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

There has been a big debate about this verse. What, for a woman, "pertaineth unto a man?" Should a woman not wear pants? Button-up shirts? T-shirts made for men? Denim? Or does this verse mean that a man is not to try to look like a woman and a woman try to look like a man?

The keyword is "pertaineth unto" which in the Hebrew means, "something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon):"

I find it very interesting that the woman is not to wear what pertains to a man (that which, from the Hebrew definition, seems prepared for a man) but the man is simply not to put on (clothe himself with) a woman's garment.


I do not want to be guilty of "reinterpreting Scripture"--especially to narrow down to "THIS is what God meant He sees is an abomination" as my own interpretation, but I personally believe that this verse lines up with another abomination in God's eyes--sodomy. He created man to be man and woman to be woman. In the world of clothing, there is a dividing line (which is becoming more faint) of masculine and feminine. For us to try to "mix things up" in appearance is to try to "borrow" the appearance of the opposite gender. This is my personal belief and you can believe differently--that's fine.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

N Family | Photoshoot

After I did Kayla's photoshoot, her mom contacted me about taking family pictures. I so enjoyed my time with this family! They are all quite photogenic and had fun ideas! We'll not mention little Cooper who practically stole the show. ;)
























Friday, December 4, 2015

Books for Christian Girls blog | Interview

A few months ago, I stumbled across a blog that has become one of my favorites to look at for book reviews. The blog is "Books for Christian Girls" run by Lindsey. Today, Lindsey has graciously joined me in an interview.

Books for Christian Girls

Me: What inspired you to start "Books for Christian Girls?"
Lindsey: It was definitely a God thing! About three years ago, I had first searched "Christian books for teen girls" on Google trying to find books that I could read! I had already read all of Melody Carlson's teen books and was hunting for more. The first search resulted in me reading the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn, a classic in my mind for teen girls. The Bible was of course mentioned, but the rest of those suggested on Yahoo! Answers were not Christian. Fast forward a couple months later, when trying to search again, wishing that there was a blog with reviews for Christian girls, a peaceful Voice came over me and whispered "You can do it, Lindsey." I felt at peace with the idea, so, I prayed and did! (I won't admit how long it took me to come up with the name 'Books for Christian Girls') BFCG has been a fantastic blessing from the Lord and I'm so glad He told me to do it! :)

Me: I noticed that you have a very detailed rating system. What were some deciding factors in creating this rating system?
Lindsey: I've always been a detailed person, so it just came natural to have a detailed scale for content in books. A not-detailed kiss (Basically: "He kissed her." that's it.) might be okay with some, but they might not want to read a detailed or even a semi-detailed kiss. BFCG lists everything that someone might find offensive. So when you read a BFCG review, ignore the things that don't bother you, but take notice of the things that do.  
Me: I have definitely found that super helpful when I'm looking at your reviews. :) Thanks for including those details!

Me: What do you find as one of the biggest rewards, doing BFCG?
Ooh, that's a tough one! You mean besides the free books I get? Hahaha! While that's a fun bonus, I would say the biggest reward is when girls near my age (or moms) comment saying that BFCG helped them find their new favorite book! It's a pretty neat thing to hear back from girls who loved a book I recommended. :)

Me: I noticed you have 365 books on your goal to read for Goodreads. You must be a fast reader. :) About how long does it take you to read a book? (obviously, depending on its length) 
I'm so excited about that! It's been a goal of mine for years to do a book a day, and I'm finally doing it! Most 300 paged books take about 2 hours, depending on how much I have to write down while reading. :)

Me: What is your reaction when you get a new book in the mail?
Excitement! Especially if it's a book I've really been looking forward to reading! I'm a book smeller (which is not *technically* a word. ;) ), so as soon as it's out of it's packaging, I fan the pages, sniffing the book. Silly, but Bethany House books smell the best! Hahaha!

Me: Who are some of your favorite authors that you love recommending?
I have certain criteria an author has to meet to be considered a favorite author of mine, and an even tougher one for me to recommend her. Krista McGee, Janice Hanna Thompson, Robin Jones Gunn, and Amy Clipston are a few I recommend the most. :)

Me: What is your ideal location to read? (i.e. curled up in wintertime, outside on a porch swing, etc.)
Fun question! :) I have a loft bed, so I normally climb up there to curl up there with my reviewing clipboard and read. I read the best late at night when my house is quite, no distractions! Sometimes I lay on my stomach on my bedroom floor, but that's not the most comfortable reading spot! ;)

And some extra not-exactly-related-to-BFCG questions if you'd like to answer.
~What are some of your favorite verses?
Philippians 4:8 is for sure a top favorite of mine. I also love Galatians 1:10 {"For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ."},Psalm 46:10 {"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."} and Philippians 3:7-8 {"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ."}

~What is one of your dreams?
To go to China! Which actually may be happening next summer with a mission trip with Show Hope. I'm currently fundraising for it, which I am beyond excited about! The Lord put orphans--especially China's orphans--on my heart before BFCG even was a thought, I started following many adoption blogs (I'm up to over 300 now) and that seed blossomed. :)

~Besides reading, ;) what are some of you top favorite things to do?
I'm a photographer (#teamcanon!) so definitely photography, blogging, working on BFCG, playing with my beagle, and learning Chinese. I've recently started writing/drawing on mugs, which has been fun. :)


~Okay...do you like snacking while you read?
Hmm...I have to be really hungry to have food next to a real book. I don't want to get my book dirty, so not very often. I sometimes eat goldfish when reading on the Kindle due to only needing one hand to "touch" the book...no salt on the pages! ;)

You can find out more about Lindsey by checking out her blog.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Trim Healthy Mama Plan | Book Review

This book is not meant to be read straight through, but little-by-little as the reader experiments with what they are learning. Since I was already familiar with how THM works, I did read it straight through. Pearl and Serene have a very easy-going style that doesn't make one feel pressured to follow their plan to a "T" however the book feels very educational, with learning how your body processes different food types. 

The main gist behind THM is eating fats and carbs separately, giving your body focused energy to burn what it is receiving without storing it in fat cells. They explain what foods are acceptable for what food group, and warn against starving your body trying to diet.

In reading this book, I did not feel the sudden urge to jump into their meal plans...but it did give me a better knowledge and awareness of the food and food types I eat on a daily basis.

IMPORTANT NOTE: this is NOT the cookbook. The cookbook is sold separately and is referred to frequently in the Plan book.

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

More Book Info
Visit THM's FaceBook, Twitter



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Word Wednesday #83

Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves.  Ezekiel 43:26


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

So thankful that, because of Christ's blood, cleansing is no longer a process but a simple moment of confessing sings.

~*~*~
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! Did you post on your blog? I'd love to see -- share your link in a comment!

 
 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Golden Braid | Book Review

This was my first Melanie Dickerson book to try, after having heard of several friends reading her. The story leaned towards your typical beautiful girl/handsome guy duo who started out despising each other then discovered they loved each other.

What I liked - this was probably the first Rapunzel story I have read. I knew the basic plot line but it was neat to see how Dickerson made it her own story. I greatly appreciated that there was no magic in the book, though there was one part when Gerek was praying and the crucifix glowed as he sensed his answer. It was briefly mentioned. The medieval flare and descriptions were well done. I think one of my favorite parts was the description of the castle life. It was definitely a book in which the characters prayed to God and sought His direction. Though the denomination was Roman Catholic (which is historically accurate), I did like the Christian emphasis and lessons discussed.

What I didn't care for - the main thing that bothered me was towards the end, when a man and woman spent days and nights traveling alone together. This put them in situations that could have been sinful but instead, they both had the strong will to abstain. While it was honorable to read about, I personally think it could be dangerous for girls to read about it then excuse their behavior and be led into temptation.

What younger readers may need to know - I would say that one of the strongest themes in the book was a distrust for men, the fear that they would use a woman then leave her. Nothing was vulgar, but it is discussed throughout almost the entire book.

A quote that stood out to me -
“And if I loved my husband as I said I did, then I needed to comfort him. That is when I began to understand that he was only a man—a very good man who loved me, but a man nevertheless. He was not God. So I stopped trying to make him the god of my life, expecting him to bring me healing, and started expecting perfect love and satisfaction from God alone.”

*I received this book for my honest review from BookLook Bloggers*

What is your favorite medieval story?
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