Why It’s Important to Choose Your Books Wisely—I’m Guest Posting!

Why you should know what your child is reading

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Kendra Stamy, author of the blog A Proverbs 31 Wife, asked me to write a guest post for her. This was a difficult post to write, because I know some of the things I talk about could potentially be very controversial. At the same time, as Mom kept reminding me, these are the kinds of things that need to be shared. After lots of prayer and writing and rewriting, it’s now live. If you’re interested to hear my thoughts on why it’s important to know what your child reads (or why it’s important to choose wisely yourself!), go here.

One Year Thankfulversary: Giveaway Time!

When I mentioned that I wanted to do a giveaway yet this month to my mom, she asked “is it because you launched the site about this time last year?”

“No…but that could be the reason!” I replied.

One Year Celebratory Giveaway

While that isn’t the only reason why we’re having a giveaway today, it is part of it. I enjoy giving things to people, love celebration, and love meeting goals. One of my yearly goals was to have a giveaway sometime here in the first quarter, and with that coming to an abrupt end in about a day, I think it’s about time to try to accomplish that goal!

Like I said before, I love celebration. For the most part, I love this thing called life that God has called each of us to live. And I love celebrating the little things—hasn’t He given us so very, very much? Just pause and look around for a moment, if you’re in doubt. See that bed? He gave you the gift of being able to relax and rejuvenate in sleep. Hear that bird? He made that amazingly complex machine. He made it all. And we should praise Him for that.

Beach

Today, I’m praising Him for a year well lived. Yes, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but He’s been there through it all. Through His love, He has brought many people past this website, and I’m thankful for that. And I hope in the coming year, we’ll be able to help even more people find good books.

Thank YOU, too, for sticking with me through the ups and downs and learning curves and pictures blowing out the side of your inboxes…thanks for understanding. 🙂 And thank you in advance for your support in the coming year.

And now for the giveaway! Since Easter has just finished (how was YOUR Easter?), I’ll do a Bible-themed giveaway. We’ll have several winners, so when you enter you’ll have the chance to receive one of the following:

  • A $20 Amazon.com gift card
  • Joseph of Arimathea by Sarah Holman: Two Kindle editions (from Amazon.com) of this book will be given away. I was reading this last Easter, and really enjoyed the story!
  • More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell: One paperback copy, can be sent from Book Depository. So far, this is one of my hands-down favorites in the Christian apologetics world—very practical and readable!
  • DVD of ABC Say it With Me: Bible Memory Verses: —Available only within the US. Our family loves this, and I’m sure the younger people in your life would as well.

Note: This giveaway is open worldwide, just as long as you can receive books and gift cards from Amazon.com. Please note that the DVD is only available to people who live in the US.

So in total if you add all that up, we’ll have FIVE winners! Yay!

Enter below. Giveaway begins on March 30th at 7 am EDT and ends in two weeks, on April 13th at 8 am EDT. (I’ll stick with Eastern time—adding New Zealand time to the mix is too confusing.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And legal info: Want to see the Terms and Conditions for the giveaway? Go here.

May God bless your coming week!

Esther

God’s Surprises

This morning, I saw that this week’s five minute Friday prompt was the word “surprise”. Even though I’ve never done it before, I thought this would be a fun challenge, so below is my piece on the topic.

The rules: Write for five minutes straight, with no editing, on the topic given. Share online.

Easy enough . . . hopefully!

Bee on the Goldenrod

GO!

Surprises come in many different packages. Whether it’s your boss at work playing a prank on you, you sharing in a friends’ surprise party, or simply reading the Word and being surprised at its contents.

There are so many surprises in the world, and one thing that is often connected in my brain is the word surprise with the word mystery. Both are talked about in relation to God, and there’s that really fascinating verse by Paul, I think, that says the mysteries of God are now clearly seen—that’s butchered, I know, but you should get the drift.

I love that facet of His character. I love how there were (well, still are) mysteries about Him, but through Jesus coming here, living among us, Emmanuel, many mysteries have been cleared up. We can now understand the heart behind the old law, and yet there are so many things—threads—connecting both the old law and the new law.
Such as the oft-repeated command: “Obey my commandments, and you will have My blessing”—I’ve been noticing a lot of those in Numbers and Deuteronomy, and I know Jesus said that several times in John as well. That’s just one of the threads. The threads in His Word are fascinating! And there’s so many others, too!

STOP.

Beautiful flowers!

I didn’t quite finish the thought, so here it is—God’s surprises and mysteries come in many ways. Many mysteries are made understandable through the Word. And many of His surprises come through His Word (wow; I didn’t know this verse/that meaning was there!).

Another interesting related thought is that He promises we will be blessed if we follow His commands (John 14:15—“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”) His blessings come in many forms. Perhaps it isn’t even very obvious at times, but I’ve found that in genuinely trying to care for others—through His strength, because I can’t on my own!—I get blessed in return.

Well, I enjoyed that. I’ll have to do it again.

In more down-to-earth daily life, we’ve had a coolish week this last week. We’ve had some beautiful days, a couple rain days, and today was a bit of a hot day. Praise the Lord, we got about 40 mm of rain (1 ½ inches) about three days ago—much needed, and much prayed for!

Last evening, as we were preparing to have Bible time, I noticed the beautiful sunshine coming through the trees. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but that combined with the ever-sunny Jerusalem artichoke flowers was a gorgeous sight!

As I near the end of this week, I want to pause and take in the beauty around me, all the little surprises God has packed into each day. Whether it’s the sunset, the heart-melting grin of my little sister, or the little brother that wants a cuddle and a story. I want to take it in, and in return thank Him for each one.

I also want to continue to delve deeper, learn more, study Him—and ask Him to make me more like the daughter of God, the “moon” of His Son, that He wants me to be.

Do you have anything you’re wanting to focus on this weekend, and the coming week as we approach the Easter season?

P. S. Yes, I’m on Instagram now. Follow me here, if you like. 🙂

Learning to Love

This month, I’m participating in a study on love, based on 1 Corinthians 13. I’ve had different ideas on the topic over the years—back when I was 5 or 6 and couldn’t write much, the most common phrase in my letters was “God is love”.

Back then, those words were security to me. That is who God is. But my idea of love—God’s love—never went far beyond that. That is who God is, but I never applied it to my life as “God is love, so therefore I should be . . . .”

Learning to Love

Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2-3)

The study so far has been challenging and enlightening. Seeing how without love we are practically useless has made me wonder how love is shown in my life.

  • Am I showing love to my coworker when she offers to do the last little bit of cleaning, that can only be done by one person, and I let her do it? Especially when I know she’s tired and would rather go home to rest?
  • Am I showing love to my brother when he has an exciting experiment and I’m feeling tired and grumpy, so I tell him I’m not interested?
  • Am I showing love to my friend when I tell her of my troubles, but never care to ask her about hers?
  • Am I showing love to my neighbor when she stops by, and since I don’t really like her I take the option to duck out to my room and let Mom talk rather than carry on a conversation?

Truthfully, I have to answer no to all those questions. I’m pretty terrible at showing love. So this next week, I’m challenging myself to do at least one thing each day to show love to someone—whether it’s speak a word of encouragement, do something for someone, or simply listen to my brother’s idea and practice some patience.

This week, I want to be proactive about learning to love those around me. I do love and appreciate a lot of people, but usually that isn’t shown.

Will you join me? Can we have a positive influence on the world and the people around us this next week?

And if this aspect of love is a little easier for you than for some of us, do you have any practical tips for how to actively show our love to others?

The Rock Stands Forever

When I got home from work today, I found out that a friend of the family who had been planning to come spend the day with us tomorrow came today instead, and brought a friend along with him. It was great to meet her, and nice to catch up with him a little.

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The muddy color in the ocean to the top right is where a river (obviously very silty right now!) is joining the ocean.

After talking for a while this afternoon, most of the family went out to the local beach. We’ve had quite a bit of hot weather lately, so it was nice to relax and wade a little in the beautiful cool Pacific!

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We were on the beach for 15 minutes or so, and then headed up the steep, winding hill to the lookout over the bay. This is a favorite spot for us; we’ve taken quite a few different visitors up there. It never seems to get old, though.

Ocean04

While we stood at the railing, enjoying the breeze, the sunshine, and the beauty around us, our new friend commented that these rocks have been there for a long, long time—even longer than she or I have been alive. Pondering that fact, looking at the intricately carved cliff face, reminded me of God.

“His Word lasts forever, too,” I commented as I studied the deep greens of the native bush in front of us.

Ocean01

We might come past and look at it, maybe even dig a little into it to figure out why it looks the way it does. Generations come and go, and yet His Word is always there. Unchanged, unmoved, solid as rock.

“Lots of little faces have come and stared at this rock, just like we are now,” my new friend mused. “Then they go away, but the rock stays there. And more little faces will come and look at it again.”

Through everything—storm, wind, hail, earthquake, beating sun—the rock stands.

Ocean05

Soon it was time to move on. My cousin, who was also with us, wanted to explore a track he had found there—that we had no idea was in the area, even though we’ve explored that particular beach many different times. It was a fun walk; we did a good portion of it in an hour and a half.

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A container ship we spotted from the lookout on the track.

On the way down, the boys all went at their own speeds, most getting to the beach and changed before we got back.

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I stopped to “smell the roses” for a bit. Except I think I forgot to actually smell them in my attempt to get a good picture.

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All in all, it’s been a gorgeous day! God’s creation is so beautiful . . . hearing the twitters and tweets of birds singing in the native bush, the crash and roll of the waves hitting the beach, the sucking knocking sound of rocks rolling in the receding wave, the indescribable blue blue of the ocean, the beautiful piney scent as we drove under pine trees, and so many other sights and sounds and flavors that I can’t even describe. God is good. God is so, so good.

And the really amazing part? Despite all this beautiful creation, that He can enjoy every single day of every single year, He chooses to love us—who scorn His very Gift all too often.

Challenge: What is one thing you can see from where you are right now that shows His beautiful loving care? That shouts that He is in control?

Weekend Musings: God’s Righteousness and Goodness

Written last evening.

It’s been one of those beautiful blessed days. We went to the domain today (like a park, but out in the country and it isn’t as trimmed and polished as one in town), and I basked in the beautiful green, green scenery and the blue, blue sky. It was indescribably gorgeous. I love spring days!

Through different Bible studies lately—what others have pointed out to me, and more personal studies, I’ve had some fascinating thoughts come up. Since I have the chance tonight, I thought I’d jot them down and share.

There are two things I have in mind especially—God’s righteousness and overwhelming goodness.

Just recently, while reading through a study on “justice” in a great book named The Power for True Success published by IBLP, there was a fascinating thought mentioned. This book is VERY in-depth, and I rarely comprehend everything they’re trying to teach. However, one point stuck out to me. I know I’ve heard the teaching before, but I never fully understood all that it implies.

God's Righteousness and Goodness pic 2

It was so pretty! Love the spring colors. Also had to get a picture of my handsome oldest brother.

Once we are Christians, in God’s eyes, we are completely covered in Christ’s righteousness. This means that all those sins we’ve done, all those bad thoughts and cruelty…everything is covered by the blood and we are counted righteous.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. — 2 Corinthians 5:21

We know Jesus was of perfect character and perfect righteousness (He “knew no sin”!). And yet He was willing to take upon Himself the sins of the world, and substitute His sinless life in our place, so that we could have His righteousness.

Completely covered is, in my mind, like one of the burqas you see sometimes. No trace left of who is actually underneath—that’s how much Jesus loves us!

Wow.

Then there’s this whole thing on God’s overwhelming goodness. You know those verses in John 10 about the good shepherd? As my friend Rachel recently pointed out, there are some golden promises in verses 28–29. Jesus says here that He has given us—all those who hear His voice and follow Him (notice, “follow” is an action word)—eternal life. Furthermore, “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” No one.

So we’ve got a double-whammy here. When we accept Jesus at the cross, and continue to follow Him, God immediately imputes Jesus’ righteousness onto us. Like a burqa, except instead of being a hindrance and cumbersome weight it’s pure, beautiful freedom. Freedom from the ugly desires and lusts of the world, and the immense gift of someone who truly cares for us and will help us when we turn to Him (and often before we even think to ask, or know we need to ask!).

What an amazing God we serve!