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The Christmas Paradox

Renee Ann Smith —  December 12, 2014 — 6 Comments

Chesterton Christmas Quote

Christmas is built upon a beautiful & intentional paradox;
that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.
~G. K. Chesterton~

(Click to Tweet)

In the Bleak Midwinter
by Christina Rosetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

You can find my other Christmas/Winter graphics here . . .

Christmas Memories

The Rising Light

The Gift of YES

The Gifts We All Can Give

His Radiance

Swift & Sure

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic from an iPhone pic of my freshly snow-covered street on Thanksgiving morning, 2014. Of course, PicMonkey, is my editing tool of choice. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here

***Let’s connect on Instagram! I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link. Continue Reading…

When My Skin Sags

Renee Ann Smith —  October 29, 2014 — 25 Comments

God is faithful

(Click to Tweet)

How long is God faithful in my life? From before I was in my mother’s womb,
when He planned & knew me, through all my days—both terrible & beautiful—
and even unto old age, when He tenderly carries me—through fear & death—
across life’s finish line & beyond, to His home everlasting.
Amen.

“I’m still in your presence,
But you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
And then you bless me.

You’re all I want in heaven!
You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
God is rock-firm and faithful.

Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God—
Oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.

God, I’m telling the world what you do!”

~Psalm 73:23-28, The Message~

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I love this iPhone pic of my sweet mom. looking through her jewelry box & reminiscing. A few months later, she’d left us to go with God. I miss her!

Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking & editing. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share.

***Let’s be Twitter pals! If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

Continue Reading…

Every Good Gift

Renee Ann Smith —  May 8, 2014 — 16 Comments
Good Gfits 2b
Every good & perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. ~James 1:17~

(Click to Tweet)

This is the theme verse for a fun romantic novel that celebrates God’s big heart. Follow this link to read my review for Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade.

(Earlier this week, you may have followed the link to this post, only to find it did not exist. My blog switched servers, and the original post was lost in the shuffle!)

Photo Backstory: I made this graphic by downloading an image from my account at RGB Stock Photos and tweaking it & adding words with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.)

This week I may be linking up with Miscellany Monday, The Bloggers’ Digest, WW Create with Joy, WW Catch My Words, WW That Suburban Mama, WW Ms Mystery Case, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Woman to Woman, WW Books & More, WW Mom’s Own Words, WW Stacy Uncorked, Jenny’s Wordless Wednesday, Mrs. Tee WW, Raising My Boys WW, Winsome Wednesday, Hope in Every Season, Wise Woman Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, WW @PD Mama, WW Blogspot, Imperfect Prose, WW 5 Min for Mom, A Mama’s Corner WW, Mama to 5 WW, Whimsy Wednesday, Juana Mikels Wednesday Link-up, Three Word Wednesday, Whimsical Wednesday, Adorned from Above Wednesday Link Party, A Little R&R, Wake Up Wednesday, Walking Redeemed, In Him We Live, Rurality Blog Hop, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving ThursdayLittle Things Thursday, Hearts for Home, Thoughtful Thursday, House to Home Link Party, The Barn Princess, Raising Mighty Arrows, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thrive @Home Link Up, Thought provoking Thursday, Throwback Thursday, Grace at Home, Christian Connection, Faith-filled Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, Christian Fellowship Friday, Fantastic Friday, Faith & Fellowship Friday, Essential Friday Link-up, Friday Finds, Saturday Sharefest, Recommendation Saturday, Still Saturday, Beauty Observed, Sunday Snapshot, Heart Reflected, Fresh-brewed Sundays, Sunday Stillness, and The Sunday Community.

Corrie ten Boom has long been one of my heroes. Since I’m taking a bit of a blogging break this week, I thought I’d re-share a story from her life that gave me perspective about how God works in mine. Even if you’ve read it before, may it bless you anew today!

Betsie Willem Nollie Corrie

Betsie, Willem, Nollie, Corrie

From the time she was a little girl, Corrie ten Boom’s godly parents and loving, happy family influenced the woman she would become. The lessons she learned from them have touched my heart and helped me grow, and I’d like to share them with you. In the following excerpt from The Hiding Place, Corrie shares one of the ways God prepared her for what was to come next

In Corrie’s words . . . How long we clung together, listening, I do not know. The bombing seemed mostly to be coming from the direction of the airport. The glowing sky lit the room with a strange brilliance. The chairs, the mahogany bookcase, the old upright piano, all pulsed with an eerie light . . . It was war.

Betsie and I knelt down by the piano bench. For what seemed hours we prayed for our country, for the dead and injured tonight, for the Queen. And then, incredibly, Betsie began to pray for the Germans, up there in the planes, caught in the fist of the giant evil loose in Germany. I looked at my sister kneeling beside me in the light of burning Holland.

“Oh Lord,” I whispered, “listen to Betsie, not me, because I cannot pray for those men at all.” . . . And it was then that I had the dream. It couldn’t have been a real dream because I was not asleep. But a scene was suddenly and unreasonably in my mind. I saw the Grote Markt, half a block away, as clearly as though I were standing there, saw the town hall and St. Bavo’s and the fish mart with its stair-stepped facade.

The Grote Markt circa 1940

Then as I watched, a kind of odd, old farm wagon-old fashioned and out of place in the middle of a city-came lumbering across the square pulled by four enormous black horses. To my surprise I saw that I myself was sitting in the wagon. And Father too! And Betsie! There were many others, some strangers, some friends.

All together we were slowly being drawn across the square behind those horses. We couldn’t get off the wagon, that was the terrible thing. It was taking us away—far away, I felt—but we didn’t want to go . . .

“Betsie!” I cried, jumping up, pressing my hands to my eyes. “Betsie, I’ve had such an awful dream!” I felt her arm around my shoulder.

“We’ll go down to the kitchen where the light won’t show, and we’ll make a pot of coffee.” The booming of the bombs was less frequent and farther away as Betsie put on the water. Closer by was the wail of fire alarms and the beep of the hose trucks.

Over coffee, standing at the stove, I told Betsie what I had seen. “Am I imagining things because I’m frightened? But it wasn’t like that! It was real. Oh Betsie, was it a kind of vision?”

“I don’t know,” she said softly.“But . . . “

Corrie Ten Boom quotes 2a

“If God has shown us bad times ahead, it’s enough for me that He knows about them. That’s why He sometimes shows us things, you know—to tell us that this too is in His hands.” (click to tweet)

This past weekend, I was discussing this story with dear friends. We were bemoaning our “this too” experiences. God used Betsie’s words to change our perspectives. What comfort we received in knowing that God sends us to meet difficult times for our good and His glory!

What life story or wise words have inspired you lately? Has God blessed you with friends—either in your life now or gone before us into heaven—who have changed and challenged you? I invite you to give a shout out to your special ones in the comments below!

Read my previous posts about Corrie or purchase a copy of her book for yourself:

This week I’m linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Miscellany Monday, Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Unite @Rich Faith Rising, The Better Mom, Modest Mondays, GraceLaced Mondays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Gratituesdays, Just Write, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Heart and Home, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Tuesday Muse, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Wise Woman Builds Her House, Tell His Story, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Wednesday Hop @Adorned from Above, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Thoughtful Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Desire to Inspire,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Faithful Friday Blog Hop, Faith-filled Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Aloha Friday Blog Hop, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, TGIF, Friday Company Girl Coffee Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Sunday Collective, and Heart Reflected.

Update: Winner of this sweet story is Tracy! I’ll be emailing you soon!

“When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”~~Psalm 17:10

This verse kept running through my mind as I read Julie Klassen’s historical novel, The Girl in the Gatehouse. In the story, Mariah Aubrey stumbles into disgrace and, as a result, is harshly rejected by her autocratic father. He banishes his heartbroken daughter from their home—with only a brief good-bye for her mother and sister—and hides her away in a relative’s gatehouse. It is there, in a quiet corner of a country estate, which happens to be across the street from the poorhouse, that she builds a new family from the eccentric and endearing characters who come her way—servants, orphans, outcasts, and even a handsome Navy captain.

In writing this story, Julie Klassen was inspired by Jane Austen as she created her main character, premise, and a few scenes, and I know many of you are Jane Austen fans. However, I sometimes find an Austen novel a bit cutting in its treatment of a character’s weaknesses. Also, it seems to me that Austen often portrays the secondary characters as either scoundrels or fools.

So the tone of The Girl in the Gatehouse reminded me more of one of my best-loved authors: Louisa May Alcott. Mariah is a secret author, like Jo March in Little Women. She is rejected by proper society, like Phoebe from Rose in Bloom. Mariah and her friends perform the theatricals she has written, as do Jo March and her sisters. And the gatehouse world is peopled by unconventional folks who charm and entertain—as are Louisa May Alcott’s warm, homey novels.

(Follow this link to download a copy of Rose in Bloom for your Kindle for $.99, or at this link, it’s free in several formats.)

I loved how Mariah was pulled into the lives of the poorhouse inhabitants and soon became enmeshed in their troubles more than her own. And I would have a difficult time choosing a favorite out of the droll characters she comes to love. Would it be the tough old sailor who uses his spyglass to look into her garden from the roof of the poorhouse? Or maybe the boys who stretch a rope across the road to catch a girl for kissing Friday? Perhaps sweet Miss Amy with her love of scarlet knitting thread and gentle words of wisdom . . .

And since I’m a suspense lover, any novel that combines charming characters, an inspirational thread, dashes of romance, plus a mystery will always win me over. I enjoyed piecing together the mystery along with Mariah and was surprised at how—without any dead bodies to be found or deranged killers on the loose—it kept me turning pages.

Did you also read and review The Girl in the Gatehouse? If so, link up your review here at Edgy Inspirational Romance.

I’m always happy to find a modern-day novelist who carries on the tradition of great authors from the past. How about you? Who are your favorite authors from years gone by, and who have you found to bring you similar stories today? I’d love for you to share any suggestions with me in the comments section.

Follow this link to view Julie Klassen’s Amazon Author’s Page so you can pick up this book or one of her other novels. The paperback versions of her books are $5 and $6. The Girl in the Gatehouse is $7.68 for your Kindle.

***Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Christian Fiction Book Club News: The next book club meeting is on May 21st to discuss the book Words by Ginny Yttrup. Joy, who began this online book club, has the whole schedule listed in this post. I’ve read two of the upcoming novels–Digitalis and The Preacher’s Bride–and they were GREAT!!

Here’s the book blurb for Words: Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary. Sierra Dawn is thirty-four and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself. Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word-Jesus Christ. You can read the reviews and purchase the book at this link.

And, finally, the Giveaway: I’m giving away my copy of The Girl in the Gatehouse to one fortunate reader! All you have to do is let me know that you wish to be included in the drawing when you comment. I’ll announce the winner on Monday!

If you’re grieving, hurting, or even just a little blue, today’s post is for you. These words from Stacie Ruth really spoke to my heart! May they bless yours, also.

And, remember, Stacie Ruth and the other Pearl Girls are offering a giveaway. Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a pearl necklace, bracelet, and earrings.  The pearls are meant to be a tangible reminder of God’s grace to us all!

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Hurting Near Christmas? 10 Tips to Hope Again
by Stacie Ruth Stoelting

Feeling sad this Christmas? Hey, I know the feeling. In fact, many programs have interviewed me to share about it! Last year, I tried particularly hard to share stories and tips on how to cope with grief during the holidays: I wrote a feature for CBN.com, Coping with Grief at Christmas, visited and counseled grieving people, etc.

Then irony hit: Near Christmas, two people I loved died within two days (December 15-16, 2009).

Are you or a loved one hurting during the holidays? I can relate. But let me encourage you: Jesus remains faithful! As real as my pain was, He met my needs and comforted me with peace unexplainable. I’m serious. He’s real! Continue Reading…

Several days this week and next week I’ll be posting Christmas devotionals from a group of authors, which they’ve linked to a special giveaway. This series is called the Pearls of Christmas! Please follow along through Christmas Eve as Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their lives during this most wonderful time of the year.

And now about the giveaway: You may enter the giveaway once a day by filling out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET, AND EARRINGS! The pearls are meant to be a tangible reminder of God’s grace to us all! (The winner will be announced on New Year’s Day at the Pearl Girls Blog!)

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Wear Joy
by Rachel Hauck

Thanksgiving day in central Florida broke warm and sunny under a blue sky. The thin fall breeze beckoned me. Taking my bike out, I rode the neighborhood feeling so grateful for all my blessings. Continue Reading…

Sweet stuff

Renee Ann Smith —  November 1, 2010 — 14 Comments

This is the last day of the contest sponsored by the SITS girls site. All I have to do is share some special photos. So start your week with a look at some sweet faces–my little niece and nephew. They give me plenty of reasons to smile!

Blessings to you, my friend!