Love and Faith

I Want to Be Dangerous

My church is currently going through a series called DANGEROUS. Each week we look at the lives of the people in the Bible who were dangerous to satan, the people who showed up on his radar as people to watch and go after. I’m loving it! Not only because it’s been great, but it has reminded me of the truths in Screwtape Letters and as we all know, that’s one of my favorites from Lewis. Anyway, we’ve talked about Jesus, David, and Esther.

After each sermon, I’ve been randomly thinking of ways I need to be more dangerous. Do I trust my own strengths or do I trust Jesus’ strength? Do I wait for His timing? Am I seeking Him daily through His Word and prayer? Do I trust Him in the battles?

It’s been convicting and encouraging at the same time. I don’t have much more to add (plus it’s been 900 years since I’ve blogged), but I encourage you to look at those people who kept satan on his toes and, what do you say? Let’s be dangerous together!

(If you’d like to watch the sermons, check out the sermon videos here!)

And for chuckles, here’s a video from one of the sermons. Each week, some of the staff members do something dangerous and I got to stare my fear of heights in the face. Like for real. I have two things to say: 1. Sorry for the scream. 2. I had to sign a waiver, so legit dangerous 🙂

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Book Reviews, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

CSB Apologetics Study Bible | Review

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible helps today’s Christians better understand, defend, and proclaim their beliefs in an age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. This revised and updated edition includes new articles and extensive apologetics study material from today’s leading apologists to reflect and provide deeper understanding of the relevant apologetics issues and questions being discussed today.

Includes commentary from over 90 leading apologists, including: Ted Cabal, Lee Strobel, Chuck Colson, Paul Copan, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, J.P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, and many more — plus a lead article by Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ).

Features include: Presentation page, Book Introductions, Study Notes, Apologetics articles from leading apologists, “Twisted Scripture” explanations for commonly misunderstood passages, Profiles of Christian apologists, Two-color interior, Two-column text, 9.75-point type size, Smyth-sewn binding, Ribbon marker, Full-color maps, and more.

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture’s life-transforming message and to share it with others.

I was really impressed with this Bible. Full disclosure, I didn’t review every single article, but I didn’t read several and thought they were helpful pieces to the conversations many of us have with unbelievers. It helped that one of the random profiles I came across was on C.S. Lewis :).

I also thought the “twisted scripture” bits throughout were really helpful. How do other religions use scripture to fit their theology? Explaining the reasons and other scriptures helped my understanding of other religions. I think information like this is not only important to engage in intelligent conversations, but also strengthens my beliefs in Scripture.

What’s one of your favorite apologetics resources?

(Thank you to Holman Bible Publishers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Love and Faith

There Are Better Things Ahead

This year has been a year. In both incredible ways and also really hard and ugly ways. From personal events and happenings, to things in friend’s lives (from exciting engagements and babies to cancer diagnoses), to global events (from racism, to horrific mass shootings, to heart wrenching natural disasters to people coming together in beautiful ways), 2017 has been a year. A heavy year that I’m most definitely ready to say farewell to.

But here’s the thing: I’m thankful that each has taught me that it doesn’t end here. This is not it. It’s because of this truth, I have hope. Psalm 71:14 reads, “As for me, I will always have hope.” I don’t know what I would do without that promise. Without the Words that bring hope and are true.

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

I have this hanging on a wall in my house – a gift from a friend and the quote is from none other than C.S. Lewis.

The quote comes from a letter Lewis wrote. A few months back it was posted by an author friend, Tamera Alexander, as she and her family worked through her Dad’s failing health. Here’s the full letter:

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On how to rehearse for death and how to diminish fear.
17 June 1963
Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hairshirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.
Yours (and like you a tired traveller near the journey’s end) Jack
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

That’s the hope that keeps me going. That no matter how horrific evil rears its head, there’s hope. This may not be the end for many of us, so I plan on making this a really great rehearsal. Christ isn’t finished yet – with me or the Church.

I will continue to fight and speak out against injustices and work towards making our nation the ideal it has long promised (and the world too). Action is an important piece to our Christian life. Whether that’s helping my neighbor or working towards change in our government. My Christianity isn’t tied to a party or one cause. It’s dedicated to the pursuit of justice (and Christian, pro-life views do not end once a baby is born, but that’s another post for another time), loving my neighbor (even when I don’t agree with them) and trying to leave this world a better place.

I will continue to pray because that is the most important piece. You know what else I will continue to do? Be active. Be a voice. Use my freedom to hold accountable politicians. Demand for more. And live everyday as I think Jesus would – serving, loving and sharing the hope I have in Christ.

Love and Faith

What If?

I’ve learned that when God wants to teach me something (and usually a repeat lesson, I can be stubborn on occasion), He is the most Creative out there. He doesn’t stop at Scripture or prayer (although I’m a fan of both). He brings in all the things – even a country song.

Have you heard the song “What If” by Kane Brown? It hit the radio a few months ago. It’s super catchy and cute and I became an instant fan. Here’s some of the lyrics:

You say what if I hurt you, what if I leave you
What if I find somebody else and I don’t need you
What if this goes south, what if I mess you up
You say what if I break your heart in two then what…

What if I was made for you and you were made for me
What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be
What if I ain’t one of them fools just playin’ some game
What if I just pulled you close, what if I leaned in
And the stars line up and it’s our last first kiss
What if one of these days baby I’d go and change your name
What if I loved all these what ifs away

When it came on the radio several weeks back, I thought to myself how the “What If” idea isn’t only for romance. It’s for all aspects of life. It’s easy to become cynical in the world we’re living, but I never want to.

Recently, the Life Group I host and co-lead picked a study by Mark Batterson and you know what it’s called? What If. No lie. The whole bible study is based around Romans 8:31:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In one of the recent video studies, Batterson talked about Ephesians 3:20. It’s been a life verse for several years now. Years back, when I was in Austin, my church did a whole series on it. Through this new study, God has been reminding me what He taught me back in Austin. No joke, a couple of days after that study, my morning scripture reading was Ephesians 3. I legit laughed out loud as soon as I opened up my bible. To top it off, I started decorating for Christmas (Judge away internet. Judge away. ;)) and an ornament I didn’t even know I had, had Ephesians 3:20 written on it.

I’ve kept this for years and is a reminder I see every morning

There’s been conversations with friends, with coworkers and even other books I’ve read….all things that God has brought into my path, reminding me Who He is, what He is able to do and what He wants to do. So why would I ever stop asking What If?

What if…
…I could get that job?
…that dream was worth going after?
…I became the parent I believe I could be?
…that relationship were possible?
…We pursued adoption?
…I could make that move?
…I put myself out there to make friends?
…I took that chance?

These are several “what ifs” I’ve heard people in my life ask and prayer through. I’ve been inspired by these people. In the past, I’ve sometimes done the, “well if I don’t ask for it, I won’t be disappointed when God says no.” It’s easier that way isn’t it? But what a depressing and fearful way to live. We were made for so much more.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I’ll share one more quote from the video study that has stuck with me since: “God has blessings for you in categories that you don’t even know exist.”

May we always live life that way. Expectant and willing.

What I love about this truth is, it’s for everyone. Whether you’re “what if” makes you famous or whether it gives you the courage to be the parent you want to be (or both!), God’s truth remains the same and that “what if” will change the world.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

What’s the “What If” in your life?

And in case you want to hear the country song – here y’all go!

Book Reviews, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

She Reads Truth Bible

The She Reads Truth Bible aims to live at the intersection of beauty, goodness, and Truth. Featuring devotionals by the She Reads Truth team, and Scripture reading plans that include supplemental passages for deeper understanding, this Bible invites every woman to count themselves among the She Reads Truth community of “Women in the Word of God every day.” The She Reads Truth Bible also features 66 key verses, artfully lettered to aid in Scripture memorization.

Features include: almost 200 devotionals, 66 artist-designed key verses, 35 full-color timelines, 20 full-color maps, 11 full-color charts, reading plans for every book of the Bible, one-year Bible reading plan, detailed book introductions, key verse list, carefully curated topical index, smyth-sewn binding, two colored ribbon markers, and wide margins for journaling and note-taking.

The She Reads Truth Bible features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text. Translated by more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations, the Christian Standard Bible features an optimal blend of accuracy and readability that’s faithful for serious study, and written with heart-stirring clarity that inspires readers to live and share it.

Well, simply put, this is a beautiful Bible! I’m such a visual person, so beautiful maps, script, quotes, images, they will inspire me every time. This will make a beautiful gift for any woman who loves God’s Word. Outside of the actual scripture, there’s plenty of inspiration throughout AND lots of space for journaling and note taking. I love that there’s a one year reading plan included as well.

I also love the devotionals sprinkled throughout. There’s an incredible variety, voices and topics. I truly believe they’ll encourage you wherever you’re at. This is a beautiful bible and would make a very special gift!

What kind of Bible owner are you? Keep one until it falls apart? Try new versions? Have multiple ones?

You can find out more about the details of the bible at shereadstruthbible.com.

(Thank you to B&H for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Family Life, Love and Faith

Aslan is on The Move….And I’m Half Terrified/Excited/Can’t Wait!

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:2

I quoted this verse in a post I wrote recently about being a hot mess. I talked about trying to figure out if I was doing life right. Questions like “Am I pursuing what I should be or do I need to let go of that dream?” You know, simple questions.

(Side note, I do believe there are dreams we have that are never meant to be realized and instead its the journey we needed. Like, I was supposed to marry Keanu Reeves. But y’all, I finally let that one go because I accepted this would never come to pass. But don’t worry I can quote Speed like a boss. #TheJourney).

That weekend I also decided to apply to more publishing jobs (true story, about every quarter for the past couple years I would do this. We’re talking ALL THE JOBS in ALL THE CITIES, except really cold states because no) with the thought process of “well, let’s just keep trying.”

You can imagine my excitement when I had a phone interview that very next week and then an in person interview the following week and then a job offer. Y’all WHAT? Was this my life?

And y’all, it was and now is. I am moving from the great state of Texas to the insanely gorgeous state of Colorado to take a position with Waterbrook and Multnomah Publishing.

Internet.

My job will now involve books. All the time!

Yes, I am soooooooo excited, but totally terrified too.

Moving from Texas is different than when I moved from California in so many ways. Leaving California was hard, but I knew I’d always visit. In the 8 years I’ve been in Texas, I’ve created my Texas family. When I think about leaving them, I start crying. #RealTalk. I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit, when they’ll be able to visit (although COLORADO MOUNTAINS FOR THE WIN!), so it’s different leaving. (Plus the food internet. THE FOOD).

Going on an adventure is exciting, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Does that stop me or shut down my excitement? Not at all, because I have seen God’s hand in so many ways through this whole process, He really is just showing off at this point. I LOVE IT.

Being brave and courageous isn’t the absence of fear, but as many have said, it’s the willingness to fight that fear head on. It wouldn’t be courageous if there wasn’t something a bit scary about it.

And so begins the new adventure and new chapter in my life!! #PrayForMeDuringWinter

I can’t wait to share more, the pictures and the all around awesomeness as I explore my new city. Aslan is definitely on the move y’all!

Love and Faith, Ponderings

The Days of Being a Hot Mess

So true story, I’ve never had just one job. After college, I got a “big girl” job at my church (the 8-5 type) and then built up my photography business on the side. Early on, I also worked for a large photography company on the weekends.

I decided to close out on wedding photography a few years after my move to Texas and then I started book blogging while working full time. And that’s where I am today; two blogs, a Shoppe and podcast. Working a job to pay the bills (although I have to say I love my coworkers – That makes such a difference!), but also writing, blogging, entrepreneuring (having no idea what I’m doing most of the time) after hours and most weekends.

All that to say I don’t get “being bored.” I think the last time I was truly “bored” was maybe at the age of 12 during a long road trip. This was pre all-the-technology and I could never read (and still can’t) in a car because if I did for more than 3 minutes, the driver better be prepared to pull over and let me almost die.

And I’m not claiming this is a good or bad quality, but it’s mine. I don’t know how to not be working on some project or new idea. Blessing or curse, just depends on the day. I guess there’s so many things I want to try and places I want to go, so my brain doesn’t slow down. Also I am my father’s daughter. (He’s amazing. He’s retired and does so much with ministries, being Gramps and changing the world. I’m seriously so inspired everyday by him and my Mom)

And in case I haven’t mentioned I feel like I have no idea if I’m moving in the right direction and feel like I’m a hot mess most of the time. Do I love writing and blogging? 100%! I’m not going anywhere, but I’d being lying if I didn’t admit I question if I’m doing what I need to be.

I think this was brought on by this current very busy season I’m in (both work and personal), but I ask “Am I doing the right things? Is this what God truly wants me to be doing, or am I fighting for something I shouldn’t be?”

HOW WILL I KNOW IF I’M DOING THIS LIFE THING RIGHT?!

Have I mentioned being an adult does not come with the confidence I remember my parents and other “old” folks had when I was 10? Because IT DOESN’T.

I know all the Jesus answers and I believe in them with all my heart, but y’all it’s still hard. Am I chasing a dying dream? Yet, the other side of it would be to only work my “real job” and the thought of that is terrifying. I love writing, photography and everything I do around the internets. But will this be forever ever? Will I be working two jobs for all of my days? Will I one day be able to focus on what brings my heart so much joy?

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:22

Recently my church did a sermon on the Sabbath and I was reminded that everything is only a season. The good, the crazy, the bad, the awesome, the mix, the in-between. Let me tell ya, I grabbed on to that drop of wisdom like nothing else. Do I 100% know if I’m doing exactly what I should be? Let’s just say “not really,” but God is faithful and provides my heart with peace when I need it most and reminds me sometimes trusting in Him doesn’t mean we get to see where He’s leading, but we can trust the Guide.

And more than that, I’m thankful that each and every season of life the Lord uses to draw me closer to Him and maybe even use my life to draw people closer to Him as well.

How do you get through the busy and uncertain seasons?

Love and Faith

This Easter We Can Still Sing Hallelujah

Do y’all feel the darkness that seems to be growing in our world? From all that is happening on our own soil (Y’all, Donald Trump is the frontrunner for the GOP and if I start with all he “inspires” to fellow Americans, I won’t stop, so I’ll just say Lord Jesus HELP US) to persecution, slavery, trafficking and terrorism around the world. The news of Brussels this week broke my heart all over again. So much darkness.

There’s times when I can feel the heaviness and burden in my soul. Pain, hurt, loss. But recently, God has reminded me of His goodness and His hope.

And hallelujah there is a hope that will never be loss!

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 28:7

We sang “Forever” by Kari Jobe recently at church and y’all it hit my heart at a time I desperately needed it.

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him

One final breath he gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Forever He is glorified
Forever He is lifted high
Forever He is risen
He is alive, He is alive!

My heart is reminded on this beautiful story we are all a part of.

Psalm 39:7 shares this blessed truth:

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You.”

I know Who goes before me and Who stands behind, so come what may, I’ll never lose my hope.

No matter what happens, I can fully trust and believe that the Lord is fully and wholly in control. Even when He hands this nation what they want (even when it’s so far from what these people need). Even when I’m living in a culture turning further and further away from God, I still have hope (and I can still fight for goodness).

No matter how great or how dark the circumstances are around me, the truth of what we celebrate this Sunday never wavers and never will. We can still loudly sing Hallelujah.

What hope and what joy!

So Happy Easter friends and may you be blessed by the truth of the beautiful Gospel. That Jesus came, died and rose because of a love so deep, so amazing and so divine!

Love and Faith, Ponderings

The Thing About Miracles

I’ve seen quite a few miracles recently. Big ones too.

Adoptions finally happening.

Family relationships and rifts slowly beginning to heal for the first time in years.

And it’s been incredible. These are things I (and so many others) have been praying for over friends for years.

I tear up thinking about both not only because they are beautiful, awesome and the answers to prayers cried out for so long, but because in clear visible ways in the lives of women I love, the Lord has completely shown me that He is good. Do I believe He is good when He doesn’t answer prayers in the way I envisioned? Oh course He is, but I also don’t want to be afraid to rejoice when He chooses to answer prayers in the way our hearts longed for.

Because if I’m being honest, how often I need to be reminded that He is good. Oh, I know that truth deep down in my heart, but too often in my waiting I lose sight of that. I get restless waiting. Frustrated. Dejected even. It can get like that when you know the Lord has placed certain things on your heart, but you start doubting because the timeline is longer than expected. Or maybe you tried something and it didn’t turn out as planned. And you’re back to square one.

But as I was reading these text conversations recently, it hit me all over again. That these were big things the Lord was revealing right before me. Miracles. None of these were the timeline any of us thought, but they turned out to be perfect and have brought more glory to His name in ways that wouldn’t have been possible if it worked out early, no miracle necessary.

What an incredible God we serve! I’ll end with a few verses that have encouraged and reminded me of God and miracles.

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” Psalm 77:14

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

“He is the one you praise; He is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” Deuteronomy 10:21

I pray that if you find yourself like me, these verses and promises will revive your heart and soul.