Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015- A Year in Review

 As I reflect on the year 2015, I had set out on some personal, spiritual, financial, work, personal and fitness goals that I wanted to obtain. When I look back on my post from January, I can see I blew most of those goals out of the water. I knew that 2015 was going to be a year of change, new opportunities, and a lot of growth. It has been a good year, a hard year, but one I wouldn't change. 






{Health}

As I reflect back on running goals, I wanted to enjoy running again, and I certainly did with a bunch of unexpected races. The one I enjoyed the most was the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon. I'm glad running, and I have grown to love each other again, and I've learned to take breaks when I need them to keep my love for running alive. 




The HARDEST run for me in 2015 was The RiverBank Run. That race beat me up. I was on par to PR big time and my body starting losing everything in it physically and mentally(for that matter), but that didn't stop me. I fought the entire 15.5 miles for that finish line. 


This year my husband I explored a lot of new food efforts and I even moved to a gluten free diet. It's safe to say that I have given a lot of sweets up, sugar and the what I used to eat, but my stomach feels a better and that's what really counts. You don't realize what it's like to eat real foods until you do it and I didn't realize how much Gluten was slowing my brain processes. I say I was having "brain fog" and experiencing so many other symptoms. I still have to be careful. 



I didn't complete my book list for the year. Pick up your jaw! It's shocking I know, but I read a lot of other great books. Anne Franks Diary, The Mitford Series, Walt Disney's Biography and Mary Poppins Collections are still on my list. I'm glad I get another year at these. Here are my top 10 books for 2015. The first five books are Nonfiction and the last five are fiction. I highly recommend you check them out. I could have a list of my top fifty books, but I wanted to limit them. I've read a lot of great books this year! 

1) Christmas Jars : Jason F. Wright 
2) Just Show Up : Kara Tippetts & Jill Buteyn
3) Anything : Jennie Allen 
4) UnDaunted : Christine Caine 
5) The Best Yes :Lysa Terkeurst 
6) One More Wish : Robin Jones Gunn
7) Another Way Home : Deborah Raney
8) For Such a Time : Kate Breslin 
9) Chasing Sunsets :Karen Kingsbury 
10) Secrets She Kept :Cathy Gohlke 


{Financial}
This year we agreed to work on paying off my car and continuing to pay more student loans. We no longer have my car payment! We paid it off early by a year and a half! WOOT! We just now have student loans, and they continue to kill us, but we are paying on them and putting extra where we can.  I'm thankful for that. Right now the only debt we have is student loans. We'll knock that off and then jump into a mortgage. Fun. 

{Personal Growth}


Resigning from my job was one of the most bravest and unexpected things I did this year. I am proud of myself for taking such a large leap of faith. I knew I needed a change and some time to figure out things. This change has been incredibly difficult on me and (our family), but we are hopeful for what the future holds, and I know it was the right choice.  It has led me to many great opportunities, and I am thankful for each of them.


                                                


 I have also started writing a book, which has always been a dream of mine. It has been sitting in my head for three years and finally, I started putting my thoughts to a word document. We will leave it at that right now. 

{Relationships}
My Best friends minus Katrina

This year, I spent a lot of time with friends from out of state and those who are near. It was a great year of spending time with my friends. I have also been intentional about calling them weekly, sending cards and making sure they know they are loved. My friends are a big part of my life and this past year I have been so blessed to be able to be apart of their lives in a big way.
Camp Cop is the best! She has a sweet spot!
Montana and I can discuss books forever

I made a trip to Tennessee to see one of our friends, was blessed to help plan an end of treatment party, help a friend get engaged, ran a 10k unexpectedly with a friend to surprise her, volunteered with Summer Stroll for Epilepsy, camping with our small group friends, shopping and mall dates with my favorite camp cop and endless texts blowing up my phone....I've been on some awesome adventures with friends, and I'm super excited to see how 2016 strengthens our friendships.
These two are just the best.


Camping with our Small Group Friends


My favorite selfie of 2015 was the one with my Grandma.  She will be missed dearly. Reality has set in and as I work through all the stages of grief, I am no longer in denial. It was real last night when we said our final goodbyes. 


Marriage has been an adventure this year. We have been married for five years. I've always said for our five year anniversary I dreamed of going to Hawaii. Most people say that you won't vacation the older you get, and I can see why couples stop making that a priority. This year we made a lot of smaller trips. We went up to a ski resort, a cottage, a B&B and my husband traveled a lot for work this year. Our communication has changed in five years, and for marriages to continue to grow, you have to put work in it. This has been our best season of marriage yet. 



Our communication has changed in five years, and for marriages to continue to grow, you have to put work in it. This has been our best season of marriage yet and I can't wait to watch how we continue to grow closer together. Marriage isn't easy and ours hasn't been easy, but I wouldn't trade it. 


In 2015, we had a lot of ups and downs, many great things and some things that have been left unresolved, which I can't say right now, but I'm sure we'll be able to tell you in 2016.
 Do you have any races planned in the books? We do!!!! 

Stay tuned for upcoming future plans in another post where we share some up coming events in our lives! What was your favorite moment of 2015?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Slower Pace of Christmas

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and were able to enjoy the Holidays with your loved ones. Our Christmas was rather quiet this year, and that is okay.

 We spent a majority of Christmas day at home, which was good. We went over to my parents for dinner to see my sister's boyfriend and see my brother. It was a good to spend quiet time with them. 






Christmas doesn't need to be this mass chaos event of going from house to house, event to event. I can't handle that kind of thing anymore. My body and brain won't tolerate crazy Christmas'. It just isn't fun. This year, Christmas was a much slower pace. 

We had a good time seeing them, opening some presents and eating dinner with them. We laughed, ate some Christmas goodies and saw the Christmas moon. The Christmas moon was very cool and is the biggest Christmas moon since 1977. I hope you were able to see it. We stopped by his parents house to visit with them, but they weren't home. 


Drew and I decided to go home and play Disney Monopoly.  Drew lost and went bankrupt when he landed on my blue properties with houses. Poor guy, he seems always to lose on those properties. 

We watched Christmas movies and had fun. The next day we went on a mission to find a fake Christmas tree, which we failed, but we will keep on looking. We need a bigger tree, and our lights died, so we strung some lights on it. It's a small skinny tree, but we need a new one.


 While we were out looking, Drew forgot to purchase a selfie stick for Christmas. We joke all the time about needing one, but honestly, my arms don't reach, and I can't take a picture of us to save my life. While we were out and shopping, we found the original selfie stick and bought it. We love it. It's so fun. Plus we can get everyone in a photo. 


I had a 500 piece puzzle that I had been itching for us to complete and glue together. Drew is not much of a puzzle man, but he agreed we would do it if we could watch Christmas movies. We went through 5 Christmas movies to complete the puzzle and stayed up way late, but I  am so excited it is finished! 


Sunday was the Storm family Christmas, and we had a great time. It was fun to gather all 30 of us. We ate, did a gift exchange, talked, laughed and, of course, showed Grandpa the art of a selfie stick, which he loved. We had a great time.  Christmas was a slower pace in many ways this year, it wasn't the same, but we made new memories. 

I hope you had a Merry Christmas as well. We will catch up on some posts for this past year in review and what lies ahead in the new year!

X0X0,
Sarah 







Saturday, December 26, 2015

God is with you everyday by Max Lucado



Book Description


It’s easier to face the day when you know God is with you.
God Is With You Every Day is a brand-new 365-day devotional from Max Lucado, and his first new devotional since the creation of the Grace for the Moment® line. Max’s signature reassuring and encouraging voice, paired with the practical, relevant, and personal message that God is with you every day, makes a great way to start each day of the year.
This devotional begins each week with a prayer and scripture, followed by six days of devotions and scripture for reflection. Weaving messages of comfort, grace, and encouragement, this book is wonderful for anyone who wants a fresh infusion of faith to start each day, as well as those walking through difficult seasons of life such as loneliness, grief, or change.
You can face each day with courage – because God is with you.



My Review:
As you begin to look forward to 2016 and start working on your New Year's Resolutions or things you're looking forward to doing in the New Year, you might be looking for a new devotional. Might I make a recommendation? 
Best-selling author, Max Lucado has written a new devotional titled "God is with you Every day." This devotional is one for every day and is perfect to throw in your gym bag, work bag or for the morning. It's a quick and easy read, but so great! This devotional covers a variety of topics that relevant, easy reading and very tangible to your daily life. 
Acceptance, prayer, anger, wisdom, worry, heaven, joy, and anxiety are just some of the topics covered in this devotional. It also has a  time ribbon book marker to help you keep track of your day in case you get behind. 
I think this devotional is a great tool to help you get in the word as you embark into 2016! I highly recommend it. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

When Everything Stops

The world stopped the night a baby was born. Everything was stopped to hear the quiet cries. Men looked for signs in the stars to find Him. They brought gifts. The world was waiting for Him. People before Him were waiting to have their sins paid in full. Priests sacrificed animals, but God had a bigger plan.


God knew exactly what He was doing. 

He gave His only. 
He'd do it again for just one person.
Without His birth, we have no redemption.


 Christmas is important because it points us to Easter. Without His birth, we have no resurrection, no eternal life. He always has a plan even when the world stops for the quiet cries of a baby.




My world stopped Tuesday when we learned that my Grandma passed away unexpectedly. I've lost people in my life and have had people come and go in my life. But when someone is constant in your life, it's easy to take them for granted, always expecting them to be there, and her passing was so unexpected. My mind has a hard time adjusting to this new normal. I thought she would be here the day we would make a baby announcement or the day we could move her into a home, so we could take care of her. She has been at every important single event in my life. I can't envision a holiday, graduation, dance recital, wedding or family reunion without her. Adjusting to a new normal is going to take time. 

Grandma was ready for our annual Christmas Eve gathering. Her fudge was made; her special outfit was picked out, she had her list of Christmas gifts, she was ready for annual pick up to head over to my parents for their annual Christmas Eve party. She talked to her neighbors with anticipation about how excited she was to see her grandchildren. I was so excited to see her and couldn't wait to discuss the latest Hallmark movies for this Christmas season. We always talk about our favorites, which ones were duds and ones that we're tired of them playing on repeat. I was looking forward to getting more selfies with her, as this summer she had a big moment and got her first two! I had big plans for Christmas Eve too.




Instead, she was extended a different invitation to a completely different party that I didn't get an invitation to. In fact, she was extended an early invitation to the biggest Christmas party. The preparations were done, her outfit was picked out years ago, the choir was singing, and she was ushered into a place filled with complete peace. Grandma was given a white robe, redeemed was written on her heart, she heard him say "well done faithful servant," as she joined the rest of the saints and began worshiping. Grandma is at the biggest Christmas party ever. It beats the fudge she makes, the Christmas presents she could give and the chats we could have. God called her home where she is walking on streets of gold.


I am heartbroken.

My world has stopped.
I don't want to talk.
I want to deny Christmas is here.
I don't want today to be Christmas Eve because it means this is real. She isn't here. 
It isn't a bad dream. 
This will be our new Christmas Eve.


If I'm honest, I struggled with her final resting place, and I've had to work through it. Finally, the Lord gave me peace and pointed me straight to scripture to let me know he had her. She is with him. Earth isn't our final home. We are always looking for our final destination, which was never meant to be here, but sometimes in our human minds, it can be hard to be joyful and rejoice, especially when we're not sure. When the end of life question comes into place, we all want to believe that it's Heaven, but I wanted to know, and The Lord provided me that answer. Relief has washed over my spirit, which has brought me peace. 





When life stops, it doesn't mean it's a bad thing. It causes us to think, search, be intentional with our actions, it begs us to rest, take care of our weary souls and simply STOP.  If you've never known the love of God, I extend his invitation. He wants you to know that he loves you unconditionally, and he doesn't want you to wait another day without knowing him. He longs for a relationship with you. 

As I move forward today, I know things will not be easy, I cling to the fact that eternity is my home, that Grandma is at the best Christmas party in the world, she has met her savior face to face, my great grandma was sitting there at the pearly gates cheering her on and it's okay my world has stopped. It should stop. I should stop and celebrate a birth and a loss. Things will move on again and until they do, it's okay.

Until we meet again, Grandma, I hope your first Christmas in Heaven is beautiful. I can't wait to see you on the other side.
Love you,
Sarah 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Love Bidding Book Review

At Love’s Bidding
At Love’s Bidding (Bethany House, December 2015)
She sells priceless antiques. He sells livestock by the pound. Is he really the man to make a bid for her heart?
After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she’s accidentally sold a powerful family’s prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the people who could ruin them forever, they track it to the Missouri Ozarks and make an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house and all its holdings before the painting can move again.
Upon crossing the country, however, Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn’t deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt Ballentine, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don’t know a thing about the business he’s single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count–but no mysterious painting–Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

My Review:
 Regina Jennings does something fantastic in " At Loves Abiding" when she uses the genre of historical romance and uses something like antiques to tell an amazing story that is charming, witty and delightful to read. Miranda has a heck of a time trying to figure out who this man is that ends up with an antique that wasn't for sale, but could this sale mean a romance for her? Or will she go on a wild ride looking at livestock to come up empty handed? You'll love the sense of adventure that this strong-willed woman pulls you along for as you embark on finding the man who bought something Miranda's grandfather auctioned off.  Miranda steps out of her comfort zone when she is forced to deal Wyatt and livestock instead of her usual antique world, which makes this book all the more fun! This book is charming, comical and by the end; you'll be happy you picked up this unusual historical romance. 

About the Author:
RJennings
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of "A Most Inconvenient Marriage," "Sixty Acres and a Bride," and "Caught in the Middle," and contributed a novella to "A Match Made in Texas." Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Chapel
The Wedding Chapel (Zondervan, November 2015)
For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.
Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in ‘49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be—a place for love—and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.
Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.
When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart’s Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.
When Taylor’s journey intersects with Coach’s, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.

My Review:
Talk about pulling off a masterpiece, if anyone can do it, Rachel Hauck sure did with her latest book "The Wedding Chapel." This book is phenomenal with the characters, the storytelling and her ability to weave two story lines with four points of view is a complete and overwhelming undertaking as an author. This was a very risky move, but she pulled it together well and was incredible to read. If you're looking to fall in love with a book, look no further! "The Wedding Chapel" will have you saying "I do" to two sets of couples who lives are not easy, that as a reader you can automatically relate to, and you'll be cheering for them the entire time. Don't worry, I won't spoil anything because you won't be able to put this book down! Go ahead and stick this book on your Christmas wish list because these characters will stay with you long after you've finished. 

About the Author:
RHauckRachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as "The Wedding Dress," "Love Starts with Elle," and "Once Upon A Prince." She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, "Softly and Tenderly," one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Attention Blog Lurkers

Are you a blog lurker? What? Who me? NEVER! Well, if you been lurking around my blog and I suspect a few of you readers have... Today is your lucky day!

Why? Well, the topics we've been covering are deep and heavy, which make a lot of us think and sometimes we're not sure what to say. Would you agree? I feel like we need to add a little sparkle, something light and fun. A dash of sprinkles, some white frosting and a giveaway or two... 



Are you in for some Christmas fun? Statistically, 3-500 of you lovely readers show up every single day to read my posts and I'm so thankful you do. For that, let's celebrate by having one single day of fun a week before Christmas, shall we? As an avid reader, it's time to do some MAD Christmas giveaways! I am very blessed by authors and publishing companies to read books, review books, get free books and win books, so now it's my turn to give some away!


I will be giving away, at least, four books signed by authors. YES, they are autographed by the authors. No, I'm not telling you the titles, that spoils the fun! You may have seen them reviewed here; you might not have. They may or may not be upcoming titles. I have a Christmas children's book I'll being giving away.  I have a fun Christmas book here or there to giveaway.  Maybe I'll throw in some tea, hot chocolate, Christmas Dvd's or other fun goodies. You just never know with me, but my box will give you a few clues. 




For today and today only, I am giving away fun books, lots of surprises, and you won't know until your name is drawn randomly from random.org.  I might give ten books away, and I might give twenty books away. The deal is, NO more lurking! The more comments on my blog and Facebook posts, the more giveaways. Deal? Did I mention everything I want to giveaway isn't listed?  I have a whole box of brand NEW books I waiting to be read by YOU! 




My blog is an open format. If you've been lurking because you think you need an account to make a comment, YOU don't. You can leave a comment without having a Blogger account. Just leave a comment with your email address in the comment section so I can contact you.



Entry (1) Comment on my BLOG about the following topic:  If you could bless someone with anything at Christmas, what would you bless them with? If money was no object, what would you buy someone? Help someone, etc?   

Entry (2)***You can also get a second entry by adding another comment on my Facebook page telling me what your favorite Christmas movie is and why?**** Here! 

Winners will be announced via email, blog if I can't contact you and also through Facebook throughout the entire day (December 18, 2015, 6 pm Standard Time)! Have fun, I know I will! It is possible to win twice as Random.org will be choosing winners. Good luck everyone! 


It's Christmas, let's have some fun! 
Merry Christmas! 
Sarah 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Love, Pray, Forgive and Bless the Prickly Pears

This topic has been sitting on a document waiting for me to hit publish. I think it's something I'd rather not talk openly about, but the more I talk with people, the more I realize the deep rooted seed of bitterness, unforgiveness, and pain in people's lives, especially around the holiday season.

I recognize that in this season of life, things have changed on my blog. We've put a halt on running topics because we're dealing with life. 

It would be great if I could package life in a pretty basket with a big shiny red bow, unscathed, but life doesn't happen that way. We get bruises; we have wounds, they heal slowly and then they become scars. The beauty of what happens in our scars is what can take us from pain to joy if we let it. I want to touch on a topic that probably will sting for most of us, might even make us feel a little uncomfortable, which as I mentioned before, usually is something that makes me want to run.

The things that make us uncomfortable are the things that make us move us into growth. I hope you find this challenging because I certainly do. It's been on my heart for quite some time and why not share? 

Forgive.
Forgiveness.
Love.
Love your enemies.
Pray.
Pray for your enemies.
Wish them well.
Bless them.

It's super easy to love the people who I  agree with, who tell me what I want to hear, who aren't  drama mamma's and are a lot of fun. I can love these kind of people. Oh, and if you're crafty, a reader, runner, kid lover, downright hilarious, a cook, an advocate, or just good company, we can be friends. 

However, the prickly pears are the ones that get me in trouble EVERY. Single. TIME. These are the kind of people that are like sandpaper against my skin. We all have these people in our life, or at least I do. As I mentioned this, you're probably thinking of someone at work, church or even a member of your family.  I've got about 1, okay that's a lie, maybe 5? The real answer is probably about 10. We all have them in our jobs, churches, communities, neighborhoods, families, etc. And yet, I'm called to love the prickly pears. Forgive the prickly pears. Do good for them. The ones who offend me, hurt me, say insensitive things, believe they are always right, act superior to me, make me feel like I'm less than and yet they rub me the wrong way. Do you know what I'm talking about? Are you nodding your head? Do you have a person you're thinking about? If not, then you might want to ditch out on this party because I'm going to get spicy and real, FAST!  

Pray for them. Say WHAT? I'm SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?  Forgive them? HUH? WAIT you can't me talking to ME? Pretty sure it was the gluten I ate.

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."Matthew 5:44-45


I find it so much easier to forgive someone I enjoy being around than someone who makes me want to throw things. Isn't that true? When someone I love or get along with offends me, I don't think twice about it. I forgive their offense and move on. It was quick, painless and not much thought was given to it.

When a prickly pear(s) offend(s), I stack the offenses, it's much harder to offer that same forgiveness. Then if that unforgiveness isn't dealt with it, bitterness begins to take hold. If that bitterness doesn't get dealt with, it starts to take root slowly, and before you know it, that sucker is growing limbs, branches, and we have a tree. Folks, we don't want a tree. Eventually, that bitterness gets ahold of other things in our lives. 


The tree(bitterness) masks other things that take growth in our life like:
Debt
Anger
Marriage Problems
Anxiety
Fear
Pride
Worry

These things ultimately lead to sin and quick. You're probably thinking it sounds harsh, judgmental and even unrealistic, but I can say this has been true in my life. As a result of bitterness, bad fruit has taken root that could have been easily taken care of if I would have dealt with forgiveness immediately. Why do we take forever? 

Here's the deal on forgiveness. First, it's a choice; it's not a feeling. Society teaches us otherwise. We choose to forgive. Second, bring it straight to God. He is the ultimate Judge, so bring the offense and the offender to Him. Work it out with Him. Let Him deal with it. Why do we carry the baggage around when He offers his arms out to us every single day. We need to go to Him. Why do we let a tree grow with branches full of nasty bitter fruit? We aren't in obedience to His word either, which is something that has broken my heart. He wants us to live free; that is why the Savior of the world was born in the Manger. He came to free us from the nasty sin and bad fruit, so we could grow the good stuff, love one another, live in unity and be at peace with each other. 



"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. " 
Luke 6:35



At Christmas, I imagine it's especially painful to walk into family functions, Christmas work parties, school events or even church because of unforgiveness towards people who have wronged you, hurt you, controlled, made you feel less than or fill in the blank. It doesn't have to be this way, nor should it. There is another way. I am walking this and can tell you, there is HOPE, there is JOY, and there is another way, something way BETTER.  Sometimes when it doesn't feel like you can't walk, crawl. After you've been crawling, stand up for a while. Then after you get your balance, start walking. I promise it does get easier with time. You'll find the more you bring it to the great Judge; the Spirit will help you search your heart. I'm not an expert; I'm just walking where months ago I had been crawling. Wherever you are, don't let another day go by where you don't make a choice in your heart to do something.

Crawl
Stand
Walk

Taking a step will uproot the bitterness in your heart and slowly, forgiveness will root and eventually, you will love, pray and bless those who hurt you. You will see them the way Jesus does. You may not trust them, it may take years to rebuild, but take a step today. Don't let your life pass on by without doing something.

My prayer is that you know you're not alone; you always have someone on the other side of the screen walking the road of "real life." It isn't always easy, fun or cute, but I'm always willing to listen and pray for you. There is someone who extends His arms, willing to offer GRACE; you just have to ask, His invitation is always open and isn't exclusive. I'm not perfect and mess up daily, but He continually ushers me back. 
Many blessings,
Sarah 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Season of Waiting

As a little kid, I remember I couldn't wait until Christmas morning when I woke up before my family to see the Christmas tree and loved seeing all the presents wrapped in fancy packaging with bows under the tree. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the morning before the hustle of the opening presents, delicious breakfast and the chaos of extended family coming over for Christmas. I couldn't wait for the anticipation of what the day would bring. As an adult, waiting is something I despise. I don't have the patience or anticipation I had as a child. It's not fun.

Have you ever been in a season of waiting? Maybe it's a season that has lasted longer than you thought. Something that should be so simple has been so hard.

Are you waiting for a job promotion?
Do you have a dream lingering in your head?
Are you waiting to be a parent?
Maybe you're anticipating a phone call for a job interview.
Are you making offers on houses to watch every single offer be rejected?
Will your husband finally check into your marriage?
Are you sticking close to your cell phone hoping for an email from a family member whom you haven't heard from in ages?
Is this the day your child will finally learn how to read?
Are you ready for your broken heart to be made whole from the ugly divorce?
Maybe you're praying for a miracle and hearing nothing from Heaven.
Are you so tired of begging people for funds to help with your adoption costs and you're ready to throw in the towel because it's too much emotional energy?
Do you have a child who won't potty train and you're out of ideas?
Will healing ever come to your body?
Maybe you're waiting for financial burdens to be erased?



I'm not sure what your season of "waiting for" entails, but whatever that thing is, I know it means something to you. Whether you believe it's big or small, it's important. The season of waiting can cause doubt, disappointment, pain, exhaustion, and anxiety.  Waiting for a dream, a job, a child, adoption funds, parenting frustrations or healing are all things worth "waiting for."

As I was mulling over the topic of waiting and anticipation, especially as we near Christmas, it got me thinking of sweet Mary. Nine months she was "waiting for" and anticipating the birth of Jesus. I can't imagine the thoughts she was having about giving birth to the son of God. She was in a season of waiting until one night when he came in a manager. I imagine this wasn't her plan for his birth, and I think this is so true of the thing we are "waiting for." It never happens the way we think it's supposed to happen. It's always grander, better and more beautiful that we anticipated because we waited it out for the better plan. Sometimes the thing we are "waiting for" that seemed so long, so hard comes out with a simple answer a year down the road. Other times, we see that certain events in our life had to happen to get us to the final destination of the thing we were "waiting for" or anticipating.

Our plan in the waiting isn't always his plan. His plan far outweighs ours.
In my season of waiting, I cling to this truth:


"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Exodus 14:14

His plan is far better.
He will fight for me.
Be still.
Wait.
Anticipate.

If you're in a season of waiting or anticipating, know you're not alone, but in the end, it will be worth it. Maybe you're looking for answers, I wish I had them for you, but the one who has the answers, he opens his arms daily, inviting people to follow as he shows a better way to love and anticipate in the waiting. 

Blessings and prayers in your waiting,
Sarah






Sunday, December 13, 2015

Parables; The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told by John Macarthur


Book Description

Pastor-teacher John MacArthur helps readers understand Jesus’ parables and how they relate to the whole of His message.
Jesus was a master storyteller, and the parables He told were ingeniously simple word pictures with profound spiritual lessons. Understanding the parables is a crucial matter for followers of Jesus. Jesus told parables so His people might comprehend His message about the kingdom of God clearly.
Master expositor and Bible commentator John MacArthur has spent a lifetime explaining the Word of God in clear and comprehensible terms. In Parables he helps Christians understand the essential lessons contained in the most famous and influential short stories the world has ever known.
About the Author
John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, president of the Master's College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry. In more than four decades of ministry, John has written dozens of bestselling books, including The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According to Jesus, and Slave. He lives in Los Angeles.
My Review:
Wow! Talk about a book that you need a lot of time to digest. This is one of those books that I don't recommend reading in on sitting or in two sitting. To be honest, I'm not finished with this book because it is very powerful, but I'm also making sure that I believe what the author conveys in the book aligns with scripture. John Macarthur has done his homework in "Parables; The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told." He talks about the parables and then gives a specific explanation at length with Biblical context and history to back up his point about the Parables. He has given great attention to detail, and I believe his interpretations are accurate about the Gospels and the words of Jesus. This book is one that you don't want to miss. I am treating this book as a devotional because it so jammed back with great information that I just can't digest it all in at once. I recommend that you do the same, but go out and get this book if you are interesting in understanding the context of the Parables better. I promise you won't be disappointed. This is a book that you will have on your shelf for years to come.
Thank you Thomas Nelson for allowing me to review this book. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Instant Happy Journal Product Review

Brighten your day with this colorful journal from happiness expert Karen Salmansohn. Jam-packed with 365 “happiness prompters” including motivational quotes, scientific studies, and thought-provoking questions, this journal amps up your ability to notice (and create!) moments of joy and gratitude in your life—one day at a time.

My Review: 
Isn't it easy not to focus on the positive things in life? This cute little journal gives you the opportunity to find the good and happy things in life every single day. It's small enough that you can throw it in your purse, gym bag or your office bag. Who couldn't use a little happy in their life? This book has quotes that you can respond too. It also has questions, words and just day to day opportunities where you have the ability to express something positive that has happened in your day. 


This cute little book helps you to train your brain to focus on finding the positive things in life and throughout your day. I love looking forward to finding out what the next day has in store for me. If you're looking for a cute stocking stuffer or cute Christmas gift, I recommend this little journal. You won't be disappointed by "Instant Happy Journal"  by Karen Salmansohn.
I was not compensated for a positive review, but was given this journal for review purposes only.