Monday, April 16, 2012

Encouragement For The Tough Day

It had been a tough day. For the past three days I'd been studying to take my drivers permit test and when I'd finally finished my six required hours of study I'd failed the online practice test. Twice. Then I failed the next time I took the practice test. And then the fourth time. *Let's out long sigh* I was frustrated and wondered why I couldn't get a passing grade after I'd studied hard for six hours. On top of this I'd had a non-stop kind of day the previous day and was already tired from it. I'd not gotten enough sleep and was starting to feel it's effects. The quilt I'd been working on putting together was't working out and no matter how many times I tried to fix it, I got the same messed up result. I also had to pick out clothes and get showered for church the next day as well as get a decent amount of sleep so I wouldn't fall asleep during the sermon. {Okay, so maybe I wasn't all that tired...I get a fair amount of sleep, but you get the point} To make a long story short, it had been a rough day. At the end of it, I just sat down in despair and wondered why everything I'd done that day didn't end up working out or turned up a complete failure and mess.     

But then my mind came to my April challenge. Lately I'd been slacking on my devotions and wanted to get back with it. So I challenged myself to read 9 chapters of the Bible a day to complete the whole New Testament in the month of April. At this time I'd just finished up the Gospels which were a real blessing to me during this time. One thing that was impressed upon mind often during my Gospel readings was just how much of our regular activities Jesus took a part of daily just like us. Often times when I think of Jesus life,  it's hard to think on a personal level. It's hard to imagine what His life was like beyond that of which is recorded in the Bible. What did His normal days look like? Did He ever face trails or difficulties? Was He ever frustrated? As I got to thinking about it, I realized that I actually had it better than Jesus did. I started to realize that He really did have some tough circumstances. While He did His ministry work, He had no home, no place to sleep at night. He slept wherever He could, probably on the ground without a comfortable bed or pillow or cover. He didn't have a regular supply of plenty of food to choose from. He ate what He could find or what others gave Him. He was constantly healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, and we see in Scripture that often times there were a lot of people crowed around wanting to see Him or hear Him preach. He was always putting someone else first. His tired body didn't stop Him from looking down into the little children's eyes and blessing them. His hunger didn't stop Him from healing a sick person.


All the sudden my biggest "uncomfortable" circumstances or "pains" seem to small and petty besides what Christ willingly went through for me. How big of a deal is it that I failed my practice test? So what? Just study more and take it again, of what eternal significance does it hold? What's the big deal with my quilt being so messed up? Just take a big breath and fix it. Even if it takes a couple times, do it. What will it matter how it looks when I'm in heaven, or even a few years from now? Is it really that big of a deal? I must realize that this isn't my home, I'm only here on earth temporarily, for but a breath compared to the time of all eternity spent with Jesus. Then it won't matter how my day went or how my projects tuned out.

As I started to think of how He lived I realized that He also went through a lot of what I go through which helps me to know that Her knows how I feel and is ready to help. Just knowing that He's been there makes a world of difference. It helps me to be able to open my arms and let Him help instead of getting frustrated because "No-one else knows how I feel or what it's like". I'd encourage you to look up Scriptures were Jesus went through the same thing as you are whenever you're frustrated or feeling overwhelmed. Or you could just take some time to go through a few of the Gospels and note certain circumstances Jesus was in that you may have been in, or will be in sometime in the future. See how He responded. How did that impact eternity? How does it effect us today, some couple thousand years later? So, if you're having a hard day, if nothing seems to go right, then remember that Jesus has been there. He is ready to help and offer encouragement or strength. Not only has He been there, but He's been over the level we will ever be. Since He died such a horrible death, He's had it rougher than we ever will, and because of it His love has increased and is shown freely to us. Because He lives gain, we too can live today, no matter what is thrown at us, Jesus will be there for us.
Living through His strength, not of my own,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Reviews

A Gown of Spanish Lace (Women of the West)
A Gown of Spanish Lace
By Janette Oke
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Bethany House
Number of Pages :: 251
Source :: Purchased a t a garage sale for 25 cents. ;D
Publication Date :: 1995
My Rating :: 5 out of 5 stars

A heritage so very different from her own, but one profound connection - — Ariana loves her life her parents, her little town, her job as the town's schoolteacher, her students. But one evening after classes are done and she prepares to hurry home before a blizzard hits, her whole life changes in an instant. — The two rough-looking men who abduct her and take her far from home and family make no response to her frantic questions "Why me? What are you going to do? Where are you taking me?" Held hostage in a camp of bandits, Ariana's emotions swing between terror and boredom as days stretch into weeks.
And then the boss's son appears in the doorway of her cabin. Does this mean she will never see her mother and father again, the two who had so lovingly adopted her as an infant and raised her as their own? Will she ever wear the wedding dress so carefully saved for her her one link with her birth parents, now long dead?

Pros :: One of the best things about this book is how much God is incorporated in the story. Often times people say certain books are "Christian" just because they mention God a few times. But with this book, I felt like God was the main focus of it...just like it should be! The main character Ariana, often prayed and looked for His help in her circumstances. She often memorized and meditated on Scripture and trusted in God for her every need, even when her life looked uncertain. She was a wonderful role model. I loved how much God was a part of this story. 
I also enjoyed how suspenseful it was! It if definitely a page-turner and will have you guessing wildly at what will happen next. I loved the perfect ending and I certainly didn't see it coming so it was completly unexpected the way it turned out. Anyone who enjoys suspense and interesting books will be sure to love this interesting read.
Another thing I liked was that there was a bit of romance, yet not too much. Janette did a great job balancing it out and making it interesting yet not overly-done.

Cons :: To be honest, I didn't really find anything negative in this book. I loved every bit of it! I would highly recommend it!

The Irish Healer: A NovelThe Irish Healer
By Nancy Herriman
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Worthy Publishing

Number of Pages :: 320
Source :: Library
Publication Date :: 2012
My Rating :: 3 out of 5 stars

During the deadly 1832 cholera epidemic in London, a heartsick Irish healer must find the strength to overcome her most fearsome obstacles.
Accused of murdering a child under her care, Irish healer Rachel Dunne flees the ensuing scandal while vowing to never sit at another sickbed. She no longer trusts in her abilities-or God's mercy. When a cholera epidemic sweeps through London, she feels compelled to nurse the dying daughter of the enigmatic physician she has come to love. James Edmunds, wearied by the deaths of too many patients, has his own doubts about God's grace. Can they face their darkest fears? Or is it too late to learn that trust and love just might heal their hearts?

Pros :: I liked how the author made you feel as if you were there. Her writing is very descriptive and flows well. It was a great story, but I found there was too much romance for my type. And while good writingdescriptive words, etc. can be good when you have a book, if you've made a high level of romance involved then the two together may be a bit much. 

Cons :: Well to start, I didn't even finish this book. I read up until the 22nd or so out of 30 chapters and decided to stop reading it for several reasons. For one the Lord's name was used in vain several times and He was sort of rejected, the characters acted as if He'd left them so they leave Him out of their life. There was also a unplanned pregnancy with the main characters employee's maid and then when she attempts to abort the baby with potions, she ends up sick and died. {And she was found to have been at a bar in pone part of the book, but other than this there is not further detail with the pregnancy, but still it's there and didn't really need to be, the book would have been fine without it.} I also didn't feel very comfortable with the level of romance. At first I though it wouldn't get any higher, but it did. I'd only recommend this book to those who are used to reading books with romance the center of the book and the main focus, but if you are trying to stay away from romantic notions, you'll probably want to ship this book.

The Thorn, Rose Trilogy Series #1The Thorn
{The Rose Trilogy, Book 1}
By Beverly Lewis
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Bethany House Publishing
Number of Pages :: 352
Source :: Library
Publication Date :: 2010
My Rating :: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop's foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble too. Rose's sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, so dismisses the warnings. Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding? Rose's older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband. Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire--and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband's wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick? {Description From}

Pros :: I loved this book! I love all Amish fiction books, by previously I'd found most Amish fiction to have way to much romance for my standards. But I was very pleased with the level of romance in this book. Grant it, there was a bit, but it didn't go overboard so it was nice having a bit of romance without too much. I loved the story and it was very exciting and interesting. Several times events turned when I least expected it and it made it all the more enjoyable. It was a wonderful story plot and I was very interested in continue to read the series. I loved how it went back and forth between the two sisters, so it's like you get two adventures in one. In one chapter you have a bit about one sister and her current case, and the next moves to the other sister. It was fun to see how their two different lives intertwined. I was also pleased with the writing style as well. You know how sometimes when there are multiple important characters, how it can sometimes be confusion who's who and all? Well this book had many characters, but I loved how easy it was to read, and it wasn't confusing at all! Totally loved it! This series is probably my favorite Amish fiction book/s I've read so far!

Cons :: Through this series, a portion of the book is about Hen who is Rose's sister who married an Englisher and was no longer a part of the Amish community. Once she had a daughter, she and her husband don't see eye to eye on how she should be raised. For example, do we or do we not allow TV in the home due to the influence? How should we punish bad behavior? Do we punish or just let it slip? Hen went behind her husbands back and took a job that he had made clear he didn't want her to take. And eventually this makes a problem between their marriage. But I won't spoil anymore of it for you. I did, however not appreciate how she didn't honor her husband, but I did appreciate how she was trying her best to stay with him and not divorce and for that I'm glad she was trying to make it through the tough times.

The Judgment, The Rose Trilogy #2
The Judgment
{The Rose Trilogy, Book 2}
By Beverly Lewis
{Review By Bethany}

Publisher :: Bethany House Publishing
Number of Pages :: 352
Source :: Library
Publication Date :: 2011
My Rating :: 4 out of 5 stars

Rose Kauffman is engaged to Silas Good, a well-liked Amish fellow, so why does she still pine for Nick Franco, the former foster son of the bishop? Especially now that Nick has left the Amish community under a cloud of suspicion after the death of the bishop's biological son? Will Rose marry Silas, even while struggling with romantic feelings for Nick?
Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, has returned to live at her parents' farm with her young daughter. Hen and her modern husband, Brandon, are separated by mutual agreement, although he is threatening to sue for custody of their daughter if Hen does not return soon. Will the judge rule in Brandon's favor? Is there any way Hen can reestablish her place among the People without sacrificing her marriage? {Description from}

Pros :: I also enjoyed this book, almost as much as I enjoyed the last one. I loved how the story continued from the last book as far as making it interesting and exciting. I again was captivated by the wonderful life of the Amish and was realizing that though the Amish are often known for their simplistic lives, most Amish fiction is anything but simple when it comes to the story lines! This book was no exception, but I did like it that way with so much guessing what would happen next, and feeling as if I were besides the characters as they go through trials and joys alike.

Cons :: One thing I didn't appreciate about this book is there was a lot of marital conflict between Hen and her husband. There was never any fighting and Hen was obviously trying her best to keep calm and peaceful even though Brandon was forcing lots of uncomfortable things on her. At this point in the series they were living separated and Brandon was forcing a divorce and complete custody of their daughter. The end of this book was a bit sad but hopefully it will all turn out right in the third book. ;D

Book number 3, The Mercy by Beverly Lewis, review to come in May's book review post!

Friday, April 6, 2012

How Great Is The Love...

Jesus CrossDear Sisters,

Today is Good Friday. Today is the day that Jesus paid the greatest price, suffered the most painful death possible, showed the greatest level of love. It is the day He was crucified and gave himself up for us. John 15:13 tells us: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Truly this was the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made in the whole course of history...and its the greatest there will ever be for there is no greater sacrifice that could be made. On Good Friday we remember the death that even though happened two thousand years ago, is still the greatest death in all time, one that we will remember forever. One that gives us freedom from death and sin. We thank the Lord for His death. But we also celebrate the love of our Father. We realize how much He loves us.

So often, we cannot even begin to grasp the love He has for us. But a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reading this email which I've copied to share with you today, that Johanna sent to me. 

Lent - Thank you Jesus for the CrossThe scientific death of Jesus. At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty. At the time, crucifixion was the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals were condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus, unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion, Jesus was to be nailed to the cross by His hands and feet. Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long. The nails were driven into His wrists. Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There is a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder. The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into His wrists, that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so He could breathe. Both of His feet were nailed together. Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail that impaled His feet to the cross. Jesus could not support himself with His legs becasue of the pain, so He was forced to alternate between arching His back then using His legs just to continue to breathe. Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage. Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours. Can you imagine the suffering? A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water from His wounds. From common images, we see wounds on His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side...but do we realize His wounds were actually made in His body? A hammer driving the large nails though the wrist, the feet overlapped and an even larger nail hammered through the arches, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. But before the nail and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten. The whipping was so severe that it tore His flesh from the body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn. The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp. Most men would not survived this torture. He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds. The human adult body contains about 3.5 liters {just less than a gallon} of blood. Not to mention the humiliation and pain from carrying His own cross for almost 2 kilometers, while the crowd spat in His face and threw stones. {The cross was 30kg of weight, only for it's higher part, were His hands were nailed.}  Jesus had to endure this experience so that you can live with God in Heaven one day if you believe in Him. He did it willingly because He loves you!
For the past few days I've felt compelled to share this with you all today. Even though it isn't our scheduled time for an article, I still felt like I needed to share this with you all so you can realize just how much Jesus loves you! The common saying "Smile! Jesus loves you!" if often heard but do we really take the time to meditate on the words and grasp it's true meaning?

Dear sister, JESUS LOVES YOU! As you go about your day, and go into the Easter holiday, please keep this in mind. Jesus loves you!

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot,  and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, 
and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, 
   yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
{Isaiah 53}

Have a most blessed Easter!~Bethany

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Flower Headbands :: Tutorials

Happy spring! Yes, it's here again! Spring has now arrived and with it the fresh crisp air, lovely shades of green and many lovely fragrant flowers! I recently had an interest in finding tutorials for flower headbands and have decided to share some of my finds with you! These headbands would make great birthday presents, or you could give them to your sisters! It would be fun to have a girls get together and make these as a group...the possibilities are endless! Enjoy making and wearing your lovely spring flower headbands! ~Bethany

Flower headband-010

DIY Project: Romantic Rose Headband


As always, be use discretion when visiting these links. Thanks!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monthly Interview :: Mrs. Becky {Bethany's Mother}

{Mothers are among God's greatest gifts to girls/daughters. I have found this to be very true in my life, as I truly wouldn't be who I am today without my dear mother's constant guidance, training, knowledge, wisdom and love! In Titus 2 we are told that the older women are to train the younger women to be keepers at home. So today I've interviewed my mother asking her some practical questions on preparing to be a homemaker, since she is the greatest example of a godly wife and mother! I hope that you will enjoy and be blessed by it! As a side-note we are sorry for the lateness of this past months interview but we hope it will still be a blessing to you! ~Bethany}

{Mrs. Ward}
REFLECTIONS OF GRACE :: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and at what point in your life you got saved?

MRS. BECKY :: I have been married for 23 years to my husband, Mitch Ward. We met and  married in college and have six children. I am an only child. I always knew that I wanted to have children and stay at home with them. When I was little I had several babies that I would play with and I loved being a mamma. My parents divorced when I was 12, we moved from the country to the city. I'm so thankful that I live in the country now. My mother taught me to love the Lord with all my heart. I have always loved children and taught kindergarten for several years before I had my first child. I have home schooled our 6 children ever since they were schooling age. I am so grateful for the privileged to home school our children. Some of my favorite Bible verses regarding homeschooling are Deuteronomy 6:5-9 "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates." My daughters and I have written Scripture verses in various places in our home including our chair rails, hall ways, and mantel.  Another of my favorite verses is Proverbs 9:10: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." 
I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of 6, however I didn't fully understand what Christ did for me until age 16. I re-dedicated my life to the Lord and was baptized at a Bible church. I firmly believe that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTIONS OF GRACE :: What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned through being a wife and mother?

MRS. BECKY :: The biggest lesson I have learned through being a wife and mother is that of sacrifice. The sacrifice of time, preferences, etc. I thought homeschooling was mostly about schooling our children at home to teach them God's Word. I now realize that the homeschooling life style is more about our relationships with Christ and each other as a family. I consider it a sacred privileged to be married and have a family. There is no higher calling for a woman to be a wife and mother. The influence that we as wives and mothers have on our husbands and families is crucial. Our influence can be used for good or bad. My hope is to create a home and family life for my husband and children that will bless them, and future generations to come. 

REFLECTIONS OF GRACE :: What are things you wish you would have prepared more for when you were younger in regard to being a wife and mother?

MRS BECKY :: Cooking. Time management. Diligence. I had to learn the hard way. I learned to use the crock pot when I was 36 with a nursing baby, and three small children. You get the picture.

REFLECTIONS OF GRACE :: Why do you think its important to prepare for wife and motherhood?

MRS BECKY :: Because it's the most important job in the world. If done God's way, it is a great testament  of God's purpose for the family to bring glory and honor to Christ. Titus 2:3-5 tells us: "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."  I would not want to be guilty of discrediting God's Word.