Friday, July 25, 2014

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she'd vacation, much less fall in love.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace's faith will face its toughest test yet.

But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled---or maybe yanked---away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

First, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Susan May Warren and her publisher for sending me a copy of "When I Fall In Love" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Susan May Warren’s latest Christiansen Family novel, “When I Fall in Love”, is another engaging, enjoyable and challenging read.  The release of each Deep Haven novel reveals better writing, richer characters, creativity in confronting of real life issues, more detailed plots, snappier dialogue and more engaging internal character monologue.  As I invest my time in these characters, they become even more dear to me.  That is where I find myself as I eavesdrop on a wedding, a plane ride, a cooking class and a pizza delivery/rescue.  This is a great book that deserves to be on the keeper shelf of every reader who enjoys contemporary Christian romance!

Max Sharpe, an upcoming hockey player, takes the same vacation every year: three weeks in Hawaii perfecting his cooking skills, winding down from the hockey season, relaxing and living life to the fullest while he can.  Grace Christiansen doesn’t take vacations.  She’s afraid to travel, not wanting to be too far from home.  So, when her family surprises her with a trip to Hawaii for a cooking class, she’s less than thrilled.  She’s even less excited when she learns that her family has arranged her trip at the same time one of Owen’s former hockey teammates is going so he can look after her.  This arrangement is the perfect recipe for two people not looking for love to fall smack-dab into the middle of it!

This story is not without conflict, though.  I laughed, I cried, I sighed, I begged the characters to make different choices.  I learned a bit about myself and who I want to be.  I contemplated what is truly important in life and the “quantity versus quality” debate.  I love how these novels confront real issues that any Christian might face rather than presenting Christians as perfect in both thought and deed, which would be easy – and tempting – to do on paper.  I can look over my life since I’ve been a Christian and see bad decisions I’ve made and the consequences of those decisions I’ve had to live with.  This novel woke me up to some of those and gave me a desire to pursue a more godly path for the future.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Memorizing Scripture

Last year, I felt compelled to unearth some “talents” I’ve had long-buried so the Lord might use them for His glory.  One of the things we have actively begun to deal with over the last 10 months is memorizing Scripture.  I’d done it in the past, having memorized a chapter or two on my own, and the book of James for a Bible study I participated in.  But since undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment, my recent memory hasn’t been what it used to be.
Memorizing Scripture can be intimidating.  I signed up to participate in a blog tour promoting a book on Scripture memorization, which led me to want to write a post on the helps I’ve discovered so far.

First and most importantly, PRAY.  Ask God to give you the capacity and drive to memorize His Word.  Ask Him to write His Word on your heart and your mind.  If you belong to Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in you and He already has all of Scripture memorized.  He wrote it!  Ask Him for help.
I realize that memorizing Scripture can be a daunting task.  When it comes to committing Scripture to memory, we need all the encouragement we can get!  I found a free Scripture memory system at that consists of a set of printable index cards that will act as tabbed dividers to help you organize the verses you’re working on.  There are also several sets of printable index cards containing suggested Scripture passages to memorize.  I’ve been using this system myself for several months and even printed a set of cards for each of the gals in my Sunday School class as a gift.

I won’t explain the whole system to you, but one of the first steps is to create index cards of all the verses you already have memorized.  You will go over what you know once a month so you don’t forget it.  This was something I wasn’t doing on my own, but adding this to my daily practice has really made a difference in my retention.

Some things I've found helpful to memorize is:  Say it.  Write it.  Type it. Pray it.  You need to practice anything you want to become good at.  Actors need to run lines and rehearse before they perform for an audience.  Michael Jordan didn't wake up with a Bulls jersey one morning!  (Well, actually, he did, but you get the point I'm trying to make.)  Sure, he may have been born with a gift for the game, but making it to the NBA takes practice.  The soldiers who defend our nation may have never touched a weapon before basic training.  Practice makes them proficient.  And Scripture is a weapon in spiritual warfare!  As Christians, it's not optional for us to use it.   Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  It's how you get to Carnegie Hall!

When I’m trying to learn a verse, I will make that verse address my computer password.  Every time I type it, I recite it.
What are some of your favorite methods for memorizing Scripture?

The Book of Revelation by Chuck Missler – Hour 14 – Revelation 7

Chuck is doing a lot of review in this study.  After re-capping many of the highlights from recent weeks, he begins the teaching on Revelation chapter 7.  This week, we learn about the 144,000 Sealed Servants from the 12 Tribes.  When you read this chapter, pay close attention to the tribes listed.  Who is missing?  Chuck explains why they’re missing.

Chuck also covers the myth of the “Ten Lost Tribes” with a fairly lengthy history lesson that I will probably rewatch.  This leads into the discussion of the two tribes that are missing from the list and the list of Scripture to support why they aren’t listed.

Then, we spent some time contrasting the Tribulation Saints with the 24 Elders.  Chuck keeps saying that the 24 Elders are the church.  This doesn’t completely sit well with me.  Why the number 24?  Why call them Elders?  The number seems literal, not representative.  I could be wrong, and I haven’t studied them on my own, yet.  Maybe this topic should top my list of subjects to study.

Well, I did take the time to study “elders”.  I learned several fascinating things:  elders are representative of a larger group.  In many cases, they are responsible for disseminating information to that group they represent.  So, I now believe that these 24 elders represent the redeemed.  They would be the representative pillars of the faith.

The closest I can come to an answer about the number 24 right now is that the number 12 deals in reference to government perfection, and 24 is 12 x 2.  Another source says 24 references a heavenly government of some sort, and heavenly worship.  This study is certainly not finished.

Homework for next time:  Read Revelation 8.  Read Joshua and compare to Revelation.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Abandoned Memories by MaryLu Tyndall

MaryLu Tyndall’s latest offering in the Escape to Paradise series, “Abandoned Memories”, is the third book chronicling the second chance taken by a shipload of passengers hoping for a better life in Brazil.  The settings are lush and exotic.  The characters are fleshy and authentic.  The physical and spiritual battles they face are even more real!  More than once, these novels have confronted me about something that needed changing in my own life.  This is not just entertainment – these are life-changing reads!

As I watched the characters develop from my armchair, I became frustrated with where I thought our leading lady was heading.  I should have trusted MaryLu Tyndall not to develop a clich├ęd plotline!  I was tempted to give up reading but I’m so glad I didn’t.  This is an incredible story with lots of dramatic twists and excitement.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Book of Revelation by Chuck Missler – Hour 13 – Revelation 6

After a re-hashing of what we’ve learned so far:  the outline of the book of Revelation, the identity of the 24 elders, some great highlights from the book of Ruth, the 70 weeks and the order of events in the end times; we dove into the seven-sealed scroll.

I have never done a study of the five horsemen of the apocalypse before – yes, there are FIVE horsemen!  But after Dr. Missler’s presentation of the first four horsemen, I would love to make a study of this subject!  Which leads me to a recommendation:  since Chuck presents so much information during the course of his Bible studies, keep a running list of the things you want to take the time to study for yourself!  That way, when you have a long weekend or some quiet time, you can choose one of those topics and do a study on your own!

We continue talking about avenging the blood of the saints, earthquakes and celestial happenings which leads to a lengthy – and quite interesting – discussion on the fabric of space.  We then moved to a comparison of the parallels between the books of Joshua and Revelation.  This is fascinating.  I need to make a careful list of the parallels.

So, there’s the first six seals.  Structurally, there is a break after the sixth seal.  We know it as chapter seven.  Then come the trumpets.  Again, six will be presented and there will be a break – chapters 10 through 14 – then the seventh trumpet.  Finally, the first six bowls are presented.  Then we have a third break – chapter 16 – and then the seventh bowl is poured out.

There is going to be a very interesting view from the mezzanine.  Tell all of your friends and loved ones to secure their seat, now.

Homework for next time:  Read Revelation 7 & 14.  Which tribes are missing and why?  Summarize the mysterious prophecies of the Tribe of Dan.  What is the role of the 144,000?