Posted in God's Lessons

It is a Good Fight (surprise, not a review post!)

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“God will not harm your soul. He might harm your body – that’s going to be the tough part. But He’ll never, ever harm your soul.”
 
This video brought tears to my eyes – Joni E. Tada is such an encouragement to me. I highly recommend watching this video – especially to the end. The quote from her that I typed above really hit me. God will never harm my soul. But yes, He may harm my body. It may seem like a conundrum to say that that brought me relief. But it did. I don’t know about you, but it can be too easy to start questioning God about this pain or that pain, or the fear that imbeds itself into your very being. The fear that says “What if God has abandoned me because this pain is so severe? A Loving God wouldn’t do that, surely.” But the reality is…He is a LOVING GOD and THAT is why He allows these things, because they grow us so much. So, so much. The fight for joy is a struggle, but it is worth it – as Joni said, it is a Good Fight. I sometimes hate all the trials I have been through over the past several years, but I cannot deny that they have brought me to where I am today, that God has used them as my refining fire. And yes, I still battle to accept this, and know that it is okay. There are more days than I can count where I wrestle with God, pleading for that healing. But He promises to never harm my soul, that all He does is for my good. What a promise.
The things that hurt us are often the very thing that brings us to the cross, to Jesus’ feet. And it may not seem good at the time, but we can trust that He is doing something good. Something oh-so good that when it is completed, we will stand in awe. We just have to keep holding on, keep reaching out, keep wrestling, hoping, and trusting. Never, ever give up. He is worth every ounce of searching and fighting, and trusting and hoping.
 
I was reading in John yesterday, and came upon the chapter where Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death. And it hit me anew that, were I there, I would have pleaded and begged for Him not to go, not to leave me. Because at that moment, all I knew was His presence and the thought of not having that would be excruciating. But if He wouldn’t have gone, wouldn’t have gone to the cross, death would not have passed over us. His brief seperation from us hurt, but look at the good that came of it – eternal life with Him forever! But we couldn’t see that in the moment, when it scared us to think He would be taken from us. We, in our small human insight, would have rather begged for one more moment with Him, than enduring the unknown, and as a result, eternity with Him. It may sound cliche or contrite but I mean it with all my heart – I am glad He sees what is Best for us, even when it means that it may appear that He is hurting us in the moment. The result far outweighs these light and momentary trials. May I always remember that.
 
Happy Passover, friends. <3
Here is the video:
 
Posted in Book reviews, Uncategorized, update

3 Day Quotes Tag: 1/3

Good day, and happy June!

I am busy trying to get caught up on things…tags, last few reviews, blog posts, etc. It seems to be taking me a while! :P I think this is the last tag I have to complete, but I have a few more book reviews coming. Yes, as I said in this post, I am taking a break from reviewing – I am not breaking that rule as some may think. ^.^ I just am trying to finish up the books I’ve already received before I came to this decision. I am very close, though, to finishing this up. Only a few more review-books, and then I’m “free” to take my Sabbatical and enjoy it fully! :)

Anyway, shall I post what I’m actually here for? ^.^

Faith P. tagged me for this one – it’s a Quotes Tag! Thanks, Faith!

I don’t know if you people know, but I loooove quotes, so choosing only three is going to be hard!!! But I shall do my best. I am only going to take ones off my Pinterest account. I will refrain from listing favourite movie/book quotes, or else we’d be here for a while…as it is, narrowing down the Pinterest ones is going to be near impossible! But…here we go!

 

The Rules. 

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 3 new bloggers everyday
  • Post a new quote everyday for 3 consecutive days

 

First Quote:

 

 :

Amen. This is so true. I’m coming to learn and rely on this truth (well, rely on God through this truth). Doesn’t matter what I’m feeling…only matters that God is working – always for the good, too!

 

I’m actually going to break the rules too (hehe) and share more than one in each post, because obviously one is just to little!

 

Ah, Mike, how true. And what a beautiful truth it is that we are Christs and He is ours…and that’s enough. <3

 

Grace

Yes, this is a Bible verse, but it’s beautiful and one of my favourites. Therefore would I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me! Amen!

 

And here I am going to break the rules again. (But hey…”it’s my blog, I can do what I want” ;))

I am not going to tag anyone because I don’t think my brain is going to cooperate and be able to list 9 people that haven’t already done this one. ^.^ But if YOU decide to do this tag, let me know – I absolutely love discovering more quotes!!

 

Posted in Book reviews, BookCrash

BookCrash Book Review: “The Salt Covenants” by Sylvia Bambola

http://www.amazon.com/Salt-Covenants-Sylvia-Bambola/dp/0989970779/ref=sr_1_2_twi_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1429301845&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Salt+Covenant

 

“The Salt Covenants” by Sylvia Bambola

Fiction

Review copy from BookCrash

My Rating: 4 our of 5 Stars

 

About the book:

“Bambola (Rebekah’s Treasure) elevates a simple historical tale into something transcendent, in this beautifully written novel about a young Jewish noblewoman, Isabel, who flees the Inquisition on Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the New World.” Publishers Weekly starred review

“But these plans they have laid out for me like an embroidered rug, showing me where my feet must travel, is to me an awful penance for sins I did not commit.” Isabel

Spain 1493: Isabel has broken her mother’s heart by becoming a sincere convert to Christianity. But when she is noticed by Friar Alonso at La Casa Santa, the Holy House, she is forced to flee the Inquisition by entering into a loveless marriage and sailing with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. But all too soon Isabel is forced to struggle alone in her new life and new faith. With all the risks and hardships how is she to survive? And will she ever find love in this strange land? And what of the dangerous Enrique Vivar? Will his hidden agenda cost her her life?

My Thoughts:

I was quite impressed and pleased by this book. I had previously read Mrs. Bambola’s “Rebekah’s Treasure” and enjoyed that one, so I was excited to read another book by her when the chance came up. Though the time period was different, and thus the themes varied, it was still excellent.

This was a fascinating and well-written story, and a very full one. It is kind of hard to review because of that reason, but it really was good. At one point towards the end, I was worried it wouldn’t end happily, but I was really glad – and relieved – when it did! Main character, Isabel, had to go through a lot of trials, but the Lord gave her strength through them all. The history behind it all and weaved through it was spectacular.

I enjoyed seeing more into what it would’ve been like for those in 1493, especially for the Jews – or conversos* as they had to be, though it was sad too. So many struggles and wrongs and so many committed to them in the name of Christ. I loved though, that Isabel came to know Jesus and believing in Him as her Savior. It was all written beautifully. Oh and the part where they mentioned the Salt Covenant – that was so cool! I hadn’t heard of a salt covenant before, but it was really neat, and I loved it.

There were some more graphic scenes in various situations, which is why I would recommend this book for more mature readers (perhaps 17+). However, it was still a good read.

For me, it was a relaxing, quiet, yet very adventurous book, one I enjoyed!

 I received a free copy of this book from the publishers through BookCrash in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

 

*A convert from Judaism to Christianity; usually implies a forced conversion – from the glossary in back of book.

Posted in Book reviews, Books

Book Review and extras: “The Tomb: a novel of Martha” by Stephanie Landsem AND Recipe and giveaway!

http://www.amazon.com/Tomb-Novel-Martha-Living-Water/dp/1451689128/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1425989129&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Tomb%3A+a+novel+of+Martha

 

Eeeeee, I am so excited about this one!!! Enjoy this review, and stay tuned for the give-away info and the recipe at the end!!

 

“The Tomb: a Novel of Martha” by Stephanie Landsem

Book three in The Living Water Series (though can easily stand alone)

Review copy from the author

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

 

About:

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.
Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.
Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.
Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.
When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

My Review:

*Sigh* What a perfectly lovely book, that is not just full of fluff. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I had not one thing that I didn’t like. Stephanie Landsem continues to amaze me with her awe-inspiring books. This is the third book in her fantastic “Living Waters Series” and the encounters the characters have with Jesus are all superb! It’s heart-moving, really, it is. I have cried through all three of these books, so yes, as you can see, “The Tomb” was no exception.

Again, God is so good to have me read it at the exact right timing – I needed to read about Martha. And Mrs. Landsem just completely brought her to life in this amazing book. The Bible account is beautiful, and Mrs. Landsem just accents that.

What would Martha’s day to day have been like? What did she feel, believe, struggle with? Oh, it is all showed and handled so well in “The Tomb”! And each character was beautifully constructed. I got so attached to all of them.

Having read the Bible account of Lazarus many times, I knew what was going to happen, yet when Lazarus died – and came back to life by  Jesus’ power – I cried. It was so emotional.

Along with tears, this book had me laughing, as well as yelling at it. My family can attest to that. =D There were some edge-of-the-seat moments, I tell you.

But I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want the whole book to end, because I loved it so much. It is one you just want to stay in – forever. And I can’t wait to return to the lovely world Mrs. Landsem has shone light to.

What I love about Biblical fiction is it is so full of godly wisdom, and makes you read the Bible in a whole new light. I sometimes forget that when I’m reading just your regular ‘romance’ or ‘historical’ fictions – even if they’re Christian – Biblical fiction just gives me such a peace and fills me.  Praise God for Biblical fiction. :) (This is not to say that I do not enjoy romance/historical fiction, if they are Christian. Some are very God-filled, in which case I like them equally)

Oh and at the end there was a part where two characters from the previous Living Water’s Series book made it into the scene! It was adorable, and made me very happy. :)

I could rave on and on about this book, but I will try to stop and make sure this review isn’t too lengthy. But please, do check out all of Stephanie Landsem’s books – you won’t be disappointed!

One of the quotes I loved:

“He [Jesus] loved her- not because she could cook a feast, and keep her household clothed, not because she immersed the vessels and kept the law. He loved her…because she was Martha.” – Chapter 49 page  282

ALSO readers, I’m delighted to share with you two extra things with this review. Below is the image for the give-away Stephanie Landsem is holding on her blog, so be sure to click on that and go check it out!

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And second, I have a recipe of Martha of Bethany’s to share! It looks yummy. :)

 

Martha’s yogurt with pomegranate syrup

This is a simple, yet beautiful and delicious recipe that will make you feel like you’re having breakfast in Bethany with Martha, Lazarus, and Zakai. You only need two ingredients for this breakfast treat:

Plain yogurt (I use Greek yogurt but regular would work fine also)

Pomegranate juice

 

Martha would have had to break open the pomegranates, take out the seeds, pound them and strain out the juice. We can use a bottled pomegranate juice like POM to make this much easier.

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Pour 2 cups of pomegranate juice into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil gently until it is thick and reduced to about ¼ cup, it should take about 40 minutes. Watch carefully toward the end. Pour into a small pitcher or measuring cup to cool. When cooled, it will be thick and deep red.

Scoop yogurt into a bowl and pour the cooled syrup over. (The pomegranate syrup will be slightly bitter and not as sweet as we are accustomed to in our culture.)


Enjoy the flavors that would have been familiar to Martha and her family during the time of Jesus. 

 

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attribute for the pomegranate pic: “Pomegranate close up” by Taken byfir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.auCanon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 – Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pomegranate_close_up.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Pomegranate_close_up.jpg
And the last picture is thanks to Mrs. Landsem herself!

 

And let me say a BIG THANK YOU to Stephanie Landsem!! It was a JOY and BLESSING to be our your team and I adore your books :)

 

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author and publisher in exchange for my honest review which I have given.