Book Review: Words of Hope for Women by Carolyn Larsen

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Words of Hope for Women by Carolyn Larsen

My Personal Review ~ 4 stars

Words of Hope for Women by Carolyn Larsen is a sweet, little devotional from Revell Publishers. When I first saw the simple loveliness of the book cover, I knew I wanted to read it.

In typical devotional format, this small tome has a passage of Scripture for each day, as well as a paragraph or two from the author talking about the hope these Bible verses present to us. Some of the headings for each day are: Hope of Heaven // Promised Refuge // Hope in Weakness // Hope for Victory Over Death // Hope When All Seems Hopeless // True Love // Hope in Grace-Filled Speech // & Hope in God’s Power.

Words of Hope for Women has been encouraging and to the point. And I feel like Carolyn Larsen has done a good job of sticking to the truth of the Word, and not just filling the pages with flowery, feel-good quotes. I’m now on Day 25, and look forward to finishing this devotional!

I received a complimentary copy of Words of Hope for Women from Revell Publishers. This review is honest and all my own.

Book Review: Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

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Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

My Personal review ~ 5 stars

Feminine Appeal is a refreshing, little Christian Living book that I feel is overlooked! In a world where true femininity is fading, and being a homemaker, wife, and mother is scoffed at, Carolyn Mahaney encourages us to take another look at our unique design as women. What did God create us specially for, and how can this impact the world? Are we embracing this gift … the gift of feminine appeal?

Consider the loveliness of a woman who passionately adores her husband, who tenderly cherishes her children, who creates a warm and peaceful home, who exemplifies purity, self-control, and kindness in her character and who gladly submits to her husband’s leadership – for all the days God grants her life. I dare say there are few things that display the gospel jewel with greater elegance. This is true feminine appeal. ~ Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

Truly, reading this book reinforced my passion for Christ-like marriages and godly homes. My heart was swelling with such excitement and joy at the thought of being a homemaker someday and creating a warm home where Christ is exalted. Of being a wife and helpmeet to one of God’s adopted sons – to support him and encourage him in whatever God is calling him … us … to do. Of raising children together to know the love of their Creator and serve Him all their days.

Both husbands and wives will become more Christ-like by having to deal with each other’s sins and deficiencies. We must settle this issue in our hearts. We married a sinner, and so did they. But this is the hope for our marriage: God forgives sinners and helps us grow to be like Him. ~ Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

Remember that we vowed in our wedding ceremony “to love and to cherish till death do us part”? Do we even understand what we promised to do? To cherish means to hold dear, to care for tenderly or to nurture, to cling fondly to, or treat as precious. ~ Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

This world is lacking homes. True, beautiful homes where Jesus Christ is adored and family is cherished and strangers loved on. I honestly believe that the breakdown of the family and godly home is what is leading to so much destruction in America. Think of the impact that we, as women, could have on society – on people’s souls – if we took our femininity and its roles more seriously. We have the unique ability and responsibility to be homemakers and wives and mothers. For the sake of the Gospel. For the glory of God.

Dawson Trotman, founder of the group called the Navigators, once said: “I believe with all my heart that one of the greatest soul saving stations in the world is the home.” And I love what one person observed about Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s wife, Edith: “As many people were brought to the Lord through Mrs. Schaeffer’s cinnamon buns as through Dr. Schaeffer’s sermons!” ~ Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

What an extraordinary thought – that we can create a home where it is “impossible to keep from thinking of God”. ~ Feminine Appeal  by Carolyn Mahaney

Feminine Appeal is based on the teachings in Titus 2, and addresses loving one’s husband and children, self-control, purity, intimacy, homemaking, kindness, submission, and more. This might sound like an old-fashioned, outdated book to you, but I think you’d be surprised. God’s design never goes out of style … In fact, it is forever good and even delightful! What do you have to lose by giving this book a try? We can see that the culture’s way of womanhood doesn’t seem to be garnering that great of results.

Some points of this book might really challenge you … even feel revolting to you. But should women’s ministry be all about feel-good chats, inspirational quotes, and never feeling guilty? Since when have Christian women become the ones who can never be rebuked or corrected? We are in the wrong sometimes – many times(!) – and we need to repent and seek God’s face. Lord, teach me how to be a woman!

The specific instruction in Titus 2 is for wives to be “submissive to their own husbands.” This word submission in the Greek means to “voluntarily place oneself under.” ~ Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

The definition of the Greek word for “respect” means “to be in awe of, to revere, or to treat as someone special.” Is that how we act toward our husbands? Do we respect them with our words, tone of voice, countenance, and body language? ~ Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney

This book is easy to follow, and definitely worth the read! As I mentioned above, it ignited my passion and desire anew for homemaking, marriage, and motherhood. After finishing it, I wanted to get a copy for my mom and other dear wives & mothers who I know! It’s also a great resource for unmarried women such as myself. May we cherish our femininity. May we esteem marriage, motherhood, and keeping a home, and pray for God to teach us even now how to do these things well should He call us to them.

Overall, I highly recommend. We don’t have enough books like this!

 

Is Attraction Necessary?

Tall, dark, and handsome.

Beauty and physical attraction are highly important in the world’s eyes. We can see it in the movies, social media, Hollywood, and many other places in culture. If he’s devastatingly handsome … if she’s drop-dead gorgeous … they’re on the radar. Versus that plain person who didn’t really catch your eye when you walked into the room; surely they couldn’t be your one?

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Sadly, the Church is often influenced by the culture, and I’m sure scores of unmarried Christian men and women have an unspoken  list of who their spouse must be…

He must be:

  • Tall
  • Dark, curly hair
  • Blue eyes
  • Muscular
  • Super fit
  • Strong jaw
  • Etc.

She must be:

  • Small
  • Blonde, straight hair
  • Long legs
  • Brown eyes
  • Curvy
  • Etc.

And whatever else is deemed attractive by you. We might pass up all sorts of people because they aren’t measuring up to our list … they aren’t super hot. And, obviously, we deserve a super hot person. Can’t settle for anything less than amazing, right?

First of all, we need to come back down to earth. No person is perfect. (That includes you.) We don’t deserve anything, in case you’re the man or woman who is praying for an outwardly flawless, model of a spouse. We don’t even deserve marriage in the first place, much less the perfection we think we need. But God does give to His children blessings undeserved. Furthermore, He is the giver of every good gift and every perfect gift, yet He looks at the heart, not the outward appearance.

So you may need to scrap the old list.

We were made to notice and appreciate beauty, yes. But let me tell you, arrogance is not beauty. Selfishness is not attractive. A bad temper is not beauty. Laziness is not attractive. Lack of self control is not beauty. Neediness is not attractive…

When you choose a spouse based on their outward attractiveness and know nothing of their true self, you are gambling dangerously. It could be that you didn’t choose beauty after all, but a clever facade.

That person’s outward beauty will fade in your eyes even before it diminishes in reality, and you will be left with the unattractive spouse you always feared … the idea you scoffed at. A bitter, passionless marriage.

But I’ve heard it said that a woman deeply longs to be ravishingly beautiful to her man and a man likewise desires to let his woman know how he delights in her beauty … so should we really swing the opposite direction and say physical attraction isn’t important?

Just become more pious and marry that unattractive person who we don’t even really enjoy hanging around?

Are attraction and romance ungodly notions?

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.

That may sound crazy to you, but sometimes I think the Church struggles with this. We act all super holy, like: love is an action! Butterflies in your stomach is just foolishness. Worldly! Silly infatuation.

But is it?

God created us to be attracted to the opposite sex. To appreciate beauty. Look how magnificently He designed the world – the trees, mountains, flowers, birds, and oceans! Look how we naturally gravitate toward the other gender with hopeful ideas of intimacy and deep companionship. God created us for love, passion, and romance. Read Song of Solomon, for one! And take note of how He instructs the husband to delight in the wife of his youth.

Proverbs 5:18-19

18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.

Digging even deeper, consider how marriage is to represent Christ and the Church. Isn’t the whole idea of passion, love, romance, and intimacy to point us to the depth of God’s feelings toward us? The truth that He will fill us more fully than even a fairy tale romance could? As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so God rejoices over us?

Psalm 16:11

11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Ephesians 5:28-33

28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Revelation 19:6-8

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

A man should, Biblically, delight in his bride so as to accurately point to God and His love for us.

Song of Solomon 4:9-10

You have ravished my heart,
My sister, my spouse;
You have ravished my heart
With one look of your eyes,
With one link of your necklace.
10 How fair is your love,
My sister, my spouse!
How much better than wine is your love,

1 Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Psalm 18:19

19 He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

Without attraction, passion, love, and romance, marriage would be dull and lifeless. That doesn’t accurately represent Christ and the Church. Our relationship with Jesus shouldn’t be dull and lifeless. Christ loves us! He gave it all, even His own life, to rescue us. He is the true Prince of the fairy tales. He tenderly pursues and passionately loves (Hosea 2:14-16 & Matthew 18:12-14). And we are to adore and be devoted to Him. The Christian should be in a deep love relationship with the Savior and Creator God.

Matthew 22:37

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

So I don’t think a cold, pious marriage was what God had in mind when He said this earthly union reflects Christ and the Church. When a husband and wife delight in and are devoted to each other, I believe it so beautifully points to Christ.

Song of Solomon 6:3

I am my beloved’s,
And my beloved is mine.

Isaiah 62:4-5

You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah;
For the Lord delights in you,
And your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.

And for a man to rejoice and delight over his bride, there has to be a level of physical attraction and in-love-ness, right?

Song of Solomon 7:6 & 10

How fair and how pleasant you are,
O love, with your delights!

10 I am my beloved’s,
And his desire is toward me.

So all this to say, physical attraction does have its importance to the Christian single. But is attraction based entirely on looks? I think not.

And God may have to do some work in your heart before you’re at this point … But physical attraction doesn’t wholly depend on that toned physique and symmetrically pleasing face.

As you grow in Christ, you will find that you are drawn to other people who follow Him.

  • A love for the things of the Lord
  • An adoration of Jesus Christ
  • Similar interests, passions, and vision
  • A certain personality

All these greatly enhance physical attraction … even grow it where there was none.

So yes, if you are considering dating someone, I believe you should be drawn to them. If you’ve experienced this, you know what I’m talking about. They rise above every other in your mind and your gaze is pulled to them whenever they’re around. You’re excited to be around them and you genuinely enjoy spending lots of time with them. All this without introducing much of physical touch and the like. This is a true test of whether you’re drawn to the person, or to what they are giving you sexually.

Song of Solomon 2:2

Like a lily among thorns,
So is my love among the daughters.

Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,
So is my beloved among the sons.

This pull doesn’t come simply from a handsome outward appearance, but it is an attraction to the heart and soul of a person. Or, at least, it should be. Because your spouse will fade and shrivel with age, but if  you love them for their heart … for them themself … you will be attracted to them still.

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Genesis 2:18 & 22-24

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

If you are only attracted to the model-material type, it might be that you need a spiritual reset. It may be that you care solely about the external and the here and now, and nothing about the soul and the eternal. You have let the world define and teach you what beauty and love are. And they have lied to you.

Not many of us are model-material … And what even is model-material but a certain culture and era’s temporary definition of beauty?

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and in the connection of souls.

I, personally, happen to think that beauty oftentimes looks much, much different than fashion models.

So, no, don’t date that dull, unattractive person. They might be super cool and attractive to someone else,  but your personality and heart call for something different. That’s okay. Not to say that you should dismiss someone immediately because of an unexciting first impression … be friends with all types! Firstly, because we are to deeply love our brothers and sisters in Christ. And secondly, because a genuine attraction might develop if you give them a chance.

It seems that falling in love is a sweet, mysterious thing. A mingling of two souls. The deepest earthly bond. It should lift our eyes upward. Make us in awe of its Creator. Make us marvel at how rich and complete God’s love must be that it will so fill us in heaven that we won’t even need this beauty that is earthly marriage!

In closing, if you are an unmarried person, I would encourage you to marry someone you truly are in love with and delight in, heart and soul.

Think a shared passion for Christ. A deep, true friendship. Similar vision and goals in life. A real enjoyment of each other’s personalities. Unconditional devotion. Blended passions and hobbies. And yes, even butterflies. 😉

Song of Solomon 5:16

Yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved,
And this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem!

I think then your marriage will be a great blessing, joy, and help to you and your spouse. And will give you a taste, and the world a glimpse, of the depthless, unending love, passion, beauty, devotion, and joy we can experience with God now, and for sure in heaven when we are  united to Christ once and for all as His Bride. ❤

Zephaniah 3:17

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

Ephesians 3:17-19

17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Book Review: Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal

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Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating by Marshall Segal

My Personal Review ~ 5 stars

Another thought-provoking resource on dating and singleness for the masses. You all who are not yet married, I recommend reading Marshall Segal’s Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating! This author knows the struggles, and perks, of singleness, and also the mission and joy of a godly marriage. And he writes for John Piper’s ministry, Desiring God, which I really enjoy following.

Not Yet Married is one of the few books on dating and marriage from the Christian nonfiction market that digs super deep and challenges the norm within even the Church. It actually made me think of the book, Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand and Jay S. Thomas, which I recently read.

When people in the world are expecting less and less of each other in dating, God isn’t. ~ Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal

Marshall Segal exhorts the life of the single Christian while also highlighting the spectacular picture that a lifelong, Christ-like marriage is. He makes us take a long look at dating, why we desire it, and how we go about it … Does the Bible talk about dating? What does God say about how we should journey toward marriage? Are we thinking about loving God and people through our dating life?

Regardless of the believer you marry, you will likely find out soon enough that you do not feel as “compatible” as you once did, but hopefully you will marvel more at God’s love for you in Jesus and the amazing privilege it is to live out that love together, especially in light of your differences and inadequacies. ~ Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal

The first section of the book, THE NOT-YET-MARRIED LIFE, talks about all things singleness. How we are complete and fully loved in Christ, as we are: unmarried. How our lives have purpose and meaning right now – and that God is possibly even calling us to big tasks that would be harder to accomplish if we were married. How singleness is not an excuse for laziness, self-pity, lack of commitment, addiction, or a lack of spiritual growth.

When everyone else your age refuses to be tied down and resists being accountable, submit yourself to a body of believers. Drive a stake into the ground and say to the whole world that you belong to Jesus, that your life is His, and that you’re willing to have others hold you to that. Tell them Christianity is not a tiny corner of your life; it is your life. ~ Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal

WHEN THE NOT YET MARRIED MEET, part two of the book, talks about dating, romance, clarity, intimacy, commitment, marriage, and more. Marshall Segal shares some about his own love story and how he got there.

There were a few things here and there in this book that I’m not sure what I think about. Some bits seemed hard or almost contradictory to other parts. But, overall, it’s a superb read and points one to Christ and to a higher view of marriage. And a fuller life as an unmarried, but surely blessed, individual!

While married people provide an important perspective and example, you also need people in your life who are experiencing the same feelings, longings, and temptations you are. You should find and invest in people who are asking the same questions as you and also seeking to make the most of this unique season of singleness for Jesus’ sake. Think about it: though he was single, Paul did most of his ministry with someone. … Following Christ was never meant to be done alone, even when you’re not yet married. Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal

Book Review: The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

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The Sword {Chiveis Trilogy #1} by Bryan M. Litfin

My Personal Review ~ 4 stars

The Sword is the first book in a long time that gripped me from the very first page! I’d been wanting to give Bryan M. Litfin’s work a try, and am I ever glad I did! This book is a fascinating dystopian novel set in a medieval-type world. The modern world has been destroyed and left behind in history. Filled with swords, knights, fair maidens, and old-fashioned kingdoms, Book One in the CHIVEIS TRILOGY explores Christianity anew as the character forsake their foul gods to riskily seek the One True God of the Ancients. I don’t think I’ve ever read something quite like it!

The author’s writing style is drawing. I was kept hungrily turning pages. Anastasia, a Chiveisian farm girl, and Teofil, a guardsman and scholar, are great characters to follow, and I enjoyed meeting many secondary characters and being drawn into their journeys as well. There was an abundance of actions, and many twists and turns. A fair amount of violence and battles, though I didn’t find it over the top. (I would recommend to adults or at least older teens because of that and some other mature themes). From bear hunting, to tournaments, to exploring the Ancient’s temples, to secret religious meetings, The Sword takes us on a wild, exhilarating, dangerous ride.

Toward the end, there were a couple things that I’m not sure I appreciate. An unmarried couple sharing a bed (non-sexually). A woman being very vulnerable and close with a man that she knows to be making bad choices and has not chosen to follow her God. And some things having to do with the faith theme and how the characters respond to persecution and such. I’m interested to see how the second book, The Gift addresses these situations.

But overall, such a unique, adventurous, poignant tale! I love how deeply Bryan M. Litfin explores faith issues and following God in this dystopian story! Just the kind of book I like to immerse myself in. I can hardly wait to delve into Book Two!

Book Review: Protecting Your Child from Predators by Beth Robinson & Latayne C. Scott

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Protecting Your Child from Predators: How to Recognize and Respond to Sexual Danger by Beth Robinson and Latayne C. Scott

About the Book

Even good parents often underestimate the dangers their children face. Research indicates that one in four females and one in six males are sexually abused before age eighteen. In most cases, the enemy is not a faceless stranger; it’s someone you know and trust – a neighbor, a coach, or even a family member.

This book provides practical steps to ensure you’re doing all you can to reduce the risks of abuse. But since you cannot be with your children 24/7, it goes beyond what you can do as a parent to teach you how to increase your child’s own awareness and strategies in the face of potential dangers – without making them fearful.

Dr. Robinson, whose decades-long practice focuses on abused and endangered children, calls on her own case studies to show age-appropriate conversation starters for parents, teaching them how to ask the right questions and provide the right boundaries.

This book will help you move from fear to confidence on this heavy topic that is just too important to ignore.

My Personal Review ~ 4.5 stars

Protecting Your Child From Predators: How to Recognize and Respond to Sexual Danger is a great resource for parents concerning the subjects of sexuality, sexual abuse, and how to protect their children in this area. I found this book very informational, and I plan on referencing it in the future if I have children of my own. And even just as an older sister and someone who works with children, it’s helpful to know things to look for and be aware of.

The fact is, we live in a fallen world. Because of sin, God’s beautiful, perfect design for our sexuality and sexual intimacy is sometimes perverted in awful ways. Too often, we hear heartbreaking stories of sexual abuse and harm. Protecting Your Child From Predators takes a serious, faith-based approach and helps you understand how to talk with your young children to teenagers about sexuality, God’s good plan, and what is a safe or unsafe touch, etc.

Beth Robinson, a licensed professional counselor, and Latayne C. Scott talk about the dangers of the internet and the sexual predators who infiltrate this realm. As well as date rape and being aware of those who seek to lure young teens into sex trafficking. But they also make it clear that sexual abuse often happens where we thought there was safety … such as in church or at the hands of family members or long-time family friends.

We must not live in fear, but the authors stress that being aware and having knowledge about these things are vital. As parents, you should be taking practical steps to keep your children safe. Just talking to them and making them aware of their value as a human created in God’s image and the sacredness of their sexuality is huge! This book talks about the boundaries that children should know that “safe adults” have … and if any adult oversteps that, your child has the right to say “no!”.

Protecting Your Child from Predators is a book I would recommend highly. I feel it turns our gaze to Christ and takes a practical approach instead of filling the reader with fear. Yes, there are dangers in this world. We should do our part to protect those entrusted into our care. But then we entrust them into God’s hands and care. And know that there is healing and hope, even in the case of sexual abuse! Our Father is a great healer.

I received a copy of Protecting Your Child from Predators from Bethany House Publishers. This review is honest and all my own.

Book Review: Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller

Hello, friends! I’m going to start reviewing some fiction on this blog, since I’m stepping back from my book blog – Between the Pages of This Bookish Life. Hope you enjoy!

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Underestimating Miss Cecilia {Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #2} by Carolyn Miller

My Review ~ 4 stars

A sweet read! If you know me, you know that I’m a big fan of historical fiction. The Regency era is an especially lovely time to read about, what with the proper courtships, gentlemen and ladies, and dances in abundance. Carolyn Miller has definitely become a favorite when it comes to this genre. The way that she weaves faith into her romance stories is something that I really appreciate and admire. Her characters experience genuine walks with God – there are soul deep conversions, intense moments of surrender, prayers and seeking, and lots about righteousness and justice. Pretty much faith permeates this novel; it’s not just something that’s carelessly added in so it can be marketed as Christian fiction.

Underestimating Miss Cecilia is the second book in the REGENCY BRIDES: DAUGHTERS OF AYNSLEY series. Cecilia is the second eldest of three sisters, and has long since had a crush on Ned Amherst, who lives on the estate next to hers. With her older sister, Caroline, recently married, and their younger sister, Verity, always causing trouble, Cecilia struggles to keep the peace in the home she shares with her unbelieving parents. They just want her married off to a suitable man, and acting like a normal young English lady. But Cecilia longs for them to understand her intimate faith with Christ and her deep sense of justice for the gypsies and other lower class people.

I enjoyed Cecy’s story! It was fun and had exciting twists. It was also bittersweet, with depth. I loved seeing this quiet young woman’s journey of growing closer to God and surrendering all her desires and dreams to Him. Sometimes I saw myself in her! I truly appreciate reading about characters that I relate to. It can make a novel quite meaningful!

Underestimating Miss Cecilia was really a thoughtful story. The romance was tender and sweet and clean. There were a lot of serious ideas and teachable moments. I feel like this author writes with purpose, and I look forward to picking up Misleading Miss Verity when it releases!

I received a complimentary copy of Underestimating Miss Cecilia from Kregel Publications. This review is honest and all my own.

 

So Much More

Hello, dear readers. I might not know you. I might not be aware of the struggles you deal with and the trials in your life. But here’s what I do know … a whole lot of people are searching for purpose that they just can’t seem to grasp a hold of.

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I want to both challenge and encourage you today. Your life could be so much more than what it is – than what you’ve decided you’ll just have to accept. God beautifully made you for so much more. For your good, and their good. And all of this magnifies His glorious name. And it is good. It is life-changing.

Perhaps you’re like: “What is she even going on about?”

Purpose.

I’m talking about purpose. Listen, the world’s idea of success isn’t going to cut it. That great career. That nice house. That swoony guy. More stuff. More degrees. More Instagram likes and Facebook friends. A flawless body. The perfect wardrobe. Another exciting vacation. The coveted applause and idolized fame.

Do you know how many people who have “had it all” and found themselves as desperate as ever for more?

Think Marilyn Monroe. Most beautiful or sexiest woman, or whatever she was voted. She had the body all the women envied. She had the beauty. The guys. The fame. The money. The career. The dream. And yet, as I understand it, she ended her own life.

So if all of that can’t satisfy, fix, or fulfill us after all, what can?

What’s the more that we need?

Simple answer: Marilyn Monroe needed purpose. Identity. And lasting purpose and identity is found in Christ.

We need Jesus Christ. Not just for our eternal salvation, but for our everyday salvation.

Our Creator said that the enemy comes to “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy”. But that He has come so that we may have life more abundantly!

So …

1) You need your Creator. The one who created you in the first place. Without Jesus, you really have nothing. Give it some thought.

Colossians 1:16-18

All things were created through Him and for Him17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

If you are a Christian, you need 2) to be actively pursuing the One whom you call Lord, and who He uniquely designed you to be.

So stop running headlong after all the world has to offer. Their definition of success and happiness hasn’t proven itself. Stop and ask God what He wants for you.

Colossians 3:17

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

What gifts and talents has He given you? What passions and interests has He knitted into your heart? What doors is He opening for you to serve Him and mankind?

I think we can agree that the world can be a dark place. We are needing you to push back against that darkness. God has a specific role He is calling you to fill. A unique purpose. He has places and people and jobs that are perfect for you.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The question is, are you going to embrace your Lord and join in the kingdom work He gives His children, or are you going to follow yourself and remain as empty as ever?

Even if you are a Christian, living for yourself instead of God is going to only help spread the devastating darkness and hurt more people than you ever help.

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in ChristI fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

As I enter the sanctuary of my church, or sit in a Sunday school or Bible study class, or as I see all my friends posting Bible verses and selfies, I sometimes wonder … How many of us self-proclaimed Christ-followers are actually following Christ and doing what He calls us to? Collectively and individually? And what would it look like – our churches, friend groups, homes, communities – if we did? What would the impact be? How much brokenness that we see now could be healed if we were actually doing what we are created for … living with purpose. Living for God.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

I wonder, how many Christian boys and men aren’t stepping up and doing what God has put on their heart because of a secret struggle with pornography? How many girls and women are cowering in their own little bubble of life because of insecurity? And vice-versa.

Why have we, beloved children of God, let sin entangle us and lies define us so much so that we simply warm a seat on Sundays, quote a Bible verse every so often, and talk about our “past” like it’s not actually who we still are on the inside?

Brothers and sisters, Christ came to pave the way for not just change, but radical change! Not just life, but abundant life!

Are you really content with your life story reading: work, sleep, eat, 45-min. sermon on Sundays, and Netflix? Maybe an evening at the bar. Maybe some sensual music with lyrics that make your mind stray to places that you know dishonor God. Maybe a summer fling with that hot guy or girl. Maybe some movies with questionable content. Maybe many, many moments spent complaining, gossiping, saying hurtful things, and aimlessly scrolling on social media.

But it’s not like it’s that bad! You’re a good Christian and you won’t do the stuff you fill your eyes, ears, and mind with continually.

Maybe not. But neither will you do the things that you could have, should have, would have if you’d been pursuing the Christ you claim instead of the world.

Hebrews 5:12-14

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is,those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

At the end of your life … minutes away from meeting Jesus … do you think that kind of life story is going to give you a good feeling?

And do you really think it’s going to satisfy you now?

Dear soul, you are made for so much more than Netflix, your smart phone, and flirting with sin!

Look, try something new. What do you have to lose? Really. In light of eternity, what do you have to lose?

Proverbs 19:21

21 There are many plans in a man’s heart,
Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

Try surrendering and falling into Jesus’ arms.

Try making much of His name.

Try serving others.

Want to talk about purpose? Satisfaction? Joy? Delight?

Yes. This.

An intimate relationship with your Creator God is a divine sweetness you won’t find elsewhere. A close-knit community of believers is joy overflowing. Serving and loving others with your gifts is satisfaction and hope that fills deeply.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

What do you love to do? Write, dance, sing, play an instrument, paint, travel? Do you have a heart for women? Teens? Children? Sick individuals? Orphans? Confused Christians? Third-world countries? Try opening your hands and saying, “Lord, use these. Use me.” Do it to make much of God’s name. Use the things you love to love on others.

Romans 12:6-8

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:24-26

But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

I look around my Sunday school class … what if each of us single adults reached out to a younger brother or sister in faith?

Y’all, we all need someone to disciple us, guide us, and show us how to mature in and follow the Lord.

Romans 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

I see siblings and cousins and young people in my community who have so much potential and are in desperate need of a big brother or sister in Christ to come alongside them! To show them that they care. To guide them.

But how can we guide them if we don’t even know where we’re going in life? If we don’t have grown-up faith yet? If we are bogged down with the same old sin and insecurities that we’ve had since we were kids?

And the generation before mine … your work isn’t done yet. We need you.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

So, listen. There is kingdom work to be done. Purpose can be found. Look up and find yourself in Christ. And then look around and find all the unique, exciting roles that He’s calling you to!

Some of the roles I’ve been called to are … SISTER. My eyes are being opened to all the opportunities for thoughtful conversations, honest confession, good example, speaking life, and showing love to the precious people that God has placed smack-dab in my life in this season of life.

DISCIPLE-MAKER. I’ve long had a heart to minister to women and girls. And I’m passionate about God’s design for womanhood, manhood, marriage, and the like. God has opened doors for me to start a book study on “Girl Defined” by Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird with some young ladies and it has brought me such purpose and joy already!

EXAMPLE. Regardless of my age or whatever, I am to shine light. At times, I realize that I’m called to be a Christ-like example to those older than me … or in situations where it seems like they should be teaching me. It can be tempting to step back in fear or insecurity. But what is my Lord calling me to do? Walk in purity, maturity, holiness, and love so that they might see Him.

1 Timothy 4:12-16

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

FRIEND. Love. Encourage. Uplift. Sharpen. Spur on. Praise Jesus, some of my most painful experiences can now be used to help precious friends who He puts in my life. (Suffering is not in vain. Ask God how He can use it in a way that will make beauty bloom out of ashes.) It’s very good to do life together. Spend quality time with brothers & sisters in Christ. Laugh together. Pray together. Pursue God together. Serve together. Have fun together.

So what purpose-filled roles might be waiting for you to step into them?

So much more!

Beloved reader, if you are struggling with passivity, hopelessness, or meaninglessness, know that I am believing in faith for you that God is leading you to so much more!

Romans 8:28-34

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Fall into His waiting arms. Let His hand guide you. I know you might be afraid, but you can do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only in His strength.

There is so much more.

There is so much more for you.

Step out.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Be a Man

What does it mean to be a man?

How can I, as a woman, encourage my brothers in Christ toward godly masculinity?

What qualities should I look for in a future husband?

These questions roll around in my head. …Because doesn’t it feel like, in this day and age, that true manliness and chivalry are fading away before our very eyes?

be a man

I recently read a scene from a book that nearly took my breath away.

A boy, on the cusp of manhood, stepping in between a girl and the lash. He stepped behind her, shielding her with his body … and when the blows drove him to his knees, he pulled her down with him and covered her.

With tears welling up in my eyes, I thought: Now this is true manhood in all its strength and beauty.

EPHESIANS 5:25-28

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 

Does that scene remind you of something? Perhaps of Christ stepping in for you? Shielding you from wrath with His Body? Letting His blood be spilled in place of yours?

And what is true manhood but a reflection of Jesus Christ?

I don’t often feel deserving of the chivalrous acts of men, but it is a stunningly beautiful reminder to me of God’s lavish and grace-filled love for me. For I did not deserve His mercy and blessing, but He gave it anyway.

So, my friends, though it may seem elusive, chivalry is not dead. It is not outdated, old-fashioned, or unneeded. It is not a silly practice of medieval days.

1 CORINTHIANS 16:13-14

13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

Chivalry is more important than you know! It is desired. It is beautiful and wonderful.

Even the small acts of opening a door or offering a polite smile and nod, these are meaningful to women.

…That is to say, to women who embrace their womanhood.

Despite what the feminist culture wants to tell us, most women innately desire to be treated as feminine creatures, worthy of honor, protection, kindness, and gentleness. They want strong men. They long to see chivalrous acts from the men around them.

We are women! And healthy women naturally want to feel feminine, womanly, and beautiful. They want to be cherished, respected, and protected by good men.

EPHESIANS 5:28-29

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

In today’s world, we don’t get that very often.

There have been times that I’ve been walking through the store and had to really make an effort to move out of the path of a man barreling my way. It’s left me a little unsettled, the way he stares, like, “Move out of my way or I’m gonna run you over, woman.”

Another time, my coat tie got stuck on the rail in an elevator. Everyone emptied out quickly, and the one guy who noticed my plight laughed sheepishly and started to leave as well. The words: Can you help me? died on my lips. I managed to figure out where I was stuck and free myself. And lest you think the guy was a completely unscrupulous sort, he did hold the elevator door open when he saw that I freed myself.

But such encounters leave me feeling unprotected deep down inside. Do young men feel no natural protective instinct or honor toward women these days? Do they no longer jump into action when a woman is in need? Or nod kindly and step out of the way, like a gentleman, when they meet a lady on the path?

Even if they don’t know if a woman needs help, if it appears that she might, a simple: Hey, do you need a hand? might provide some relief.

This is not to say that I can’t step out of the way, or that I’m incapable of taking care of myself under minor distress – like I was in the elevator.

But I think it’s important for men to daily live out their masculinity in small ways in order to develop Christ-like chivalry that will flow into bigger, more dire situations.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:11

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

1 TIMOTHY 5:1-2

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Men must have a higher view of women. Not because we are better, but because we are different.

We are not just another “guy friend”. We are unique from men, and should be treated differently. With gentleness. Tenderness. Thoughtful honor and respect.

The Word of God calls for men to give honor to the woman, for she is the weaker vessel. And no, this doesn’t mean that she is less intelligent, inferior, or of less worth.

1 PETER 3:7-9

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing,

But think about it. On average, men are bigger and stronger than women. Usually they can build muscle mass faster and bulkier than women. Over the centuries, men have been the ones willing and ready to fight for their families and country, and take the jobs of policemen, firemen, etc. Even today, there aren’t a whole lot of women who are wanting, or even think they’re physically and/or emotionally capable of going to war and such.

By divine design, men are more inclined to take the difficult and gritty roles of protecting, providing, and hard physical, or emotionally tough, work.

With more strength comes more responsibility.

1 TIMOTHY 5:8

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

I don’t see myself as any less than men, but I do see myself as made for a vastly different role than men. And honestly, I know that I’m weaker … at the very least, physically.

It’s sensible to assume that at 5’5″ … and more slender than strong … not many men would have a problem overpowering me physically. Perhaps knowing this makes me crave, even more, gentleness and honor from men – especially those in my life. It gives me a general sense of security and well-being.

As for emotionally … I’d say that in most ways, I’m the stereotypical woman. I’m emotional, and very relational, and all that. And sometimes women are flattered and manipulated by unsavory men. Though, by growing in maturity and in my walk with the Lord, it becomes easier to recognize and avoid these men, I do believe that God made women to be under the covering of a man – such as her father. A man who will look out for her and hold any suitors to a high standard. For the young woman’s well-being, honor, and happiness!

Though I am weaker, if I know that a man highly esteems me and would never use his strength against me – but rather to protect and cherish me – then my weakness doesn’t matter.

Versus if a man uses his strength to harm me in some ways, then I am insecure and my weakness frightens me. I might feel the need to harden myself. I might want to prove myself to men so that they won’t take advantage of me anymore. I might despise my femininity. My nurturing, gentle spirit. My womanhood.

I feel like this is what happened with some of the women in the feminist movement. They were hurt, perhaps emotionally, by men. And now they want to protect themselves. To prove themselves. To make everything “fair” and equal and same. But in this mad rush to give evidence that they are just as good as men, they often trash their femininity and the unique qualities and roles that make them women.

PROVERBS 14:1

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

And also, with their brash, hardened, spiteful behavior, they squelch chivalry in men.

But again … chivalry and godly masculinity are for women’s good!

Not just in the big things, but in the small things. There are some things that I could manage on my own, or grit my teeth and bear. But when a man steps in and offers his help, I feel highly honored. And thankful.

When I’m walking on unsteady ground, I can probably get to my destination without too many mishaps. But if there’s a man nearby and he offers a hand to steady me, it’s an appreciated kindness.

I can put gasoline in my car in the winter and just manage to bear the cold (I hate cold, haha!), but if a guy offers to do it for me, I’ll quite gratefully accept and let him live out his masculinity – bear the cold for me!

Not only does a truly manly man reflect Christ, but men being masculine helps women live out their femininity as God designed. There is a reason that God created us as

male and female

masculine and feminine

with divine purpose

with different roles

with distinct, unique strengths …

It is to wholly reflect Him and radiantly glorify Him!

And it is for our good.

Oh, let me tell you, dear people, it is so good to be unashamedly, freely, beautifully, uniquely, femininely, divinely … a woman. Just exactly who God created me to be. How glorious. How good. How purpose-filled. How exciting. How adventurous. How delightful!

GENESIS 1:27-28

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

We cheat ourselves out of many a good thing when we stray from God’s design for womanhood and manhood. We cheapen ourselves when we push for today’s culture’s definition of feminism, liberation, and sexuality.

Only when we go back to the Bible will we find our true selves. As Christ-like women. And Christ-like men.

Femininity and chivalry are essential.

So men … pursue God. And be unashamedly men.

2 TIMOTHY 1:7

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Book Review: A Love Letter Life by Jeremy and Audrey Roloff

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A Love Letter Life: Pursue Creatively. Date Intentionally. Love Faithfully. by Jeremy & Audrey Roloff

My Personal Review ~ 4.5 stars

A Love Letter Life: Pursue Creatively. Date Intentionally. Love Faithfully. was a really great read! I’d seen it around on social media – from Jinger Vuolo, “Marriage After God”, and Dale & Veronica Partridge, I think – and became intrigued. Although I’ve never watched the TV reality show that Jeremy Roloff is a part of (Little People, Big World), I thoroughly enjoyed his and Audrey’s book! It was an easy read; interesting, fun, and thoughtful.

So basically it tells the story of Jeremy and Audrey. Little bits of their individual lives, and a lot of how they became friends, fell in love, and eventually joined lives in marriage! I thought it was awesome how they emphasized the importance of friendship first, and also being intentional and faithful about getting to know, understanding, and caring for one another. There were some hot topics discussed! Such as physical purity and close friendships with the opposite sex after you’re married. I appreciated how honest Jeremy and Audrey were about their relationship, purity, and where they failed … and the fact that they wrote it as a warning: Make boundaries! Have accountability partners. Don’t make the same mistakes that we did.

I loved the few pages of pictures near the center of the book. It’s so fun to see snippets of what you’re reading about! Absolutely lovely.

And the love letters they wrote each other? Absolutely precious! I love this idea – especially for dating couples! ^_^

This romance definitely wasn’t perfect. It had it’s ups and downs. It’s bumps and break-ups. But no love story is perfect. What makes the difference is how you pursue. How intentional you are. How faithful you are. Are you willing to fight for this person, despite the setbacks? And, once married, are you willing to cling to each other until death parts you … regardless if you “fall out of love” someday? Most importantly, are you actively putting Christ at the center? It’s wonderful to see a fun couple like Jeremy and Audrey pursuing God’s design for a man and his wife. Fighting for each other. Promoting a healthy marriage relationship that doesn’t give up.

This book talks about how to creatively love your special person, work through baggage from the past and/or generational sin, understand each other’s personality, respect each other, be intentional in a long distance relationship, and so on.

Jeremy and Audrey have a sweet story of coming together, and, overall, I very much enjoyed reading this book! I recommend to those who like learning about the real-life romances of Christian couples!

I received a copy of A Love Letter Life from Book Look Boggers Program. This review is honest and all my own.

 

**Originally posted on Between the Pages of This Bookish Life on May 25th, 2019**