waiting

I sit here and wait. With Grandma. With Mom and Dad. Waiting for word of Grandpa in recovery.

Complete shoulder replacement, on his left side. The pacemaker side. They turned the pacemaker off this morning, for the first time in 2 1/2 years. And his heart took over, like the Lord has created it too, pumping, circulating blood, keeping his body alive. The doctor said he did well, and we are waiting to see him. Waiting for news from the anesthesiologist of how his heart and lungs did.

The waiting room is full of people, waiting just like us. Waiting for news, for results, dreading the what-if’s. Full of worried people, dreading yet longing for news.

This morning when we got here there was an older woman in a wheelchair, waiting. She greeted us with a chipper “Good morning!” and introduced her daughters to is. It was early, yet she was happy. Smiling, greeting people, all dolled up and ready. She was born in 1936, and made my tired, half-awake self feel a bit more happy.

Across the seats from us this morning was an older couple. The wife was shivering under a blanket, dozing on and off, with a hospital bracelet on her wrist, waiting her turn.

Behind us there was a guy who showed up at about 9:30, and he was still talking a mile a minute three hours later. I don’t think his mouth knew how to stay still :D

On the other side of the room there’s a family surrounded by their church friends, teary-eyed and waiting. I overheard the mother say that it was a car accident on a major interstate. A police officer who responded to the scene was a friend of the family and notified everyone. The church members were here long before the mother and brother walked in, wiping tears. They’ve been here a couple hours now.

A while ago there were two little twin boys, sitting with their Momma. They were so cute, sitting there so patiently and quietly.

As I observe these people, I realize that everyone has a story. There are unknowns to every person, and we only see what they want us to. We see the snippy attitude, hear the grumpiness, and we jump to conclusions. Only the Lord knows their hearts, what they have been through, who has been waiting all day in a surgical waiting room for news of a loved one.

As you go about your day, think of this. Smile at the grumpy cashier, give the frumped  up door greeter a cheery greeting. You never know when you will lift their spirits and share the fragrance of  Christ with them.

when all’s right with the world

(due to technical difficulty with my hosting company, I haven’t been able to upload pictures to this post. If you check back in a  few days, I will, Lord willing, have them up :D)

As I was working in the garden last week, I fell to thinking about the year so far, and everything that’s happened. I was surprised to realize everything that has been contained in just nine months!

I also realized that right now, today, is a season of peaceful bliss.

Time has slowed down, allowing me to catch my breath for a little while, and it is sweetly peaceful. Contentedly quiet. Restful. Joyful.

Not to say that I’m not still busy — ’cause I am. October is a busy time for our family, but it a peacefully busy time. Right now our family is getting ready to host the annual Ebenezer Evening in our home, the Fall Fellowship event that we plan for all year. We are preparing to head down even farther south for an annual reformation day play that our little ones take part in every year, and that we older ones help with. Sewing has taken up much of my time these last few days, and I have been grateful for the excuse to pull out my sewing machine and get creative. Fabric and scissors and thread is the limit of my creativity, and I enjoy every minute of it :-P Both of the choirs I participated in last year have started up again, and every Sunday I get to relish in the delight of singing different portions of Messiah. The Scripture in the oratorio is familiar after five years, and there are times in church when I have to stop myself from humming out the tunes =) I was able to convince two of my sisters to sing in the Festival of Music with me, and it has been fun to learn new and challenging music.

My grandparents came home a couple weeks ago. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to have them home again, safe and healthy. I sure do miss the both of them while their away for the summer, and this year was no exception. And even though I was up there with them just a few weeks ago, I was still looking forward to their return =) We have had busy days of running errands around town together, and it has been fun :D

We’ve had more company these last few months, which has been nice. Several families have been able to share a meal with us and just have fun fellowshipping — I love having friends over and getting to know them better in a more casual setting.

We were able to help with a bridal shower for one of the sweetest couples a few weeks ago, and I was honoured to be able to make cookies for them, and had fun learning a new technique — roses! In a  few weeks we’ll be headed out of town to help with wedding preparations, which is always a fun time, and to witness the two covenanting together in holy matrimony — it is a blessed time for sure to witness such a joyfully solemn event in the life of two sweet friends!

One big thing that was accomplished the last few months — to me, at least — is that we were finally able to get our home feeling more homelike. It seemed we hadn’t had time for hanging things back on the walls, putting curtains up, decorating….anything, really, since the termite invasion nearly three years ago. When life slowed down, not only did we find a time to finish the bathroom, kitchen, hallway, and living room, but we also were able to re-paint the living room to match the kitchen, re-arrange furniture, including moving the piano, and add some extra light to the room. It has been fun, and I’ve learned something — being able to decorate a house really does help it to feel like a home :D

I was finally able to get the fall garden planted, and we have lettuce and broccoli and cauliflower and greens and kale and onions peeking their heads out of the ground. From the summer garden we are still getting banana peppers and we are waiting on pumpkins to turn orange. I’m personally not a big pumpkin eater, but there are two recipes I really like, mainly because they are those comforting-always-there-every-year recipes: Pumpkin Roll, and Pumpkin Dip. And both are ten times better when made with fresh pumpkin — and twenty times better when made with a fresh pumpkin from the garden :D

Our neighbors brought the boys with them to pick tomatoes from a commercial tomato farm that they were about to plow under — they were able to bring back hundreds of tomatoes. Our neighbor taught us how to can them, and so one of my sisters and I canned several quarts of tomatoes — and I was able to make ketchup from them. If you’ve never had homemade ketchup, you’re missing out! It took some some finagling by Mom, but eventually everything fit into the cabinets. The beans, peppers, jams and jellies were moved around to make room for the tomatoes and ketchup, and our table was finally cleared off =)

Fall is definitely on the way — it seems summer has held on longer than usual here in the heart of Dixie, and it has been a strange conglomeration of flowers and falling leaves for a while. We still have pretty flowers, but we also have leaves that are starting to change and  yards that are starting to die. We have winter birds already here, and the bright red cardinals are odd to see with the hummingbirds. The air is chilly at night, and just plain hot during the day. It’s still warm enough for bare feet and iced coffee and iced tea, yet cozy enough to curl up with a good book and something warm to drink in the evenings. The fog has begun to shroud the land at night, making the earth look ethereal. Caterpillars and squash bugs are everywhere outside, and those autumn spiders that come out and make webs right in the middle of the path where you walk are everywhere.

The seasons changing in the country is a beautiful sight, and I am firmly convinced that the heart of Dixie is the prettiest of all. It is a time to witness the creativity of our Creator, the magnificence of creation. The colours changing, the stars moving around the night sky, the leaves dying, the bare branches, then the spring’s whisper of hope and promise and new life, followed by summers robust heat and beauty.

I love the changing seasons. They’ve taught me to embrace change as a thing of beauty, as a thing wondrous to behold. They’ve taught me not to fear change, but to trust in the wisdom of my Saviour. He brings life back into bare branches and turns brown grass green. He brings warmth back to the sun, and paints brilliant sunsets.

It’s a beautiful time. A peaceful time of endings, with a promise of new beginnings and a hint of adventure in the air.

four years down the road — part three

I warned you in the first post that I would be debunking several myths and writing down my thoughts — apparently I have a LOT of thoughts about this. Or there are just a lot of misconceptions floating around out there……but either way, lets see if I can’t wrap up this today.

(If you missed it, here’s part one, and here’s part two)

So, what have I learned through this whole “staying at home” business? What are some important things I would tell anyone who was considering this as a valid option?

First, when I started to consider staying at home, I had NO idea there was a “movement” centered around this issue. I actually do not consider myself as part of that movement, by the way. I was honestly convicted of this option being right for me as I was praying and studying God’s word on my own and with my family.

This idea that sounds so romanticized when young is in actuality much harder. And there are so many more reasons to staying at home than the few I heard about. But there is nothing like actually doing something to fully understand the implications something has, the far reaching effects.

The decision to stay at home after graduation was an easy one for me, because I had struggled with it when I was much younger. The hard part comes as I grow older.

“Oh, look — my good friend is getting married!”
“I got an email from so and so and they are expecting their second child!”
“So and so is going to leave the country to be a missionary.”
“This friend just published their fifth book in the series!”

All while I am…..sitting here at home. Huh. Nice one, that.

This is actually what sparked this series of posts — discouragement. Life isn’t happening as fast for us as we had planned, and so we take into our own hands, and start trying to fulfill the desires we have. the desires for fame and glory and wealth and family and doing something — anything — bigger and better than we could do at home.

I have seen it. I have felt it. I have watched as myriads of daughters leave their homes to go out into the world to do “something big” for their Lord, all the while they are missing the call the Lord has already placed on their lives.

I wrote something along these lines the first year after I graduated: “Many people discount this staying at home because they feel as if they aren’t being productive. They aren’t doing anything glamorous for the Saviour. All they will end up doing is being a drudge….washing dishes….folding laundry….wiping noses….changing diapers. But is that really all they are doing? Anybody can wipe a dish dry. Tie a shoe. But it takes a special person, who loves Christ, to do it joyfully. Happily. Once again, for the umpteenth time, to wash that dish. To wipe that runny nose. And to do it with a good attitude. Is there any work we can call drudgery when it is done in our Saviour’s name? For His glory?” (full article here)

Three years after writing that, I can smile. I was eighteen years old, full of conviction that life was simple. All you have to do is to follow the path the Lord has written for your life. Just do it, and everything will fall into place.

It isn’t that simple.

See, being a daughter at home is not all about domestic duties. My youngest sibling is two right now; the one immediately older than him is five. Not too very many noses being wiped and diapers being changed around here anymore :-) Still laundry and dishes. And school lessons to teach and a garden to weed and so many more things to do. Seasons change. We change. We grow, and we mature, and we learn things. Staying at home isn’t all about becoming a perfect little “Suzy Homemaker”, it isn’t about learning to keep a house so perfectly spotless that we are never caught off our guard by surprise guests coming in.

My father put it perfectly when explaining to a couple of sweet older women when questioned why we were still at home. He told them that he was raising wives. Our homes are a mission field for Christ, yes, but so are our very lives. Our husbands need much more from us that just a clean home and meals cooked to perfection. We need to learn how to support them in the work the Lord has given to them; to communicate effectively with them; to encourage them when circumstances are discouraging; to rise up and be a helper suitable for them. And while a nice clean home fit for hospitality is appreciated, I’m sure, it’s not the only thing we should be doing and learning.

I have spent about a year and a half of my time these last four years being at home away from home, away from my parents, serving in different capacities that the Lord has trusted me with.

I have come to realize an important truth: being at home is more about learning to balance everything that needs to get done in a place where we can make mistakes safely than it is about having a spotless house.
It’s about learning to know when to stick to a schedule, and when to ditch the plans we’ve made and let life just happen.
It’s about learning to trust God, even when days are long and tempers are short, and emotions are roller coasters.
It’s about maturing in our walk with Christ, living life with joy, and running the race set before us.
It’s about being content exactly where we are right now at this moment, ’cause if the Lord had wanted us to be somewhere different, in a different circumstance, we would be there.

Trust me, I am far from discounting a clean house. But there are times, as I have learned, that cleaning the house can go by the wayside. When it pretty much has to. When dishes can pile up and wait, when meals must be served late, and when the piles of laundry must become a mountain you have to climb over. (Thirteen people generate a l.o.t. of laundry, by the way :D) When termites invade your house, uninvited; when people you love dearly are sick in the hospital; when dishes must be washed in the bathroom sink regardless of our feelings about cleanliness.

For me, staying at home and learning to balance a clean house, teaching seven people of different ages, teaching math in a way that can be understood, cooking, washing and folding laundry, and working in the garden are important parts of the picture.

But that doesn’t make it the whole picture.

The most important part of the picture, for me, is being available for wherever God sees fit to send me for the day. My mother and father don’t have the advantage of being able to run off to help someone in need, and one of these days I won’t be able to either. They have a family to care for, to provide for, to raise up. I don’t. I can leave my home at the drop of a hat if I need to, knowing that in serving the Lord in whichever way I am, I am acting as an advocate for my parents. They can’t do it, although they would love to, while I can.

I can spend days and nights with my grandparents when I need to. I can help a sweet widow at our church, or put together packages for friends who need a happy surprise, or make calls for a political campaign because I am home. I have the time and ability to learn new music for the church that we are attending, and I have time to figure out certain melodies for the piano that have hitherto been only played on a guitar.

As I mentioned before, it’s hard. When I first graduated, I had this idealized dream that I would be at home for a year or two, I would get married, and move on with my own family, my own children, my own home, and so on and so on. (and yes, when I shared this with a sweet friend recently, who is preparing for her wedding in a short time, we both had a good laugh over how we had planned our lives — and how none of our plans had come to pass in the way we had expected ;D)

Four years later, I am still at home, in my fathers house, with no husband in sight.

And this another lesson I’ve learned.

Just because we are at home doesn’t mean that we have no life to live. We can live life now. We can live happy, content in our Saviours love. We can see a need and meet it. We can do things for God’s glory.

I have learned that I need to live my life right now, have goals right now, so that in ten years, whether I am married or not, I have something to show for what I did. And I’m not necessarily talking about monetary gain here. I am saying that I want people who know me ten years from now to be able to say, truthfully, that I have grown in the Lord. That I have matured. That I have encouraged them and challenged them.

I need to learn that, while getting married would be nice, I don’t need a husband. I have Christ, who should be my al-in-all. And I have plenty of friends who have married, who have had children, who have told me that what I have always heard is plenty true: if you don’t have a habit of spending time with the Lord now, you definitely won’t have time when you are married with a household to run.

I need to learn to be content now, in the circumstances I am in now. I need to learn to wait patiently, and while waiting, live for God’s glory. All of life is a waiting game. Once I get married, I will be waiting for children. Then for the birth. Then for the milestones. For that matter, if I do ever start a relationship with that “special someone” it will still be a waiting game of engagement rings, wedding planning, house hunting, and the actual wedding day itself.

So right now, I need to learn to be content where I am.

When I first graduated, I had a friend tell me that never would she sit around waiting on life to come knocking’ on her door — she would pursue it and go after it, getting all the experiences society tells Americans that we need to get before “life” really starts to get serious with a family and such. And I have made this my goal, in a slightly different context then she was speaking about. She was referring to the all American “college experience”, dating relationships, career opportunities, car payments, living on her own, and everything else society tells us we need to do before we can be successful adults. I took it to mean something quite different. No, we can’t let life pass us by because we are in our father’s home and not our own. We can’t become morose and downhearted and discouraged by everything we see going on around us.

But we don’t necessarily need the experiences she was talking about. In our culture, we have made an  idol out of all of this, form both sides of the spectrum. No, college life isn’t ideal. But neither is the girl who remains home, pining away her days for Prince Charming to come and rescue her form a life of drudgery…..because I have a hunch that Prince Charming will get hungry for a made-from-scratch meal, want his clothes clean, folded, and ironed, need his home clean so mice and bugs don’t find it hospitable, need his socks matched for him, his dirty laundry picked up from beside the bed, his shoes put away in the closet, his papers organized, his children fed, disciplined, and taught, a budget for the household followed……and in many ways he will need more than what we give to our own parents and the homes we live in right now. Because many of us have mothers who are the managers of a lot of this, and have siblings who share the tasks of the household with us, so we don’t have it all on our shoulders.

All of that goes towards explaining the advice and encouragement I would give to any young person planning on staying at home: Don’t wait for life to come knockin’ at your door. Take hold of it and live it, for God’s glory alone. Learn to trust Him, in all things, even when His timing isn’t your timing, and you grow weary of the waiting and the struggles and the disappointments. These days are when you put what you’ve been learning all your life into practice — even when it is hard. Take heart and remain steadfast, for He who guided you to this path will keep you to the end.

Grow in the Lord, and in the power of His might.

May the Lord bless you, my friend!

forgetting jesus

Forgetting Jesus serves as a modern critique and still a biblical model of Christian Evangelism. The author provokes his audience to meditate upon their evangelistic service ministry to the Lord Jesus Christ. With a glance toward our own tendencies to follow “new age” models, the reader is now able to discover inconsistencies, with biblical affirmation, that betray the truth of the Gospel and the use of evangelism to save lost souls.

Furthermore, this book contains in-depth yet brief analysis of the most wide-spread methods of evangelism. This work compels the Christian to inspect their evangelism within the scope of biblical command and instruction. As perspective reveals departure from scripture, modern evangelism is stripped of its fleshly luster and worldly appeal to instead reveal the marvelous power of the Cross through the verbal proclamation of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, the son of God, son of David, Messiah, God incarnate.

This is one of those books that challenges most of what you have been taught, of what the Christian culture teaches, of what is socially acceptable in society. It pretty much takes much of what you thought you knew about evangelism and tosses it out, showing instead a Biblical approach to this topic.

I have heard the mantra time and again of the fact that we MUST go out and evangelize others, teaching them and telling them about Christ Jesus. The question is, how do we do this? Some depend on their testimony alone, some give credence to living a life that is undeniably Christ centered. Some believe in creating relationships, in serving others, in handing out Gospel tracts.

“We aren’t excused from our duties for the simple fact that God, through Christ, fulfills His will, His plans, and purposes in us. We have not the permission to forsake true verbal evangelism just because Jesus saves people anyway.”

This book asks one question: What is the Biblical approach to evangelism?
It makes you question if we have truly forgotten the Savior we serve as we strive to share Him with others.

In Forgetting Jesus, we are brought to think scripturally about many of the methods that have been touted, but we are also brought to an understanding of what evangelism looks like. Never would Christ encourage His word and His life and His doctrine and His Gospel to be diluted into a bunch of namby-pamby sentiments about Christ loving everybody and meeting us where we are. Never would Christ encourage us to water down His word in an effort to not offend others.

In fact, He just might require us to boldly speak out and tell others about Him without watering it down, without turning it into soft-serve, without shame and without fear of what man may think.

I like how Pastor Timothy Gallagher explains it in his book: “It is not my intent to discourage such actions (evangelism) from taking place. In truth…each style tends to incorporate some attributes that we as Christian’s should possess, portray, and live out in our daily walk with Christ. However, I do suggest that none of the previously mentioned forms are able to stand alone as a means of evangelism, save the direct approach.” 

Timothy Gallagher goes through eight of the most common approaches to evangelism today — lifestyle, friendship, tract, testimonial, service, intellectual, and invitational evangelism — and shows the reader scripturally why that particular method alone isn’t enough to bring people to Christ. The only way is to actually tell people about Christ. To share with people that they are sinners in need of a Saviour, and to open our mouths and talk to others…to strangers.

And, if we are being honest with ourselves, all of the other methods are intended to make it easier for us…..less awkward for us…..more socially acceptable. It’s actually a very “me” centered approach to something that isn’t, in the least, about ourselves.

“Is this Jesus we claim to love truly first in our lives, or does our evangelism reveal the lie in our practice? With these actions we are professing that the Gospel isn’t of the utmost importance.”

And, if I’m being even more honest, this was a very convicting book. Spending so much time in various hospitals with my grandparents, I realized I’ve let my fair share of actually telling others about Christ go. I’ve prayed with others, held babies for others, smiled at others, hugged others, walked with others, talked with others, cried with others…..but I’ve never once even opened my mouth to tell them about Christ, sure that if they wanted to know, they would have asked. But what if they think it awkward to ask why I seem to be “different” from them? And doesn’t our very nature, full of sin as it is, condemn us from ever asking about a God who will one day judge the living and the dead? Our very nature runs from Him, so why should we think that someone would ask us about our Saviour?

I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. I have the privilege of sitting under Timothy’s teaching right now, and it has been a blessing. And I can tell you that this guy definitely has a passion for true evangelism, and it shows. You can listen to his messages on sermon audio as he ministers at Sovereign Grace, and you can purchase a copy of his book from Amazon. The book is short, an easy read, and gives a most compelling argument for Biblical evangelism.

My family was given a copy of this book to read…I was not required to review it,
nor was I required to enjoy it. All opinions are my own =) 

 

Timothy Gallagher was born in Memphis, TN in 1987. He lived in Mississippi until 1996 when he then moved to Alabama where he has resided since. He is a small business owner who spends much of his time reading and studying God’s word as well as serving within his local church as a teacher, preacher, and worship leader. He enjoys apologetics and evangelism and is honored to proclaim the world’s greatest message: Jesus Christ and Him Crucifed!

noah’s daughter-in-laws

I want to share something with you that I have been contemplating recently. I have been contemplating it for several months — almost since I write the post about internet husbands. I have been contemplating this as I have gained another year of life, as I have seen friends marry and have children, and as I am still here…..waiting.

See, as I write this blog, I write with the purpose to encourage all of you who read this in the Lord. I want the words I write to act as a magnet, bringing you to the Scriptures, causing you to study for yourself. I want the lessons the Lord has taught me to be documented, to be shared with others, in a way that will glorify Him. Yes, I have some fun posts on here — posts like “Pray for the Bus“, “Randomness“, and a few others — life shouldn’t be all seriousness. We should laugh once in a while, especially when things are falling apart around us :D And sometimes the most encouraging thing we can do is to be honest with each other. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, as all of us most likely know by now.

So, in an effort to encourage you, I need to say something very discouraging: I’m like other people I know — girls and guys alike — who have told me this numerous times, echoing my own thoughts. I know almost no one I would be willing to enter into a relationship with at this point in my life. And this realization hits like a brick wall when well-meaning folks ask about my relationship status. Or when my parents are questioned as to why their children aren’t married yet. Or when I realize that I am growing older, not younger, and want a houseful of little children running around someday. Now, I realize this doesn’t sound so very encouraging — because it’s not. Unless it’s in the fact that a multitude of people I know would echo this and sigh a big sigh of relief when they realize that they aren’t the only ones who are thinking this.

Now, before continuing on with this, I need to say something: I’m not your typical girl. I want to get married, yes. In the plans I have laid for myself, marriage is a part of my life. But this isn’t a topic I dwell on much. Mainly because I know God has it all in His hand, and I know if it is His plan for me to marry, He will bring me a spouse, in His own time. But some days can be hard, and the struggle can be real.

In one way, this is good. I’m not struggling with thoughts of guys, with so called “crushes”, with worrying who is going to notice me when.

But in another way, it can be hard.

So, with all the preliminaries laid down, and you thinking that this whole marriage business is an utter disaster that will never happen, let me bring to your mind three men and three women who have encouraged me greatly in this whole “single-and-still-waiting” thing. These are the three women I look to when the going gets rough, and the rough gets worse.

These three remarkable women are unnamed in the Scripture, but what is stated about the men they have married says a lot about their character and they are. They are introduced to us in Genesis 7:13: “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark….” That is pretty much the only mention we have of these three women, and that is how we know them — as Noah’s daughter-in-laws; as the wives of his sons.

But these obscure women encourage me greatly….because of the times they lived in and because of what the Lord says about the state of society when they were living. And if we think we have it rough, not knowing anyone to commit our lives to, think about these women. Admittedly, we don’t know much about them, but what we can glean from the little we know of them can be an immense encouragement to our hearts.

In Genesis 6:5, we read where “God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Later in the chapter, we read where Noah and his family were the only faithful people on the earth.

So, here are three girls. Waiting on marriage. And from what we know of Noah’s family, we can probably be assured those boys wouldn’t have married just whoever, that the girls they married and brought into their families must also be believers in Yahweh. We don’t know if the girls’ families were believers or not, although I wouldn’t think so, since the only people found righteous in Gods sight were Noah and his family. And if we think we have it bad, at least most of us have family to encourage us and back us up — these girls most likely had no one. Granted, women had a different status in Bible times than they do today, and they had less say in who they married — but those girls, if they were worthy of being counted in Noah’s family as righteous, probably were praying very hard for Yaweh to bring them husbands who were godly and righteous before Him.

And so they waited and stayed faithful to the Lord through the days of evil and wickedness, when a woman’s worth was found in marriage and bearing children for her husbands family. And something about these girls caught the eye of Noah or one of his sons, ’cause the way I understand it, Noah and his sons were facing ridicule and scorn from those around them because of building an ark in the middle of a desert for years, and there’s no way a sane father would have approached a man he viewed as crazy for his daughter to marry — unless the man also viewed his daughter as being just as crazy. So Noah approaches the girls father, who agrees to this marriage, because who else is going to marry his daughter? Maybe she was faithful to the Lord and the family viewed her as crazy. Maybe she was older, passed her youth, and her family just wanted to get rid of her…..or maybe her father approached Noah about the marriage because he couldn’t fathom who else would marry his daughter.

And this happened three. different. times.

Now, granted, we don’t know if all three of these girls were related or not. We don’t know how old they were. But we can assume that they didn’t follow the cultural norm for the day, they didn’t participate in all the sin around them, and they were different from their families, or their families would have also ended up on the ark with Noah’s family.

So, have you found the encouragement in these three women and men yet? I’m sure those girls despaired of ever getting married. I’m sure they saw friends marrying and wondered what would happen if they let go of their pristine notions of right and wrong and just went with the flow and found men and settled down. And I’m sure they faced more than we single gals do today — when our worth isn’t measured in how many sons we have born. And yet they were faithful, as is apparent by who they married, and in their being saved from the devastation of the flood.

And think of Noah’s sons — of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. I’m sure they wondered if they would ever find a woman worthy of being called their wife. I’m sure they wondered if they would ever marry because of the sin around them, of the taunts they faced daily from those around them. I’m sure they looked at that ark, built n the middle of sand, and wondered if they would just walk away, would they then find a wife? Because a mark of a man, back then, was having sons to inherit after him.

And so these young people remained faithful to the individual tasks God had given them, stayed busy, and the Lord blessed their efforts and brought them to each other, at the perfect timing that only He could have orchestrated…..and we could learn much of their example.

thief of corinth

So, I’m back home, once again, and am quite behind on book reviews =) There are likely to be quite a few posts for a couple weeks until I get all caught up…..

Thief of Corinth - By: Tessa Afshar

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption-the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future-and very lives-hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

Thief of Corinth written by Tessa Afshar, was the first book by this author that I have read. And I must say, it left me wanting to read more of her books :D I liked the way Mrs. Afshar took an obscure verse in Acts and expounded upon it, opening our minds to the situations, people, and places of the time.

The writing style was lovely and wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the words pulled me into the story line, leaving me waiting to see what would happen next. The historicity of the book was accurate, and I could tell that a lot of research had been put into the plot. As the characters are placed in compromising spots, the right path is always clearly laid out and the wrong path is condemned….even if the character doesn’t choose the right path at that moment.

The story starts characters who are very worldly — they are Greeks, they worship the Greek idols, and have never even heard of Jesus Christ. It is based very well around this passage in Acts:”Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite…” (Acts 17:16 – 34)

Dionysius is Ariadne’s brother in the story, and you get the history of the Stoicks and Epicureans from his point of view. When Paul comes and reasons with those two groups, we see Dionysius’ response to that message, and the book details a distinct change of heart that is wonderful to read about. When the various characters come to Christ, there is true repentance seen and apologies are offered for past ways of living — and that is why I absolutely fell in love with the book <3

There was only one thing I didn’t like about it — there were a scene between a female slave and a guy in the beginning of the book. Nothing too detailed, but I still skipped over to the end of the chapter, and that was the only place I skipped anything. I don’t know if it is a common theme in Tessa Afshar’s books, ’cause this is the first I’ve read, as I said before. But it wasn’t so terrible that I wouldn’t be willing to read another one, as I’ve also said :D

I would recommended this for 18+ because of that one scene, and also a few other suspenseful scenes and surprising things that happen. Nothing wrong, just that maturity is definitely needed to understand fully everything that goes on. I’d give it four stars, and I will definitely be reading this again.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I was not required to enjoy it. All thoughts are my own.

when beauty blooms

One of my favourite authors has recently released a new novella: When Beauty Blooms. Ms. Victoria Lynn is an author whose books you have seen several times before on this blog — I always enjoy her writing, and always enjoy participating in the release tours for her books =]

(Isn’t the cover lovely?)

Find it on Amazon // Find it on Goodreads

Revolutionary War Era England
Marjorie Kirk is a woman with no fortune, no prospects, no family, and no skills. Or so she thinks. She is awkward, shy, and the farthest thing from any semblance of a society lady.
The new minister keeps turning up in the most awkward of places and she can’t help but feel that her life is doomed to one of embarrassment. But will her flaws actually be the thing that others find the most attractive?
A story of a young woman with social anxiety and how she learned to bloom.

This started as a story prompt on Victoria’s blog, Ruffles and Grace, and as I started this book I was *so* happy to see that she had turned it into a story.

This story opens on three girls with very different personalities. The story follows one in particular: Marjorie Kirk. A young lady who is trying her very hardest to fit in and failing hopelessly, becoming more and more discouraged and more and more embarrassed.

There were several characters I fell in love with, the main one being the all wise chaperone to these girls, Ms. Claire, who always seems to know what to say to help her charges. The interaction between Marjorie and the minister made me smile with the awkwardness, while seeing a tiny bit of myself in her.

This is a sweet story that has endeared itself to my heart with its poignant message, which is something I think every girl — young and old — needs to be reminded of from time to time.

Here’s a couple questions I asked Victoria about this novelette, that she graciously answered.

1) What inspired you to write this book?

It originally started as a picture prompt for my blog, but the wheels kept spinning since I had created some pretty memorable characters and they wouldn’t leave my mind. So, I kept writing and the novelette was born!

2) How long — from getting the idea to releasing it to the world — did it take you to finish this project?

One year. I wrote it exactly one year ago!

3) Which character could you relate to the most, and why?

I actually do relate a lot to Marjorie, I hide my social “anxiety” if you want to call it that really well, but at heart, I am very tied up in what people think. I am a people pleaser and more introverted than I let on. I also relate to Miss Claire a lot. I am very much that woman when it comes to being a mama bear since I am the oldest sister. :D

4) Did the Lord teach you anything in particular while writing this book?

The message of the book is something that I think all women struggle with. The reality that we aren’t perfect. I have seen a lot of self-shaming in my life. And I know it is hard as women to want to be all of these things. We compare ourselves so much to each other, and then we beat ourselves up for not being “perfect” If anything, this book cemented the message that God created us unique and different from each other for a reason.

5) What is one major thing that you want readers to take away from this book?

That God made them beautiful, that He loves them, whether they are perfect or not. And that maybe, what you perceive as a detriment to yourself, might just be your biggest asset.

Thanks so much for having me Kaitlyn!

Thank YOU, Victoria, for answering my questions! And for all of you who read this, there’s a magnificent giveaway going on! One winner will receive a signed copy of the book and a $10.00 Amazon gift card!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

This is a long blog tour — this book has been spotted at several places around the internet this month :D Yesterday this book was the star of Sarah’s post at A Day in the Life, and tomorrow it will be highlighted at Faith’s blog, Chosen Vessels.

Victoria Lynn is in her 20s and if she’s not writing, she is probably sewing, singing, playing the piano, washing dishes, creating something with her hands, or learning something new. She has a passion for serving her Creator, encouraging others and being creative. She blogs at www.rufflesandgrace.com about writing, fashion, modesty, her walk with God and life. She lives in Michigan with her parents and 8 siblings.

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homesick

My parents headed back to the warmth of the sunny south, and I am here with my grandparents to help with recovery. The goal is to get grandpa well enough to get back home.

The doctors and hospital here are SO much better than down south, and I am grateful this happened where it did. The cardiologist seemed to be able to get the medicines straightened out that’ve been out of whack since the beginning of this year, when the southern doctors started messing around and changing medicine, and he had that near-death reaction.

This hospital had the ability to use contrast die for a test (I forget which one) to be better able to see everything. Normally this die puts him into anaphylatic shock, so he hasn’t had this done for years. The doctors here know how to prevent this through other medicine, and they discovered a minor (if there’s such a thing in the cardiac world!) problem with one of his heart valves. They are attempting to control this with medicine. This should help the amount of blood the heart is able to push through.

And meanwhile I am thirteen-ish hours away from home and fighting off homesickness. I miss my siblings, and my parents. I miss the church we’ve been attending, and meeting with other believers and joining in worship with them. But it is amazing how the Lord has been preparing me for this current chapter of my life — there’s NO way I would have ever agreed to this if I hadn’t lived with my grandparents for months last year =)

Years ago I read what Frances Ridley Havergals’ mother told her on her deathbed, and I have been praying it ever since. She told her, “Ask the Lord to prepare you for all He is preparing for you.” Think about that for a moment — the Lord has prepared for each of us a place in this world, a place where He will use us for His greater glory. A place where we can show others the truth of Christ’s love, be His hands and His feet in this world. But how can you do this unless you have asked him to prepare you for whatever task He has assigned to you?

This is one thing I have been meditating on during my early morning walks around the lake. It is so peaceful and quiet, and I can think so clearly. Another favourite time to think — or talk on the phone to my family — is as the sun is setting, in all it’s gloriously, undescribable colours that wash over the earth. The unnamable hues of pink and purple and blue bring to mind one of my favourite hymns:

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong
Seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
The battle is not done:
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world,
Dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise
Cry, The Lord is in this place.
This is my Father’s world,
From the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world,
Should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring.
God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world.
Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze
God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world,
a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

This is our Fathers world, if we only open our eyes to the beauty around us.

driving and praying

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have someone you love so very much in a hospital on the opposite side of the United States than you are, it’s hard. Especially when you’ve been the one with them constantly during hospital stays.

It involves a lot of prayers. A lot of tears. A lot of phone calls. A lot of driving.

We’ve been driving all night, cross country. About thirteen hours through dark country sides, lit up cities; over bridges and over rivers and lakes and streams. We left at 7:00 last night. We have an hour left as I write this.

We watched the sun rise four states away from our home. It was a beautiful sunrise, veiled in misty fog, reminding us that our Lord’s mercies are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness.

If you think of it, pray for us. Pray for my grandfather, who is in the hospital, states away from where we live. Pray for my parents who have shared the responsibility of driving all night. Pray for my mother — it is her father who is laying in that hospital bed. Pray for my grandmother. Pray for the doctors. Pray for alert minds, clear thinking, and peaceful hearts.

Thank you, my friends!

engraved on the heart

Engraved on the Heart by [Johnson, Tara]

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines—until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . … and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

I chose to review this book for two reasons: 1) I live in the South, and books written from the southern perspective pretty much always intrigue me; and 2) my interest was piqued by the medical issues in the book.

This book left me with mixed feelings, so I’m going to break it all down in categories — which I seldom ever do. So bear with me on this =)

:::Characters:::
Each of the characters were well developed and relatable. This author truly has a gift, I think. I could sympathize with Kizzie, and with Micah, and with Kizzie’s mother, and her young cousin, and Hiriam, and any of the other characters. I appreciated being brought into the world of Savannah, Georgia, into the midst of the war and the food shortages and the hot-headedness through the characters.

:::Writing/Plot:::
I enjoyed this authors style of writing immensely. It was descriptive without being too detailed, passionate without being too dramatic, and the language used was beautiful and complex. The plot itself was a good idea, and, while I didn’t appreciate all of the nuances, it was okay.

:::Setting:::
The charm of historical Savannah was captured beautifully, and the descriptions given about different places, shops, buildings and streets were charming. I laughed at the many mentions of the legendary southern heat and humidity making the characters hot and sticky and sweaty…..’cause that’s life in the south :D

:::History:::
I already mentioned that I had looked forward to reading this because it was a story set in the south — and I am a confederate at heart, as most of you well know. The history of the few battles mentioned, the food shortages, the balls and dancing and clothing were all accurate, from what I have studied. The medical treatments seemed authentic, as well, and from what I have read — which admittedly isn’t much — everything was treated pretty much how it would have been in the 1860’s.

:::What I Didn’t Like:::
For all the things I liked about it, there were several things that irked me as I was reading. The history was….lacking. I kind of felt that one side was given fairly — the north — and the confederates suffered badly. Most people wouldn’t have noticed or cared, but the southern soldiers seemed to be portrayed negatively, the southern women were portrayed as flighty and flirtatious, and the social customs and manners were spoken of in a way that made them seem ridiculous. Granted, the story was about slavery, abolition, and the underground railroad, but it was set in the south and the bulk of the story was told by a southern girl…..so you would think that, with all the upbringing she would have had, she would have merely disagreed with her homeland and her family’s positions on certain issues. Instead, I read a story of a character who seemed to be more of a northern girl who was vacationing down south. Again, most people probably wouldn’t have noticed…..but I did. I also didn’t care for the lack of southern charm. The setting was charming enough, it’s true, but the people themselves, while feeling authentic, lacked the southern charm of yesteryear.

Another thing I didn’t care for was the relationship between Kizzie and Micah. Y’all know that I am a big proponent of working together and building a relationship based on doing things to get to know the other person, rather than feelings. Granted, feelings will come, but I’m not really fond of “feeling-like-I’m-falling-in-love” relationships. I thought, from the description, that these two would be working together to free the slaves, and emotions would follow…..but it was more of a relationship based on feelings, than actually getting to know someone through hard work. Nothing inappropriate, and the reader sees the true character of each through the narration, but I’m not sure the other character really had a chance of seeing the other’s character before being thrown together in the end. If that even makes any sense at all :D

This was a book I would recommend for older readers, due to violence with the bounty hunters and the whole slavery issue. There is a rather violent part involving Kizzie and her brother, and there are two deaths that you “see”. Details aren’t really given, but it happens, nonetheless.

In all, I give this book 3.5 stars, and I would be willing to give this author another go-round =)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn’t required to write a favourable review. All thoughts are my own.