Monday, February 27, 2017

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher {Book Review}

~ Description 

In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It's a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn's shipboard romance to blossom. 
But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World--isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father--his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him? 
When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not--bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not. 
Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge? 

~ My Rating 
4 stars 

~ My Review 

Eeps! What a lovely story of an Amish community in 1730s America! The romance was sweet, the descriptions poetic, and the mystery well-done. I am definitely enjoying the Amish Beginnings series. :D 

**Minor spoilers to follow, particularly for those who haven't read book one, Anna's Crossing.** 

Felix and Bairn were probably my favorites in this book. Bairn's journey to discovering who he is and what really matters to him was sweetly told and realistic. Felix can be a bit of a menace at times (okay, most of the time ;)), but he's cute and boyish. I really loved seeing the brothers' relationship grow and strengthen in this book! 

The whole storyline of the newcomer made me fume, gag, and shake my head in utter confusion. I can't say much without giving it all away, but let's just say, if you're planning to read this book, you're in for quite the ride. ;) And Jacob and Dorothea and all THAT... just, ahhh!! xD 

I became a bit annoyed for some things Anna did (or didn't do) towards the end, and ended up knocking of a star for that reason. I mean, I understand that she had been betrayed. But he wasn't the one who betrayed her! **spoilers ahead** I didn't feel like she was treating Bairn right in those chapters, and not being very understanding. But it turned out well, so I'm happy. :) **end of spoiler** 

Another thing that bothered me was the Ephrata Community/Cloister and their ways. Some things they believed sounded cult-like to me. Although their practices weren't shown as right, the ones I disagreed with weren't exactly shown as wrong either. 

All in all, a good book and a satisfying read. I will definitely be reading book three, The Return, come summer! :D 

**I received a free copy of this book from the Revell Reads program in exchange for my honest review.** 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Be Different.

Yes, I know. No post last Saturday. Sorry about that. :) After writing a post every day for the blog party at Stories by Firefly, I didn't have it in me to write something posting-worthy. 

I'm sitting down to write this post later this evening instead of this morning...or all day... Because I haven't felt like writing a 'good' post. Typing it out and admitting it, I'm making myself sound lazy. But I don't mean it to be. I had originally intended to write a post on faith and what it looks like to have a 'living faith'. But that's not what's on my heart right now, not this evening. 

(A ramble and a rant -- maybe that's what I should've titled this post, as it's already became a bit of a ramble and it's only going to worsen.) 

As I mull over all these thoughts racing through me, I'm left wondering how I can write things that are uplifting and encouraging, when I'm not sure I want to be uplifting or encouraging. Maybe I don't need to be either. 

Maybe hard and honest is what we all need to hear this evening. So I'll go with that. 

Since we're going with hard and honest, here's some facts for you: 

>> I'm human, you're human. Everyone on the globe is a human being, created in the image of God. 

>> We all sin daily, hourly even, and fail Christ. Yet He loves us -- each and everyone -- with a love stronger and more powerful than death and the grave. 

>> Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, your sins, and the sins of every other sin-sick person that exists now, has existed, or will exist. We're all equals and He loves us all the same. 

Assuming we're all clear on this, let's go one step further. If we're on the same level as the rest of humanity, what makes us different? Or better yet, are we different? 

As Christians we are -- we are different. We have Jesus Christ residing in our hearts. But is that obvious to those around us? Are we letting His light shine? Are we being a peculiar people, ambassadors of the cross? 

Maybe a co-worker, friend, or acquaintance bad-mouths you, talking filth and spreading lies behind your back. Maybe there are people in your life who are cruel back-stabbers. Maybe you've been hurt, time again, by their lies, deception, and falsity. 

If you're like me, these what-ifs are bringing specific instances to your mind. Chances are, the people who wronged you never apologized and amends were never made. 

But... That isn't really what matters. Is it? 

Luke 21:17 tells us that we will be "hated of all men for My Name's sake", so we expect should opposition in our lives. We are living in a world that's been marred by the fall of man. How can we expect our lives to be perfect? 

The truth is, it matters little what people think of us, what they say behind our backs, and even how they treat us. What does matter is how we treat them

When they talk behind our backs, do we talk behind their's? That's not showing Jesus' love. 

When they spread lies, do we turn away and ignore them? Jesus wouldn't. 

When they hurt us, do we try to hurt them back? To be spiteful? Jesus says to turn the other cheek. 

Believe me when I say I'm as guilty as anyone else of being uncaring, of not showing Christ's love. Of turning away, thinking "they're too far gone." Nothing is beyond God's great grace. 

As Christians, we're called to show Christ-likeness. Not just to those we like. Not just to those who like us. But to everyone. Jesus died for everyone, loves everyone. Who are we to deny them eternity in heaven? We may not see it that way, but when we turn them aside, we aren't leading them to Him. 

Jesus was a friend of sinners -- all sinners. And we should be too. I'm challenging myself and anyone reading this to love more freely and be a better light for Christ in the days, weeks, and months ahead. What better way to minister to the lost than to show them love -- true love. 

There are plenty of other sinful people in the world to lead these people astray. Let's be the different ones -- the ones that stand out. The ones that, when the world looks at us, they say "they're different. I want what they have." 

This post is quite different from what I've been posting lately, but it feels right. Hopefully you got something from it, and God bless you all. <3 


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Princess & I ~*~ Cover Reveal

A cover reveal? On Chosen Vessels? What on earth?!? 

Hehe, I know, not the norm. But with the When Calls the Heart blog party going on at Stories by Firefly, I still wanted to take part in Rebekah's cover reveal...and so here I am. ^_^ 

I had the privilege of beta-reading The Princess & I and ended up really enjoying it!! And will ya just look at the cover? Does it scream fabulous medieval setting or WHAT?!? :D 

Onward to the details! 

Megan is content with her life, despite her parents' death and her brother Malcolm's job that keeps him busy at the King's castle. But when she is offered the position as Princess Christine's lady-in-waiting, Megan is glad of the change in scenery and accepts it with the hope that she can spend more time with her brother. The promise from Malcolm of lessons in swordsmanship only adds to her enthusiasm.

However, helping keep an eye on the emotional and excitable young lady proves to be much harder than becoming her friend. As rumors of war circulate the castle, Megan strives to encourage her new friend even as she tries to settle the doubts and fears in her own heart when her responsibility in protecting the Princess is put to the test. Follow the unwanted adventure which serves to teach her that loyal friendship, true love, and God's amazing grace will always triumph over revenge, greed, and hate.

About the Author:
Rebekah grew up surrounded by family members who appreciated and read good literature. First, she fell in love with the stories her parents read aloud to her from the Bible and books like The Chronicles of Narnia, Great Expectations, The Hobbit, and Anne of Green Gables. After learning to read on her own, she discovered other fantastic books which helped to build her ever growing imagination.

She completed her first written work at the tender age of eight and now uses it to humble herself whenever the need arises. The story did serve to show her that God had given her a desire to write, however, and from that moment on Rebekah has never looked back or regretted picking up her pencil and becoming an author.

This eighteen-year-old homeschool graduate lives in rainy Western Washington and is currently working on receiving her BA in English in order to further her passion for creating worlds on paper.

Have a good week everyone, and remember, this book releases on March 3rd!! :D 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cities of Refuge.

This week, while reading 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild, I came across this passage from the book of Numbers that made me pause and think... 

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge. Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.”
~ Numbers 35:10-15 KJV 

Wait, wait, wait... Back up, Moses. Cities of refuge? For the manslayers? The murderers? Even if they're strangers or sojourners and not among the chosen people the Israelites? 

Yep, that's what God said. He loves and cares for them too. 

Chances are, no one reading this has actually killed another human being (although it is possible, I suppose). But aren't all sins equal in God's eyes? They are. 

Murder, thievery, adultery, covetousness, profanity, lies... They're all just as bad. Just as black and defiling. 

Filthy. Dirty. Ugly. 

But still forgivable. 

Just as these six cities were there for the Israelites and other people of this day, in the same way is God our city of refuge in the present day. Psalms 46:1 proclaims, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

Our refuge, our strength. Present, willing, and able to help us in our trouble. No matter the magnitude of your sins, He can forgive them. He loves us with a deep fervency that we with our simple human minds can hardly begin to comprehend it. 

And yet, when we run to God in times of trouble, when we have wronged Him so terribly, He will never turn us away. John 6:37 promises it. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 

If you go to Him with a humble heart, truly wanting Him and His blessed comfort, peace, and salvation, He will be there. No sin is too great, no problem too large or complex, that our Heavenly Father can't handle it. 

Run to Him and take refuge in the shadow of His wings. For He is faithful that promised (Heb. 10:23) 


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sisters in Christ ~ Amy Lane ~ February 2017

Hello everyone! Welcome to the February 2017 installment on Sisters in Christ!! :D Today I'm joined by my friend Amy Lane from Hands Made to Love and Amy & Ink

Go on and tell the readers a bit about yourself. :) 

I am a Christian, major WWII dork, movie quoter, dancer, Studio C fan, writer, artist, blogger, a blondy, history lover, & I'm interested in medical stuff.

Wonderful intro, girl! :) Let's talk about blogging first. What inspired you to start a blog?

Well, I didn't really start the blog on my own. My mom started it when I was younger, and it was for us kids. If you go back to around the beginning of my blog you will see posts from my older sister, Emily. Then the two siblings got blogs of their own, and so I kept this blog, which was then called Blogging With Momma. I changed the blog, and I've kinda grown up with it, even though it isn't that old.

But I post on it, and now my inspiration is to share faith and Christ with people, write what I think, share some of my writing, and do bloggy stuff ☺.

That's so cool! 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? ;) 
I don't think I read any blogs before, and if I did, it was probably my mom's. So blogging is what "thrust me into this amazing world we call The Blogosphere".

How did you find my blog(s)? 
I found your blog through another blogger, Bethany, from A Great God and Good Cocoa. I think you were commenting on either my blog or her blog, and I found you by clicking through that.

Ahh, yes. I was trying to remember how I found your blog, and I believe it was through Bethany :) 

On to the Christianity-related questions! What's your favorite Bible verse, chapter, and book? Why? 

That's hard. I don't really have set, number one favorites.

I like Isaiah 43:18-19, even though it's two verses. I found it when I was at a youth retreat, sitting by a stream/river thing, spending time with God. It really helped me, and it still does. The greatest thing is that even when there is no way, God makes a way. And making a river in the desert and a path in the wilderness is not a small task...but for God, it is easy, and He is willing to do that for us.

I like Psalm 51:10. I want to be pure for God, my husband, and myself.

I like Joshua 1:9. It's powerful, encouraging, and commanding in a good way!

John 15:12-13--It's such a powerful pair of verses that are really amazing and genuine.
In the first verse, God commands us to love one another AS HE LOVED US...He's not wanting us to use the fake kind of love, but HIS KIND of love--real love!
In the second verse, it shows that the impact of love for one another--that there is love so genuine(both intimate with an individual or group of individuals and sacrificial Jesus love) that a person can have, that causes them to lay down his/her life for another--even if they don't know the person well, or at all, because they have that true sacrificial love(hopefully it comes from Jesus, 'cuz it should), that would cause them to carry out an action such as this. And though this can be discussed for a long while, and can be looked at different ways, this sacrificial love of putting someone else's life above your own is beautiful, and is the greatest love. And Jesus did it! He died so that we can live!

Yet again, I don't really have a favorite chapter of the Bible, but I like this one: John 17. Jesus prays for his disciples, and us. It's so awesome that He did that, and it just shows His true love and commitment to us. Also, I like Isaiah 43--so powerful, and promising.

I don't think I have a favorite book, but I like Isaiah, the New Testament books in which Jesus speaks, and the Old Testament books have some good stories in them.

Thank you so much for sharing from your heart! :) What Bible verse(s) have really helped you through some rough times?
Isaiah 43:18-19, John 8:32/36, Proverbs 3:24, Joshua 1:9, and one that really is comforting is 2 Corinthians 12:9.

What is one event in your life that really strengthened your Christian walk? 
We moved to the church we are at.

Any Bible reading tips? 
Yes: underline, use post-it notes to keep places/take notes, and bookmarks.

All good ones. ^_^ 

Time for the reading and writing segment! On a scale of 1-10, how much of a reader would you consider yourself?
Currently a 3, though hopefully I will be reading more. I'm currently working on that.

What about a writer?
Maybe a 4 or 5. I like writing, but I don't write a TON, mostly just on inspiration.

Where's your favorite place to read and/or write?
Read: living room. Write: wherever, at a computer, a surface, whatever. For poetry, I think I can better think outside, or wherever.

What's your favorite author(s)? Favorite books by them? 
AHHH!!!! I don't have a favorite author right now! Sorry!
I don't really know, so I'll just spout some good ones off for you.
Ones that are good though, are: Janette Oke--A Gown of Spanish Lace, Chris Fabry & Jerry B. Jenkins--Red Rock Mysteries,  Rick Riordan--Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, God & People--The Bible, Alex and Brett Harris--Do Hard Things, Various Authors--the My America series, Brother Andrew & John and Elizabeth Sherrill--God's Smuggler. Alone Yet Not Alone--Tracie Leininger Craven, and After the Dancing Days--Margaret Rostkowski. Also the Young Woman books by Elizabeth George. Those are some for you.

Eeps! I've read some of those and I'm looking forward to reading some of the others very soon! :) 

What are some books that really impacted your young life? 
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, interesting enough, united my siblings and I in dorkiness for a while, Do Hard Things impacted my life, the My America books, and the American Girl books gave me a love for historical fiction, and I found a hero in God's Smuggler. And of course the Bible. Also, some of the books from Elizabeth George are good: the ones that start with "A Young Woman's guide" or whatever.

And now for some random questions... If you had to use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Oh, good one! Any pet peeves?
Change, sometimes; though I can also like change, and want change. That's one of many, so yes, I have pet peeves; though I need to not have many of them!

Favorite songs? 
Pieces (Bethel Music), Pompeii (Bastille), Tree (Justin Rizzo), Trust in You (Lauren Daigle), and others.

Anything else to add? Goals for this year?
I like music, especially movie soundtracks, Skillet, Celtic Woman (I pretty much listen to their older stuff), Helen Jane Long's album Porcelain and other musical awesomeness, including contemporary.
I like writing, history, medical stuff, and I love God.
I am highly considering a medical career. I want to be an author, and the person God wants me to be.

Don't settle for anything less than God's will, and what He plans for your life! Dream BIG, even if those dreams seem like they are not coming true, or seem far away.


And that wraps it up! Thank you so much for joining me today, Amy! This was a lot of fun! :D 

Be sure to hop over to Amy's blogs (links at the beginning of the post) and leave a comment to let her know you visited! ^_^ 

Sisters in Christ, 

**All images excluding the post graphic were borrowed from Pinterest.**