Book Review: Nothing To Prove

I really enjoyed this book by Jennie Allen! Nothing To Prove helps us to get a better picture of what life would be like if we chose to believe the truth that we have nothing to prove. So many of us struggle with always feeling like we are not enough or that we never measure up. We are constantly comparing ourselves to everyone around us and always find ourselves wanting. We think we have to prove our worth. We are constantly trying to be more, do more and have more. Jennie says of the book, “My single goal is to lead your thirsty soul to the only source of lasting fulfillment: Jesus. He is the living water, a limitless supply that will not only quench your thirst but will fill you and then come pouring out of you into a thirsty world.”

Jennie shows us the freedom that can be ours when we stop trying so hard, and instead just rest in Jesus. Rest in who He has called us to be. Rest in what He has called us to do. And not worry about what He has called others to be and do. We need to stop trying to be people pleasers. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “I began to have victory over my addiction to people’s approval when I finally started calling my people pleasing sin. When I realized I had been worshiping people instead of God, that broke me. As I saw it for the idolatry that it was, I lost my appetite for it.”

Nothing To Prove was an eye-opening look at what and Who we are living our lives for. I highly recommend this book!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

(I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for my honest review. Link is an Amazon affiliate link.)

A Great Way To Start The Day!

I’ve been enjoying this season of Lent as I prepare my heart for the celebration of the greatest event in history…the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I started my time this morning listening to this song and thought I would share it with you. The words are so simple, but so true….You are good and You’re never gonna let me down! What a great time to reflect on His goodness to us! Not matter what trials or hardships we may be enduring in our lives right now….He is good! If we can focus our hearts on that one truth, what a difference it would make in our day-to-day life!

I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to listen to the song and then carry this Truth in your heart today and every day!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Podcasts Anyone??

Over the last year, one of the things that I’ve discovered that I really enjoy is listening to podcasts! I listen to them when I’m doing laundry, when I’m cooking, when I’m getting ready in the mornings and when I’m driving. It seems that my subscription list grows weekly! I’ll share my top three favorites with you and I’d LOVE for you to share your favorites with me!

–What Should I Read Next?
–The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey
–Sorta Awesome

What are some of your favorites??

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

2016 Reading Recap

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I’m finally getting around to posting my list of books read in 2016. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to read one book a month. I figured that I would meet that goal with no problem…and I did. I read a total of 35 books, so my goal for 2017 is 40 books! Most of the books I read were really good, but there were some that I trudged through because I hate to start a book and not finish it. Although, there were a few that I started that I just had to put down. The only one of these that I can remember off the top of my head was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

Favorites of 2016….
Fiction: The Light Between Oceans
Nonfiction: Uninvited

Least favorites of 2016….
Fiction: The Syringa Tree
Nonfiction: Big Magic

January
1. The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gien
2. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

February
1. Through The Eyes Of A Lion by Levi Lusko
2. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

March
1. When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert
2. The Letter by Marie Tillman
3. How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

April
1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
2. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
4. Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

May
1. Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson
2. Running Free – Breaking Out From Locked-In Syndrome by Kate Allatt

June
1. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
2. The Lake House by Kate Morton

July
1. Audacious by Beth Moore
2. The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore
3. Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle
4. Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews
5. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

August
1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. The Note by Angela Hunt
3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (audio)
4. Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
5. One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

September
1. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
2. Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts

October
1. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
2. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (audio)
3. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

November
No books completed in November 😦

December
1. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (audio)
3. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
4. Home by Marilynne Robinson
5. The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson

Maybe you can find a book or two to add to your 2017 TBR list! I’d love to hear some of your favorites and not so favorites from 2016. Happy Reading!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

What Are You Doing While You’re Waiting?

We are coming to the close of Advent 2016. Advent is the period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas when Christians celebrate the days leading up to the birth of Christ. It’s a time of waiting….expectant waiting. Expectantly waiting for what we know is coming…the day that we remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior! My question for you is, “What are you doing while you’re waiting?” This year I have tried to be more purposeful in how I spend my time during this Advent season; purposefully preparing my heart for what is coming.

I start each day focusing my heart by reading a portion of a wonderful book by Ann Voskamp. There is a reading for each day of Advent.

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Jacob and I started off the season by volunteering at the Operation Christmas Child warehouse processing shoeboxes to be shipped to children around the world. The particular day that we served 68,000 boxes were processed!! The boxes we prepared were being sent to Cameroon and Chad. My heart was humbled as I thought about the excitement these children will experience as they open their very own shoebox, full of toys and goodies and the love of Jesus.

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We shopped for the perfect Christmas tree, brought it home and got it decorated. (And, I’m proud to say…it’s still standing!)

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We hung our stockings on the mantel, our wreaths on the door and windows and displayed our nativity scene. We shopped for gifts for those that we love, wrapped them and put them under the tree.

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We spent time with family and friends. Some activities included Fantasy in Lights, lunch at CFA, making homemade play dough Christmas cookies, watching Christmas movies, attending Christmas parties and drinking yummy homemade hot chocolate!

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Chipper even went to the groomers so he would look his best on Christmas day!

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We’re also cooking and cleaning and preparing a table. We’re looking forward to the next couple of days of being with the ones we love and worshipping the One who loves us so much that He was willing to come to the earth as a tiny babe. A babe that would grow into a man, who would suffer humiliation and pain and ultimately death to make a way for us to be with Him throughout eternity. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…..John 3:16.

These are just a few of the things we’ve done this Advent season. (The ones I remembered to take pictures of. 🙂 ) As I’ve reflected about Advent and what it really means, the Lord has shown me that for a believer, our entire lives are lived in a season of Advent. We are waiting. Waiting expectantly for what we know is coming…Christ’s return! So, the question once again is posed…what are you doing while you’re waiting?

Are you running yourself ragged trying to obtain the “perfect life?” Are you trying to outrun your pain, your grief, your rejection, your unwanted circumstances? Are you working yourself to death and missing out on the beauty all around you? Are you continually complaining and comparing yourself with others? Are you living in a constant state of stress and anxiety?

Or do you live a life of gratitude, even when it’s hard to find something to be thankful for? Do you accept your circumstances for what they are, trusting that the Lord has a good plan for your life? Do you thank God that He knows you and created you just the way He wanted you to be? Do you accept the peace that He promises to give you? Do you spend time focusing your heart and mind on Him? Do you make time to serve others? Do you make time to build relationships with family and friends? Do you share with others about what the Lord has done for you and through you? Do you spend time worshipping and getting to know the One that we will be spending all eternity with?

We are living in Advent, a season of waiting, and we should be making preparations. We should be living in expectation of what we KNOW is coming! What are you doing while you’re waiting??

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Suffering Is Not Meaningless

This week in my Bible study, the teaching leader was talking about crisis and suffering in our lives. She said, “God takes us to places we don’t want to go to help us achieve what our heart really wants….to trust Him more. True faith is believing God and courageously acting on His Word.” She also mentioned a chapter in John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life” called Don’t Waste Your Suffering. I have read this book and led some teens through the book study….it is excellent! But her mention of this made me think of the following post that my daughter, Katie wrote three weeks after Greg passed away. She speaks such Truth and it is a great reminder for all of us. The song at the end with the John Piper segment is amazing and I have listened to it many times over the last three years. I pray it brings you courage and Hope today in whatever crisis or suffering you may currently be experiencing!

Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

Today, instead of sharing my own writing, I am sharing a post that my daughter, Katie, posted on her blog. She has been able to express so beautifully some of the things that have just been too painful for me to share. I am so very thankful for all three of my children! They are such blessings to me, especially during this time of grief and sadness. I love you Katie, Emilie and Jacob!

Heartache, Soul-Tears, and the Gospel

Posted on November 14, 2013by Kathryn1209

It’s been a little over three weeks since I lost my dad. On the one hand, it seems like just yesterday that I was walking in the door, going to give him a hug and a kiss. On the other hand, it seems like an eternity. My days go seemingly quick, as I’m busy with school, work, and friends. But the nights? Sometimes the nights are hard. Sometimes the nights are horribly, painfully hard.

In the quiet hours, that’s when the darkness seems to creep in. Flashbacks come, images burned in my brain that I just can’t seem to erase. I walk through the ICU hallway in my mind, down to that horrible room filled with machines, lights, beeping, whirring. I can still hear the sobbing, see the tears, feel the cruel heartbreak lacing the very air. I breathe it in. It consumes me, consumes all of us. My voice plays over in my mind, choking out my final words to my dying father. “I love you, Dad. You were the best I could have ever asked for. Thank you. I love you, I love you, I love you.” I hear the deafening silence following his unresponsiveness. I watch as my mom, sister, brother, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins, and friends all enter that ominous hallway, taking their turns to say their last words. I lay my head against Dad’s chest, his heart beating slower and slower. I hold his hand, squeezing, desperately trying to cling to every last bit of life. I stare at my family’s faces. I see my mom, watching the love of her life take his last breaths. I see my siblings, bawling as life fades. I see my family, surrounding a son, brother, and uncle that they love. I hear the voice of a fourteen year old boy with his hand on his dad’s chest and tears in his eyes say, “Mom, his heart stopped beating.” The room goes cold. A numb ache consumes me. Just like that, life is snatched away.

Nighttime. Darkness. Scenes replay, flashbacks come. The stomach churns, a nauseous, gut-wrenching grief. A knife, stabbed deep. Salty tears burn and the wounded heart aches. Grief, pain, death- they are no respecter of persons. Yet, in a way, I welcome it. Not that I would ever choose this for myself, but this soul-searing hurt… maybe this is what it feels to be human. To know helplessness and brokenness, to desperately hope that there’s something outside of me, something bigger than myself. The pain reminds me of just how tragic sin is and death reeks of something absurdly unnatural. It tears at my very soul, screaming, “this is not the way life was intended to be! It’s not right!” And it’s not. Nothing is right about cancer or death and it certainly is not the way life was meant to be lived. Pain reminds me of that truth. Pain leads to desperation; a dark, overwhelming desperation that crushes all of humanity. Soul-wringing hurt reminds me that I and the rest of humanity are on level ground, a battle ground littered with broken hearts, crushed dreams, and desperate souls. It is only once I begin to grasp this desperation that I can truly appreciate the hope offered in the Gospel.

During Dad’s battle with cancer, whenever I would get frustrated or question why, he would always tell me, “Katie, we don’t get to choose.” He’s right, we don’t get to choose. This is the portion dealt me. I do, however, get to choose how to receive it; fists clenched tight in stubborn ingratitude, or hands open, trustingly receiving whatever the Lord gives? I choose the latter. I choose to embrace the pain, to let it cut deep, to fully hurt. I choose to cry soul-tearing sobs and to breathe in heartbreak. However, I also choose to look up, to let grace kiss my tears away, to let the soul-mender heal, and to hope again. May this be my heart’s cry: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

This is a song that the Lord has been using to truly speak to my heart and soul. Refuse to ignore the pain. Embrace it and worship God in the midst of it.

Sweet Memories

So thankful for sweet memories on this hard day.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:50

Always Trusting His Plan,
Sandra

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