Wednesday, July 15, 2015

HCSB Study Bible, Mulberry LeatherTouch Indexed by B&H Publishing Group

I have three Bibles sitting beside my bed. An HCSB study Bible,  an HCSB Women's Study Bible, and a NKJV personal size study Bible. It simply doesn't get any better than a Holman study Bible. Take your pick. There's one that's perfectly created just for you. You can visit the H&B Publishing Group site for great photos and information on this Bible and others alike.

This is the HCSB study Bible in mulberry leather. This is a beautiful study Bible inside and out. Let's first begin with the outside. The soft leather of this Bible is mulberry with a delightful design through the middle. It has two ribbon markers, a deep purple and a lavender color. I love having a Bible that allows a bit of my personality to shine through. We want to pick out that perfect Bible that we will spend a lifetime studying. Our Bible is intimate. It's God's love letter to us, so why not pick out a fave color that's fun to share with others too.

This study Bible has everything the NKJV includes, with a bit more. It's that bit more that I love so much! There is  a Greek/Hebrew word study that is a tremendous tool to have when understanding the Word. Something else is the coloring. With the word study and the introduction the coloring has an ancient accent to it and that makes it very inviting. You could spend hours just studying the timelines and photographs. You too will find that this study Bible is indexed for easy finding. This is a great tool, especially when we are new to the Bible and just learning our way around the Word.

The concordance is the best of the best that I have had the pleasure of using. You will also find a reading plan that fits your study perfectly. A great feature is found when opening up your new study Bible. We all have a first at studying the Bible. When I first began studying I had no idea where to begin or even how to study the Bible. Holman makes it easy to understand. They guide you through the introductions and give you a personal tour as to how to use your Bible.

This Bible comes beautifully packaged. When your study Bible arrives you may find that some of the pages stick a bit. I have found with a bit of patience and a tender hand these are easy to fix. I open the pages and gently run my hand over the pages and with a bit of time they come apart quite easily. Once you have them apart they will never again stick.

The photos and graphs truly captivate me. I love the color maps too. You will not only find color maps in the back of the study Bible, but throughout the study Bible. As I'm studying these tools give me a better sense of the Word and I can even envision myself as the scenes on black and white unfold.

You are sure to love this exquisite study Bible and enjoy spending hours studying the Word of God.

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

Holman Study Bible: NKJV Edition, Eggplant/Tan LeatherTouch Indexed by B&H Publishing Group

If you are searching for a study Bible Holman is the place to find the perfect Bible for you! This is a beautiful selection. I love being able to share all of these study Bible with you! This eggplant/tan color is gorgeous. The leather is soft, the binding strong, the edges are trimmed in silver, and it's indexed for easy finding.  It also has two ribbons. Purple and tan that will help keep place for you to hold that last reading. That's just the outside! I know, some people may not care what the outside of their Bible looks like, and that's okay. I love a black leather Bible. Simple beauty. You too can find that at B&H Publishing Group. But I love having a Bible that expresses my personality. It is also a great invite for others to ask about your Bible and that gives you an opening to share all you have been learning. 

If you visit the B&H site you can check out all the info about this study Bible and more. Now let's talk about what's inside. What I love about a Holman Bible is that they have a section that gives help in learning to use this study Bible. For all of us there is a first time to read a Bible and what an amazing tool they give for advancing us in learning to use the study Bible the best way possible. 

This study Bible is loaded with all kinds of tools. This is the NKJV translation. There are 15,000 study notes!! The concordance in the best I have yet to find. I love the color maps, illustrations, and reconstructions. This study Bible is truly the best of the best. At Holman they give an array of essays that are helpful in understanding the Word. One of my favorite aspects of this study Bible are the charts and timelines. These are tremendous tools in aiding us in our study. 

The introductions are marvelous and jam-packed with information. For instance if you open the Book of Numbers you will find the introduction that shares the author, background, message and purpose. It speaks about the Sovereignty of God, the Presence of God, the Purity and Holiness of God, God and Revelation, Promise and Fulfillment, Uniqueness and Exclusivity of God, Celebration in Worship, Contribution to the Bible, and Structure. Whew, and that's just part of the introduction! The words of Christ are in bold red. This is something I always look for in a Bible. This is a great reading print that's easy to see. 

This is a study Bible for you to have for a lifetime. This bible is one you can deeply dive into and spend a few minutes to hours upon hours.  The more time I spend in this Bible the more time I want to spend uncovering God's Word. 

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

Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith

This is one of those novels where I must be careful not to share too much so when you pick up this marvelously penned novel there will be nothing to hold you back from being surprised. A surprise indeed. I am new to James Bryan Smith. The cover caught my attention. I didn't even read an excerpt. It simply looked inviting. I didn't know the blessing that was in store for me.

The writing is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis. Such wisdom and beauty weaved into a tale of truths that leads the reader to ponder as each sentence is absorbed. A novel that is tender, rich, and poignant. Forgiveness, redemption, and hope are entwined within these pages that hold a story that brings the reader to a whole new place in faith. Restored faith and a touch of the unknown coming into view and a dose of {everything} is possible with God.

The author of this novel was on overload. Three deaths so close together caused this man of faith to question everything, to grow angry, and to walk away from all that he knew as truth. His friend, Rich Mullins, died in a car crash in 1997. Six months later his daughter died and then not two years later he said goodbye to his mother. Now he is crushed by a weight that has caught his breath. All of these things are true for the author of this precious novel. He needed some time of quiet. During that time a dream of sorts came to life. It is through this dream that the story unfolds into a beauty that I cannot quite capture with my inadequate words. James felt the desire to share his story and through the telling of this fictional novel truth rings loudly to every heart opened as they read this novel.

This was first released back in 2000. It was updated and released again in 2007. Where I have been that I have missed this masterpiece? Maybe today is God's perfect timing. In September it will be a year that my friend said goodbye to her fifteen year old son. For anyone who has had to say goodbye this novel will pierce your soul and awaken your heart anew. This is a novel for everyone. It is truly poetic beauty.

We have such questions beyond a depth of what we can comprehend. Through the telling of the dream that awakened James we will find ourselves pondering heaven and one may even have their eyes opened to just what could be possible.

In the novel James has changed the names of the persons he has said goodbye to except his daughter's name. I love that Rich wrote a song for her. Rich died before this song could be placed on his next album. As James (Tim Hudson) tells the story we see God's goodness and glory unfold. We see Him reach down into the soul of James and bring healing to his heart, body, and soul.

This is a short novel, but one that I didn't rush through. I wanted to take my time as I turned the pages. Such beauty I didn't want it to end too soon. This is certainly a wonderful working of seeing what happens when we surrender all and trust our God.

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

James Bryan Smith teaches theology at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. His previous books include A Spiritual Formation Workbook, Devotional Classics (coauthored with Richard Foster), and Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven. Jim and his wife, Meghan, have two children, Jacob and Hope.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Following A Pattern

Quite a few months back I began meeting with a friend once a month learning a new stitch for an afghan. We were intentional about meeting. Too often friends say, "Let's get together", but then never do and miss out on tremendous blessings. We still meet once a month. Only now instead of learning a new stitch I get to show her an afghan I created because of her teaching. 

Over lunch we would take out our yarn and hook and begin the lesson. I have been crocheting for quite a many years, but have always just created in my own way, never going by a pattern. It was fun and lots of afghans and scarves came from my creative mind, but I was limited as to what I could create. There was so much more to learn. So, my friend taught me that if I could learn to read a pattern I could accomplish anything. 

She would bring along a pattern and I would watch intently as she showed me each stitch that would complete the pattern. I could pick it up quickly as long she was showing me, but once I got home I would get lost. That can be a struggle when you're wanting to create something. Patience isn't easy when you want to keep going, but getting stuck holds you back. 

While picking out yarn for a next project, which is always fun, I found a great crocheting book with hundreds of patterns and stitches. It even shows a picture of the pattern and each stitch. Surly I could figure this out on my own after having such a great teacher guide me thus far. I came home, opened up the book with excitement and began picking out patterns. 

I'm slowly making my way through this book. Each month I pick out a new pattern to learn, grab some yarn that fits my mood, and my fingers are moving like magic. When you have a creative mind it's important to always keep that flowing. Oh, it gives such peace to the soul. Starting out with a piece of yarn, learning to entwine it around a hook and loop it through in many different ways, comes from determination and learning patience. I always begin learning with just a small pattern so that I can master it before moving on to the bigger project. There are many times I have to unravel the mess I've created, the stitch I missed, or the knot in the yarn that has me stumped. Starting over isn't always easy. I've had to redo rows and rows that have taken hours to accomplish. Sometimes I have to keep going back to the book for more instruction or just me taking another look to make sure I'm following the correct pattern. Each time I learn something new.

In this life we can make it for a while, trying things our own way, but we learn we are limited as to what we can achieve on our own. When we follow God's instruction the possibilities become endless as to what we can accomplish through Him.

Ms. Joy being my instructor didn't teach me to follow her, but the pattern. A good teacher gives the student all the tools needed for study. They now want you to take all you have learned and now experience the journey of growth as you continue to be advantageous in learning.

I began as an amateur, but through continued learning I'm growing more qualified as I increase in knowledge. I'm able to create beyond what I could have ever imagined. I see those first stitches as I see my first steps with Jesus. I am now able to see what can be created by following a perfect design.

When I show Ms. Joy a new afghan I've created she is so excited and she will say, "See, I told you if you could learn to read a pattern you could do anything". It makes me feel so wonderful to know that she is over the top proud of me.

Just think how our Lord reacts when we finally get it! When we have followed His instruction and have learned something remarkable He is overjoyed. Can you envision Him when His children have succeeded in creating beauty? He is our Instructor. We the apprentice. Follow Him and we will never again be limited in our accomplishments. 

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 
2 Timothy 3:16-17

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How Far Would You Go?

How far would you go to save your friend?

Would you run in a burning house to rescue them from the flames?

Would you leap over the bridge in hopes of bringing them ashore?

Would you run across desert sand just to reach for their hand? 

Would you lay down your own life?

Jesus would.

Jesus did.

He did it for you and for me. He gave all. He didn't have to. But love gave Him reason. Heaven gave Him cause and His Father gave Him strength.

He crushed the enemy. He is the sword that keeps him at bay. His grace surrounds us each moment as His tender mercies continue to flow. Through Him we find victory. We find life. We find love. Meaning, hope, and security. He is our purpose. He is our forever friend.

Do you know Him? I mean, do you really know Him? He is our faithful Savior who gave His life for yours. Seek Him today. Surrender to Him now. Don't wait. Don't think you can make it all on your own. If you don't know Jesus your missing so much. Maybe you know Him and you have chosen to walk away. Resurrect your relationship with Him today. Find your first love again.

With Jesus we find life everlasting. We find meaning in everything that touches us. We see with a new vision. Jesus is everything.

I can't imagine life without Him. I only want to be where my Jesus is. He is my Treasure. My heart seeks Him. In Him is where I find purpose. I find understanding. It is in Him that I am complete in this mess of a world.

Trust Him today. He can give you a new hope and a new direction for your life. Nothing is more important than the decision you make today to follow Jesus. Accept Him and He will be with you all the days of your life and forevermore.

"For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him." 
John 3:16-17

A Sanctuary Found

It's a cool Missouri evening. This is unusual for us in July, so I want to take full advantage. With my bucket hat upon my head, I grab my pen and paper and pop a seat on the front steps of our deck. 

I'm taking in everything around me. What is it that You, want me to see, Lord? I spy four bunnies feasting on greens in our garden. A mixture of multi-colored cows graze in the pasture across from us. I hear a tractor near by cutting hay for the winter feed. 

Our trees are alive with a variety of birds. I know of two nests. One in back under our deck. This momma bird is a smart one to place her nest so perfectly protective. Five baby birds feed throughout the day as momma and daddy take turns. I expect to see an empty nest any day now as they are getting bigger than the nest. This is the second nest of babes for this momma and daddy. Maybe a third will grace our summer. 

Another is in the front, perched under the leaves so tenderly in our Red-bud tree. A tiny baby wren waits as momma and daddy take turns going from nest to flight catching insects in midair. 

A light rain just passed over. I can still smell it's arrival of freshness. Everything seems to take a big drink, including me. I close my eyes and take it all in. Such peace after a shower. Cicadas are awakening for the evening choir meeting. I can hear a hummingbird visiting our Mimosa tree. 

As the breeze blows my hair I know that this is my sanctuary. Not just the place. Yes, Lord, I hear You.  It's more than that. It's the beauty that captures my senses and takes me straight to God, our Creator of all beauty. A moment of thanksgiving serenity. 

Frogs are singing in the sweetness of the evening. Robins are tugging at worms. I look up as I hear a plane go overhead. I find myself pondering where the people on-board are headed. Are they flying away from sadness to find a place of peace or could they be flying home to unexpected news? Maybe it's a vacation destination away from the hustle and bustle of life. 

The tractor slows to a crawl. Will the farmer go home to a happy evening or will he sit with his wife at the kitchen table covered in unpaid bills? Do you ever wonder about those around us? Just how they spend their evenings? Oh, the peace we all seek. 

As the world around me is topsy turvy, upside down and wrong-side out, this right here is my sanctuary. I feel God testify to me just how real and present He is in my life. He's in everything beauty around me. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but what I know for sure is that the God who created all of this beauty around me is in total control. No matter what, He is here and present, never leaving the daughter He loves. I ponder all He has given me. All to take in and explore how mighty He is. If God can do all this and provide for the smallest of creatures, how much more is He going to do for me?

We can lose sight of that at times. Our sanctuary is invaded, our faith is shaken, and we lose sight of what we know for sure. Satan blankets us with doubt and there goes our sanctuary. Where is your sanctuary? We all need that place we can go to experience the extraordinary of God. 

Life can beat us up so badly that we think there can never be peace found. So much can go wrong in a day. So much hurting around us. Often it's almost too much. I'm learning that peace isn't found in the perfect of the day when all is good and right. No, it's found in the midst of the storm. It's that God-spot that can only be found when trust and belief meet. 

Don't lose hope, my friend. Keep hope alive in your sanctuary. Pretty soon your sanctuary isn't just a place you go to escape. It becomes something you take with you every place you go.

"Don't you yourselves know that you are God's sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?" 
1 Corinthians 3:16

"Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with god through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Romans 5:1

"And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cowardly Heart of Love

It will be two years this coming Halloween that we had to say goodbye to our seven year old Dachshund, Daisy. From the moment my husband and son gifted me with this precious pup I was in love. Just didn't know how much a pup could change me, teach me, and bring such joy to my life. 

I've written about Daisy many times. She was not only smarter than most people I know, she was funny contagious. Her personality shined through every antic and her heart shown mighty big through each time she stayed near my side when I wasn't feeling good. I tell you, that pup knew when a migraine was about to hit. 

She loved without fault. She knew no limit of time. When we left the house, no matter for ten minutes or three hours, when we returned it was like we had been gone for months. I still can't think of her without a smile and a tear ready to fall. I never knew it was possible to miss a pup so much. But for those seven years she graced our home we were side by side. Everything thing I did throughout the day she was with me. 

Early this morning I was dreaming and in my dream there she was running through the house ninety miles an hour, spinning as her feet hit the curve of the kitchen, sliding around and then heading off to go at it again. I sat up in bed expecting to see her. But she wasn't to be. It was just a dream, but one that brought sweetness to my heart. 

When Daisy was about three she hurt her back. That first time was serious and extremely painful for her, but she recovered after nearly eight weeks of being still. Try that with a Dachshund LOL. Not an easy feat. That wouldn't be her last back injury. They would come more frequent and as she grew older it would take longer for her to heal. Just as she had always been at my side, I too was next to her, praying, and helping to bring her to healing. But this last time was much too serious. She had never been in such pain. I knew. My husband knew. It was time to say goodbye. 

Years before I had made a promise that I wouldn't just keep Daisy here for my own selfishness. But to say goodbye would break my heart. But I prayed that I would know when that time came that I would know what to do. 

It was Halloween day. I was waiting for my husband to get home so we could go see our grands all decked out in their Superman and Wonder-woman costumes. Daisy had been recovering from her last bout with her back. I knew it was taking longer than usual and felt something was wrong. My husband and son walked through the door and Daisy moved wrong and that was it. She was wretched with pain like never before. I knew I had to call our veterinarian immediately. He couldn't come to us right away and we couldn't move Daisy to drive her to him. So, we waited and it was excruciating. 

My husband, the farmer, who had never been attached to any kind of animal, loved this pup as much as me. He looked at me through tears and said, "Babe, go to your mom's house and I will call you after Gavin has left. You can't be here. It's too much for you." Through tears, "I can't leave Daisy. But how I can I watch her in such pain?" I got down on the floor and snuggled up close to Daisy. I kissed her head and ran my fingers through her fur as gently as I could and shared with her that I loved her. She knew she was loved. Daisy was a pup that seemed to speak with her eyes straight through to the heart.

I went to my mom's house and met my daughters with the grands. My husband knew that with me at Daisy's side was causing her to move even more and it was better if he could be with her quietly and wait for Gavin. I sat at my moms with tears streaming as I shared with my mom that Steve was waiting on Gavin to come. My mom cried with me. I seen my grands and oh, they gave me such a blessing. How could I not be there at home with my husband? What was wrong with me? Was I such a coward that I couldn't be there? Yes, I was. I have carried that with me every day. 

My phone rang. Through tears my husband said, "Rob, you can come home now". I drove in silence. Nothing but tears streaming. How could I walk into our home and not see Daisy meet me at the door? How could I not see that living room curtain move as her poked her little head through to see who was home? 

You know, I think my husband needed that time alone with Daisy. It had always been me with her for weeks and weeks, sleeping next to her on the floor while my hubs was working and unable to be with her. He wrapped his arms around Daisy and as Gavin entered our home. As much pain as Daisy was in she was still excited to see him. 

I came home that evening. I walked into the kitchen and picked up Daisy's favorite blanket and covered my face in it. I noticed only half of it was there. I looked at my husband. He knew my question. This man, this farmer, my husband, looked at me and said, "Babe, it was her favorite. It's what I wrapped her when I buried her". My heart broke for him. He carried Daisy outdoors that evening, wrapped in her blanket and buried her in our yard. How could I have allowed him to do all of that alone? 

Even though almost two years has passed my heart still aches over not being there. I wasn't there for Daisy and I wasn't there to walk through this moment my husband nor I had ever faced before. I feel like such a coward. I can tell you that I have yet to share my heart with my husband. Even as I write these words I feel ashamed that I wasn't here. I know he asked me to go. He knew my heart. He knew this wasn't a situation that was going to just pass. He was protecting me. But in the same time I should have told him, "No, I'm not leaving you. I will sit right here with you and Daisy". 

See, the truth is, I wish I could go back in time to that day. I would have held her a little tighter so she didn't wriggle out of my arms and injure herself more. She was always so excited when her family came home. I would have taken more time and not been in such a rush to leave the house that day. Most of all I would have remained at the side of my husband, the man with a heart that has grown the size of Texas. Saying goodbye to Daisy was one of the most difficult moments in my life. 

But, if I'm honest I have to admit that if I could go back I wouldn't have wanted to be there. What does that say about me? I hope I get to see this little one again one day. I don't know how all that works. Maybe I will see her in heaven. Maybe God has a special place for those pets that have truly brought healing and so much love to our hearts. I do know I still miss her. Still think about her each day I drop food while cooking or see a dryer sheet float to the floor. When you have a pup everything about your day seems to move around them. She certainly left a love print on my heart. 

It's been almost two years and I'm still working these emotions out in my heart. I had been there for Daisy every single time. I never left her. But here, in this moment when she needs me the most, I left her. She wasn't alone. She was with my husband, her buddy. They were such friends. Amazing how this pup changed the heart of my husband and created room for more grace in his heart.

Friendship with a pup is life lasting. No matter how much time we share with our pets they leave an imprint on our heart that changes us. God certainly knew what He was doing when He opened our home to this beautiful Diva. Our lives will be forever blessed. I know without a doubt she would forgive me. She was my friend. My companion for seven years. She was a pup full of life and love. That's exactly what she brought into our lives. We still have her leash wrapped around the front door. I'm not sure how long it will remain there, but for now, it's our way of saying, we will always remember

Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson

I was delighted with Eva Marie Everson's newest release! I'm a huge fan and always expect a blessing, but this novel went far past my expectations. It is thus far my fave of Everson's writings. This girl is definitely carrying her gift with the intent on not only sharing a great story that captures the heart, but sharing the gospel and a faith for the soul. She is extraordinary in giving the reader an opportunity to not only meet the characters, but fall in love with them. I notice it even more so in this selection. She brings the characters penned on black and white to life. She gives enough detail to allow the reader to have the feeling they are present and leaves enough room for the imagination to soar. I'd say for sure that Eve Marie Everson is a true word weaver!

This story is genius. It could be described as similar to girlfriends sharing a pair of jeans, but it's so much more! These girls all come from different backgrounds, come together, and purchase a wedding gown to be used when each of them marry. The last bride will be the keeper of the gown. Love it!! 

Some of the characters are explored a bit more in detail. Could that mean there could be a sequel? I loved each of these girls and love how Eva gave us characters who are not perfect. We see their struggles within the heart, wanting to be loved, valued, and accepted. They come from a decade that captures my heart, but seems far from what Americans view today as love and proper. Oh, if I could go back in time, but wait, Eva gave me that opportunity in this beautifully penned novel. 

It's extraordinary and a fantastic read in which I took my time reading. Oh, I wanted to flip pages as quickly as I could. There was always something with these girls that was ever-changing and left me hoping for them, but I wanted to enjoy every morsel. I knew it would come to end far too soon. This is what makes a exceptionally gifted writer. When she leaves the reader pondering and stirs their heart, she is creating room for the reader to grow and expand their senses into a world most of us can only dream.

If you're searching for a great summer read choose, "Five Brides"!! This novel was enchanting. I wish I could go back in time to this period when all seemed so much different than today's world. Ah, but Eva has given me a bit of that gift through this extraordinary novel!

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

Eva Marie Everson is a multiple-award-winning author and speaker. She is president of Word Weavers International, director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and enjoys coaching new authors through her company, Pen in Hand. Eva Marie and her husband are the parents of three fabulous children who have blessed them with the world's greatest grandchildren.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Is Love A Fairy-tale?

I can scroll Facebook and see young women sharing their broken hearts, pages from their story, tears of confusion, and how deeply they want things to change. Is love a fairy-tale? No, it isn't, but our world's perception of love is. We have a perfect description of love in 1 Corinthians 13. This entire chapter tells us what love is and isn't.  As young women we can have a distorted view and many times it isn't until we are older that we truly understand. 

I ache for these young women. I too remember asking myself, "Am I ever going to find someone who truly loves me?" Oh, yes, I was that girl who thought I could change the guy. It'll all get better in time. I'll just stick with it until I know for sure it isn't going to work. By then, my heart was broken into a gazillion pieces. Was it all worth it? I taught my children to ask themselves, "Can I picture spending the rest of my life with this person? Can I envision us marrying and spending our whole lives together?" If you can't envision being married. If this girl or guy isn't the one you would walk down the aisle with then you don't need to waste your time or their time. 

Love isn't just fun stuff. It isn't just dinner dates, roses, gifts, going to parties, and spending each waking moment together finding something fun to do. That stuff is pretty remarkable, but after a while the heart needs more. Love isn't just sex and giving some dude all of yourself until he tires of you and finds someone new and more exciting. Love isn't some guy who wants to change everything about you. He isn't going to ask you to stay away from your family. He isn't going to ask anything of you that will cause you to stumble. No, this guy or girl is suppose to inspire and encourage you to be the best you that you can be. 

Picture this girls; If you were to get sick today would he take care of you? If you were to wake up next week with cancer would he give all? Would he stand by your side with no hair and throwing up day after day after he drove you to receive chemo treatments? Say you can envision being married. Would he help with chores? Would he cook and clean and most of all make a great dad? Would he work hard to provide for the family? Would each of his choices be those that are made for the benefit of his bride and children or would he be more self centered and have to have his time away with the boys? 

See, it's important to envision these circumstances, these times in life that aren't so fun. In time we age, we are no longer a size 4. Our bodies change, our emotions change. And he too will do some changing. His hair will recede and he'll gain a few pounds in the middle. In our economy he may lose his job. He could hurt his back and not be able to work for a while. 

Love isn't losing a part of yourself. It isn't giving up who you are for another. It's gaining more of yourself as you and your love grow together. You bring out the best in each other. You excel together as you dream and laugh together. Love is being so comfortable with one another that you can truly be yourself. 

When we're young we don't often think of all of these things. We just think of right now and the fun we are having. But at some point that first argument will come. You will either learn to communicate and work things out or you will fuss and fight and destroy one another by always trying to win. Marriage isn't keeping score. But it sure isn't fighting every day of your life. That isn't love. Sometimes we are more in love with the idea of love than the guy we are trying to be loved by. 

Love sure isn't name calling, and placing one's hands on another. It's not leaving bruises and apologizing only to leave another. It isn't making excuses for one another. It's when we are in these kinds of relationships that we wonder if love even exists. 

Love comes easy. Marriage is hard work, but it doesn't seem like a job. You want to fold your husband's socks and take him a cup of tea. He wants to do the laundry and dishes for you. Marriage or any kind of relationship isn't 50/50. Never is it just 50/50. Sometimes it's 20/80, 60/40, 30/70, but always in the heart it is 100/100. It's helping one another, not because you have to, but because you want to. You go out of your way to make the other feel loved. 

See, love is picturing each other growing older. It's a young man holding your hair when your tossing your cookies. It's a young girl who will help her husband cut wood. See, it's doing for one another expecting nothing in return. It's love in action. 

But see, most of all, and I want you to pay attention. A young man who truly loves you isn't going to ask you to crawl under the covers with him before your wedding day. A young girl who truly loves you will not be asking you to come over when her parents are gone so you can have alone time. She will respect herself and you. If we don't have respect for ourselves how then can we expect others to? 

Too often we don't have good examples in our lives in which to compare. Our parents marriages failed. We witnessed arguing and things children should never see. But see, we do have One in which we can look to for who and what is right in our lives. That is Jesus Christ. He is our Example in what love truly is. 

Hold your standards high. Have patience. Never just settle. Never think you don't deserve to have someone love you as if you are a princess or a prince. You know what? There's nothing wrong with you for waiting. There's nothing at all wrong with saying, "Hey, I enjoy being single." Get to know yourself and who you truly are as an individual. Don't feel that you have to have a dude on your arm to be valued. Guys, don't feel that you have to have a girlfriend just because you're lonely. Mature, grow into the person God has created you to be, and in His perfect timing He will send along the mate of your dreams. It's then you will know she or he is the one! Measure everything against the Word of God and you will never go wrong. 

See, today I would travel to the moon and back for my husband. It's been twenty-five years for us now. I love helping my husband. I love doing things he loves, like hunting and gardening. He knows I love the city, the museums, and the zoo. He hates the city, but he takes me there and he enjoys being with me. We enjoy each other's company. If we're just laying in bed in silence, watching television or reading a book, I simply love just being next to him. 

He brings me wild flowers he's picked himself. Every single day he tells me I'm more beautiful than the day before. He makes me feel precious, loved, and valued. He sees my dreams and he says, "Babe, you can write that book. You have such a gift. If I were the only one to read it, then it would be worth it." I bless him. That's pretty amazing love. 

I fell in love with him even more a few years back when he was laid off of work for three years. Three long years we struggled. You can envision that time. He took side jobs. Worked jobs he never imagined working. One was for minimum wage. He never went a day without providing for his family. He didn't do these days alone. I put in applications and resumes to help him. I would strive each day to make his day wonderful and carry some of his stress. It was a time in our lives that we laughed more and shared more together than many of those years before. For Christmas he purchased me a sock monkey. I had always wanted one, but never received one. He took the last twenty dollars in his pocket and bought that gift. I can tell you that gift means more to me than any other gift, and I've had some amazing gifts! 

Life wasn't always easy. There were early years when he was fighting for his children and carried so much anger. I was often the target of his anger. He wasn't angry at me. He was hurting and angry and didn't know how to let all that go. I prayed. I prayed. I prayed. I couldn't fix all that was hurting my husband. I could be there. I could support him, but it was God that was going to have to fix the broken and bring to beauty the ash of the pain. That is exactly what God did. Today my husband is filled with grace, mercy, and such powerful love! He's so tender. God has given him such a heart of forgiveness. He is truly a man I admire.
I too have felt the prayers of my husband as there were many, many days he spent beside hospital beds that held me. When you live with chronic illness, you never know what's to come, but no matter the circumstance, he has forever loved me, and lifted me to the Lord. In fact, it was my husband that taught me about Jesus. When you have found a man to stick beside you no matter what comes your way, that's a mighty good man for keeps!

Our life together holds so many stories to share. Life wasn't always easy. We made mistakes along the way, just like others. That's a part of growth. Now we can look back at all that we have learned and now we know the true grace of God. We see how He has blessed us and has never left us. 

Our children, all five of them, are grown and have blessed us with grandchildren. I can tell you that my husband is the best granddaddy I have yet to see with their grandchildren. He would say the same about my relationship with them. Everything has come together as our years have brought us closer. 

I've been that young girl messed up in a relationship that wasn't going anywhere. At least anywhere that I wanted to go. I spent a long time trying to {fix} the guy and hope that he loved me as much as I loved him. But today, I can tell you that then I had no idea what love was. I only had the fantasy of what [love] is. Now I know what love is. It's sacrifice, but never sacrificing who you are as a person. It's growing together, exploring who each other are, and then spending day after day bringing out the best in the other. It's dreaming together and coming together to make those dreams come true. 

It takes courage to leave a relationship. Sometimes we are insecure and we want a relationship to make us feel better about ourselves. We should be able to trust our mate. Trust shouldn't be an issue. If it is, take a good look at the relationship you are now in. Could it be time to say, goodbye? Never allow another human-being to take advantage of you and make you feel small. 

Reach out to your family and trusted friends for advice and guidance. Don't stay with a guy just because you have hopes it will one day get better. Tell him or her what's wrong and be honest. Love yourself enough to have deal-breakers! Have confidence in yourself and know without a doubt that you deserve nothing less than the best! 

Love isn't a fairy-tale when love in based in godly faith and the Lord is the center of your relationship. Any guy or girl that makes fun of your faith or tells you how ridiculous it is, it's time to walk away. He or she doesn't respect you. 

Stop wasting your time on people who don't truly love you. Just think, you're giving yourself into a relationship that in your heart you know isn't going to end well. Make sure the hand you hold will love you when your hands are wrinkled with time and aged with a beauty that only the one who loves you will appreciate.

"Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Empire's End by Jerry B. Jenkins

Empire's End was a quick read for me. Maybe even more so because I have been studying the life of Paul. It was enjoyable in the fact that it opens the door for the imagination to explore the life of Saul, his beginning as he persecuted  Christians, and his experience on the Damascus Road, when was changed from old flesh to brand new as Paul. The story flowed, but I found myself stopping frequently to ponder the mysteries that we can only experience through imagination. 

Paul is one of my favorites to study. To truly ponder all that his life entails for us. God brought this sinner to find grace and to live an extraordinary life as he surrendered all for his Savior. So, to read a novel about the life of Paul brings me to open my Bible even more, to dig deep, and find the details for myself. 

And that brings me to explain that is exactly what this book is. A novel about the life of Paul. It's Jerry B. Jenkins, who I admire greatly as a writer, bringing to us truths of the Bible, and pondering as to what Paul's daily journey was all encompassed with as he traveled miles in sandal feet sharing the love of Jesus. 

For me, this novel is in the same premise as the new series, A.D. There are biblical truths throughout the novel, but that is exactly what this is, a novel. It's to touch our hearts, broaden our scope of imagination, and bring us closer to experiencing a life where we are focused on growing in our own spiritual journey. 

I encourage you to open up the Word if you want to learn about the life of Paul. The Bible, as we know, gives us so much information. Some things are simply left out. We don't get to know every detail. So, yes, picking up this new novel will give your imagination a new ride into what it could have been like for Paul in his daily life, his struggles, his family, and his blessings. There's nothing wrong with pondering. It's through our questions that we grow in faith and closer to the people God has created us to be. 

This novel was a gift from Worthy Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Jerry B. Jenkins is a New York Times best-selling novelist (Left Behind Series) and biographer (Billy Graham, Hank Aaron, Walter Payton, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Joe Gibbs and many more), with over 70 million books sold. His writing has appeared in Time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and he has been featured on the cover of Newsweek.
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