Thursday, March 5, 2015

Holman HCSB Giant Print Reference Bible, Brown Genuine Cowhide Indexed by B&H Publishing Group

You all know I LOVE Holman Bibles. I just can't say enough about them. Here is another selection for you. 

If you are on the search for a Bible with GIANT print here you go! I have to wear my glasses to see anything in front of my face. So reading can be a challenge. This Giant print makes it easier for me. I'm sure you know someone, maybe yourself, who has trouble reading the print on their Bible. Maybe the large print is big enough for you. Just maybe you need something a bit larger so you can spend more time reading your Bible and less time struggling to see the print. 

This is the HCSB translation which happens to be my favorite. If your searching for a different translation you too can find NKJV, KJV, and NIV at B&H Publishing.

This Bible is beautiful. The genuine cowhide leather is exquisite. This Bible is also indexed. Another feature I love! The Words of Jesus are in bold, red print. And something else that I enjoy about this Bible is how the references are placed. They aren't in the middle of the Bible or on the lower half of the page, but right under the  paragraph. This makes it so easy to find other scriptures that help us understand the Word of God. 

There are color maps that are large and bright. There too are bullet notes, a large concordance, and a great section of study Bible helps. If you're looking for a reference Bible with Giant print this is extraordinary. If you are perhaps searching for maybe a different color, print or translation, visit B&H Publishing Group and you will definitely find the perfect Bible for you. 

This Bible was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

What Women Fear (Walking in Faith that Transforms) by Angie Smith

I was first introduced to Angie Smith when I read, Chasing God. I was so blown away I followed up and read, Mended. (Take a peek at my reviews). Both were outstanding. So when I seen What Women Fear I had to review it! 

Angie Smith is that girl who you want as a girlfriend. You know, the girl to share coffee with and just spend an afternoon sharing Jesus. She's real and transparent. That is what I love so much about her. In every book I've been blessed to review I have found blesses upon blesses to take away and apply to my life. 

I found myself in these pages. I had buried my fears and pretended they weren't alive. But in opening this book I found those fears and strongholds. Some of the chapters that truly blessed me are Fear of Rejection, Abandonment, and Betrayal; Fear of Death; Fear of Not Being Significant; and even Fear of God's Plan for My Life

Angie shares with us her personal journey of losing her daughter. I found myself lost in her words. She opens up and makes life real. No struggles held back. Just pure heart and soul. Giving the reader the feeling of letting go of self and realizing we don't have to hide in our fears. 

Angie takes us on a journey to finding release from the fears we have held onto for long. In this book we find scripture and prayer. She uses people from the Bible to help us know that we aren't the only ones. We surely aren't alone in our battles. 

My book is highlighted everywhere. Such beauty found within these pages. Here are a few of my favorites from Angie:

"When we depend on others to be our God, we strike out on a couple different levels. We burden them with blame for their lack of ability and we forfeit what God could have done if we would have honored Him the way we should have."

"Is it possible that the well is right beside you but you haven't seen it because your head is hung in grief? Are you so focused on what you think is missing that you don't see what is present? Maybe you need to ask the Lord to illuminate what it is He wants you to see. It's possible that what you have seen as the end of the road is actually an opportunity to open your eyes and see something you haven't."

"Never convince yourself that you should do something based on a "feeling" or a whim. Pray for the supernatural peace that comes from walking in step with Jesus, and then move in the direction you hear His voice calling."

"Fear God in the way that makes your knees bend and your heart race. Reverence Him. Be in awe of who He is. Know that in His divine wisdom, He chose you, your circumstances, and every last hair on your heard in order to woo you to trust and glorify Him the way He deserves to be glorified. He didn't choose you because of anything in you, but because of everything in Him."

This book was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award-winning group Selah) and author of Chasing God, I Will Carry You, What Women Fear, and Mended. She also has written two children’s books, For Such A Time As This and Audrey Bunny. Along with being an accomplished writer, Angie speaks to and encourages thousands of women each year. She lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, TN.

Losing Myself In Perfection-Finding Myself In The Mess

It isn't easy to be transparent and share is it? We like to pretend all is perfect in our world. Because as Christians what would others say about us if they knew the truth of our struggles? Aren't we suppose to be able to do it all? We know women who do, so why would we struggle to do the same? Could it be that we aren't the ones having struggling? We learn to hide our insecurities and struggles. We don't want the world around us to see that we have a hard time figuring it all out. 

I remember the that summer perfectly. Although it was years ago, my thoughts can still take me back in an instant. It was the summer I pretended all was perfect, but in reality I was a mess. I was so tired of trying to do it all. What kind of a Christian was I if I couldn't keep up with the demands of life? Not a very good one. At least that's how I felt inside. I'm not sure who I was competing with. I was just determined. But God had other plans. He had lessons for me to learn and they weren't going to be easy for this girl who didn't need any help. 

My husband was on the road a lot. So, it was me at home with the kids. All five of them. I was mom and step-mom. But in our house we didn't do half or step. We simply were family. Only nothing was simple about that. I was trying to be everything for everyone and in the busyness of that summer I lost myself. There was the mom to my step-children and the dad to my girls. That was a mess to try and figure out. Balancing a blended family is not easy especially when no one is helping to make it easy. Let's just say there was no one who wasn't guilty of messing things up. It seems we each had our hand in that. 

We were about to finish our school year. I home-schooled my three children. I was now homeschooling two of them as my oldest daughter was attending public high school. It was just about time to begin our vacation with my step-children. This was an exciting time for us, but this particular summer was jam-packed. Did I mention our oldest daughter was getting married? Yes, there was wedding planning. Let's not forget the bridal shower too. 

I was finishing up teaching our children. I was teaching Sunday school, our Awana year was coming to a close, and was helping out with other activities at church. There was vacation Bible school and summer camp. There were softball sign ups and baseball too. As if that weren't enough they needed a softball coach for my daughter's softball team. Yep, I said, yes. 

I too was on our softball team at church. Are you tired yet? I'm exhausted. I was trying to fit in every single need. I wasn't the girl to say, no. I was that people pleasing girl who was about to lose it and didn't even know it was about to hit her. 

When the church doors are open and there is a need you're suppose to be there, right? I mean, this is what I had been taught for years. This was the year I found out that no matter how much one does it is never enough. Yes, this was the year where my body said, I'm done. The migraines and panic attacks started shortly after this summer. I was on overload, but wasn't this suppose to be normal? I was the Christian mom. My hand was just about in everything. While I was trying to take care of everyone else I lost sight of my own children and their needs. After all, mom was too busy to listen anymore. Everything looked perfect therefore it must be. 

I had always been that mom who listened and was there for her children. But this summer was different. I was there, but too much was going on. Have you too been there? There wasn't enough of me to go around and I allowed Satan strongholds in my life. He was able to sneak in places where he made himself at home. 

Here's where  the truth really cuts deep. I was not just trying to be mom, but to be the step-mom to impress the mom of my step-children. After all, if she couldn't do all that was needed I was going to show her I could. As the demands of church kept growing I was on a mission to show everyone I could get done what needed to be done and more. Ouch. That hurts to admit. Have you too been there? Competing to see who can do it best? 

Doctor appointments, dental appointments, shopping, the chores at home, the lessons I had to learn for the classes I was teaching, and I had to teach twelve girls who never played softball before to throw a ball to home plate and not swing at everything. 

What was I thinking? If it was a task before me I had to get it done and do my best. People depended upon me. This was God's will, right? Wasn't I suppose to say, yes, to all these things? I'm a Christian, a mom, a wife, a servant. No wasn't an option that I knew. 

This was the summer a wedge began forming between me and my daughters. I didn't want to see that everything wasn't okay. I was pretending it was perfect. I was doing everything I could possible do to please God, my family, and my church, but it wasn't enough. There was always more and let me be honest. Not a lot of, thank yous. 

See, I wanted to be accepted and loved and admired. Somewhere in there sin began forming. I thought my intentions were all good, but looking back now I can see that I was getting mixed up in simply being a super Christian. I had to be the best mom and wife. I had to be the best Sunday school teacher and my Awana kids needed me. After all many of them came from homes like me where Christ wasn't welcome. 

My husband is my biggest cheerleader. But I even had him fooled into thinking I could simply keep going at warp speed. My step-son played baseball, and our youngest son played too. Our youngest daughter played and I was the coach, so through the week there were always practices. We had church softball on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Games for the kids on the weekends. Yes, I was spreading myself really thin. I was in a lot of places doing a lot of things, but I was being fueled by acceptance and pride. I was running on empty. But there was my smile and my can-do attitude. I was determined to do it all. 

The wedding came and the games ended. Vacation Bible school passed as well as summer camp. As the summer ended I was happy to see it go. The game of perfection could now end. This is where I truly came to understand that I wasn't meant to be perfect. I wasn't meant to do every job available and are you ready? It was okay for me to say, no. I wasn't a failure if I said, no. I wasn't a failure if I didn't get everything done. I wasn't a failure if I didn't get everything right. These are life lessons that began that summer and life lessons that I am still learning and overcoming. 

It's easy to fall into the trap that we have to do it all. It's easy to feel like a failure. We compete with others. We see others doing the perfection and we think we too must get it right. Because if we don't something has to be wrong with us. Friends, there's nothing wrong with us. We have to set limits. We have to set boundaries around us. 

Although we are called to serve there is nothing that comes before our family. God is first in our lives, but He will never call us away from what is truly important. Satan's lies are real and they are tricky. We get lost in them. We get lost in thinking we have to be everything for everyone. I'm not God and I'm not the super-Christian I tried so hard to be. There is no super-Christian. 

That summer taught me such valuable lessons. I believe that's why Jesus allowed that summer of busyness to continue. He wanted me to realize that He is my Everything and He doesn't expect me to be perfect. All He asks is that I give Him my heart. If your church is calling you to serve in areas where you have not prayed over and feel called, say, no. When we say, no, it opens the door for another who has been called to say, yes. 

The world wasn't going to fall apart if I said, no. It wasn't going to end if I couldn't get everything right. I wasn't suppose to be perfect. I was suppose to be real. The girl God was calling me to be. I was just to be the best mom and wife I could be. I was simply to love my family and to serve where God called, not man. I was to be the best me possible and that begins with making Jesus our center. It can be easy to lose focus. We allow the world to dictate who we are and what we are to do. 

In our too busy lives we miss out on seeing what God has before us. We aren't suppose to be on overload. We must learn to balance life. It isn't easy when there's so much to do, but figuring out what's truly important is a good place to start. 

Don't put your guard down. Satan want nothing more than to destroy everything good. He'll use any tactic available. It's not only okay to say, no, but it's okay to simply be focused on your family. Yes, God calls us to serve, but friends, that doesn't mean allowing your family to slip through the cracks while your out there trying to get everything done. 

Allow God to be your measuring stick. Don't leave Him out your life. Put your life in His hands and listen to where He is calling. Just maybe someone else can teach Sunday school. Another can take over teaching Awana who has been wanting to teach for a long time now. Someone else can be the coach. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the wedding plans. Before you allow the world to take over your life, count what those demands are going to cost. 

God has given me peace in struggling for perfection. I'm only perfect in Him. Outside of Him I'm a complete mess. So when those ideals of perfection enter my mind I'm learning to release them to the Lord and trust Him. As far as that wedge that Satan began to build between me and my daughters, I can say with praise that we are closer now than ever before. What Satan tried to destroy the Lord blessed with grace and mercy. 

I've learned that trusting God with everything and measuring all through His Word and prayer is the path that leads to a life well lived. I was lost in all that busyness and somewhere along the way I thought in doing everything asked of me I would somehow please God. Don't allow Satan to deceive you in this way. It isn't the things we do that matters. It's our heart.  God is more concerned with our heart than what we can or cannot do. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Remember Who You Are

We attract what we expect and we become what we believe. Ponder that for a bit. We need to surround ourselves with encouragement and inspiration. Most of all we need to remember who we are and not what this world perceives us to be.

Too often we find ourselves in a pit. Why? We allow other people to tell us who we are. This is why it's so important for us to surround ourselves with loving, positive people. We all need encouragement. No negative Nelly's need to be too close to us. Of course we can't always be surrounded by just positive people, but we want to be aware of just what we are allowing our heart to hear. Negative people tend to take over and pretty soon, yep, we become what we are believing. 

I am forever telling my son, "Remember who you are." In other words, don't allow this world to tell you anything different than what your Savior is telling you. The worlds opinion of us doesn't really mean anything in the huge spectrum of life, but sadly, if you're like me, the world shouts and we listen. 

It takes courage to be yourself. We can't define who we are by the world's standards. We must allow our standard to only be measured by God's Word. Again, remembering who we are. If we are believers we are children of the King of kings, Lord of lords. We have a royal inheritance in Jesus. Beyond that does the opinion of others really matter? In fact, we allow it to matter too much and soon the world's chatter is so loud in our ears that we are no longer hearing God speak to us. 

We allow our past to tell us who we are today. We allow the fears of the future to hold us back and keep us stagnant. Life is scary. We have ups and downs. Sometimes things don't go our way. It doesn't mean God is punishing us or that we have done something wrong. Sometimes life is just hard, but in every area of life there are lessons to be learned. When we give ourselves room to make mistakes and throw out the perception of perfection we can truly begin to grow into the people God has created us to be. 

For me, I have learned that the key is keeping my eyes on Jesus and allowing Him to be my center. I'm to gravitate to Him, not this world. Oh, sure the world tries to tell us differently. If it were up to the world Jesus would have no part in our lives. But instead, in courage and in hope, we are to stand firmly in the Word, and show the world just who He is. Not through our perfect lives, not through our pious attitudes, and not through our judgmental attitudes. We show the world Jesus when we are real and transparent. It's okay for the world to see our stumbles as long as we are too showing the world that it's Jesus who helps us get back up. 

So, friends, dance in the rain. Sing in the shower. Bloom right there where you have been planted. Shine as the unique person you are and don't worry about what others think of you. Be focused on who Jesus has created you to be. 

"And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have." 
2 Corinthians 8:10-12

He Goes The Extra Mile

A few days ago I found myself reading in Matthew. I found my way to verses 22-33 in chapter 14. Don't you love it when the Holy Spirit doesn't allow you to skip over His Word? Over the past few days I have tried to move on, but it wasn't to be. I kept going back over this scripture. God was wanting me to see something I had been missing. 

If you're like me we tend to skim over the Word and not spend enough time in one area. There is so much to uncover, but first we must be willing to open our heart to all the Lord has for us to see. 

So, here we have the disciples and Jesus. Imagine yourself there along the shore with them. Jesus had just fed the 5,000. He has His disciples to go ahead of Him while He heads to the mountain to pray for a while. Okay, what I love here is that Jesus Himself yearns to be alone with His Father and pray. This is so intimate and loving. Even in all the business of the day Jesus knows He needs to spend one on one time with His Father. The picture we are to have of our relationship with Jesus. 

The disciples are out in the boat. They are out past a mile from shore. Not an easy swim back to shore. The waves begin to stir. They aren't just stirring. They are being hit in the face with gale force winds. This is what I find amazing. They are out far from shore, but with these winds hitting them, they aren't going out farther. They are in a storm that has them frightened. These are fishermen. They are used to winds and waves, but this must be something they have never seen before. Maybe a storm that would cause them to remain ashore if they could have seen it coming. But they didn't see this one. It hit them blindsided. 

Now, this is where I found myself in awe of our God. Jesus is there. The disciples see Him coming toward the boat. They are terrified at first and think He is a ghost, but soon they realize He is Jesus and He's walking on water! Hello? Where did He come from? Did Jesus just appear or did He stroll right on out to the boat? Okay, right here I am reminded that wherever I am Jesus is there! He's in the middle of my storm. He sees what has blindsided me. I am there in my fear, but there is my Savior and He's telling me to not be afraid. 

Peter sees Jesus and goes to Him. Again the waves and winds hit Peter in the face and fear causes him to sink right where he is. He can't move. But we see Peter do what Jesus wants us to do in the middle of our fear. He cries out to Him. He asks Jesus to save him. Jesus reaches out and grabs Peter up. Yes, this is the Jesus we are to see here. The Jesus who is waiting and watching. Our All-Knowing, Omniscient God. 

"Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." Matthew 14:22-33

What a picture of love. Jesus stretches out His hand to Peter. When Peter sees Jesus, He doesn't tell him to stay in the boat. He calls to Peter and says, "Come." Jesus wants us to get past our fear and set our eyes upon Him and Him alone. There are times our circumstances are not going to change, but if we make Jesus our center and our focus, our attitude changes and we begin to see things differently. 

As Jesus reaches for Peter and brings him up they get into the boat and the winds and waves cease. The storm is over. Why did they doubt? Could it have been their fear guiding them instead of their faith? Friends, being a Christian doesn't mean we are never going to have fear. But what it does mean is that we know without a doubt that Jesus is there and in the midst of our circumstance we are going to make the choice to believe. 

Satan would like nothing better but for us to remain paralyzed in our fear. Have you ever been so frightened that no words could come? I've had nightmares where I'm screaming out, but no words can be heard. Friends, the disciples were not by the shore. They were out past a mile from shore, but still yet Jesus heard them. He knew they were in need and He had no intention of leaving them alone. The storm raged on as the boat remained unable to move farther out, but what we must see is that there is no storm too big for our God. No length He will not go to save us! 

Wherever you are today, dear one, hang on tight and call out to Jesus. He is there in the midst of your storm. He is willing to go the extra mile for you. The question is, will you trust Him to take you ashore?

Remember The Lilies by Liz Tolsma

This is the second novel I've read by Liz Tolsma. The first was Daises Are Forever, which I loved. If you enjoy reading historical fiction you will enjoy the words penned by Liz Tolsma. She opens the imagination and sets the senses on a course that takes the reader back in time. In this case we begin in 1941. The Japanese have the Philippines occupied and we find ourselves in Manila at Fort Santiago where the main characters are being held captive while the island is occupied. 

There are some truths to this novel and other areas where the writer allows our imagination to take us a journey of possibilities. The main characters grabbed my heart immediately. I was hooked from the first pages to the last. 

Tolsma's words flow easily. She invites us into the character's lives and allows us the opportunity to really get to know them. Not only know them, but care about them. We follow their lives through these captive years and all that happened to them. It's unimaginable what the people of Manila went through during the war. But Tolsma opened my heart to a place and time I wasn't all that knowledgeable about and allowed me to become intrigued. 

We see God change hearts. We see forgiveness take hold. Unexpected love grows. This novel holds so much beauty. I truly enjoyed it and can't wait to see what the writer pens next. 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband and their two daughters. Her son proudly serves as a US Marine. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Attitude Is Everything When Living With Chronic Illness

Sometimes I wake up and I feel like I've been kicked by a horse and more than one time. Maybe even trampled would be a better word. Chronic illness stinks. I think the worst part of my journey is that most people have no idea. I look fine therefore there's nothing wrong with me. If she looks that good she can't feel too bad. Really? Yes, those are the words I have grown to dislike very much. We never know the journey of another unless we are able to walk inch by inch with them and let's face it, that isn't happening. No journey is the same. 

I feel like these illnesses are now challenges for me. Challenges to overcome. Challenges to learn vast life lessons. I didn't always think that. Over the years I've had a pity party or two. More like a hundred or so. I've asked, "Why me, Lord? Why do I have to face this?" Now I go with the attitude of, why not me? Really, why not? Would it be better if someone else carried such pain? Not at all. Paul carried a thorn in his side for much of his life. We aren't privy to what that thorn is, but we just imagine because we can relate. 

Migraines can torment a person straight into the dark places no one wants to venture to. The longest cluster I've had lasted about eight weeks. I've had my share of visits to the ER with migraines and panic attacks. They came at the same time about twelve years ago now. I literally thought I was going crazy. Had no idea what was happening to me. I even had a doctor tell me there was nothing wrong with me and I needed to see a psychiatrist. That was heartbreaking. I knew what I was facing was real. It was dark and scary. Finally a specialist who totally understood and helped me. I have migraines today and usually a day doesn't go by without one and panic attacks still hit me, but I am much better. 

Fibromyalgia hit too. I had to have my thyroid removed ten years ago after an infection attacked my thyroid and well, let's just say it wasn't good. I was a mess. I'm still a mess, but a mess with grace and a new strength combined with a attitude that no longer keeps me in the dark. 

I changed my diet and everything changed for me. No more dairy or sugar. No bread. I should say for the most part I have cut out all of those. Every once in a while I can't pass up bread and a fountain soda just calls my name and I answer with a nice slurp of the straw. But when you learn your body you learn so much about what works and what doesn't. Yoga was a big part of my healing journey. 

I've had surgeries and illnesses that have challenged me greatly. I could say that each day is a journey. I wake up not knowing what to expect. I make plans with my hubs, children, or grands and have to cancel because my body is just saying, "There is no way that's happening today". Sometimes I can push myself and I overcome. Others, I spend days in bed with crocheting, books, paper and pens, and my Bible. This is where my journey has taken a whole new vision. I've learned to see the sunshine beyond the cloud cover. Sometimes you just have to look past your pain, past your circumstances and see blessings in disguise. God brings us treasures in the most unexpected places and many of those blessings I'd have missed if I'd not changed my focus off my self pity and unto the Lord. 

We are never going to blossom if we can't see past our circumstances. Part of our growing into who God has called us to be is seeing that it isn't always about us. It's looking past ourselves and realizing that with God there's always a way. He always has something for us to see, to learn, to carry for the journey ahead. And you know what? Don't let anyone tell you that your crazy! You keep visiting doctors until you find the one who is willing to go the extra mile and figure you out. I have been so blessed with wonderful doctors who truly cared. It just took me a while to find them. 

I am blessed to have a husband who understands. He has been with me. He knows. He's seen me at my worst and best. Not everyone understands. But I've learned I can't tear myself up about that. If people love me they understand and they will be there for me. I can't beat myself up because I can't go somewhere or do something I've had planned for weeks. I'm broken when I wake up and realize it just isn't going to happen. But I've come to learn that God has other plans for me and if I open my eyes, ears, and most of all my heart, I'm going to be blessed beyond measure. 

Sometimes realizing that we all have limits gives us great clarity. What I can't do, the Lord will work out. And I have to learn to depend upon Him and Him alone to carry me and set me above the pain and illness. 

A few weeks ago I had the worst asthma attack I've ever had. It lasted about an hour and half. My inhaler just wasn't doing it's job. This just happens to be a winter where I have battled sickness for most of it. My hubs sat next to me, never leaving my side. Hubs was ready to get me to the ER, but it passed. Praise Jesus! I've learned not to rush and give myself time to overcome. That has been a huge lesson for me. We often want quick results and it just doesn't always happen that way. 

Attitude is everything. I could list all of my ailments and share that each day something new comes, but what is better is that I share with you that life is more than the chronic illness. I am not defined by my illnesses. If my attitude is God centered no matter what I'm doing the best I can and I know and trust He is going to get me through. If I'm self centered all I can see is the pain and nothing but ugly comes from that. I remind myself that even on my worst of days it is another's best of days. Another huge lesson. 

We are all broken in some way. Some ways we can see and others we can't. But something we can do is share. We can be honest in our struggles and allow other people to know they aren't the only one facing issues that no one wants to admit. We all like to share we are strong and we overcome, but let's just be honest. Some days just suck. They just do and if we don't have people surrounding us who encourage and inspire us we can end up in places that are dark and alone. If anything has come of my chronic illnesses it's that I've grown more compassionate and grace-filled toward others. I'm a huge mercy, but struggling with illness has brought me even closer to a place of love and sharing. 

Friends, don't beat yourself up. Life does that enough. Make sure you surround yourself with positive and loving people who will support you. And be there for others when you can. When we can't venture out and actually do things, we can do something even more powerful. We can broaden our prayer life and pray for those who we know are struggling. We can send cards and texts. Call people and just give an encouraging word. 

When we open ourselves up to others and we walk honestly we become light-bearers to the world. When we are weak we can find our strength in Jesus. He is the Healer, the great Physician. 

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. and not only that. bit we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5

"And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Celebrating our Silver Anniversary

Wow! The silver anniversary! 25 years of marriage for hubs and I. We celebrated our anniversary on February 14th. Yes, the romantic Valentines Day. 

My hand fits perfectly inside my husband's hand. I love how God does that. Don't you? We are so opposite, but yet we are the perfect fit. 

I always said I would never marry a farm boy. Haha! That's exactly what this girl did at the age of 23. 

I was living in the country with my two girls. I had just recently given birth to my baby girl when hubs and I had met. She was four months old. I sure wasn't looking for a man to fill my life. In fact I wanted to be as far away from men as I could possibly be. My heart had been crushed and trusting men was far from anything I could perceive. 

My now husband was recently divorced and had two children also. He wasn't looking either. I love how God brings the unexpected and somehow everything fits together in His perfect timing. He knew exactly where each of us were and just where we needed to be. 

I was visiting my mom and my now hubs was visiting his uncle. He had been deer hunting all weekend. I can still see his black hair, curled underneath his camouflage hat. He was decked out in camouflage and had his brown hunting boots on. Yes, 25 years later I can still picture it perfectly. 

His uncle was friends with my mom and her boyfriend. His uncle says to him, "Are you seeing anyone?" Hubs replies a quick, "Nope. There doesn't seem to be many good women out there." His uncle replies, "Well, I know where a pretty one is and she's perfect for you. Would you like to go meet her?" Of course, hubs with nothing to lose says, "Well, I suppose we could go visit". 

Now, I know nothing of this visit. They didn't call first. So here I am with my cut off sweat pants and a sweat shirt that has spit up on the front. My hair is pulled up on my head like some sort of a bird's nest. I had been at my mother's house all day and was just about ready to travel back home. 

There's a knock at the door and here they are entering the living room. He was so handsome in his camouflage. There was something about his green eyes. My girls took to him like they had known him forever. He picks up my littlest, Whitney, and is bouncing her around. To my horror she spits up all over him and down his back! Most men would have thrown a fit. Not him. He laughed and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He wasn't in a hurry to give her back. We got him cleaned up and our visit continued for a while. 

He and his uncle left and I stood there with my mom with Whitney on my hip and Ashley at my side and said, "I'm gonna marry that guy". My mom looks at me as if I've lost my gourd and says, "What? I doubt you ever see him again". It was just three days later I received a call from him. We would be going on our first date.

Get ready. We were married four months later. LOL I know, right? Pretty quick for two people who didn't see a relationship in their future. But God did and He placed us right in the perfect spots at the perfect time. I look back in awe of all God did to bring us together. 

My hubs had journeyed with the Lord since he was thirteen years old and here I was not knowing Him at all. But He sure knew me. He knew this man would love me for all the years to come and I would come to know Jesus through my hubs tender heart. 

Two years later we had our son. Our family was to be complete. It's amazing to look back and see all that we accomplished. We raised five beautiful children together and now we have three glorious grandchildren who light up our lives and somehow get us to do things we would have never done with our own children. LOL

Life wasn't always easy. In fact there were some ugly years. Years that I didn't know if we would make it or not. My hubs had a temper. He carried such anger. I can tell you I've never known a father to fight for his children as my husband fought for his. But this anger carried over and there were quite a few years where I just wasn't sure. In my unsure heart I began praying. I knew I couldn't change my husband. Only Jesus could. And He did. Today my husband is the most gentle man I know. He has grown to be such a godly man. A man that still stirs my heart when I see him. 

Neither of us were perfect. Goodness, we still are not perfect in any way, only through Jesus. He changed us. He molded us. He kept us together and He answered prayer after prayer. He took two messed up people and created something beautiful and lasting. Only God can change us. We often think we can 'fix' one another and change each other into what we want. Nope. It doesn't work that way. God takes His time and molds us, using every possible life lesson to bring us to where He wants us to be. 

With each passing year we grew not only as believers, but we grew closer together. We are still growing. This man that has blessed my life kisses me daily and forever tells me I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. He takes my hand and walks side by side me. 

So many years of chronic illness has blasted me, but I have never once been alone. My husband has always been there to take care of me. He has carried me in the door many times. He has held my hair back when I've been sick. He would drive miles just to get me what I needed. I guess you could say I too have taken care of my hubs. I believe he would tell you so. There is something magical when you put your spouse first. When you just go out of your way to make their day and to make them realize how loved they truly are. 

There have been times where we have butted heads, but for the most part we have simply knocked ourselves out letting the other know just how special they are. So each year at Valentines Day we don't really go overboard and do something outlandish. Why? Because we don't wait for one day a year to come along and tell each other how much we love one another. We do so every day. Every opportunity given we show one another how great our love is. So, yes, we celebrate our love daily in the actions of simply loving each other beyond our expectations.

What I have loved about our family is that we never allowed people to refer to our kids as half or step brothers and sisters. We were family and that was that. We were complete in every way. 

We forgive and we talk things out. We rarely disagree now. We have just grown so close. I tell you this man can tell you my thoughts before I ever speak them. He can look at me when no one else can tell and know that it's a day I'm not feeling good. 

There's something about a farm boy and a city girl at heart. Coming together we share our loves and we enjoy life together. He comes to the museum with me and walks through the zoo and I spend hours with him in the woods deer and turkey hunting. He has become a lover of reading and me, I've become a lover of everything he enjoys. Somehow God has brought us to truly becoming one and friends, that's a love that is forever lasting. 

To Live Is Christ by Beth Moore

Beth Moore writes timeless. Her books can touch our hearts and give us room to explore our journey with Christ. She shares transparent and gives the reader more than one could expect. Every time I close a Beth Moore book I know I have journeyed, I have learned, and I have grown more like Christ. 

She opens my eyes to new visions and new ways of understanding the Word of God. Here in this excellent book she takes us on a journey with Paul. I can tell you I have learned more about Paul from Beth Moore than any Sunday School class or any sermon. 

This selection is close to the copy of "Paul" by Beth Moore. This is part of a signature series including, Jesus, David, and John. Beautifully written 90 day journey. Take a peek at my review of, "Paul". You too can find , "Paul", at the B&H Publishing Group site. 

These two books are not word for word. But they are very similar. This is more of a study format and the signature series is more of a devotional/study. They are both amazing!! 

This book was printed back in 2008. Don't ever think because a book is printed years before it cannot hold value today. Beth's words are timeless and are so profound they will touch every heart. I know I have been changed by her books and this is a favorite of mine. 

Beth always takes us right to scripture. This is truly a journey with Paul. As I learned about Paul, I learned more about Christ, and therefore I learned more about myself. Oh, how I could relate to Paul in such a new way. Beth brings us to really know him and to see him as if we walked his journey. 

If you would like to journey with Paul this would be a wonderful selection. My book is covered with many notes and pink highlighted words penned by Beth. 

As we learn about Paul we truly see how Jesus moves in the heart of man and how only He can change us to look more like Him. All He needs is a willing heart and the journey of new begins. 

This book was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

Holman HCSB Study Bible Large Print Mahogany LeatherTouch Indexed by B&H Publishing Group

Are you ready for another amazingly beautiful Study Bible?  Here you go! I know, I keep sharing faves, but this one tops the charts for me. It is exquisite! Gotta begin with the Leathertouch. This one is mahogany and it two toned. In the middle of the mahogany is a gorgeous pattern that exemplifies magnificence. I know what you're thinking. But I'm not exaggerating at all. Gorgeous in every way. 

There are two ribbons and this Study Bible is indexed which I LOVE! It is a large Bible, but with the large print and all that this Study Bible holds I wouldn't expect any less from Holman. 

Now for the inside. It just doesn't get any better than this. A Holman Study Bible contains everything you can think of for further learning and embracing a study of the Word. 

We have Greek and Hebrew word studies which are amazing tools in understanding scripture. Once you learn the origin of the word and grasp the original meaning you are on your way to understanding the Word like never before. 

The concordance is outstanding along with the color maps. The comprehensive study notes are outstanding. One could seriously spend hours just reading the study notes and they are of such huge value to understanding scripture. Something I really love about this Study Bible is the charts and reconstructions. I too am excited about the color photos that take us back in time and open our eyes to objects and places that tell so much about the time. 

The timelines are great tools, the essays are all throughout the Bible and touch on every subject. I shouldn't say, touch on. They go deep below the surface and I love that!! The introductions to each Book of the Bible are not only beautiful, but hold a LOT of information. Once we can understand the author and the time and who the Book is written to it gives us a greater understanding, which is why we should be reading the Bible in the first place. Love going deep and a Holman Study Bible will take you there!! 

I encourage you to visit the site of B&H Publishing Group. This is one beautiful Bible, but if this isn't what you're searching for you are sure to find the perfect Bible for you!!

If there was one disadvantage, and it's a small one, it would be that the pages stick together a bit. But this is easy to solve. It only happens once you open your Study Bible for the first time. With patience it's easy to run your fingers across the pages and separate them. Once you take the time to do this it never happens again. I might add that this Study Bible comes beautifully boxed and wrapped. Which makes for a wonderful gift! 


This Study Bible was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 
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