Hearts Entwined: The Love Knot

by Karen Witemeyer51l747pg64L._SY346_

Ok, so this whole book isn’t officially by Karen Witemeyer, but this review is specific to The Love Knot. Just to specify, the other authors that contributed are absolutely recommended by me as well. ❤

51+6E5Az98LKaren is one of the ladies that really got me into reading. I’m a huge fan and have always enjoyed her writing. In this novella, we once again visit the all ladies colony of Harper’s Station, Texas. (You first read about this in No Other Will Do.) Claire is living in Harper’s Station when she receives a cryptic letter from her sister telling her to go to the train station to pick up something important. When she arrives, she realizes quickly that her whole life is about to change.

What’s not to love about this story? It’s well written and a beautiful story. Please be sure to pick up a copy! Also, read the others novellas included. I promise you will love these ladies if Turn of the Century West is your thing. If it’s not, it might soon be!

You can also learn a little more about Karen in our fun face-off. She’s amazing! 🙂

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Karen Witemeyer

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My Life with EDS?

I am often asked about why I’m always feeling so terrible. frazzled-woman-cartoon-paid-forWhy am I so sporadic about posting and reviewing? Why do I barely leave my home anymore? And, if I am home all the time, why am I not reading, reviewing and posting?

I am going to attempt to share my story here. I would love to say that you will have all the answers and completely understand after this post, but I am sure there are many that have their own viewpoints. keep-calm-and-power-through-9There are many that believe those of us with chronic conditions need to just “suck it up”.

I was one of those. I used to say that all of the time. That is my personality.

God knew I needed some compassion, so remember while reading this that it’s better to have compassion without God needing to teach it to you! ha 🙂

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When I was younger, I was very outgoing and active. I always had friends around and was busy with every activity I could fit into my schedule. When I was 18, that all caught up with me. My body just crashed. It wasn’t all the activity, necessarily, but my body was not strong enough to carry all of that and I hadn’t known it.

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I spent the year of 1996 confined to bed. I just couldn’t get up. I was so tired. Getting up and going to the bathroom was enough to make me need to take a few hour nap. It was unbelievable. I had no strength.

As I slowly built back up, I started back into all my activities again. This time, however, it wasn’t the same. I was a lot more tired and edgy. I would get angry a lot easier.

As years passed by, pregnancies and life got in the way, my pain became more acute. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment with nothing to show for it. “Do more yoga.” “Swim more.” “You just have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

Then there were the “friends” with statements and questions such as: “Why do you need a name for it so badly?” “Why don’t you just juice?” “Why don’t you exercise more?” “Why don’t you just push through the pain. It’s mind over matter!”

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Now, I know their intentions were good (at least I hope they were!), but anyone with chronic pain will tell you that those suggestions are not helpful at all. Chances are very high that we have already heard of all those diets that will help. We’ve done the research. We’ve tried to find the answer.

Thankfully, I am very blessed to be one of the few that actually DID get an answer. When I was 37, I finally found out that what I have is called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (also known as EDS). It takes many forms and affects people differently, but if you want to have a basic idea of what the side effects are, just click here.

Let me give you the quickest way to describe EDS to you (at least the form I currently have). Every person has ligaments that are used to hold your skeletal system together and in place. When you work out, you stretch them and then they tighten back up stronger.

For someone with EDS, that’s not always the case. For me, my ligaments never tighten back up. Every time I work out, my ligaments stretch and stay that way. You can imagine how loose they are around my skeletal system. So, all those years of yoga? Worse thing the doctors could have told me to do. In their defense, they had no idea. But, this is why it is SO IMPORTANT to continue pushing until you find the answer! Yes, a name is important!

Because my ligaments are so stretchy now, they are not able to do their job and hold my skeletal system securely in place. My muscles try to overcompensate by tightening up, but this just causes even more pain and trigger points. My skeletal system is free to move about and frequently “pop” out of place. Ever had a slipped disc? Mine slide as I walk or move.

That is just the very beginning of what it does. The pain I am in on a daily basis is, at most times, unbearable. I must completely trust in God to give me the strength I need for each day for I cannot think of the future.

I don’t sleep. I don’t do much. After years of not knowing what I had, I found that the advice I was given only made things worse. I am in such terrible shape at 40 years old. Some of my personal symptoms (aside from overall pain):

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Under-active Thyroid
  • Accelerated Heart Rate
  • Fatigue (unable to even lift arms or stand at times)
  • Restless Legs (Causing my entire body to jolt)
  • Sciatica
  • Migraines
  • Tension Headaches
  • Severe Trigger Points all over
  • Eye Weakness
  • Knees are sprained in a permanent state
  • Constant shifting of my back (and everywhere, really. The pain is worse in my back.)
  • Foggy Brain
  • Unable to sleep more than an hour or two at a time (3 hours of sleep is a good night for me)
  • Delayed Sleep Syndrome
  • Inability to make very many new memories
  • Slow processing time when talking to people and responding
  • Arthritis in my hands and lower back
  • Inability to plan ahead
  • Overstimulation
  • Inability to turn head left and right due to tight muscles in neck
  • Confusion
  • Fragile bones
  • Simple tasks (like showering, making a meal, etc…) are so overwhelming that I often cry and feel like I am going to throw up when I know they are coming up or while I am in the midst of them.
  • Reading (one of my FAVORITE ACTIVITIES) causes headaches, fatigue and can not distract me from my pain enough to continue for long periods.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because I could get stuck feeling too terrible to get home.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because there are people there.

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I am sure that I could continue (and my family could offer a list twice as long). However, you get the idea.

Now, what am I doing about it?

Well, there is no cure for EDS. It is only pain management. Realizing that, I went into this trying to find things that would remove the pain so I could function normally. I have had everything from trigger points shots, acupuncture, dry needling, pain patches that pumped narcotics into me 24/7, and much, much more. I came to realize that none of that did enough to be worth the effect it would have on my body long term. Years of chiropractic work, yoga and swimming have completely destroyed the stability of my ligaments.

'The voices from my prescription side effects say you should consider lowering the dosage.'

Now, I am on minimal narcotics (by my choice to avoid addiction and constantly raising the amount as I become acclimated to medicine quickly). I try to use as many homeopathic remedies as possible and pray for wisdom.

So, there are so many things that I have mentioned here that are difficult to deal with on a daily basis. How about the things I am really thankful (in-spite of it/because of it):

  • My husband and sons have learned compassion. They watch out for me above their own needs.
  • I have learned compassion as I used to be annoyed by people with chronic problems.
  • My faith has grown and my relationship with God is amazing. I have had to cling to Him and learn to trust Him throughout all this. I would be in a state of hysteria if it wasn’t for Him and His peace. Nobody could ever convince me that God doesn’t exist because my relationship with Him is so intimate that I lack all doubt.
  • He has slowed me down. I used to always race around like crazy doing a million things and had no time to be still. I was angry because I was so overtired. Now, I am home and able to be a good mother and wife. I’m not too busy to love my family and be tuned into them.
  • I recognize my true friends.
  • God used it to save my son’s life (That’s a story for another day! You can email me if you want to hear about that. aTransParentMom@gmail.com)

Again, there are many things I could name, but my blessings far outweigh my troubles.

In my distress I called upon the LORD;to my God I cried for help.From his temple he heard my voice,and my cry to him reached his ears.

Yes, these are true. These are absolute truth. These are the things I cling to.

thinkingof youI pray for you, dear friends, as I know that chronic pain is something many of us struggle with. Unfortunately, many others do not recognize it for what it is. They don’t understand why we are skittish about scheduling things and often times have to cancel. They do not understand why we don’t just power through or juice or whatever. They don’t understand why we can look normal and healthy but say we feel as terrible as we do.

I get it. Hang in there. Find a way to give God glory through your pain and He will bless you more than you can imagine. You will begin to be thankful for the suffering. You will see how it has blessed your life (truthfully!). God can only show you the blessings and give you peace when you are content in His goodness. Trust Him. There’s a reason that you have it. Use it for His glory. That is what I have chosen and it has saved me from so much worse. It’s saved me from sever depression that is my constant shadow. It’s saved me from anger towards everyone around me. It has saved me from literally going crazy from pain.

He is worth it. He is what He promised. Run to Him for dear life and He will hold you in His arms through all of the difficulties.

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But…if we are being honest? This is what my husband usually gets to come home to.

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For Love or Honor

by Sarah M. Eden

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Seriously, how many times can I say how much I adore Sarah M. Eden? Simply put: I haven’t read a bad one by her yet!

This time, we get a bit of Regency PTSD. This is long before there was a name for it and the men had to just move forward with no help. Their wives, or the women in their lives, had no idea what they were dealing with and nobody spoke of it. I can’t even imagine. I am really glad that she decided to write on this topic!

Sarah continues on with the saga of Jonquil brothers that we all know and love. This time, the focus is on Captain Stanley Jonquil. Of course you are going to love the characters. They are always written with depth and wonderful character. Make sure you pick up a copy of this great read!!!

Thanks so much for this great book in exchange for my thoughts. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

A Dangerous Legacy

by Elizabeth Camden

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One thing that you can always know you’ll get when you pick up an Elizabeth Camden novel is history. I’m not talking about a time period, necessarily, but a lifestyle. You will learn so much about the era she chooses to write in. You will learn how they lived, worked and loved.

This time she takes us to the Turn of the Century. In a time of booming industry, factories, wires, and even plumbing, she intertwines a beautiful story. Of course, there is much more than that to it! You can count on love and intrigue. You’ll find deep characters that are easy to love (and some to hate!).

Be sure to pick up a copy of this new series! Link is above in pic. Thanks so much for this awesome book in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

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Be sure to check out our fun face-off here!

 

An Inconvenient Beauty

by Kristi Ann Hunter

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Catching you up: Duke Griffith Hawthorne is the last of the siblings (Loudly_Crying_Face_Emoji_grande.png), thus ending the Hawthorne series. (TRAGIC!!!!!) He has been taking care of his brother and sisters for so long that he hasn’t even had time to find love for himself. Now that he is able, he has done extensive research and he has his sights set on…the wrong girl…

Isabella Breckenridge has come to London under false pretenses. She is to help her uncle by attracting as many eligible men as possible so that they might pass a bill through the courts. Everything about her feels this is wrong, but she knows that she must help her family and has not yet learned to trust God to do that for her.

My Thoughts: So, first of all…how does she keep doing this? Kristi is one of the most talented writers because she has the perfect balance of light-heartedness, deep characters, and Godly principles. It’s such a beautiful thing to see!!!

I am exceptionally sad that this series is over. It has been one of my favorite. As Griffith and Isabella’s worlds come colliding together, you will laugh, maybe cry, and most certainly be pulled in from the first page to the last.

The characters just grab on and don’t let go. You can’t shake them even if you wanted to (believe me, you don’t!). If you haven’t read any of Kristi’s books, definitely pick one up. They can be read as a stand alone, but you will appreciate it much more if you are to read them in order for the characters that are introduced in each book carry through to the next.

Be sure to click the link above to grab your copy! Also, if you would like to check out my fabulous face-off with Kristi Ann Hunter, just CLICK HERE! It’s loads of fun!!! Lastly, thanks to Bethany house for this great book in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion!!! Here’s to many more!

Click below to find the other books in this series. Aren’t these covers a-ma-zing??? #truth

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Her Secret

by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Catching You Up: Amish farm girl, Hannah, is being stalked by an English boy that is in love with her. Her family must flee for her protection. With her siblings resenting her and her family going through another crisis, she must sort through her fears and learn to trust again.

My Thoughts: When I think of Amish, all I can think of is how “dark” the lifestyle is. I know it’s because I am a visual person and life without a lot of color is VERY SAD! One of the things I love about Shelley Shepard Gray is that she brings color out of their lifestyle. As strange as it sounds, reading her Amish fiction is the first time I can really connect with the characters.

This is a short and light read, but that does not take away from the content. Her characters are always well developed and complex. I am not usually surprised, but there was definitely some intrigue that got me! Well done, Shelley!!!

Need a great read for a flight? Something you can grab and go – pick up and put down without missing a beat? This is your story! I definitely recommend anything by this author. Make sure to pick up a copy! Link is in the pic above!!


Want to see Shelley Face-Off with me?

Click Below:

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Face-Off with Sarah Sundin!!

61Dm0I55KIL._UX250_novelsIt’s been TOO LONG and I’m SO EXCITED to have Sarah Sundin here today! This lovely lady has been more than patient with me and I appreciate it more than you can ever know!

She’s an author of WWII novels, speaker, has a PhD as a pharmacist, and, last but not least…a mom!!! Wha??? #truth Talk about a lady that loves living life to the fullest!!

I know you have seen her books! They are absolutely eye catching and beautiful. Not only that, but they are a GREAT PRICE right now! In fact…the first 2 people that buy one of these sets (using the links provided here) will receive a swag bag from me full of fun stuff 🙂 Just let me know as soon as you order!

ADM-Official-Cover-194x300 A-Memory-Between-Us-Cover-194x300 Blue-Skies-Tomorrow-Cover-194x300 $14.97 for all three on Amazon Kindle

Sundin-With-Every-Lettter-194x300 On-Distant-Shores-cover-194x300 In-Perfect-Time-194x300 $17.97 for all three on Amazon Kindle

Through-Waters-Deep-194x300 Anchor-in-the-Storm-193x300 When-Tides-Turn-193x300 $20.97 for all three on Amazon Kindle

Let’s get to it, shall we?


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The rules are simple. I ask Sarah some random questions. She replies and then I give my answers. Each winning answer is worth one point and I get to decide whose answer is better.

It’s my blog.

Here we go!

1. Funniest movie?

Sarah – A Christmas Story. Every single scene.

Charity – Ha!!! I love that we both choose Christmas movies because…Elf.

— Definitely a tie!

Charity 1 / Sarah 1

2. Weirdest experience at the dr.?

Sarah – Keeping this family friendly… Our favorite family medical story is when our daughter had a blood draw and received her shots before kindergarten. Anna has a blood & needle phobia. And she’s feisty. I held her on my lap with my legs wrapped around hers and my arms anchoring her torso and one arm. One nurse wrestled her arm into position and held it there. And another nurse did the foul deeds. Anna screamed the entire time. When we were done, she went skipping and singing through the waiting room with her sticker and lollipop, while half a dozen people watched bug-eyed. I’m sure they thought Anna had been drawn and quartered.

Charity – Oh my gosh!! I would have needed a nap STAT! (see how I used a nurse word there?) If anything, I think that I make it really weird and awkward for the dr’s and nurses. I say REALLY inappropriate things when I feel uncomfortable. It’s a disease, really. I mean, there’s a reason I haven’t gotten a colonoscopy…

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— Definitely don’t get that one…

Charity 1 / Sarah 2

3. Favorite destination type (beach, mountains, Disney, etc…)

Sarah – Sightseeing! London, Rome, Boston…I love seeing beautiful places where interesting things happened. We dragged our kids to museums and battlefields and volcanos. We toured historic ships and planes. We saw the California missions when the kids were in fourth grade, Washington DC and Williamsburg in eighth grade, Gettysburg and Antietam and Yorktown. And our daughter whined because we didn’t have “normal” vacations, going to the beach like everyone else. So we took her to the beach. And she was bored. Victory!

Charity – “Victory”, indeed! I am right there with you. I love historical sites and little villages. I would have been all, “We are sitting on the beach for 8 hours each day we are here and doing nothing else. Enjoy.”

— Tie

Charity 2 / Sarah 3

4. Least favorite chore?

Sarah – Scouring toilets. When you have boys.

Charity Oi, got me there. That’s just disgusting. Yeah, I don’t think I can beat that! I am so freaked out by anything un-princessy. Drains, toilets, hair, etc…

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— You. I am a HUGE WIMP.

Charity 2 / Sarah 4

5. What’s your biggest phobia?

Sarah – This is totally bizarre, but I freak when I have wet feet and get hair stuck to them, especially tangled around my toes. Argh! I MUST have my slippers by the shower to prevent this. Yes, I know hairy feet aren’t dangerous. Yes, it’s totally irrational. And yet.

Charity – Noooo!!! REFER TO LAST ANSWER OF MINE! REFER TO LAST ANSWER OF MINE!

How could you even say those words??

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Ok, I can’t even think right now.

Trying to pull myself together. I was going to say that my biggest phobia is the dentist…but you may have just single-handedly cured me of that.

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— Nope. Just, nope.

Charity 2 / Sarah 5

6. If you could be an epic fighter, who would you be?

Sarah – I’m just giving you this point. I’m such a wimp. I cringed through my sons’ karate lessons.

Charity – Oh, man! I would love it if I was tough and a fighter!!! It would be so fun!!! I would have to be John Wick. Is there really anyone else???

source

— BOOM!

Charity 3 / Sarah 5

7. Apple or Windows/Android?

Sarah – Both! I have a Windows laptop, which I love—and an iPhone, which I also love.

Charity – ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! (That’s a buzzer sound). WRONG ANSWER! Apple or Mac would have been the only correct answers to choose.

— Mine.

Charity 4 / Sarah 5

8. How do you strive to bring God glory in every situation?

Sarah – I try to see people through God’s eyes—and when I can’t, I ask Him to show me. Even the meanest, rudest, stupidest, and most arrogant people are beloved by God. He died for them same as He died for me.

Charity – Girl, that is SUCH a beautiful answer. It’s so easy for me to give up on people and not extend grace. “Grace” is the word that God has really been putting on my heart. It’s so dang hard for me! I suppose that straight up boils down to arrogance. Yikes.

— God wins!!!

Charity 4 / Sarah 5

9. Fun hobby when relaxing (besides your awesome skill of writing)?

Sarah – Well. I read. I hike with my husband and our dog. I go to the gym. Hobby wise, I’m super-boring. Point to Charity!!

Charity – Not so fast, my friend…

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and that’s about it.

— Definitely not my point! Uh, you even had “the gym” in your answer. *ashamed*

Charity 4 / Sarah 6

10. Favorite movie from the same time frame as your historical novels?

Sarah – So, so, so many. My most recent favorite World War II movie is Hacksaw Ridge. Absolutely gorgeous movie with superb acting, a sweet romance, some outrageous humor, harrowing battle scenes, historical accuracy, and a thought-provoking and uplifting message.

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Charity – Yes!!!! What an amazing movie!!! Wow. I think I have to go with you on this one. Beautiful movie ❤

— tie

Final:

Charity 5 / Sarah 7

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I thought I had it for a few minutes there!!! But, alas, Sarah’s coolness over-rode mine!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH, GIRL!!!!! ❤ ❤

Just wanted to share with you a few beautiful moments of Sarah enjoying life ❤

Remember, be sure to grab a set of one of Sarah’s books from the link above and I will send you some fun stuff!!! Woot Woot! Everyone wins!

NKJV The Woman’s Study Bible

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Have you been thinking it’s time for a new Bible? Looking for a great Mother’s Day gift? Well, look no further! Click the link above 🙂

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This great new release by Thomas Nelson is full color and bold print! What’s that mean? It means that there is plenty of room in it for all you Bible journaling fans, note takers and whatever other ideas you have to make your Bible your own personalized love letter.

Features Include:
-Beautiful full-color design throughout-Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
-Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
FullSizeRender-Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
-Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy
-Book introductions and outlines
-Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
-Quotes from godly women throughout history
-Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
-Topical index
-Concordance
image2 I started a new One Year Bible reading plan and wanted to start fresh with a new Bible to highlight in different colors for specific things I was looking for. This is the perfect choice!

I love all of the great features that shed new light on things I’ve read so many times before. I’m a very visual person, so it’s fabulous to have these family tree pictures and sections dedicated to people that are quickly mentioned in Scripture. It brings it so much more alive for me!

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I definitely recommend this and hope you will pick up a copy. image3They are really bargain-priced and you are getting so much with it!

Also, check out this fabulous giveaway below!!! I want to thank Thomas Nelson and Litfuse for this fabulous Bible in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!


You’re invited to receive God’s truth for balance, hope, and transformation in the fully revised and redesigned The NKJV Woman’s Study Bible. The new edition features a beautiful, full-color redesign and poignantly reveals the Word of God with Scripture insights and the contributions of more than eighty women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman’s identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

This spring, cultivate your heart’s spiritual roots and enter to win the Grow in the Word Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on April 27. The winner will be announced April 28 on the Litfuse blog.

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Getting Started!

Image-1Alright!!! The time is here! Tomorow we embark on a YEAR LONG journey through the Bible.

I am SO EXCITED! I actually have a new Bible that I am going to use so I can start highlighting all the new things I find.

I’ve decided that I am going to use three colors:

Pink: To highlight any passages that describe God and His character in ANY way

Purple: To highlight any passages that say ways we can please or worship God (including phrases like, “I fall on my knees and pray”.

Yellow: To highlight any passages that are confusing or that I find to be at all difficult to process.

I would love to hear your thoughts about other things I can be looking out for! I would also love to have you join me so we can be reading the same passages and having really awesome discussion/accountability.

I will be starting tomorrow, April 1st. (nope! No joke!) Please join me and comment here any thoughts you have. ❤

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PS: I know that this is not TECHNICALLY what Matthew 18:20 is referring to, but it still works~

Ahhh…What does this mean? Are you with me?

I don’t know about you, but I seem to always think that life is going to slow down as soon as I get through this thing I am dealing with right now.69520623f35487f2bed71f2c4d4f5a6d Strangely enough, that never happens and my pea brain keeps thinking it will.

I mean, YEAH, it hasn’t slowed down yet…but it’s got to eventually, right?

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I am pretty sure that God lets us think that so we aren’t too overwhelmed. That’s totally His mercy. But the truth is, His thoughts are so far above our thoughts that there’s no comparison. He knows what’s coming and knows we couldn’t handle it if we knew all of what was to come. So, He gives us these little chunks we can handle (with His help) at a time.

You know, I was talking to someone the other day and she was commenting on how hard it must be to be a counselor. I mean, they have to know how to handle their clients’ problems AND their own. She was saying how difficult it was because just handing your own is overwhelming. I suggested to her that maybe that was the problem. We aren’t meant to handle them. Why would we want our own opinion on how to help ourselves when we have access to the One who’s thoughts are so far above our own?

c771a9bccf11c9ab09d603fdf00ecea7I know that almost every time I try to sort a problem (big or small) on my own, I would naturally do the opposite of what God would suggest. And the truth is, He created us, so He would know what makes us the happiest.

a4ea5912d48c3634db2a1fb313a986a6When you find yourself unsure about ANYTHING (Yes, even if you should buy the red or the blue shirt), ask God.

He WANTS to give us wisdom. He is NOT a God of confusion. If you are confused, perhaps that’s a sign that you aren’t seeking God’s wisdom?

All this to say, we need to be in the Word. We need to be learning more about Him and helping each other out! The more we know Him, the better we can hear His voice. I don’t know how many times I have been saved from a big jam because I asked Him for wisdom at the last minute!

I am just now finishing my “reading through the Bible chronologically in one year” plan and am about to start something new. I want to do it again, but a bit differently.

I am hoping that some of you would like to read through the Bible with me (and adding in a few things). I am not going to read it chronologically this time. I am using a different plan. I also intend to do some very verse specific highlighting. Lastly, and most importantly, I would love if some of you would like to go on this year-long journey with me starting April 1st. (nope, not a joke) It would be fabulous to be working together and falling more and more in love with God ❤

I will be posting more about it over the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to hear from you guys about taking this journey!

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