our heavenly home

The organ thrummed out a chord. The instruments all matched it — the violas, the violin, the bass and cello and french horns and trumpets all were in one accord with each other. If you haven’t experienced the thrills of different instruments all sounding forth one note, you’ve missed out.

The choir filed in, all of us. Gray hair mingled with brown and blonde and red as we all walked to our places. The director lifted his stick and the beautiful, magical sounds appeared out of nowhere. The deep throated fullness of the bass mingled with the lighter pitches of the violin, all brought to fullness with the earthy tones of the viola and cello. We started singing the first song, a beautiful hymn of praise. All together in unison first, then we changed to four part harmony with the congregation joining us, and tears came to my eyes. The sound of the people sitting in the pews bouncing off the wood paneling behind me, mixed with the harmony of the basses and tenors and altos and sopranos surrounded me, the sound wrapping me in a warm hug as I realized that I was listening to what heaven will one day sound like.

Everybody was singing out lustily, praising the Creator above. The verses to Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love, were sang by people of different backgrounds, different nationalities, different ages. The old sang with the young, the feeble with the strong. The Americans sang with those from China and Korea and other countries. The seeing sang with the blind, the parents with their children. The Baptists and Presbyterians and Methodists and Episcopalians all joined with the one common goal of praising our Lord. The united voices were wonderful to hear on this earth, and I can only wonder what it will sound like when we reach Heaven, and every single Christian unites their voices in praise and adoration and worship of the great triune God. As we all sang out the second verse, All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and Heav’n reflect Thy rays, Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise I was struck with awe at how well this hymn writer from years ago had captured the emotions and the thoughts I was thinking right then at that moment. It was so much different from singing in church on a Sunday morning. All those people were facing me and I could hear each and every voice, not just those near to me. I was surrounded by harmonies where I was in the choir loft, and it sounded heavenly.

I have sang many, many times in a choral setting, and enjoyed it immensely. I have been brought to tears at beautiful harmonies weaving in and out of the instruments and complimenting them perfectly. But to have the congregation join us….I had never experienced this. And to hear it, all the different voices mingling together in praise, I realized as I never have before just how acutely I long for my heavenly home. The promised land, that land “where we’ll never grow old,” that land of rest and peace, surrounded by the glory of Christ alone, when we are face to face with our Saviour, surrounding His throne and pouring forth our praises to Him on bended knee. How great that day will be! How marvelously beautiful the harmonies will sound out, how full of praise my heart will fill! How great the sound will be, as thousands and thousands of souls unite around our Lord! Where we have no excuses for being too busy, for being too tired, for being too anything. Where our own selfishness won’t inhibit our worship, and we can truly know what it is to worship our Lord in the beauty of His holiness.

We had three hymns to sing with everyone, three times of blessed glorious worship with everyone in the sanctuary joining in. And each time reminded me afresh of what I was created to do: to enjoy my God forever. I have never experienced such great joy and somberness and enjoyment all wrapped up in one as I did last night, all directed towards my Saviour. I enjoyed these congregational hymns immensely, even more so than the complicated songs we sang between hymns. And that in itself is saying much, because I have never had so much fun singing as I have this time. Intricate harmonies with many parts sounded off the vaulted ceiling of the church. Beautiful songs, directed by a person so full of energy and enthused by music that it was a joy to watch him. Music accompanied by an orchestra, an organ, a piano, some A Capella pieces accompanied with no instruments, only our voices lifting in praise. Music intended to draw others in, give them a glimpse of the beauties of Heaven. I was amazed to hear those around me as we sang for the enjoyment of others, for the glory of Christ our Saviour, pouring forth our souls for all we were worth. As we sang the last song of the evening, I was struck with a sadness that it was almost over…..all the times of meeting and joining for hours in learning these songs, uniting our voices in this music that was so magnificent would be over for months.

And yet my favourite part was that first hymn, that was so simple, so ordinary and common place in so many churches, that made me long so intensely for my final home with my Lord. That one hymn reminded me that this earth is not my home, that I am a pilgrim and a stranger, wandering through this world. It gave me a glimpse of the immensity of a land that my mind can’t even fathom — won’t ever be able to fathom — and a renewed sense of thankfulness for a Saviour who would come to save me so I could worship Him forever in eternity.

This entry was posted in Musings.

peculiar character

In family worship a couple nights ago, this quote from Charles Spurgeon was read. It went so well with what I had written about earlier (read that post here, if you missed it) that Mom encouraged me to put it on here for you all to read =)

God knows what godliness is, for He has created it, He sustains it, He is pledged to perfect it, and His delight is in it. What matters it whether you are understood by your fellow men or not, so long as you are understood by God? If that secret prayer of yours is known to Him, seek not to have it known to anyone besides. If your conscientious motive is discerned in heaven, mind not though it is denounced on earth. If your designs — the great principles that sway you — are such as you dare plead on the great Day of Judgement, you need not stop to plead them before a jesting, jeering generation. Be godly, and fear not. And, if you be misrepresented, remember that your character be dead and buried among men, there will be  “a resurrection of reputations” as well as of bodies. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43). Therefore be not afraid to possess this peculiar character, for though it is misunderstood on earth, it is well understood in heaven.”

peculiar people

Yes this a long post. I know that full well — but I needed to write this, for my own peace of mind. To get all the thoughts swirling around my head down in logical lines of black characters so I can muddle through them. There has been one verse I have been contemplating, running over and over again through my mind. 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light…”

When I was younger, I was constantly exhorted by many around me to “be in the world and not of it.” I’m sure I can’t have been the only one to be told this….but what exactly does this look like? To be in the world — which we most definitely are — and yet not to be of it — which many, if not all, of us struggle with.

When I read this verse, I realized what not being of the world looked liked. It looks…..different from the world. Yes, I know that might sound redundant — and simple. And kind of a clueless confession on my part — but something that seemed so complicated became so simple when I realized this.

This is actually one thing that saddens me, and can cause spiritual despondency — seeing others who are so seemingly strong in their faith, their convictions, their Saviour, who just sort of fall away,  slowly compromising until they are a shell of who I once knew. I have struggled with this. I have cried tears over this. So maybe I am a bit sensitive, but it makes me feel a deep, heavy burden when I see people — friends, family, acquaintances — drifting off into the world.

I struggled with this when people my own age grew up. And now that I am older, I am seeing people younger than me struggle with this same, all-encompassing question. Struggle only to fall; fall only to rise up — prayerfully — more than conquerors.

I myself struggled with this when I was younger — about 12 – 14. To my mind, especially now that I am older, these years are the most formative for girls. Speaking for myself, I wanted to be seen as responsible, wanted to be seen as a young lady and not a child, wanted to “grow up” and prove that I was capable. Added to that, I have always struggled with stubbornness, and I am the oldest which means I have a very….shall we say, in charge, attitude. I am quieter with others, and tend to think that I am never “enough” — good enough, funny enough, old enough, smart enough…..the list goes on. Which all goes to say that I struggled with respecting my parents, I struggled to get along with my siblings, and I struggled with my identity.

Maybe it was because I struggled so much when I was younger that I feel so strongly about what I see all around me — other young people who are struggling to “find themselves”, to use a popular colloquialism, not realizing how futile their efforts are.

See, we will never “find ourselves” in the ways we want to, until we lose ourselves in Christ. Our own identity is filled with sin, something we would never want others to know about us. Our identity must become anchored on Christ alone. We must die to ourselves — our own desires to “fit in”, the ways we want to spend our time, the friends we have, the things we long for…..everything must be brought under God’s will.

The Lord calls us to be a peculiar people……and it is this part of the verse I have been pondering. What does it mean to be a peculiar people? What does it look like? Albert Barnes wrote in his commentary on this: “They are a people which he has secured as a possession, or as his own; a people, therefore, which belong to him, and to no other. In this sense they are special as being His; and, being such, it may be inferred that they should be special in the sense of being unlike others (unique) in their manner of life.”

John Gill wrote: “God’s elect are a peculiar people, to whom he bears a peculiar love; they are chosen by him to be a special people above all others, and have peculiar blessings bestowed on them, and peculiar care is taken of them; they are the Lord’s, his treasure, his jewels, his portion and inheritance, and therefore he will preserve and save them; they are a people for acquisition, purchase, and possession, as the words may be rendered; whom God has obtained, procured, and purchased for himself, with the precious blood of his Son; hence the Syriac version renders them ‘a redeemed company.'”

John Calvin wrote in his commentary: “He further calls them a peculiar people, or, a people for acquisition, that they might be to him a peculiar possession or inheritance; for I take the words simply in this sense, that the Lord hath called us, that he might possess us as his own, and devoted to him.”

Ponder the words of those theologians for a moment. We, as the elect of God, are His people, His peculiar people. Those that He saved and set apart from the world. We have been purchased by the blood of His Son, and He reserves the right to our very life.

I can vividly remember when I first understood what it meant to be in the world but not of it, to be a peculiar people. I was reading a book (I think it was the Botkin girls book, So Much More, but it may have been some other book) and I was about 12 at the time. There was a story related that made me cringe. In my own words, it was a true story about a high school student who was a Christian, and intent on making Christ known to those around her. She strove to dress like everyone else, so they wouldn’t think Christians weird. She strove to talk like everyone else, have the same interests, listen to the same music, all in the name of making Christ known. There was this one girl that she was always asking to come to church with her, and the girl was never polite in her refusal. This went on month after month, until one Sunday when this Christian saw the girl in her church…..with some other Christian girl, who she didn’t know much about, because she looked like one of those “weird Christian churchgoers” that she had avoided looking like. When the service was over, the Christian asked why the the girl had come with that other strange girl.

The reply that was given caused me to check up and take inventory of my life. It was so simple, so straightforward and so convicting. The girl replied, “Why should I listen to someone who claims to be a Christian when you look and act just like I do? I already have enough problems; I don’t need anymore. That other girl, she had something I didn’t have. She was different, and I knew there was something to her religion.”

That story caused me to realize that, in trying to fit in, I was very similar to the world. I still remember what I was wearing — friends of a friend had given us a bag of old clothing, and I was wearing my favourite outfit: a tighter, form fitting striped blue and white aeropastle t-shirt, and a pair of jeans that were tighter than I normally wore — which was why I liked them so much. The way I was dressed was better than most — but “better than most” doesn’t mean glorifying Christ. If you had put me in a room with twenty other 12 year olds, you would never have been able to tell that I was claimed to be a follower of Christ. My heart attitude wasn’t right — I was more concerned with looking like everyone else than following my Saviour.

I relate that for one reason: I think the biggest inhibitor causing us to refuse to die to ourselves and find our identity in Christ is the fear that we will be different. We will look peculiar to those around us, and we won’t fit in. We will be seen and labeled as “strange”, “weird”, “awkward”……and the list goes on.

I’m not saying we won’t be looked at as if we are off our rocker — but I am saying that the only way to find yourself is to die to yourself. To worry about the Lord’s affirmation instead of bothering about the worlds. And as we focus on Christ — on His will, on His plan, on His glory — we cease to care what the world thinks of us as Christians.

Instead of chasing after the latest fashion trends, let’s run after Christ with a whole heart. Instead of striving to fit in with everybody else, let’s give everybody else something to ponder about as they come into contact with us.
Let’s not give into the pressure to flirt with every guy that comes into our vision, or vie for most popular with every girl we pass.
Let’s not dress in skimpy clothing because “everybody else” does and we want the same attention “everyone else” is getting — let’s let our clothing speak of who our allegiance is towards. Let it proclaim loudly that we belong to Christ, and not to some random guy who passes us by.
Let’s not allow social media to get in the way of spending time with our Saviour, or distract us from the more important things of life.
Let’s remember to pour into actual physical relationships, instead of letting tweets, texts, Facebook, or anything else replace the value of an actual conversation. Let’s purpose to spend time with those we are around, without letting our phones, i-pods, kindles, or whatever else has a tendency to ring-a-ding-ding for our attention to get in the way.

In short, let’s let Christ define us, and not our clothing, our friendships, our makeup, our cell phones, our social media pages, our family, our books, our music….or anything else. Let’s be willing to seem a bit peculiar to the world, for the glory of being Christ’s peculiar treasure on this earth.

until we find home

Until We Find Home - By: Cathy Gohlke For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the story lines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.

With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing—spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends—has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.

Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.

Until We Find Home was a beautiful book, a wonderful telling of the beginning of World War 2 from a perspective you don’t often read about. This was the first book I have read by Cathy Gohlke — and I am pretty certain, after finishing this one, that it won’t be the last :D

The story starts in France, and quickly moves into England. It details the home life of the war — the rationing, the making do, the bombing, the home security. I appreciated reading about the sentiments of the British as the Americans delayed — again and again — to enter into the war and to fight against Hitler and the evil he represented. I don’t remember any mentions of battle scenes, besides what was heard on the radio and written in letters….and I enjoyed this immensely. It is common to find books written about soldiers; about war nurses, and danger and heroism. This book was different. It highlighted a work that was just as important as the battles of the war itself: caring for those left behind. A different kind of heroism, that was beautiful and amazing and inspiring.

The bits with the children were precious to read, and I appreciated learning about some of the Jewish customs that are held. I also liked that Claire and her aunt incorporated Jewish traditions into their home, trying to make the children feel more at home. I liked how Claire’s character grew as she interacted with the children, and how her relationship with each child changed. The Claire in the beginning of the book leaves much to be desired — the Claire at the end is a beautiful, responsible woman.

The faith aspect of this book is different from most I have read. Claire is not a Christian, and there is no mention of any character specifically being a Christian until about midway through the novel. It was quite clear that Claire, and the other characters, were serving themselves and not Christ. About midway through the book there is a character introduced that is a Christian in word and deed, and is a wonderful example of Christianity lived out in daily life. There is a distinct, subtle difference between the Christian and those who aren’t. The Christian has different attitudes, looking for ways to serve the children, striving to be joyful, even though he himself is struggling, speaking wise words when needed — it is a difference between a morally good life and a life that is live for Christ’s glory. The contrast was well written, and I appreciated it. When Claire does become a Christian, there is fruit of this…..although it doesn’t happen until the last third of the book. The scene that was supposed to be her conversion — I think — was a dream she had. But I was a left being a bit confused about that aspect of the whole thing. Suffice it to say that she did change afterwards :D

There is a wedding at the end of the book — but the relationship wasn’t some emotionally driven love story at all. Actually, neither character had any intentions of falling in love. The relationship was forged as the two worked together for a bigger cause than their own desires, and culminated in a marriage.

The whiffs of other literary characters that were woven into the story made it so fun! I mean, incorporating Beatrix Potter into the story was a wonderful addition! It added to the quaintness of the countryside, and added a light hearted touch to a serious time in history.

Overall, I would lend this out to others without any qualms =P

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
All thoughts are my own.

If you like to read, visit My Readers Rewards Club for an opportunity to earn points and books from Tyndale Publishers. Use this link to earn twenty five points when you sign up =)

under a cloudless sky

387789: Under a Cloudless SkyUnder a Cloudless Sky
By Chris Fabry

A novel set between 1933 and 2004 about the coal-mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, and the people who live there in danger of being destroyed by a horrific massacre of miners during a conflict between the workers and management for the sake of profit. Years later, many neighbors are forced sell their land to a coal and energy company or face rising property taxes. One man tries to keep his family legacy while a mining executive offers to revitalize the dying town paying homage to the past while positioning the company for growth at all costs.

 

I was excited when I saw the release of this book — I enjoy most of this authors books, as you have probably read a time or two before =)

This was a beautiful telling of a coal mining town, choices adults and children had made, and the consequences of those decisions as they grow older.  The pace was a bit slower than some of his other books, I thought, but I enjoyed it — and there were just as many plot twists that left me scratching my head in perplexity.

The point of view switches around quite a bit, which I found a bit confusing at first — but after the first couple of chapters I caught on. It goes from 2004, to 1933, to 2004, back to 1933…….and every single bit of information is vital to the story. And the ending…..oh the ending was marvelously perfect!

The historical parts from 1933 were a wonderful eulogy of bygone days. The details of common,  everyday life were beautifully chronicled, and the old hymns that were included were sweet to read over. Yes, I researched them, and one day, perhaps, I will learn them on the piano and introduce the children in our church to them :D

There were a couple of intense scenes, and for that reason I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers. There were a couple of fights (it was a coal mining town!), and one gun fight that was detailed. It was an essential part of the story, and the details given weren’t too gory, but it was suspenseful and you definitely weren’t left wondering what happened.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for an honest review
All thoughts are my own.

If you like to read, visit My Readers Rewards Club for an opportunity to earn points and books from Tyndale Publishers. Use this link to earn twenty five points when you sign up =)

radiant hearts magazine

I am so pleased that I get to share about this with you all today — a young lady who authors Great Books for God’s Girls has started a magazine for young ladies. If it is anything like her blog, it will be encouraging, interesting, and everything will be written with a sound foundation of the the gospel alone. I am actually super excited about this, and would ask that you join me in praying for this publication, that the Lord would use it to bless and encourage many!
About the Magazine:
Radiant Hearts Magazine is a quarterly publication, to be published in February, May, August, and November. The goal for this magazine is to “Encourage Girls to Shine Radiantly for Christ.” RHM is an online only magazine for the time being, and everyone will be able to view this it for free! Articles are to be aimed at ages 12-25, but they will be helpful to all ages. Included in the magazine will be (Lord willing) the following things (and more!):
  • articles written by Christian young ladies and women
  • book/movie reviews and recommendations
  • recipes for delicious food
  • “Story Behind the Hymn”
  • pictures of girls serving the Lord, and
  • encouraging notes from girls just like yourself!

I am looking forward to reading the magazine as it is published each quarter! I would highly encourage you to visit the website for Radiant Hearts to learn more about this publication: https://radiantheartsmagazine.wordpress.com/

About the Founder:
Leona Ruth is a teenage young lady. Leona asked Jesus to be her Savior at a young age, and is striving to serve Him with all that she does. She loves reading, and has a blog where she posts book reviews: Great Books for God’s Girls. Some of her other hobbies are graphic designing, photography, baking, playing violin, piano, and organ, and writing.

Here is the schedule for those who are sharing about this magazine on their blogs:

Monday, January 1st
Tuesday, January 2nd
Chloe P. @ Purely by Faith

Wednesday, January 3rd
Kaitlyn S. @ Maidens for Modesty

a new year has come

A new year is here. A fresh start — a whole new beginning.

Never before, in the entire history of mankind, has there ever been a 2018. Never has any one lived even one of the days in this year. No one knows what this new year will bring.

This new year that lies before us is one of intrigue, suspense, and excitement. It is an unopened book, waiting for us to turn the pages and discover the depths it contains.

Last year has gone away — it will never be 2017 again. There’s not one day I can re-live; one day I can re-make memories of; one day I can go back and change. It’s over and done with, and there’s a new year to live. To fill to it’s fullest, to make memories of, to uncover it’s intrigue.

The responsibility falls to me to make every single moment of it shine out with God’s glory. It falls to me to take this year and use it purposefully. To live every day with a resolve to get the most out of it, to enjoy it, embrace it, and praise the Lord above for it.

And while we are looking ahead to the year before us, we must not forget to look backward at the year behind us. To look at it’s mistakes and failures and learn from them. The mistakes I made this last year have not yet been made in this new year opening before me. The failures and experiments of last year don’t yet have a place in this new year the Lord has given to me — and prayerfully they won’t ever. Oh, yes, there will be new ones made, new lessons learned — but prayerfully I’ve learned the ones from last year. Laughter and joy haven’t yet filled the moments of this year; I have no memories of the days ahead of me. Only of the past, only of the days behind me. I must purpose to make memories, to laugh, to be joyful.

I must look at the past to be taught, and look at the future with trust in the Lord’s providence and sovereignty. To know that whatever happens in this new year, it is given to me by God Himself — the good times and the bad times; the happy and sad; the beautiful and the ugly. I must learn from them, embrace them, and look to the Lord wholeheartedly, trusting in His provision for me, as He unfolds His plan day by day.

I must remember that because He lives, I can face tomorrow. No matter what tomorrow may hold.

May each of you have a blessed New Year!

hurried and harried….

Another knock reverberated throughout the entrance way. With a groan, the man went to open the door. Would it ever stop? This never ending stream of people, seeking shelter…..and his inn had filled up hours ago. What were  the Romans thinking, bringing everyone who had ever been born back to Bethlehem? They had left for a reason — there simply wasn’t enough room!

He shook his head at the traveler, and closed the door. Just as he removed his hand, another knock echoed. He opened it and once again repeated what he had been saying for a while now: “There’s no room at this inn….”

He felt bad, having to turn away so many who appeared to be so wearily tired. Tired of everything, he was sure. The dust, the heat, the walking, the jarring of the footpaths…..the Romans should have thought this through better. Planned accommodations. Prepared for the influx of people.

Another knock sounded as he sat down to finish his meal. He stood up, prepared to turn away someone else; some other tired soul. “There’s no room at this inn.”

But instead of taking his answer and leaving with it, the young man seemed insistent. “Please! My wife! She’s going to have a baby — we have no time to go farther!”

The inn keeper peered around the man, to the donkey waiting patiently with a young lady on his back. The girl did appear to be in some pain…..but there was truly no room. Especially no privacy for a child to be born! What was he to do? He couldn’t very well turn them away — they truly needed a place to stay. Perhaps he could ask…..but no. There were three families in that room, and it was no place for a woman to birth a child.

A low, rumbling groan recalled his thoughts to the two young people in front of him. The man looked anxiously over his shoulder at his young bride, and she gave a small smile, assuring him she was okay.
Except it looked much more like a grimace.
And the look in her eyes was one of pure agony.

“Joseph!” she gasped out, and convulsively grabbed the poor animals mane.

The inn keeper decided. He couldn’t turn these two away, and there was only one place where there would be proper room for a birth. It wasn’t much, but it was the best he could offer.

He turned to the man and requested him to follow, with the young woman.

He led them through the town, to a small, peaceful valley. He led the way to a small opening in the side of the cliff, his shelter for his animals.

He apologized that he had nothing better for the girl. It truly was the best he could do, and he was sorry to leave them there.

The man was understanding, thankful, even, for that small privilege of a roof over their heads, warm hay for the lady to rest against, walls to keep away prying eyes. He was already heaping the straw into a mound for the woman. Assisting her down, half carrying her as labour pains once again racked her body with an agonizing grip. The inn keeper quickly excused himself, and headed back. He was sure there were already people trying to break the doors down to get in to his inn.

All that afternoon, he wondered about the couple. He sent a plate of food, and the servant returned, reporting that the time was near for delivery.

That evening, he was standing in the doorway, enjoying the silence. The restful, peaceful silence that went unbroken. As soon as the night had set in for good and the daylight faded, all the travelers had found a place to lay down and camp, and made themselves comfortable. It was a beautiful night; the stars seemed brighter than normal, and he was enjoying the sight.

He suddenly heard the sound of leather sandals running through the dust. They drew closer, until he stepped out in the road, right into the pathway of strangers. Strangers who were running. Strangers, who, judging by the way of dress, the smell and the general shaggy and dirty appearance, were shepherds. Strange, that they would have left their sheep alone. He called out, asking them what the problem was. For a fleeting moment, he prepared himself to hear that the city was under attack.

Instead, a wondrous tale came from the lips of the shepherds. A story that was quite unbelievable, that contained lights and angels and songs and a baby, lying in a manger. As if any responsible parents would put their new born child in a manger….especially a child as special as this one seemed to be, if angels had announced the birth. Surely they could have found somewhere to stay, better than a stable. Surely the inn keeper would make room…..his face blanched as he remembered the strangers; the young woman in labour; the stable he had led them too. Surely…..but no. He looked around, trying to figure out which way the shepherds had taken to get around the man who stood woolgathering, blocking their paths.

But he knew the way to his stable, he would just take a peek and see. He had wanted to check on the child earlier in the day anyways, and hadn’t had a chance. He skillfully made his way to his shelter, and quietly peered in. He saw a sight that made tears fill his eyes, that made his heart ache. There, on the ground, kneeling in the straw around the feeding trough, were the shepherds. They were kneeling before the child, who lay sleeping peacefully after the hard work of being born. The mother lay in the corner, half propped up between the straw and the rock that formed the wall. She looked tired, but peaceful as she watched the shepherds with her child. The father was on his knees beside his wife, holding her hands and gazing with pride at their newborn Son.

Their new born Son, who would one day change the world. Save it. None of those gathered quite knew what it meant, what His title of Saviour would involve. But they knew that this child wasn’t really theirs; He was the Son of the very God, YWHY, that they had been taught to serve since they were both children.

If you liked this, you may also like these character sketches =)

a question of courage

I have had A Question of Honor on my to-read list for a while now. Since spring, when it came out, as a matter of fact. And then I discovered this author had written a second book in her Question of War series……and I was delighted to be able to review and read both of them!! The review for the first book is coming soon, but I will say that it was well worth the wait to read the books. They were both so very good and I am anxiously — I dare not even claim patience in this area — waiting for the third book to come out :D

A man. A decision. A destiny.
Rafe Sullivan never imagined the war would come to his doorstep. But when Pearl Harbor is attacked and America’s focus suddenly shifts to the pacific, he finds he can’t ignore the problem anymore.
Leaving the life he loves behind, he joins up to do what he does best. Fly.
Yet, nothing could have prepared him for the horrors of war, and the struggle that is going on in his own heart. As an outstanding navy pilot, he is stationed on one of the few Pacific carriers. But could God be calling him to step out in faith, and go beyond the call of duty?
Lily Wilson gives her all to help the hurting community around her. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the war is brought home to many American families. And as a nurse, she longs to be able to relive some of the suffering. Yet, her own grief is still fresh in her heart, and though she’s made the decision to get on with her life, she can’t seem to leave the past behind. When healing at last comes, the guard she placed around her heart slowly begins to crumble.
But when she receives the news she hoped she would never again hear, can she trust that God’s plan is always right?
Arthur Warrington saw the Navy as an escape from the life he left behind. And it seems good for him. He is able to forge new friendships and distance himself from his past. But when his best friend makes a decision that rocks his world, he is left grappling with the question: what is true courage?
Three lives. One War. And a search for the Courage to go on.

This book was wonderful! In every sense, it was a delightful read….I don’t even know where to begin writing about this book, ’cause I honestly don’t think anything I say will do it any justice :D Maybe if I tell you these books made it on my “Top Ten List” it might give you an idea of how wonderful these books are!

The style of writing was amazing! I was immediately drawn in, and didn’t want to put the book down until I finished it. Then I was overcome with an overwhelming sadness after I read the last page and realized there were no more pages to look forward to reading. The historical aspect was well researched, and I loved the fact that it was about one of my favourite times in history — WWII.

The characters were all so relate-able — they were so sweet to get to know! I loved the way that they all interacted with each other. It is so rare to find a book where siblings get along and love each other, but this book was one of those rare few. The brother’s relationship was precious to read about. The way that the boys honoured their sisters was priceless. The way that they interacted with their parents was so respectfully loving. And the practical jokes……and the humour……oh my!

The faith aspect in this book was not lacking in the least, and it was refreshing to read! Every action reflected the glory of God, every conversation reflected the state of the characters hearts. It was not by any means a “preachy” book, but it was most definitely a Christian book, and the characters reveal that throughout the entire thing. There were no “words”, not inappropriate scenes…..nothing not in accordance to Scripture. And I enjoyed reading about the way Rafe Sullivan trusts God so completely,  even when the unexpected happens.

There was romance in the book, but it was the sweet, endearing romance that points you towards Christ. The interactions between the guys and the girls were nothing short of courteous and respectful at all times. There is a mention of a couple characters that like to break the girls hearts, but that is pretty much the extent of how you are told about that aspect of them. The main characters mention that girls can be treated like sisters, and even the known relationship in the book is nothing short than sweet =)

In all, this was a wonderful book. Yes, I cried through it…..not nearly as much as I cried reading the first book, though. But I also laughed, smiled, sighed, sniffed, and sympathized through it too. And it takes a good author to bring out so many different emotions in a single book, adn do it successfully and well. Ms. Jesseca has made it on my list of top five favourite authors of fiction. And that is saying a lot for those who know me well!

A Question of Courage is the second book in the series, and I do think it could be read as a stand alone novel. But I did just finish reading the first book when I read this one. And the first one is too good NOT to read, so I wouldn’t suggest reading only the second :D You can purchase the books on Amazon HERE.  I would totally give this book a five star rating, and recommend it to others to read…..I need to get a real copy since I only have it on my kindle now =) Yes, it was that good!

About the Author

Jesseca is a daughter, sister, and a child of God.
Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.
And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas,
and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.

 

And guess what, folks? Yep….there’s a giveaway with this blog tour =P Click on the link below to discover how to enter for a paperback copy of either A Question of Honor or A Question of Courage! The fancy widget-image thingy won’t come through because this blog is through word press….so you’ll just have to click on the link =) Trust me, you want to win this giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

:::Blog Tour Schedule:::

Wednesday, 29th

Faith Potts//Stories by Firefly – Review, Book spotlight
Libby May//Geoturtle – Author Interview
Kaitlyn S.//Maidens for Modesty — Review

Thursday, 30th

Kellyn Roth//Reveries Reviews – Review
Raechel//God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae – Book Spotlight
Kate//Twin Thoughts – Author Interview

Friday, 1st

Liv K. Fisher//Liv K. Fisher – Book Spotlight, Author Interview
Deborah C.// Reading in June – Book Spotlight
Mikayla H.//Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father – Review
Chloe W.//Purely by Faith Reviews – Review, Author Interview
Abigail//Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors – Book Spotlight

Saturday, 2nd

Jazzy//Thriving Hope – Review, Book spotlight
Angela Watts//The Peculiar Messenger – Review
Rebekah Eddy//Rebekah’s Remarks – Review, Author Interview, Book spotlight
Karissa Norton//No Coffee, No Can Do – Author Interview, Review

beauty

I sat down to write something for Thanksgiving, but for the first time in a long while, I don’t know what to write. I have so many thoughts swirling through my brain in a chaotic mess, and the page in front of me remains blank. Autumn tends to do that to me. The sights, the smells, the breezes…..it all makes me feel like a young child again. Nostalgic, maybe.

We have so much to be thankful for….do we realize it? I have a tendency to go through life, marking things off that list and moving on, not relishing and enjoying and looking for ways the Lord has blessed me throughout the day.

Our lives are beautiful — did you know that? They are full of things that are beautiful and precious and point us towards Christ….if we only stop and look for them. We would see His glory in so many things, if we would only stop and take the time to pay attention.

I see Him as I play with little siblings. As log towers crash to the ground, as cars go “zroom-ing” around, as we play Ring-Around-the-Rosie and “all fall down”.

We can be grateful for each day we are alive. For the wonder of His creation as we walk outside with siblings. For the beauty that surrounds us this time of year, as the leaves fall to the ground creating a wonderful carpet of colour and the wild flowers are blooming in profusion. As the deer start moving in the cool evenings and mornings, and the evenings are a beautiful shroud of fogginess…thick, white, beautiful fog. As the grass is white with frost when we wake up and our breath puffs white smoke, and the rose bushes glisten in beauty.

For each time I can cook with a little sibling , I am thankful. For each giggle and laugh and coo, I realize what a miracle each and every soul is from God. All the aromas wafting throughout the house, all the fall colours and pumpkins and pies and sweet potatoes.

I am grateful for each and every member of our military, past and present. For all those who have given all to serve our country, to keep those of us at home safe, to preserve our freedom and way of life. For all that they see, for all that they do, for all that they have done. For those who have given up their youth to fight wars, to train, to protect; for those who have waited at home for their return. For the children who wait to hug their daddies, for the wives who wait for their husbands, for the mothers who long for their sons to be back in their arms.

I am grateful for the music which fills this world. For the violinist who makes his bow dance across his strings, in utter jubilance. For the pianist who makes the keys of the piano sigh with unspoken longing, for the cellist who manages to convey so much through the lower notes. I am thankful to hear children singing along in praise to our great King — grateful and humbled as they sing with abandon, not caring who is around or if they are singing the right tune or the right key or the right note. Only to sing in a wonderful, beautiful way for the King of Kings.

I am awed into praise by so many things. For the missionaries overseas who serve, unseen, in so many areas. For those who daily live with the threat of persecution and rejection and still find joy in the midst of pain and sorrow and suffering. For my pastor who preaches faithfully Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.

I am filled with praise as the breeze catches my hair and gently tangles it, as the branches sway and whisper in the wind and a myriad of leaves come fluttering down. As the acorns come tumbling down, and the pecans land with a clatter and little brothers race to fill up buckets, so we can enjoy the goodness of those nuts all year long. For each sunset that causes me to catch my breath at the wonderful beauty that is painted in the sky, the rich pinks and purples and nameless, glorious colours, hung there for our pleasure.

I am so very grateful for all those who have gone before me, fighting battles so I don’t have to. For those who stood against the recognized church and translated and printed Scripture, so that hundreds of years later, I have a Bible sitting on my hope-chest, waiting to be opened and read tonight. For those who made their way over to America, facing so very many unknowns to establish a community, where they could have freedom to worship God.

I am amazed and thankful for all the gifted authors out there who write so many beautiful things. Who use words to make you feel and experience something new. Who fill you with longing to do better; with desire to go and do something to help. Who weave beautiful word pictures and cause tears to course down your cheeks, or smiles and laughter to wreath your face with joy, or sighs of expectancy or sorrow or waiting to escape your lips.

There are so many things making headlines right now. So many shootings, murders, and scandals. So much ugliness, sin being glorified, and fear surrounds us daily. Life is a gift. A wonderful, beautiful gift. And in the midst of suffering there is always something to be thankful for. As I wrote several years ago on this blog: “How many times do we cry out to the Lord during adversity and never think about Him in times of peace? How many times do we thank Him for trials? Do you thank Him for the brain surgery? For taking the child you wanted to hold to be with Him before you ever saw it — almost before you knew you were carrying a new little soul? We can thank Him when we discover He has indeed blessed us with a life to cherish…..How many times do we seek to be close to the Lord in times of blessed contentment? How close do we get to be to Him during times of grief and mourning?…..When we are tempted, tossed on what seems a never ending sea of turmoil — when we are brought face to face with the fact that we are, indeed, human, and can’t change eternity — when we find ourselves in a situation that we can’t control — we instinctively know Who turn to. The One that even the winds and the waves obey. The One that controls everything — has ordained everything — and we long to be close to Him. We long, with an innate, unsatisfied thirst, to be intimate with Him. We place ourselves — our very lives — into His hands unhesitatingly — because there is no where else to turn to. Should this be so? Should it be this way?”

Pondering the things the Lord has blessed us with is a beautiful way to cultivate gratefulness in our lives. Now, I know we are supposed to be thankful every day of our lives. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. But some  days it is just so hard. We need to purpose to find things to be thankful for when all is calm and serene. We need to thank Him when life is falling to pieces around us. We need to thank God for the little things, for the beautiful, daily things we take for granted each day of our lives. For the things that cause our eyes to fill up with tears, for the things that make us laugh aloud in wonder, for the things that cause us to catch our breath in awe-filled wonder.

I didn’t intend to write any of this….and yet I did. Because I am looking for ways — small ways — to be thankful this year to the Creator of all. To give Him the praise and thanks He is due.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. May you take time to truly reflect and see what a wonderful, merciful, mighty Saviour we have been so very graciously given!