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A Brew of Fresh Grace

Jesus and The Beanstalk by Lori Stanley Roelveld

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About the book:

Jesus and the Beanstalk: Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life (Abingdon Press, September 2016)

What if a fairy tale and ten Bible verses could free you to live an effective, fruitful life in Christ?

We live in unsettling, challenging times. Everywhere we look, we see giant problems: giant obstacles to sharing faith, giant barriers to peaceful lives, giant strongholds of fear. But what if you knew eight small secrets to unlocking a strength big enough to overcome whatever obstacle life may bring?

Using allegory and a bit of humor, Jesus and the Beanstalkexplores a passage in 2 Peter 1 to uncover eight truths that will help you unleash a larger-than-life faith:

-Faith
-Goodness
-Knowledge
-Self-control
-Perseverance
-Godliness
-Affection for others
-Love

In this creative, refreshing perspective on spiritual growth, you will discover an unyielding strength when you tap the power of a God who is stronger than any beanstalk and bigger than your biggest giants.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dcnopJ

About the author:
 
 

Lori Stanley Roeleveld is the author of Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus) and Red Pen Redemption. Her blog, LoriRoeleveld.com, was voted Top 100 Christian Blogs by RedeemingGod.com and has enjoyed over 1.5 million views. Lori lives in Hope Valley, RI.

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My Turn:

I was so hopeful with this book. So very, very hopeful.
Like you, and the rest of the world, I have giants. Giants that need to be slain. Giants I’m powerless against. 
And that’s the whole point. I’m powerless. But Jesus is powerful! And He is the giant-slayer. 
If this book had just said that very thing it would have been a GREAT book! I would be singing it’s praises. But it fell flat with me.  
I felt as if the author was telling me to just be better at loving Jesus, produce in myself more faith. If I just DID more, the giants would be killed by MY OWN sword. But that’s isn’t the way it works! 
What works is abiding in Jesus, allowing His life to take over my deadness and my giants, submitting to His leadership, standing firm IN Him, and then I can watch those giants fall. Not because I’m strong because I’m not, but because He is strong! Apart from Him I can do nothing!

The author said a few times that we are small. But we aren’t!  We are NOT small, we ARE God’s children, infused with His Spirit. And that makes us BIG and Dangerous

We only feel small when we focus on self and those we consider giants.
I thought the author used a lot of suppositions that might or might not be true.
I did like the amount of Scripture the author used in the book. I love love love it when I can read for myself the very verses the author is quoting.
I love this line (and I really wish the sentiment was in the whole book!!)

“Longing for transformation we focus on the flesh instead of the Spirit, attempting to accomplish the work ourselves rather than submit to Christ.”

I give the book 3 out of 5 turning pages. 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.
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Prayer, Confession, and Basking.

i praise you lordThere is something so wonderful about having a time of confession, seeking forgiveness, and then taking His hand and walking away from the gunk and the junk with Him. There is something so tender and peaceful about turning over all the angst to Him. 
 
Sunday morning someone dropped the  note (pictured above) in the offering and those who counted the gifts left it on my desk. I’m looking at it right now. I don’t think I’ll ever throw it away. I can not even begin to tell you how much I have needed this reminder over the past two days. SO much hurt and angst of soul. I learned just how possible it is to offer a sacrifice of praise when my heart is in agony. To choose to focus on Him and then believe Him when all I have around me are sandcastles in the raging sea. I’ve learned that He takes the angst and replaces it with His peace. And He does this every time I ask Him. I’ve learned that when I submit to Him, and confess my sin, and say “Lord, I’m ready for the consequences for my actions” He is faithful. But He is also tender and always there ready with open arms, allowing me to snuggle in close and sob my hurts into His shoulder. 
 
I posted that on my instagram account and shared it on my facebook and twitter pages. He is just so good! You know if it had ended there, I would be one very happy girl. But He didn’t leave it there. 
 
I was texting my sister-in-law this morning and she told me, “I stopped by the liquor store on the way home yesterday.” I asked her why and called her a lush. She told me her day got worse. Jesus took over my mouth…or err fingers. I told her drowning her bad days would not make them good days but drowning in Jesus will! “No judgment here! I often forget Jesus and drown my sorrows in coffee. Which doesn’t fix it either. But the times I’ve run to Jesus…He has been so faithful to make it all better and bring peace. 
 
All of that is true. But it wasn’t something I had really thought about until I saw it there. 
 
Yesterday morning I needed to spend some time at my prayer bench. The angst was stifling and I needed to be with my Jesus. The very Jesus I had been fighting for days. I NEEDED Him to breathe His life into my hurting heart. As I walked I listened to David Meece’s song, “The things You never gave me”. I realized this was my time to offer my sacrifice of praise. To choose to praise Him instead of fighting Him. I sat on my prayer bench and did just that. I confessed my sin. Sought His forgiveness, asked for His help to walk in it, and I can’t even remember what else. But it was just such a tender time with Him. I’m still basking in His tenderness towards me. I so don’t deserve Him. Just thinking of it now brings tears, not happy tears but definitely not the tears of angst I’ve shed. 
 
This morning (I know this is disjointed and I’m sorry!) as I was closing our windows before leaving for the office I just prayed over and over, “I want to just bask in You!” 
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Nameless Chicken Dinner

DSC_0042Which is somewhat similar to Winner Winner Chicken dinner, but different.

A friend of mine is, in my humble (hah!) estimation, a wonderful cook. I’ve gotten a few recipes sent me in a text message and each one is wonderful. These recipes can’t be found anywhere because I’m pretty dang sure he made them up.

In his head.

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I’ve long been of a competitive nature. And well, two can play at that game, right?

Normally the first time I make a recipe I follow it exactly. Except when I don’t realize I don’t have a certain ingredient until I need to put it in. I substitute. Often I’ll put supper on the table and announce, “I followed the recipe exactly, except it called for this and I only had that. So I used it instead. Oh and it said to do this, but I did something else entirely. If it’s really bad, we’ll get pizza.”

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After trying some of the recipes from my friend, I thought to myself, “Self, you could do this.”

Last week I set out to come up with my own chicken recipe. And I think I did.

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Now, I’m not going to share the whole recipe with you here and now. It needs a little more tweaking. But it’s close.

Lest you think in the above that I used coconut, nope. I didn’t.

I do normally use provolone cheese with this dish, though. Today though I realized too late that my offspring had eaten nearly all the provolone so we used pepper jack instead.

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So really all I’m doing is tempting you. I will tell you this, though, it’s good!

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Leave me a comment if you’d like to be a recipe tester for this and as I get the kinks worked out, I’ll be in touch.

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Chicken Marsala

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. When I have time that is. Life has been at break neck speed.

I’ve also been cooking less and having my offspring cook more. They each take a day and plan the whole meal.

I’ve made a nameless chicken dish that was out of this world good, or as a friend says it’s an EO.

I’ve made Beouf a la mode, and Beouf Bourguignon.

I’ve heard about chicken marsala and I’ve been anxious to try it.

Enter yesterday.

Yesterday was the day. I found a recipe on the internet, and headed to the grocery store. I needed three things:

  • Chicken. (That should be a given.)
  • Cooking Sherry and
  • Marsala.
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions

I hit the salad dressing aisle first in search of cooking sherry and found none. I texted a friend, “Quick! What’s a substitute for cooking sherry?”

I headed to get the veggies and then the chicken.

I searched the entire liquor section for marsala. I text another friend when I can’t find it. I just grab a bottle of Merlot and head to the check out.

I decided to go to a different grocery store to see if I could find cooking sherry.

BINGO!!

They have it. And since I’d heard from my friend about Marsala I now knew it was a cooking wine and BINGO again. They had it.

Grab the cooking sherry and Marsala and a venti iced decaf Americano for me and the mental anguish I’ve been through.

I came home and turned into a cooking freak.

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Picture Post!

Please do not use these photos without permission!

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Of Swords and Battering Rams

battering ramI have my own shield and battering ram and I’m very skilled at using both of them. Together or apart I’m a professional.

Every morning I pick them up and begin my day. They’re heavy and ungainly. They’re difficult to carry around and I get tired. At night I carefully drop them to the floor, crawl into bed and sleep the sleep of the dead.

Because I’ve been carrying my own armor around all day. I’ve been fighting my own battles. I’ve fought battles that were both real and imagined. I’ve fought with people I love dearly thinking they were my true enemy.

I’m not proud of this. I’m ashamed of my battles and battle scars, even though I’d proudly show anyone. Not that anyone wants to see them. No one likes those, no one really wants invited to pity parties. And I’ve had a lot of them.

“If you only knew what he did!”

“Did you hear what she said to me?”

“It’s all their fault!”

Jab, jab, strike, stab, lop them off at the knees. Or the head. Anything to wound them before I could be wounded by them.

Even if they meant well. And actually sought my good. I’d battle them. Misunderstanding their words, on purpose and accidentally.  If they said I was like “this”, I’d seek to prove to them I was more like “that”. If they said the wrong thing, which really was anything I didn’t like, I’d give them the stink eye, a withering glance and go to battle with words or with silence.

Then last week I was on a long road trip alone. Just myself and Mercy Me in the car.

And Jesus.

Jesus, the very One who told me over and over, “I am never in your presence, but you are always in Mine.” and “You can give Me no glory! I have all the glory and any glory you think you have is dirty compared to My glory. You are to merely reflect My glory in you. You are a conduit, a reflector of My great glory. You can’t give Me what I already possess.” The very One who told me one day as I walked around the building, “Since you have learned you are always in My presence, take off your shoes because you’re on Holy Ground.” Then when I had slipped my shoes off, He said, “Now, walk on the rocks.”
“But, Jesus, my feet are too tender!”
“Walk on the rocks.”
They poke and cut at my feet, I cringed and walked very gently, tenderly. The second time around the building barefoot He spoke again, “My child, there are times I will make you walk through difficult, painful times, just like you walked on the rocks. But I will be with you, just as I am with you now.”

Not going to lie, that statement did not fill me with joy. At all.

Back to my road trip. I prayed little sentence prayers, more like a whisper of a breath, “Word of God speak, Jesus. I need to hear Your voice.”

And I was suffocating in His very presence.

His words to me,

“You have to put down your shield and battering ram. And take up Mine.”

As if it was an easy thing to do. Put it down and take it up.

I’ve held on, tightly to my battering ram and shield for a lot of years. I’ve honed my skills on them and with them. They are like friends to me.

Friends who want to destroy me and kill me.

His words have rattled around in my head for the past week. I’d try to pray and I’d hear Him speak those words again. I’d beg to hear His voice and I’d hear those words.

I listened to a podcast recently and while it wasn’t on this topic, I heard His voice speak those words to me loud and clear again. I did a Bible study lesson and again I heard those words.

I went to bed that night and wept. Giving up my defenses was a very scary thing. Hugely scary.

Today I was emailing an old friend about this very thing. I was wanting someone to hold my hand and whisper to me that everything was going to be okay, that while yes, I did need to let go and pick up His, I could do it and they would hold my hand the whole time. I was half expecting harshness. This friend had already referred to me as a glutton and a rude pig at a kings table, so today when I was referred to as a leech, I wasn’t too surprised but it still stung.

And then I was told to pray about it and not argue or defend myself.

Again Jesus spoke, “Remember, I told you ‘No defenses. No excuses.'” I sent those four words, and only those four words back in an email.  I took a walk to my prayer bench, praying the entire way. Praying for truth. Praying I’d be able to retaliate. Praying I could prove my friend wrong. Praying for truth in me. Praying for Jesus to speak to me on this matter.

“What if you just believe?”

Yeah, what if I just believe?

“And let go of your battering ram and shield.”

Ohhh Jesus I don’t think I can do that! It’s too hard. It’s too painful. I know the pain of these, I don’t know the pain of Your sword and shield. You could hurt me again.”

“What if you just believe?”

I decided to quit the battle. I decided to try just believing. And then all the hurt and the anger at my friend’s comment came on full force. “Oh you thought it wasn’t enough to call me a glutton and a rude pig, now a leech? What other unflattering animals would you like to call me next? Bring it on, buddy. I’ve got a few animals for you too.”

And Jesus spoke.

I listened. Shattered. Scared. Afraid.

And I completely gave in and gave up.

I dropped my battering ram, laid down my shield. Shivered the pain of it all. And slowly walked away.

Into just believing Him.

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Journey To Heal by Crystal M. Sutherland {A Review}

journeytohealOne in four girls will be sexually molested during their childhood. As these  girls grow into adulthood they feel like the walking wounded. Their innocence was violently taken and they are left alone to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and put themselves back together.

Most can’t. Some seek help. Others just silently suffer. Some look for a way to numb the pain. They all believe the lies their mind, and often the very words of their abusers, tell them. Even if they know they are lies, they feel powerless to change their thought pattern. They feel doomed to a life lived alone in the shadows. The fortunate ones turn to Jesus for complete healing.

Is it possible for a victim of childhood sexual molestation to have a life free and abundant in Jesus? Is healing available for them? And their baggage?

There is no easy formula, no 12-Step Plan for them. But according to Crystal Sutherland, a survivor herself, it is not only possible it’s guaranteed! She has walked the road to healing and she has written a book, Journey To Heal, to share her story and offer help to those who need healing.

My Thoughts:

I found this book to be a great resource to healing and I was blessed to be able to pass along to a dear friend who was a victim.

My one caution to those who would read this book for healing, it should NOT take the place of seeking out professional help. Yes, Jesus can heal anyway He chooses, but this is one road women should not go alone. They should not rely on their own brain and will power to muscle through to healing. I would recommend using this book in addition to counseling with a professional.

If you, or someone you know was sexually molested as a child, I highly recommend this book. Crystal has “Journey Essentials” at the end of each chapter, a prayer, Scripture to read,  a question and then something to journal. This is GREAT!

She also frequently writes that the reader is to go at their own pace and not to move beyond *this* until they are ready and have completed the homework. For some it might take days, weeks or even months.

Also from Kregel publications is a book, “Naming Our Abuse, God’ Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors.” If you’re a man reading this and wishing their was a book for you to help you through your journey to healing, there is!! And this book is it!. It is sound and offers help and hope to male victims of sexual abuse.

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

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Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton {A Review}

Sister eveIf you’ve read any of Lynne Hinton’s books about Sister Eve Divine you’ll love this new book!

In Sister Eve and the Blue Nun, Sister Eve is still in the throes of determining her passion, and her calling. She has returned to the monastery to attend a conference. While there the main speaker is murdered and the blame is cast on her brother.

Sister Eve knows Anthony has to be innocent but the evidence against him is mounting rapidly.  Can she possibly find out the truth before anyone else dies? And can she remain safe while she investigates? And who is the new police detective working the case and why does she feel so odd when he is around?

The answers to those questions can only be found in the pages of the book, Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton, so you’re going to have to get your own copy of the book.

My thoughts:

The characters are well-written, although lacking in common sense.  Sister Eve lies constantly throughout the book, to those in authority, to herself, to her friends, to everyone. And she has no consequences for these choices.

Sister Eve also steals a key piece of evidence from the crime scene and encourages the abbot to lie about it and they come together in a deception that would leave most people in prison when it was discovered, but again, no consequences to either the abbot or Eve.

Those are my main objections to the book.

The plot moves along for the most part. I think it could have been wrapped up a lot sooner had Sister Eve not spent pages and pages detailing her inner dialogue.

All in all I give this book 3 out of 5 turning pages.

 

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

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Hunting Hope by Nika Maples…A GIVEAWAY!!!

At twenty, Nika Maples learned that when hope was all she had, she claimed it boldly while defying all odds to recover from a devastating stroke. The lessons from that struggle are powerful and universal, and she shares those lessons in her new book, Hunting Hope. Doctors warned that she had as little as 48 hours to live, and—if she lived at all—she would never walk or talk again. There was no hope on the horizon. So Nika started to hunt for it. Today, she not only walks, but she speaks to audiences everywhere about the power of hunting hope when a situation appears hopeless. She says hope remains camouflaged in the daily mundane. If we are not looking for it, we will miss it, though it is right before our eyes.

Celebrate the release of Hunting Hope with a $200 Getaway Giveaway (details below) and a live webcast with Nika on May 26!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • One copy of Hunting Hope
  • A $200 Hilton gift card to give a hope hunter the chance to rest

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/24. The winner will be announced at the Hunting Hope live author webcast on 5/26. RSVP for a chance to connect with Nika and other hope hunters, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

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Hunting Hope by Nika Maples {A Review}

5193EHfXjKL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_Winter is inevitable. Both in nature and in our own lives. We will all at some point in time or another face a winter of the soul.

We will encounter those times when life is hard and painful and God seems more like a figment of our imagination than anything real and tangible. Our world will be darkness, we won’t be able to see anything good.

But good is there. Crouching just under the surface, all we have to do is search for it, to pray for our eyes to be open to His working good in us and through us. We won’t see it right away, but in time, in His timing we will. And we will rejoice.

In Hunting Hope, Nika Maples gives us a road map to Hunting Hope. She lovingly, kindly and at time humorously teaches us how to be a hunter of Hope. She reminds us we are not alone, that we won’t always see death around us. She tells us that when we look around at the bare trees, the grey skies, the silent world, we can still have hope if we choose to hunt for it.

In this short book (just a hair over 200 pages), Nika shares personal stories, God stories and uncovers the hope we all have in Christ. She floods each page, not with her words, but with the words of God. I love the amount of Scripture she uses! It is so refreshing!!

And it teaches us where our true Hope comes from!

This book is so well-written, you’ll want to sit down and read it all at once. But don’t! Take your time, read it slowly, look up the Scriptures. Pray about what you’re reading. And hunt for your own hope.

I fully recommend that everyone read this book now. Not later when you’re experiencing your own winter of soul, but now, so when your winter comes, you are prepared and armed for battle.

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is revolutionary!!

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.

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