faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Feeling Blessed

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I want to declare my mood today for Thanksgiving —

I feel so blessed!

At the grocery store today, buying what we need for Thanksgiving, I realized that we can buy all the groceries we want.  That makes me feel blessed.

Going through each aisle, there are so many choices! In produce, I can choose from 5 kinds of squash.  Five kinds!  I chose the Spaghetti Squash because it was on sale, and it is a treat that we don’t get very often.  That makes me feel blessed!

I got to the frozen vegetables, and they had Bird’s Eye Vegetables on sale Buy 1 Get 1 free!  I stocked up on some of our favorites like baby broccoli florets.  That makes me feel blessed!

I finally found non-dairy yogurt in our grocery store!  Today I bought 3 flavors of coconut milk yogurt — strawberry, vanilla, and my favorite key lime!  More blessings!

By the time I checked out, and headed out the door, and remembered right where I parked, I was almost skipping at being so blessed!

So now I am taking the time to say — “Thank You, God, for the variety of food you have made for us, for the colors and flavors in abundance!  Thank you for all the people who work in the food industry, from farmers and harvesters, to packers and shippers, to grocery store workers and more, they all work hard to make the food available to us. Thank you for each one of them, and please bless them in abundance too.  Thank you God for family to share all these blessings with!”  

Before you get overwhelmed with cooking and cleaning for Thanksgiving, you can take a breath and thank God for a few of your blessings too… 

May God bless each one of my readers this Thanksgiving (yes, you!), with abundance and love and yummy food!  

Let’s celebrate the harvest and share the bounty with others!

–>Click to find a Food Bank to donate food to, or get food from.

 

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Love Casts Out Fear

Love BrotherNathan

The book “Love Casts Out Fear” by Brother Nathan is a true story. 

This true story is shocking, but also encouraging!  It is a good testimony for the Bible verse in 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

The book covers Brother Nathan’s life from birth to the current day.  It shows how difficult it is for Christians living in Egypt.  His world is shattered when his father is murdered.  But he is transformed when he chooses to follow Jesus.  

Brother Nathan describes a picture of life in Egypt in small rural villages, and in the big city.  Through this book, Brother Nathan will give you an understanding of the heroic lives Christians must live in Egypt.  I found this very encouraging.  

God finds a way to reach people with the story of Jesus, even in remote places, and even in places of fear.  It is wondrous to see how Brother Nathan is freed of fear, and now lives boldly for Jesus! 

In the dedication, Brother Nathan says of his mother: “for more than eighty years Mama has shown us how to trust God for everything”.

He learned this lesson well!  

–>Click HERE to get the book!

 

 

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Fill Up For the Holidays

christmas WinterScene

Well we are officially in the holiday season!

Yep, you have been receiving gift catalogs in the mail right?  So have I!

People are talking about their favorite recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I got my first invitation to a Christmas Open House.

So it is important to stop now.  Take a deep breath, and decide…

What are you going to fill up your holidays with?

We need to plan or we will end up so busy we’ll lose the gifts of peace and joy that can be ours this holiday season.

Block out time for just your family.  I mean just the people who live in your house.  (Unless you live alone, then plan time with your closest family or friend.)  Save time to do something fun as a family between now and Christmas Day.

I said fun! Not work.  Not shopping.  Maybe singing or sledding or making s’mores around an outdoor fire…  

Now next, block out time just for you.  Quiet time…  

No shopping.  No cooking.  How about a bath and soothing music?  Maybe a walk in the park.  Read a book or maybe color in one.  We all need some quiet time during the holidays. Put it on your calendar.

Before I let you loose, think about what you want your holidays to be filled up with–  Friends? Family? Great food? Serving food at a shelter? Brightly wrapped presents? Charitable donations?  Church service?  Reading out loud a favorite story… maybe “T’was the Night Before Christmas”.  Or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.  Make sure to choose what will fill you up with good feelings, like joy and peace and kindness.  

So now you can add in all the things you need to do for the holidays —  cooking, cleaning, mailing Christmas cards, shopping…

Just don’t let your holidays end up with you feeling worn out, crabby, and disappointed.  Nobody wants those feelings for Christmas!

So what are you going to fill up with this holiday season?

I pray you will have a Happy Thanksgiving …

and a Peaceful and Joyful Christmas!

 

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Hidden or Unseen

Unseen SaraHagerty

“Unseen” is a good book by Sara Hagerty.

My question to you is what is the difference between hidden and unseen?

There are subtle differences.  The author uses both terms throughout the book.  It would help if you think about the differences between being hidden or being unseen to help understand the author (Sara) better.

Sara is expressing her need to be seen by God, but God wants her hidden in Him, so other people likely do not notice.  God, she says, is not interested in our busy activities. She used to feel pressured to do more, but now she believes God does not need us to do more, but to be with God more.

Sara has learned that she can have moments with God throughout her day.  The results are that she feels closer to God, and is less stressed.  (That sounds good to me!)

Sara says that when you feel unseen, God is looking for your heart.

I agree with the author that we need more quiet moments with God.  I really liked looking at the differences between being hidden from people, when you are seen by God. I like the idea that God always sees us, and appreciates our attention to Him even in a few minutes here and there.

This is an interesting book, with a point of view different from most.  Sara is not pushing you to do more, but suggesting that your slow, empty, boring or seemingly wasteful times, can be filled up with God.  He will love the time with you!

This is not a quick,light read; however, it is a very worthwhile read!

–>Click on THIS to get a copy of “Unseen”.

–>Go HERE to learn more about Sara.

–>Click to go to Sara’s website.

 

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Church Danger

ChurchService new-york-city

Deadly Mass shootings are increasing; 32 occurred in the last 5 years. 

–>(source: Mother Jones)

Yes we are not safe even in church.  

Of course Jesus says that we will have trouble in this world.

Besides telling Congress to step up and write laws to protect us against people with guns, what can we do?

  • Pray!
  • Be aware!  Always know your nearest exit.  Keep your eyes on your surroundings.
  • Stop watching the news.  You can do it; I did.
  • Encourage each other!
  • Tell your family and friends whenever you see them, “I love you!”  You never know when it will be the last time.  Give them a hug, too.

–Here is a quote that I think is profound.  It is from the book “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish.  A blind Rabbi says, “Blindness can never suffice to extinguish the sight of the terrors of this broken world.” (p.405)  

–>Click to see the book!

Yes this world is broken.  That is why we need Jesus Christ.  He has overcome it.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

–>(John 16:33b)

 

 

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The Mission Walker

MissionWalker EdiSundby

I literally finished reading this book a few minutes ago.  I have been so blessed by it.

“The Mission Walker” by Edie Littlefield Sundby is a book full of grit and determination.  This woman (a cancer survivor) walked and rode a mule or horse across 1600 miles of difficult trails to follow the trail of missions built hundreds of years ago by missionaries and priests.  Edie’s words are a testament to the strength people have to follow their dreams, but also to show that no matter how strong or stubborn a person is, everyone needs help to get through life.

Edie first had a long battle with cancer.  She did not fight it alone.  She had family, friends, doctors, and God.

After years of surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments, Edie was in remission.  She chose to celebrate by beginning an 800-mile walk to each of the California missions, from Sonoma to San Diego.  With the help of friends she successfully completed this walk! Amazing! I cannot believe she had the courage to do it having lost ½ a lung and ½ her liver to cancer.

I was drawn to read this book because I am a cancer survivor too.  I battled for years and I am still in remission.  A few years ago, I visited several old missions in Texas, and was blessed by their peaceful and beautiful grounds built around a church.  The missions were built and cared for with love and faith.  All the old missions are like that. 

When I heard that a woman cancer-survivor walked a California mission trail, I knew I had to read her book! 

After Edie walked the mission trail through California, she decided she was not done walking.  She felt that walking strengthened her, and helped her keep cancer from coming back.  She decided to complete the trail, by following the missions built in Mexico, because originally they were built as missionaries traveled through Mexico and continued north into what is now California.  Some of these missions still exist, many are just ruins, but their peace and holiness remain.  This would double her walk. 

When finished, she had walked or rode animals on 1600 miles of trails! 

Can you believe she did it?

I urge you to read this book, so you feel the courage and passion of this woman!

I was happily surprised that in the middle of the book are several pages of color photos from her walk.  This added reality to her story, and I am so glad she included them.  I could see the landscapes she described – rocky trail, hot sand filled with cactus with sharp thorns, and many mountain peaks and steep ravines.  Not an easy walk.  Yet Edie would say along the way, “All is well”.

Reading this book will awaken your dreams, and encourage you to follow them despite the difficulties

This book will give you hope to complete whatever life challenge you are facing!

–>Click HERE to buy the book!

–>Tap to learn more about her walk. (Then click the menu button in the upper right corner of her website.)

I would like to say, “Edie, thank you for writing this book, so we can share in your pilgrimage and gain courage from it.”

I was lucky enough to be able to get a free copy from –>Book Look Bloggers.  In return I have written this honest review.  I hope you can tell my heart has been touched by this book.

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Learning How to Love God

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Last week I identified a goal for myself —

to love God with all my heart, soul and mind. 

I did this because Jesus says this is the most important commandment of all!  #1!

To meet this goal, I have to figure out how to love God with all my heart…  I found part of the answer in –>1 John 2:5-6.

1 John 2:5-6 says “But if anyone obeys His Word, love for God is truly made complete in them.  This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

These two verses tell me that to love God —

I need to obey His Word (Scripture), and live as Jesus did.

That sounds simple, but when I start to think about it, I realize that this could involve a long list of “must do’s” and “not do’s”, and usually those are hard and not much fun.  But if I want to love God with all my heart… then I need to be obeying God and living like Jesus did

I have already started doing something that will help me make a list of what God’s Word tells me to do.  I have started a Bible reading plan that puts the Bible in order as it really happened. (–>Look here for the Bible reading plan.)  So I can make a list of what Scripture tells me to do, as I begin reading the Bible in order.  

Since I have read the Bible several times before, (but never in order as it historically happened), I know I will not list all of Moses’ laws, what not to eat, sacrifices and such, because Jesus already wiped those away.

I will include other commands from God including the 10 Commandments.  When I get to the New Testament, I can start another list of how Jesus lived

I already know that Jesus healed the sick, and fed the poor, and taught God’s Word to people, so I can start there.  Jesus also spent time alone in prayer with God the Father.  He did a lot of walking.  He also obeyed God the Father. 

In fact Jesus says, “I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” –>(John 12:50) Can you imagine only saying what your Father told you to say? If I did that, I sure would talk a lot less! 

Anyway, now I have a starting plan for learning how to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind.  While I am reading through the Bible and making my lists, I can begin loving God more by praying more, and being more grateful for my life.  I can also donate money to help feed the poor and help give them health care.  I will continue blogging about God’s Word. 

I also think it would be good for me to do more walking.  This is starting to feel like an adventure! 

Here I go…

 

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On God’s Side

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I just finished the book “On God’s Side” by Jim Wallis.

Evidently he is well known, and has written a lot of stuff, but I have never read anything by him before.  I was challenged by this book.  The author does have a different perspective on religion and politics.  I liked his perspective!

I love these three clear goals for Christians —

As a Christian, the author explains that his book is about three things that are clear to him:

1) that becoming a Christian changes your direction after you die, but it also should change how you live now!

2) that your faith is above and separate from politics!

3) that each Christian should be living a moral life, leading by example!

He says that Christians should work for the good of everyone.  Instead of just pushing for Christian’s rights and beliefs, work for everyone’s rights, interests, freedoms, and health. He sees this as part of obeying the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”.

Something I found refreshing, is the idea that God is not on our side.  God created everyone and loves everyone.  Many people pray that God will help their favorite team, or their favorite candidate, and help them win.  But God does not favor any one team, or political party, or person, or country!   Instead, we need to be “on God’s side”!

There are so many people who are suffering terribly —  going hungry, having an illness with no health care, living under sexual abuse, homeless… There are so many ways we can help.  There is no excuse for not helping someone!  The author urges us to just start somewhere.  

Although there were a couple things I disagreed with, I enjoyed the author’s fresh approach to being a Christian.  The author’s perspective brings Christianity into the 21st century! He isn’t changing God’s words in Scripture, he is bringing it with him for today’s world.

This isn’t a quick read.  Be prepared to take time with this book.  You will be challenged to become a better, more genuine Christian, and that should make you glad you took the time to read this book!

–>Get your copy HERE!

I got this book from my local library, and I have written an honest review.

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Following Jesus

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This has been a year of contemplating who I want to follow and learn from.

Some Christians are following Republicans (various well-known political men).

Some Christians follow well-known pastors who write books and speak at events.

I want to follow Jesus Christ.

Now this can be difficult to do, since He is not here in the flesh.  I have studied the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). They have the most information about what Jesus said and did.  They do leave me scratching my head a bit, because they have so much information.  How do I follow Jesus?

So, I have decided to use ->Matthew 22:36-40, because Jesus himself said it is the most important commandment to obey.

  •  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
  •  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now I have an easier task!  I can just focus on these few Bible verses and follow Jesus by following His advice.  I can do this!

Some books that I have read that are really helpful for following Jesus are several written by Lois Tverberg.  I loved “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus”!  I felt like Mary sitting at His feet, listening to Him teach.  

— Lois also has a new book coming out in January that I will definitely read, “Reading the Bible With Rabbi Jesus”.

–>Click HERE to see a list of her books.

If you know a good article, commentary, or book that covers these verses (Matthew 22:36-40), please tell me about them in the comments below!

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Not all Whispers are Secrets

whisper-boys

My blog post today is about a book that does NOT tell you 7 steps how to do something!

 It does NOT tell you a nice story with a great beginning and a happy ending. 

It IS a book that gives gold nuggets of great advice if you take the time to listen.

I just finished reading the newest book by successful author Mark Batterson – “Whisper”!

Just like a whisper, you have to stop and listen to hear.  You will find more gold in this book if you take the time to stop and think about the truthful advice in it.  The author wrote this book out of his many years of experience with prayer and hard work.  Mark has been very successful in business and as a pastor, and he did it in unconventional ways!  This book contains stories about his successes and failures, and the lessons he learned.

There is so much unconventional good advice in this book!

I hope you will take the time to read it and look for the gold nuggets in it.  A whisper may seem unimportant, but good advice does not need to be shouted.  Those who are wise enough to use the advice, will be smart enough to stop and listen to the whispers.

–>So stop HERE and get this book in your hands!

–Then you can find out what all the whispering is about.

(Oh by the way, it’s NOT the author who is whispering in this book…)

“Whisper” by Mark Batterson is worth telling others about, so click on the Twitter and Facebook buttons below to share this.  Thank you!

One more thing I have to tell you.  I did get a free copy of “Whisper” from the publisher so I could tell people what I honestly think about it.  It is really so good!

 

 

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