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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Give Up Worry

As Lent was beginning, I came across an article online called 'I Gave Up Worry for Lent'. I was intrigued by the title. In early February, I attended a women's conference where I was challenged to pick a word that I could learn about throughout the year, and have God direct and teach me in the area. I already had a word that God kept impressing upon my heart - peace.

The more I studied about peace, the more I realized how difficult it is to maintain peace when you struggle with worry. So I ordered a book by John MacArthur entitled Anxious for Nothing. I still am in the process of working my way through this incredible resource. I've learned so much from reading it, and also from this scripture. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:6-9

As I've read through this scripture and have mulled over it, I've learned that the key to not worrying is to be in constant prayer, and praise to God. As we concentrate on what He has done for us, choosjng to be thankful, and thinking about how Chist is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, only then are we able to properly put things into perspective. As I began the Lent season, I decided to work on giving up worry, and have found myself successful. With giving up worry, I find myself more at peace.

I've been at peace even through three weeks of being sick. I praise God for how He teaches us new things.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot weaves the tale of Abigail Harding and her journey west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming to spend the summer with her older sister, Charlotte. While en route her stagecoach is attacked by bandits. Fellow passenger Lieutenant Ethan Bowles comes to their rescue.

Abigail intends to return to her teaching position in Vermont and her beau once the summer ends. But the longer she resides in Wyoming, the more she is attracted to its rugged beauty, and a young soldier who draws her attention. When summer ends will she decide to return to her responsibilities in the East or forge a new future in the West?

I found Amanda Cabot's book to be a delightful and intriguing read. I enjoyed reading about a part of our Nation I've never visited before. It is a book I recommend.

This book was provided free for review by Revell.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen weaves the tale of aristocrat Margaret Macy escaping her spoiled lifestyle to avoid an unwanted marriage. If she can remain unwed for several months, until her next birthday, she will receive her inheritance. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is a delightful saga of a spoiled, rich, young woman going in disguise as a maid in England during the early 1800's. Not until after she arrives at her employment, does Margaret realize she'll be working in the home of the man who proposed marriage several years ago. She spurned Nathaniel Upchurch in favor of his brother.

I love the way Margaret learns the hard way to appreciate people for who they are, no matter what station of life they are in. She discovers many valuable lessons along the way, as she adjusts to poverty and being a servant. Through working, Margaret acquires the ability to see beyond herself and her own needs. She also finds out what it means to sacrifice.

I found The Maid of Fairbourne Hall to be a delightful read, and one I highly recommend.

* This book was provided free for review by Bethany House Publishers.

About the book:
 
To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch--both former suitors.

As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?
 
 
About Julie:
 
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com
Link to buy the book:http://www.amazon.com/dp/0764207091/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=sprightly-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0764207091&adid=1TCYV1DRSTV23NKEQ170

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble weaves the tale of Lucy Marsh and her struggle to be in control of her life, as she tries to take care of her two younger siblings. When faced with the loss of her job, home, and threat on their lives, she feels her only option is to marry by proxy to a man she has never met. Lucy travels with her father-in-law to far off Texas.

Only problem, the groom has never been made aware of his marriage until Lucy appears on his doorstop with two kids in tow. Nate Stanton doesn't desire a wife, particularly not a scrawny one who isn't strong enough for life on a ranch. Will they ever learn to accept each other and find love, or will Lucy's desire to be in charge threaten their future.

I enjoyed reading Colleen's first book in her Under Texas Stars series. Not only was it a pleasurable read, but it also made me examine my own life to identify those times when I choose to be in control, instead of allowing God to work in my life. Letting go is never an easy thing, but necessary in our lives as Christians.

This book was provided free for review by Thomas Nelson.

About the book:

Book Number One in the Under Texas Stars series

A love like Lucy and Nate’s only comes along once in a blue moon . . .

Lucy Marsh's worldly resources are running out, but she's fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father's recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.

Nate Stanton always hoped he'd marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh—a city girl—on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he'd give anything to protect Lucy and the children he's grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.
About Colleen:
Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.
For more about Colleen and her other books visit www.colleencoble.com 

Link to buy the book  http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=1595549153&title=Under_Texas_Stars_#1__:_Blue_Moon_Promise 

Blog Tour :  http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13458569/bluemoonpromise)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No More Procrastinating

I started a new practice recently. I don't know why, but I often (used to) wait to the last minute to get things accomplished. Which is a puzzlement, since I don't like stress or feeling pressured. Perhaps it's old patterns from years ago, when I was in college and had so many projects to get done at one time. I don't know. But I've started working ahead with things. I have a homeschool article due on April 1st, and I already have books out from the library, researching my topic. I even have a few ideas for the article.

I have a writing lesson due next week and I just finished it this evening. I worked on each item, a little bit each day, and guess what I discovered? I'm not stressed, and find more pleasure working on the various assignments, when I'm not down to the wire. Who knew that was possible? Ha! Ha! I know, not rocket science here! :)

I've applied this truth to various areas of my life and am finding myself much more relaxed, and less stressed. I'm finding pleasure in getting things accomplished, regularly crossing off things on my 'to do' list, and much more at peace. I realize I have a long way to go in being organized, but I figure at least I'm making small steps toward that goal. Someday I'll be so much closer! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Filled to Overflowing

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

I've been thinking a lot about this verse lately. God calls us to single-minded focus on Him. When we choose to do that, He fills us with hope, joy and peace. Sounds like a pretty good exchange if you ask me. So many of us long to have these three qualities - hope, joy, and peace in the midst of our everyday lives. When we choose Jesus, He takes care of the rest.

I think it all boils down to TRUST. Do we fully trust God with our lives? If you've asked Jesus into your heart, and asked for His forgiveness, you know that God promised you would one day go to heaven. You believe God at His word. So why do we struggle with the smaller, simpler things? Like trusting that He will help us in all the situations we face. I think it's time to get our focus off ourselves and our struggles, and instead place them on our Heavenly Father, and the truths in His Word.

When we choose to direct our attention to God, He fills us to overflowing, and what spills out of our lives is love, joy, peace, hope, and thanksgiving. It all is a matter of our wills - who will we decide to follow. Will we get caught up in the stresses of life, or choose to look to the One who can calm all our fears.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fear Not

"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." Isaiah 43:1

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Matthew 6:25-31

Both of these scripture passages have been on my heart this afternoon. I'm reading through a book by John MacArthur entitled Anxious for Nothing. He cites this scripture in Matthew and comments, "Stop worrying"..."Don't start worrying." and "If you are worrying, quit; if you haven't started, don't." I guess you can't get any more blatant than that! :) MacArthur points out that worry is a sin. Ouch!

I admit, I gave in to worry this week over a potential situation - one that had me on edge with the possible ramifications. I couldn't move past it and was stuck in the mire of fear, worry and anxiousness. When I finally got my nerve up to broach the topic with my husband, he pretty much bluntly pointed out the need to stop worrying, and how it was wrong to worry, and that I needed to move on beyond the circumstances. Now, I already knew this, but hearing it, somehow broke through the fog surrounding my heart, and I was finally able to release the situation to God - completely, without trying to take a hold of it again.

Whew! I rested for two full days in God's peace and knowing He would take care of the situation. Then today, I heard back an answer in regard to the struggle, and guess what? None of the things I imagined came to fruition. I worried, stewed, and fretted over nothing. Even though it's been a long, painful, and stressful week (brought on by my own worry), it's been an incredible learning experience on my road to discovering God's peace. I spent far too much time worrying over something I had no control over, and wasting time that could have been used somewhere else. Perhaps this is what Satan often tries to do - get us so overwrought that we lose sight of following and serving God each day. My vision became focused on me instead of my Heavenly Father.  I trust next time I will remember this lesson learned, and not fall into the same crazy cycle of worry. May I remember to 'Fear not!'