A Little Update + some Pretty Book Covers

Hello, friends! I know I haven’t been posting lately … there’s somewhat of a reason for that. ūüėČ Lots going on in life. For one I’ve been swamped with babysitting jobs (on top of my regular part-time job); so much so that I’ve had to turn some down. Also I’ve been doing little parties and things here and there as a sales consultant for Lemongrass Spa. They just launched their spring/summer line, which is really fun!

My sister and I have been going to Sunday services and (more recently) Wednesday night Bible study at a small, Biblically-grounded, friendly church. This has been such a blessing! How important it is to be intimately part of a strong faith community! My heart has been overwhelmed with gratitude toward God with how He has been answering things I’ve long prayed for.

Most dramatic life update of all … I’m moving. January 2019, after attending the C.R.O.S.S. conference, I started praying seriously about moving 17-ish hours away from home to where some of my close friends live. I had already been thinking about it. Last summer, I decided I was going to take the leap of faith – probably in spring 2020. Well, now it’s spring of 2020. I put in my two-week notice at work, I’m packing up all of my life belongings, and I’m heading out in ten days. *is excited and nervous and happy and sad and eager and terrified and numb all at once*

How grateful I am that my life is in God’s hands! I keep praying and committing all of my plans to Him. Asking Him to lead, guide, and open doors. And shut doors. And keep working out every detail of my life for His glory and my good. ‚̧

I know I have people who love and care about me here and there. And most assuring, I have a Heavenly Father who tenderly cares for me.

I would appreciate your prayers!

***

And with that, let’s look at some pretty book covers. One of my favorite things to do. ūüôā

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The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

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What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles

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Isaiah’s Legacy {a Novel of Prophets and Kings} by Mesu Andrews

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The Peasant’s Dream by Melanie Dickerson

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Colors of Truth {The Canton Series #2} by Tamera Alexander

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The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

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Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

Daughter of Cana by Angela Hunt

Daughter of Cana {Jerusalem Road #1} by Angela Hunt

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

Daughter of Rome by Tessa Afshar

Each Perfect Gift by Alicia Ruggieri

Each Perfect Gift {A Legacy of Grace novel} by Alicia G. Ruggieri

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson

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Midnight’s Curse {Beyond the Tales #2} by Tricia Mingerink

The Piper's Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

The Piper’s Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

The Rebel Bride by Shannon Mcnear

The Rebel Bride {The Daughters of the Mayflower} by Shannon McNear

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The Land Beneath Us {Sunrise at Normandy} by Sarah Sundin

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On Wings of Devotion {The Codebreakers #2} by Roseanna M. White

A Portrait of Loyalty

The Portrait of Loyalty {The Codebreakers #3} by Roseanna M. White

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Something New {a novella} by Joanne Bischof

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Veiled in Smoke {The Windy City Saga #1} by Jocelyn Green

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Like Flames in the Night {Cities of Refuge #4} by Connilyn Cossette

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To Dwell Among Cedars {The Covenant House #1} by Connilyn Cossette

Fashion and Womanhood

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Fashion.

Sometimes it is just so difficult to find an outfit to wear in the morning. I suppose I’m the typical female. There’s been many a time when I’ve strewn my room with clothes, trying on one thing after another. But nothing looks right! Ah! Can you feel my stress?

My teen brother asks me: Who are you trying to impress?

Well, sometimes I am trying to impress some guy, I suppose. As I woman of God, I want to dress in a beautiful, decent way that reflects and honors Him. And I want to save the sexual and sacred and private for my future husband. But still, there’s that desire for men to find me pretty or even well put-together and fashionable.

Other times, there aren’t any young men I’m trying to impress. But I still feel this pressure when getting ready for an event. Like maybe I’m trying to compete with the other women who will be there. I have to look good, and feel confident about my external appearance. I have to measure up to them. I’m not necessarily trying to make myself better than them, but I’m still dressing in a competing way. I’m comparing myself to other women in my mind. I want them to approve of/be impressed by my appearance. I want them to accept me.

This causes stress. This incites anxiety. This fuels insecurity. This tempts me to dress immodestly because it’s more trendy or flattering.

But this is all wrong! We shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to other women. And we certainly shouldn’t be competing. We should be a loving, serving, helpful, grace-filled community, especially with our sisters in Christ.

We don’t look down on girls we deem “unfashionable” or “unpopular”. We don’t feel insecure around women we deem “trendy” and “stunning”.

For one thing, fashions and trends change like crazy. They mean nothing. Secondly, beauty is not the all-important factor in God’s kingdom. In fact, it is fleeting.

Proverbs 31:30-31

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

Perhaps you wear makeup and she doesn’t. Maybe she dresses super stylish and you dress more plain. Dresses, pants. Long hair, short hair. Lots of makeup, no makeup. Trendy, classy. Jewelry, no jewelry.

It all comes down to personal sense of style and, sometimes, lifestyle conviction. But in the end, fashion and beauty do not define who we are as women.

Not to say how we clothe ourselves is of no importance. I believe as women of God we should dress modestly and femininely, with decency and beauty. But this cannot consume us.

We are not the extent of our beauty or popularity.

We are daughters of God, and need to more preoccupied with having the fruits of the Spirit than having the perfect clothes and accessories!

Galatians 5:22-25

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

We need to be more preoccupied with loving each other than “measuring up” to each other! We need to remember that these women we’re competing with and comparing ourselves to are precious souls, made in the image of God. And if they’re believers, they are our sisters! Our family. Dearly beloved by their Father God.

And you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. If you are a woman, you have the gift of femininity. You don’t have to follow all the fashion trends and have all the perfect accessories to live out your womanhood and femininity beautifully.

So next time you’re getting ready to go out, and feel anxiety welling up, stop and consider:

Am I trying to make sure I measure up to Emma?

Am I too desperate to impress James?

Confess those things and ask God to help you overcome them. Accept yourself as you are. Accept Emma as she is. And remind yourself that if James is a good man, he won’t be looking for perfection, but authenticity and a love for the Lord.

Dear woman, you don’t have to impress men. You don’t have to impress your fellow women. Simply live for the Lord. Love Him. Love others.

As for fashion, choose decent, classy, and feminine! Choose what’s you as a unique daughter of God! ūüôā

No Chance Meeting Excerpt + Author Post

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Hello, friends! I’m pleased to have author Jaye Elliot on my blog today! I’ll be sharing a post from her + an excerpt from her coming release, No Chance Meeting.

No Chance Meeting is Jaye Elliot’s first contemporary romance novel. She writes Christian fantasy novels under the name, Jaye L.Knight, and I have loved many of her books! ‚̧ I’m excited for her as she goes in this new direction … and I’m also looking forward to the conclusion of her Ilyon Chronicles, of course!!

I hope you enjoy this post and check out Jaye’s books. ūüôā

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About the Book

Alex Jennings is done with life. After losing her brother in Afghanistan, everything has collapsed around her. Getting laid off from her day job and failing in her art career, she has nowhere left to turn. She once had faith to believe that all things would work together for good, but that faith died with her brother. Now she just wants the pain to end.

Riley Conrad served thirteen years in the military until three bullets sent him home. After a year and a half of physical therapy and scraping together a living, all he wants is to live a simple life and perhaps even open the coffee shop he dreams about. However, the weight of failing his parents’ expectations doesn’t make it easy, and working as a bartender isn’t getting him anywhere fast.

Could a ‚Äúchance‚ÄĚ meeting between Alex and Riley set them both on the path God always intended?

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and more!

20% of all February sales will go to the Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs.

 Add to Goodreads

***

Shared Post from Jaye Elliot

At one point in the story, Alex bakes a Dutch apple pie that is her mom’s family recipe. I pulled this little detail from real life. I always love when my mom makes Dutch apple pies. Below you will find the recipe to this family favorite.

Dutch Apple Pie Recipe

Filling:

5 cups of sliced apples

¬ĺ cup of sugar

2 tablespoons flour

¬Ĺ teaspoon nutmeg, cloves, & cinnamon

Topping:

1 cup flour

1 stick butter

¬Ĺ cup sugar

Mix apple filling ingredients together in a large bowl and pour into a pie pan with your favorite bottom crust (can be homemade or store bought). Cut butter into the flour and sugar for the topping until there is course, pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown.

Can also be made gluten free! You can find my favorite, foolproof pie crust recipe here. For the flour in the filling and topping, I just use superfine white rice flour, and it turns out great.

***

Excerpt from NO CHANCE MEETING BY JAYE ELLIOT

Dad walked into the entryway first, followed shortly by Mom, who wore a ruffled, red plaid apron Alex had given her for Christmas a few years ago. It saw a lot of use but had held up well so far.

Alex met both of them with warm hugs. They then greeted Riley, Mindy, and Zach. By now, Mindy was bouncing on her toes. Though not at all unusual for her, Alex did take particular notice of it.

‚ÄúMind if I use your bathroom?‚ÄĚ she asked Mom.

‚ÄúNot at all. You know where it is.‚ÄĚ

Mindy flashed a thankful smile and quickly excused herself. As soon as she was gone, Alex burst into laughter.

Mom raised a brow. ‚ÄúCoffee?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúFour cups,‚ÄĚ Zach said with a long-suffering sigh.

They all laughed now and walked into the kitchen. Alex set a canvas grocery bag on the counter and unpacked the food she and Riley had brought while Dad asked Zach about their new house and work. The three men then discussed the Packers and Lions game on later. Besides her Broncos, Alex had always liked the Packers, so she was rooting for them to win today.

Mindy rejoined them a couple of minutes later, and Mom set a large plate of pumpkin cookies on the counter.

Zach‚Äôs eyes lit up. ‚ÄúMy favorite.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúI made them especially for you.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThank you.‚ÄĚ He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before grabbing a cookie and taking a big bite.

Pumpkin cookies had been Josh‚Äôs favorite too‚ÄĒa special treat their mom always made for Thanksgiving morning. In his absence, Zach was like a surrogate son.

With their bathroom breaks taken care of, Mindy and Zach prepared to leave. On their way out the door, Mom handed Zach a red plastic container.

‚ÄúFor the road,‚ÄĚ she told him.

He peeked inside, and Alex caught sight of more cookies.

He grinned. ‚ÄúYou spoil me. I‚Äôm going to be so fat after this weekend.‚ÄĚ

Mindy reached for the container. ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt worry, I‚Äôll pace you.‚ÄĚ

But he lifted the box of cookies high above his head, out of reach. ‚ÄúUh-uh, no way. I‚Äôm not giving up my special holiday treat.‚ÄĚ

* * *

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About the Author

Jaye Elliot is an award-winning author, country girl, and hopeless romantic at heart. She loves a good hero and will always sigh happily during the lights scene in Tangled. She writes from her home in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, which she shares with three cats she considers her kids. When not writing romance novels, she pens fantasy and adventure stories as Jaye L. Knight.

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Pinterest

* * *

Giveaway #1

To celebrate the release of No Chance Meeting, Jaye is giving away a reader bundle that includes a signed copy of NCM, a hand-painted watercolor bookmark, a coffee mug, and a bag of Dove chocolates! U.S. entries only. Not open internationally.

Giveaway #2

For her second giveaway, Jaye is offering 3 ebook copies of No Chance Meeting. Open internationally!

***

Schedule

Friday, February 14

Saturday, February 15

Sunday, February 16

Monday, February 17

Tuesday, February 18

Wednesday, February 19

Thursday, February 20

Friday, February 21

Saturday, February 22

Tour Wrap Up at Jaye Elliot

Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I felt inspired to share what’s been on my heart lately. It’s a lot. I’ll try to get it all out coherently and hopefully not ramble on forever.

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I’m a single woman in her twenties this Valentine‚Äôs Day.

And I am so thankful!

Yes, I still want to be married. Very much so.

But I see no reason to be depressed and unhappy as a single person ‚Äď not on Valentine‚Äôs Day, not on any day. See, God Himself carefully and beautifully formed me in my mother‚Äôs womb some twenty-three years ago. He knew me and all of my days before He formed me. He knows my heart. My visions. My passions. My hope. My pain. He knows my sorrow. And He‚Äôs here. He‚Äôs listening.

Many days I have felt unhappy and depressed. The longings for marriage and companionship and motherhood so intense … and I cried out to God with my aching heart and questions. And I realize He listened. He’s listening. All this time, He’s known and heard my longings and my wonderings and He’s been here. I have not been alone.

It‚Äôs like with Job (though Job‚Äôs pain and distress was on a much, much larger scale, of course). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the Bible says Job did not sin in crying out, in venting, in pouring out all the hurt and confusion. But you might ask, why then did God never answer the question why? What is the point of the story of Job anyway? Well here‚Äôs what I think it is:

  • God shows us that we are not alone. Sometimes the scariest thing about tragedy or pain is the fear that I might suffer alone. In this book, God shows Job he is not alone. The God of the universe, who set all things into motion, cares enough for one, seemingly insignificant human being amidst millions and billions of other human beings, to answer Job in his pain. Not only is God listening, but He cares enough to answer Job. To show Job HE IS HERE.
  • God‚Äôs ways are so much different than ours. So much bigger and more amazing than we could ever imagine. God shows us that we can‚Äôt understand His work. The work He is doing. But we can trust Him because He cares. And He is mighty. And He is at work.

I‚Äôm not accusing you if you are feeling depressed or lonely or unhappy this Valentine‚Äôs Day. In fact, I understand. I’ve been there. Some days it seems silly to be unhappy just because a day is dedicated to romance … other days the pain is real. And God knows your heart. So pour out those feelings. But then, like Job, come out of the confusion and sorrow. Come out!

Isaiah 43:19-21

19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
20 The beast of the field will honor Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I give waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My people, My chosen.
21 This people I have formed for Myself;
They shall declare My praise.

See, I know God is listening to my prayers. I know He cares about me. I know He is taking care of me. I know He is working in my life ‚Äď working out my future.

What’s more, I glimpse His majesty and holiness and grace and mercy! His tender love.

I am an unmarried woman this Valentine‚Äôs Day and I am so blessed! The fact is, God has already given me way more than I deserve! He has rescued my soul from darkness and brought me into His incredible light. I am saved. Sometimes our minds can‚Äôt grasp the magnitude of that. But I am one of billions of people and the ancient God who is outside of time ‚Äď beginning and end ‚Äď pursued me. Me. Little old insignificant me who really has nothing to bring to the table.

Hosea 2:14-15

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
15 I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

Not only that, but He keeps pursuing me every day. I see evidence of it in my life. I see the way He used anxiety and loneliness to push me to seek Him. I see the way that has urged me to cry out to Him while in depression instead of giving into the lies of Satan. I see the way He’s sustained me through dark mornings and fearful nights, and brought me out of that.

I see the way He‚Äôs used singleness to grow me closer to my siblings and friends. I see the way He‚Äôs put purpose and mission and ideas into my isolated life. I see the way He‚Äôs placed people in my path to reach out to. I see the way He prompts friends to send life-giving words when I need them the most, and uses random people to encourage my heart when I feel disillusioned. I see the people He’s woven into my life at just the right moments. I look back and see the way He‚Äôs orchestrated the details of my life‚Ķ

And I’m profoundly thankful.

And I realize that He will continue to orchestrate the details of my life. I‚Äôm by no means of the though process that I could have planned my life better than God. I see clearly ‚Äď for today, at least ‚Äď how foolish that is.

Yes, I’ve wanted to get married for as long as I can remember. I tenderly cared for my baby dolls and I distinctly remember telling my mom around four or five-years-old that I wanted to get married. I had my first crush when I was thirteen, and the pages of my diary testify that I hoped and somewhat believed I would grow up and marry him.

I wrote my first letter to my future husband at age fourteen or fifteen. I remember talking to my friends, quite seriously, about marriage and motherhood and faith and other deep issues at fifteen. I didn’t think I was ready for it, yet I did. I was made for marriage and homemaking! My mom, aunts, and friends married in their late teens (not all, but many) and embraced homemaking and motherhood. I wanted to do the same. I had a vision for marriage and writing and serving Jesus.

At age eighteen, I felt distressed on Valentine’s Day because I was really, truly old enough for dating but had no prospects in sight.

Since then, my desire for marriage has only increased. I want to be a wife, a helpmeet, a companion, a friend. I want to be a mommy. I want to be a homemaker.

When people talk about

  • loving, helping, and supporting their husband as he does his God-given kingdom work
  • making their house a warm, welcoming place
  • raising my own children to know the love of God and serve Him
  • proclaiming Jesus’ love by the way they nurture people (husband, children, brothers & sisters in Christ, lonely singles, hurting young women, etc.)
  • a home atmosphere that shines a light
  • having girls or moms over for coffee
  • having people over for dinner regularly in their home
  • homemaking for the glory of Christ
  • hosting and hospitality

my heart nearly bursts with passion! I have such a vision for this. This is what I want to do with my life. This is what I long to do with a strong companion, my husband, for all the days of my life here on earth. This is the kingdom work I want to do for God’s glory and for the reaching of people and for the sake of love.

And the more I pray about it, read Christian books on it, listen to sermons, and talk to godly friends, the more I feel like God placed these desires and visions in my heart.

So why am I not married, you might ask? Why am I not joyfully serving and caring for people by a good man’s side?

Doesn’t it seem like that would be more profitable in the kingdom of God, in my life, in other’s lives than me just trying to find things to do while my vision is unfulfilled? I’m grappling with this intense longing to have a husband and children. I’m struggling with different life issues and concerns that might not be there if I were married. I’m working at a job that I have no real passion for. I’m trying to reach out and help, mentor, and serve people … but oftentimes it seems like my plans fall through or fall flat.

So the temptation is to be depressed and unhappy. And ask why. Why, God, am I not married yet? I feel like you’ve given me a desire to be a wife and a vision for homemaking, yet there are no godly men pursing me. I feel like I’m not doing very important things right now. Like I’m wasting my life Рmy gifts, talents, passion, and vision. Like I’m trying to do kingdom work and glorify You but nothing is really falling into place. I feel unsettled!

But if I say I believe God is who He says He is, then there is no room to linger in this questioning. If I say I believe God is listening, and He cares about and for me, and He gives me vision and desires, and He is at work in my life ‚Äď in all our lives ‚Äď for His glory and our good, then I also must believe that:

I am right where He wants me to be.

Here. Unmarried. Struggling through different issues. Working with so many little kids I feel like I can’t invest in any of them. Blogging about things I worry might offend fellow Christians and heart thoughts I don’t know if anybody cares about.

This. He’s at work in this. The hard, the mundane, the uncertain, the painful, the unfulfilled longings, the unsettled, the seemingly pointless.

God is at work in my life. He is working in and through me. He has a plan for my life. A glorious plan to make much of His name and bring me and others closer to Him.

And this is a supremely joyful and peace-filled truth!

Yes, I want to be married! But also, yes, I am thankful that I am single right now. Because that’s where God has me.

I know He sees my heart and He knows the plans He has for me. If He wants to fulfill the vision I feel He’s given me for wifehood, motherhood, and homemaking, then He will.

Do I keep praying? Yes, I keep praying. Pray. Pray. Pray. I tell God about my desires and visions and hopes and dreams. I ask Him to fulfill this vision in my life if it is of Him. I ask Him to root out lies and search my heart and remove the offensive ways and lead me closer to Him. I rebuke the Enemy in Jesus’ name. I resist the temptation to sink into hopelessness and despair and depression and desperation.

God is good all the time.

Sometimes I think we do stall God’s plans for our lives by becoming bitter and distrustful. By listening to Satan’s whispers and following all sorts of paths winding in the wrong direction. By no longer trusting our Father with our heart and seeking His face in sweet trust and surrender.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

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. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

Do you see what I’m trying to say?

Be filled with hope and vision, and pray about and for what you think God is calling you to in life.

But if you feel called to be married yet are single right now, that doesn’t mean that your life is on hold or God is not paying attention.

There is so much to do in life! And if big things feel overwhelming or impossible, start by focusing on the little things. There are so many people who just need you to reach out to them. To stop and listen. To invite them over for supper. To care about them.

Maybe the years keep slipping by and marriage isn’t happening in your life ‚Ķ ask God to give you another vision! This doesn‚Äôt mean your vision for marriage will remain unfulfilled. But maybe you‚Äôve been so focused on marriage you‚Äôve gotten tunnel vision in a world filled with needs.

What about orphans and widows? What about sex trafficking? What about millions of babies being killed through abortion? What about sexual abuse within local churches and families? What about starving children in Africa? What about unreached people groups? What about Christians blinded by false doctrine?

What if God is calling you to stand up and fight back concerning one of these issues? He can bring you into the overwhelming and the impossible and do incredible things through your life!

Sometimes we need to shake things up in our lives. Make some changes. Take a leap of faith ‚Äď big or small. We have to get out of the rut. We have to embrace SURRENDER and HOPE and FAITH and more than we could even IMAGINE or ASK FOR.

Ephesians 3:20

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

I’m still praying about and for marriage and the chance to serve and thrive within wifehood, motherhood, and homemaking.

I’m also just praying, with great hope and joy, for God to use my life in His kingdom work.

I‚Äôve decided to move out of my parent‚Äôs home. Out of state. To shake things up a little and take a step into the unknown. I‚Äôm twenty-three and I‚Äôve been living at home for basically my whole life. Planning to move out when I get married…

Well, it’s time for a change.

Time for friends in my season of life who I can journey alongside as we all follow after Jesus. Time for a strong, passionate, Christ-like community around me. Time for a new beginning. Time to leave behind some of the weights that so easily entangle me. Time for new challenges that will grow and stretch me ‚Äď body, mind, and spirit. Time for a new perspective.

This Valentine’s Day, I count myself wondrously blessed! I have no reason to complain. I have a Father God who is involved in every detail of my life. There is much hope.

Grow in grace, dear readers. ‚̧

1 Peter 5:6-11

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Clean Mouth

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Words are just words, right? Does it matter what we say? As Christ-followers, I want to discuss swearing, crude jokes, suggestive comments, harshness, sarcasm, and other manner of off-colored conversations. Does it really matter that much?

Perhaps the better question is: Does the Word of God have anything to say about this topic?

If we truly follow Christ then we should care deeply about what He says in the Bible. We can’t just brush this stuff aside. Every Scripture is profitable for teaching and rebuking! What comes out of your mouth matters. It matters to God. It matters when it comes to kingdom work.

Check out these verses:

Proverbs 15:1-4, 7, 12, 23, 26, 28

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,
But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge,
But the heart of the fool does not do so.

12 A scoffer does not love one who corrects him,
Nor will he go to the wise.

23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,
And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
But the words of the pure are pleasant.

28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.

***

Colossians 3:8

8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

***

Ephesians 5:3-4, 11-12

3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.

***

Exodus 20:7

7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

***

James 1:26

26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

***

Colossians 4:6

6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

***

Proverbs 21:23

23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

***

Matthew 12:36-37

36¬†But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.¬†37¬†For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.‚ÄĚ

***

James 3:10-12

10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

***

2 Timothy 2:16

16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

***

Matthew 5:21-22

21¬†‚ÄúYou have heard that it was said to those of old,¬†‚ÄėYou shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.‚Äô¬†22¬†But I say to you that¬†whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother,¬†‚ÄėRaca!‚Äô¬†shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‚ÄėYou fool!‚Äô shall be in danger of hell fire.

***

Philippians 4:8

8¬†Finally, brethren, whatever things are¬†true, whatever things¬†are¬†noble, whatever things¬†are¬†just,¬†whatever things¬†are¬†pure, whatever things¬†are¬†lovely, whatever things¬†are¬†of good report, if¬†there is¬†any virtue and if¬†there is¬†anything praiseworthy‚ÄĒmeditate on these things.¬†9¬†The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

***

Luke 6:43-45

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

***

Psalm 141:3

3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips

***

Matthew 15:11

11¬†Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.‚ÄĚ

***

Proverbs 4:24

24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.

***

Proverbs 10:19-21

19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
The heart of the wicked is worth little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of wisdom.

I hope you thoroughly read all those verses, because they pretty much said it all! I don’t have much to add to that.

When we are in Christ, that should change everything about us. We no longer spew the same profane language that we used to. We no longer find those dirty jokes to be funny. Talking carelessly or foolishly about sacred things now causes unrest in our spirit. Yelling at people or speaking to them harshly incites guilt.

And if you haven’t changed at all in the area – or you’re growing in it, looking more and more like the world, I believe your next step is to search the Scripture and repent of sins that it points out.

Turn away from filthy language and start again.

We claim to love Jesus Christ. And He is pure! Beautiful. Holy. Good. Majestic. Awesome. Lovely. Wholesome. Worthy. Beginning and End.

Do we really think our harsh language and yucky jokes or comments reflect Him well?

Not at all!

Think about it. Do you feel good about yourself after swearing, sharing a dirty joke, making an inappropriate sexual comment, talking with selfish sarcasm, or conversing irreverently about sacred things? Does it draw you closer to God? Does it benefit your listeners? Does it spur your brothers and sisters on toward the Lord? Does it sharpen them? Does it encourage you and them in your walk with the Lord? Does it reflect Christ, or do you think it might grieve the Holy Spirit within you? (Who bought you at a great price!)

Do you really think filthy language honors Christ whom you say you serve?

Ephesians 4:29-32

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

We are Christ’s ambassadors here on earth. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We’re to reflect Him, serve Him, and bear His name worthily.

So let us try to do that, starting with the words that come out of our mouth.

Bridling the tongue is hard, so accept God’s limitless strength and boundless mercy & grace for you.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Lemongrass Spa with Shantelle

Hello, readers! Today I just want to give a little shout-out to Lemongrass Spa! January 3rd, I signed up to be a sales consultant for Lemongrass Spa, as a side job. I had recently won a prize from a Facebook party, and also been hearing great things about the products from some of my relatives and friends.

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Spa Party Success Kit

The thing that made Lemongrass Spa an option to me is that they believe in natural, organic, fragrance-free, gluten-free, and non-toxic products. I put a lot of importance on health and using as natural of products as you can! And so does Lemongrass Spa, so that made it a good fit for me. Though not all of their products are a 100% natural and organic, they advertise as 97%-100% natural and they say no to:

  • sodium lauryl sulfate
  • petroleum byproducts
  • parabens
  • phthalates
  • propylene glycol
  • synthetic fragrances
  • nanoparticles

Some products, such as their mascara, deodorant, hair spray, and body spritz are all-natural. Other things, like lotion, use preservatives such as phenoxyethanol, because lotion (and other items with water in them) will mold if you don’t use a preservative. My mom used to make her own lotion, but she did have a few cases of mold, even when we refrigerated the lotion! So if you don’t feel like making your own lotion, or don’t want to deal with the worry of mold, Lemongrass Spa lotion is a much better option than the mainstream stuff you’re finding at Walmart or Bath and Body Works that is full of chemicals!

If you are just not comfortable with the non-natural preservatives that Lemongrass Spa uses, try check out 100% Pure’s lotion. I believe they *might* be completely natural. I don’t know if they have actual lotion, but they have a hand cream and there’s no water. I don’t know what differences no water makes … maybe it’s heavier? (And that’s why it’s called cream and not lotion?) Anyway, they are a little more expensive – their 2 oz. is $15 while Lemongrass Spa’s 8 oz. + 2 oz. is $18.

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On the website, the ingredients for each item are listed, so you can look through them and know what you’re getting. If you’re a fanatic like me, you can also google the ingredients that you don’t recognize! *grins* This site is very helpful for looking up ingredients unknown to you.

Lemongrass Spa is more expensive than your run-of-the-mill skincare and beauty products. But you have to remember that they strive for natural and organic and quality! Overall, I think they are decently-priced when compared to other natural beauty/health companies such as Young Living, 100% Pure, Burt’s Bees, and Beauty Counter.

So far, I love their mascara! It smells yummy and applies smoothly. I am trying to switch to more natural make-up products, so using Lemongrass Spa’s organic matte black mascara makes me happy. I know that it doesn’t have any harmful chemicals and toxins in it, it doesn’t irritate my eyes, and overall I just feel really good about using it!

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Ingredients: aqua (water), organic matricaria recutita (chamomile) hydrosol, organic cera alba (beeswax), organic copernicia cerifera (carnauba wax), organic coffee arabica (coffee) powder, organic oryza sativa (rice) extract, organic helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, organic zea mays (corn starch), natural shellac wax, organic citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel extract, organic citrus grandis (grapefruit) seed extract.

I’ve also tried their facial oil cleanse, which has been a great experience thus far. I don’t have a fancy face-cleaning routine, but I’ve been wanting to start something because I get some rough patches and red blotches on my face. Lemongrass Spa’s Facial Cleansing Oil has felt so nice on my face, and it works good as a make-up remover.

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Handmade with the following ingredients: helianthus annuus* (sunflower) oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, persea gratissima* (avocado) oil, argania spinose* (argan) oil, d-alpha tocopherol (sunflower vitamin E), sorbitan laurate, polyglyceryl-4 laurate, dilauryl citrate *organic

Even more pleasing, is their facial gel, mist, and creme trio. Like I said, I don’t have a big facial cleaning routine. But, since I received these products with the starter kit, I figured I may as well use them! And it’s been so fun! Lemongrass Spa’s facial set for normal to dry skin is amazing. It smells lovely and leaves my face feeling soft, moisturized, and clean.

Cleansing Gel for Normal to Dry Skin

Ingredients: aloe vera gel, coconut oil olefin, coconut oil betaine, lemon extract, avocado oil, grapefruit seed extract, food grade potassium sorbate, vitamins A, C (Citric Acid) and E (tocopherol), calendula extract, essential oils of juniper, cypress, cedar wood, frankincense, neroli, jasmine, rosemary, geranium, rose, sandalwood, lavender, basil, chamomile, and cardamom

Hydrating Facial Mist

Ingredients:Purified water, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel), jojoba oil, lonicera caprifolium (honeysuckle) essential oil, vitamin E oil, rose geranium essential oil, jasmine essential oil.

Face Creme with Botanicals

Ingredients: distilled water, (aloe barbadensis) aloe vera gel, emulsifying wax, vegetable glycerin, emulsifying conditioner, (olea europea) olive butter, (mangifera indica) mango butter, (simmondsia chinensis) jojoba oil, allantoin, (oenothera biennis) evening primrose oil, (tocopherol) vitamin E oil, botanical complex, (lavandula angustifolia) bulgarian lavender, (pelargonium graveolens) rose geranium, (daucus carota) carrot seed oil, pomegranate seed extract, phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol (optiphen).

The Tea Tree Facial Soap is absolutely splendid! As well as the Spearmint Eucalyptus Hand & Body Bar Soap. So soft, moisturizing, and smells very good and clean. They remind me strongly of the homemade soap that my mom and I have made. I love them so much! A thousand times better than the store-bought soap bars (such as Ivory)!

Ingredients: (elaesis guineensis) palm oil, (cocos nucifera) coconut oil, purified water, grapeseed oil, (prunus amygdalus) almond oil, (kaolinite) kaolin clay and (melaleuca alternifolia) tea tree essential oil

Ingredients: elaeis guineensis* (palm) oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, mentha spicata* (spearmint) oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, eucalyptus globulus* (eucalyptus) oil, mentha spicata (spearmint) leaf, vegetable glycerin (and) ultramarines *certified organic

Lemongrass Spa’s Body Polish is divine! *winks* My mom recently hosted a at-home party for me (which was a delightful time of fellowship, food, and talking all things natural and fun!) and we did a hand scrub trail. First we used the Prebiotic Hand Wash – which is awesome! Love this natural liquid soap option! Then we exfoliated our hands with body polish. I really like the smell of the Lavender Mint and it made my hands shockingly soft! I was not expecting them to feel so nice! Lastly, we used a Lotion. Grapefruit Bergamot is probably my favorite.

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Ingredients: aqua (water), cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) gel, sea salt, algin (kelp), citric acid, glycerin, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, citrus sinensis* (sweet orange) essential oil, citrus paradisi* (pink grapefruit) essential oil, cymbopogon flexuosus* (lemongrass) essential oil, melaleuca alternifolia* (tea tree) essential oil *certified organic

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Ingredients: : (sodium chloride) sea salt, (olea europaea) olive oil, (prunus amygdalus dulcis) almond oil, (prunus armeniaca) apricot kernal oil, (lavandula angustifolia) lavendar flowers, (mentha piperita) peppermint leaf, (mentha piperita) peppermint essential oil, (gingko biloba) gingko leaf, (lavandula officinalis) lavendar essential oil, (vitis vinifera) grapefruit seed extract, (tocopherol) vitamin E oil

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Ingredients: aqua (water), aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) gel, prunus dulcis (almond) oil, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, vegetable emulsifier, citrus paradisi* (grapefruit) oil, glycerin, prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), tocopherol (vitamin E), stearic acid, citrus aurantium bergamia* (bergamot) oil, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, hydroxypropyl starch phosphate *certified organic

Their shampoo works awesome for my hair so far! I use the Botanical Shampoo for Normal Hair, and then just plain white vinegar for a conditioner. My hair is soft and silky and no snarls! I’m so excited that I found a shampoo that is natural with no synthetic fragrance that works for me! This shampoo is unscented, but they also have a Cherry Almond Shampoo as well as a Rosemary Shampoo Bar.

Ingredients:aloe vera gel, coconut oil olefin, coconut oil betaine, lemon extract, avocado oil, palmitate, citric acid, tocopherol, sodium benzoate, glucano lactone, grapefruit seed extract. Essential Oils of juniper, cypress, cedarwood, frankincense, neroli, jasmine, rosemary, geranium, rose, sandalwood, lavender, basil, chamomile, cardamon.

My mom has been using the Healing Elements Balm on my baby brother’s rash, and it has definitely been helping and softening his skin. I look forward to trying more of their balms!

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Ingredients: prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, vanilla platifolia extract, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cera alba (beeswax), mangifera indica (mango) seed butter, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), calendula officinalis (calendula) extract, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, non-nano zinc oxide, tocopherol (vitamin E), citrus grandis* (grapefruit) seed extract, lavendula angustifolia* (lavender) essential oil, anthemis nobilis* (roman chamomile) essential oil

I am excited to try many more of their products, including but not limited to: hair and body spritz, prebiotic facial wash, Hydrating Facial Mask with Pomegranate & Seaberry Seed Extract, deodorant paste, charcoal facial mask, lipstick, nail care, Pink Brightening Flawless Color Concealer, and bug spray!

You can shop now from my website! ‚̧

Also, like & follow my Facebook Page to see all the new products, hear testimonies, and get the memo about Facebook parties!

Join Lemongrass Spa for only $20.20 this year and receive a started collection of their five top-selling items!

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Also, check out their January/February 2020 Bliss Box for $36 + FREE shipping! Box of Chocolates is super fun and perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift, or spa day with your girl friends!

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Are You Free?

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We all want to be free. We don’t want to be entangled, suppressed, and certainly not enslaved.

So, are you free?

The culture has its own ideas about freedom. You should be free to be whoever you want to be. Free to express yourself however you want. Free to partner or act out sexually however you want. Free to watch whatever, eat whatever, chose whatever. Free to do whatever you want. This sounds logical at first, right? No one telling you what to do. Freedom.

But sometimes this kind of freedom manifests itself as chains.

And suddenly, you are under the power of drugs or alcohol. Or you are enslaved to sexual addiction. Or rage is your master.

And you are a slave. This is not freedom at all. You cannot get out. Your lust leads you around like a bull being dragged around by a ring in its nose. You don’t know how to control yourself. You can’t give that thing up even though it’s killing you.

John 8:34-36

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

This, my friends, is not how to be free.

And I would go so far to say that many Christians are enslaved still, even though Jesus Christ is standing there with all the power at His disposal to set them free.

If not enslaved to drugs and sexual immorality, then to food, entertainment, or thrill-seeking.

1 Corinthians 6:12-14

12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Just think about it. We say we have liberty as Christians. We’re free to watch whatever movies we want, or eat whatever food we want.

Galatians 5:13

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

But whenever we’re obsessed with something or can’t bring ourselves to give up certain things, we have created an idol. And, as human beings, we were not made to idolize things, but to adore Christ alone. We were made by Him and for Him.

Colossians 1:15-18

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 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.

Whenever we make created things our idols, this naturally creates a problem. Since we were not made for worshiping created things, we become enslaved when we start worshiping them. It does not fulfill us, it enslaves us. It stifles us. It hurts us.

When I started watching more questionable movies and TV shows, I didn’t feel free. I felt entangled. I felt a heaviness that wasn’t there before.

When I idolized books and writing, I didn’t feel free. I felt suffocated. What if I lost my book collection? What if I moved somewhere I couldn’t bring them? What if God asked me to give up writing? What if my favorite book series isn’t honoring to God? I couldn’t bear giving it up!

I obsessed over these thoughts and felt like I was lugging around chains.

Then, one day, after days, months, perhaps years of praying and wrestling and seeking, the chains fell off.

I realized: Freedom isn’t being able to watch or read or have whatever I want. Freedom is desiring Christ above all else. Freedom is being able to give up anything for God. Freedom is counting everything as loss in light of belonging to Jesus. Freedom is simply not needing these things.

These things no longer had a hold over me.

I felt such a giddy, light, joyful feeling. Nothing was holding me down! My book collection might be destroyed. I might never publish a novel. I might feel convicted not to go watch a movie (because of questionable content) that I’ve been dying to see with my friends. I might feel convicted to give up a favorite book someday. And that was okay! It was just a book. Just a movie.

Psalm 119:45-47

45 And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.
46 I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings,
And will not be ashamed.
47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments,
Which I love.

Now, I’m not diminishing the power of words and art, or God’s specific calling on people’s lives to write books or create films for His glory.

I’m not saying it’s a sin to watch movies or collect books.

I’m just saying that these things shouldn’t be idols in your life. They were idols in my life, and they were weighing me down. Causing anxiety, depression, and unhealthy obsession. Making me feel distanced and disillusioned about God and my relationship with Him.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

But when I let go. Released my death grip on these things. I saw some as gifts that God had given me. But not necessary for life.

I am free.

Free to do all for the glory of God. Free to worship Him, un-entangled by suffocating devotion to something else. Free to see clearly sin or bad content and steer clear because Jesus Christ is sweeter. Free to disregard exciting-looking things that I know simply will not benefit me or draw me closer to the Lord.

I say this is true freedom. Being a slave to righteousness isn’t chains at all, because you are unhindered by negative emotions like shame and fear, the consequences of sin, and the sickening weight of idol worship.

Romans 6:16-23

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Instead, like an eagle, you fly free to glorious heights. Free to worship and serve your Creator with everything in you. Free to love like He loves. Free to live the life that’s truly best for you. Knowing this: I do all for the glory of Christ. And maybe that doesn‚Äôt make sense to you. But somehow it is an awesome truth: Being free to do all for the glory of Christ is freedom, indeed. There is love, and joy, and hope, and security, and contentment, and boldness, and courage, and peace, and good.

Isaiah 40:28-31

28 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

So choose real freedom, my friend. Try giving up that thing you‚Äôre clinging to and cling to God instead. I think you will find yourself lighter, and happier, and more hopeful than before. ‚̧

Gaither Vocal Band – Only Jesus

[Verse 1]
Take the things I once called treasures
Take my castles in the sand
Take my shallow store of knowledge
And the future I once planned
Take all vain accumulations
All awards and claims to fame
Take my hard-earned reputation
Trade it all for His dear name

[Chorus]
Give me Jesus, only Jesus
My heart can’t resist His call
For the joy of His sweet sorrow
At His feet I lay it all

[Verse 2]
Take the friends that I once courted
What I hoped they’d think of me
Please restore Your wealth I squandered chasing phantoms foolishly

[Chorus]
Give me Jesus, only Jesus
My heart can’t resist His call
For the joy of His sweet sorrow
At His feet I lay it all
Give me Jesus, only Jesus
My heart can’t resist His call
For the joy of His sweet sorrow
At His feet I lay it all
At His feet I lay it all

How Far is Too Far {Movie Edition}

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It’s not that bad. All my Christian friends have watched it. I don’t think I’m going too far watching this movie.

How far is too far when it comes to movie content?

I’m perhaps notorious for my shunning of certain movies/TV shows. No Beauty and the Beast {2017}, no Moana, no Frozen II, no Harry Potter, no Once Upon a Time, no Merlin, and definitely no Game of Thrones.

Maybe you think I’m silly for bringing up concerns about a movie … especially a kid’s movie. But I believe what we watch (read, listen to, etc.) teaches us and shapes us. Our entertainment is teaching our children something. It’s teaching us something!

It is shaping our doctrine. Our worldview.

So is your entertainment feeding you pagan doctrine, witchcraft, sexual immorality, filthy language, dirty humor, and godless worlds? Worlds where there is no God. But the Ocean is the ancient power. Or the wind and water and fire are spirits who control our fates, and a pretty girl (who our daughters idolize) wields the strongest power of all?

These movies teach our children to find the power within themselves. To find the strength inside. To believe in human or earth or themselves … but certainly not God. It teaches them to follow their heart at any cost, and that surely the most important thing of all is to be true to yourself.

Do you think that maybe this is setting up children for failure? When hard times come, maybe their first instinct won’t be to turn to God, but to seek the answers within, or to look for a impressive-looking human to follow.

Maybe years of watching these movies will affect your daughter and it’ll seem more natural to follow her heart than to follow Jesus. I love my boyfriend so much! How could it be wrong to do this? It makes sense to move in with him. Maybe saving sex for marriage isn’t as important as mom and dad think. I’m not ready for the commitment of marriage yet. Maybe the Bible’s ideas on sexual relationships are outdated…Because this feels so right!

I’m not saying you should be filled with terror and certainty that your child will become a witch if they open up a Harry Potter book or a heathen if they set eyes on Frozen II. That’s a little extreme. But perhaps it’s the subtle messages that affect us much more than black magic blaring across our screens. The messages of “follow your heart”, “you are your own authority”, “you have the power within”.

Many people are trying to mix Christianity with New Age beliefs these days. But the truth is, they don’t mix. There is no room for any other power but that of Jesus Christ.

Because God is I AM. He is the One High Power in the universe. There are no other gods before Him. He made the ocean, the wind, fire, earth, and all the elements. He made human beings and angelic beings … We can boast of no power of our own.

I’m sure people think I’m being paranoid and nit-picky. That I’m odd and overly-sensitive. Or self-righteous. Or ultra religious.

But I feel strongly about this. No, I’m not sitting here condemning you when you tell me you watched Beauty and the Beast {2017} or that you’re bringing your kids to watch Frozen II. I’m not out there telling people these are evil movies, or living in fear that God is going to strike me down if I watch the wrong movie. Or that my little siblings are going to become heathens if they watch Frozen II. (Some of my siblings have watched Frozen II and some of my relatives have watched Beauty and the Beast. …And I’ve simply chosen to watch neither.)

This is me. I felt convicted that I didn’t need to watch these movies. They wouldn’t benefit me any. I felt a hesitation in my spirit when I read about some of the content. This is me striving to walk with the Lord.

I’m not going to shove my convictions down your throat. But I do believe that entertainment/movies are an area that many Christians can be blinded in. Am I condemning you? Being “holier than thou”? I don’t think so. I know I’ve been super blinded about things before. I know I still am in different things – and will be in the future about other things – and I need people to call me out. So help me! And let me try to help you.

I don’t think it’s wrong for Christians (brothers and sisters in the Lord) to warn each other. To call each other out. Even to rebuke each other. In love.

I will say it again: I think Christians have a serious blind-spot when it comes to entertainment.

That’s why we watch evil portrayed as good. Satanic horror movies. Rape scenes. Graphic sex scenes (pornography in movie form). Witchcraft. Dirty humor. Paganism.

We think nothing of it. Because we’re free, right? And it’s just a movie. Not a big deal.

But what if it is a big deal? What if these dark, sex-saturated TV shows, and films centered on sorcery, and pagan-themed kid’s movies are the weight that so easily entangles us? Turns our focus from God? Blinds us to the spiritual world and makes us forget that we are at war?

The Word says to be alert.

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.

Ephesians 6:10-13

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

But I think movies and other forms of entertainment easily numb us. They’re a distraction. Which is why I believe we, as Christians, should use practical caution and wisdom when deciding what to watch. Is it distracting us from God? Is it making light of the power and authority He wields? Is it mocking that which God labels sacred? Is it directly against the Word of God?

This isn’t about your status as a child of God. We know it’s Christ’s blood alone that saves us and brings us into favor with God.

This is about the closeness of your walk with God. This is about keeping your heart softened to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. This is about the people you’re raising or leading or mentoring. You’re an example to them.

And kids are like sponges. They soak this stuff up. We do, too, whether we realize it or not! Again, whatever we feed ourselves the most is what shapes us.

Perhaps bad movies, like bad company, corrupt good character. Corrupt strong faith. Upright morals. Spiritual maturity. Integrity. Passion for Christ, and His ways, and His kingdom.

1 Corinthians 15:33-34

33¬†Do not be deceived:¬†‚ÄúEvil company corrupts good habits.‚Ä̬†34¬†Awake to righteousness, and do not sin;¬†for some do not have the knowledge of God.¬†I speak¬†this¬†to your shame.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves and expect to be strong, godly, passionate Christ-followers if we’re feeding ourselves worldly, careless, godless, sensual, rebellious, pagan, filthy, unbiblical, confusing content on a daily basis.

The Bible says that what you reap, you will sow. What goes into our hearts will come out in our actions. We don’t magically become spiritually mature by putting our faith in Jesus. Paul says in the Word that we need to exercise our spiritual muscles! Be in the Word; not just reading it, but studying it! Soaking it up. Memorizing it.

Galatians 6:7-10

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection,

1 Timothy 4:6-11

6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 11 These things command and teach.

We need to be praying. Bringing everything before God. Praying about our future, our needs, our friends, our hopes, our enemies, our ideas, and about the entertainment we consume. And about what needs to change. Search my heart, O God, and see if there is any offensive way in me!

Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

We should be looking for godly content. Movies are not necessary for life – but they are fun. So look for movies with a Christian theme! Clean movies that don’t promote things contrary to God.

I know when I was watching movies with filthy language, overmuch sensuality, or paganistic magic themes, I felt a heaviness in my chest. I felt like they were a weight entangling my steps – hindering my walk with God. Why? Because I knew these movies had bits in them that were contrary to the Word of God. They spoke darkness to my mind and heart. Or even mocked my God. My God! Is He not my everything? If Christ is the treasure of my heart, why am I feeding my eyes on things that are not of Him?

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

It was my lust to be entertained. To be thrilled. To fill the emptiness or numb the anxiety.

So maybe you think that Beauty and the Beast {2017} or Frozen II are perfectly okay. Alright. You have to make your own choices. You are not answerable to me. Believe me, I am not looking down on you, or condemning you, or thinking I’m better than you, or anything like that. But I am urging you to seek God on this matter of entertainment.

Our God is so holy and mighty and awesome. He alone should be adored. He should only ever be exalted.

I do think there is some fault in exalting a fake character in a movie; giving them unlimited power or god-like qualities. This is why I don’t like Moana (ocean is an ancient power, earth is a goddess, grandma is reincarnated, plus there’s a sickeningly arrogant demi-god character, etc.), Frozen II (spirits, charms, putting faith in characters, such as Elsa, who have god-like powers), Mulan (praying to dead ancestors and other pagan religious stuff), etc.

And then we have Tangled, which, you have to admit, has a strong theme of rebelling against parents. It’s the classic story of naive girl falling for the bad boy. Yet in this story, it all turns out fairy tale perfect. Mother, who warns against the rebellious but charming man turns out to be a wicked witch. And charming man, who has been a self-serving jerk for most of the movie, heroically sacrifices his life for girl in the end. Hmm. It could be that it’s not the best movie to show your little girls.

Of course there’s Beauty and the Beast {2017}, which features a man swooning over and pining after another man. Maybe it’s a small part of the movie, but it frustrates me that this immoral content is being shoved down our throats … saturating almost every TV show out there and now being added to even classic fairy tales and kid’s movies! I feel like we should take a stand against ungodliness, and guard our hearts and minds against getting calloused to sin or making compromises.

It seems like fairy tale movies used to be largely about falling in love, making friends, and triumphing over evil. Now there always appears to be immoral agendas sneaked into seemingly harmless kid’s movies and princess stories.

The fact is, we as Christians need to be extra vigilant these days when choosing a movie to watch. Does it feel hard sometimes? Yes. But really, friends, it shouldn’t be that hard to give up a movie. Just let go. Be free from entertainment obsession. Free.

My siblings and I have enjoyed the How to Train Your Dragon series. Now, I know it’s about Vikings (of sorts) and there are some pagan religion references. But I would say that the story is mainly focused on dragons, friends, and adventures. There’s a brief mention of Thor every once in awhile. But there do not seem to be any underlying pagan themes or secular agendas. So, thus far, I have felt like the movies and shows involved with How to Train Your Dragon are an okay choice for a fun movie night every now and then. Big Hero 6 is another of the few animated movies I really liked.

We watched the live-action Aladdin, which I think was an okay, and super fun, movie. And also, live-action Cinderella (so glamorous!), while we’re talking about Disney.

There are faith-based movies that are so great to watch, such as October Baby, Grace Card, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Woodlawn, Unplanned, Indivisible, Beyond the Mask, God’s Not Dead, Princess Cut, I Can Only Imagine, Amazing Grace, Mom’s Night Out, Like Arrows, and The Case for Christ. I have really liked most of the Kendrick Brother Films; some of their best being War Room, Courageous, Overcomer, and Fireproof.

There are movies based on Christian allegories, such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader!

There are fun, clean, girly movies like Little Women, Love’s Enduring Promise, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, The Magic of Ordinary Days, Sense and Sensibility, Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, The Sound of Music, Belle, Little Women, Sarah, Plain and Tall, and Holiday Inn.

There are movies that simply tell an intriguing story of people, politics, and art, such as Desert Dancer.

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I do enjoy watching movies. I love a good story. Superb acting. Emotional drama. A quality film that is pleasing to the eye. I don’t want to be legalistic. But neither do I want to be enslaved – so desperate to watch a movie that I’m making all sorts of “little” compromises.

Don’t say: How far can I go?

But rather: How can I honor God through my entertainment choices?

As I conclude this post, I wonder what people will think of me when they read it. The truth is, I don’t like to be looked at as odd. I don’t like being different. I really want to fit in, most days. I don’t like confronting or causing awkwardness and discomfort. I’d rather just be liked and belong.

However, Jesus Christ does tell us that the world will hate us. He says to be in the world, but not of it. To not be conformed to this world. I’m not going to fit in with the world. I’m going to disagree with fellow Christians sometimes, too – though we’re called to strive for unity and love!

John 17:14-19

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

Despite my desire to fit in, I need to stick to what I think God is calling me to do as I study His Word, pray, and seek Him! And you need to hold to your convictions. And none of us should ever deem ourselves done growing. Or having reached the desired maturity as a Christian. We all need to be seeking Jesus Christ and striving to follow Him more whole-heartedly until our dying day.

Go forth in grace, dear readers! ‚̧

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Cover Reveal: Moonscript by H.S.J. Williams

Good afternoon, dear readers! I am so very excited to be part of this cover reveal! Like, it is truly my pleasure to be sharing H.S.J. William‘s debut novel’s cover with you! ‚̧ I discovered Ms. Williams’s blog and her story idea for Moonscript years ago and was intrigued. And now I can hardly believe that it’s finally time for it to be published! Congratulations, Ms. Williams! I greatly look forward to reading your fantasy novel!

H.S.J. Williams also wrote a novella, Fairest Son, which is available for purchase. Read my review of this book here on Goodreads.

Now, without further ado, the big reveal!

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Moonscript Front Cover

About the Book

“It is said that Darkness is empty and whatever vanishes into its depths is lost forever. I know this better than anyone. For I have suffered here in the shadows, and there are none who might find me.”

Seventy years. Seventy years the elven prince has been lost to the darkness, assumed dead by his people and endlessly broken for a book that connects to the hidden realm of his ancestors, a land untouched by evil.

And now a light in the shadows. A chance for freedom. But those willing to help him come from the unlikeliest of worlds.

The orphan girl, yearning for a loving family, and the boy who won’t leave her side. A healer maiden given an unexpected chance for a life beyond narrowed expectations. A grieving creature flown far from home.

They all search for something and now their fates are tied to his. If their quest for life can pull him from the dark mire in which his soul drowns, then perhaps he can be saved.

Or else he will drag them all down to a fate worse than death.

The beginning of an epic saga, MOONSCRIPT is a journey of innocence, despair, and redemption.

RELEASING MAY 7th, 2020

Pre-order E-Book

Pre-order Paperback

About H.S.J. Williams

Author Website

Author Goodreads Page

Cover Artist: @morgana0anagrom

Moonscript Bookstagram

Book Review: An Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

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The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

My Personal Review ~ Five Stars

A delight! An absolute delight! My sister could not have gotten me a better birthday gift than The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork. I should have known I would love this book, being that Entwined by the same author is my favoritest thing ever!

This one is a mesh of at least two fairy tales, one being The Nutcracker. And such a superb retelling! The charming nutcracker. The despicable rats. Sweet Clara. Candy and chocolate. Magic and music. A heartrending tragedy… Can it be undone? And what will it cost Clara Stahlbaum?

I have loved Heather Dixon Wallwork’s characters thus far. Her female protagonists have a decidedly girly air about them. Feminine sensibilities. And her male heroes are heroes, indeed! Chivalrous and self-sacrificing. With an endearing personality. Ah, yes. I like it very much.¬†The Enchanted Sonata¬†was easy to read and the storyline – fun and alarming by turn – kept me turning pages. Humor and dark dilemmas. Love and reality. I teared up. I laughed. I finished this book with a smile on my face. *sighs happily*

It was clean and enjoyable, with a dash of romance, a generous amount of sweets, and some darkness and danger – but nothing too graphic. A thoughtful message. And also, some tiny fairies and fun, fairy tale-type magic.

If you like fairy tales, fantastical adventures, lovable characters, terrible villains, music, and happy endings, you should read this book. As for me, I can hardly wait to pick up another novel by Heather Dixon Wallwork!