Saturday, July 4, 2020

Were We Ever Great?

The state of our country is rocky at best as I write this. Lives have been turned upside down from a new widespread virus and then destroyed by horrible acts of racism. As we come around to celebrating the independence of the United States once again, this question is plaguing me; Were we ever a great nation?

First, what does great mean?

According to the Google dictionary it means, "of an extent, amount of intensity considerably above the normal or average."

Sadly this definition is subjective at best because what is normal? What is average? Yes, the US has been ahead in many ways of many things, especially technology and for many years we were the wealthiest nation in the world. We have had power and prestige.

But really, is any of this great?

When I think about our history, while there are things that could be categorized as great, I cannot help but ask what did this greatness cost?

Was it great when the Europeans came over and took over the land of the natives, killing and driving them off because they wanted their land?

Was it great that we used "superior" weapons to make sure we destroyed as many as possible?

Was it great that we kidnapped people from their homes and built a home and legacy on the backs of slaves?

Was it great that we had a civil war because there was no agreement on how we should treat humanity and killed not only slaves but each other because of our own greed?

Was it great that people were (and in many ways still are) segregated because of skin tone or ethnicity?

When you look at how we have treated and still treat each other in this country, the answer is a resounding NO! Our greatness isn't defined by wealth, technology and what we have. Our greatness is defined by whether or not we live according to the Law of God.

In fact, I can only think of one time in history that any country could be called great. That was in the beginning after God had made all and placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and God declared it good!

But soon it all went to hell, literally, as Adam and Eve brought sin into the world and we have been in chaos and turmoil ever since that day. We continue to live in this sin, hating each other, living for ourselves and our style and our preferences, doing what we believe in our hearts is right.

This is why we are not great, because this is true of the US today. And until we fall on our faces in repentance for our sin, our hatred, our greed, our malice, our bowing to self, we can never hope to be great. Therefore, repent and turn to Jesus and ask Him to reveal your heart. Live for God in true freedom which glorifies Him and Him alone, not ourselves and our agendas.

This is greatness: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

As you celebrate today, remember that the point of freedom is to lift others up and in this we love God and glorify His Name.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Essential Oils Hormone Solution

I've been excited to read this book as I'm really enjoying using essential oils and learning more about them. Dr. Mariza Snyder does an excellent job of talking through different hormonal issues women face and how we can use essential oils as well as diet and supplements to help manage hormone problems that may arise. I appreciate that Dr. Mariza is clear there is not a one size fits all and offers several things to try as well as things to talk to your health care provider about.

The first section of the book talks about using essential oils to balance your hormones instead of using hormones. This was very educational and eye opening on many fronts, as well as encouraging. Dr. Mariza shares how to appropriately use oils in a safe way as well as the top oils to use for balancing hormones. This is a great introduction to oils if you have not used them much.

Part two goes into using essential oils to to address hormonal symptoms. This section was excellent as it covered a variety of struggle areas for many women today and gave an overview of those symptoms and natural ways to manage them. The symptoms covered are stress, energy and fatigue, sleep issues, weight issues, female hormones including fertility, perimenopause and menopause, libido, emotions, cognitive issues, digestive issues and toxicity. Each section goes into the problems that are often dealt with and then oils and supplements and other care items that can help with each issue. Each section has a good overview and recommendations to get you started.

The last section Dr. Mariza takes you through her 14-Day Rescue Plan to help you reset your hormones. This includes a meal plan and oils to help you detox and reset your system. Since I'm currently pregnant I have not done this, but I am intrigued by it and may try the meal plan after my postpartum period.

For the information she gives this is an excellent book and resource. However, there are some things in this book that were too much for me. Her over indulgent focus on self care was very frustrating. I know she is coming at this from a secular western worldview, but telling women to look in the mirror every night and tell themselves "I love you" is unwise on so many levels. As a Christian this is just poor advice. I was also annoyed with being told I deserve to indulge in these things.  Again, she's not a Christian so as a Christian reading this just ignore the self-focus and find Biblical avenues to care for your soul where Dr. Mariza tells you to focus on yourself.

I also did not appreciate the feeling of demonization of gluten and dairy. Again a secular view of food and the belief that God created foods to hurt us. She does say you can introduce these things back, but her attitude is you're better without them. I thrive on dairy!

Overall I'd give this book 3.5 stars. Great info to help with natural solutions to health problems, but a way too focused on self.

Reading Challenges:
I'm using this book as a Book Printed in Hardcover in Tim Challies 2020 Reading Challenge in the Obsessed section.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Becoming God's True Woman

This past year our women's mentoring small group at Smyrna First have read this book and it has been a delight to read and discuss with other women.

This book is a compilation of several women authors discussing aspects of of Biblical femininity and is a much needed resources in the feminist culture of the US today. This book is broken into four parts to give a good overview of different parts of womanhood discussed in the Bible.

Part one discusses God's creation of womanhood and discusses finding our identity in who God created us to be as women. Starting at creation different Biblical passages are shared and show us how God created us to be women and that it is a good thing that we are created in His image, different from men. Our identity must be found in who God created us to be, knowing Him as Father and understanding how He sees us.

The second section discusses the challenges we face as women and living out true womanhood in a fallen world. We take an in depth look at Mary, mother of Jesus, to see the portrait of a true woman. While Wolgemuth takes some liberties in this breakdown, it is a very good description of what it means to be a woman after God's own heart. There is also a much needed discussion on discretion and what it means to live modestly in all areas of our lives.

In the third part we are reminded of the joy of living in submission to our husbands and the freedom we have in being their helpers. There is a great look at the joy of living in submission to our husbands as we live in submission to God. We also get a good look at the Trinity and the beauty of submission within it. The Holy Spirit is called our Helper, the same word used for wives. It is a privilege to live out the helper role and fulfill our God given purposes.

Part four goes into the joy of being bearers and nurturers of life and the privilege of bringing up another generation for the LORD. Whether biological, adopted or younger women in your life another way, we are all called to teach, train and encourage those younger than us in the fear and admonition of the LORD, teaching them His ways and His Word. This is our Titus 2 responsibility. This section was so encouraging as I'm learning to raise a daughter in Biblical womanhood and femininity for the LORD.

I highly encourage and recommend this read. Some of it may be hard to hear as it is completely counterculture to our feminist society, but even parts of this show women of feminists who have realized something is desperately wrong. This book is an excellent overview of the way we are to live as women of the Word.

5 Stars for this compilation.

Reading Challenges:
For the Tim Challies 2020 Reading Challenge this is my book Targeted at my Gender in the Light section of the challenge
For Jami Balmet's 2020 Christian Reading Challenge for Women this is one of my books on Biblical Womanhood

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Our Five-Year-Old Nehemiah

Our precious Nehemiah is five years old today! So much has happened in his short life and we are so blessed to have this spunky little boy in our family.


Nehemiah loves to laugh and loves to live. He is small in stature but he has a huge personality. His imagination runs wild and he comes up with the best stories. His on going story is "Big Hero Pirates" and he instructs his siblings on how to play the story. Nehemiah also loves to be outside, but not by himself. He could run around in the yard for hours. Nothing outside gets to him. He loves his siblings and wants someone to be with him while he plays. He loves to be active.

Nehemiah also loves to learn. He's done an amazing job this year learning how to read and do basic math. He loves to get his books and and work on his phonics and numbers. He also enjoys learning science and discovering how things work. But as stated before, he loves creating stories and telling stories. He is so much fun. It's a blessing to watch him learn.

Recently, Nehemiah has been growing in learning the Bible as well. He does an amazing job with catechism and Scripture memory. He enjoys drawing pictures of God, Jesus and other stories that we talk about in the Bible. So thankful for how God is giving Nehemiah a love for His Word. He also is growing in prayer and says he wants to believe. How we pray God will grow the seeds into flowering plants!

If Nehemiah is not outside or doing book work, he enjoys watching educational shows, watching movies with the family or playing games/doing puzzles. He has gotten very good at doing puzzles and can put some difficult ones together pretty quickly. He really just enjoys being with the family and doing things together.

Nehemiah is a lot of fun! He adds so much life to our family. We are so thankful for this little boy and that we get to raise him for the LORD.

Father, Thank You for the gift of Nehemiah. You have given him such a zeal for life. I pray that You will save him by Your grace and give him a deep zeal for life with You. Thank You for giving him the desire to want to believe. Reveal the depths of his sin to him and lead him to repentance and faith. Thank You that you are working on him. Continue to give him a love of learning and a love for life. Please, give him a deep love for You above all else. In Jesus Name, Amen!


Friday, June 26, 2020

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis

I chose this book for this year's Back to the Classics Challenge as a Genre Classic.

This third book in C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy is by far the best. While still deep and very strange, it has a coherent story line that can be followed.

It follows Mark and Jane Studdock in their mediocre marriage as they are pulled in different directions by their individual lives. Mark, a progressive academic, desires to move his way up in the ranks of the university and society he has come to work in. Jane, a homemaker but also an academic, is plagued by realistic dreams that she cannot talk about with her husband, seeks the company of a woman who takes in students as her own to comfort her.

These two in their circles are drawn into a battle for Earth. It is a battle of ethics, science, faith and wills. It is a tale of spiritual warfare like never told before that draws you into a world that feels familiar yet not quite here yet. The NICE is progressive and wants to bring great evolution to the human race with science and technology. The group at St. Anne's is working to save humanity from the terrible force that seeks to destroy it.

As the two sides seek to work out their plans, the husband and wife are pulled apart to learn what is going on the world and who they really are.

Like all of Lewis's books, it is deep and will make you think. He has clear observations about humanity and has a deep view of the human psyche that will grow and stretch your own understanding. While mythical in nature, it is still very probable that many things in this book could happen. Many things feel like some of the conspiracies going around today.

For deep thinkers this is a good read. If you want to be challenged this is a good read. Definitely a better read than the previous two books in the triology.

I would give this book 4 stars.

Reading Challenges:
Back to the Classics Challenge as a Genre Classic
2020 Reading Challenges with Tim Challies a Book by an Author who is now Deceased in the Committed Section
The Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge as a Classic I Didn't Read in School

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Philomena

This short children's book is a book in our Core C program from Sonlight.

Philomena is a little orphan girl who grew up in a village just outside of Prague with Babushka. When she turns twelve, Philomena, like all girls in her village, go to Prague to hire themselves out until sixteen to grow in their domestic skills and earn a dowry.

This story follows Philomena after Babushka dies and Philomena goes to Prague to find her only family, Aunt Liska whom they have not heard from in years. Philomena gets into some interesting situations as she learns and looks for her aunt before returning to her village.

This is a charming and interesting book. It gives you a peek into the older culture of Prague and how the people of this village think. It brought up lots of interesting conversations as Philomena "talks" to Babushka in Heaven to seek advice as well as comparing the differences in culture and belief.

I think it is a good book for discussion, though I can't say I loved the book. I do appreciate the ending that is left in a neutral tone, making it different from your happily ever after endings.

For me I'd give the book 3 stars.

Reading Challenges:

I'm counting this book as A Book that Looks Easy to Read in the Avid section of the 2020 Reading Challenge with Tim Challies.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches

I am grateful that our pastor let Jim borrow this commentary on the book of Revelation, as I love to study eschatology and learn more about hermeneutics. This was even more fun to read as Dr. James M. Hamilton Jr. was one of Jim's professors at seminary and it's always exciting to learn from great teachers.

On the whole I greatly enjoyed reading this book. I love the book of Revelation and discussing its implications on history and the world today. I love thinking about what God is going to do and the new age that is to come when Jesus returns and makes everything truly new and we can worship God perfectly forever. How I long for that day! And this book made me long for it all the more.

I absolutely appreciate Dr. Hamilton's candor in how he speaks of the book of Revelation and does not shy away from difficult implications and ideology that are found throughout the book of Revelation. He is clear about where he stands from his study of the Scripture and gives clear reasoning against some other positions in different places. The chapters are broken down into bite sized pieces making it easier to focus on one section at a time. While a strength, at times I struggled with this personally as even with an outline at the beginning of each chapter, I would get lost in the timeline.

Each chapter is laid out with an intro, showing the need God is revealing in that section, the main point, overview of the section and context of the passage before diving into the text. The consistency is extremely helpful as you know what to expect and know what to look for in each chapter. My one desire would have been to have the text printed in full before diving into the commentary. Dr. Hamilton does print out each verse as he discusses it, which is good, but it would have been nice to have the passage as a whole. Yes, I know you can go to your Bible, but if you have someone studying this who may not have a Bible it would be a nice addition. I also appreciate how Dr. Hamilton included references from Daniel and showed parallels from the end times prophecies found there next to that in Revelation.

While well written and quite thorough, I did struggle with some of the analogies used to explain things. Most of the time he explained the passage and points quite well, but I did find some areas that I would have considered holes that needed to be filled. I also struggled with when Dr. Hamilton used literal vs figurative translation. I am not saying that he is wrong in his interpretation, but I did find it strange in a few places that, to me, appeared to be in congruent with a previous point. I also found some of his explanations to lack proper full Scripture hermeneutical interpretation, but it would not keep me from recommending this book.

Personally, I was hoping it would help me pinpoint my own theological view of the end times, but sadly it made me more confused. But I'm OK with that because wrestling with Scripture is part of the walk with God. I also found some of his points against one of the other eschatological views confusing. Again, this would not keep me from recommending this book. In fact I'd love for others to read it so we can talk about it and help each other out!

I would give this commentary 4.5 stars for the reasons mentioned above, but still highly recommend it to anyone who wants to seek to better understand the book of Revelation, even if you do not agree with Dr. Hamilton's conclusions.

Reading Challenges:
This book is being used as a Commentary on a book of the Bible in the Avid section of Tim Challies's 2020 Reading Challenge.
I am also using this as a book in the category of Theology for the 2020 Christian Reading Challenge for Women with Jami Balmet.