Plenty of Roses

By Ashley from Striving For A Crown

There is a little girl that I know that I am 100% sure that I would lay my life down for. My almost two-year-old niece, Brooklyn. That girl is a ball of energy! Full of fire, smiles and hugs. She has curly, ringlet hair that is frizzy as ever, but just adds to cuteness.

"Brookin" the other day kept pointing to a scar on my leg and saying "Ow." I said, "Yeah, it's an owie. It hurt!" Then she repeated kissed it trying to make it all better! She is such a joy and her eyes soak in everything, trying to learn.

I have been thinking a lot about her innocence. When things all around her are going bad, she still sits happy at the dinning room table, eating her grapes. In her eyes, we have her covered and there is nothing to worry about. She will jump to me from the table because there is no doubt in her mind that I'm going to catch her.
Often, I think I should be more like her. She is so trusting of fallible human beings. Yet, I sometimes have trouble trusting a infallible God.

Only moments ago Brooklyn ran from my room. We were jumping on the work-out trampoline together. Jumping, she saw something on my dresser that she wanted to take a closer look at - my purple rose mom picked from the garden for me. She pointed and I brought it to the floor to show her. Her immediate instinct was to wrap her fat little fingers around it, and she did. But I said, "No, no Brookin! Gentle! We have to be gentle or the rose will break." She looked at me confused. She tried to smash it again and I had to remind her again. And again. And again. Then I told her smell it, she did and then tried to take a bite out of it. :D I guess it smelled good!

Eventually, she got it. She stuck her index finger out, quickly rubbed it across the flower and said, "Hentle".
I think we are this way with God. God has to reminds us of His promises over and over and over. He has to say "I love you!" and "Don't be afraid!" many times until we really believe it! This with any lesson. Little children learn by repetition and so do we! I know for me that I didn't really believe that there could be something in my life that God wanted to use, but now, I believe it - even though I still struggle. And the only reason I have learned this lesson is because God has taught me so many times! After continuous repetition, I finally get the point. Gods promises and His statements as simple as "I love you" start to change me. At first, just on the outside, but then the inside. I stop just hearing the words and saying "I believe it". They change me and I start ACTING like I believe it!...whatever the lesson may be.

It's hard to be patient with kids. I have four nephews and a niece and sometimes you want to go crazy, but I am so inspired by our wonderful Savior. Isn't it great to remember that the Lord's mercies are going to be new every morning? He isn't ever going to yell in frustration at us and wonder "why we don't get it". He is always going to be there, gently pointing us the right direction and teaching us through His sacred word. Never angry or impatient when we fail and squish the "task" or "rose" He has given to us.

My Father is amazing!

The rose...well, lets just say that it doesn't look as good as it did. Dark lines in the roses petals indicate that someone had tried to squish it, but that's okay. A lesson was learned and there are always plenty of roses. :)



Worlds Collide

Worlds Collide by Alison Strobel

Worlds Collide is the fictional story of Jack Harrington, the famous Hollywood actor, and Grace Winslow, an average Christian girl. They share their memories with Jada Eastman who will be writing their biography of how they met each other and Christ, and how their trials helped shape their life.

This book really didn't grab my attention like I hoped it would and there wasn't any unpredictable twists in the plot. It was just one of those books that didn't bore me, but at the same time, didn't have me dying to turn the pages. Even though later on in the story, it showed the negative results of pre-marital sex, I still didn't like how much it focused on it and how much alcohol references there were. Also, there were a lot of typos that I found very distracting.

I did enjoy the writing style of Alison Strobel though. The way the chapters switched from Jack's and Grace's different views was very interesting and added more depth to the characters.

I can't see myself recommending this book to anyone and only give it two out of five possible stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. All expressed opinions are uncensored and uninfluenced by them.


Who's Your Hero?

By The Director from Castles, Quills, and Cameras

When I read a book or watch a movie, I emotionally invest in those characters and the story.

I'm going to assume that on some level, you do too.

For two hours or for several days (however long it takes me finish a book), I've lived with any given set of characters; I've learned who they are; I've journeyed with them; I've laughed and cried with them; I've come to admire some and despise others; I've come to sympathize with all of them. In a sense, I've fallen in love with them. I hope you understand.

I've fallen in love with these characters that I've met, but out of everyone, the one I know the best and care about the most, is the main character, whether hero or heroine.

Ask me who my favorite character is from any book or movie, and I almost guarantee you that I'll say the main character. Why? That's the one I've journeyed with the most, that's the one I know the best. Even if some other supporting character has a better personality or whatever, that's not what counts to me. I've invested more emotion into the main character than anyone else. This is the hero's journey I'm experiencing, not the supporting actors'.

And those heroes (mainly heroes, not heroines; I don't read too many books with just a female MC) become my heroes. In a funny way, I look up to those characters.

I finished reading the second Castaways of the Flying Dutchman book last night. It's called The Angel's Command. You know who my favorite character is? Ben. (You had no idea, huh?) Once again, I got all sniffly by the end, but I'll deal with all of that in my review on the book, which I will do later.

But I've totally emotionally invested in Ben (and Ned). And it hit me last night: the way I've fallen in love with the character of Ben, they way I admire him and want to read more about him, should be the way I feel about Jesus.

Jesus should be my ultimate hero.

You see, friend, Jesus is no distant being, or a character in the pages of a dusty old Book. He was God in the flesh, and walked this earth 2,000 years ago. He did. And He gave His life for me. He saved me from Death itself. He's preparing a place for me and will be coming back for me. And I love Him so so much.

But it didn't hit me fully until last night just how much I've been holding back some of myself from Him. I hadn't really realized it.... He. Is. My. Hero.

Those thoughts and emotions swelling in me for Ben, for Joriem and Benjiah (Binding of the Blade series), for Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee (The Lord of the Rings), for Aidan and Antoinette (The Door Within Trilogy), for Cat and Anne (Isle of Swords & Isle of Fire), for Marcus and Esca (The Eagle of the Ninth), the list goes on... those thoughts should be for my Savior.

That love should be for my Jesus.

It hit home last night, and I'm pretty sure I cried and whispered, "Sorry, Lord."

Because He's greater than any of those characters I'll ever read about. And He hadn't been above them in my heart yet.

Because even though I had put Jesus first in my heart, something else still had "first" in this area without me realizing it.

Sure, I will still have fondness those book and movie characters, but they won't have my ultimate admiration and love. That's for Jesus. And now, I'm pretty sure I'll be spending more time reading my Bible than reading those other books on my nightstand/bookshelf.

So this is just me here to publicly say that Jesus is my true hero. He's my first love. And He's first in my heart. I won't ever love Him perfectly, I'm only human after all, but I'm here to remind myself and you about our First Love.

What about you? Who's your hero?

I've included links to some videos that have really blessed me recently. If you can take the time to watch/listen to them (the first two are for the song, the last is a well-known skit that recently moved me to tears), then I hope they bless you as well. 

Chris Tomlin's Our God 
Trip Lee's The Invasion
Lifehouse Everything Skit


Dug Down Deep

Dug Down Deep: Building Your Life on Truths That Last
Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris

I have never read any books on theology before Dug Down Deep, so I wasn't real sure what to expect. But since it was written by Joshua Harris, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.

"Dug Down Deep is my revealing theology in my own simple way -- not too polished, sometimes awkward, less than scholarly, hopefully gracious and faithful. Even though these are deep truths, I don't pretend to be swimming in the deep end of the pool. I'm splashing in the shallow end. But if my splashing can inspire you to dive in, I will have succeeded."

Joshua humbly teaches his readers to build their lives on truths that last, along with many other lessons by giving examples from the Bible and his own personal stories. I was motivated by many things that I read and found the book very interesting. Some of my favorite things were how he explained that we're all theologians, how we need to look past our mirror-faces and stop treating God as a Divine Butler (even if we don't mean to), and how just the way we pray can reveal how we view our relationship with God.

With the down-to-earth writing style, Joshua makes his book understandable and easy to relate to. Though, there were a few concepts that I personally didn't agree with, you don't pick up a book on theology and expect to see eye to eye with the author on everything. Overall, I enjoyed Dig Down Deep very much and would recommend it to almost anyone (because of some topics covered, I feel like the reader should be a bit mature). I would give this book four stars out of five.

"I've come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God's nature -- what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him -- affects every part of your life.

Theology matters, because if we get it wrong, then our whole life will be wrong."

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. All expressed opinions are uncensored and uninfluenced by them.


Aspire to Inspire

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!
     ~ Audrey Hepburn

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
     ~ Helen Keller

And in the end it is not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.
     ~ Abraham Lincon

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
     ~ Mark Twain

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.
     ~ Marilyn Monroe

You'll never find a rainbow if you're looking down.
     ~ Charlie Chaplin

God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.
     ~ C.S. Lewis


♫ How Deep The Father's Love For Us ♫

If I was listening to music and you were to ask me who I was listening to, most of the time, I would say Owl City -- I'm addicted to it!

" My prayer is that the music of Owl City serves as a bright light in a very dark place, a ray of hope in this haunted house of a world. I want the Lord Jesus to use my music to do WHATEVER it is He wills."
~Adam Young in an interview with The Christian Post


The Canary List

The Canary List by Sigmund Brouwer

Jamie Piper is a twelve-year-old foster child who wants a normal life and family. But she can't feel safe when she can sense the evil in people around her. So on one June night, she turns to her teacher, Crockett Grey for help.
"...the feeling of Evil was still so real she couldn't shake it. She wanted -- no, needed -- to talk to someone about it. Wanted -- no, needed -- to feel safe. Somehow."
But Crockett never wanted to be a part of the mess and never imagined how quickly things take a turn for the worse.
"Surely the man had to be exhausted, but he wasn't showing it. And most surely, the man had to be bewildered. A week ago, his life was that of a schoolteacher at the beginning of summer break. Now he was in Rome, Thrown into events far beyond his comprehension."

My Thoughts:

"The Canary List" was definitely a fast paced and suspenseful novel but it wasn't very gripping. It was a bit confusing and I found myself more than once having to re-read parts because I felt so lost. Also, the story followed many different characters (some of them only playing minor parts) and so it was hard remembering who they were later on.

Most likely, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It was nothing like I expected and I wasn't really able to get into it. I was pretty disappointed (especially in how much it was focused on Satanism) and only give it two out of five stars.

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. All expressed opinions are uncensored and uninfluenced by them.