Finding Strength & Hope in God’s Word

Finding Strength & Hope in God’s Word
A Devotional for a Mother’s Heart

At the beginning of the year I decided to do a Chronological Bible reading plan. I’ve tried them in the past and got to like Numbers 3 and called it quits. I thought I would try it again and said to myself “This is my year! I’m not quitting after I’ve read about how so and so begat so and so!” I chose to do it so I could have a more linear understanding of the Bible. I started to see what a relational God we have. I was seeing God and Jesus in every corner of the Bible! He wants us to know him and have an intimate relationship with him. God revealed to me during my reading in Psalm 119 that we are strengthened according to his word and we can find hope in his word! By being in his word more consistently my understanding of who God is and how much he delights in his children when they live abiding lives of obedience has grown exponentially.

I have experienced such sweet times of worship at my kitchen table where the Lord meets me in his word and jumps off the page and I see him in my life. I see him in the way the sky looks painted by his finger, or when I spot a new tomato in my garden, when I think about how the events of my life are being orchestrated by a loving and caring father, or when I see him sending friends knocking at my door at just the right moment. Even as my kids are running around playing and it’s chaotic, I have these sweet moments of worship after he reveals himself as I read.

As we grow in the knowledge of God’s character through the study of his word, we can’t help but be strengthened in our love for him. We cannot love what we don’t know. Just like when we fell in love with our husbands. You had to get to know him first. God wants you to fall in love with him.

When we know God we can trust him with our kids, we can trust him with our husbands, we can trust him with our hearts and lives and have hope for the future because we know he is trustworthy, steadfast, just, faithful, merciful, loving, kind and patient.

After 4 years of homeschooling, we decided to send our kids to school and through the whole process I’ve heard the Lord over and over whisper to me “trust me!” Left to my own devices, I become overwhelmed and afraid. Knowing who God is strengthens my resolve and helps me to trust in him because I know he’s got it! My fear can’t stand at the feet of Jesus.

Give the Lord what you can and trust that he will honor your faithfulness in the small things. He can take 2 minutes of interrupted reading and turn it into a huge learning experience. Pray that he will open your eyes and reveal himself to you! Pray that he will give you the time! There are plenty of ways to spend time in the word while your kids are running around. Include them in it and read a kid’s devotional together or read the bible together and talk about it. Post scripture around your home. Listen to sermons or podcasts while cooking or in the car. It is ok if your kids don’t get their kiddy music all the time.

There’s eternal value in spending time reading the word and growing in knowledge and understanding of who God is through his word. Take the time, even if it’s just a few minutes, even if it’s full of interruptions and even if it’s not what you hoped in terms of depth or time. God can use anything!

In His Image by Jen Wilkin – A Book Review

In His Image by Jen Wilkin 
A Book Review

I was introduced to Jen Wilkin and her teaching about a year ago when my church’s women’s ministry did her 1 Peter study. I loved her approach to Bible Study. I was excited to see a new book from her. Jen Wilkin is an author and Bible teacher. She has a background in women’s ministry, and has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. She is the author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds and None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing). (Bio from From In His Image back cover) In usual Jen Wilkin fashion, she has created another book that is written in love but packs a punch! This is the best book I’ve read in a long time. 

The goal of the book is to help the reader know God and allow him to make us more like Him. “God’s will for our lives is that we conform to the image of Christ…” (In His Image p21) Wilkin gently but firmly guides the reader to know more about Gods character and challenges us to desire to reflect that character. Very practical. The application side of the book is fabulous. Wilkin has such a great way of saying it like it is but in a loving way. EVERYTHING is backed by scripture. This is not fluff. It is deep and meaty. I read it slowly so I could chew on every nugget of wisdom. My understanding of who God is has increased tremendously after reading this book. My bible reading has also gotten better with this increased understanding of who God is. Great book. 

For more information about Jen Wilkin & her ministry check out her facebook page here:  https://www.facebook.com/wilkinjen/?ref=br_rs

You can purchase a copy of Ms. Wilkin’s books here:

I received a digital copy of this book from netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. It was so good I bought a copy!
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Radical Hospitality

A Book Review of Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt

The word hospitality gets tossed around like a squishy baby in a room full of women. However, do we really have a true understanding of what Biblical hospitality truly is? In her book, Just Open the Door, Jen Schmidt describes hospital in this way: “Hospitality, unlike entertaining, treats everyone as a guest of honor rather than grasping at honor for yourself. Opening your door has nothing to do with the actual setting, the guest list, or the food The atmosphere can be exactly the same yet have very different results based on the heart attitude of the one who welcomes.” (Just Open the Door page 8) When we have people in our homes it can be hospitality, when we talk with someone on the street or in the halls of church it can be hospitality. Hospitality doesn’t have to be limited to the department of church that plates up cookies and brews coffee. Hospitality is a heart attitude; one that says “You are welcome here in my home, in my heart, and I want to know you!” We can demonstrate this hospitality no matter where we are.

I think it’s interesting that at the basis of the word hospitality is the word hospital. When we invite people into our lives and we open our hearts to them, we are like a hospital of sorts… not only for our hearts but for theirs. When we take time to know and love people healing can happen. We are called into community. Hospitality is a community builder. Christ gathered and invited people into his circle and we are called to do the same. We get to gather and love on each other.

An important question we need to ask ourselves is “Why do we open the door to others?” Is it for me or for them? We can serve Christ by loving and serving others. Another important question to ask yourself is “Whose life are you leaving a mark on?” and “Who is leaving a mark on yours?” Hospitality doesn’t have to be fancy or perfect. It’s all about the mark being left on each others lives. Not what they think of our fabulous pinterest worthy decorations and whether our home is spotless.

Just Open the Door does a fabulous job of describing what true Biblical Hospitality is and what it isn’t. The author is so relatable and funny! She tells of her own journey towards true hospitality in a way that invites the reader in on her journey and encourages them to want to take the plunge. She tells of the emotions and struggles involved, the insecurities of inviting people over last minute with no time to clean, and the joys all these encounters brought to her life. I love the Elevate the Ordinary sections full of practical application and ideas! The Dear Jen sections ask common questions everyone wants to ask but might be too afraid, and answers them in a graceful authentic way. The chapters are short and easy to read. I found myself underlining, laughing, and saying “huh! that’s so true! Never thought of it that way!” over and over. This is a well thought out book that is so applicable and necessary. I would highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from Lifeway in exchange for my honest review. All opinions stated here are my own.

You can find a copy of the book here as well as a copy of the study guide.

 

For more information about Jen Schmidt, free resources and ideas for all things check out her blog at http://beautyandbedlam.com or her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/beautyandbedlam

*Affiliate links included. 

Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation

Finding The Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation by Elyse Fitzpatrick

A Book Review

Ever wonder what the point of reading the Bible is? It’s just a history book. What does it mean for me today? I can’t understand it. Do any of these thoughts go through your head when someone mentions the Bible? This book is here to help you; to answer your questions and help you see how the Bible connects within itself and also connects and is very relevant to us today. The author begins by explaining why the Bible is important and what it is ultimately about. It’s not about me. It’s about God. It is God’s love story! Then she goes on to introduce and explain 4 categories to use while reading the Bible to help you see Jesus in stories about Moses or Abraham or any other place in the Bible, because Jesus is all over the Bible. He isn’t just in the Gospels (New Testament) when he walked the Earth. The Bible comes alive when you can see how Jesus is in it all; even before he was born to Mary. Ms. Fitzpatrick then uses these 4 categories to show the reader how the love of Jesus is found in the Books of Moses, in Israel’s stories, in his songs & sayings, in his prophets, in his law, and in the gospels. She writes clearly so the reader can follow and understand. Her writing is broken up into easy to understand chunks. I would recommend reading the book slowly so you can fully digest everything she is saying. Then open your Bible so you can practice what you’ve learned for yourself.

This book is geared more towards women but is helpful for everyone. It can be used by new Christians or those who have been saved for years. There’s something for every stage. The author is passionate about what she writes and wants the reader to see the joy of reading their Bible. I found the book extremely applicable and helpful for my own Bible reading. I write the 4 categories in my journal so I can have them handy when I’m reading. I would recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions stated here are my own.

Check it out here:

For more information about the author check out her facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/elysemfitzpatrick/

Some of her other works:

 

*Affiliate Links included. I earn a few cents for purchases through these links at no cost to you.
 

 

Adamant by Lisa Bevere

Adamant by Lisa Bevere

Adamant: Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions is Lisa Bevere’s newest book published in April 2018. I was intrigued by this book and was excited to have an opportunity to read and review it. It seems as though everyday we are inundated with people’s opinions through social media. Everyone wants to share how they feel about all the latest hot items, how the president got off his airplane, hollywood stars and their extravagant lifestyles, what new health trend is exploding onto the market, how we should handle guns & all the violence, and the list goes on and on. Where is truth in all of this? What is truth? How can we as Christians stand up to all the various opinions floating out there? Should we just ignore them and push our own opinions? Everyone has opinions. But it’s not opinions we should be basing our lives and feelings around. We should be living for the truth; the truth found in God’s word. God and what he says should be the moral compass for our lives. He should be the rock at the center of our lives. The one we run to, fall back on and rely on when the chaos of the world is screaming at us from every direction.

In comes Ms. Bevere’s book! Do you ever use the word adamant? What are you adamant about? Did you know the word began as a noun? An invincible stone, adamas in Greek. Weapons formed out of this material wouldn’t break in battle. They were invincible, unchanging, and forever. Ms. Bevere calls Christ our adamas. He is our rock, our cornerstone, invincible, unchanging and forever. I loved this picture! He is the only thing we can rely on fully. He is the only one who can be trusted. The book lays out all the reasons Christ is the only adamant. He is adamantly intimate and constant. He is adamant in love and in hate. He is adamant that we love; adamant for truth. He calls for adamant transformation. We are adamant in Christ. The author finishes by charging the reader to be adamant in Christ for Christ in this world of chaos and opinions. We have the truth of Christ in us. It’s calling out wanting to be given to those around us. We are called to share the truth of Christ with others. This book helps us be confident in who Christ is and who he made us to be. Through scripture, personal experience and wisdom gained over years of Bible study, Bevere shares her heart with the reader in a loving, gentle but firm way. I loved this book and know you will too! The chapters are a little long for my liking and I think it would make it easier to read if they were broken up a little more. But take your time, read slowly, and glean from all the golden nuggets you will find in this book.

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. All opinions here are my own.

Check out other books by Lisa Bevere here!

For more information about the author check out her website at https://messengerinternational.org/lisabevere/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisabevere.page/

 

Breaking the Fear Cycle Book Review

 

Breaking the Fear Cycle by Maria Furlough is in many ways the best book I’ve read all year. The author begins the book with the heart wrenching story of the loss of their 4th child Gideon to Potter’s syndrome. She tells of the fears she faced head on and the way her fear took over and drove her to decisions she might not have otherwise made. She then tells of the ways the Lord intervened and had a greater plan for Gideon and her. This plan wasn’t an escape as quick as you can plan. It was a plan that would face the crippling fear holding hands with God and be forever changed because of it.

The book is FULL of scripture, prayer and heart probing questions. Each chapter is ended with a prayer and a list of questions for meditation and self reflection. The author encourages journaling and getting quiet with God to allow Him to show you your fears and the control they have over you. Through scripture examples and examples of her friends and acquaintances, the author illustrates her points and brings them to real life for the reader. She connects our fear with our misunderstanding God and who he is. She clearly combats that with guiding the reader to scripture to see who God is and why we can trust him with even our greatest fears.

I love the authors vulnerability. She instantly gains the trust of the reader when she says it like it is. I don’t see her as someone who is high and mighty and has it all together. Instead I can see myself in her. I can relate to her. I have an increased bravery to face my own fears because of the way she faced hers. Don’t miss out on this book! It doesn’t disappoint.

For more information about the book https://www.breakingthefearcycle.com/
or the author’s facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/maria.furlough/

I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions stated here are my own.

*Affliate Links Included

Fierce Marriage Book Review

Fierce Marriage by Ryan and Selena Frederick isn’t your typical marriage book! From the beginning of the book the authors claim their book is not just helpful and it’s not just hopeful, as some marriage books tend to be. Their book is both helpful and hopeful. I found this to be true over and over again in the book.

I was a bit distracted at the beginning by some platitudes and a really long drawn out story. When the story ended however, the book picked up. I felt like the explanation for the super long story was mediocre at best. I wanted to have a clearer understanding why they spent the time they did at the very beginning of the book to tell the story. The beginning of a book is such a critical time to grab the readers attention and keep them reading. While I never understood why they included as much detail to the story as they did, I understood what they were generally trying to say with the story. I wished the beginning of the book would have been different.

That aside, I loved the book from there on out. The authors don’t take for granted that the reader knows what basic scriptural concepts are. They clearly explain the gospel and why it is so important for marriage. Scripture is constantly referred to. The part I love the most is that the authors don’t focus on solving symptoms, on putting a bandaid on a broken marriage. They clearly state that it’s only through heart change, brought on by the gospel, that marriage can be fierce! YES!!! When I read that I almost said “YESS!!!” out loud. I loved how genuine the authors were. They talked openly about their struggles and built a rapport with the reader in such a great way.

Overall I would give this book 4 stars. They have great experience to share and everything is explained through the lens of the gospel. Great book.

For more information about the book visit: https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/fierce-marriage-radically-pursuing-each-other-in-light-of-christ-s-relentless-love-9780801075308

I received a copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for my honest review. The thoughts stated here are my own.

Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders

 

Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders by Aubrey Malphurs, professor of Pastoral Ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary and author of over a dozen books on church consulting, leads Pastors, church staff and lay people to a better understanding of emotional maturity. He spends considerable time in the first half of the book defining emotions, presenting the different historical view points and research of leaders in the field, and describing what an emotionally mature leader is. Scripture is referenced throughout the text and presented as where our emotions come from and how we should see them in light of God’s word. I found myself wondering, however, why he seemed to be ok with linking behavior and emotions so closely. He made points about emotions driving behavior and vice versa but there wasn’t an argument for the fact that yes our emotions do drive our behavior but that shouldn’t be the case. My emotions should not be driving my life train. When I allow emotions to drive the train of my life, I get erratic behavior. Emotions can lie. Instead of allowing emotions to drive our train, truth found in God’s word should be what drives us. This doesn’t mean that emotions should be ignored, just that they shouldn’t be allowed to excuse or decide behavior. A problem arises when we let feelings dictate and determine who we are and what we do. I must find truth in God’s word and let it drive me, let it determine my behavior. This truth doesn’t lie; can’t lie. Malphurs seems to promote a view that is heavily promoting feelings & emotions.

You don’t really get into the meat of the book until half way through. The best part is in the appendix. I’m sure people overlook this part of the book because on quick skim through all you might see is assessment. Tucked inside the assessment is application and step by step methods to increase emotional maturity and learn how to be a better leader. Had I skipped the appendices, I would have rated this book 3 stars at most. I felt like the first half of the book and the appendices were disjointed; like there was two books put together. I would have been happy with a simple review of the first half and more expounding information in the second. For example, more practical examples and stories of others would be helpful to illustrate concepts and ideas. The information presented in the appendices is very practical and useful for all types of leaders and I felt like I wanted more. I wanted more connection to my lack of ability to change myself. It was heavy on I- what I can do to change me. It’s only through the power of the Holy Spirit that my heart and thus my behavior (in relation to myself and my feelings and others) can be changed.

Overall, this book has good useful information. As with all books, you have to take some of it with a grain of salt. I feel like I can use the information found in this book to increase my leadership effectiveness. “How people feel about themselves when they are around you is vital to the effectiveness of your leadership and the influence that you exert on them for Christ.” (Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders p 138)

Pelican Point by Irene Hannon

This was my first book by Irene Hannon. I didn’t know what to expect but the cover was intriguing. It is the story of Army Doctor Ben Garrison whose grandfather passed away and left Ben an inheritance. While back in Pelican Point to handle his grandfather’s estate, Ben meets Marci Weber, editor of the town newspaper. Will Ben & Marci’s individual pasts come back to haunt them or will they let go and be healed from them? What will happen with Ben’s newly inherited lighthouse?

I gave this book 4 stars. This is a really interesting concept for a book. The setting and characters were great. Very lifelike and well developed. The author has a great attention to detail and can describe things in such a moving way. I could picture the setting and characters. I could relate to them as well. Loved the inclusion and focus on the lighthouse. I wish there was more action though. The book had a sweet storyline but it was just kind of common everyday stuff. I wished the conflict was brought in a little earlier. I felt like that aspect of the book could have used more development. I felt like the conflict was a thrown in after thought. The characters had such great backstories that I felt could have been expounded upon. It would have made for a more action packed page turner kind of story. Greg and Rachel’s part of the story was excellent. Love the themes of redemption, reconciliation, love, forgiveness and trust. Overall the story is clean and moves well just wished there would have been a little more action to push it from 4 stars to 5.
I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

For more information about the book and author visit Ms. Hannon’s website at http://www.irenehannon.com

or visit her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Irene-Hannon-426433004084567

A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

After loosing her mother, Catherine thought she would never trust doctors. She was lonely and sad. She spent her days as a teacher, trudging on teaching her students to follow their dreams, while she had come to believe hers would never come true. Catherine becomes friends with the town’s mysterious newcomer and starts to wonder if dreams were worth while.

I would give this book 3-4 stars. I wish there was a way to do 3.5 stars. This is the 2nd book in the series but it can totally be read as a stand alone book. I really like the plot lines and character development was great. I wish there was a little more setting development at the beginning. I had a hard time seeing it in my head. The story started out a little slow for me but got better as the story progressed. I love how clean the story is. Loved the elements of forgiveness and dreams coming true when we wait on the Lord. It was great to learn some history in a fun story. Love learning like that. The author put a ton of time into research and it shows in the story. She weaves Christian themes into the story without making the reader feel overwhelmed by it. They are natural and add so much to the story even in their simplicity. The children add a lot to the story. I loved that storyline. I had a hard time with the word minions. I felt like that part of the story could have been better. It was a real turn off to see that word for some reason. Overall the story was sweet and well written.
It’s an easy clean read you will surely enjoy.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was in no way required to write a positive review.

For more information: https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/a-borrowed-dream-9780800727574

or visit the author’s facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmandaCabot/