I always tread carefully when I read Bible studies. Personal biases and interpretations inevitably abound. Also, there are often times a stigma is attached to a writer or speaker based on their “branch of Christianity”. If God has shown me anything this year, it’s to rejoice in others’ love of him. Instead of judging their background and denomination, I choose to be happy in their desire to serve God and leave it up to Him to show us all where we need to change things in our lives.
I feel like I need to preface this review with my thoughts because we will so often “throw out the baby with the bath water” if someone isn’t worshiping God exactly as we are. As long as nothing conflicts with God’s Word, I will choose to rejoice in their love of God. (1 Thessalonians is a really great book that deals with this idea).
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through these verse-by-verse commentaries/devotionals. Joyce Meyer knows the Bible well and understands suffering and perseverance. Her background is so dark and God’s mercy is evident in her change.
These are a great companion to the Word. They are simple and straightforward to read and I would recommend picking one up each morning and having some time with God! As always, I recommend reading the Word on your own, as well as using other resources and materials. It’s good to hear what God has revealed to others and, ultimately, take it all and ask Him for wisdom on what to do with it.
Thanks, Hachette Books for these! As always, this is my honest review. Here’s to many more!! Links are in the pics above. Enjoy!!
You know when you have your favorite dessert…like one you get maybe once or twice in a lifetime? Think about how you savor every last morsel — slowly taking bite after bite and stopping in between to enjoy all the layers of flavor and decadence.
This can not be read in one day, two days, or even a week. This is a book you read one delightful bit at a time.
I am not really sure how Laura Frantz does it, but somehow she gives enough information for you to really feel like you are there in that moment. I know what you are thinking — DIALECT HEAVY. Not the case. Believe me. You feel like you are there, but you aren’t skimming the lines and lines of description. She masterfully describes and pulls you in at the same time. Genius. Sheer genius.
This is another knock out of the park for Frantz and I can only hope that there’s a sequel. (Please be a sequel!) I received this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. This is me being honest. Here’s to many more.
**On a somewhat side note, as I was taking my time enjoying this book, my family and I went away on vacation. We went to this amazing place in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia called The Frontier Culture Museum.
I live in the Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown), so this is no small statement for me to say that The Frontier Culture Museum stands on it’s own as one of the greatest historic sites I’ve seen. Anyway, while we were there and going through the drawers in a 1600’s kitchen (yes, I was like a kid in a candy shop as you can open all the drawers and touch everything!!!), I came across this little bit of history. Once you read the book, you will understand the significance!
I have to admit, I have a bit of a soft spot for this song. Piano sounds pouring through our home as my mother played this song anytime she needed to sit and be alone for a few moments. With our busy household, those moments were few and far between. When I hear it now, I miss the sounds of my childhood and my Mother being one room over — as opposed to 500 miles away.
As you can imagine, when I received this book, I was quick to turn to this hymn and read about its origins. I wasn’t disappointed. What a beautiful story it is. Lasting hymns, or any art really, only touch hearts if they have some depth and soul to them. A moving story behind it. A heartache that is felt by many even when it is still so personal to the author, composer, or artist.
I’m always so thankful for books like this. While I love a good piece of fiction, nothing really moves me like the true stories of God lifting others out of darkness and hopelessness. I encourage you to pick up a copy. With the holidays right around the corner, you can’t go wrong!
While I was given this book to review, I am always honest about my opinions. I will say that the only down side to this is that the author couldn’t always publish the lyrics. That, I know, is no fault of his. It would be nice to have them all there to ponder over as you read the stories that led to their creation. Good news – only a few are missing!
Link is in the above pic and throughout the page. Be sure to grab a copy! Thanks again, Baker Books!
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to really read a book and I sure have missed it! Amanda Cabot has brought me back. Although it took me a while (due to my health, NOT my interest level), I was happy to have another Cimarron Creek book in my possession. It’s such a light-hearted series and just what I needed. This is supposed to be the final chapter in the CC Trilogy and I am really sorry to hear that. It feels like family and I hope to see more in the future!
Amanda Cabot rounded out this series with sweet midwife, Thea, and the kind-hearted Texas Ranger, Jackson. Besides that, we get to see all the characters we’ve grown to love in the small town. Like I said, the story is light and an easy read. I highly recommend getting the other books in the series so you can follow along with all the people and their continuing stories. It definitely can be read as a stand-alone, but you wouldn’t get as much out of it. So, get going and grab your copies! Links in the pics below.
Of course you have heard about what happened in Benghazi and I’m sure you probably saw the movie 13 Hours too. (If not, it’s free on Amazon Prime right now!) For most of us, it is one of the biggest scandals of the decade. For those that lived it, it was one of the bravest acts of the century.
Kris “Tanto” Paronto is one of the six elite soldiers that protected and saved the lives of many of our American citizens that September 11th night in 2012. He was an ex Army Ranger that helped to ward off hundreds of anti-American fighters trying to overtake the “secret” CIA compound.
This book delves into his life and the professional and personal trials these heroes go through to protect our country. His faith in God is inspiring as he shares the things he’s learned over the years.
I will caution some readers as certain subject matters and language can be a bit offensive. Unfortunately, it’s not a world that loves God, so many things they face are dark and evil. If you can see past that, I think you will really enjoy reading his narrative of the things he’s learned over the years.
Be sure to pick up a copy – the link is provided in the pic! As always, thanks to Hachette for such great books!!
Hey, guys! I want to give you an update on my exciting projects. As most of you know, I have been working as a playwright and enjoying every moment of it! It’s been such an answer to prayer as I am able to still do this when I am not feeling well.
A year ago, I was approached by the LEAH group in Pennsylvania and New York. They asked if I could write a play based around the founding of our nation and with the theme of freedom – both in life and in God. As an avid history buff, I was more than excited to jump in.
I was able to write the play and be part of an amazing experience. In November, I went to New York to help with the casting. It was so much fun to see these kids just jump in and become part of a world I had created in my head! So surreal.
Opening night was April 27, 2018 and I was not sure if I was going to make it. As you know, I haven’t been well and I was mostly confined to bed rest over the last 6 months. As always, God is good and I was able to get some answers and make it up there!
I decided to set the story in Boston as the tensions were rising. It centers around a group of friends as they make big life decisions. Which side is the right side and what are the reasons for choosing? What does God want? It was a tough time and I can’t even imagine going through it! It gave everyone a lot to think about – for sure!
I wanted to share some pics with you from my time up there! Hope you enjoy!!
Run-through and practice:
There are hundreds of pictures and I can’t possibly choose my favorites! I am just so proud of what they did. God used it in such an awesome way and I’m really thankful I was able to be a part of it.
I’m currently workin on their next project and can’t wait to share more with you! For now, here is a scene from Finding Freedom and I hope you enjoy it!
(Set: outside in a field as the boys are walking home from hunting together)
Malachi: (laughing…) And did you see Titus tryin’ to chase that coon and fall flat on his ear?
Titus: Now hold on there a minute! ‘Twasn’t my fault there was a tree stump in the way! I reckon I gave that coon more than he bargained for though when I came flyin’ face first right at ‘im and even managed to get a shot off…
Adam: Truly? “Get a shot off’?” I am fairly certain you misfired and could have killed any one of us out there just because you fell on your face and lost all control! I sure wish Emeline could have seen you then!
(Laughter continues as they all speak over each other)
Malachi: (Malachi stops and puts his hands on his knees to catch his breath and they all stop) Look at us. (Pauses to look up with a crooked grin) I’m gonna miss this! Tomorrow, everything changes for us.
(The boys nod in agreement – still catching their breath. Malachi straightens back up.)
Malachi: Sure will be different…
Adam: Yeah, well you went and got yourself that fancy internship with none other than Mr. John Adams! You didn’t think that would be all coon hunts and dodging Titus’ bullets, did ya? (Said with a smirk)
Malachi: Blood and ‘ounds! I thought I might lose an eye today! ‘Tis best I be moving on to the law! (He tries not to grin and looks innocently up at Titus)
Titus: (Punches Malachi on the arm and starts for Adam as they are all laughing) I’ll have you know that I wouldn’t waste a bullet on either of you clods! I’m savin’ those for the redcoats.
Malachi: (gets serious) Alas, Titus, do tell us about this meeting you are attending tonight. I hear that Mr. Samuel Adams may be in attendance! Some say that he can be a dangerous fellow – always stirring up trouble.
Titus: (becomes more and more angry as he says) Dangerous? Do come on, Malachi. We live in dangerous times. Our own homes and shops are subject to the king’s royal army at their whim. What rights do we now have? ‘Tis as if we are the King George’s unwanted stepchildren and he hopes to punish us for the crimes of others.
Malachi: But we are only paying taxes to cover the war not long ago fought on our own soil. The king protected us from the French and the Indians and ‘twas a costly war.
Titus: (barely containing his anger) They invaded Boston, Malachi! ‘Tis not past wars I dwell on, but what is on our soil at this very moment! British soldiers are here, taking up residence and extending curfews as if we were their children! They tell us when we can eat and sleep and what we can buy! (He spits to the side)
Malachi: (Looks at Adam and asks) And are these your feelings as well? (Titus also looks up to see Adam’s response.)
Adam: (Adam is very uncomfortable and fidgeting) I thought I might tag along with him, Mal. It can’t hurt to see what they are saying. They call themselves the Sons of Liberty and believe that we should not be governed by a foreign power and that we should rule ourselves. (He kicks at the dirt seemingly lost in thought.)
Malachi: And where is this meeting?
Adam: Under the Liberty Tree.
Malachi: The Liberty Tree!
Titus: Nay, Adam. ‘Tis been moved to The Green Dragon Tavern as a storm looks to be a-brewin’.
Malachi: Aye! A storm is brewing, indeed! Did you not hear what the “Sons of Liberty” did to Mr. Andrew Oliver at that said “Liberty Tree”? They hung a man that was just doing his duty to King and country! They then proceeded to walk upon his dead carcass and burn him as if his body had been not defiled enough! (He pauses.) Are we, ourselves, not British citizens? (Malachi remains calm as if curious of his friends’ feelings on the subject, yet concerned for their welfare. Titus is visibly growing agitated and angry. Adam feels very uncomfortable.)
Adam: ’Tis just a meeting, Malachi. As Titus said, ‘tis not at the Liberty Tree, so you need have no fear on that account. I only wish to know what is being done in my own city. We have lost so many of our freedoms these weeks past. Julia says that soldiers come into Emeline’s family store and take what they please without regard to coin. How is it that she is to be paid when her employers are not compensated for their wares? ‘Tis a trying time, Malachi, and I, for one, shan’t turn a blind eye. I must at least have knowledge of what is taking place all around us.
Titus: (looked up when Adam mentioned Emeline and looks angrily at Malachi as if it is somehow his fault.)
Malachi: Can we not find a peaceful way to deal with the situation at hand? (He looks back and forth) Truly?
Titus: (Spits to the side) I’ll not stand idly by and let this happen in my own city. Sam says that all might be free if they valued freedom and defended it, as they ought. Shall I not defend my right to freedom?
Malachi: (eyes wide) Sam? I presume you are speaking of Mr. Adams? (Gives Titus a chastening look)
Titus: (rolling his eyes) If only I could be half as fastidious as you are, Malachi, I may not assume the world and these trying times shall trouble me either. However, I cannot. I shall not. I shall do my part.
Malachi: I did not intend to…
Titus: (waves him off) Say no more of it. I only pray that you shall not think less of me for doing what I must. We must each do as we believe is right in such a time. Adam: He speaks the truth, Mal. We must look to ourselves to govern our actions.
Malachi: I believe not what I am hearing! (Voice raised) Can you truly say that you must look to your own selves for truth? If mankind is to look to self for truth, pray tell, what happens when we, each man, finds his own truth and such truth does not resemble the truth his neighbor has found? (Looking dumbfounded) We can only look to God for truth! Who’s to say that my truth is above your truth? Nay! I will not agree! For this very reason is why we have war and suffering!
(Titus begins to walk away while shaking his head.)
Malachi: Titus! (Runs to catch up) Do not walk away, brother. Indeed, you and Adam are my brothers in every way that can be – barring blood.
(They stop and pause in quiet. Malachi looks up at the sky and closes his eyes for a moment.)
Malachi: Today is the last of our childhood as we have come to know. No more coon hunts, late night fishing or even brawlin’ over who gets the biggest biscuit. I desire not to spoil such a day. So much of me wishes we could roam these woods with all of the innocence it has provided thus – to never face the injustices of this world and come face-to-face with the men we truly are. I, for one, fear to see my true reflection staring back at me. I know not what I shall find when I’ve the courage to look upon it. I do not think any less of you, Titus, or you, Adam, for being brave enough to gaze upon it and face the truth within.
(Titus visibly relaxes.)
Adam: You two are startin’ to act like a couple of women. I daresay ‘tis time for me to away! (He grins and punches his friends as they continue to pummel each other and walk off set)
* The issue of Andrew Oliver is cleared up later in the play. It was an effigy, not the real Andrew Oliver 😉
If you would like more info on Finding Freedom, please contact me at: aTransParentMom@gmail.com
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. ❤
Karen 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! 🙂
This lady sure is missing her books! Yes, I’m talking about myself. Just wanted to update you all on what’s been going on! I get a lot of questions and it’s easier to reply this way as I get worn out easily and don’t check my messages as often as I should!
I’ve been confined to bed for the most part. I’ve gone out of the house less than 10 times this year. Yes, a fourth of the year has gone by and I haven’t even left my home more than single digits. Yowza!!!
Good thing I love my cute home and my amazing family! ❤
I’ve been wearing a heart monitor for over 3 weeks now and have another week to go. I had an abnormal EKG and abnormal Echo, so I am waiting to see what this will produce. Fun times!
I also had some blood work done and we found a few concerns that we are looking into a bit further. (ie: more tests and more blood work)
I still can’t read hardly at all due to the strain on my eyes and head. It’s terribly sad, let me just tell you! I am hoping we can get to the bottom of this and I can get back on track! It’s seriously gone from a Disney trip and my awesome vacation to meet a lot of you lovelies in August to not even being able to stand and make a sandwich for myself! I can’t even shower very often – meaning that I have to use those hospital wipes and dry shampoo!!
I appreciate your prayers and concerns. Unfortunately, it’s extremely overwhelming right now to have much company. (Yes, even as much as I love you all and miss you!!)
I am often asked about why I’m always feeling so terrible. Why 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. There 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 🙂
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.
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!”
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
Accelerated Heart Rate
Fatigue (unable to even lift arms or stand at times)
Restless Legs (Causing my entire body to jolt)
Severe Trigger Points all over
Knees are sprained in a permanent state
Constant shifting of my back (and everywhere, really. The pain is worse in my back.)
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
Inability to turn head left and right due to tight muscles in neck
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.
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.
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.
Yes, these are true. These are absolute truth. These are the things I cling to.
I 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.
But…if we are being honest? This is what my husband usually gets to come home to.