Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Gift for All People by Max Lucado {Book Review}

~ Description 

A New View on the Old Rugged Cross

Are peace, joy, and significance on your wish list?  How about redemption, forgiveness, the salvation of your soul?  Each of these descriptors bring us to the main event:  grace.  Saving grace, God’s immeasurable gift intended for all.  Regardless of accomplishments or station in life, despite sins of the past, anyone can receive the free gift of grace. 
Yet too often we take God’s incomparable gift for granted—despite the fact that God’s very Son paid for it with his body, breath, and blood. Understandably, we often find ourselves caught up in the daily routine of life, not taking time to reflect on the enormity of God’s mercy.
So here’s a suggestion:  give yourself the gift of a few moments spent in the world of God’s grace.  Read pastor Max Lucado’s unique, stirring insights into God’s role as grace-giver. Spend some time reflecting on the gift of grace, in all its magnificent meaning.  
Let grace, the gift for all people, speak to you personally through these pages.

~ My Rating 
5 stars 

~ My Review

Come, ten thousand angels! 
Come and take this wounded Troubadour 
To the cradle of His Father's arms! 

Farewell, manger's Infant. 
Bless You, Holy Ambassador. 
Go home, Death Slayer. 
Rest well, Sweet Soldier. 
The battle is over. 

~ quote from pages 68-69, (some capitalization added by me)

Deep, yet simplistic. Relatable and personal. Touching, encouraging, and inspiring. Ahh, this book was amazing. <3 

Max Lucado paints the story of salvation and the majesty of the old rugged cross in such a way that I found myself considering things I'd never thought of on my own. He speaks of grace and redemption in ways so clear and personal, it caused me to sit back and ponder -- to have a deeper awe of Christ's sacrifice. 

One thing that did bother me was that pronouns were not capitalized when referencing Jesus or God. This isn't the first book I've read that's like that, but seeing as how I'm used to His Name always being capitalized, it stood out to me. 

All the way around this was an amazing, thought-provoking book. I definitely recommend it and I really need to read more of Lucado's books. :) 

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this honest review.** 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Don't Waste the Thursdays.

I've been musing some lately on how Thursday doesn't get much recognition – in my life, at least. My favorite day of the week is Friday – it's the day before the weekend and it's known for that. Monday is the dreaded beginning of the work/school week. Saturday and Sunday are obvious wins for rest and relaxation and, most importantly, worship. Wednesday is the middle day and means – for my family, anyway – Bible study and youth group that night at church. 

But Tuesday and Thursday? 

They're just 'other days' where I find myself waiting for the next day to come, or looking back to what happened the previous day. Reflection and anticipation are by no means wrong – that's not what I'm saying. 

But suppose the season of life you're in right now feels like a Tuesday or a Thursday? You're either waiting for something big (Friday) to come along or you're already past it and dreading the next big thing (Monday). 

But aren't we supposed to be content in every season of lifeShouldn't we focus on finding God's will in the here and now and doing it

God has great plans for your life. Each and every one of you. Never doubt that. But...His plans don't have drawbacks in them. There is no "you can't do this, because..." God may have different plans for you down the road, but He has also placed you right here...right now. 

I can promise you that there is something He wants from you now as well. It may be as simple as being obedient to His will – whether that's worshipping Him through the days of waiting or packing up next week to move to the mission fields of Nicaragua. But He has placed you in the today for a reason. Maybe it's to grow, to learn to trust, or to simply be patient for His timing. 

But there is a purpose for the in-between. Always. 

So... How about we start living Thursdays for Thursdays? For what they themselves hold, and stop spending them waiting around for Friday to finally come. 

Thursday and Tuesday have just as many hours in them as Friday and Saturday. And our time is special. Sacred. Something that, once wasted, we can never get back. That time should be spent doing God's will and bringing glory to Him – the One who gave us life. 

So let's make our Thursdays and Tuesdays count for something this week, this month, and this year. For Him and for His glory. <3 

While I'm here I want to share something with y'all that my little bro wrote the other night. As much as his lack of grammar is aggravating me, I'm going to leave it pretty much the way he wrote it. ;) 

"Well the other night when got in I went to the bathroom to wash my hands they were really dirty from working on a powersaw and right when that soap hit those hands all that nasty dirt and oil a bits of wood come right and fell into the sink in nasty wet globs it made me think about how JESUS washed away all the filth and grime in our hearts so tomorrow when I go out to work they will git dirty again but it will wash right off just like JESUS will forgive us if we fail Him." 

Hope you got something out of all that...I was a bit all-over-the-place. ;) A blessed weekend to you all! <3 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Snow // A Poem

Happy Saturday everyone! Today I'm sharing a poem that I wrote when we had quite a bit of snow on the ground about...two weeks ago. Goodness, it doesn't seem like that long. :P 

My poems aren't 'amazing' by any means, but they're fun to write and I hope you at least enjoy. If you want some really good free verse poetry, I highly recommend Julia's blog, Twilight to Dawn. She's a super talented gal. ;) 

this snow

it tells a story 

a story of a fallen world 

a story of a sinful people 

daily we fail

we wrong God

we wrong each other 

this snow is like that 

no longer as pretty

as perfect

as picturesque 

as it was before 

it's like this world

marred by sin

scarred by people's wrongs 

but even still

through it all

there is beauty to be found 

for those who know 

where to find it 

in the One who saved us all

by His amazing grace 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hartly Manor by Amanda Tero {Book Review}

~ Description 
There were six of them… 

And these six children have an important lesson to learn when it comes to Mr. Hartly and his manor. Is he the scary man that Rees says he is? Or will the children discover something else as they get to know him?

~ My Rating
5 stars 

~ My Review 
Awww, such a sweet story!! :) 

Short but meaningful (which I'm seeing is the norm for many of Ms. Tero's works :D), this story would be great for young children. Although I enjoyed it as well! 
All the characters came across as real and true. The kids were so cute -- I believe Rees and Stella were my favorites with their childish bickering, hehe. Oh, and Dick and Lillian were adorable! 
Although I didn't detect it until the end, and then more on reflection, I really enjoyed the analogy as well and found it to be very well done. :) 

Stories like this one make me want to gather up some little kids and read this story with them. <3 I look forward to more by this talented author!! 

**I received a free e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.** 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Grace. // Acts 22

One day, while reading in my Bible, I came upon chapter 22 of Acts. I read Paul's defense before the crowd, when he gave his testimony. Later on, as I was thinking back to it, this exchange is what came to my mind... 

Paul: God, they won't listen to me. They know all that I have done. I was there when Stephen was stoned – I assisted in killing one of Your faithful followers. Why should You forgive me? 

God: I know all that you have done, My beloved. And I have loved and redeemed you in spite of it all. 

Paul: But, God I don't understand. I'm so undeserving. Why would you do this for me? 

God: I'm doing this because I love you, Paul. I have great plans for your life. You don't need to understand, only to follow. 

Paul: Okay. I believe. I'll do as you ask. One more question?

God: Yes? 

Paul: ...what is this called, Lord?

God: This is grace, My child. 

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
~ Hebrews 4:16 KJV

Let's go back to that verse in Acts... 

“And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.”
~ Acts 22:8 KJV

Whom thou persecutest. That's some tough words to hear. Maybe you wince, sympathizing for Paul as you read it. Or maybe...maybe you're with me on this one and you know where I'm going next. 

We've all persecutest Christ. Every sin we commit, no matter the size, hurts Him. Wounds Him. Cuts Him to the quick. Breaks His heart. 

And yet He loves us. Loves us enough to die. for. us. 

Maybe like Paul you're not sure what to think about this. It's getting something you could never deserve, under any circumstances. It's unmerited, undeserved love. It never dies, never wears out, never dries up. But what exactly is this? This gift from above. This something. 

I don't know what it is to you, but I call it grace. 

Beautiful lyrics, aren't they? :D You've just finished my first attempt at a 'quality' post for this year. I started this post awhile back, while reading the book of Acts. I'm hoping to continue posting every Saturday. :) Hope you enjoyed, and I'd love some feedback! 

>> Faith 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Whispering Leaves Saga by Willowy Whisper {Book Review}

~ Description 

She kept remembering the gentle voice, the large warm hand, and the soft heartbeat she had fallen asleep to as a child so many years ago...
Can Silverleaf and Willowy Whisper survive the trials and tribulations of their hearts and kingdoms? Can they find the love they've longed for? Will true love come into their lives, henceforth and forever...?

~ My Rating
5 stars 

~ My Review
Wow. I seriously finished this book speechless. The writing is absolutely beautiful, the emotions are realistic and raw, and stories amazingly told. *squeals* I absolutely loved it!!! :D 

Whispering Leaves Saga is a delightful collection of seven short stories, all tales of the same characters. The fantasy storyworld was really amazing, and I loved the castles and kingdoms. ^_^ Aside from catching a few typos (3-4 at the most), I seriously have no complaints about this book. Precious...amazing. Ahh!! <3 

Whispers of the Morning -- 5 stars
Such a sweet story! I loved how what happened in the beginning of the story wrapped back around at the end. :) 

The Tale of Silver Leaf -- 4 stars 
I didn't like this one *quite* as much as the first, but it was still good. The sacrifice by the Woodlenn boy at the end tore me up. <3 

Escape -- 5 stars 
Lovely! This was the first story to include characters from both the previous two. It was fast-paced and exciting, but left some room for explaining. 

The Crowning -- 5 stars 
This one included the explanation of the aforementioned story (Escape) along with some excitement all its own. Secrets being revealed! 

The King's Quest -- 4 stars 
There wasn't quite as much to this one as the others, but it was still great. Golden Eagle and Willowy Whisper are the cutest. <3 

The Keeper of Every Tomorrow -- 5 stars 
This story absolutely broke my heart, with its beautiful title and beautiful storytelling.

Henceforth and Forever -- 5 stars 
And this one was beautiful too. Like, seriously, I have no words. It's closely connected to The Keeper of Every Tomorrow and wraps up the series of stories quite nicely. 

Favorite quotes... 
"You could not have defeated me, good sir. Do not vex me by slaughtering my pride, lest I should have to prove my words and kill you." 

But the sweet tone in her voice belied the pain she was feeling in her heart as she watched the most precious man in her life walk away. 

**I received a free e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.** 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sisters in Christ ~ Micaiah K. ~ January 2017

Hello everyone! Hope y'all are having a lovely Saturday! (I am because I woke up to LOADS OF SNOW!! XD) 

Welcome to the first Sisters in Christ of 2017! :D 

Joining us today is my sweet friend, Micaiah, from Adventures Beyond the Horizon. Be sure to hop over and check out her blog. ^_^ 

Alrighty. Go ahead an introduce yourself, girl. :D 

Hey, all! I'm Micaiah, a sixteen-year-old who's been saved by God's grace. I'm a writer, an avid reader, a homeschooler, and an adventurer. I love music and historical fiction (though a lot of times I also go for contemporary). I love the stars at night and I like to travel and see new places. I like spending time with my family (of which I am the middle kid) and my fluffy white dog. I'm interested in photography, baking, and singing. 

Isn't she awesome, y'all? Okiedoke, let's talk about blogging... 

What inspired you to start a blog? 

I remember wanting to have a place to ramble about the books I was reading, post reviews, that sort of thing (though it's grown since then). Around that time, I found a blog that my then-favorite-author had posted on at one point, and I dunno - maybe that partially inspired me? I really just wanted a place to share my thoughts!

Did you read other blogs before starting your own, or was starting a blog what thrust you into this amazing world we call The Blogosphere? ;) 

There were probably two blogs I'd read before starting my own (including the one I mentioned above)! I know - crazy, right? Starting my own blog was really what introduced me to the blogosphere. (what? That's totally a word.)
Yes. It's a word. No arguing. XD 

How did you find my blog(s)? 

Through your Goodreads profile when we became friends on there! Of course I followed.  

Let's talk a bit about our shared faith. What's your favorite Bible verse, chapter, and book? Why? 

Oooh, favorite Bible verse? That's a really hard question! (there are so many good ones) I don't think 
I have one specific verse that really sticks out for me, but I do like John 14:27 and Psalm 27:8. Again, picking a chapter is difficult! I like Psalm 23, and a lot of Romans is good. And probably the Psalms as my favorite book. I also like some of the Prophets, like Isaiah. 

What Bible verse(s) have really helped you through some rough times? 

For a time it was John 14:27. That verse is fantastic.

What is one event in your life that really strengthened your Christian walk? 

A few years back my family went through a pretty rough time. It really brought us closer to God and to each other. It's amazing how God works things for good!

Any Bible reading tips? 

Listen for God's voice speaking to you while you read (He will show up if you ask Him to). Highlight (because it's fun and verses pop out!). Maybe get a Bible reading plan for the year (it'll give you motivation and will help you keep organized, instead of just flipping open the Bible and reading at random). Lastly, set aside time for it. It most likely won't happen consistently if it's not in your schedule. 

Amen, sistah. <3 

Alrighty, unto the reading and writing stuff. :P On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most), how much of a reader would you consider yourself? What about a writer? 

As a reader, probably an 8. I adore reading, and I'm currently in the process of growing my library book by book. ;) As a writer? It's probably pretty low on the scale right now. I haven't been writing very consistently lately, partially because life has been so busy, especially with holidays and school! I've been on a bit of a break, which hasn't been necessarily intentional the whole time, but it's been good.

Where's your favorite place to read and/or write? 

Where it's quiet. And I won't be disturbed. Those are my requirements. (If I'm slightly picky it also needs someplace partially padded to sit on.) ;)

Who's your favorite author(s)? Favorite books by them? 

Since I have a pretty excruciating time picking favorites these days, here's a few:

Joanne Bischof, and her book To Get to You. She is a fantastic, talented author, not to mention a super sweet person. And To Get to You? Serious adorable-ness, guys. It's fantastic. It really is. (*whispers* I gave it five stars!)

Ted Dekker, and his book Blink of an Eye. Ted Dekker is a master, a genius - and I'm not just saying that. He blows my mind with his incredible writing and plot-weaving skills. And Blink of an Eye was by far my favorite of his books I've read so far. (I also gave it five stars.)

R.M. Ballantyne, and his novel Fighting the Flames. Ballantyne lived in the 1800s - he traveled to do research and lived quite the adventurous life. His books are almost all about wild adventures, while being funny and enjoyable and for the most part lighthearted with some action thrown in. Fighting the Flames was no exception. A fictional book about the fire department in London in the 1800s? Yes, please. Plus all of the characters are interwoven in a really fun way. 

*wants to read all those now* 

What are some books that really impacted your young life? 

Definitely the A Life of Faith series, updated from Martha Finley's originals. I found two of the Violet books sitting in the kid's section in a second-hand and new bookstore when my mom and I were donating some books. The series introduced me to the Victorian era, which fast became my favorite time period - and it still is. They're filled with faith and strong heroines and wonderful characters. I think the A Life of Faith books were also some of the first chapter books I read, so they strengthened my reading ability as well. I loved them, and the Violet and Millie series are still sitting on my bookshelf!

If you had to use one word to describe yourself, what would it be? 

Maybe "kind" or "determined." (Someone literally asked this question in a movie I watched last night! Uncanny. ;)) 

Any pet peeves? 

Uh... loud chewing? XD 

Sammmeee. XD Favorite songs? 

Sparrows (Under Heaven's Eyes) by Tenth Avenue North
Humbug by Owl City (I know, it's a Christmas song, but it's fantastic.)
Follow Through by Unspoken

Anything else to add? Goals for this year? 

To read the Bible in a year. My reading goal is 52 books (I may or may not surpass that!), and I'm also doing a reading challenge with a bunch of friends. I'm hoping to do Camp NaNoWriMo again, and maybe the daunting task of actual NaNoWriMo!

Good luck with all those, girl! :D 

Thanks a bunch for having me, Faith! I had fun answering your questions! 


Thanks for reading everyone! Leave Micaiah a comment, why don't ya? Next month's chat will be with Amy Lane from Living in Faith and Fun and Amy & Ink. :) 


**All pictures are from Pinterest, excluding the post graphic.** 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Looking Ahead...

Looking ahead...I see 2017. This lovely year, a blessing in itself from God, is stretched out before us. He has gifted it to us, but it's up to us as to how we use it.

This year, I want to make a difference. Correction – I want to always make a difference. In my life, I want to reflect Christ. I want to shine so the world to see Him and His goodness. 

How is that a connection to the blog, you ask? 

My posts. Sure, the book reviews can be fun. The short rambles are okay. But I want to write good posts. Deep posts. I want to write and share about things I'm facing, and pray that someone else can be encouraged and strengthened through the words God gives me as well. 

My goal for Chosen Vessels this year is this: I want to write at least one or two 'quality' posts for this blog a month. It isn't like they take an eternity to write. I can do this. I just have to make it a priority. 

So that's my goal. A post here each Saturday (hopefully) and at least 1-2 of them being good. With a set subject and Bible verses to back it all up. I'm throwing this out here now so y'all can hold me accountable. 

January's Sisters in Christ will be up tomorrow. Blessings, all! <3 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Cherish by Vicki Courtney {Book Review}

~ Description 
Instead of just surviving relationships, why not cherish them?  

A teen girl's life is bursting with relationships—hard ones, favorite ones, and ones you would avoid if only you could. In Cherish, best-selling author Vicki Courtney offers godly yet timely advice on how to navigate and cultivate relationships with your parents, friends, guys, and everyone else who fills your day. You'll find your questions answered on such topics as:

Top 10 friendship killers, What to do when your family is falling apart, What happens when good girls fall for bad boys, How to live in the digital world, and Why did God put you here anyway?

~ My Rating
5 stars 

~ My Review 
An amazing and wonderfully written book helping girls along the path through the teen years and the – often times difficult – relationships that accompany them. From friends and boyfriends, to employers and siblings, to parents and God, this book has got it all. The group of ladies who wrote it, dive into all the topics (even the yucky ones) and lay bare the truths. Backed up with oodles of scriptures and Biblical references, this book is solid and wholesome. 

Every girl from 13-18 should read this book. Maybe you can't relate to every single article (I couldn't) but no one could finish this book without getting something out of it, I don't believe. 

Amazing. I totally recommend it. :D 

(Also...isn't the cover gorgeous?!) 

**I received a free copy of this book from B&H/Lifeway in exchange for my honest review.**