On this morning of the completion of my 25th birthday, I would like to make a list of 25 things for which I am thankful God has given me.
- A God who shows clemency
- The promise of Heaven
- A family that supports and loves
- Friends who are real when needed and spoil me when needed.
- Churches who help me grow closer to God
- A cat who adores me
- A job that encourages my faith
- Students who push me to be better
- Books that entertain me
- A healthy body
- Tea to warm me to my toes
- A shelter from the world
- An always full belly
- Clean water
- Electricity (I am blessed)
- Blankets (I really hate being cold)
- A car that runs (most of the time)
- Clothes appropriate for every season
- A conscience
- Past mistakes and diversions from more fatal mistakes
- Numerous Bibles
- An intelligent mind
- 25 years of life
This post is a bit premature considering I haven’t finished the book series yet, but the heart message that God is teaching me is ready to share. It’s not a new lesson, but it’s one I need reminding of often. So many times I ask God what he has planned. I want to know the details of when and how events in my life will play out. Specifically now with my 25th birthday coming up, I wonder if marriage is in my future or if I’m better equipped to serve as a single person. I also wonder if this physical place is where I’ll be for a while or if it’s only a short stop. Through the Above the Line series by Karen Kingsbury, music, and scripture, God is reminding me of his promises.
There are several plot lines within the series’s four books, but one key idea is woven through them all. Bailey Flannigan, the young college student stuck between two guys, wonders if her dream of going to New York to act is really what God has planned for her. Keith and Chase, the movie producer team who take Hollywood by story, wonder many times if the trials thrown at them are a sign that the movie is not God’s plan. Andi, the former missionary kid, wonders if God is really even part of her life at all. Each one of them come to a key verse from Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Recently another verse keeps popping up in numerous places of my life. In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” I know that I love God, and I know that he has called me to be in the place I am in right now. Just the other day, I was talking with a friend about his current situation in life and the part of Ecclesiastes about there being seasons came into the conversation. I am in a season right now where I feel both content and anxiously awaiting. The thing that God keeps reminding me though is that He has a plan that is perfect. I don’t want to step too far ahead of his plan with my wanderings or wonderings; instead I want to wait right here no matter how anxious I may feel about waiting and no matter how often I want to force some action to take place.
Finally, a song was played this morning at church that sealed the deal about my questions and anxieties. In her song “Trust in You”, Lauren Daigle sings about how even when things don’t work out the way she thinks they should, she still trusts God. She trusts that he “know[s] what tomorrow brings” and that “There’s not a day ahead [he has] not seen”. In fact she opens the song with these lines which to me are extremely bold: “Letting go of every single dream/ I lay each one down at your feet”. It’s so true; in order to see God work the most in my life, I have to focus on the season I’m currently living and stop wondering about the future. He has it all under control.
“Guardian angels” and “angels fighting for you” are platitudes often spoken to make us feel better, but I rarely give angels much serious thought aside from the Christmas and Easter story. In Karen Kingsbury’s Angels Walking series, angels become a very real reality.
I just finished the third book of the series where a team of angels is sent to complete missions in order to ensure God’s plan is enacted. There’s always the possibility that the mission will fail and several moments when the mission is derailed in some way, but God’s plan always succeeds. In this particular novel, the angels are trying to ensure the birth and protection of an infant who will grow up to be a great missionary. It takes a while to discover through whom the baby will be born, but the reader knows that all of the main characters are necessary.
The Bible talks in several places about angels. In Psalm 91:11 the psalmist writes that God “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” In Hebrews 13:2, we are reminded that by entertaining strangers we might be unknowingly entertaining angels. Other verses talk about ministering spirits, and of course there are the actual appearances of angels scattered throughout the Bible.
Maybe I’ve just been unaware, but I can’t think of any instances where I’ve felt the presence of an angel. It’s possible I have and don’t account for it because it’s not portrayed like the angels in movies and books. In Kingsbury’s novels, the characters are never actually aware that they are interacting with angels, but they do get strange feelings about the angels in disguise. The closest I’ve come to thinking about an angel are the moments when I realize that God worked something out. I attribute it to God, which is probably fine with the angels and God, but maybe God has used angels in those moments to accomplish his purpose.
The only take-away I can take from this is to be kind to everyone because, just like the writer of Hebrews says, we never know when we might be interacting with an angel.
If you want to check out Karen Kingsbury’s books, head on over to her website or your local library. I haven’t found one I haven’t enjoyed. They also make great audio books because they’re usually easy-to-read story lines.
Hold on…don’t go anywhere. I’m not going to (intentionally) give you any lessons about English. Instead, I want to talk about an interesting little story that I recently read.
Through bloggingforbooks, I stumbled across a book by the daughter of Max Lucado, Andrea Lucado, that tells the story of her journey closer to God that happened to coincide with her journey to Oxford (England that is).
From the first page of this book, I was connected. This girl gets me. She and I both practically grew up in church, so our faith in God just seem connected to who we are. That doesn’t mean we were immediately saved upon birth or anything; we definitely still each had to make our own decisions about who God is to us. In fact, that’s the purpose of her book, English Lessons. In this personal memoir, Andrea tells of how she traveled to Oxford thinking she could use it as her personal mission field (that’s how I felt in London). Once she arrives, she realizes that being the sole Christian in her graduate classes may be harder than she thinks (I can relate). She begins to question the validity of her own faith. Through a series of friendships and experiences, she comes to realize that her life is so much richer with God, and she can’t imagine her life without God.
I was immensely jealous of Andrea’s story firstly because Oxford was a place in England I did not get to visit. Secondly, she was able to experience the city and meet so many interesting characters. Thirdly, she is very articulate about her story of questioning her faith and then coming back to God. She tells the story in a way that makes me want to ponder my own story again and be more reflective. There are possibly still lessons I could learn from the events that have happened and will happen within my own life.
Even though this book is clearly marked as an uncorrected copy and won’t actually be published until later this year, I am glad to have read it now. Andrea’s story is both personal to her and relatable to the many church kids out there who wonder what their life would have been like if they hadn’t grown up going to church.
For more information about this book, visit the publisher’s website.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Have you ever felt distanced from God and you’re not sure how to find him again? According to Steven Furtick, you only need to go seven miles.
In his book, Seven-Mile Miracle, Furtick describes the last seven phrases that Jesus spoke before dying as a metaphor for the steps we will take from salvation until eternity in heaven.
Mile One: God’s forgiveness
Mile Two: Salvation
Mile Three: Relationship
Mile Four: The times when we feel abandoned
Mile Five: The times when we feel distressed
Mile Six: The triumph God gives
Mile Seven: A reunion with God
This short book packs a lot of punches as it describes how we all just want more of God. No matter where we are on that journey toward the presence of God, we need more of God to take the next step.
I appreciated that the book was loaded with scripture. Many paragraphs have a scriptural reference. Furtick stays focused on what truly matters rather than delving into long anecdotes.
In the back of the book, a 40 day reading guide is also included. The guide provides the parallel gospel readings of the 40 major events leading to Jesus’s ascension into heaven. I haven’t made it through the 40 days yet, but I look forward to the journey. It would be perfect to do the 40 days before Easter, but I think I’ve already missed that.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
There are three creatures in this world that I wonder why God created them: ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes. Before you start telling me all of the reasons why these parasites are useful, let me have my moment. Out of those three, ticks freak me out the most. They latch onto your skin, they’re tiny, and they carry so many diseases.
One of those diseases, Lyme, is the focus of Brandilyn Collins’s book Over the Edge. Released in 2006, this book tells the story of a real battle through the eyes of fictional character. Janessa McNeil is the wife of a famous doctor whose main platform exists on the premise that Lyme is not a serious disease and can be cured by a short round of antibiotics. Janessa is infected with Lyme by a psychopath out to prove to the world that Lyme is a long-suffering disease. Not even his own wife’s suffering health can convince him that Lyme might be more serious than his committee claims.
Collins writes with such descriptive prose that the book kept me riveted to the page even long after I should have been asleep. I wanted to know who the mysterious man was and why he thought infecting another human with Lyme would prove to the doctors that Lyme was serious. Be prepared at the end for a major, but believable, plot twist.
Prior to reading this book, my connection to Lyme was only based on stories of people who have had it. I didn’t know the extent to which this disease can affect a body or the trouble doctors can have diagnosing it. I trust the facts in this book based on the author’s extensive notes at the end and the fact that the author herself suffered from Lyme.
This book also carries a hint of the Christian faith. The Dr. McNeil doesn’t believe, but Janessa and her daughter are believers in Christ, albeit a very weak belief. The disease pushes Janessa to read the Psalms for comfort and sympathy. The verses she reads are what pushes her to keep fighting. While the storyline doesn’t punch you in the face with the Christian faith, there are glimmers of faith.
This book will remain on my shelf simply because it’s a well-written fast-paced easy read. I won’t return to it anytime soon, but someday once I’ve forgotten the plot, I’ll come back and enjoy it again.
I’m a little slow in posting this since I finished the book over a week ago. It’s so fitting that I finished The Cider House Rules the day before Sanctity of Life Sunday.
What led me to pick up this book: I watched this movie several years ago with my best human friend. While I didn’t really remember the plot, I did recall the emotions that the movie made me feel.
The basic plot of the book: Homer Wells, an orphan, grows up in a not-so-normal orphanage that also functions as a birthing hospital. The orphanage’s doctor also performs abortions. Homer can’t seem to settle in a home, so he becomes the doctor’s apprentice. As he grows older and learns more about the women who come pregnant but never give birth, he decides that he cannot be part of that work. Eventually, he leaves the orphanage to work on an apple farm. He only returns many years later when the orphanage really needs him.
The positives of the book: At first I was cheering for Homer when he told Dr. Larch he wouldn’t perform or assist with any abortions, but then he continued to say that he wasn’t opposed to abortions being performed. He did acknowledge that the fetus is a living human which is why he couldn’t perform an abortion.
Overall, the book is well-written, and in true John Irving fashion, the characters are many and well-developed. Spanning almost 600 pages, the reader sees the duration of Homer’s life in almost minute detail. You’ve been warned: it’s a commitment, but it’s a good book to commit to reading.
The drawbacks of the book: I struggled with the views on abortion because I am totally against abortion. None of the characters fall into that category. It would have been nice to see Irving include one character to challenge Homer’s views on abortion. Thankfully, though, there is more to the book than the abortion debate.
I’d recommend this book to any adult who has a well-formed opinion on abortion. If you’re unsure where you stand, you might want to do some research first because this book could possibly sway you in the wrong direction.