Category Archives: Faith

Words to Live By, Wednesday edition

It really should be that simple, shouldn’t it? A life of helping everyone out, so no one is in trouble. But we need God’s love and strength to keep us from following the natural desire to think only of ourselves…

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Words to Live By, Monday edition

Let this be our goal and our driving force today!

(Image from YouVersion app)

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Review: Sprouts of Love (Valerie Comer)

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I’m always excited to read Valerie Comer’s work because she creates realistic characters with backstories that don’t feel made up or glossed over. This is nitty-gritty life happening inside of a book, and yet it’s not depressing or too much to handle because Comer knows how to inject hope into her tales.

Sprouts is Book 1 in the Garden Grown Romance series, and it was preceded by an introductory novella that appeared in Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley. I love the setting for these stories and the fact that the other authors in Romance Grows are writing within the same setting, and using businesses and characters from each other’s stories.

It was great to get back to Arcadia Valley and get to know Evelyn, her daughter Maisie, and Ben, the man running the charity that Evelyn and Maisie want to help with the produce from a community garden. At first it doesn’t look like any of them will become friends, but eventually that changes and the result was a book I couldn’t put down. (Okay, I read an ebook, but seriously, I couldn’t stop flicking to the next page… It was one of those nights where I didn’t stop at the end of my allotted reading-to-wind-down time and just kept going till the book was done!)

Book Description:

Single mom Evelyn Felton takes on a third part-time job managing a greenhouse and garden project for Grace Fellowship. Formerly homeless, she’s thrilled to offer truckloads of fresh produce to the Arcadia Valley food bank.

If only Ben Kujak weren’t running Corinna’s Cupboard singlehandedly, he’d be delighted to be on the receiving end. But Evelyn and her dynamo daughter, Maisie, won’t take no for an answer, even if it means restructuring Ben’s charity.

Soon Ben finds himself wishing they’d transform his personal life, too, but can true love sprout when their pasts collide with the present?

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Review: Still Waiting (Ann Swindell)

It’s interesting that this review has been waiting in my mind while I finished up a semester at school. It’s hard to say just how much this book resonated with me because of the times of waiting I’ve gone through. No one wants to put off that dream or endure hardship a day longer than they think they should, but there’s something about waiting that can strengthen a person, especially if they draw close to God as they wait.

Swindell’s experiences taught her and deepened her relationship with God, and I’ve found the same, waiting for years to find a career path that made sense and used my skills to the full. Now that I’m in school and find confirmation almost every week that this will be a job where God can use the talents He gave me to reach others, I can picture myself looking back at the waiting as being worth it for the good in the end, though I would never have been able to see it back then. Now, I think, I could get through waiting of different sorts with more hope, because of the assurance that God will use every experience and won’t waste a thing…

Through her story, Swindell explains well why we chafe at the waiting times, and how God can use them for our good. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone struggling with waiting, and even those who’ve come out of those times but still need to time to reflect and to glean the lessons and hope for the future.

Book description: 

What if God wants you to wait?
Most of us know what it’s like to wait for God to change our circumstances. But, whether we’re waiting for physical healing, emotional breakthrough, or better relationships, waiting is something we usually try to avoid. Why? Because waiting is painful and hard. The truth is, it’s also inevitable.

In Still Waiting, Ann Swindell explores the depths of why God wants us to wait by chronicling her own compelling story of waiting for healing from an incurable condition. She offers a vibrant retelling of the biblical account of the Bleeding Woman that parallels her story—and yours, too.

Let Ann help you see the promise that is hidden in the ache of waiting and the hope of what God can—and will—do as you wait on him.

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DVD Review! VeggieTales in the House

Full title: VeggieTales in the House: Puppies and Guppies, available at FishFlix.com, a cool site that sells Christian DVDs. Our copy of the DVD came with a card showing translated versions of the Action Bible being handed out in Turkey. Great work, right? 🙂

vtpuppiesguppies_lgNow for the actual product! This DVD contained a selection of stories about cute characters who learn a moral lesson or two. My children loved it. I, however, missed the more overt biblical lessons of the VeggieTales of my day. (Yes, I still sing the song about water buffaloes and baby kangaroos… It’ll haunt me till I die, along with the search for a missing hairbrush.)

VeggieTales in the House seems like a watered-down version of the original Veggie Tales, and I’m not feelin’ it. If you’re collecting all of the VeggieTales in the House DVDs for your kids, you obviously won’t want to miss this one; but if you’re looking for tales with a strong biblical education to share with your kids, I’d track down the old gems instead.

Disclaimer: This DVD was provided by FishFlix.com for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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Review: The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations (Schaller & Crilly)

9 arts coverThis book walks the reader through a concept I’d call “evangelism through relationship” – becoming friends with those around us, noticing their needs, and showing the love of God with our actions before we use our words to convince them they need God. In essence, building a solid foundation on which to open up honest conversation about spiritual topics.

I enjoyed the way the subject matter was presented, backed up with personal stories and an eye for the opportunities all around us. When we don’t all feel like we have (or ever could have) the spiritual gift of evangelism, we can still make the effort to sow seeds and ask God to work through us to reach our neighbours (thereby growing this spiritual gift in us).

This book is a great motivator and I would definitely recommend reading it.

Book description:

Love God, love people. Could evangelism really be that simple?
Often, it doesn’t seem so. It can feel scary, awkward, and uncomfortable as we try to navigate loaded questions and different perspectives. Even the most faithful of believers sometimes get stumped. But can you imagine if we, as Christians, simply spent time with people who are far from God and provided a safe place to talk about spiritual matters? If we listened to them and discovered what was really important to them? After all… it’s what Jesus did. And it’s what you can do too.

Drawing straight from the life and ministry of Jesus, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations offers simple practices to help you build relationships with people who believe differently. Anyone who has read and appreciated Becoming a Contagious Christian or Just Walk across the Room won’t want to miss this book on creating a safe space to have natural, loving, and spiritual conversations with others.

Disclaimer: This ebook was provided by the publisher for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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The Unfortunately, Fortunately game

too-blessed-to-be-stressed-ref-libTrouble counting your blessings? Always seem to be complaining? Try something new: play the Unfortunately, Fortunately game for a change in perspective. I’ll give you a few examples from my Wednesday experiences:

Unfortunately, my boys and I seem to be affected by seasonal allergies so far this spring. Fortunately, the weather has been beautiful and there are many flowers and much greenery to admire (once we’ve taken our allergy meds, also fortunately stocked up).

Unfortunately, I reached the end of the cash in my purse today. Fortunately, I had spent it on a pretty painting I can now admire from the comfort of my couch (and it was the least expensive of the store’s display, as well as my favourite).

Unfortunately, it was too hot to bake this afternoon for lunches and snacks tomorrow. Fortunately, I was able to take guilt-free time to read outdoors instead (and leave the baking for the cooler evening, when I would want to be indoors already).

Do you see the possibilities? Turning a frown upside down isn’t just for our faces but our minds as well. This is what I personally mean when I speak to others of “positive thinking” and “avoiding negativity.” It isn’t that I deny the negative circumstances or feelings in my days, but that I don’t let myself be held captive by them. I can spin my thoughts until I find the silver lining in the cloud, and I know that my life is full of blessings. File it under the hashtag #blessedlife, if you will.

I should clarify that I don’t believe in Fortune or Luck, but rather in God, the Giver of all good gifts. I continue to use the word “fortunately” while silently (and sometimes not so silently) acknowledging that God made everything and has His own wonderful ways of opening windows when doors are closed, and making beauty from ashes. Very fortunately, He has my heart and is doing great things with it. 🙂

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