Thursday, August 27, 2020

A Short Picture Update

A happy hello to you!
I hope you have had a great summer, despite the changes that came with the virus.  Here are a few recent snapshots from the past few months. 

God has given us some beautiful, sunny weather, and we have enjoyed many beach days. 

 Gracie has a new look-a-like puppy friend. Meet Watson.

He's not ours, but once in a while his owner brings him over to play with Gracie. When they're tired out, they both lay on the floor with their paws spread out. It's very cute to watch. 😁
We celebrated my papa's 91st birthday yesterday, (Aug. 26th). My aunt made apple pie, and wrote his name "POP" on it. 😊
Zoey and Toby have been doing great. Zoey injured herself a couple months ago when she jumpped on a moving tractor, but she's healed well.

I'm about to start college, so you may not see any posts for a while. I would love to hear about your summer in the comments!  May God bless you, dear friend.  

Until next time, God go with you. 

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
-Psalm 36:7

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Thankful for Freedom!

Freedom is only free for you because someone else paid for it. 

This year America celebrated the 244th year of becoming a nation. With the celebrations of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and just recently the elections on August 18th, freedom has been on my mind a lot. 

I love the parallels between the freedom we enjoy as Americans, and freedom we have as children of God.

  • Someone had to die.
As Americans, we honor and remember the fallen soldiers- those who have died fighting for freedoms. As Christians, we will never forget that Jesus Christ gave up His life so we can be free from the law and sin.

"But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." ~Romans 6:22

  • Freedom cost a high price.
Hundreds of thousands of men and women have died for this great country, America. They valued and paid for freedom with their own life. Christ paid for salvation with his own life when he willingly died on the cross.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;" ~Ephesians 1:7

“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.” ~ John Adams

  • Freedom is free for Americans today. 
Americans can live in freedom today because the price of freedom has already been paid. Salvation is free too. It certainly can not be earned or paid for because the price has already been paid. Salvation is a gift. All one can do is just accept it.  Freedom in America didn't come easily, and neither did salvation. We can not repay those who have died, and neither can we repay Christ for his gift of salvation and eternal life. As the saying goes, freedom ain't free. Nope, it isn't. But I am so thankful someone was willing to pay for it.

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
~Revelation 1:5-6

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Any One But Me ~ Book Review

About the book: 
Fear is the primary reason we fail to share the gospel with our friends, family, and coworkers. We're afraid of looking weird or out of touch. We're afraid we won't have the right answers to their questions. We're afraid that if they reject the gospel, they're really rejecting us. We don't want to make things awkward or strain our relationships. So we say nothing because our discomfort feels bigger than our loved ones' ultimate destination if they remain outside of the body of Christ. We know it's not, but it's just so hard to get over our fear.

Apologist Ray Comfort can help. In Anyone but Me, he shows you how to overcome your fears by developing ten critical, biblical characteristics so that you can confidently share the message of salvation with those you care about most. If you've been longing to see a dear friend, family member, or coworker come to Christ, now is the time to begin becoming the faithful witness they need. We never know how much more time we will have to proclaim God's good news.

My thoughts: 
This book challenges and encourages the reader to share the gospel more, even if that means passing out tracts to those we come in contact with in public. Many people have unsaved family members, and sometimes it can be awkward or hard to bring up the gospel, and we fear their response. Ray Comfort understands this, and he shares numerous, personal stories about his witnessing opportunities as well as helpful tips he's learned that work. I very much enjoyed this book and am inspired to look for opportunities to share the gospel with others. I believe teenagers and adults would benefit the most from reading this book. It can be purchased here.

**I received this book from BakerBooks and happily provided my review.**

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Biblical Minimalism Book Review & Giveaway

About the book:
For years, my family and I struggled with overloaded schedules, overwhelming debt, and being far too enslaved to our 4-bedroom, 3 bath home and excess physical possessions. The things we thought we "owned", really owned us, and living in bondage to them rendered us physically ill, mentally exhausted, and existing from day to day in an underlying state of misery. Through a sobering wake-up call, God made it clear that life-changes must be made, and what followed was a minimizing journey that has led us to sell our home, let go of about 90% of our physical possessions, and eliminate 100% of our debt. This book will appeal to anyone who has a desire to live a more minimal, Biblical-aligned life; anyone who is exhausted from over-indulgence in consumerism; anyone who would like to downsize and reduce the number of their physical possessions; and anyone who needs to read of living proof of a modern-day family who is currently walking this path.Minimalism is becoming increasingly popular as people tire of being bound to their possessions and obligations. Many long for a simpler life, but oftentimes do not know how to find it or even where to begin. As we walked our own minimizing journey, I often longed for a minimalism book that was written from an exclusively Christian viewpoint, and I found that there are few such books available. My family and I wanted to be sure that what we were doing was not merely following after a "movement", but that it fully aligned with God's Word and how Jesus lived His life on earth. As my attempts to find a book continually came up short, I turned directly to God's Word and in-depth personal study. The result of that whole-hearted searching is the book, "Biblical Minimalism." It blazes the trail on the subject of Scripture-based minimalism and meets a growing need.

My thoughts:
Since this is the first book I've read about minimalism, I wasn't sure what to expect, but oh, I am so glad I read it! Cheryl Smith's writing is very down-to-earth and relatable. I appreciated the way in which Mrs. Smith gave suggestions on how to live minimally God’s way, and then gave practical tips on how to do that in everyday life. God doesn't want us tightly holding onto possessions. After all, we can't take anything with us when we die. From her experiences, the reader observes that this is something that can be done. We really don't need as much stuff to live as we think we do. I also liked the way in which she showed that a person can live minimally in more than one area of their life. Biblical minimalism is not just confined to physical things. Houses, phones, cars, and excess items that we keep just because, are a few examples. Minimalism extends into other areas of our life, like friends, obligations, etc. I just also have to mention how happy I was to see that the author used the King James Version almost exclusively. There was only one time I can remember reading a verse from a different version. This excellent book was an encouragement to me, and I think it'll be a help to any Christian who reads it. 

*I received this book from the author, and happily provided my review.*

About the author
Cheryl Smith is the author of the book “Biblical Minimalism,” the story of her family’s journey from a life of abundance to a more abundant life. She is the author of the blogs Biblical Minimalism, where she writes about minimalism from a Biblical perspective, and Homespun Devotions, where she writes devotionals and conducts “Inner Views.” She loves to spend time with her husband and son in the mountains, sing and play Bluegrass music, and write.

To support Mrs. Smith and purchase her book, click here


**Giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.**

Mrs. Smith is kindly giving away one copy of her book, Biblical Minimalism. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment. The giveaway will end on July 9th.

"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."    ~ John 10:10

Monday, June 29, 2020

A Weekend Trip to the Florida Keys

A happy hello to you! 
My sister Lauren and I had the privilege of visiting my friend Cassy in the Florida Keys recently (June 12-15). Cassy lives in Marathon. The trip was a blast! Here are some highlights from our activities.  
Our first stop on Saturday was to visit Robbie's Marina in Islamorada to feed the tarpin.

 To feed, one dangles a small fish over the water and the tarpin jump out and grab it. Such a fun experience! 

The tarpin are not the only ones who like fish....

The view from the marina. 

Driving back to Marathon, we stopped along the way and took pictures at random places. 

After lunch, Cassy's friend from the airport was so kind to take us up in a plane. It was so neat to see the Keys from the air. In the picture above, you can see the 7 mile bridge. 

The reef.

Later in the afternoon, we launched the kayak and tube from this boat dock and spent a few hours kayaking and enjoying the water. 

Sunday afternoon we visited Key West. That tree is named Fred and it is growing on the old 7 mile bridge. 

After visiting the southernmost point, we stopped by the wildlife shelter where injured birds are taken care of. At the end of the walking trail, there's a man-made turtle pond. 

There are so many chickens and roosters roaming around in Key West. Cassy tried to catch one of these little chicks, but the mom wasn't too happy about that. ;) The AIDS memorial bridge was across the street from the wildlife shelter, so we walked out to the water. It was such a beautiful day and the water glistened in the sunshine.

We passed a few old buildings while driving through Key West. This one was founded in 1891.
Afterward, we took pictures in Mallory Square before heading over to the Historic Key West Cemetery. 
At the cemetery...

Cuban Martyr's Plot
This area was dedicated to the men who died on the U.S.S. Maine. 

A baby iguana
I was surprised at the amount of tombstones we saw with the free mason symbol engraved on them.  It was very sad to see that so many people had been a part of that cult.  
The next stop...Veterans Memorial Garden. Before visiting, I didn't know Key West was so historical.  

A Purple Heart Memorial.
Each one of these plaques below presents the war dates and the number of deaths. (To enlarge, simply click on the pictures.)

Seals of the military 

Vietnam memorials

Agent Orange memorial

Vietnam Living Memorial

Unfortunately, by the time we reached the Little White House, our last stop, it was closed, but it was neat to see. The house is located in a lovely neighborhood. 
On the way back to Marathon, this rainbow seemed to just drop out of the sky.

Monday morning Lauren and I left. On the way out, we drove through Duck Key and saw many beautiful scenes.

We also stopped at Anne's beach. The water was so crystal clear, it was like looking into a mirror. 

At Anne's beach...that tiny plant was growing out of the stone.
This pretty spot is called Sombrero Beach. All the water we swam in was very calm, clear, and lukewarm. The Keys are such a unique place, and I'm very thankful Lauren and I had the opportunity to enjoy a mini-vacation there. 

Let's chat! Have you been to the Florida Keys before? 

"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name."  ~ Malachi 3:16