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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I read Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Last week, on the banks of the Kentucky River, I read Connilyn's latest book. I have to tell you, I always enjoy her work. I don't think it is exemplary writing that draws me in. Sometimes I have questioned how a quick plot change came about. I just roll with it because her stories are good and redemptive. They are well researched. The most beautiful thing I pull from them is that they are infused with a rich love of God's word. Watching her characters conform (or not conform) their lives to God's teachings gives this new longing to know it more. It's not just doing what is right, but a love of honoring God and cherishing life. She clearly shows the exquisite compassion of God's character. Every single time I read something she has written, I am deeply thankful that God has given us his word to shape our lives. We are no longer bound to the sinning in ignorance. I think we can often forget what a miraculous gift this is. Thank you for the reminder, Connilyn.

This book, Wings of the Wind, was written from the perspective of a person who was rescued by the Hebrews in their desert wanderings after Egypt. I thought this was such a unique viewpoint because you could see how foreign good and godly things are from the pagan culture. It gave a picture of how long and hard it is to win the trust of someone who is not used to the loving attributes of the people of God. Foreign practices were also showcased in some of the chapters so you could get a clear picture of the stark contrast between the divine and the demonic cultures. 

I enjoyed reading this and have been encouraged by the story. I left my copy at a tiny house in the woods of Kentucky hoping the next person who comes across it will hear the gospel in it. 
Happy reading, friends.

Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for graciously providing this book for review. 

Read more about the book description and Connilyn on Amazon.





Thursday, June 01, 2017

Hello Stars as reviewed by Lulu

My Lulu and I received a book to review from the publisher. If you know her, you know she read this 6 times the week she received it. I had her write out her synopsis of the book. Mostly, she loved that it was written by a girl not much older than her.
 Lulu tells about Hello Stars by Alena Pitts.

Hello Stars is a great book. It's about a girl named Lena Daniels. She has three little sisters. There's an 8 year old named Ansley and 6 year old twins named Amber and Ashton. 28 days before school ends, her friend Savannah, went to her, Lena, and their other friend Emma's favorite singer, Mallory Winston's concert. Savannah tells Lena that Mallory is going to be in a movie and wants a girl between the ages of 10 and 12 to be in it with her. All they have to do is make a video talking about themselves and send it to Mallory Winston. Lena's video doesn't go so well because she has fruit snacks between her front two teeth. Mallory picks her anyway. She has to be in Los Angeles for 3 months and her whole family comes with her. Through the filming her family meets Kay who does her hair and makeup as well as Mr. Fenway who films it. The movie is called Above the Waters. It's about a mom, grandma, and daughter. All is fine until the grandma gets sick and the family is struggling to cope with the news. Then the daughter meets a woman named Nicole who helps the family cope with it. They learn to trust God in every condition. Lena plays the daughter who is 10 and whose name is Jennifer. Mallory plays Nicole.

"I loved this book and cannot wait to read the next one." -Lulu

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

I read Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

"It starts with us. If we are not moved by the Spirit of God, why on earth would anyone else be moved? If we don't experience His forgiveness and His grace on a regular basis, then how could we give away his forgiveness and grace to anybody else?"
—Jennie Allen, Nothing to Prove

What do you do? It's the question we are asked when we meet people? Sometimes that can feel like our worth is being sized up by our occupation. What if we don't have one? What if we are quietly serving people the world deems unimportant? Will we ever be enough to impress them? No, but we can make peace with that. It seems that we have all taken up the occupation of trying to create light when we are not meant to create light. We are meant to reflect it and wield it. The pressure is off when we remember who Christ is and go to him to accomplish his desires.

That's why Jennie brought a breath a sweet, fresh air into my life. She reminded me over and over to just ask Jesus, to trust him, to anticipate him. In her simple, girl next door style, she spoke kind, affectionate words about God. The book fanned a spark in my spirit to just be near to him. Thank you, Jennie, for reminding me of the goodness of God and my inner desire to be close. Time to clean out the clutter and enjoy the relationship.

"When I looked up the word joy, I was surprised by all of its synonyms: wonder, delight, elation, satisfaction, fun, happiness. I hate to say it, but these are not words I would use to describe you and me most of the time. Here is my fear: we have somehow come to believe that it is wrong to be happy. Maybe it's because we're too aware of the suffering all over the world. Maybe it's because we're carrying the pressures of work and life. Maybe it seems that fun is an escape from responsibility rather than an attribute of people who know God." 
—Jennie Allen, Nothing to Prove
I crave the beauty and joy and freedom that come from receiving our lives rather than consuming them.
—Jennie Allen, Nothing to Prove


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Little Update

What Are You Creating?
You  know those things you have always wanted to do, but just never did. That was me with painting for a decade or so. Over the past few years I have created thousands of things. I made a commitment to make something new every day this year. You can follow along on my Instagram or purchase pieces at thegospelmom.com. All of the proceeds go to benefit missions and adoption. Part of it will be funding my trip to Haiti in December. Thank you kindly for following along.

What Are You Reading?
Here is my book stack. What is in yours? My two Bible studies are almost over. I have truly enjoyed them both. Most of all, I have loved who I have shared them with. Breathe has brought fresh air to my soul. It has reminded me that I do not serve a harsh task master and I am free to rest. Sabbath was used by God to teach the Israelites that they didn't need to work to earn his favor like they had with their overseers in Egypt. He loved them because they were his. I'm reviewing Jennie Allen's book for Thomas Nelson Publishers. I love her. Thanks for supporting my book habit, publishers. I picked up the book Grace, Not perfection at Cracker Barrel because there is a chapter entitled "Savor Your Circus." Of course, I am slowly savoring Don Quixote. My original copy is on top. It's interesting that it is 550 pages and my updated version (excellently translated) is 940 pages. The second translation is also in smaller print. Apparently, Mr. Cervantes wrote and added to this book multiple times. There is also a part two that is included. It's very interesting and makes me happy every single day. I share about my thoughts on reading it on my Instagram account. Follow along. Have you read it?
I write to you wondering why there is a crystal salt shaker on the floor behind my bathroom door as my husband belts out the National Anthem. My thoughts of late are constantly on the Man of La Mancha. I feel a new fire to fight for hearts. It was lived out as we chopped up a snake with a machete. On this day I did not eat the biscuits at @crackerbarrel while dining with @emilyawylie ... but, decided to momentarily forgo the Lenten commitment I made to give up bread in the evening. @jsmitttty bringing homemade cinnamon rolls (her grandmother's recipe no less) must certainly be close to communion. Bless him who gives us freedom to partake of the roll and call it good. #breakingbread #donquixote pg 323/940 #manoflamancha It seems that our dear Mr. Quixote thought he killed a giant and spilled his blood, but he simply attacked a full wineskin hanging above his bed. #cinnamonrolls #lent #cheater #bookstagram #books #reading
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What Are You Cooking?

What Are You Doing?

I am currently pondering taking some classes, putting together a Women's Retreat on April 8th, and getting ready to speak in Amarillo in April. I want to personally invite you to the retreat. It's just for the day on April 8th. It's at gorgeous Thistlewood Manor in Kyle, TX. Do you ever feel so busy that you just miss Jesus? We even rush through our Bible studies. I became obsessed with looking for and capturing the beauty of Christ in my every day life. It has transformed my heart. I wanted very much for you to all come along with me. Listen to women and men who have been finding the beauty of Christ in their every day life and how it has changed every thing. The only cost is for the meals. Join me in enjoying Jesus. Eventbrite Tickets : Year of Beauty

What is Happening At Your House?

Well, we cleaned out the third floor. We brought thirty boxes plus furniture and other things down three flights of stairs and went through it all. We have begun remodeling it to serve as an apartment for ministers and missionaries. Come help and stay tuned. We have around 150 houseguests each year. Some are struggling through things and some just need rest. Thank you for supporting our journey and caring enough about those out there sharing the gospel that you give to us. If you are interested in helping here, come volunteer, PRAY!, or donate at GIVE!




Sunday, March 05, 2017

I Read Under the Tuscan Sun

Over the Christmas break, I read the updated 20th Anniversary edition of Under the Tuscan Sun. Is it possible that it has been twenty years since this book came out? Surely there is some miscalculation on the publisher's part. No. I got old. So, I can review this story for you as a 19 year old and a 39 year old. 

This book  includes many of my favorite things. It's about hope, hard work, restoration, food, and a culture that revolves around friends and family. I thought it was interesting following the Italian version of a  remodel. It seems much like the one I have experienced. Slow. Workers come and go whenever they feel like it. At least we have three things that help us keep our minds full of hope.
God. Food. People.

I know the real question is how people think it compared to the movie. The basic premise of her story is there. She had been through a terrible divorce and decided to buy a villa in Tuscany. In the movie she was single. In real life she was already remarried. In the movie she found this place on a gay tour of Tuscany (given by her friends that were pregnant and could no longer go). In real life, as I said, she was married and had been to Tuscany many times with her husband before taking this leap. There is no wild romance with an Italian man in the book or crazy sex scene. All of that must have been added in for theatrical flare. The book is just about restoration, food, and family. It's about the people we pass every day. It's more simple.

In her writing, Frances seems a bit low key. In the movie, Diane Lane brings exuberance, joy, and chutzpah. I enjoyed both. They are quite different, but both make you want to cook. Pass the pasta.

This book was graciously provided by the publisher for review.

Friday, January 27, 2017

I read The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

I was at a Christmas party recently sitting at a table between my  husband and a man I had never met, a lawyer. I asked him every sort of question and his answers were equally deep and hilarious. I asked him if being a lawyer was his dream job or if he had something else he’d like to do with the next leg of his life. You know there were wild dreams in his heart. He turned the question back to me, quid pro quo. First, let me say that I have something I am working on for the next season of my life when my kids are grown. This question he asked was about the work we do at our house. Do I ever want to not do that anymore. That hit me. I couldn’t imagine a life without hospitality. I looked at him maybe a little too serious and said, “I can’t imagine a life not sitting among the broken.” There is this sacred space that pain brings us to. It’s a rare window when the walls come down and the heart opens up. You don’t find people like that often. In the quiet of the home, I am humbled to be in these moments. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and I want to be too. 

I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way and settled onto the paragraph and read it again and again.

Somehow I wonder if it’s in shattered places, with broken people, we are most near the broken heart of Christ. What if we only find our whole selves through this mystery — the mystery of death and resurrection, of brokenness and abundance? Could this be what it means to live in the encircling embrace of communion: broken giving way to abundance — and then abundance, which is broken gives way to an even greater abundance. Why are we afraid of broken things? What if the abundance of communion is only found there in the brokenness of suffering — because suffering is where God lives? Suffering is where God gives the most healing intimacy. 

Out of the fullness of grace that He has received, He thanks, and breaks, and gives away — and He makes a way for life-giving communion. A broken way.

Brokenness can make abundance.

I read and kept reading about her learning to let her pain surface so that she can have deep communion with people. Most of us never get there. We never let our soul appear threadbare enough to help anyone that is hurting, I too am learning. I identified with her past of struggling with agoraphobia. I could not even lay out for you the pain I have experienced in this life, but I am learning a lesson. If I thank God for it and lay it out there for others, bitterness erodes and healing begins not just for me, but for the community of women around me that are hiding their pain. Shame is a liar. We are to be co-suffering communities. Like Paul says, "Suffer with me." Teach me how, God. Teach me how to take all of the pain deep within and shape it into a safe place for a heart. 

This is easily the best book I have read in several years. Buy it. Read it. Listen to it. Learn to share the unique path that you have seen and offer it as a love offering to divine fellowship.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I chose this book to review because it is about a woman who does restoration for a living. Restoring a one hundred year old house, that piqued my interest. In the beginning, I trudged through it somewhat. I do not like things that are designed to manipulate me emotionally and this felt like that typical romance novel. Sad girl gets swept off of her feet by an Italian man and moves to Italy with him. As the story went on, I started to embrace it more. It became about family and how loving people in all of their imperfection is part of our beautiful story. Sometimes we get stuck in a textbook version of life and forget to love people through and in their messes. . . and ours. It's how we grow. 

I thought the end of the story was rich and powerful as it slowly revealed Jesus and forgiveness. Most of the story purposefully barely leads to church. Its a seeking and finding. Of course, Italy is lovely too. You can follow the family through truffle hunts, wine pairings, pasta making, and painting. I enjoyed reading how our tortured restorer became who she had wanted to be through vulnerability and allowing herself to hurt. Pain is often a great gift and gives grand capacity for great joy.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for graciously supplying this book for review.