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Book Review: Redeeming Love- 20th Anniversary Edition

5 Sep
Redeeming Love- 20th Anniversary Editionis a Christian fiction novel written by esteemed author Francine Rivers.  This edition includes a group study at the end to delve deeper into the Biblical applications shared in the story.
The story begins with a young girl, a mere child, who is yearning for love and acceptance.  Seeing the world’s perspective of love in shocking realization and through the shocking circumstances, the young girl grows into a young woman who is hardened and bitter.  Understandably scarred, Angel has grown into a beautiful woman and has become a sought out prostitute.  When a Godly man discovers she is part of God’s will for his future, and sets about to not just marry her, but to teach her the truth of love, of God’s love, both of them find themselves caught in a whirlwind of emotions and struggles neither expected.
Paralleling the Biblical account of Gomer and Hosea, the story of Angel in Redeeming Love catches the reader from page one.  Just as Gomer continually left Hosea for the life she was more comfortable in, and just as Hosea continually and steadfastly loved her, this incredible story of love despite past sins, recurring sins, and other struggles clearly reflects the love God has for his children.  This book is a beautiful account of God’s redeeming grace, mercy, and love. 
As an avid reader, I am often wary of Christian fiction because it is often hokey and unrealistic.  However, Redeeming Love was brutally realistic and honest to its storyline and character development.  While in real life I cannot relate to Angel’s experiences, I can certainly relate to the struggles of her heart as she learns to love, to trust, and to view God as loving instead of damning.  Moved to tears from the very beginning, and moved to tears again as Angel grows through the book, I find that Redeeming Love will be a favorite among my books and worthy of reading repeatedly.  I recommend this novel for men and women alike.
Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher from Multnomah book review program.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed in this review are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Silver Linings

2 Aug
Yesterday, I posted about the effects of Sequestration. Its a real thing. Its hurting the military ranks. It is also being used as a cop-out, and I am dealing with that aspect of it this week. I am angry- no furious- and frustrated. However, after ranting as much as I am able, and knowing that my ranting will get me nothing more than a headache, while giving everyone around me the impression that I am a hot-head – of course, how would they know anything different, when the first time they deal with me is over their own incompetence? SIGH
 
And there I go again. I am still HOT about the situation, the “reasons,” the excuses. Completely let down. Once again, having the military slam it in my face that my family does not matter is a hard pill to swallow. Granted, a bunch of incredible spouses have commiserated, have jumped up and gotten answers for me, and have offered a helping hand. For them I am INCREDIBLY thankful. Yet, no amount of kindness from spouses who can nothing more than exactly that can erase the neglect and disdain from the people who are supposed to also be caring for the families- the leadership.
 
And again… I am completely forgetting WHY I sat down to write this post this morning. Obviously, I need to step back. In prayer this morning, I am trying to let it go. I am trying to turn my gaze away from the frustration. As I laid in bed, with the sunrise streaming through the window, and the cool breeze touching my face, and the birdsong filtering through, I realized I NEED to again call on my practice to count my blessings. There are so VERY many of them.
  
I firmly believe the way my day turns out starts first thing in the morning when I CHOOSE- yes, you read that right- when I CHOOSE to be positive or I CHOOSE to be negative. Yesterday, I allowed the ugly side of the day to get to me, and I chose to cling to that instead of choosing to say my piece and let it go. I CHOSE to get worked up about it. See, there is a difference between having feelings- like my hurt and frustration and anger- and allowing those feelings to control you. Yesterday, I let those feelings control me. And I feel guilt over my words. I threw an adult tantrum. No matter whether I was right or wrong, the way I went about sharing my concerns has likely taped a HUGE label on my forehead. So, today, I CHOOSE to force myself to step away. I CHOOSE to mentally slap myself out of it, and see those silver linings.
 
 First- we live in a place where we actually get rain. Granted, I think we happened to move here in time for the rainy season, but still. We have gotten more rain during the short time that we have lived here, than we have gotten in the past year in San Angelo. And the thunder and the lightening! I tell you what- WOW! I have always loved the raw power of a thunderstorm, and we have seen it several times now since moving here.

Of course, after every afternoon shower or storm, we are blessed with reminders of the silver lining. Reminders of a power that will care for us no matter how people let us down. I have seen this daily reminder of God’s promise at least every other day since moving here. I don’t think I even saw this many rainbows when we lived in Hawaii! Its incredible!

San Angelo sunsets will never be beat in my opinion. I have seen sunsets on the beaches of Florida. I have seen sunsets from the Appalachians. I have seen sunsets in Hawaii. Now, I have seen sunsets in the Rockies. Of course, each sunset is unique and beautiful. There is no denying that. And while these sunsets over the mountains still take my breath away, and cause my heart to flutter, I still think San Angelo sunsets with their brilliant shades of purples, pinks, and blues are my favorite. And yet, I am consistently drawn to watch the sun set over the mountains every evening.

Ah… The silver linings that actually keep me grounded. My guys. What would I do without them? Both of them had to listen to me rant and rave yesterday. On one side, DH completely agrees. We are definitely in agreement over the disappointment we feel over the situation. However, while I was raring to go jumping up and down on someone’s desk, he had already taken a much more calmer stance. After all, and he is right, what will that do? Nothing. So, DH listened, offered his agreements and disagreements, and allowed me to vent, vent, vent. By the time I was done, frankly, I was a bit ashamed of myself, at which point, he knew to simply hug me and be supportive and let the matter drop. — Now — the Kiddo… He knows the best way to diffuse Mama Bear is to love on her. Hug her, kiss her, cuddle with her. Throw endless amounts of affection at this Mama and she melts right away. And who doesn’t love that?

I know today is a brand new day. While it does not erase yesterday, the problems from yesterday seem much smaller today. Today is fresh, and bright, and new. I have the promise of a God who loves me, of a DH who stands by me, and a Kiddo who is tender and affectionate. I am in a new, beautiful place surrounded with proof of His Majesty and Power. I am in a new place with new people to meet and befriend and develop relationships with. Today is a great day to CHOOSE to be different than I was yesterday.

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To see more of those things that take my breath away, visit my photo page “Where We Live.”

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Regarding the Boston Tragedy

16 Apr

Copied from my Facebook page:

In talking to the Kiddo about the tragic events from yesterday, I asked him to pray with me for the people in Boston. Before we could start, he asked me if God couldn’t stop these kinds of things from happening.  

My response was this: Yes. God COULD stop all the horrible events in this world. However, we were created with free will. We were created to choose to do the right thing or the wrong thing. For every decision we make, we face the consequences, good and bad. Sometimes, people choose to be bad, to make bad decisions, and those decisions affect innocent people. God COULD stop that, but that would strip us of our free will. God COULD allow only good things to happen, but then we would not need Him, we would not value all He has given us, we would have no value for life, or love, or freedom. 

In stark contrast to the horrifying loss of life, and the damage inflicted on so many other lives, I have the choice to focus on the terror and fear of the event, or I can choose to focus on the way people have stepped up, the way prayers were asked for immediately, the way complete strangers jumped to help others, the way ordinary men and women ran to help. I choose to focus on the way the BEST of humanity responded to the tragic event, and I praise God for those people who CHOSE to respond with love, hope, and help.”[edited]

Let us pray for the men, women, and children affected by yesterday’s events.  Let us focus on the bravery of those who stepped up to help.  Let us focus on the help given, the love shown, the hope offered.

God bless!

 
 
 

Celebrating Resurrection Day

28 Mar

Disclaimer:  My family celebrates Easter with eggs, baskets, and chocolate as most Christian families do.  My intent is not to take away from family traditions used to teach the importance of Christ’s resurrection- rather, my intent is to speak to adult Christians mucking around in a watered-down faith of our modern church to go back to our roots. 

Easter is this Sunday.
 
Hallelujah!  He is Risen!

For some of us this means putting on our nicest church clothes, getting up before the sun has risen, and rushing to a church that only sees us on major holidays to offer a feeble proclamation of praise and worship to a God we ignore the rest of the year.

For some of us this means several days of preparation: coloring eggs, decorating the house, shopping for pretty clothes for Easter pictures in front of the display at church, followed by a family meal that competes with Thanksgiving dinner, and very little thought goes into the actual representation of the day.

Then there are some of us who take great pains to remember Christ on this day, to use traditions and adopted symbolism to teach our friends, family, and children about Christ, His sacrifice, His Victory, and His love for us, while still trying to keep up with cantata’s, dawn services, egg hunts, family dinners, etc.  And try as we might, we still miss the big picture.

Easter Sunday, or as I prefer to refer to it, Resurrection Day, is the day we celebrate Christ rising from the dead of HIS OWN accord in victory over death with the debts of sin for every generation paid in full.

Please read that again.  Let it sink in.


He died for our sins.  Mine. Yours.  Our parents.  Our ancestors.  Our children.  Our grandchildren.  Their grandchildren.  He died for every single sin ever committed by every person who has ever lived, and who shall ever live!   Think on that! 

 

We no longer have to atone for our own sins… we merely need to accept that He did that for us, and accept His forgiveness, and offer our thanks, and strive to live better lives.   Yet, we take his death for granted.  We still go out living in sin that we KNOW in our hearts is sin.  We think to ourselves that we are forgiven and that justifies our lack of action to stop sinning.  Shame on us for wasting His gift!

But in addition to His dying for our sins, He willed Himself back to LIFE!  He left the sins He paid for at the feet of Satan, and left the place of eternal damnation to prove to us His power over life and death, to prove to us He is the Son of God.  On the third day after His death, Jesus Christ the Son of God, broke the gates of hell and walked among us once more. 

Jesus Christ fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament freeing us from a life of law and inviting us to a life of peace, love, and freedom under His Grace, Perfect Love, and Mercy with the promise of eternal life at His side.   This too we take for granted.  We assume that living a life of peace, love, and freedom means that we can allow our Faith to become watered down.  We study the Word less and cave into the world’s views more.  In the end, we start believing what the world has to say about our faith more than what His Word says about our faith and we are left hollow, confused, angry, and bitter.

 

My encouragement to you for this Resurrection Day, as you follow your family or personal traditions, is to add to your traditions a deliberate return to His Word.  Make the time to lift your face to Heaven and call upon His name.  His death and resurrection offer you the opportunity to directly seek His face.  Raise your voice in prayer and praise.  Tell your friends and family why modern Easter practices are simply icing on the cake of a gift so precious we need to stop taking it for granted.

Celebrate Resurrection Day and let the rest of the world have Easter.

God bless you!

Love Is In the Air

1 Feb

February is probably best known to girls and women of all ages as the month of love because of Valentine’s Day.

Now, while I love giving my loved ones little reminders that I love them, I frown on the commercialism of Valentine’s Day.  Do flowers and chocolates as gifts make me feel special?  Of course, they do!  However, I don’t want anyone to only show me that they love me on one day of the year!  I want to feel loved every day of the year, and I want to share my love every day of the year.

However, February means more to me than Valentine’s Day’s plea to celebrate the love we share with one another.  February is also the month of my wedding anniversary to my incredible husband.

This year will be nine years married. 

How the years have flown!  Here he and I stand on the edge of ten years together.  We have had such highs and such lows.  Our marriage has been tested, and has been reinforced.  We have changed apart from each other, and we have changed together.  We have lived apart because of the military.  We have moved countless times.  We have dealt with loss, and we have dealt with gain.  We have dreams ripped out of our hands, only to be replaced by new ones.  We have struggled with each other, and we have struggled against each other.

Yet, I love that man more today than I did when I agreed to marry him.  I love him more as I have seen him walk in this life we have been given, and as I have seen him grow closer to God. 

For that reason, I wanted to do something unique (for us) that would remind him of why I chose to marry him, of why he is still the one that gives me butterflies, and of why I look forward to our future together.

I got a package of heart-shaped paper doilies from Wal-mart.  On the back of them, one for each day of the month, up to our Anniversary date, I have written thoughts that I want to share with him.  I have included lyrics from songs, my favorite things about him, why I am proud of him, why I love him, what attracts me to him, and some Bible verses.

Every day until our Anniversary at the end of the month, I plan on hiding one of these little paper love notes for him to find. 

This might be a good idea for you and the one you love?  A daily reminder up to Valentine’s Day, that not only reminds them every day for fourteen days of your love, but gets you in the habit of focusing on those incredible features that drew you to them in the first place!

A God-blessed Life

His blessings abound, no matter where He sends us.