Faith

This is the joy of every longing heart

download (4)Liz Curtis Higgs is a super author and speaker, and best of all an encourager. Who doesn’t love a girl who write books called Bad Girls of the Bible and Really Bad Girls of the Bible. 

Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna.

Faith.

 

Elizabeth advanced in years, received the promise of a son, John the Baptist, who would pave the way for Jesus.

Mary, so young, unmarried, accepted her role as the mother of Jesus.

Anna, a prophetess, worshipped her God day and night in the temple.

 

Place yourself in any one of their spots. Would we stand with such faith and trust?

I am more the cowardly lion, spitting and sputtering in my fears. Oh, just let me see how it ends… then maybe. Only if everyone still loves me afterwards. Only if it doesn’t hurt too much. Only if it doesn’t take up too much time. Only if I am assured it is what you say it really is. Only if the cost is small.

savesGabriel said to Mary that her son would be called Jesus. God Saves.

So simple. So striking. God Saves.

He does.

And he did it through an unlikely lineage, through broken people, but people willing to lay it all down.

joyHe saves us.

Remember that this day. He saves.

He saves us and he saves through us.

He gives us life and hope.

 

Read Chapter One for free here.

Leave a comment and win a hard-cover copy of the book.

What does your heart long for this Christmas season? 

My Hope is Found

My-Hope-Is-Found-682x1024The last book in The Cadence of Grace series by Joanne Bischof debuts this week!

You can read about the first two books here: Be Still My Soul and Though My Heart is Torn. 

Cadence-of-Grace-image2-1024x870My Hope is Found continues the story of Gideon and Lonnie.

I love the theme of forgiveness and redemption that covers their journey.

This is a book for those that have felt

There’s no hope,” she breathed.

 

The characters have to decide if God can be enough.

 

Gideon finds change through God’s love. The book is about a man that longed for the kind of faith that changes.

One of my favorite lines of this book is when Gideon prays ‘he could always remember the path that had led him there.’

This is such a poignant reminder that our mistakes, our struggles, all the hard grow us into the people God created us to be.

 

Gossip is something Lonnie has to face in this book. I love in the study discussion where it explained how she learned to take gossip for what it is- empty words. Even if one can turn the other check to gossip, it still has deep effects on a life. We can remember through this book, how our words effect hope.

 

This is a beautiful conclusion to Joanne’s debut series. God uses Joanne’s words to give hope, and I can’t wait to see what he will do through her next. Visit her at her website, her Facebook page, and newsletter.

Cadence-of-Grace-1-1024x691What has helped you find hope? How has faith changed you? 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy! 

Take a Chance on Me

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Today I get to introduce you to Susan May Warren!

I’m learning that you all like fiction and she is a fixture in the world of Christian fiction. Susan has wrote more than thirty novels! Here is the link to her website full of great information. She spent eight years with her husband and four kids as a missionary in Russia. She and her family now live in Northern Minnesota, where she writes full-time.

Take a Chance on Me will be a part of series about the Christiansen family of Northern Minnesota. There are seven adult siblings in the family and this 7-book series will follow each one of them. Take a Chance on Me is the first! So, if you like the book there is more to come.

 

The setting of Deep Haven, Minnesota and the Christiansen resort of Evergreen Lake drew me into the story right away, think rustic summer vacation.

This first story follows the eldest Christiansen son, Darek, a single-father. And wait for it… the story has not one, but two love stories going on simultaneously. I know, it’s enough to make you pass out 🙂

 

I most enjoyed the book because of its theme of forgiveness. The characters in this story have deep frailty. To experience a future of hope they need to forgive the past.

The longing to be more and to let go of past hurts is something we can all relate to… to take a chance on faith and forgiveness.

 

I love these discussion questions:

In what circumstances have you doubted God’s kindness?

Looking back, are there any difficult circumstances in your past that you now see as pruning, shaping you into who you were meant to be? 

 

Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of the book! 

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The Book Days Like These

days like this

Kristian Anderson.

His wife Rachel.

Their two boys Cody and Jakob.

Fighting through a terminal illness.

 

Halfway through this book, I wanted to pretend I had never started it. I wanted to push it away. I made myself keep reading.

Suffering, we want to keep it as far away from ourselves as possible. Placing yourself in proximity to it takes courage. This book deeply challenges and inspires. Their story is courage gathered up and defended.

 

We struggle with Krisitian through his cancer journey from his poignant, honest journal entries. He holds onto his faith with unwavering resolve.

Even in the Darkest Moments Light can Shine Through. 

After Kristian, a television editor, makes a birthday video for his wife Rachel (complete with Hugh Jackman) he attracted the attention of Oprah. His story of faith became well-known around the world. He successfully campaigned to get a powerful cancer drug on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme in Australia. He left a legacy of faith to his family.

 

From his last blog post:

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in… the truth is, we’re all broken, we’re all cracked, and what so many people see as  a fault or a malfunction really is something to be considered useful.

 

Rachel describes in the book when they were watching a portion of The Fellowship of the Ring. 

Frodo says: “I wish the right had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf replies: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us.”

 

Their story is hope in the darkness.

Their story is purpose even when the answer is no.

Their story is faith even when we don’t understand.

 

Their story is courage and it is needful.

Each day we are given is much and it is enough.

Leave a comment and win a copy. How do you keep faith when your prayers are not answered in the way you hope? 

Praying Circles around your Children

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I won this book! It was seriously the first time I had won anything. Thank you to my writing friend Becky Doughty for hosting the giveaway!

So, I read it and now I can give it away to you!

Mark Batterson wrote the New York Times Bestselling book The Circle Maker. In this book he uses those principals to teach us how to pray for our children.

 

“You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.”

Batterson’s books come from the true legend of Honi a circle maker of the Jewish Talmud who believed that God always hears.

  • circle Bible promises and pray them around your children
  • prayer is a way we fight our battles
  • irrational fears only submit to prayer
  • make prayer lists, a written record: do this in a graphic way, lunch box notes, a book of prayers
  • focus on life themes where passions and God given abilities overlap
  • pray with your child not just for your children

 

There is something mysterious about prayer.

The amazing thing is that we are part of something so much bigger. Your prayers circle, strengthen, surround and guide your family.

 

This book really reminded me of how important prayer is… something I tend to forget in the busy stretches. I would love to do a special prayer week at About Proximity in the future. If you have anything you would like to share about prayer send me a note! I’d love to have you for a guest post! This would be one of mine: 

My first summer as a camp counselor, my first week with campers, my assigned prayer partner was a guy named Kris Van Engen. (Who I would later marry.) He asked me to pray for his brother Kirk, sister-in-law Maria, and nephew Michael who were expecting a baby in a few weeks. I prayed for the baby’s safe arrival. I prayed for Nikole after her safe arrival.

The next summer, Kris was called away from camp when his brother Kirk was killed in a vehicle accident. I prayed for Nikole and Michael who had lost their Dad and for Maria. 

Of course, when I married Kris, they became my family. Sometimes I feel sad that I never met Kris’s big brother. Sometimes I wish I could have been there for his family during such a painful time. Then, I remember. In a way, I was there through those prayers. I had the blessing of knowing them and loving them through prayer before I ever knew them personally. 

We don’t exactly know what God is doing when we pray. We might not ever have the complete answers. But, we can trust he hears our voice, and loves each expression of our faith. He uses each word given to him for something greater than we can imagine. 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of the book! 

If I go one step further…

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Sometimes, we revisit The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Our son has become quite enthralled with the journey of the beloved hobbits.

 

Two nights ago, The Fellowship of the Ring played in the background of my writing.

Samwise Gamgee and Frodo were just beginning their journey out of the shire.

 

Samwise stops. “If I take one step further, I’ll be the furthest I’ve ever been from home.”

You see, hobbits never ventured very far from home. With a friendship that rivaled any great fictional duo, Samwise and Frodo stuck together on an epic journey. Sometimes, the adventure took them to very, very dark spaces, where all hope looked lost.

 

I feel a little like Sam right now. “Oh, God, if I take one step further… I’m in territory I’ve never been before.”

I’m frightened of failing. I’m frightened of what it will cost me. I’m tired, it’s uphill. Sometimes, my heart moves into those dark spaces.

 

Frodo contemplated turning back…

Sam: Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

 

And at the end of the Return of the King…

Frodo: I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.

I want God to say that me someday. “I’m glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things.”

 

Don’t turn back. God is worth fighting for. His people are worth fighting for.

Be Still: Jennifer Novakoski

Photographs By: Jennifer Novakoski of je{n}ova.photography.  You can follow updates of Jennifer’s work through her facebook page.

A friend allowed me to capture the beauty she radiated during a heart wrenching time. She carried twin girls that God called home all too soon. At 20 weeks this courageous couple learned they were carrying conjoined twin girls who shared a heart. They carried their girls to term and documented their journey.

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Thank you to Jennifer and to this remarkable family for your willingness to share your heart. 

To be still and trust in God during such a time…

You are an encouragement and a testament of God’s provision in time of heartbreak. We thank you for being real and for showing us such absolute hope in Christ, our lives are changed by your story. 

Hope: Ellie Baumann

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A Guest Post     By: Ellie Baumann 

What does hope look like?
Can you really see it?
Can you really feel it?

 

Of course you can! It is called the Bible…the Living Word…it is the answer to everything and anything. I find that when I go for a while “forgetting” to do my devotions, being too busy, putting me before God and not making time for Him, I am not as happy. That is no coincidence.

I lose happiness because I lose sight of hope. Not just any hope, His perfect hope.

 

In times of disaster, in times of crisis, earthly hope doesn’t help that much. On September 14, 2012, catastrophe met Guatemala. Fuego, a very active volcano in Guatemala erupted dramatically. Many families’, adults’, children’s, believers’, and nonbelievers’ lives were changed. The precious village of La Reina where I met many friends this summer was in Fuego’s path. I, at my kitchen table reading an email from Paradise Bound Ministries, felt hopeless…not knowing if my little girl, Kately was O.K., not knowing where Henry, Antonio, Felipa, or Dillon were…I felt totally lost in the dark. How could we help these people who are thousands of miles and an ocean away?

The only hope I had was His perfect hope: prayer and the Word. I couldn’t talk with Kately, but I could cry out to God. He was there.

 

That day, on Facebook I stumbled upon Psalm 139:2-10~

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

 

He was right there through it all taking care of them, watching over them, much like these verses explain.

HE is our hope, our perfect hope!

ellieEllie Baumann is a sophomore in high school and attends Zeeland West. She enjoys knitting, playing piano, babysitting, rollerblading with her sisters, and most of all, spending time with her family. She has a pretty big family… “I don’t know what I would do without them!” You can read Ellie’s previous guest post about Guatemala here.