Posted in Book reviews, Books, Revell Reads, Reviews, Spiritual beliefs

“Finding Lady Enderly” by Joanna Davidson Politano – Book Review (I loved it!!)

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“Finding Lady Enderly” by Joanna Davidson Politano

Review copy through the publisher/author as apart of the launch team

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I loved this book, so so much. It meant so much to me, the message and everything, because it is something I am learning too – my identity in Christ. During the reading of it, I even wrote a poem that, if Rania were real, I’d love to share with her. I will include it at the end of this post, but first read on for the description of this beautiful book and my “official” review! :)

 

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About the Book:

Raina Bretton is a rag woman in London’s east end when a handsome stranger appears in a dank alley and offers her a glittering smile and a chance for adventure. Rothburne Abbey has a unique position for her, one that will take her away from her hardscrabble life and give her a chance to be a lady. Things she could only dream of might be coming true. But some dreams turn out to be nightmares.

Though Raina has traded squalor for silk and satin, something about the abbey is deeply unsettling. As she wrestles with her true identity, the ruin, decay, and secrets she finds at the heart of the old mansion tear at her confidence and threaten to reveal her for who she really is. Only one man stands between her and the danger that lurks within–and only if he decides to keep her biggest secret hidden.

 

 

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My Thoughts:

 

Oh my word, this book. Wow. It floored me in its gentle beauty and remarkable message. It is no coincident that I read it when I did, and took my time to savor it, for the message lined up with what God has been showing me lately, and that just blessed me so much.
I fell so utterly in love with this story, that it will long remain on my favorites shelf. How it is written is so beautifully smooth and captivating, and the plot was fantastic as well, with characters that will just sweep you off your feet.
Truly, I don’t know how I could write a review that would do this book justice. I loved it so much. Dear sweet Rania went through such a journey. And that ending! Not quite what I was expecting, but so much better and full of redemption. Gorgeous prose, amazing characters, and truth about identity that is sure to bless any reader who stumbles into its pages.
The absolute heart that is woven through the story is touching, and that it all shines back to our Creator, is astounding. I’m so in love with this book and its characters. The author did a beautiful job, and I am in awe of her ability to turn it all back to God. <3
I marked SO many places in this book that it would be nearly impossible to share them all. I so badly wanted to make a graphic for each one, but our computer has been so slow that I’m not sure I can even get one made. But the quotes were fantastic and I will savor them for a long time. Hopefully I can get them typed up soon and perhaps I will devote a special post to them in the near future. :)
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My Worth // by Raechel Lenore
I’m building my courage
One strand at a time
I’m lifting my head
by the inch
Healing can come
not all in a wave
but in soft whispers of strength
A Change slowly happening
A change still occuring
My eyes ever upward I raise
Coming to learn
and coming to know
that I reside in a place of grace
Beauty and truth,
they shine from within
they rely not upon another soul
I need not look to another’s face
to know my worth is whole
A crown slowly forming
upon my head
I let it there reside
Not knowing its strength
yet feeling its weight
I’m learning to accept it as mine
My worth to you I do not owe
My worth secure within me
I used to look towards anothers face
to change what grew so simply
Freedom’s glance
feels just wihin reach
and I’m starting to stand taller now
Knowing I am enough on my own
this truth is a new beginning, allowed.
I’ll raise my head another inch
I’ll lift up sparkling eyes
I’ll look into my reflection close and say ‘You are dignified.
My Father has put His crown on you
to His children He has given all
The garments are complete on you
Dignified and without pall
Raise up, you daughter of courage
raise up and continue to mend
Your worth is not held by anothers hands
Your worth is found in Heavens stead
You are worth
all on your own
You are worth and enough
You are a beauty
a pearl all desired
treasured by heavens touch.’
My worth is not measured by others opinions
my worth does not fluctate by anothers whims
My worth cannot be tossed by the wind
when I’ve found it secured within.
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I do ask that you respect that this poem I shared belongs to me and is copyrighted as such. I would be pleased as punch if you wanted to share it linking back to me, just please don’t steal. :) Thank you!!
Posted in Book reviews, God's Lessons, Random babblings, reading

“Irrelevant” ~ A review and post about Autism

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I am going to talk about why I loved this book.
Mallory.
The plot itself was great, and I can’t wait to begin book two to find out what happens, but what made this book special to me is main character, Mallory.
I have definitely identified with characters in the past. And I feel like as we grow as people, our character-choices grow too. With Mallory, I felt like I found a character just like me. Yes, I’ve felt this way before regarding other characters, but as I read “Irrelevant” and got to know Mallory more, I related more than before. Because most of the characters we read in books are primarily “normal”. They can act and react in the world normally, and handle what comes with ease (and that’s good too). But that’s not my reality, and it wasn’t Mallory’s either. She is labeled as Autistic. And I am too.    My…”quirks” were always assumed to be related to what was diagnosed when I was young which is sensory-integration-dysfunction. But as I learn more and more about Autism, I find more about me that makes sense.
I don’t care to live under labels. Labels do not define who we are. Who God has created to be. It is not “Who am I?” but rather, “Who HE IS”. I firmly believe that. But learning how to cope in this world, I think, is also important, and I am thankful that God has allowed me to find so much information about autism, and then proceed to give me the opportunity to read “Irrelevant” and discover Mallory. She is my kind of normal. She sometimes gets overwhelmed, she doesn’t feel ‘normal’, she cries a lot. All of these things that I can relate to. Oh, and she loves dragons. I was so excited when I found that out. :)
Another thing that made me attached to Mallory was that her character wasn’t written as ‘odd’. Who she was didn’t make her any less of a person. Sometimes I think there is some sort of stigma surrounding the word Autism. People think that only the most severe cases are Autistic and that makes them different. Accepted, but still different. High-functioning Autism is still a thing, though. It can get swept under the rug. We’re not so Autistic that we can fit under that assumption in people’s minds, but we’re also not so normal that we can be defined as, well, normal. But with Mallory…she…well, she was unique and accepted, and she made me feel normal too. What is normal, right?! A word I get caught up on. :) There is no normal, really, because God made us all unique. But I think you know what I mean when I say all this. And all this has become quite the long-winded post! But I just wanted to share why I probably won’t stop talking about Mallory. Because she has become a friend to me, in my mind. ;)
Another thing I am learning is that autism is what I have. It is not what defines me. My identity is not autism, my identity can only be found in Christ. No matter what we battle, or have, or deal with, it is not solely who we are – who were are is solely rooted in Christ. It is He that lives within us, not we ourselves, for we have been crucified with Christ.
I don’t mind saying I have autism – I am not ashamed of this. But I want to be clear in that only God matters. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” He defines me, He makes up who I am, and as long as I keep my face turned toward Him, I will be radiant and no shame shall be found on my face (psalm 34:5).
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My “official” review of “Irrelevant” by Sarah Addison-Fox:
If there ever was a cliffhanger ending, this book has it. “Irrelevant” is the second book I’ve read by this author, and I love her writing style. It is so captivating that I can hardly put the book down. I wanted to get to this book even sooner than I did, but life events happened that challenged that. However, the author was so kind and understanding about that, for which I am very grateful! <3
This story is action-packed. Not exactly in the way that I would think of when using the words ‘action packed”, because there isn’t a great deal of fighting or fleeing involved (though there is some!), but everything that happens – it all happens quickly and seamlessly, and as I said, I really did have a hard time putting it down.
I want to focus on the characters. They are what drew me to this story in the first place. Mallory is Autistic – and oh my word, the author wrote her character SO well. I absolutely fell in love with Mallory, and could relate to her so much.I am on the Autism spectrum as well, and do I was just really able to relate and understand her so well. It felt really good for me. Everything about her was so realistic and believable, and spot-on. She is so unique, and loveable. One of the things that stuck out to me was that Mallory cried a lot. I cry a lot too, and I don’t know…I just found this added detail comforting to me. And how Cristan (the hero) handled her, especially in her tears – I loved that. He didn’t like to see her cry (not many men like tears at all…), but he knew how important it was for her to let her emotions out and he was so gentle with her. I just absolutely loved and appreciated that. He was so…respectful as a whole. Yes, he has some problems. He has anger issues, and he doesn’t deny that. But his respectful manner really stood out to me as well.
I want to know more about them, more about their story and their backgrounds – that cliffhanger was just cruel! XD
But really, the characters are brilliant. Mallory won the whole novel for me. She is priceless, and I just have to thank the author for writing her so well.
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As in all my reviews, I do like to give content warnings – this isn’t a Christian book, per-say. There was only one or two references to religion and God (and to be honest, one comment Cristan made about God/faith made me sad. Maybe we’ll see a turn around in the following books?), but it is not an overall theme in the book. There are also several swear words spoken throughout. Nothing too terrible or shocking, and it did fit the characters who spoke them. Personally, i am not a fan of swear words, but I was able to pass over them in this story.
There were some innuendos, and one scene at the end that was a little too close to a sex-scene for my particular comfort, but again, respect won out, and I appreciated that.
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All in all, I quite enjoyed this book, and again: loved Mallory!! Looking forward to the rest of the series.
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Pssssst. There’s also a paperback giveaway for Irrelevant happening! Enter HERE.
Posted in Devotional, God's Lessons, Spiritual beliefs

Hope

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Today I want to share a more personal lesson – an experience I recently went through, and what God showed me during it. Yes, the subject is Hope. There are a great many lovely songs and Bible verses centered around this word. It is, indeed, an inspiring word. But previously, I hadn’t really ‘attached’ to it as much as I have now.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I have long battled with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, and it shadows a lot of my life experiences, over-arcing into many areas of my life. It’s rather boring to talk about, but it does play a significant role in my journey.

One night recently, I had been struggled with my “sensory-issues” in the form of clothing. As is typical for me, I was having an awful time adjusting to how the clothing felt on my skin. Each clothing article felt just terrible, and I was dealing with some other struggles that were majorly stressing me. I was in tears, and just a mess. With my dear mom’s encouragement I went upstairs to try to pray about it all – just take all my stresses, worries, and uncomfortableness to our Lord.

I’ve experienced a lot of amazing healing from Him throughout my life. God is good. But as I sat at my desk that I night, I wasn’t feeling a major feeling of healing. I still felt low. Yes, I felt His awe-some presence, but I didn’t feel healed, and that’s what I wanted.

I flipped through the pages of my Bible, pouring out my heart as I went, and the word ‘hope’ stood out in almost every verse I “randomly” came upon. But honestly, I still felt downcasted. The verses were good, but weren’t really sticking to me. I reached for my last prayer-journal and again opened randomly, praying that I would turn to a page that would help me, minister to me. ( My prayer-journals aren’t entirely filled with prayers – in fact, they’re mostly verses I write down or things God has shown me, so I guess I should probably rename them. ;))

Sure enough, I turned right to an entry I had made in May of 2017, where I was once again writing out whatever my current struggle was and what the Lord showed me. Right at the top of that entry was the verse featured in the graphic above.

“Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Good Hope Through Grace.

I re-copied the verse into my current prayer-journal and emphasized that phrase. Good hope. Through Grace. 

I’d like to share what our Almighty Father spoke to my heart then:

“Hope, My child. Trust is good and vital, but also hope. Do not forget to hope in Me. Hope is a way in despair. Hope is the companion in sorrow. Hope in Me.”

And then He led me to write out my struggles but beside each one write: “Hope in Him”. Over and over. Hope. Let Him complete. He soothed me again with His words, “As you weep and as you cry, remember your hope in Me. Fight for it. Cleave to it; for through it you cleave to Me. Sorrow, but hope.”

The realization, the reminder, that hope is a companion in sorrow was profound to me. Hope does not take away our sorrow – it does not change our situation, but it makes a way through them. It lightens our burden, and eases our spirits. It is the light in the darkness. I pray we can all comprehend it and not turn away from it.

So, I sat there, tears still marking my face, pain still hurting inside, and my clothes feeling awful. But Hope. “Hope in Me”, He says. Hope is our companion as we sorrow – and we will sorrow. We are not promised good days all of the time. But we are promised His grace, and His Hope. Hope eternal. Forever, and always.

It’s hard, though – and that, I believe whole-heartedly, is why He said we had to fight for it, and cleave to it. The world and all its trials will try to rip it away from us. But we have to fight to keep it, fight to hold on to it, to cleave to it. For through it, we cleave to Him.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Ps. 43:5)

If you are sorrowing, my friends, remember to Hope. Hope that the Lord is here, hope that He is our consolation, our greatest reward, and He will remove us from our troubles – one day. Hope that He is GREAT, and all-powerful. And He is Lord.

Hope.

Posted in God's Lessons, Pinterest, Random babblings, Spiritual beliefs, Writing

Social Media and Me

I have this inner war with myself regarding social media. I love it, I see the good in it, and then…I don’t. I hate it. I hate how much garbage there is out there.

And my heart cries for how many mislead people there. How many people claim Christ but don’t proclaim Him.

There are days where I scroll through one of my feeds and I just get disheartened by what I see. We live in a very technology-age where social media is basically everything. And our lives looking good on the outside are everything.

But it’s not. We’re messy on the inside. Aren’t we all? Who can say their life is truly as perfect as their instagram pictures? Or their Pinterest boards? Or what we portray on Facebook or twitter? It looks good. But does it reflect our soul, which should be a mirror of our Savior?

I do not claim to have this down myself. Oh how I wish I did. But I still want my life to look pretty. I want to be able to take these aesthetically pleasing photos, and make beautiful art that just makes you want to stare at it for hours. I want to join in with the crowd and proclaim my own accomplishments. Ouch.

 

So there are days where I get upset as I scroll. Disheartened. Angry, even. I sometimes want to shout “People! Let’s tweet about Jesus harder than we tweet about ourselves!!”, but then God stops me short. He pulls me back and reminds me of the verse about seeing the speck in the other person’s eye when I’ve got a log in my own. He leads me to posts by others that convict my soul. I read one just this morning.

 

“Oh my soul, do not be stirred up by what does not bring life to self or others” 

 

-This quote comes from the post, Just Delete the App, on author J.A. Marx’s blog.

 

When I think I am right in my “righteous anger” towards people on social media, I really am just judging. And that’s not my place, and so I repent.

Yes, there can be shards of truth in what I was feeling – social media can be a monster. But it’s not my place to be all judgey about it. What people post is between them and God. I cannot change anyone. I can inspire. I can encourage. But it is not my battle to tell them what to do. Basically, it’s not my issue, so stop taking it on. I’m to live MY life, learning how to make it pleasing to the Lord. To stop looking outward and start looking inward more. That can be hard. But I want to try. I don’t want to be stirred up by things that do not bring life to myself, to others, or is  not pleasing to my Lord and Savior.

So maybe that means I click out of twitter for a while, or don’t visit facebook as often. Again, to quote J.A. Marx’s post…

“If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” Matthew 5:29.
Seriously, it’s easier just to delete the app.”

 

 

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(Image from google)

 

I want to be focused on following after God, not how to encourage other people to do that. Because if I first follow after God, encouraging people to do the same will happen naturally.

Yes, it is right to want to see Jesus more on social media. But it isn’t right for me to say where people need to put Him. We are all at where we’re at by the grace of God. And we’re all growing. Hallelujah! I’m so thankful to learn that it’s not up to me. The power is of God! And oh how I love Him.

 

 

Posted in God's Lessons, Writing

Heeding His Call in Our Writing

I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Deserve to be Inspired. Hosted by Positive Writer.

 

with Bride to be anna

 

I love writing. But I’m not always writing. Some of you may remember a post I wrote last year, “I’m a Writer, no really!” where I explained some of my journey with writing.
Today it is my goal to do my best to encourage you to keep writing. But not daily. Whaaat? You may be asking. I’m not saying you shouldn’t write every day.  But I’m also not one to say “Push through whatever is stopping you and just write 24/7!”. I know that’s what we, as writers, are told to do. Don’t wait for inspiration. But what if…what if we’re not “feeling” our story at the moment? What if when we have “writer’s block” that means we’re maybe not supposed to push through it at the moment?
If we’re writing for God, we are crowning Him King of our writing. He writes through us – it’s ultimately His story. There’s no other goal as worthy and fulfilling as writing for Him, because that means that even when we’re not published, our stories are being used for His glory because they’re for Him. Even if the whole world never gets a glimpse of our writings, He does and He loves them. I find a deep treasure in that.
So, sometimes God may have us stop in our stories. He may have us take a break. He may be prompting us to wait on Him when we feel no inspiration. And I recommend listening to that prompting. Our writing will be SO much richer when we wait on God. Wait for His “Go”.
I’m not saying to be lazy. If God is calling you to write, even through periods of no inspiration, then go for it. What I AM saying is, please, heed His call no matter what that is, in your writing. If He says stop, take a break, then seek Him why you’re writing isn’t flowing at the moment. If He’s showing you to keep going, run that race with His endurance! Sometimes it will be tough, but if He’s at the helm, He’ll give you the words. He’ll guide you and show you He’s in control.
I’ve gone through periods of times where I’ve sat down at my desk and pulled out one of my story notebooks, sharpened a pencil and just stared at where I left off. Wanting words to start flowing. Waiting for them. But they didn’t come. I wanted to write. I thought, “I can do this. Everyone else does.” And I tried writing by myself. If I was able to write anything, it was rubbish because I had run ahead of God and His leading. I wanted to do it all by myself. And so you know what God did to lovingly teach me? He took away my writing ability. I could form no written words. I couldn’t even write a book review. I was at a total loss for words, and I broke down and cried. I realized, I can’t do this on my own. I can’t push through His telling me to wait. Without Him I simply cannot write. He wanted to show me that yes, He’s blessed me with the talent of writing, but without Him it is nothing. Once I repented, gave my writing back to Him, I was able to write – but not me, Him. And it was fantastic. It felt so freeing, so wonderful, because it was in His timing, all about Him.
Three things I learned through this are:
1.It doesn’t matter what “everyone else is doing”. We are only called to follow God.
2. Apart from God I can do nothing. And that’s glorious when we can let go of our self-vision and lean on His.
3. Sometimes it’s not bad to wait. It can be a major time of refreshment.
Posted in God's Lessons, Spiritual beliefs

Honor Part Two

Honor blog post

 

 

 

I’m back! And I thank you for hanging around to read this. If you’re new, you can go read this post – Honor Part One. :)

I’m back for the topic of honor. What I started out for….I got a little distracted. ;) But a good kind of distracted!

So yes, honor. It means a lot. Whether we know it or not, when we get up in the morning and go about our day, we will do things that either bring honor or shame – thoughts, actions, everything.

Usually, we’re only thinking about our name – keeping a good reputation, making sure others see us as honorable, making sure our actions and thoughts bring ourselves honor. It’s automatic, but it doesn’t have to be. We don’t really represent ourselves at all. When we became a follower of Christ, we became a new creation – His Creation. No longer are we our own person – we never were really. We represent our parents, our family, our lives here on earth, but more importantly, what we need to realize is that we actually represent our Heavenly Father. We are royalty and of Noble Birth because of Him. So we represent Him. We carry His banner, and it no longer is a case of “I” but rather “Him”.  I’m sure we’ve heard this before. We’re Christ’s ambassadors. But we are even more than that, because we are grafted into His line – we are children of the King. There is royal blood in us. So, we really do represent our Father. He’s in us. Our mindset is changed – we no longer are just of ourselves; we carry some pretty heavy blood in us! That is an honor to us.

We don’t deserve Him. He deserves us (yep, He does! Keep reading), and so He deserves the honor we give Him. He bought us, He paid for us, and He wants us. As a friend of ours said, “When you buy something, don’t you expect to get it?!” Yes, of course! If I buy something, I want to receive it. I want to own it, because I paid for it. It’s mine now.

So we are to Him. By Jesus’ death, our sins are forgiven and we are redeemed by Yahweh, our Heavenly Father. He desires us beyond anything we can comprehend. He has called us by His name, we are His.

So, do we want to bring Him honor or ignore His gift and live in shame? I know by choice, we’d choose honor. It’s our hearts cry to be met by the Father. And He will meet us. Seek and ye shall find.

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.

Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;

I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. – Isaiah 43 1-7 (emphasis my own)

Posted in God's Lessons, Spiritual beliefs

Honor Part One

Honor blog post

 

 

I feel wholly unequipped to be writing this post. Why? Because I’m just learning myself. I don’t even have all the information on it. But God’s teaching and guiding always, and I want to honor Him.

So, what’s honor? What do we think of when we hear this word?

MUSHU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:

(Via Pinterest)

Hehe, yeah, that comes to mind for me. And ironically, before my family came upon this lesson of Honor and its importance, we had literally JUST watched “Mulan” and were discussing their emphasis and reliance on honor. Not really ironic, so much as timely. God does that a lot.

 

Okay, so back to the topic at hand. I’m just going to jump to it.

If we are children of God, He is our Father, and if He is our Father, we ought to want to bring Him honor. We honor Him. In everything. Or else we shame Him.

Honor is not the same as salvation. I want to say that right away.

And by the UTMOST graciousness and lovingness of our Father in Heaven, He has covered our shame – 100%. We’re born in shame. We need a Savior.

Some personal time: I lived out of a spirit of denial for a good part of my life. I didn’t want to face that some bad things have happened. Because it’s not fair. It’s injustice! I don’t want to be broken, dirty, shameful. Nope. None of us do. But you know what? This…wait for it….is a glorious place to be. Because you know what? Read these verses:

 

“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32

If a person is “righteous” without Jesus, they don’t need a Savior do they?

So, if we’re broken, if we’re dirty, if Satan has stripped us of our honor, then…don’t we need a Savior? YES!! And how wonderful is that? We need One, but the good news is we do not have to sit in this place of need – we already have One!!!! He’s ALREADY covered our shame that we were born with (remember, we were “born and shapen in iniquity”), and has REDEEMED us. Wow. I feel so much passion at this. I feel like I am finally getting it. Yes, yes, I know the awe-ing message of the cross. I know its magnificence, what God has done. I have gloried in it. But. But now I’ve faced my shame, I’ve seen my need. Not just seen and ignored, but seen and desired something different. Desired to let go of injustices. They go to the cross. It’s already nailed there.

Jesus is all. Jesus is enough. What He did on that cross – that did it all! Do you hear me? Don’t forget this message. Don’t go on living without it. We were dirty. We were toyed with by Satan. But that is not the end of the story! Oh no, not at all! That is just the beginning. Because God sees everything  – time isn’t a thing to Him. He knew what Satan was going to from the very start, and He knows our wills. So Satan temps us, he defiles us in any way he can, he tried to strip us of that robe of righteousness. But God says “That’s okay. Because I’ve already provided a New Way. I’ve already created streams in the desert. Will you not see it? I’ve given My SON. His blood for yours. I have redeemed you, My peculiar – special – people. I have bought and paid for you. You are Mine. I have conquered death, Satan is a defeated foe. Believe Me, My Child. I have called you precious in My sight.”

Wow. Wow. Wow.

I may be getting off topic. That happens. And so you know what? I’m going to do a Part Two Post. Where I’ll get back to the message of Honor. Till then, readers. You are loved.