Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blessed by New Hope

Due to a Championship Swim Meet on Sunday, we decided to join our sister church- New Hope Ashland- for their Saturday night service this weekend.  It is a small church still struggling to survive - they don't even have their own building.  But this little church blessed me in a huge way.  I got to sit with and worship alongside my husband.  I didn't have to wonder what the offering was going to be and if it would affect my husband's job.  I didn't have to volunteer.  I wasn't distracted by various people in the room - I could just be.  And in doing so, I was able to lift my voice again to my God, letting Him know how much I need Him. 

Thank You, New Hope.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Whole-Hearted Wife by the Smalleys

How can we have a marriage full of life and vibrant love?  The Smalleys' say "it doesn't come by living on autopilot.  No dream or worthy goal comes easily.  We must intentionally pursue what matters most in our lives and marriages."  That's why I picked up this learn some strategies for being the best wife I can be.

There are a lot of topics covered in these pages: showing honor/respect, understanding gender differences, communication, connecting spiritually, sex, resolving conflict/anger, forgiveness, and perspective.  For someone who does not read much on marriage, this book touches on many important topics and may be very beneficial.  However, I have read many marriage books.  In order to keep my interest I need information to be presented in an engaging way - helping me to look at things from a different angle.  I had a hard time staying focused because this book just seemed to summarize things I'd already read in other sources. 

One theme that can be found throughout the book is that in order to create a better marriage, a woman needs to start with the one thing she can change - herself!  In all of the "keys" mentioned, the authors talk about how a woman can apply the topic to herself, how she can help her husband, and finally how it impacts the marriage as a whole. 

This book is a collaborative effort, written by a married couple (Erin & Greg), and Greg's father, Gary.  The benefit of having multiple authors is being able to present a variety of perspectives.  However, this got to be very confusing for me.  I like to know who is writing.  While the authors tried to indicate which person was writing, there were many times I wasn't sure.  I would have preferred reading a book from Erin alone (seeing as she is the only wife out of the bunch). 

Even though I didn't connect well with this book, it does contain some great information over many topics that impact marriages.  Give it a try - it might be right for you :)

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

God's Heart

My Bible reading plan has me reading through the prophets at the moment.  It all seems so repetitive to me.  The people sinned. They worshipped other Gods, even as far as sacrificing their own children.  There was injustice, selfishness, and pride.  And so God was going to allow them to be conquered by their enemies.  The description of their punishment is so brutal.  It could be easy to see God as some cruel dictator, taking pleasure in the punishment of a people who had turned on Him.

But as I was reading today, a few words stuck out to me.  Isaiah 15:5 starts off by saying "My heart weeps for Moab...".  His heart weeps.  Other versions say his heart cries out, or grieves.  The prophets are warning the people of what will happen and letting them know the reason this punishment will come upon them.  Yet God is not happy about this news or looking forward to vengeance.  Maybe He still hopes repentance will occur.

If God's heart weeps over a nation getting ready to suffer the consequence of their sin, then can't we reason that He feels the same way about us?  Maybe you messed up and are suffering the consequences right now.  Do you think God is taking pleasure in it?  This verse tells me that He is not.  His heart weeps along with yours. 

And if God's heart weeps with those who deserve their punishment, how must he feel towards those who are suffering simply because of the world we live in?  This year suffering has hit many people dear to us.  A young couple who had to bury their child, and another who is facing that possibility soon.  Marriages that are falling apart.   A friend diagnosed with brain cancer who is facing an uncertain future.  Others grieving from the death of loved ones.  Surgeries. Depression.  So much suffering.  Yet many of them will testify to the presence of God being there in their midst...comforting them, strengthening them, and guiding them through.  Their testimonies strengthen my faith, reminding me that God is enough and he does care for us deeply - especially in our suffering.