Thursday, July 5, 2018

It's America. {2018}

Hope y'all had a fabulous 4th of July! God bless each and everyone of you, and God bless America. <33 

It's a kid with a chance 
It's a rock 'n roll band
It's a farmer cuttin' hay
It's a big flag flying in the summer wind
Over a fallen hero's grave

It's a man on the moon
And fireflies in June
And kids selling lemonade 
It's cities and farms, it's open arms, one nation under God
It's America 

On the days those Twin Towers came down
His whole world turned around
He told them all, 
"Can't play ball, there's a war on now"
Marched right in with a few good men
And joined the Marines
At 19

He's somebody's son 
In a hole with a gun 
In a foreign land
Trying to hold on to his American dreams

Yes, I'm a day late. But honestly, can we celebrate America too much? 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Another Adventure.

Happy weekend, readers. (Do I start every post that way? Well, probably...)

Yes, I'm leaving y'all again, as you may have guessed from the title. A group from my church is leaving today for a missions trip, and we'll be returning next weekend. (We're participating in the same ministry as we did last June, which I talked about here and here. ;))

Because of this, there will be no 'real' post here today or next Saturday. I look forward to getting back into the groove of things in July, which will include sharing with y'all about this trip! 

Prayers for safety and a God-filled week would be appreciated! <3

Off to another adventure,

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Letters from Home by Gracelyn Buckner {Book Review}

~ Description 

It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.
~General Robert E. Lee, CSA

Marigold Ruth Bryant and Rueben Collins lived the life of farmers in Western North Carolina during the early 1860s. But times are changing. With the attack on Fort Sumpter, Marigold and Rueben’s lives are turned upside down. Meeting legendary figures in the war, they must decide what they truly believe. Follow the steps of these simple farming families and discover more about the lives of those impacted by this conflict.

~ My Rating 

3.5 stars

~ My Review 

Letters from Home was a nice story, that fairly accurately showed every day civilian life during the Civil War. The fact that it's set near my home made it more enjoyable, as I recognized town and landmark names. 

The characters were well-done and mostly relatable. There were a lot of them to keep track of however—something that usually bothers me—but the character list near the beginning of the book helped with that. 

There were a few inconsistencies throughout the book that caused me to lower my rating a bit. 

*Spoilers through the next two paragraphs*

A man from town comes to the home of the main character, nearly frozen from the weather, to tell the family of a raid that just took place. Instead of asking the poor man what happened, prompting him to traipse through a snowstorm to tell them about it, Marigold's mom sends her out in the storm. She walks to town, visits two families, and ends up drinking ice tea with the colonel's wife, with no mention made of the cold weather. Wait...what about the blizzard? :P

There was also a Charles mentioned a couple times...I never did figure out who he was.

Toward the end of the book, Marigold receives a letter saying that Rueben was captured by the enemy and she worries about. But up until that time, she hadn't heard from him in months and she was 'okay' with that. So...why the sudden worry, when you at least know he's alive now?

*end of spoilers*

Inconsistencies aside, I did enjoy the story, the peek into the horrors of Civil War POW camps, and the inclusion of real events. If you enjoy stories about the Civil War, you'd probably like this one! :)

**I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

Monday, June 18, 2018

In Bloom by Kayla Aimee {Book Review}

~ Description 

At some point in life, every woman struggles with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. Whether fueled by a culture of makeover shows, by the lingering memories of mean girls, or by events and regrets much more wounding to the soul, our thoughts can become so conditioned by self-doubt that it's often the primary lens through which we view ourselves or expect to be viewed by others.

But what if we could rewrite the narrative? What if we could exchange our uncertainty for an abiding confidence? And what if in unearthing our worth, we uncovered our purpose as well, becoming free to unleash our gifts within community and find ourselves in complete communion with our Creator?

In this fearless, funny, and refreshingly relatable chronicle of her own metamorphosis from the insecurity that once held her captive, author Kayla Aimee unfolds the blueprint for women to:

• Identify the deep-seated sources of our assumed inadequacy and replace them with steadfast truths of affirmation
• Embrace the boldness and courageous confidence of who we are in Christ
• Replace our need for approval with the promise of an enduring acceptance
• Uncover our purpose, unlock our potential, and celebrate our unique personality

To every woman who longs for belonging, this journey through Kayla's inviting prose, biblical promises, and journaling prompts will help guide her from restless insecurity to a beautiful becoming. We weren't made for being captives; we were made for being captivated, for fully embracing the truth of who we've been created to be.

~ My Rating 

5 stars

~ My Review 

Wow. That's literally what I thought every time I sat down to soak up some more of this book's goodness. While reading this beautiful book, I alternately laughed until I physically hurt and blinked to keep the tears at bay.

I read the author's first book a few years ago, and having followed her blog ever since and falling for her way with words, I jumped at the chance to review her new book. And I'm so glad I did.

With her signature southern charm, Kayla Aimee tackles the tough topics of shame, insecurity, self-doubt, and inadequacy. Instead, she encourages women of all ages to live with purpose, boldness, and unabashed confidence in who they are in Christ.

She doesn't shy from the hard stuff, but rather lays it all bear, open and raw before a world of readers. Throughout the book, she even goes as far as to open up about vulnerable areas in her own life and past—mistakes she made and decisions she now regrets.

One woman's story of embracing life and love in the way God meant it to be is full of twists and turns and heartache. It's real, it's raw, but it's so beautiful.

In Bloom is 200 pages of confidence-building, grace-offering encouragement. I would recommend it to any woman or young lady who's ever felt like she didn't measure up, like she wasn't enough, like she didn't matter. <3

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Father's Day 2018 + Giveaway Winners

Happy Saturday!

(Actually, happy Friday night, as a very tired Faith is writing this ahead of time because tomorrow will be too busy to think about blog posts. xD)

First off, a happy Father's Day to all the beloved dads out there. Y'all are super special. The protector, the leader of the home, the head of the family, and the one who's to hold it all together. I don't know what we'd do without ya. <3

Am I forgetting something? *innocent smile* Ahh, yes, the giveaway winners. Probably the only reason some of y'all are reading this. xD

Okiedoke! First place (the journal and pens) goes to Abigail Harder. Second place (books and bookmarks) goes to Kaitlyn K.!

Congratulations, girlies! I'll be contacting you shortly to get your mailing addresses, and prizes will go in the mail first of the week. ^_^

Have a blessed weekend, y'all! <3

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Quest for Leviathan by Amanda Tero {Book Review + Blog Tour}

Are sea monsters a real thing? What about fire-breathing dragons? According to the Bible, there is a fire-breathing sea creature who really existed: the leviathan. Amanda Tero brings this dragon to life in her newest short story, "Quest for Leviathan." Join Anath and his crew of ninety-nine rowers as they face the waves of the Mediterranean Sea and the power of Leviathan.

About the Story

Leviathan took the life of his father.

Anath has spent three years preparing for the voyage that will end the threat of Leviathan. Yet as the Valor launches into the depths of the Mediterranean, an inward quest also begins, taking Anath to depths he is not willing to face.


I've been pleased with every short work I've read by Ms. Tero. This fictional take on the tale of the leviathan from Job 41 was no exception. 

The story itself was great, offering clear detail without being wordy. The setting was well researched and I enjoyed the connection to Job 41, a chapter that has always intrigued and yet confused me. 

The theme and message of God's plans above our own was tastefully done, speaking to me without overloading the few short pages. 

4.5 stars! 

A favorite quote ~ “I prayed the Lord would bring you home alive. That He would reveal to you the greatness of His plans above your own.”


Amanda is giving away TWO print copies of "Quest for Leviathan" to one winner — one for you, and one for your friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short  stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. 

You can connect with Amanda on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Amazon, her website, her blog, and by email (


June 8 – With a Joyful Noise (Release Day Post)
               Resting Life (Spotlight, Review) 
              The World of the Writer (Review) 
              Authoring Arrowheads (Review)
              Purely by Faith Review (Review, Interview)

June 9 – Victoria’s Book Nook (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)
              Bekah’s Books (Spotlight, Review, Interview)

June 11 – Clothed with Scarlet (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)
              Reveries Reviews (Review)

June 12 – Chosen Vessels (Spotlight, Review)
              My Purple Pen (Review)
              Read Another Page (Review)

June 13 – Once Upon an Ordinary (Review)
              Maidens for Modesty (Review)
              Yahweh Sisters (Review)

June 14 – Honey Rock Hills (Review)
              Life of Heritage Corner (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)
              Kaylee’s Kind of Writes (Review, Interview)

June 15 – The Red-Hooded Writer (Review)
              Blossoms and Blessings (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)
              Lit Aflame (Review, Interview)

June 16 – The Left-Handed Typist (Review)
              Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review, Interview, Giveaway)

June 18 – Great Books for God’s Girls (Review, Interview)
              Peculiar Miss Darcy (Character Interview)

June 19 – Done in Love (Spotlight, Review, Interview, Giveaway)
              Creating Romance (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

June 20 – Keturah’s Korner (Review, Interview)
              Rock and Minerals 4 Him (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

June 21 – A Baker’s Perspective (Review, Giveaway, Character Spotlight)
              Christian Author: A.M. Heath (Review, Interview)

              Views from the Window Friend (Review)
              Hunting for Truth (Spotlight, Review, Giveaway)

June 23 – Reading on the Edge (Spotlight)
              Summer Snowflakes (Review, Giveaway)

June 25 – With a Joyful Noise (Giveaway Winner Announced)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Third Blogiversary {A Giveaway}

Greetings, readers!

I'm officially back from my May hiatus! (Yes, I was supposed to post last week and forgot. xD) If you'd like to hear about my May trip, I'd suggest keeping an eye on my other blog next week.

And speaking of blogs... This weekend marks three years since I joined the blogosphere! Blogging has definitely been a journey for me, and one that I have very much enjoyed. I'm not sure where life will take me in the coming years, but for now I'm sticking with blogging as a hobby. Stories by Firefly is my writer/author platform, and Chosen Vessels is my little spot to share my thoughts and my faith.

A blog wouldn't be nearly so much fun without all of my lovely followers. As much as I would love to give something special to each and every one of you, it's just not a feasible plan. So I'm doing the next best thing—a giveaway with two winners!

First Place will receive this darling leather journal. The front has a quote from 1 Corinthians 13, and the inside pages have a variety of encouraging quotes along the bottom. This winner will also receive two gel pens. 

Second Place will receive two books from my shelves—Jilted by Varina Denman & The Stout-Hearted Seven by Neta Lohnes Frazier—as well as a few bookmarks from my collection. (I have not read either of these books, and therefore cannot recommend them or offer content warnings.) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sorry, international friends! These prizes are US only due to shipping costs. :( However, if someone who is not a resident of the US wins one of these, I will offer them e-copies of either of my books, and the prize will go to whoever would have been 3rd place.

Best of luck! <3

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Where Trains Collide by Amber Stokes {Book Review + Blog Tour}

Hello, lovelies! I'm here today with author Amber Stokes Holcomb's blog tour for her darling novella, Where Trains Collide. This is the third novella romance I've read by this author, and they've all be super cute! :D


Inspirational Contemporary Romance Novella

Two hearts racing in different directions will meet where trains collide.

Burned out and disillusioned with her chosen career path, Trisha Knolane gives in to impulse and hops on a train bound for Oregon, eager to escape the stress of college for a few days. But what begins as a fun little adventure takes an unexpected turn when she discovers that her ex-boyfriend is also on board.

All her hopes and dreams had once centered on Paul Benson. Now, when Trisha doesn't know where her current track will lead, Paul’s reappearance in her life only complicates matters and sparks difficult questions.

Questions that could change the course of her life.

A heartfelt and thought-provoking contemporary romance novella, Where Trains Collide faces the uncertain season of new adulthood head on and shows that sometimes a path of broken dreams can lead to life’s best destination.


Where Trains Collide was a sweet love story of weekend train rides and second chances. I didn't fall head over heels in love with the story, but it was sweet and fun. Kind of predictable too, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. ;) Oh, and I loved seeing Derrick and Samantha from How a Star Falls! :D

I really enjoyed all the details about the train and the area. At the time I read this book, I was about to visit that area of California and Oregon, so recognizing some of the names and such were lots of fun. :) Such a beautiful part of the world, too!!

Trisha was sweet and I related to her in several ways. Especially the "holy cow I have no idea what God wants me to do with my life" feeling. I enjoyed how that worked out and played a part.

Paul was...okay? I didn't really 'feel' him or find him nearly as amazing as Trisha did, but toward the end I connected with him a bit more.

A sweet lil' novella—4 stars!

**I received a copy of this novella from the author in exchange for my honest review.** 


The childhood scariness of the dark woods faded away behind this grandeur, stars settling over the scene as if born of or drawn to the vivid, rotating glow on the bluff. 

A burden weighing him down, putting tears in her strong lumberjack’s eyes. 

Maybe answers wouldn’t make sense to her now. Maybe she needed to trust God more. Maybe she needed to journey farther down the trail before she could see where He was leading her.

Amber Holcomb (Stokes) is an indie author and freelance editor living below the majestic mountains of Montana with her adventurous husband. Previously, she worked in marketing for a Christian publisher for nearly three years. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and now fuels her work with words in this new season of life.

You can learn more about Amber’s books, sign up for her author newsletter, join the Amber’s Gems street team, and more at


In celebration of this new novella, enter for a chance to win a $15 gift card! Giveaway is open internationally (to anyone age 18 or older who can receive an Amazon gift card via email). Void where prohibited.


June 3
Book Spotlight | My Favorite Pastime
Book Spotlight | A Real Writer’s Life

June 4
Author Interview | My Favorite Pastime
Review | Serenely Stacy

June 5
Review + Travel Story | My Favorite Pastime
Review + Author Interview + Travel Story | Meagan Davenport

June 6

June 7
Author Interview | Unicorn Quester
Review | Chosen Vessels
Review | Heidi Reads…

June 8
Review + Deleted Scene | Flowers of Quiet Happiness
Review | Liv K. Fisher

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sisters in Christ ~ Brooklyne ~ May 2018

Happy Saturday, readers! Today we have another Sisters in Christ chat—with Brooklyne from Showers of Blessings.

Welcome to Chosen Vessels, Brooklyne! 

Hi everyone! My name is Brooklyne. I’m a seventeen year old, homeschooler, animal lover, bookworm, cowgirl, middle sister, DIYer, Seventh-day Adventist, vegetarian, writer at heart, introvert, and most importantly a daughter of The One True King! Some of my hobbies are gardening, riding my horse Rosie, hand lettering, woodworking, exercising, and taking pictures.

I love that! :) Since we met through blogging, let's talk about that. What inspired you to start a blog?

Well, as soon as I started reading about all these bloggers who were around my age, I realized that this was something I could do to make a difference. Honestly, the idea of starting a blog was exciting, crazy, and scary. I had to step out of my comfort zone, and still do with every post. I’m not great with computers, and I have never had Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media site. But I do write. I write devotionals, poems, and stories. I don’t have all the answers, but I feel like God has given me words to write and starting a blog gives me the chance to share these words with people all over the world! I am so blessed to be given the resources to start a blog.

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? ;)

Yes and no. I really only started reading blogs the beginning of this year. I was really into The Circle C Adventures by Mrs. Marlow when I was around 13 years old. As I got older, I was more into the contests and one day I was reading on her blog about the contest judges and that’s when I found a blog by a homeschooler. I would read over her blog and then find more blogs to read. It was like a ripple effect. Each blog would most likely have a list of other blogs they read. So, I went blog crazy and read so many blogs, I can’t even remember which ones I read.
But, before 2018 I really hadn’t read any blogs, except Andi’s Blog (Circle C Adventures).

How did you find my blogs?
I found your blogs sometime when I was going blog crazy:-). So, I don’t know exactly how I came across them, but I do know that I found Stories by Firefly before finding Chosen Vessels. And, I have to say, I really like both of your blogs!!!

Aww, thank you! 

The blogging community can be a very encouraging place to me—so many people blogging about their faith! What's your favorite Bible verse, chapter, and book? Why?

Oh, this is so hard to choose!!! One of my favorite verses are 2 Corinthians 12:9 because it is a reminder that God’s grace is sufficient in my weaknesses. One of my favorite chapters is Psalm 23. The lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want… there is something so peaceful about this chapter. Oh, and I like Philippians 4 too! I can’t decide on a favorite:-). My favorite book in the Bible is James. I like that it is short enough to read in one setting and I like that it is relatable.

What Bible verses have really helped you through some rough times?

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And Philippians 4: 6,7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests by made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” These two verses are the first to go through my head when I need a reminder that Gods got it.

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

(1) Our move to our farm was a very big faith builder. Hints the name, Winds of Faith.            (2) My baptism was another event that strengthened my Christian walk. (3) I believe trial’s have strengthened my Christian walk also. One big trial was in 2015 when my Dad had a heart attack. He was forty-one and had to have two stints placed in his widow maker. This was very scary and we really had to trust God with our worries. Since then we have really changed the way we eat to be more plant strong and healthy.

Wow... <3 

Any Bible reading tips?

I’m not one to be giving advice in this area. Sadly, all to often, my time to read the bible gets cut short or pushed back and this is something I want and need to change. I think reading the Bible has to be a huge priority. To purposefully choose to spend time reading the Bible. A lot of times I use the concordance in the back of my bible to look up words for different verses and this helps me get on a roll;-).

Speaking of reading... On a scale of 1-10, how much of a reader would you consider yourself? What about a writer?

For a reader, I would say I’m a 8-9. And for a writer, I’d say a 7-8. This would be for books that were amazing and if I didn’t have writers block…

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

Definitely in my room. And sometimes I will read in the car if it is a really good book! ;-)

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books by them?

I can’t pick a favorite, it’s too hard! I really like Stephen Bly’s writing style. My favorite books written by him are Skinners of Goldfield series and Homestead series. There are lots more authors and books but the list is too long! ;-)

Hehe, isn't that like the worst question? ;) What are some books that really impacted your young life?

I really enjoyed reading Pony Pals, Sisters in Time, Circle C Adventures, and The Serenity Inn series when I was younger. But I would say that the one book that really impacted my life was iChoose His Way by Hannah Rayne. If you haven't heard of it, look it up and read it. I totally recommend it for anyone, but especially us teenagers! It was written by a teen for us teens. This book just really impacted me.

Alrighty. Time for a few random questions, before we have to say farewells. :D If you had to use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Um, maybe creative. I don’t know.

Any pet peeves?
I walk around like everything is fine, but deep down, inside my boot, my sock is sliding off! A bunched up sock is the worst! :-)

Favorite songs?

I like quite a few songs and types of music, so this is kind of hard to choose! I really like country music. Some I like are I Don’t Dance by Lee Brice, Fight Like a Girl by Bomshel, Jesus Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood, Road Less Traveled by Lauren Alaina, May We All by Florida Georgia Line, Austin by Blake Shelton, and lots of others!

Anything else to add? Goals for the rest of this year?

Some of my goals for 2018 would be to ride Rosie, a lot more than I have been. And start writing more too! Like starting a book series I have in mind… and to keep writing devotionals and poems. A big time goal would be to publish some of my writings but this will most likely not take place in this year. Also, to blog! I have lots of great ideas for Showers of Blessings and can’t wait to perfect my blog style, add more pages, etc.

And I want to say, thank you so much, Faith, for hosting Sister’s in Christ! This was such a great opportunity for me to get to know other bloggers in this blogosphere and for them to get to know me too. These were great questions and they were very fun to answer! Thanks for letting me participate in this blog series! ;-)

I enjoyed it as well! Thanks for coming over! <3


Thanks for reading, friends! Be sure to leave Brooklyne a comment and check out her blog. :D 


Quick announcement. I'm going on another blogging hiatus for most of the month of May. I may be back toward the end of the month, and I'll be posting a May recap on my other blog, but other than, I'm taking a break. I know I just took a hiatus in January, and I honestly didn't think I'd be doing it this soon, but I need it and this month (while gone on a trip) seems like the perfect time. But meanwhile, I'll be reading y'all's posts, traveling the country, and hopefully getting some new inspiration. ;)

**Images borrowed from Pinterest. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

This Beautiful Life.

Tonight was lovely.

I'm not even sure what was so special about it, other than it was normal, and sometimes that's where the beauty lies. In the ordinary, everyday happenings.

I went to Walmart with my mom and bought clothes and ate at Chick-Fil-A.

We picked up kids and went to church, getting there nearly late but it's okay because we can never get started on time.

Once the service was going, seven teens filed down the side of the sanctuary into a small room on the corner of the church, where lots of laughter takes place.

We learned about Naaman and leprosy, played game, and just laughed.

After church was over, I hung out with a few of the others. We sat with our feet dangling over the edge of the ramp, looking out over the cemetery, and ate popsicles and talked about life and laughed some more.

And I reflected on how this night, this life, is an ordinary but beautiful thing.

We don't have to have it all together. We don't have to know what's going on. We don't have to do things that would be labeled 'amazing' by the world's standards.

We're called to shine His light. To live, and laugh, and love.

And bask in the beauty of being free to live this wild and precious life.

Not at all what I had planned, but we're going to call this a make-up post since I missed Saturday's post. I'll be back this weekend, and then I'm taking most of the month off. Doing lovely, normal, life things. 

What beautiful, normal things have y'all been up to lately? Anyone as hyped about summer as I am? 

Live free, y'all. <3

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Artist.

There is a story, beautiful to hear.

It is the story of an Artist.

Some would tell you that there's nothing special about this Artist. That he's a myth and a fantasy.

But I know different.

Why? Because I've seen His creations.

This Artist takes great delight in his creations. He forms and fashions then with his hands, perfecting every detail.


Every stroke of His paintbrush is performed with a smile.

Every freckle is placed with His hand.

Every hair color, eye color, skin color is chosen with joy.


Oh, did I fail to mention that? Each of His creations are perfectly created.

Not flawed. Not messed up. Not broken or cracked or marred.


If someone went to this much trouble to create you, wouldn't that make you feel special and oh-so loved?

Because, Someone did, dearest... 

Wouldn't it break your heart to have someone nit-pick over supposed flaws in something you'd poured time and love into creating?

It would mine.

Then can you imagine how much it hurts His heart when we complain about our faces, our bodies—about how He created us?

He is perfect, and He cannot create imperfection. 

That dimple in your cheek? That's His fingerprint.

That freckle you wish would just go away? He placed it there with a simple touch of His thumb.

That shame that haunts you? It's clothed in His grace.

Rest in His love. 

Want to see more of His creation? Take a long look around you.

Want to read more about this Artist? I suggest starting at Genesis 1:1...and when you reach Revelation 22:21, you'll be getting an idea of how incomprehensible His love for you is.

Thanks, Dad, for teaching a series on the book of Genesis and prompting this analogy. <3

Saturday, April 14, 2018

He is Near. {1 Samuel 30}

This week, while reading in the book of 1 Samuel, I came across a passage in chapter 30 that really stood out to me. So since I didn't already have a post in mind for today, y'all are going to get some Faith-ramblings. ;)

I'll beginning with a bit of context to get y'all up to date...

While on the run from Saul (who wanted to kill him), David and his men had been living in Ziklag among the Philistines. Chapter 29 tells us that they had gone out with the Philistines to war against Israel.

This concerned many of the Philistines (except for Achish—king of Gath who had welcomed David in in the first place) because they feared that these Hebrews would turn traitor and fight for Israel once they were in battle. To satisfy the others, Achish asked David to take his men and return to Ziklag.

Now that we know the background, let's take a look at what these men found when they returned to their homes and families...

And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;  
And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way. 
So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.   
And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. 
// 1 Samuel 30:1-3, 5 kjv

Can you imagine what it would be like to return home to such a sight?! The city was burnt to the ground. Destroyed. Desolate. The mens' wives and children had been carried away captive. Other than the fact that there was no bodies littering the ground, they had no evidence that their families were even still alive.

Not only were they living on the run along with David, they had went out to battle with a country not their own, and while away had lost their wives and children to the enemies.

Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 
// 1 Samuel 30:4 kjv

They wept until they had no more power, y'all. They shed tears. They cried. They sobbed. Their hearts were broken, my friends. They had nothing left, and so they wept until they were literally to exhausted to shed another tear, heave another cry.

And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters:
// 1 Samuel 30:6a kjv

Just when it seemed like there was nothing left... Not only had David's wives and children been carried away, but now the others were considering stoning him. As if it was his fault!

But they were grieving. They weren't thinking clearly. They just wanted answer, wanted a reason. Wanted to know why.

Have you ever been there? When the bottom falls out and you're just falling, falling, falling... Helpless, with nothing to cling to... Or so it seems.

...but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.  
// 1 Samuel 30:6b kjv

(Don't you love how God worded that?!) But... David went to the Lord his God. He cried out to God. He lamented. I'm sure he probably asked God why this happened. He was hurt and confused and sick at heart. But he knew where to go for comfort, for answers. 

The heartache, the mourning, the heartbroken cries... That wasn't the end of their story, y'all. And the hard times, the dry season you're facing right now isn't the end of your story either.

Lean on Him, friends. That's what He's there for. Run to His open arms and stay there until the storm passes. Because it will pass, it always does. The sunshine is coming. This is just a season, a time of testing, of strengthening you.

And you'll come out stronger for it.

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 
// Psalm 34:18 kjv

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  
// Psalm 46:1 kjv

Thoughts on this passage? Would y'all like to see a sequel to this post, covering David enquiring of God and the recovery of the families? When has our Lord been near to you through a storm or trial? 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Proving by Beverly Lewis {Book Review}

As y'all may have noticed, there was no post this past weekend. I'm trying to catch up on my Camp NaNo goal. See y'all next week! :)

~ Description

Having left the Amish life for the English world, Amanda Dienner is shocked when she learns that her mother has passed and left her Lancaster County's most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. The catch is she has to run it herself for one year, acting as hostess. Amanda accepts the terms, but coming home to people she left behind won't be easy.

~ My Rating

4 stars

~ My Review 

Oh my goodness, what a precious story! I have yet to read a Beverly Lewis book that I did not enjoy, and The Proving was no exception. 

From the first pages, Mandy's story intrigued me. My mind filled with questions as to what had transpired between her and her twin sister, Arie (who was super sweet!), and why. Picking up hints along the way was pretty fun. :)

Catrina entered the story near the beginning of the book, and I was confused for awhile as to her purpose. Her sad backstory made me feel for her and pity her sad. I enjoyed her character then, but when she got to the B&B her attitude toward Mandy made me want to not like her. Thankfully, she changed though (or rather someone had a good influence on her...), and her story and romance was very precious! 

I loved the setting of the book!! A book set at an Amish Bed&Breakfast in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania—which is being ran by the estranged daughter of the family? Yes, please! The mysterious vibe fit the setting very well too. 

All of the characters were so real. Mandy, Arie, Josiah, Jerome, Betsy, Trina, Karl, Gavin, Yonnie... Karl, Arie, and Yonnie were definitely favorites of mine. ;)

My only complaint would be that the beginning of the book was rather slow. I wanted to find out what had happened and how it would all be resolved, but I wasn't that into it. Thankfully, I stuck with it and pushed on. What a lovely ending to the story! <3

**I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.** 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter. {2018}

Happy Easter, dear readers! 

I originally planned to write a free verse poem for Easter this year, but it just didn't work out. I hope you find this quotes as inspiring and uplifting as I did. :)

"The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross was not something that ‘happened’ to Him –something that could have been prevented. His death was the very reason He came."
– Oswald Chambers

"The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits,’ the pioneer of life,’ He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so."
– C.S. Lewis 

"The Gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope."  
– Author unknown  

Rejoice at the celebration of His resurrection! He is risen and worthy to be praised!