To say I was over the moon excited when I was asked to review this book is an understatement! As a blogger for almost two decades, I can appreciate a beautiful blog being turned into a book. I follow Rory's blog and his family's journey pretty much from the start, so I was blessed, humbled and honored to be chosen to read and review this most precious book!!! It certainly didn't disappoint me....if I could rate this book 100 stars, I would! Beautifully written with a humble and peaceful heart.
If you don't know who Rory is, I'm positive you have heard at least one of his famous songs that he has written. My favorite one is Clay Walker's "Chain of Love". His gift of music has touched lives all over and I know this book will do the same!
If you have followed This Life I Live Blog, then you will be happy to hear that this book does not revisit the posts on his blog. You get a whole new glimpse into the life of Rory and Joey, mainly Rory's childhood. Reading how he grew up and the struggles he endured to the amazing man he is and beautiful marriage he had with Joey, gives me hope. It gives me hope in renewal and restoration of the heart. I caught myself laughing, crying and laughing as I flipped through each page as Rory became more and more vulnerable to his readers. As I got towards the end, I was in awe of God's amazing beauty and ability to orchestrate our lives and our relationships if we allow Him to.
***I received this book free from the publisher through Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
I wasn't sure what to expect as this was my first Christmas Fiction book to read, besides the Christmas classics, and I must say that I LOVED it! It was a short read but very entertaining. Natasha is a young lady who has had to endure a lot of pain and loss since she was a child. These traumas led to her making mistakes that bothered her. Shame, loneliness and pain were all she ever received for Christmas. Until she met Jason.....
I love that this story teaches us to not judge a book by it's cover....or reputation. We never know what somebody has endured so we should always take the time to get to know a person's heart and who they really are. Actions are sometimes reflections of our pain.
I enjoyed this book and happy to now be a Christmas fiction story reader!!!! Juliana had me hanging on every word waiting for the next thing to happen. Loved it!
You can get a digital copy of Secret Santa for free on Amazon!!!!!
I recently read this article and thought it was amazing. It came in my inbox at a time that I feel like I'm seeing things differently and this post helped me to feel....not so alone in this new step in my Christian walk.
If you disagree, no worries. This world is full of different opinions and outlooks. This is just one that I ......now agree with. Had somebody showed this post to me a year or two ago, I would have been appalled and frankly very upset but today....wow, I relate. NINE REASONS DISCERNING WOMEN ARE LEAVING YOUR CHURCH
Maybe it’s not that discerning women are leaving the church**, but that the church is leaving them.
Inspiration! Oh, I LOVE inspiration! Today I had a beautiful conversation with my sweet friend, Amanda. I reached out to her for prayer and she immediately responded with encouragement, hope and obedience. She heard my heart and then took the time to pray and seek God for guidance before responding back to me....thankfully she did this and allowed the Holy Spirit to work in her heart before saying anything. She was obedient to what He had spoken to her and I'm SO thankful she was.
In summary, she said she felt that God needed me to just "BE". She said that she felt like I needed to stop trying so hard....stop trying to please God and others so much and just be me! I knew something was going on inside of me but I didn't know what exactly and this just totally opened my eyes to what I was feeling. I didn't even realize that THIS was my issue......THIS is why I was feeling so...... so lost.....
You see, we don't have to work hard to please Him. He leads us and opens doors for us to use our gifts. We don't have to try and impress Him or prove to Him that we are worthy. For that matter, we don't have to prove this to anybody else either. He has equipped us and He has already ordered our steps. We don't have to try so hard to impress. We are His precious gifts!
Today I chose to take a break from social media. I need to just BE. I need to find myself SO lost in Him that I don't feel the need to please. This past year has backed me into a corner of self-doubt, pain, disappointment and confusion. My heart hurts and at times I feel so lost and unsure. I can choose to stay in this dark place of loss and self-pity or I can allow God to help me to rise above all of the pain and disappointment.
If you are going through a time of feeling lost, you aren't alone! I'm not alone. We have one another but more importantly, we have a God who is ALWAYS walking with us. He sees us and knows us by name. I challenge you today to just BE! BE BOLD enough to just BE who YOU are!!! Who GOD created! Be bold enough to not feel the need to please but to be confident in who you are!
Thank you Amanda for your encouragement! I needed that message today!
With school starting just around the corner..... yeah, I know, it seems like summer just started yet here I am talking about school starting back up! Time MOVES fast y'all! Make sure you or your student are starting off the new school year with some cool new sunglasses or some stylish frames!
My friends and I LOVE these glasses!
I really liked these frames. I have a round face and tend to have a hard time finding glasses that I really like and really fit me well. Thankfully, Warby Parker had the perfect ones for my face shape!
You can take a look at the amazing frames they have by visiting their web site at www.warbyparker.com and pick out the perfect style for you!!!
"Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." Proverbs 4:6-7
We all need forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a must as a Christian. It's a commandment that comes with loving others and following Christ. As much as forgiving is important, so is wisdom. I think it's fair to say that my forgiveness always has come with complete faith and trust in people. If I forgave you, I fully trusted you again. If I chose to remain in your life, I put my all back in. This might be needed in some incidents but I think it's safe to say that in most instances, it's wise to take the time to slowly allow trust back in. Forgiveness doesn't mean trust and relationship. Forgiveness simply means grace and Jesus. Restoration does not have to follow forgiveness and I think that often times, we hold back forgiveness because we aren't ready for relationship or trusting again. Forgiveness restores our hearts but doesn't have to restore the relationship. Sometimes forgiveness is a part of goodbye and walking away gracefully.
Wisdom has to come with forgiveness because wisdom comes from God.
I'm learning this truth and it's been a painful lesson to learn but it has been worth learning. Proverbs 4:6-7 gently warns us that wisdom can cost it all and I'm currently living in that painful but freeing truth. I worked in full time ministry at a church I loved dearly. I loved the people, the messages and what I felt that God was doing there.....wisdom cost me the job I loved so much. It still stings and at times, I still cry. The painful reality that wisdom opened up, left a sting in my heart that hasn't quite left. God's faithfulness is beautiful though. The one thing that still stings my heart is the day I reached out with some of my concerns while I was employed there and I was told by the pastor I reached out to, that if I quit that church, I would NEVER find another good opportunity to work at a place like that again.....but then God. Thankfully that pastor is not my amazing and most POWERFUL HEAVENLY FATHER! Thankfully my Father has bigger plans for me and I'm living out that plan now and I know He will continue to have bigger plans for me and my family. Thankfully God loves me, sees me and values me! Thankfully that pastor's words aren't the final words in my life......I serve an awesome Father WHO has the FINAL say in my life.
After that incident, I forgave and moved on in my position. I continued to serve wholeheartedly but all the while, praying for wisdom. I knew something didn't feel right in my spirit about what was said to me and I didn't feel right about so many other things I had concerns with. So, I continued to pray for wisdom.
Wisdom is a beautiful thing. It redirects our lives, shapes our value system and leads us to God's better plan for us.
My heart still aches when I think about that part of my past. It's a season that sadly haunts me but I'm thankful I serve a God who is using it to better shape me, guide me and grow me. He has allowed me to grow in wisdom and wisdom has taught me to tread lightly, not jump in without researching and seeking God and ALWAYS follow scripture! My heart still aches so deeply and I still have lots of forgiving to do but I'm thankful that I now know the value of letting wisdom guide after forgiveness.
Visits in the summer are LIFE!!! We were so blessed to have a visit from grandpa last week! It was a blast! Since my job is a little bit more flexible, I was able to spend extra time with him! We enjoyed time at Stauvie Island, had lunch by the water and even found a tavern in the middle of the forest one day!
We were also able to visit my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their sweet kiddos out at Whisbey Island! It was so nice to spend some much needed time with family! Living far away from our Texas family has been tough so getting a chance to be with family was such a blessing! Here are some precious moments from that visit!
Grandpa stayed there and spent some time with his other son and hubby and I took the ferry back from the island and oh how fun that was!! The ocean is certainly my happy place!
So, I hosted a Rodan + Fields Facebook party for one of my friends and I won some awesome product!!! If you are ever asked to host one of these parties, do it! Not only did I win some wonderful prizes but some of my friends did too! They really are a ton of fun!
I was so excited when I received my prizes in the mail! I received some lip shield, lip balm and eye cream!
With me in my 30s, I have really been noticing bags under my eyes! I had been looking for a great eye cream and this product did the trick for me!! Check out my Before and After pictures below!
Can you believe those results? This cream has made such a difference in my life! I'm excited to see results in another four weeks! If you are interested in learning more about Rodan + Fields then feel free to contact my friend Alexis! She is an amazing woman of God who will help answer any questions you have, place an order and/or sign up to be a Rodan + Fields Consultant!
"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." Psalm 118:8
This scripture used to always confuse me. I didn't understand how a God who believed in community and relationship so much could warn us about trusting others. It wasn't until I was in high school and I was brutally betrayed by a close friend that I knew what this scripture was telling me. I put more trust in those relationships and in those girls never lying to me, rejecting me and making me feel accepted than I did in the One who will never lie to me, reject me and will always accept me.
I realized as I got older that people will hurt us, no matter how amazing or loving the relationship is and that's why we have to take refuge in the Lord over man. The amazing part about this scripture is that it's not meant for us to be cynical when it comes to trust but it's meant to 1) protect our hearts and 2) compel us to love others with a graceful heart. If we have the Love of the Lord in us then it is easier for us to show grace to others.
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace,"
1 Peter 4:10
Even though I knew this, I wasn't practicing it. I was putting all of my trust into my relationships, expecting them to live up to this high standard that I placed upon them. I was feeling completely rejected when they would hurt me in any way, leaving me walking with pain and bitterness. I was letting people in too soon and getting upset when I finally got to know them and realized they were not people I needed to be friends with or have in my close circle and when I would finally realize this, I would be angry with them and couldn't love them the way God has called me to love others.
Going into new relationships wisely isn't to frustrate us but to protect us and the other person. We can't trust too easily or quickly. We have to walk into new relationships guarding our heart and getting to know a person so that way we don't end up hurting them if we find that this isn't a person that should be in our close circle and vice versa. None of us are perfect so we need to be protected as well if for some reason another person decides we don't belong in their close circle. Views are different and sometimes beliefs can cause us to decide it's time to move on from a relationship. We can eliminate all of this pain if we stop trusting too easily and jumping into relationships without getting to know somebody.
Get to know the person's beliefs, watch how they treat others and most of all ask yourself if this is somebody you would trust with your children or husband. If you aren't married, ask yourself if this is somebody who will help you to live a pure and peaceful single life. Read scripture and find out what God wants in friends for us. Pray and ask God if He approves of the friendship blossoming and be obedient to His whisper.
Trusting others isn't a bad thing but it is something we should do wisely. So much pain could be eliminated in other's lives if we learned to do this. I'm praying for you and praying for trust to be a precious and fragile part of who you are so that you don't give it away too easily!
"Eliminate unhealthy relationships and focus on healthy ones. Honestly consider the value of each of your current relationships. Pray for the wisdom to determine which people in your life right now either are or aren’t worthy of your trust, time, and energy. Ask yourself who influences your life in positive ways, as well as who impacts it in negative ways. Let go of unhealthy relationships and focus only on people with whom you truly have safe and positive relationships. From now on, choose to invest only in relationships in which you can participate in a healthy flow of mutual commitment and contribution." - Crosswalk
I can't explain to you how much this solidified some of the things I had been praying about since I returned home from Texas. Something about my trip to Texas completely changed my heart, my spirit and my mind. I feel peaceful and enlightened and have walked with a renewed hope. God is SO AMAZING how He brings everything to the forefront and how He orchestrates it all to work out for our good. He DOES MAKE BEAUTY OUT OF ASHES!!!! Thank You Jesus!
With that being said, one of the things he has been working in my heart about is, my ability to let anybody and everybody into my close circle. I continue to chase the people who reject me, I trust too easily, I forgive without allowing wisdom to guide the relationship after forgiveness and I support anybody and everybody and their dreams without asking myself if I need to support at close range or step away and support from a distance (might not make sense written out but it does in my head haha).
The next few days, I will be elaborating on each of these components because I think it's important for us to share our experiences with one another. If somebody has or is going through what I have, then maybe I can help and vice versa! I want to share what God has moved in me over the past couple of weeks and why these things can be dangerous to us emotionally, physically and most of all spiritually!
I ALLOW ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY INTO MY CLOSE CIRCLE
Why would we do this y'all? There are so many scriptures that support us NOT doing this yet Christians tend to do this more often than not because it is ingrained in our minds that we are to love and be kind (which we should). However, we can love and be kind without allowing people into our closest most inner thoughts. We must be "choosy" about who we allow into those most precious places in the deepest most purest core of our inner being. The enemy is lurking and is capable of using anybody to speak death into our dreams and into our lives and family's lives (even if it's not directly to us). Yes, we are to love but I've said it time and time before, sometimes loving from a distance is a more precious and sacred love because it allows us to separate ourselves from the pain of rejection and hurt and allows us to give those emotions to God and move on. Separation isn't always a bad thing and God sometimes needs that separation between two people in order to work.
Even Jesus had an inner circle!
I was literally sharing my most inner thoughts, my precious heart, my complete trust and parts of my life that are sacred with people who have shown me time and time again that they don't really care about a relationship with me. So, in essence, I was allowing myself to be rejected over and over again..... and over and over again....and over....(you get the picture). Which brings me to my first lesson:
I Continued to Chase the People Who Rejected Me
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." Josh 15:18
Ugh, rejection. One of the ugliest feelings in the world. It's one that Jesus must have felt over and over again. It hurts my heart to think about the pain he must of endured, all for me....all for us! What's amazing though is the beauty that God makes out of rejection.
"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,"
1 Peter 2:4
"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." Psalm 118:22
For me, that beauty is that rejection has brought me into a deeper relationship with Him. A relationship that's beauty is beyond any earthly friendship that I can ever imagine. The beauty rejection has done for me is that it helped me to understand that not everybody is meant to be in my life or me in theirs......and THAT IS OK! That is how it is supposed to be. There are only a select few people that God wants in our deepest part of us and rejection allows Him to weed out the ones who are not supposed to be in there. So, for the first time ever, I am SO thankful for REJECTION!!!! I know it's so cliche' but it's so true, "Rejection is protection!" So, at some point, we HAVE TO STOP chasing that in which He is trying to separate us from. We have to STOP chasing the rejection. How crazy is it that sometimes we CHASE the rejection? Well, it stops today! I hope you will join me!
Every time I think about rejection, I think about the story of Leah and Rachel and what rejection did in their story. Have you ever just felt so left out, so unchosen, so rejected? I have. Up until recently, I felt that day in and day out. I can truly say that God has finally delivered me from the past rejections I have encountered. I have found forgiveness, peace, love and the strength and courage to let go. I had to let go of the hurt feelings and most of all I had to let go of the chase.
I simply love rose gold....it's by far my favorite! I paired these elegant Ralph Lauren earrings with a beautiful rose gold necklace that I got as a Christmas gift a few years ago. Rose gold is known to be a color that symbolizes warmth, compassion and kindness.....maybe that's why I felt so timeless in these earrings. Thank you Ralph Lauren for offering such beautiful jewelry!
"The mission of the PCOS Foundation is 'to spread awareness through public and professional education programs in order to improve the diagnosis and decrease or eliminate the lifetime risk associated with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)."
This cause is personal for me as I have suffered with PCOS since I was 13 years-old. I remember being 13 and spending a week in the hospital. I was in so much pain and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. I wasn't diagnosed then but instead went many years having cyst rupture after cyst rupture after cyst rupture along with a ton of other health issues. I was diagnosed with PCOS 18 years ago after a major cyst rupture and surgery. I didn't really understand it then, all I knew is that I was in pain and tired of the hospital. It wasn't until after I got married and my husband and I started talking about having kids, that I really started to research it. I knew from personal experience that women with PCOS had a higher rate of infertility and/or miscarriage, so that brought me to a point of wanting to understand it better. Now that I was married, I wanted to be healthy and for once, smart about this.
I have come a very long way on my journey. It's been frustrating, painful (emotionally and physically), enlightening, moving and brave. I have met and spoken with some of the most amazingly brave women you will ever meet who brave this PCOS journey alongside me. We cheer one another on, encourage one another and work with one another on bringing awareness to this very serious illness! Two weeks ago my husband and I finally got the answer to why I continue to miscarry. After years of so many questions, it all came down to one hormone that my body doesn't elevate enough during pregnancy. Once the pregnancy hits a certain point, the baby doesn't make it. Now with an amazing PCOS specialist helping me to naturally get my levels where they should be, hopefully one day soon, I can carry a baby to full term.
To show your support, please visit Bravelets and purchase your favorite bravelet and show you support the PCOS Foundation!
I also added my Give Grace tattoo because showing myself grace is a huge part of my journey. You can read more about that here.
No matter what you struggle with and no matter what your journey is.
I have decided to become a SeneGence Distributor! Before I tell you how I made this awesome decision, let me first tell ya that I have been using SeneGence LipSense for over a year now!!! The first time I ever used this was my very first appearance reading to children at my local library as Mrs. Lubbock America!!! I had LipSense in my makeup tote for about two weeks and just hadn't had the time to experiment putting it on (there are a couple of steps to it) BUT I had seen all of the pictures on Facebook and I NEEDED something long lasting since I would be speaking! So, I gave it a shot and NEVER TURNED BACK since!
As you can see, I need lipstick that will stay on for hours without having to worry about it coming off, smearing or looking sloppy!!! So, when my first distributor slowed down selling and my best friend, Margo started selling Senegence, I was excited to have a full time distributor again! Becoming a distributor was far from my thought process but then....it happened! I signed up!!!
Look at how amazing this lip stick is..... I can take a drink of coffee and have ZERO lipstick come off on my mug!!! *sigh* Magical Makeup.....yes, please!!!!
If you would like to learn more about SeneGence and/or LipSense then feel free to join my Facebook Group or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text me (806) 730-1100!
Why "Jesus, Love and Lipstick"? Because I plan on my business being about self love and finding that self love in our beautiful Savior....while we look and feel fabulous! Can't wait to share more about this new chapter with you!
For the look below, I mixed Roseberry and Goddess together!!! Yeah, you can mix and match too.... I LOVE THIS STUFF!!!!!