Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our New Church Home - McCarthy Baptist Church

Hello, everyone! This is my first post in over a month because Jimmy and I have been busy moving and getting settled in Saint Joseph, Missouri.

We have been in Saint Joseph, Missouri for almost exactly a month now. We love it! We like to say that it has many of the things that you like about the city--like things that stay open all night--but you still get the benefit of a small town feel. It's even beginning to feel like we actually live here and it's not just some long mission trip that we are on.

We are also excited that our church family that we have left behind are already moving on. They have recently hired a new full-time music and youth guy. We are praying for them as they step out in faith to make this position full-time. We are also praying that they will be able to re-connect with youth that have fallen out of church in the last few months and to reach new youth in the Hazelwood community. We wish the best for Villebrook Baptist Church and pray God's blessings be upon you.

Things here at our new church home are different than they have been for the past four years. First off, Jimmy is now in the church office on a daily basis! PTL! It's great to see him getting out of the house and being able to interact with the other staff memebers face to face on a daily basis. I am proud of what a great job he has been doing! Another change is that I am no longer able to work for Missouri Baptist Children's Home and have been on the job hunt for the last few weeks. It has been great to be at the church more without the stress of having my own full-time employment. Also, the school set-up is different here. We still are reaching many different schools but all but one of our youth are in the same school district rather than covering three school districts. This makes life and planning considerably easier.

Best of all...Now that we are settling into being mostly unpacked and getting into a routine, I should be able to get back into the habit of blogging more. So for better or worse you might see more of me on here than you have in the last few months. Until next time...

Grace and Peace,

Christiana

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Moving to Saint Joseph, Missouri

It's official. Jimmy and I are moving to Saint Joseph, Missouri. Ok, let me back up a little and tell more of the story.

For a little while now, Jimmy and I have been praying about whether or not God was leading us to the Kansas City area. If you don't know that's where Jimmy's Grandfather who raised him lives. Grampy is well over 80 years old and his health has gradually been failing and Jimmy has really wanted to be close to him and have a chance to take advantage of the time that Grampy has left. So we prayed and prayed and prayed about what God was wanting us to do. A little over a year after we began praying His answer began to show itself.

A couple of months ago Jimmy got a call from his friend Mike. Mike wanted to know if he could send our resume to a church he used to work for in Saint Joseph, Missouri. We said "yes" so he contacted McCarthy and sent them our resume. We didn't really know what to expect.

In July, McCarthy contacted Jimmy and asked him for a phone interview. I thought that was pretty positive but Jimmy just shrugged his shoulders and told me "nothing ever comes from me doing phone interviews. I have never had one that resulted in anything." So we tried not to get our hopes up. Needless to say, something did come from this phone interview :)

No after another interview and a busy, long weekend of meeting people and answering a million questions Jimmy has officially been voted in to become the full-time Associate Pastor of Student Ministries for McCarthy Baptist Church! We are so excited! God has really been in this process and even though we didn't always see him at work--He totally was!

Please forgive me if I don't post regularly over the next month or so because I will be cleaning, packing, and moving. We plan to have our moving day on Friday, September 16th. If you are in Saint Joseph, you should come and see us on our first Sunday which will be September 25th.

Pray for us as we relocate and start a new ministry and a new chapter in our lives. It's very exciting and very scary all at the same time!

Grace and Peace,
Chrsitiana

Monday, August 22, 2011

Watch Your Mouth

I don't know who made up the little saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I know that I have heard that a million times and I probably even chanted it on the playground as a child. Let me tell you--as if you didn't know--it's a LIE!

It drives me crazy how "innocently" people will say things but their words strike you to the very core. I had this experience a couple of weeks ago, and it was over something totally trivial. I missed church one Sunday because I had been cleaning our apartment and preparing our things to be moved out in a few weeks. There was a ton of dust and my allergies kicked into high gear making me very sick. The next time that I returned to church I was asked where I was last week and why I had missed church. I told the gentleman my story and he preceded to tell me that if I took the time to clean my house every week then I wouldn't have that problem. Ouch!

Words cut like nothing else. Chew on this... James 3:5 says, "Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." Here James is comparing the power of the tongue to a spark that starts a raging forest fire. James draws several other comparisons that all lead us to the same conclusion--the tongue is a small but powerful weapon. It can be used for either good or ill (James 3:9-12).

Although I know that this older gentleman probably didn't mean any real harm, I wish that he would have chosen his words with a little more care. They weren't funny and they didn't do anything but cause hurt and make me feel like an inadequate wife/woman. I hope that the next time I start to say something careless I will pause for a minute and remember how I felt in this moment before I just blurt something out with considering the cost.

Other Resources:
"Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!'" Proverbs 26:18-20

"LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor,and casts no slur on others;" Psalm 15:1-3

Thursday, August 4, 2011

God's Love Letters to You Book Review

Recently I was looking for some new devotional so I was totally stoked when I saw that “God’s Love Letters to You” was up for review. I thought…what a great opportunity. I read the description on the website and the back of the book and I was really excited about this book. Sadly, I was very disappointed.

Dr. Larry Crabb has an easy to understand writing style. He also presents a solid scriptural point of view. However the forty, one to two page devotionals were simply fluff pieces. They teased a deeper spiritual meaning and lesson but left you feeling like you hadn’t really study anything at all.

I like that each love letter contains reflection questions. I think that helps you to pause a moment and find some relatable qualities. I do wish that the scriptures referenced or at least one key highlighted scripture had been printed out in the devotional. People don’t always have their Bibles handy when they grab a devotional book or sometimes they are simply to lazy to look the verses up. However, if they are printed out on the page then they will usually take the time to read them.

Overall I don’t think this book was really for me. I guess that I was just looking for more. This book would probably be really great for people who are just starting to try to get into the habit of doing a daily quiet time. Then are short and to the point and do provide biblical knowledge. If you are looking for bite-sized devotionals then this could very possibly be a great devotional for you.

If you want to really dig in and go deep then steer clear of God’s Love Letters to You because you will simply be disappointed.

This book was provided to me at no cost by Thomas Nelson Publishing for review purposes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kansas City Misison Trip 2011

Pastor Schiele was our mission group's
contact at Grace Baptist Church. He
made our lives so much easier! Thanks!

Have you ever had a week when you are totally surrounded by teenagers in the sweltering heat doing manual labor and loving it? I have! I know that it doesn't sound like much fun but when you are doing it all for the glory of God and the fellowship of believers it really can be amazign!

This past week was our fourth mission trip with the youth of Villebrook Baptist Church. In order we have served in Springfield, MO; Springfield, MO; Memphis, TN; and now Kansas City, MO. I love youth and I love missions, and it is amazing to see the students that my husband has mentored in his 13 years of doing youth ministry that are now youth ministers themselves. Our group this year included three groups that were led by former "Jimmy kids".

For eight days, six groups from three different states came together for a total of about 90 people serving. We had everyone from infants to senior adults living together at Grace Baptist Church. I just have to stop for a second and say how grateful we are to Pastor Lavendar and Pastor Schiele for allowing us to invade their facilities and for being very gracious and accommadating to our group. If you don't know anything about Grace, it is in a pretty rough area in Kansas City. That in and of itself was definitely out of our kids comfort zones. Not to mention that it was uncomfortable because it was possibly the hottest week of the year! So we all bonded together in the midst of our discomforts.

Everyday, our teams would undertake three hours of morning service. During that time we divided into groups that did tutoring for elementary school children, teaching life skill classes at Ivanhoe Community Center, and gardening in a local park. Then we would all meet back at Grace for lunch.

In the afternoon we headed out for three more hours of service. This time our teams did a Daycamp at Macedonia Baptist Church, community revitalization with Ivanhoe, street witnessing around the KC Metro, and services projects for the people of the Kansas City Baptist Temple. I was pleasantly surprised at the consistently great attitudes our kids had--even when they were shoveling sewage in 100 degree heat. Once our work for the day was finished we headed to the YMCA for showers and back to Grace for supper and worship.

It made for some really long but really awesome days. I am happy to say that we saw four confirmed salvations during our time of service plus we planted many more seeds. Not to mention the changes that God did in the hearts of our students during this trip.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support as we undertook this great adventure.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fun Times at Old Navy

Last night I had a great time with some gal pals at Old Navy. I am part of the Old Navy Style Council through CrowdTap.com. That means that periodically I get the opportunity to try great new products for free and to share them with my friends. This time myself and three of my friends received a free decorated tank top of our choice. So last night we all took our coupons and went to Old Navy to pick out our tanks. We had a great time and some great fellowship!

The selection of tanks was pretty good, but better online than in our store. The tanks themselves were cute. Some of the fabrics were a bit see through and the tanks weren't "fitted" but they were very comfortable. In the end, I think that we all found at least one tank that we really, really wanted.


For myself, I decided to try a style that I normally would have steered clear of but my girlfriends encouraged me to give it a shot. What the heck! It was free so I am going to give it a go.

Check out the latest products from Old Navy to enhance your summer fun. Also, check out the Crowdtap badge in the right hand navigation for your chance to sample free products.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Busy Week!

This morning when I opened my eyes I took a deep breath and prepared to plunge into one of my busiest weeks of my year. For me it's the week before leaving on mission trip. That means I have a ton of little things...like laundry and packing...that have to be done before we leave bright and early on Saturday morning.

This year I feel especially overwhelmed because of the car problems we are having. If you don't know, a little while back our car was vandalized when someone poured fabric softner into our gas tank. On the advise of the mechanics we talked to (all five of them) we waited it out to see what was going to happen because no one knew for sure. Needless to say about a month later, our car's fuel system is caput. So our car has been out of commission since Wednesday. So I have been at the mercy and grace of all those who have either given me a ride or allowed me to borrow their car to get to work and do my grocery shopping (thanks, Cindy & Dustin & Shaina!).

Still I am trying to maintain a good attitude and not get too stressed out while I wait for my car to be repaired and to depart on mission trip. So if you have a second to stop and think about me, say a prayer that everything will get worked out quickly so that I can finish all the little things that I have planned this week. Also pray that our car repairs will be covered by insurance and will be done for a reasonable price. But most of all pray for the five different youth teams that will be convergining on Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, July 16th for Mission Trip!


More Mission Trip Facts:
  • 5 Mission Groups from 3 States (many led by former youth of my husband's)
  • 90 youth, adults, and college students from age 11 to 62ish
  • Working in 4 local Kansas City, MO ministries
  • Partnering with 3 local churches
  • For 8 days

It's going to be great!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Whence Came a Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs



Whence Came a Prince by Liz Curtis Higgs is the third book in the Lowlands of Scotland series. This book is the last which focuses on the early years of Jamie, Rose, and Leana. The final book focuses more on the second generation.

I won’t do to you what a friend did to me and reveal a major plot point but I do want to give you a brief plot overview. Whence Came a Prince picks up with Leana staying with her Aunt Meg in Twyneholme after fleeing Auchengray on Jamie and Rose’s wedding day. Once again the narrative is delivered mainly from the perspective of Jamie and Leana.

As Leana grieves her loss of Jamie and tries to find peace in the fact that her sister is happy, Leana discovers a special blessing that God has placed in her life. Dare she hope to believe that this blessing is true? What will become of her now? A woman who has suffered the cutty stool and been accused of adultery has few prospects in her life.

Jamie had finally learned to love Leana with his whole heart, and was enjoying their little family. He had put aside his infatuation with Rose and was becoming the husband that God has called him to be. Now he finds that Leana has been taken from him and she has run away to leave him with his new bride. Will he ever love Rose the way that he had learned to love Leana? Can he forgive her for the “truths” she told to the kirk that brought their marriage about?

After fearing that she would be childless due to her bout with the croup, Rose has sought everything she can do to heal her womb so she can bear Jamie’s children—even to the point of alienating her sister. Can she love Leana and Jamie? Will their relationships ever be the same again? When she does find herself with child, she wonders if Leana will still be able to love her. Will she ever see her sister again?

Finally, Jamie has decided to go home to Glentrool and to take his family with him. It is a long, dangerous journey. Rose is pregnant. Will she be able to handle it? Will he be able to get his sheep home to Glentrool without incident? What will he find waiting for him when he arrives?

Whence Came a Prince will not disappoint you. You will grieve and rejoice with Leana. You will want to strangle Lachlan as he tries once again to cheat Jamie. Rose redeems herself as she matures as a wife and mother. It is a great conclusion for this portion of their story. The way that Liz Curtis Higgs writes brings you directly into their time and their stories. You can almost imagine sleeping under a plaid in the back of a wagon as you flee to a faraway home that you have never seen before.

I highly recommend When Came a Prince to lovers of Christian fiction and historical fiction. It is well written and full of historical details that will make history lovers everywhere rejoice! Another great book from Liz Curtis Higgs!

Other Books by Liz Curtis Higgs:


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Good and Bad of Social Networking

It makes me laugh and shake my head when I think about all the changes that have happened to technology in my lifetime alone. I remember the first time I ever saw a computer. It was in our public library and you could reserve a time slot for 30 minutes and you could choose a big floppy disk that contained one program you could play. Go sticky bear! I was around 5 or 6 then.

When I was in middle school, I shared one of three of the school computers (small private school) in order to type my 10 page research paper. Then I saved it to a 3" hard floppy that was carefully labeled with my name and research topic. I remember that you had to be so careful not to bend the protective metal piece which protected the disk memory. If you bent it you were toast!

Our high school was bigger and had a better budget so we had two whole computer labs. I was excited the first time I was able to burn my own music CD to play in my discman. I believe a few of the people in my school had cell phones but I don't think so.

In college, I got my first ever cell phone. I bought and paid for it all on my own. I also bought my first desktop, lap top, and thumb drive. I wrote a Xanga blog and eventually got a Myspace account.

Now I have Facebook, a phone that browses the internet (even if it isn't a "smart phone"), and an ipod. My oh my how things have changed.

With the advances in technology we are able to get in touch faster and more often. We use Twitter for instant updates and Facebook to network with friends that we have long since forgotten, but we also see the negative effects of this instant connectivity.

More and more with next generation demands everything to be given to the instantly much like an internet search engine search. We also whine and complain and blast people on Facebook which is WAY more public than standing up in downtown New York during rush hour and shouting the same things--for two reasons. Number one, people get the information instantly and it is there until you delete it. Number two, it is targeted specifically to your friends and if they are your friend to theirs as well. Also this addiction (yes, that's what it is) to technology has developed shorter attention spans, worse spelling habits, and less face to face interaction. You know it's bad when they actually have to coin a term for technology withdrawal!

So keep in mind, it's important to use your technology for good. Maybe you should be posting encouragement on Facebook instead of blasting the person who upset you. Stop texting during church, but send a text after the sermon to tell a friend what you have learned...I don't know. All I know is that we should use all things for the good of those who love Him.

Stick to the good in technology and flee from the bad. It will be better for everyone if you do.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fair is the Rose



Fair is the Rose is the second book in the Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs. Fair is the Rose continues following the saga of Jamie, Rose, and Leana as they work through the consequences of their choices.

Leana and Jamie’s son, Ian, came into the world handsome and healthy at the end of book one. He is the glue that has bound their unlikely marriage together. Ian’s birth was a turning point for Jamie as he vowed to God to truly try and love his wife—forsaking his love for Leana’s sister, Rose.

Leana has continued to risk her heart and to love Jamie even though it has meant countless heartaches for her. When Jamie told her about his vow to God, her hope is renewed but can she really trust this man who has loved her sister for so long? Showing grace and the love of Christ Leana is determined to give Jamie the chance to prove himself and to bring his love into their marriage at last.

Rose was none to happy to come home and find her sister had taken her wedding and her husband. She was even less happy when she learned her sister was pregnant—officially sealing her marriage to Jamie. Yet Rose still harbors feelings for him and Jamie has done nothing but encourage her in those feelings. Now that Jamie is determined to honor God, his marriage, and his wife Rose has little choice but to try and take matters into her own hands.

Jamie is finally learning to love his wife and bury his love for Rose when Reverend Brown comes to tell him of an oversight in the kirk records that may jeopardize everything he holds dear. Will he be able to trust God? Can he truly learn to love Leana the way she deserves? What will become of his family?

I truly enjoyed Fair is the Rose. It is interesting to see how Higgs remedies the Biblical pologamy in the midst of her historical Scotland setting. I also enjoy that her characters are flawed and complex. It keeps things interesting. Plus you know that a character is well written when you really, really hate that character and then realize that this is the emotion that character is meant to evoke in you.

My favorite part is the way in which Leana handles the consequences of the choices she has made. Her character accepts responsibility for the wrongs she has committed but most importantly she accepts God’s forgiveness and moves on. This encourages others to follow her example. I know that accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving myself are the hardest parts of forgiveness and I love how she lives it out well.

I highly recommend the writings of Liz Curtis Higgs to historical fiction lovers, and to those who are fans of Biblical allegory. Her writing, characters, and stories will bring the Biblical accounts to life and help you see them from an entirely new perspective. Another great read!

More Books by Liz Curtis Higgs:


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wonderful Retelling of the Story of Jacob, Leah, & Rachel



Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs is a 1700s Scottish retelling of the Biblical story of Jacob, Leah, & Rachel. It is also the first of four books in the Lowlands of Scotland Series.

From the very beginning the book is filled with plot twists and deceptions. I won’t give them away here but if you are familiar with the Biblical account then you will probably be able to figure most of them out. However, I was pleasantly surprised with how Higgs handled them in their historical contest. For example, in the Bible Jacob takes two wives. However, during the 1700s in Scotland polygamy would have been frowned up and would not have been a plausible solution to the little Scottish love triangle.

Thorn in My Heart is alternately written from the viewpoints of Jamie McKie and Leana McBride. Both characters are strong and carry the story well. It is also to see the story from Leana’s (Biblical Leah) point of view. It makes you really stop and think what this all must have been like for her. What was she feeling? Was she a willing participant in the deception or was she a mere victim of circumstances?

Liz Curtis Higg’s descriptive writing style brings you right into the story from the very first pages. Whether you are raptly reading of Jamie and Evan’s births or nearing the climactic ending you will feel like you are really there. Her writing also helps you relate to the characters in a very real way. You genuinely feel bad for those who are overlooked and mistreated because you care about what happens to them. They are very real. And if you’re not careful you’ll feel so in touch with Scotland that you will be tempted to start saying ‘Nae’ or call people ‘bonnie’.

When I first opened the book I wasn’t sure what to think. I don’t particularly care for the story of Jacob getting wives and the quarrel between the sisters. I was even less sure about the story when I discovered that the brunt of the story would be written from Leah’s point of view. Now I am glad that I kept reading because it was definitely worth every minute! So whether you are curious about seeing this story from another side or you just love Scottish history, I recommend that you read Thorn in My Heart. You will absolutely love this book!

Other Books by Liz Curtis Higgs:


Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Post by Jimmy Mustion

My husband, Jimmy, preached at our church this Sunday and I know I am biased but I think that he did a really amazing job! So I encouraged him to write out his sermons from Sunday in a series of smaller blog posts that everyone could enjoy. I also promised him that I would allow him to guest post one here. So ladies I hope you enjoy the an excerpt from Jimmy's 13 Characteristics of a Growing Church!



13 Characteristics of a Growing Church
by Jimmy Mustion

Hello, ladies!

This week I have been prepping to preach the Sunday morning and Sunday night services at Villebrook Baptist Church while my pastor recovers from surgery. While I was studying and praying, God laid it on my heart that I should talk about characteristics of a growing church as laid out in Romans. I don't want to give everything away before I preach but I will give you the first point in my 13 point sermon and then for the sake of attention spans, I will break the other 12 points out over the next few weeks. Hope that sounds good to you because that's the plan...so here you go...the sneak preview of my GIANT HUGE 13 Point Sermon...

The 1st Characteristic of a Growing Church is Love.
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Romans 12:9

In the English language, the word love is tossed about WAY to easily! We love pizza. We love going to the movies. We love our favorite sports team--Go Cards! But what does it mean to have a genuine love?

Read the Full Blog about Love.

Read the Full 13 Characteristics of a Growing Church Series.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Waterfall is an Amazing Teen Read!

Waterfall is the first book in The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren. Bergren is an accomplished writer who has written several historical fiction romances for women, but Waterfall is her first historical romance for teens. Waterfall focuses on the Bettarini sisters, Gabriella and Evangelia, as they travel back through time and find themselves in medieval Italy.

Gabi and Lia have spent their lives working Etruscan digs with their mother and father who are archealogists. Since their father's death their mother has thrown herself into her work like never before--all but ignoring the girls. Feeling excluded and angry, Gabi breaks a cardinal rule and talks her sister into going into an ancient tomb before they are cleared to do so. Once inside, they discover a set of handprints which perfectly match their own and when they touch them they are drawn back in time.

In their journey through time Gabi and Lia are separated. Gabi is taken in by the knights of the gold castle who are in the midst of a civil war against the knights of the red castle. Will Gabi and Lia be able to find one another again? The future (or the past?) is uncertain. With constant fighting all around them, they aren't even sure if they will survive let alone find one another and find a way to get back home to the present. And what will become of the handsome night who assists Gabi in her search for Lia? Waterfall is packed with so many questions and adventures that you simply won't want to stop reading.

I think that my favorite parts of the book are the many times that the girls astonish their medieval Italian friends with their modern ways. Everything from the words coming out of their mouths and the cloths that they wear gets them in trouble at some point or another. You will laugh and sigh at all the different situations that Gabi and Lia find themselves in. As the end of the book I was glad that this book is just the first of three because I can't wait to start reading Cascade!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes mideval history or other books by Lisa T. Bergren or Liz Curtis Higgs.

Another great read!

More Books by Lisa T. Bergren:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A New Adventure by Donita K Paul - The Dragons of Chiril



The Dragons of Chiril, previously published as The Vanishing Sculptor, is another interesting fantasy/allegory written by Donita K. Paul. As clearly stated on the back cover, The Dragons of Chiril takes place before the time of Dragonspell and in another country halfway across the world. It is not a sequel to Paul’s previous series The Dragon Keeper Chronicles. Although many devout Dragon Keeper Fans will be pleased to note that our friends Librettowit and Wizard Fenworth are among the main cast of characters in this novel.

In the country of Chiril, they have never heard of Wulder or Paladin. They don’t even know that dragons can communicate and some even have special abilities. In fact, everything in their world begins to change when a young Emerlindian named Tipper begins to sell off pieces of her father’s artwork to take care of her family after her father’s mysterious disappearance. Little does she know that you her actions have literally made the world start to fall apart! The quest that ensues to set things to rights is filled with adventure and humor as we are reunited with old friends and introduced to new ones.

Overall The Dragons of Chiril is well written and provides a strong story line to follow. Some of the situations that the characters find themselves in are resolved a little too conveniently, but this is a book written for younger readers so some of that is to be expected. The one real complaint I have is that the different races that you encounter in the book are really given much explanation. Yes, I know what a Kimen is versus an O’rant but I have also read The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, and I could look the information up in the glossary at the back but I would much rather have a brief explanation/description given when the race is first introduced. I mean without an explanation/description Bealomondore and Librettowit’s obsession with nice things (especially nice clothing) may seem ridiculous and off based but for someone who knows a little about Tumanhoffers you realize it’s just part of who they are.

Still I would definitely recommend this excellent story to just about anyone. However, I especially recommend it to readers who have previously enjoyed Donita K. Paul’s Dragon Keeper Chronicles.

I was provided this book free of charge by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for review purposes.

Other Books by Donita K Paul:


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Devil Within

Sorry that I didn't get my post in on Monday this week for any of you regulars, but honestly I didn't think that I was even going to bother. I don't know about you but it has been one of those weeks/months/years for me when you just feel like giving up and not caring anymore. I have been struggling. There I said it! You don't know how good it feels to say that and how hard it was to type those four little words.

When you are in ministry it's hard to admit that you have problems and that you struggle because people expect you to be perfect and they judge you when you are not. It's like they believe that because you serve God that magically you don't have any troubles or problems or issues and if you are then you really don't have a real relationship with God like you claim. It's just not true.

Men and women in ministry struggle just like everyone else--somtimes more because we often are forced to hide our struggles or face the judgement of our Christian peers. So I feel like what I am going to share with you this week is a really big deal, and I pray that you will not judge me. I hope that God will use my struggles to help someone else who feels like they are as helpless as I have been feeling of late.

Today marks the twelve week point of my renewed healthy lifestyle journey, which includes diet and exercise. I have been using the Bodybugg and it's program to help gauge the work I am doing to eat right and be healthy. Being healthy is a struggle, and so is having a healthy body image. As an added little bonus I want to share with you an awesome clip of Mandisa on The Today Show as she talks about self-esteem, body image, and her Freedom CD.

Although I still struggle with my body image, lately my struggles have been different. I call it "the devil within". The thoughts and struggles and emotions I have been feeling have all been negative. I haven't been happy or excited. I don't feel worthy. You name it and if it's negative then I have probably been thinking it.

Last night as I talked with my husband and this morning as I watched the Mandisa clip I began to realize a couple of things. There are probably two big things that are contributing to "the devil within" that I have been dealing with: #1 I have felt like God isn't listening to me or caring about me and #2 I grew up with important female figures in my life who were always negative about themselves. Together these two things have developed and re-enforced patterns of negativity in my life. Now I have to fight against them every single day and more often than not I lose.

However, I am encouraged that there are people in my life who are always there to encourage me and build me up--even when I can't see anything good inside myself. I pray that with time I will feel closer to God than ever before and that the love and support of the people in my life will begin to counter act the negativity of my childhood influences.

If you struggle with negativity toward yourself, you are not alone. God loves you and there are others in your life who love you too. Join me in fighting a daily battle to change our negative mindsets. It won't happen overnight and trust me it won't be easy but all things are possible through Christ (Phil. 4:13)!

More Resources:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

All Good Things Come to Those Who Wait



Midnight Sun is the third book in the Northern Lights Series by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It is the conclusion of the stories of our four friends Elsa, Karl, Tora, and Kaatje. Each of these characters is featured as they face new struggles and strive to find the endings--hopefully happy ones--that God has in store for them.

It has been a few years since Peder was delirious with malaria and fell overboard during a storm. Still Elsa grieves the loss of her first love and struggles with the guilt she sometimes feels as his memories begin to fade. Still she must trust God that He has great plans for her. So she takes to the sea as a Captain herself! With Kristian and Eve, she begins travelling around the world and continuing to manage all the many Ramstad businesses. Will the men accept a woman as Captain? Will she ever love again?

Karl continues to work with Bradford Bresley and Trent Storm to expand his business investments. He has done very well for himself on land, but God has lead him back to sea. Now he is the Captain of his own steamer and it seems all his dreams have finally come true--save one. Karl still hasn't found the woman of his dreams. No matter how many lovely women he meets in his travels he still hasn't found a connection. Will he ever find a love all his own?

Kaatje has traveled to Alaska with Tora, Trent, and her girls to go in search of her husband who abandoned them seven years prior. She doesn't know exactly why God has put her on this path, but she knows she has to find out if Soren is dead or alive. With Trent's help she hires two guides to take her into the Alaskan wilds in search of her wayward man. Will she survive? What will she find? Is there more to her guide, James, than what there seems?

Tora has finally agreed to marry Trent. After years of following God's plan and waiting no one could be more excited than the two of them. Still Tora's past haunts her. When Decker, the man who abducted and raped her, suddenly appears in Juneau Tora must learn to trust God as never before. Will Trent love her less because of her past? Will more of her past come back to haunt her?

There are so many questions and emotions that go through you as you read Midnight Sun? Although it is a wonderful book, compared to the other two it is a little flat. There are a couple of repetitive parts which could have been condensed in favor of more storyline for James and Kaatje or for after a certain couples wedding, but other than that I thought it was absolutely wonderful! So hard to put down, and it leaves you wanting still another book that will never come. I highly recommend Midnight Sun to avid fans of the Northern Lights Series and of Lisa T. Bergren. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Deep Emotions in Deep Harbor



Deep Harbor is the second book in the Northern Lights Series by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It continues to follow the four Bergen friends: Elsa, Kaatje, Tora, and Karl as they make their way in America. In Deep Harbor, each of them face new blessings and new struggles that will test their faith and could possibly even bring them back to God.

Elsa and Peder are still sailing around the globe. Their business and their family are growing with expansion into Washington Territory and the addition of one (soon to be two) children when disaster strikes unexpectedly. Will Elsa be able to survive? Will she be able to face her fears and one of the most evil men of the sea, Mason Dutton?

Kaatje and her two daughters have left their homestead in North Dakota to follow the rest of the Bergen to a new farm in Montana. Things promise to be better here, but there is still no word from Soren. It has been almost five years since she has seen him and four since she last heard from him. Is he even alive? Will she be able to continue to provide for their little family?


Karl has been far from God since he left his desires run away with him. He kissed Elsa (his best friend's wife) and ruined his life long friendship with Peder all in one small moment of passion. Will he ever obtain their forgiveness? Will he ever be able to talk to his father again? Can he truly come back to God?

Tora has been headstrong and manipulative her whole life. Trent Storm, her beau and one of the most powerful men in the West, just wants her to tell him the truth. Will Tora ever tell him about her past? He knows it because he hired a private investigator but he wants to hear it from her. Will she ever trust him? Or will their relationship come to an end?

The characters in Deep Harbor are complex and easy to relate too--although I have to admit that you just want to slap Tora. Still you know it's a good character when you struggle with your frustrations over them as much as the other characters in the book do. Deep Harbor is hard to put down and you truly feel the emotions and struggles these four characters are going through. It is masterfully written and leaves you wanting more--which is great since there is one more book in the series! Lisa Tawn Bergren does it again. Deep Harbor is amazing! I highly recommend it to women and to all individuals who love reading about the Western Frontier and life on the Ocean!



More Books by Lisa Tawn Bergren:

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Story of New Beginnings



I was so excited! I read this book once when I was in middle school/high school, but I couldn't remember the exact title or the author. However, this weekend I finally found The Captain's Bride again! Yeah! I searched and searched for this book because I remember it being amazing, and I wasn't disappointed.

The Captain's Bride follows a group of Norwegian immigrants as they make their new start in America. Each and every one of them is searching for a new beginning for one reason or another. Elsa and Peder have just gotten married after long years of waiting, Karl is in love with Elsa who is his best friend's bride, Kaatje's husband (Soren) is perpetually unfaithful, and Tora (Elsa's youngest sister) is head strong and seeking freedom from her father's watchful eyes.

Lisa T. Bergren uses the height of immigration in the 1880's as the perfect backdrop for all of their stories. You love these characters before they ever leave Norway. It is so easy to find a character you can relate to when they talk about the things that are driving them to America and the hopes they have for this new land. Then your heart goes out to them as they face struggles upon The Herald--the ship which Peder captains and which will eventually bring them to their beloved America. Finally, your heart aches for them when their new beginnings are not quite as easy as they hoped they would be. Would America be all that was promised to them? Would things really be new? Or would they fall to the same old trials in this new and foreign place? Bergren does an excellent job of weaving an intricate and entertaining story line which is so hard to put down!

I recommend The Captain's Bride to all historic romantic fiction lovers. Plus, if you are a Christian you will particularly love the strength and encouragement you will gain from seeing her character's struggles first hand and watching them learn to trust God even when it's easier not to. The Captain's Bride is amazing! I can't wait to read the next book in the Northern Light Series--Deep Harbor!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Biblical Love Story

A few days ago, I posted a review of Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs. If you don't know about this book or haven't read it then you really should check it out! It is amazing! Also, if you want to take a few seconds to rate my review (don't forget to verify your email), I would greatly appreciate it. Anyway, back to the point. As great as Mine is the Night is, it's nothing compared to the Biblical story that the book is based on.

The story I am referring to is the story of Ruth. Ruth is a Moabitess (which means she is from the country of Moab). Back in the day, when the Israelites come out of Egypt and were conquering the Promised Land, they were supposed to totally wipe out all the people who lived there. This included the Moabites. But the Israelites had some problems following all of God's directions (that's a whole other story) so there were still remnants of these people groups living in the Promised Land and the surrounding areas who were worshiping other gods. When Israel comes on hard times it's to these people and their country that Naomi and her husband and two sons flee, and eventually Ruth marries one of Naomi's sons (which is a pretty big no, no).

However, Naomi's husbands and her sons die. As a widow in this society, Naomi is totally dependent on her friends but more specifically on her male family member--only she doesn't have any. So she decides to head back home to Israel. This is when we really see the work that God has done in Ruth's live. Ruth could have stayed in her homeland with her people and her gods and found a new husband and been happy, but she chose to leave everything behind. She leaves her family and turns her back on her gods so that she can take care of Naomi and worship the One True God. So together they head back.

The long and short of this story is that because of Ruth's love for her mother-in-law and because of her obedience to God and her reputation, Ruth catches the eye of the most eligible bachelor around. But this guy isn't just anyone. Boaz is a close relative which means that he actually has the right and responsibility to marry Ruth and to provide for Naomi (although when he first starts falling for Ruth he doesn't know that). God worked it out perfectly so that through the obedience of Ruth she would find love, provision, and protection even though she was an outsider -- someone that an Israelite should never have married in the first place! God blessed her.

In the end, Boaz and Ruth are married and they have a son. His name was Obed. If you don't know, this little guy was very special. Obed was the father of Jesse who was the father of King David. And because of her obedience to God and her willingness to leave everything else behind to follow Him, Ruth is one of only four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1). I would say that's a pretty special love story.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mine is the Night is ADDICTING



Overview:
Mine is the Night is a re-telling of the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi set in Scotland during the 1700s and written by Liz Curtis Higgs. Mine in the Night is the sequel to Higgs first installment, Here Burns My Candle, although it can also be read as a stand alone novel. Both books follow the story of two women: Elizabeth and Marjory Kerr. These women are daughter-in-law and mother-in-law and together they will endure many struggles and tests of faith.

Mine is the Night begins shortly after the ending of Here Burns My Candle as the Kerr women make their way back to Marjory’s childhood home in Selkirkshire. They are seeking the mercy of a neglected relative after their family has been stripped of their money, land, and title due to their husband's/son's traitorous support of Prince Charles claim to the English throne. Now they have nothing but God, their faith, and each other. How will they survive? What will they do? What will become of them? Read Mine is the Night to follow Elizabeth and Marjory as they follow God's leading and face the struggles and possible blessings ahead of them.

Review:
I absolutely loved Mine is the Night! Once I started reading it I just couldn't put it down! Higgs does an excellent job of spinning a historically accurate yet addictingly good historical fiction romance. Mine is the Night is exciting, heart wrenching, and uplifting. If you have ever faced struggles in your life or you have ever questioned why God does what He does then you will relate to Elizabeth and/or Marjory in this book. This is the first book I read by Liz Curtis Higgs and I must say that I am now a fan. I also point this out because you can read and enjoy Mine is the Night without having to read Here Burns My Candle.

I highly recommend this book to historical fiction and Christian romance lovers. You will truly love Mine is the Night. I whole heartedly give this book a five star review!

This book was provided to me at no cost by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for review purposes.



More Books by Liz Curtis Higgs:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Mystery for Graphic Novel Lovers Everywhere

The Secret of Indigo Moon (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles)Overview:
The Dopple Ganger Chronicles follows the investigative journey of Erik Morrissey Ganger and his twin, female sidekicks (Sadie and Saskia) as they seek to solve mysteries and save the day. The Dopple Ganger Chronicles is written by G.P. Taylor, and it is written in the format of a graphic novel.

The Secret of Indigo Moon is the second book in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles. Erik, Sadie, and Saskia are at it again. As the book summary states, the trio never tries to get into trouble. It just seems to find them. This book picks up right where The First Escape leaves off. The group is investigating strange noises coming from the basement of the school. In the process they discover a secret tunnel, a new acquaintance, and an old enemy. Will they be able to solve the mystery? Will they survive? I guess you will just have to read the book to find out.

Review:
The graphics and format of this graphic novel are fantastic! This book is targeted for a young audience, but is still enjoyable for adults who enjoy a good graphic novel. I don’t recommend it for you if you don’t like teen mysteries and/or graphic novels. As far as the claims that G.P. Taylor is “The new C.S. Lewis,” I don’t know about that. I am still undecided whether this work compares to The Chronicles of Narnia, but I think that they are definitely good in their own right.
The Secret of Indigo Moon is the first book by G.P. Taylor I have ever read. It was enjoyable and easy to follow even though I had never read The First Escape or any other works by Taylor.

I highly recommend this book to young readers, and to those who enjoy a great graphic novel.

This book was provided to me at no cost by Tyndale Publishing Company for review purposes.

More Works by G.P. Taylor:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Updates on Joplin, Missouri

Today the news continues to pour in from Joplin. The death toll is still on the rise with at least 116 confirmed dead and more than 500 injuires reported. Volunteers and rescue workers are still in the midst of conducting building to building searches for the missing, trapped, and injured. One of the women that I work with here at Missouri Baptist Children's Home has family in Joplin. She left this morning with supplies and prayers to help aid her family and friends in Joplin. Although her fmaily is safe, with only damages to their family homes, her teenage nieces are in prayer for their friends who are still missing.

If you haven't seen this footage yet, take a moment to watch a short film of the tornado that ravaged Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday night.


Continue to pray for the families that are searching the remains of their destroyed homes to see if their is anything they can salvage. Some of the families are searching for things like wallets and IDs that will help them secure the aide they are going to need in the future. Pray that they can find these items.

If you would like to donate to help the tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri, you can do so by donating through the Joplin branch of the Red Cross at http://www.redcross-ozarks.org/donate/. Please remember when donating for disaster relief that it is important that you choose well known and reliable sources to get your aide to the disaster victims.

Thank you for praying for Joplin!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pray for Joplin, Missouri

You know it's bad when a smaller Missouri town like Joplin makes the national news. You hope that you are wrong and that it's actually something really good and awesome, but this weekend it was bad--very bad.

Many of you have probably already heard about the tonardos that ripped through Joplin this weekend. This is the second set of serious tornados to strike Missouri in the past two months. Saint Louis (withing a mile of where I live) was hit with what were dubbed "The Good Friday Tornados" now it seems that Joplin will suffer. Although the damage was severe in both places, Joplin has clearly suffered the worst.

As of this morning there are 89 confirmed deaths and the number is still expected to rise. They are estimating that 30% of the town of has been destroyed and that number may also increase to as much as 40%. The local hospital and high school were both destroyed along with at least 2,000 other structures.

Needless to say, please pray for Joplin. Pray for the families who have lost loved ones and friends. Pray for rebuilding and healing in the community. Please pray for Joplin, Missouri.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Time to Rejoice!


Rejoice by The Women of Faith Worship
 I don't know about you but my May has and still will be a crazy busy month. With graduations and weddings every weekend, my whole routine has been thrown off. I didn't realize it until I opened my front door this morning (to go down and do some much needed laundry) that I hadn't gotten the mail on Saturday! I was so excited to find out I had a package on my door step and that it was my new CD to review! I was so excited to pop in the Rejoice CD from the Women of Faith Worship Team and I wasn't disappointed. I have spent all morning listening to it, and I am including my review for this CD below.

Review:
Women of Faith Worship the Rejoice album is great! The Women of Faith Worship Team (Kara Tualatai, Michelle Swift, Laura Cooksey, Janice Gaines, Allison Abbott, Jenifer Thigpen, and Jovaun Woods) put a great new upbeat twist on some of the best worship classics. My personal favorite is “You Brought the Sunshine”. It is a simply powerful message of God’s grace and love for us. It talks about how God hears all of our prayers and how He cares for us by giving us love and grace and by bringing the sunshine into our lives, and it’s all done through music!

From hymns like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” to choruses like “Our God” the group brings a fresh taste. You will be encouraged and uplifted by the time you finish listening to just a few tracks. The joy and vibrancy in their voices just begs you to sing along and to praise God with them! Rejoice is the Women of Faith Worship Team experience brought to your home, and you won’t be disappointed!

I recommend this CD to Women of Faith fans and people who love up beat pop worship music.
This CD was provided to me at no cost by Thomas Nelson Publishing for review purposes.

BUY REJOICE TODAY!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Emotional Journey Through Music

A couple of nights ago, I was feeling a little down so I started listening to some music videos on YouTube. The videos that came to mind formed an interesting progression and I think that they showed where I was from beginning to end. The main reason that I wanted to share with you because where I ended up really made me laugh. I have shared some of these videos with you before so I apologize if you don't like repeats. Anyway...

I present to you my emotional journey through music!


Blessings by Laura Story


Held by Natalie Grant


Stronger by Mandisa


What if Your Best by FFH

I was actually searching for the Blue song from Madame Blueberry but I came across the "Stuff Mart Song" instead and I really love this song so I decided to listen to it instead. Unfortunately embedding has been disabled so if you want to listen to this one you are going to have to view it on Youtube.com by Clicking Here to view the Stuff Mart Song.


Endangered Love (Silly Songs with Larry)

By this time I was laughing and feeling much better. I ended the night by listening to "The Biscuit of Zazzamarandabo".

The Biscuit of Zazzamarandabo (Silly Songs with Larry)

Monday, May 2, 2011

James 4: Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

I hope you get a chuckle out the picture I am including with this weeks blog. it made me smile so I felt like I had to include it. I know that many times in my childhood I was told, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." This is a good principle in general, but did you know that it is also a biblical principle?

Over and over again the Bible tells us to consider the cost. It's important to think ahead and know what you are getting yourself into, but there is a real difference between thinking ahead and counting your chickens before they hatch--or what we affectionately call in our house "pulling a James 4". Allow me to explain.

As Christians, we should think before we act. We should plan ahead and consider the cost and possible outcomes of our actions before we just jump into things (Luke 14:28-32). This is considered a matter of good practice and when we don't think ahead we are considered foolish. I have said it before and I will say it again--anything taken to the extreme is bad. Basically the way that I see it is that "counting your chickens before they hatch" or "pulling a James 4" is taking planning ahead to the extreme.

In James chapter 4, we are told the story of an individual or group of individuals that start to make all these plans for their lives years and years in advance...

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." James 4:13 & 14

I don't think that the planning in and of itself was what was bad. It was the attitude behind it. James warns these individuals that they don't know what their lives hold. Then he points out the real problem--these people have taken God out of the planning!

"Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil." James 4: 15 & 16

When you take God out of the planning and out of the equation you begin to rely solely on yourself. Verse 16 goes so far as to call it evil. Are you asking God what He has planned for your life or are you planning it all out for yourself? Are you assuming that you know what's best or are you relying on God to direct your paths? Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Go to God and make Him the active leader in planning for your life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's All in the Context

Hello, Everyone! Sorry for being late in posting this but I have been uber sick this week. So finally I am feeling better and my head is clear enough to think so I am sitting down to write this week's blog.

This morning I was reading from 1 John chapter 1. The writings of John have always intrigued me. I don't know if it's because he tended to focus on the deeper more spiritual side of things or because he wrote the book of Revelation or if it's simply because he was the only one of the twelve disciples to die a natural death. Whatever it is, I have spent a significant amount of time in my Christian life reading the writings of John.

So when I get to verses 8-10, I find their familiar exhortations familiar and comforting but then the context struck me, and I realized that I have been missing out on the big picture.

I think just about every Christian out their has heard 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us out sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This is an awesome and powerful verse. Plus confession in the life of a Christian is VERY important to maintaining an open and growing relationship with Christ.

What you miss by not reading it in context is the reason WHY we should confess our sins. Why is it so important? Why not pretend that we never sin or mess up? Why not just go on with life because our salvation is secure in Christ? Why confess? We find that out in verses 8 & 10...

1 John 1:8 says, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." If we try to deny that we sin or we pretend that we are the perfect Christians we are lying to ourselves--we are liars because the truth is not in us. We must confess our sins to keep us from being deceived and to keep ourselves honest.

1 John 1:10 says, "If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." If we lie about the sins we struggle with and the sins we commit then we make Christ a liar. The whole reason that God sent Jesus to die on the cross is because we are sinners, because we struggle with sin, and because we are imperfect. If we say that we are now perfect then we make God and Jesus liars. Plus God's Word is not being allowed to live and thrive in us.

It's all in the context.

All verses quoted today were in the English Standard Version (ESV).

Resources on 1 John
  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Big Time Laughs

We Be Big: The Mostly True Story of How Two Kids from Calhoun County, Alabama, Became Rick and BubbaWe Be Big is the “mostly true” story of radio hosts Rick & Bubba. The book starts in their early childhoods takes you on a laugh out loud journey through their current radio careers. Like their radio show, Rick & Bubba strive to keep the book simple and funny without exaggerating too many of the details.

This book will make you want to listen to Rick and Bubba’s show. They say that if it happens in their lives it makes it on the air in their radio show. You can clearly see this in the way that they tell their stories in their book. My favorite story has to be the one about accidentally rigging the walkie talkie to broadcast on a local radio station. I could picture the dawning expression on his face as he realized that it was his voice that was coming through the radio and then sending his unknowing friend home to “tune in” while he broadcast live from his house and how proud that made him.

However, this book does more than make you laugh. It also teaches you a few lessons of faith. It wasn’t all circuses in the backyard and awesome reviews from radio listeners. Rick and Bubba also had struggles. They had to rely on God when their radio program was cut and they weren’t sure what they were going to do to provide for their families. They share those stories too. In spite of their struggles and tragedies you will be encouraged by the faithfulness of the “two sexiest fat mean alive”.

If you are looking for a funny, quick read that will encourage you even while you laugh then I suggest you pick up We Be Big by Rick Burgess & Bubba Bussey.

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing at no cost for review purposes.

More Rick & Bubba Stuff:

The Rick & Bubba Show