Sunday, December 29, 2019

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O Little Town of Bethlehem
By: Phillips Brooks

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! 
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above, 
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wond'ring love.
O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, 
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heav'n.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, 
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

O holy child of Bethlehem! Descend to us, we pray;
Cast our our sin, and enter in, be born in us today!
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel!

 The author of this familiar hymn, Phillips Brooks, was born in Boston on December 13, 1835. At an early age, he showed interest in the things of the church, especially the hymns that were sung each week. By the time he entered college, he had memorized all the verses to over 200 hymns. In 1859, at age twenty-four, Phillips was ordained in the Episcopal church. As he began preaching after his training at Harvard, Phillips often used quotations from hymns in his sermons. A few years after preaching at the Holy Trinity Church in Philadelphia, Phillips took a trip to the Holy Land. On December 24, 1865, he rode on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to attend a five hour Christmas Eve service. He listened to the Scripture readings, prayers, and hymns of praise. Later, he said, "I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid praise to God, how again and again it seems as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the wonderful night of the Saviour's birth."  Three years after his trip, Phillips was preparing for the Christmas season of 1867. He wanted to compose an original Christmas hymn for the children to sing during their Christmas program. Recalling that night in Bethlehem, he wrote four stanzas of the poem and gave them to the church organist, Lewis Redner. Phillips told him, "Lewis, why not write a new tune for my poem. If it is a good tune, I will name it 'St. Lewis' after you." Lewis struggled to come up with a satisfactory melody for Phillips poem. The night before the children's program, he awoke from his sleep, hastily jotted down the notes of a tune, went back to sleep, and completed the harmony the next morning. That day, a group of six Sunday school teachers and thirty-six children of Holy Trinity Church sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem" for the first time.

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,  yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
~Micah 5:2

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a joyful day celebrating the coming of our Saviour to the earth.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
~Matthew 1:22-23



Wednesday, December 18, 2019

God's Hostage - Book Review

About the book:
In 1993, Andrew Brunson was asked to move to Turkey, the largest unevangelized country in the world, to serve as a missionary. Though reluctant at first because of the daunting task that lay ahead, Andrew and his wife, Norine, became convinced this was God's plan for them.
What followed was a string of difficulties and threats, but there were also successes in starting new churches in a place where many people had never met a Christian. As their work with refugees from Syria, including Kurds, gained attention and suspicion, Andrew and Norine acknowledged the threat but accepted the risk, confident that this work was part of their assignment. 
In 2016, they were arrested. Though the state quickly released Norine, who remained in Turkey, Andrew was imprisoned. Accused of being a spy and being among the plotters of an attempted coup, he became a political pawn whose name was soon known around the world. 
"God's Hostage" is the incredible true story of his imprisonment, his brokenness, his faithfulness...and his freedom.  

My thoughts:  
This book was very interesting. At first, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Many of the books I have read about persecution and imprisonment include gory details. But even though Andrew Brunson was imprisoned in Turkey for being a Christian, he wasn't physically abused or beaten. The author describes his time in prison, how he became so spiritually weak, and how many people fought for his release. He describes how often he was so spiritually weak from the attacks of the devil and of the evil people around him. Christians all around the world were continuously praying for him and for the spiritually dark country of Turkey. Though he wanted to give up living several times, God brought him through that trial. Mr. Brunson recognized that even though he was not in the best of situations, God could still use him for his glory, even if Mr. Brunson could not see how at that time.

 I received a free copy of this book from Baker Books in exchange for a review. 

Psalm 62:5-6
"My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved." 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Stories Behind the Songs & Hymns About Heaven ~ Book Review

About the book:
Behind every song is a story...
In times of doubt, fear, and loss, we turn to the songs and hymns that remind us that this world is not all there is - that what awaits us as followers of Jesus is a heavenly kingdom. Songs like "Face to Face," "Amazing Grace," "Victory in Jesus," and "I'll Fly Away" were written amid circumstances of great personal pain in the lives of the songwriters. In sharing their stories, we can find even more comfort in our own circumstances. 
Award-winning author Ace Collins offers this collection of thirty inspiring true stories that provide hope for this world and insight into the next, painting a picture of eternal life filled with joy, peace, and happy reunions. Perfect for music lovers, pastors, hospice workers, counselors, and all of us who have lost someone we loved. 

My thoughts: 
I love hymns, and I love reading stories behind them. There were many familiar hymns in this book as well as some not-so-familiar hymns, such as the spiritual negro songs. Countless number of hymns were penned during a difficulty or trial in the author's life, and the God-honoring words they were able to pen during such a time are an inspiration. Every song has a message, and in singing a hymn so often, sometimes we don't stop to think about the words. Reading the lyrics and the story behind them helps us remember why it was written and what the message truly is. Not all of the stories had messages I agreed with, but this was a great read. Also, not all of the hymns have the lyrics included, but the reader can certainly search for the words online.

*I received a free copy of this book from BakerBooks in exchange for a review.*

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God
By: Martin Rinkart

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mother's arms, hath blest us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today. 

O may this bounteous God thro' all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, whom earth and heav'n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.  
Martin Rinkart grew up in the home of his poor father who worked as a coppersmith. Martin felt called to be a minister, and attended the University of Leipzip in Germany where he obtained his degree. In 1617, at age thirty-one, he was ordained as a Lutheran minister. At that time, the Thirty Years' War was raging in Germany. Martin's hometown of Eilenburg, where he served as minister, was a place of safety for the thousands of refugees freeing from the armies. Soon, the city became overcrowded, and from a lack of food, medical care, and sanitary facilities, Eilenburg became a city of death. The pastors used their strength to preach the gospel, care for the sick, and bury the dead. The plague continued to claim lives, and soon, all the other pastors had either died or fled the city. Martin Rinkart was left to bury over 4,000 people. Sometimes he conducted up to forty-five funerals in one day. During this time of heartache, depression, and disease, the faithful pastor composed over sixty hymn of faith and hope that turned the eyes of the people from their despair to the power and love of God. 
As the war drew to a close, the Swedish army encompassed the city, demanding that the citizens pay a large sum of money in tribute. Rev. Rinkart pleaded with the general for a reduction, but the angry general would hear none of the pleas. Martin turned to his assembled companions and said, "Come, my children, we can find no mercy with man; let us take refuge with God." In silence, the army general watched the pastor lead the people in prayer and in singing. He instructed that the levy be reduced and the city be spared from any more suffering. 
Martin Rinkart composed this hymn for the survivors of Eilenberg, knowing that nothing in death or life could separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ. 

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 
~1 Thessalonians 5:18 

May each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving as we celebrate God's goodness to us. 
Perhaps in the next few days, take the time to read Psalm 107. It's a neat chapter about the goodness and blessings of God. 

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
~Psalm 107:1


Monday, November 25, 2019

October-November Snapshots

Happy November!
Today I'm sharing snapshots taken from October through November. Enjoy!

Deborah bought two Nigerian Dwarf goats on October 12th.
Zoey is brown/black/white and Toby is tan/black/white/gray.  

At the end of October, my parents took a mini impromptu vacation up to North Carolina to see the fall foliage. They drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway and visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  All the photos were taken by them.

A gorgeous sunset I saw while leaving work. 

 Pictures from the dolphin show at SeaWorld, taken this past Friday.

 A few new pictures of Gracie. 🐕

I'd love to hear what you have been up to this fall, so please share a comment. Have a very happy Thanksgiving! 

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and build up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."   ~ Colossians 2:6-7 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Recipe: Strawberry Cream

Strawberry Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar (or a little less)

Pour the heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl and blend until thickened and peaks form. Mix in the sugar. Puree a handful of strawberries in the food processor and stir into the mixture. Eat immediately or refrigerate. Enjoy!

*At room temperature, the cream becomes very runny, so I would keep it refrigerated until you're ready to serve it.*

This delicious cream can be spread on top of brownies, blended in smoothies, mixed in with ice cream, or eaten by itself. If you make it, I would love to hear your thoughts. :)

Have a lovely day! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

An Update In Pictures

Wow! It has almost been 7 months since I last posted. So much has's a little update starting from May.
In May, Sarah and I took our first sister trip to Iowa to attend a young ladies retreat hosted by Allison. It was 3 refreshing days full of meeting and chatting with the 50 girls that attended, eating delicious food and sipping on iced coffee, enjoying the serene surroundings of the camp, playing games, and hearing awesome devotions that refreshed our souls.

 At the end of May, I headed back to Tennessee to work the summer at the Bill Rice Ranch as a junior counselor.

At the beginning of August, our family took a week's vacation to the Wilds family camp in North Carolina.
 We celebrated my papa's 90th birthday on August 24th. :)

And finally, here are a few recent beach snapshots.


Now let's chat: I would love to hear about your summer in the comments!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

What A Saviour!

Man of Sorrows
By: Phillip Bliss

"Man of sorrows," what a name!
For the Son of God who came.
Ruined sinners to reclaim,
Hallelujah! What a Saviour! 

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! What a Saviour! 

Guilty, vile, and helpless, we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! can it be? 
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Lifted up was He to die,
"It is finished!" was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high;
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All his ransomed home to bring.
Then anew this song we'll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Saviour! 

What a Saviour! I think this phrase, this song, accurately describes my feelings today. Today is Thursday, February 14th, also recognized as Valentine's Day. When one hears the words 'valentine's day', they may think of love and gifts. I'm sure there are proposals and maybe even weddings happening today. And as much as I love weddings and enjoy hearing other people's love stories, there is one love story that surpasses all others, and it is my favorite. It is the story of God loving me way before I even loved him. It is the story of my Jesus loving me so immensely that he became sin for me, so that I could have his righteousness. It is the story of me accepting his salvation and love, which enables me to have a sweet fellowship. Friend, if you are redeemed by the precious Lamb, this is your beautiful love story too. When I think of standing before the throne of God with Jesus' cloak of righteousness about me and all my sin covered by the blood of the perfect Lamb, and Jesus advocating on my behalf, it makes me stop. And awe. And declare "what a Saviour!"

 Below is Isaiah 55:3-12. Read it slowly; let the words sink into your heart as you meditate on our marvellous God.

 "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

It could have only been Jesus who died in our place because he was sinless and perfect. The requirement for a sacrifice was that it had to be spotless, without blemish, perfect. If another person died for us, a sacrifice would still have to made for him, and it would be made by another sinner. (For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. -2 Corinthians 5:21)  Jesus was the final sacrifice.
It could have only been Jesus who died in our place for he was fully human, and only a man can give up his life for a fellow man. 
It could have only been Jesus who died in our place because even though he was fully human, he was fully God. And we know that "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
 Here's a short paragraph written by Ruth Harms Calkin.
 "Dear God,
I have sinned against heaven and against you. 
I am no longer worthy to be called your child. 
Child, I know...I know...
But my Son is forever worthy to be called your Saviour."

Valentine's day will end and come again next year. But aren't you glad Jesus doesn't just dispense his love once a year?! Even when we mess up, God is still there, wooing, loving us to himself. His love is so amazing and pure and deep, it should cause us all to fall to our knees and declare, as the hymn writer did, WHAT A SAVIOUR!

On this valentine's day, friend, may you fall more deeply in love with the one who gave his all for you. ❤


In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
~1 John 4:9-10  

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Live Without You Book Review & Blog Tour

About the book:
 Piper Redding is a loner, but lonely. Everyone she loves has abandoned her and opening her heart to others is just asking for more pain. She can't help but blame herself for her brother's tragic death six years ago, and in her guilt, she shuts herself off from the world. No one could love her-not even the God who promised to be there for her, but wasn't.
For paramedic Ezra Bryant, failure is not an option. He's had enough of it, and only by God's grace is able to put it behind him. But when a traumatic even brings Piper's greatest fear and Ezra's failures to light, can they use that even to allow God to mend their broken pieces? Can love triumph over fear, and grace over guilt? 

My thoughts: 
When I heard that Sarah Grace wrote a book, I was thrilled to be able to review it and be a part of the tour. Sarah Grace did a phenomenal job of writing her first book, Live Without You, and I really enjoyed reading it. The story is about a young lady who has nightmares because of her tragic past, and a man who struggles with the sadness and pain from his past. Both of them feel shame and guilt over what they did, or what they did not do, and they learn together to accept and embrace the freedom Christ gives to His children. The author did a good job of creating a wonderful message, as well as the lovely characters. There is lots of action, especially in the beginning, which pulls the reader into the story and keeps their attention. Even though this book is labeled as a 'contemporary Christian romance', I didn't find the main character's relationships to be the plot of the story; the romance was rather light and sweet and weaved throughout. The scenes that contained shootings and death were tastefully written, and I think those ages 13+ would enjoy this book. :) 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Information:
Grand Prize ~ $20 Amazon gift card, Signed Paperback of Live Without You, specialty designed 
Second Prize ~ $5 Amazon gift card, ebook copy of Live Without You
3 Third Prize Winner ~ Ebook copy of Live Without You

Grand prize open to US entrants only, 2nd and 3rd prizes available internationally. Giveaway runs
from 12 AM 1.21.19 - 12 AM 2.23.19. Victoria Lynn Designs retains the right to disregard any 
entries that they deem bogus or spam.

Book Links:

About the author:

Sarah Grace Grzy is a voracious reader, and if it weren’t for this crazy thing called 'Life,' she’d be
tempted to spend all her days in front of a wood stove, book in one hand, coffee mug in the other.
A lover of learning, she finds enjoyment in many things and has more hobbies than she knows
what to do with. Sarah Grace is a freelance web and graphic designer, and when not working, 
spending time with her ever-growing family, or reading, she can be found painting, playing the
piano, or fangirling with her sisters and friends. She inhabits the State of Great Lakes, and 
wouldn’t want to live anywhere else—unless it meant she could have a baby penguin, in which 
case, she’d gladly move to the South Pole.

Author Links:

Newsletter Signup:

Book tour schedule:

Feb. 10

Feb. 11

Feb. 12
Rose K. // Review

Feb 13

Feb. 14 ~ Valentine’s Day
Tammy Lash // Spotlight  

Feb. 15

Feb. 16

Feb. 18

Feb. 19

Feb. 20

Feb. 21

Feb. 22 ~ Sarah Grace’s Birthday