When You Don’t See His Plan by Nadine Hennesey and Rebecca Baker

Ms. Hennesey’s story of losing her husband to a heart attack at the age of 26 touched close to home.  I almost lost my husband at the age of 25 to heart disease and we had a 2 year old and a 1 year old.  Her sharing of this experience was so genuine that I hurt along with her.  I felt her debilitating emotions and her struggling with rising above the question, “Without him, what do I do?”

I cannot even begin to say how much I admire her for continuing to look to the Lord. What courage it took to leave her family, with her young child to go to a war torn country to serve in missions.  Most young widows would have been swallowed up in grief and the task ahead of raising their child alone.

The book gave me such an insight into the lives of not only the people of Kosovo, but also the difficulties missionaries face in serving in other countries.   She used that same courage that brought her there to fight for changes for the families she served and overcome obstacles she faced there.

I was very touched that from a very young age her daughter had the same heart for missions and godly wisdom beyond her years in serving the Lord. 

This book is a testimony to a life that put God before all other desires, comfort and suffering.  It also shows the great and mighty things God will do through a life so surrendered.  Thank you, Nadine Hennesey.   I am both inspired and ashamed.  Inspired to put God first and be totally yielded to Him in all circumstances.  I am ashamed at how much more I could do for Him in all the blessings He has bestowed upon me. 

I received this book free from Discovery House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

This lesson contains some of my favorite lifetime scriptures that have reached deep into my spirit and left a mark.  The first is 1 Peter 2:19-20 
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. “

I love this scripture for so many reasons.  This reminds me of when my grandchildren beam at me after a meal and say “I ate all my dessert, aren’t you proud of me!?”   It always makes me laugh.  If we rip, snort, and tear through people with our words and actions, then become a martyr, God is saying, “Big deal! You haven’t done anything great!”   We have to face it, there are no medals or rewards for facing a mess we made!

The last part of the scripture is exciting to me because it tells me that suffering when I have done no wrong patiently and with the right attitude pleases God!  How wonderful to know something else I can do to please God.  It also stands as a reminder that when I do not take persecution patiently I displease Him.

1 Peter 2:21-23 fits in my VERY FAVORITE scripture category.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times throughout the years I have quoted this or shared it with someone. 

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”

I find this scripture exciting because it clearly spells out steps in following Christ’s example.   Many years ago I was confronted on a regular basis with someone speaking to me in such anger and cruelty that I would cry.  I began to pray for them and quote this scripture as they spoke.  I didn’t completely take away the pain but it comforted me in knowing I was following my Savior’s example and leaving the outcome to the greatest Judge of all, God. It gave me peace that God was in control of the problem. Not that I was saying, “Lord, I will step back and you can take a swing at them!  I know you can knock them out!”  We aren’t to give it to Him that vengeance will be served but that His perfect will would be worked in both our lives.

When they criticize us gripe at us, and falsely accused us, (revile us) we are not to return “the favor” .  It is the flesh that wants to “hit’ back verbally when we are hurt with words, “to threaten” with retaliation.  The scripture tells us Christ held His tongue.  He wasn’t a door mat or passive.  He did something much more powerful than sling ugly words: He turned the situation and person over to God to judge the outcome.  
 
Yes, this is difficult especially facing one that has repeatedly hurt us.  I remember the first time I obeyed this scripture, I felt like a full balloon squeezed to tight at the top.  As if I were going to explode.  But the more I obeyed the easier it got and the better I felt.  I wasn’t so emotionally upset and the anger didnt’ linger for hours or days.  I see now it was because the Lord was in control of my emotions and tongue.  Not the devil.   I have found that is a tried and true test if how I responded was of the devil or the Lord.  If it is of the devil I have an anger and resentment “hangover“.  If it is of the Lord I may feel aggravated for a little while but peace takes over.

It reminds me of the time I ate a half gallon of pecans and praline ice cream in one sitting.  It was great going down but boy was I miserable afterwards.  ( I don’t like that flavor to this day!)  It feels good at the moment to have your say and put them in their place but if we are truly His child, the guilt and regret that follows makes us miserable.

This is an area I must constantly stand guard in and remember this scripture because the enemy can catch me off guard and I will fail.

The person that has been the greatest living example of this scripture in my life is my husband, both before and after he surrendered to the ministry.  I have seen people scream false accusations, say cruel things to him, throw objects at him, and even pull their fists up at him, but he never reviled or threatened.  If he was led to speak it was softly and kindly.  Even his face didn’t show any agitation. 

This lesson was such a blessing, a reminder of truths I hold dear, and a challenge to apply them in the future.

The Harvest of Grace by Cindy Woodsmall

 

This is the 3rd book in the Ada House Series.   I have read the first one but have not read the 2nd one.   At the beginning of the book it had a short synopsis of the first two books.   It was perfect and just right to let give me an idea about what happened in the 2nd book without giving too much information!  I really appreciated the author including this.  I didn’t’ feel left out at all!  I can also go back and read the second book and not feel I did so out of line.

Sylvia Fischer isn’t the norm for a housekeeping, sewing, cooking Amish woman. She shows great skill in helping her father manage the family dairy. She is content to care for the cattle and be with her beloved family.  The surprising unfaithfulness of her beau and her continued attraction to him drives her away from her family.  She does the unusual for a young Amish woman and finds a job many miles away from her home helping an elderly couple revive their failing dairy farm.   Her new life seems perfect until their prodigal son returns home from an alcohol rehab with plans to sale the farm and move his parents to town with him.   

Aaron Blank’s homecoming stirs many conflicts for the family and Sylvia. There were points in the story where it appeared there could be no resolution to the problems.  Ms. Woodsmall beautifully illustrates it is always darkest before the dawn and that with God, all things are possible. Sometimes I saw myself in Sylvia and Aaron  when in periods of my life I became so focused on my plans that I had no room for God’s.  I felt their feeling of hopelessness and frustration that resisting God brings.  I was also reminded of how God’s plans are always better than the best plans we can imagine for ourselves. I found myself gripping the book tightly in suspense as it looked like all the progress the characters had made would be lost. 

This is a beautiful story of how God can work to soften the hardest hearts and right the worst misunderstandings with His grace and forgiveness.

Another outstanding book by Cindy Woodsmall!  This is a wonderful series and I hope there are more!

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

 

 

BLOOMING LATE! by Narita Roady

With spring coming, our thoughts are toward the beauty of blooming flowers and budding plants.  Depending on the weather, some things may bloom late.  Sometimes people are late bloomers.  What does the phrase, “late bloomer” mean to you?  For some folks it refers to a new lease on health and vitality.  For others it could mean an heretofore unused, unknown skill or talent.  It might even refer to fulfilling a dream later in life such as an education or a new interest. Yes, something somewhere within, that was previously undiscovered or experienced, springs forth with renewed strength and life . .  . alas, not so for me. (*Sigh*) Yes, there was an area in my life where I was a late bloomer, but it wasn’t impressive, exciting, nor did it reek with accomplishment.  For me, being a late bloomer meant . . .  a wart.  (*Sigh*)Yes, at the mature (?) age of 37, I acquired my very first wart!
This is an experience most have put behind them in grade school!  At the age of 39 I still had my first wart!
My mother quit documenting outstanding accomplishments in by baby book when I was about 8 years old, so this earth shattering event was not recorded.  I spent close to $50 on liquids and pads to remove my little companion. (This was to save $25 in the doctor’s office.) Yet all was at loss. . .my little wart stayed with me.  I was amazed at the great persistence it had shown in remaining.
I began to think, what if I had shown the same persistence as my wart in my prayer life over a period of 2 years?  What many wonders would God have wrought in my life and the lives of those around me?      If I had applied the perseverance of my tiny pal to my Bible reading for an interval of 2 years, I would have gleaned such knowledge and wisdom that my life would have been transformed!
If two years of the same dogged determination as my little buddy had been applied to being a wife and mother pleasing to God, my marriage and family would have shown major fruit!  Two years of my small comrade’s diligence applied to any area of my Christian life, would have cultivated awesome changes!
Sad to say, one of the areas I lacked the persistence I needed was in applying the medication to remove the wart!  In the beginning not even Custard attacked the Indians with the zeal that I attacked this pesky little fiend!!  It would seem to weaken and wane, but it’s persistence was greater than mine.  Back and forth we fought, each, I’m sure, thinking from time to time to have won the victory.  However, due to my lack of consistency AND persistence, my first wart remained with me for 2 years!  It was bad enough to be a late bloomer, but to be outsmarted by a wart!  That was a low blow!  I finally surrendered and went to the doctor to end our “partnership”.     Not all was lost (except about $100), I did learn a valuable lesson – PERSISTENCE PAYS!  When you feel weak, defeated, and almost extinct, CONTINUE ON and you will win! Whether your battle is with bad habits, spiritual warfare, discouragement, whatever it is, NEVER GIVE UP!  Your diligence will keep you in the battle!  As long as you’re in the battle, you have a chance to win!  If a common wart with no brain can endure, can’t I?  Can’t you?  I decided, after all, a late bloomer like me doesn’t have to be a slow learner too!
“For which cause we faint not, but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
“For light our affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-17
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galations 6;9
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, April 1998

GIVE UNTO OTHERS by Narita Roady

Once a very rich merchant passed away and left his estate to a group of friends.  The instructions in his will, however, directed them to give to his only son that which they wished.  They took it to mean that the son should get only what they decided to give him.  The estate was worth $300,000.  They met and discussed the matter.  It was decided that they would give the son $10,000.  When their decision was made known, the lawyer in charge of the will replied, “Dear sirs, I am afraid that you have misunderstood.”  He went on to explain that they had obviously felt it was their decision to give the son whatever they decided.  In reality, the will stated that whatever they wished for, the son would get.  They wished for themselves, $290,000 and therefore, that is what the son got– what they wished for themselves!

Their selfishness had boomeranged on them!    How often do we act like the friends, in selfishness? It is a sad case that many Christians today have become a member of the, me first, generation.  They want the best for themselves, especially in the way others treat them, but they never think of how they treat others.  Churches, families, business’s and friendships are hurt by their greed to be treated the best and have the best.  Scripture tells us the solution to this problem:

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselvesPhilippians 2:3

Let us examine ourselves to see if we are desiring the best for ourselves, and giving the worst to others.  Do we want others to forgive us when we fail, but we hold grudges and grow bitter against even the lesser failures of others?

Do we expect others to be tolerant of us in spite of our faults and failures, but we are harsh and critical, quick to point out their weaknesses and shortcomings? . . .Thou shalt love  thy neighbor as thyselfGalations 5:14

Do we demand that others be kind in their words and actions to us, but we think nothing of being hateful and sarcastic to them?  How often do we expect others to help us in our time of need and care, but we are too busy to do the same for them when trials come in  their life?

Do we expect others to speak well of us at all times, yet we think nothing of criticizing and speaking ill of them?    When we feel others are not treating us as they should, maybe we have chosen this by giving others less than we should. When in reality, we are getting what we wished for them!

This is my commandment that ye love one another, as I have loved you.  John 15:12-13

Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, April 1997

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 3

What a wonderful reminder I received from my study this week!  When I was saved, I was chosen to do a special work for God.  Yes, I already knew it, but I needed to be told again!  Way too often I feel insignificant and useless but I am not! 

In school we always wanted to be chosen for a team or a game.  The one chosing was just another child but it was important  to us, and had a bearing on how we viewed our value in our class and among our peers.  Not to be chosen hurt.  It was horrible to be the last one left standing so the last team “had” to take you.  I remember feeling rejected and unwanted. It felt good to be “wanted” and this lesson helped me remember how much God wants me. 

Amazing,  I am wanted by God, the Creator of the Universe!!    If I could only remember that,  what a difference that would make in my day-to-day life!  When we are chosen it is an honor but even more so by it being our King. That gives focus and purpose and importance to what I was chosen for.   It makes me want to do my best and please the One that chose me,  to be worthy of this honor. 

Another great treasure gleaned in this lesson is that my past cannot exercise power over me.    The past is done and over.  It has absolutely nothing to do with my life right now. Again, this is something I had already learned.

 I can also apply this to my future. I may fear and wonder about what it might hold,  but it cannot exercise power over me because it has not happened. Also, much of what I fear will probably never come to pass.  Should God chose to allow trials, whatever they may be, at that moment the Lord will give me the grace and strength to go through it.  I don’t have that grace and strength now because I don’t’ need it yet.  That’s why when I try to look into the future that it looks so impossible and frightening.

A story that is imprinted in my mind concerning this is Corrie ten Boom’s story about her fears that her family could possibly face being arrested and separated as others had.  Each week her father and her rode a train into the city to get the accurate time for the clocks in their shop.  He asked  when did he give her the ticket for the train; before they boarded on or after they were on?   She told him “no”, he handed it to her when they were getting on the train, right when she needed it.  Her father told her so it was with God’s grace and strength.  He gives it to us exactly when we need it not before or after.   

The only things that have power over me: my mind, my choices, my attitude, my spirit, are the things I give power to.  That power almost always starts in my mind with a thought.  I can over come all hindrances through Him because He lives in me and I have the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2:16b ”  . . .But we have the mind of Christ.”  

Satan says my problems  are an inpassable mountain, but when I quit looking my challenges through his eyes, and see them through the eyes of my Lord,  I realize it is only a small clod of dirt to be stepped on and crushed as I move ahead.

I found this week’s lesson very encouraging and uplifting!

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 2

The 1st paragraph really caught my eye about it being impossible to live for God in our own strength.  I find myself doing exactly that and not even realizing it.  It was a good reminder. 

Where the lesson talked about girdding up our minds, it reminds me of how Satan uses a runaway mind to control a person.  People don’t even think about keeping your mindunder control.  You can’t let it run everywhere without your permission just like you wouldn’t let your toddler.    YOU decide where it will go and what it will think on.  How can the mind of Christ have control over our minds if we let them run helter skelter  where ever  it wants?

Committing to daily Bible study will put a leash on our minds as it tells us in Romans 12:2.  When our minds are renewed they are pointed in the right direction, but we still are the ones to guide where they go.  This isn’t just impure thoughts, but negative, critical and complaining thoughts.  Included in this could be thoughts of fear and worry.

All actions and words start with a thought.  That’s another reason it is so important to guard what we think on or thoughts we allow to linger.  They could into to something more. If our thought life is under God’s control then our words and attitude will reflect that.

Another outward pouring of this is our love for others.  All love comes from
God.  If He does not live in us then we cannot love with a pure love.

1 John 4:11-12    ” Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”

Sadly in our fallen world today the word “love” is not associated with God but with sensual love, and fleeting emotions of infatuation.

God’s Word is not just another book, it has power.  It is words of the Creator of the Universe.  It was written personally for each one of us.  When it is read heard, or spoken it has the power to change and do the impossible in the lives receiving it.  Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Oh the treasure we all possess in His Word and fail to use it.  How would our lives, churches, marriages, families and world be changed if we were committed to learning and applying it.

12 + Me by Pat Likes

While this book was written for children, I must say I enjoyed it very much.  Raising 13 children is no small feat in this day and time but can you imagine how difficult it would be to raise a brood that large during in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  They would have the same financial needs for food, shelter, and clothing. 

The youngest of the Dunker clan wrote the book.  I found it to be a rare glimpse of growing up in a large family through the eyes if a child up and even more so being raised during an era of such trying financial times. 

The author holds nothing back, sharing the joys, hard work, heart ache and struggles of her family.  I was touched by the closeness they all shared, something rare in even small families today.  Her writing style makes me feel as if I am a there watching the events unfold.

I was impressed by the book’s wholesomeness, something much needed in children’s literature today.   It tells of a time when children didn’t need tons of toys, TV, computers or x-boxes to have fun.   What a lesson it shares in contentment with what one has and simple family time.

This was a well written book and very entertaining. It is a book I would be proud to give as a gift to a young reader.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Hannibal Books in exchange for my honest review. I am not required to write a positive review.

 

Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion by Rachel Schifter Thebault

This is a beautiful cookbook!  A pleasure just to look at!  The photography is amazing!  There are many color pictures of recipes so you can clearly see the finished product. 

I enjoyed the analogy the author used with baking and our wardrobes.  We have basic foundational pieces to our wardrobes and how we accessorize will depend on how dressy our outfit is.  Using this idea she takes basic recipes and ‘dresses” them up.  I like this because with one recipe I could make something quick and simple or something very special.

The book is divided into 3 sections, cookies, cakes and confections.  For example the first recipe is for “scooped cookies” and she calls it the “White t-shirt”.

This book would be great for a beginning baker or an experienced one.  I appreciated how the author had a Home Ec 101 baking at the beginning of the book. She explains essential ingredients and equipment, how they work and tips in working with them.  Although I have baked for many years I learned some new things.

Each recipe gives step by step instructions that are clear and easy to understand.  At the end of many of the recipes is “Polish Your Look”, showing you variations you might use, or “Fashion Emergency” which shares baking tips.

A cookbook you will definitely want to add to your collection!  I was very impressed.

 Thanks to FSB Media for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.

1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times – Week 1

As I studies Lesson one this week and it touched on the opposition we face as Christians.  Situations I have felt rejected for my faith is when visiting people in their homes and sharing Christ.  Either they were hostile at the front door as soon as they knew you were a Christian or they were welcomed in immediately.  There didn’t seem to be much middle ground as far as reactions I have experienced there.  I would just apologize for disturbing them and move on. 

I have felt disenfranchised when I would be visiting with a person and as soon as they found out I was a Christian they would shut down and want to end our conversation.  I would remain friendly and let them operate at the comfort level best for them.

It main seem strange but the greatest mistreatment I have received for my Christian standards and beliefs is from those who profess to be Christians!  Even those within churches.  Many times it was those who were compromising with the world or under conviction.  All I can do is remain positive and keep a smile on my face.  When they ask I in a kind and humble way share why I believe what I do and conduct my life accordingly.

I love the reminder, (one that is always needed) about how trials bring about blessings.  Over and over in my life I have seen the Lord strengthen me, prepare me to help others and make the way for great things through trials that could not have otherwise happened.

The Living Stone Story touched me on a very deep level.  I related in a very personal way.  When my husband was 25 and we had a 2 yr and 1 yr. old, he had triple bypass surgery. They told him he had the heart of a 75-year-old man and had 6-8 years to live.  13 years later he had a heart attack and we were told by the surgeon that they would probably go in and just end up doing nothing given the previous condition of his heart.  They bypassed two of the bypasses.   22 years later ( 2 years ago) he went into heart failure and tests revealed there were not more arteries in his heart other than a couple of 20-year-old bypasses.  At that time they gave him 4 years to an artificial heart, it has been two years.  We do not know what the future holds and yes there are times I am afraid, but I have that peace in my heart that God is in control.  My prayer of course is for many more years.  I praise the Great physician for His mercy, grace, healing, and strength.  Yes God is faithful!