faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Dynamite Hill

Dynamite Hill

Today I am telling you about a book in honor of Black history month —

“The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill” by his 2 daughters, Judge Helen Shores Lee and Barbara Shores.

Dynamite Hill is the name of the area in Birmingham, Alabama where the Shores family lived for several years.  It was called “Dynamite Hill” because there were so many bombings of Black families’ homes in the area, using dynamite.

“The Gentle Giant” is the civil rights lawyer Arthur Davis Shores. The authors are his only children.  They lived in Birmingham during the riots and civil rights movement in the 1940’s and 50’s.  The authors write about the history of that time, and their memories of their father and mother.

I chose to read this book, because it was about the civil rights movement, and I did not know who this man was, Arthur Davis Shores.  It seemed that I should know him.  He was a lawyer for Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a lawyer who fought for Black voter registration and other civil rights and won many cases.

Being a civil rights lawyer in Alabama in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, was a dangerous job.  Mr. Shores did not do it for money, he did it to help people.  His daughter Barbara quotes her father who said, “I am working hard so that when you grow up, you as well as other boys and girls will be able to go anywhere and not be turned away because of the color of your skin.”

Because of the danger of his profession, Mr. Shores always wore a gun.  His home was reinforced with metal posts.  Neighbors guarded his home all night every night during a particularly dangerous trial.  Even with all this protection, his family home was bombed twice.

I enjoyed reading this book, learning more about the civil rights movement’s history from the Black person’s view.  There were amazing historical pictures in the middle of the book.  They show the look of Birmingham back then with one building’s entrance labeled “white”, and the other entrance labeled “colored”.  There is a picture of a segregated bus, with its seat sign “white” for the front seats.  The Blacks are standing in the back of the bus.  There are family pictures of the two authors and their mother and father.  There is also a group picture with Martin Luther King, Jr, shaking Mr. Shores’ hand.  

This is an important book, about a man who was a normal family man, who wanted what every husband and father wants for his family.  He wanted a safe, peaceful home, and a good education for his children, a good job for himself so his family would have nice clothes and plenty of food.  He saw injustice, because Blacks did not have these things, and so he went to work fighting legally to get those things for all people of Alabama.  He was a brave man.  He was an educated man.  He could have moved to a state where it would be safer, and he would make more money. Instead he chose to stay in Alabama to make a difference.

This is a great book to read!  The authors have many interesting memories that are rich in history.  I feel enriched from having read it.

This is definitely a book worth reading for Black History Month!

–>Click HERE to get the book and find out more about it!

You can get the Kindle version immediately. Go back and click for it.

 

 

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Why I Love Gardens!

— Have you ever wondered what Eden looked like where Adam and Eve lived?

I bet it was a lot like a botanical garden!

BokTower GroundLevel

Whenever my husband and I travel we stop at a garden along the way.  There are several in every state.  No, we have not seen that many!  

In Eden, God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve.  Walking through a botanical garden, I can imagine God being there, walking with us.  He likes to show off you know! There are flowers in an array of colors, with so many different scents! Every season has different things to see.

flowers-1753307__340

Although we have visited botanical gardens every year, we do have a few that we visit again and again — Japanese garden, Chicago garden — and our top favorite garden in 48 states — The Missouri Botanical Garden — just outside of St. Louis.

water-lily-1857350__340

 If you ever travel near St. Louis, you must stop and see it. (Allow all day, or at least 4 hours.) We have visited the Missouri Botanical Garden in every season (yes, even winter), and still we have not seen everything!

–>Take a peak Here!

That is what God likes to do.  He gives us more than we could ever need or think to even ask for!

So that is why I love gardens! I feel like I am in Eden.  I know that God loves me, because he gives us more than we would ever need!

Enjoy the pictures!

JapaneseGArden bridge-53769__340

Butterfly

 

cherry-blossom-1318258_960_720

BirdonFlowers

Tulips

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Stronger Than the Struggle

StrongerThanTheStruggle Havilah

Today I am telling you about “Stronger Than the Struggle” by Havilah Cunnington.

If you have never heard of her, neither had I.  I decided to read her book based on the description at –>BookLook Bloggers.  I got a free e-book so I could tell you about it.

First let me say as a warning, if you are uncomfortable with prophesying or the Holy Spirit speaking, you probably want to skip this book.  Havilah believes that she has given prophecies.  I was hoping to get more insight into this Biblical phenomena, but other than a few examples from her own life, the book didn’t explain much about that.

This book is mostly about spiritual warfare.  You know, fighting the devil.  There is a chapter on using God’s Word to fight temptation.  I believe in the power of God’s Word, and I am aware of spiritual battles with the devil, so I didn’t learn anything new here.

The author did refer to one of my favorite Bible passages that I use almost daily —

“Submit yourselves then to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and God will come near to you….” (James 4:7-8a) Powerful Scripture!

This book is about spiritual warfare, the devil, God, and some examples from Scripture and from Havilah’s life.  She also gives us encouragements that we can find courage, purity, peace, and rest by following Jesus.  Havilah believes that everyone is in spiritual battles all the time, even if they don’t realize it.

I did find a few truths I highlighted, so this book was helpful to me as encouragement.  I think it is important for Christians to know about the devil and how to fight him.  If you don’t know, then you could get a lot of good information and direction from this book.

–>Click HERE to get her new book!

Havilah is a pastor at Bethel Church, teaches Bible studies, is married with 4 kids, and has been a speaker in ministry for 20 years.

 

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In Bloom

InBloom

Today I am reviewing the book “In Bloom” by Kayla Aimee.  

I am writing this review only because I received a free copy through >Netgalley.com so I could review it.  I really hate writing reviews like this one, because I really did not like this book at all!

I could not find anything of interest in this book.  I pushed on reading it, hoping it would improve, but it did not.  All of a sudden I reached the end of the book, and I thought “that can’t be the end, there is no conclusion, nothing to remember.”  I re-read the last few pages to be sure I had not missed something.  There was just nothing there.

I rarely read a book that leaves me feeling that I have wasted my time. Unfortunately, this is one of those rare times. To be fair, there are women who have enjoyed this book.  For that reason I am giving you the link below where you can buy 1 book and get 1 free, a BOGO!  Perhaps you will like it better than I did.

–>Click to get your BOGO!

 

 

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No Complaining

I signed up for a Bible study on joy.  

The first week, there was an assignment to spend 1 day without complaining.  That doesn’t sound hard, but for me it really was hard.

In order to not complain all day, I would have to not go grocery shopping, not watch the news, not go to church, not check my caller ID or voicemail (too many sales calls)…  I guess that would defeat the purpose of the assignment.

So I actually did pretty well for 1 day of not complaining, not perfect, but just a couple complaints.  Unfortunately, the next day was filled with complaining.  I must have been saving them up from the day before.  That is probably not what the assignment was supposed to do either.

I will say this — I did learn that I don’t really like to complain.  It just seems to be the first thing I think.  So now I am trying to stop before I complain and see if I can say something else instead, or maybe just not say anything at all.  If I can practice this, maybe I can get better at not complaining.  I think it could help bring more joy into my day.

Maybe next month I can shoot for 2 days of no complaining.  HaHaHa!  

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Top 5 Books in 2017

My Top 5 Books For 2017–

  1. The most fun book I read was “Beyond the Castle” by Jody Dreyer.
  2. The most amazing turn around life story was “Break Out” by Jed Lindstrom. He is drug free and running a ministry to help others.
  3. The most truthful life story that gives hope for the future was “Convicted” by Jameel McGee and Andrew Collins. This book is unusual because it gives both sides of the story, from the convicted man’s view, and from the policeman’s view. 
  4. The best life example to mentor us to be a better parent and to trust God more was “My Heart” by Julie Manning. Every new parent should read this book.  I wish there was a parenting class that taught the principles Julie demonstrates through her own life as a mom, even while facing a serious illness.
  5. The true story that is the best teacher of how to be forgiving was “The Way of Letting Go” by Wilma Derksen.

These books truly challenged me, and helped me grow in my faith.  I am in awe of the truthfulness of the authors in sharing about their own lives, their weaknesses and the things they learned by walking through their problems.  Although the authors’ problems were very different (drug addiction, deception, anger, serious health problems, and even murder), they all came out stronger in the end.  They all wanted to share what they learned, to help other people. 

The only book that was not about difficulties, was “Beyond the Castle”.  It is about fun, having a positive attitude, good leadership, and the Disney Company.  I really enjoyed reading this book.

I highly recommend that you read one or two of these books.  I know that any one of them will teach you new ways to tackle life, grow stronger, and increase your faith and trust in God.  They will challenge you to grow and change.  To me that is the highest praise I could give for a book.

I thank each one of the authors for sharing their story with all honesty, and for giving us direction in how we can learn from their experience.  I hope I never stop learning!  For me, reading is an enjoyable way to learn, especially when reading a true story.  I am honored to be able to share information with you about these awesome books!

Beneath each book’s cover below, there is a link to my book review on the book, and a link to purchase the book.  Enjoy!

BeyondTheCastle

–>Book Review

–>Amazon

 

BookCover BreakOut

–>Book Review

  –>Author Book Website

  –>Amazon

 

Book Convicted

–>Book Review

–>Amazon

 

 

My Heart Cover

 –>Book Review

–>Lifeway Purchase

  –>Amazon

 

LettingGo

>Book Review

–>Amazon

I did receive a free copy of each of these books so I could do an honest review.  I picked these 5 favorites from a list of over 40 books that I read in 2017.  If you are interested in receiving free books so you can write reviews on your blog, you can go to –>BookLook Bloggers or –>NetGalleyI also get books directly from authors, from B&H Publishing through Lifeway, as well as from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing.

 

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Has an Animal Ever Saved Your Life?

Has an animal ever saved your life?

I know that it does happen! Maybe you have heard a news story about a dog or cat that saved someone’s life.  How about a donkey?

In the Bible, there is at least one time it happened.  A donkey saved the life of a man!  Do you know the story? (You can find it in the book of Numbers chapters 22 – 24.)

Balaam earned a living selling curses.  He would curse people for a fee.  He was paid to curse the Israelites because they were moving into the Promised Land, and the king in the land feared themGod told Balaam not to go, but the king was insistent, so God said he could go, but he had to do what God told him to do.

Balaam rode his donkey to travel to a hill overlooking where the Israelites were camped.  At one point in the road, his donkey went off the road and past a section of road.  Balaam beat the donkey to get back on the road.  Again the donkey went around part of the road, smashing Balaam’s foot on a wall bordering the road.  Balaam beat the donkey again.  Finally the donkey just sat down in the middle of the road.  Balaam beat her again. 

As it turns out, the donkey could see or sense what Balaam could not.  There was a huge angel with a sword in his hand waiting for Balaam to bump into him.  The angel was going to kill Balaam so he could not curse the Israelites, but the donkey saved Balaam’s life by going around the angel twice, and then refusing to go furtherThe donkey actually saved Balaam’s life, even though Balaam beat her!  This next part is probably the part of the story you remember, when the donkey talks to Balaam, and asks, “What have I done to make you beat me these three times?” (God actually made the donkey talk.)

The angel then appears to Balaam and tells him that if not for the donkey’s actions, he would have killed Balaam, but left the donkey alone.  Thanks to the donkey, the angel lets Balaam continue on his journey.  When Balaam gets to the hill overlooking the Israelites’ camp, instead of curses, blessings come out of his mouth.  God wouldn’t let him curse the Israelites!  God protected the Israelites as He promised them.

Now the people who paid Balaam to curse the Israelites, were not happy, but Balaam was still alive!

–>Click HERE to read the story in the book of Numbers.

There are many morals to this story, but I will leave you to read the Scriptures to see what else you can learn.

 

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They Came For Freedom

TheyCameForFreedom

I wanted to read this book, because there has been a lot of discussion about the United States being a Christian country from the beginning, and many want to go back to those values.  I wanted to read a history book that looks at the factual events, so I could decide for myself whether I agree with the statement that this country started as a Christian country.  

The 1600s were a difficult time of monarchy rule, monarchy chosen religion, with riches for royalty, but only hard work for little benefits.  The common people were very poor, worked hard 6 days each week, and paid taxes to royalty.

This book is about the Pilgrims, and as the title suggests,

“They Came For Freedom”. 

I really enjoyed reading this book!  The author, Jay Milbrandt, did a good job of research and filled in many gaps in what I remembered about the Pilgrims’ history.  The story begins in England, because that history sets the stage for why the Pilgrims went to America. 

Of course it wasn’t even America yet.  It was a new world, still being explored for how other countries could use its resources to make money.  Spain, England, and France were all sending ships to bring back a bounty of animal furs, sassafras, and fish.  They were hoping to find gold and silver, but that didn’t happen this early in the history.

The people that later were called Pilgrims, were called Separatists in England.  This meant that they separated from the Church of England.  That was illegal.  They had to worship in secret.  The law in England said that everyone had to worship at a Church of England every Sunday.  Breaking this law would end you in prison.  Many of the Separatists did go to prison.  Some died there. Some survived.

First a group of Separatists left England to move to Holland, where people were free to choose their own religion.  It was illegal to leave England without permission.  Once again, they had to be hidden to avoid going to prison.  Some were caught and did go to prison.  Life in Holland was still hard.  At least they had their own church.  When England got word of the Separatists in Holland, they were in danger of prison again.  This time they decided to go to the New World.

By the time the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, explorers had already mapped the coastal areas all along the East coast.  There was already a settlement established at Jamestown.  They definitely were not the first to arrive.

The Pilgrims and the other settlers that came from England in the Mayflower ship, were going to the New World for different reasons.  Many were seeking their fortune. The Pilgrims mainly wanted religious freedom.

 In 1636, all the men on the Mayflower signed a document laying out the rules of law that they would follow.  This document was called the “Mayflower Compact”.  They decided to separate church and state, to guarantee religious freedom.  They gave land ownership to all men, and inheritance to all sons, not just the first son.  They made marriage a government function, not the church. These three decisions were in total disagreement with the ruling classes in England, France, and Spain.  There was to be no king.  There would be a governor, chosen by the people.  This was the first self-government of the common people.  None of these are really Christian based.

The book continues the story of how the Pilgrims lived and where they settled in the New World.  It covers their relationship with the Indians in the area.  It also covers the first thanksgiving feast.  Their lives were still very hard.  Many died. 

About the same time as the Pilgrims settled in the New World, the Puritans also arrived.  Although they both had Christian beliefs, they did differ, and did not live in the same towns.  The Puritans later became well known for the Salem witch trials. 

I believe, knowing our history, gives us good knowledge that can help us avoid some pitfalls.  Unfortunately, most people ignore history, and they are then doomed to make the same mistakes.  Some of the things Christians did after coming to the New World were good and worth following, but some things are not.  Even as Christianity exists today with many different churches and beliefs, the same was true in the day of the Pilgrims. 

People tend to want others around them to believe like they do.  Some Christians even want the United States government to legislate based on Christian beliefs.  This would be directly counter to the freedom the Pilgrims came here to find.  They wanted freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.  If we want freedom, we must give that same freedom to every citizen!

The story of the Pilgrims is complicated.  It is not clear from their story alone whether this country can be called a Christian country from the beginning.  I believe instead, what we can say is that it is a country with freedom of religion to all, and should stay that way.

If you would like to read the history, and make up your mind on this issue, this is an excellent book to read.  Just remember that the Pilgrims are only one part of the story.

–>Click HERE to get “They Came For Freedom”.

 

Jay Milbrandt also wrote the book “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone”.  If you enjoy history, you may want to read it too.

–>Click this to get the book about David Livingstone.

I am supposed to tell you that I got a free copy of “They Came For Freedom”, from —>BookLook Bloggers so that I could write my honest review of the book for you. Enjoy!

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Got One Word for 2018?

OneWord Difference

Just ONE WORD !

Do you have your One Word for 2018 yet?

It’s time.  I took longer than usual to come up with mine this year too.  I used Lara Casey’s Power Sheets to help me focus on goals for 2018 and to decide on my One Word this year.  I also used prayer to help pick my One Word.

This past year, my One Word was “Forward”.  I loved it! It really helped me push forward on some ideas and changes in my life.  I was amazed how often I would read a book or article or blog post and the word “forward” would jump out at me!

This year my One Word is “Light”! 

I am excited about this choice.  I actually was trying to avoid it, because other people have used it in the past.  I wanted to be more original. HaHa!  Well, it seems God had other plans

In prayer and after doing the prep work in Lara’s Power Sheets, I knew that “Light” was my One Word for 2018!

Now some people wonder how one word can be helpful.  Well for me, One Word is easier to remember and use as a direction when making decisions.  For example, last year when I was trying to decide whether to do something, or whether to change something, I would just say “Go Forward”!  It worked for me!

This year, my One Word fits into a phrase that came to me in my morning prayer time –

–“Jesus is the Light that shines through my brokenness.”–

I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s book “The Broken Way”.  At first I thought my word was “broken”, but instead I was shown the “Light”.  I am really looking forward to what God will bring into my life through my focus on this One Word — “Light”.

So, I would love it if you would share your One Word with me!  Just click “Comments” below and type in your word.  If you share, I will pray for that word to positively influence your life throughout 2018.

If you don’t know how to choose your One Word, try reading Lara Casey’s 5-part blog post series.  While there you can enter her contest to win one of many prizes (winner will be picked 1-31-2018). 

You can browse my posts from past years to help you choose your One Word

–>Go HERE for more One Word posts.

I encourage you to choose One Word to help guide and direct your life in 2018!

–>Click HERE for Lara Casey’s Power Sheets, contest, or 5-part series.

 

–>Click IT to find Ann Voskamp’s book “The Broken Way”.

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Penned Without Ink

PennedWithoutInk

“Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story” by  Sarah Lynn Phillips is an interesting book!  It tells the true story of how one family trusted God to get them through tragedy.  The title tells why they must trust God — He writes our story from beginning to end. (But God does not write it down; no ink is used.)

“Penned Without Ink” is about a normal family with a Christian faith.  One day they had a horrific car accident that brought them near death.  If they were going to recover, they needed to hold on tight to God.

Sarah, the mother and wife, tells the story.  I was riveted on her words about how the family dealt with everything after the accident.  Their story is compelling.

 Their story is also teaching us how to trust God through the worst things in life — unexpected tragedy.  (Did you catch that in the title it says — “trusting God to write YOUR story?)

Sarah does a very good job of writing down their story.  I did wish that she had put the story down all in order from start to finish.  The parts of the book where she reflects on an event out of sequence, or has the reader reflect, were interruptions to the main story I was most interested in reading.  But in reflection is where we grow in our faith and trust in God.  In reflection we see the answered prayers.  In reflection we see how God arranged the details to bring about the help we needed.

I suggest you read this book, especially if you find it hard to trust God sometimes. Sarah is a strong woman to have dealt with everything she had to do, but she did not do it alone.  She walked with God through it all.

–>Click HERE to get a copy of this book!

If you have never read a book from this publisher before, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, then you are in for a surprise!  Many of their books are available in Kindle format for free or 2.99 cents or less.  You can sign up to get regular emails from them, that will list the titles available for free.  I get lots of books from them!

–>Click HERE to get access to free books!

 

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