Hope for Number 327,654

Most blog posts you’ll see today will be life updates and new year’s resolutions. I have my own set of habits I’d like to change and goals I’d like to see achieved in the next year, but something stopped me in my tracks today that I have to write about.

Planned Parenthood: We Aborted 327,653 in FY2014

The headline I saw posted on facebook made my stomach drop into my toes. As if that number weren’t staggering enough, the article went on to say, “That works out to an average of 37 abortions per hour or nearly 1 every 90 seconds.” 

I weep, and I grieve. 
I don’t just grieve for the babies that will never live outside the womb, I grieve for their mothers. I wonder what their stories are and what could have made a difference for them. I wonder if they knew that they had options. I wonder if they know that they are truly loved. 
I have the opportunity to meet women who are facing unplanned pregnancies every week. With trained staff and volunteers we are able to walk with them through the decision making process in order to help them make an informed decision that is best for them. These women face real struggles. They are scared and hurting, and in the most vulnerable moments of their lives. 
When I look into the eyes of a woman who has chosen abortion or is struggling to make a decision about her pregnancy, I see my classmate from college. I see my best friend. I see my sister. I see me. 
No matter what our differences are, I see myself in the woman at the clinic because we are both in need of so much grace. We both long to be loved and assured that there is hope for the future. We are both sinners who have NO hope without someone to save us. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. There is hope, there is grace, there is love because Jesus took the weight of every sin upon Himself and died in our place. The judgment and wrath reserved for us was placed on Him. We can be forgiven and reconciled to the Father! And there is NOTHING we can do that takes us out of the reach of His loving arms.

So next time you see an article like the one referenced above, don’t just weep for the unborn. Weep for their mothers who so desperately need to hear that God loves them, and pray for them. Weep tears of gratitude for the One who met us where we were when we had no hope. And rejoice, because there is hope for those 327,653…and even number 327,654. There is hope for you and me.

Burlwood Forest {review}

Michael Pumpernickel is not one of the cool kids. In fact, his own mom doesn’t even make him breakfast on his first day of sixth grade! (as the narrator of Burlwood Forest would say, NOT cool…) All Michael cares about is dessert and school until the day he enters Burlwood Forest, where everyone (including the animals) knows his name and is counting on him to defeat Lord Piper!

I loved the easy-to-read format that this story was written in. The narrator interacts with the reader in a way that I have never seen before in a book. As I was reading, I was transported into the story as if I was sitting across from a talking animal! Ok, maybe not, but pretty close! In any case, the author engaged his audience in an incredible way. The writing style was by far my favorite aspect of this story.

My favorite genres are biography and dramas, so you could say that Burlwood Forest is not my typical choice. But who says adults can’t get in touch with their inner kid every once in a while? Burlwood Forest is a fun, easy read for kids of all ages. What comes to mind is Narnia meets A Series of Unfortunate Events. It is imaginative, wacky, and altogether enjoyable. It ends in a complete cliffhanger, so readers will need to stay tuned to see what Michael does next!

Update: To be entered to WIN a copy of this fun read, all you have to do is hop over to facebook and “like” Pumpernickel Art! That’s it! I’ve even made it easy for you by giving you the link: https://www.facebook.com/pumpernickelart

Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor {book review}

“Friendship is not a means to an end; it is an end in itself.” ~Glenn Stanton

I decided to read this book because I recently realized I can no longer bury my head in the sand on issues surrounding same sex attraction. For far too long, I have avoided taking any sort of stand about homosexuality and the hard questions that arise about it. I do hold to the Bible’s definition of marriage as being a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. However, I have seen too many be put off by arguments and differing opinions, so I have chosen to remain silent.
What I gained from this book was not “how to win an argument about homosexuality” or “how to convert someone with same-sex attraction.” What I did gain was a better understanding of friendship in general, along with a better understanding of my neighbors who identify with the LGBT community.
I think the most helpful part of the book for is captured in the title: Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor. The key word or phrase is not “LGBT”; rather, it is “Neighbor.” We tend to put up walls around ourselves that classify people into groups of “us” and “them.” I think we do a lot of that kind of categorization in the Christian community, but what Glenn Stanton brings to light is the fact that we are all sinners in need of extravagant grace. Realizing this means holding tightly to the gospel and allowing its message to shape how I view others who are made in the image of God.
I greatly appreciate Glenn Stanton’s stance. Lately, it seems that more and more evangelicals are preaching messages of compromise rather than carefully balancing grace and truth. Glenn Stanton walks a fine line, but pulls it off beautifully. The book is filled with research and personal stories that make it informative and enjoyable. This book is great for those like me who want to learn more about the LGBT community and how to engage it, but it’s also great for people who want to learn more about what it means to be a true friend.

*I received an ebook copy of this book from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

He Cannot Deny Himself

I shared a few weeks ago that I’d really like to use this space to share how God has been faithful in my life. What I’ve written below is part of an assignment for class., but it is helpful in capturing the “big picture” of the particular circumstances God has used to show His faithfulness to me.

My dad died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack and stroke during my junior year of college on December 8, 2011. His death was the first major loss I had experienced in my life, and I was not sure what to do with the grief I felt. For about a month, I was numb and did not even really open my Bible except at church. It was too painful to “go there” and I did not know how my grief could meet God’s goodness.

By God’s grace, I had already planned on going to the Passion conference in Atlanta that year, so I went. It was hard (I cried most of the time) but He did a huge healing work in my heart. I started to trust Him again and realized He had never left me! 2 Timothy 2:13 reminded me of His faithfulness to me—even when I had not been faithful to Him! It was not because of my actions that He was faithful; it was because I am His!

Three and a half months later, I got a call on a Monday morning while I was in my dorm room. My stepdad was calling to tell me that my mom had died suddenly that morning. Over the next few days as I went home and we made funeral arrangements, I remember praying this prayer over and over again: “God, be faithful to me. Please be faithful to me.” Unlike the grief period following my dad’s death, I knew that I could not make it without clinging to the Lord. It was still very painful, but I knew I had to depend on Him to carry me through.

Two and a half years later, I am more convinced now than ever before that God is so, so good and faithful. He never left me, even when I was running from Him. In fact, I believe He led me to this passage before the death of my mom in order to prepare me for what was coming. He proved Himself true to His Word, and I know that He always will! Even when it does not “feel” like what He is allowing is good, I know He is.

Good News {book review}

Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the Bondage of To-Do Lists, Steps, and Bad AdviceGood News for Weary Women: Escaping the Bondage of To-Do Lists, Steps, and Bad Advice by Elyse Fitzpatrick could not have come at a better time for someone like me. 

You see, part of growing up in the church (at least for me) means that I am really good at following the rules and playing the part. As a self-identified people pleaser, my view of God has been tainted at times by this idea that if I do____, He will be happy with me, but if I do ____, He will be disappointed. 

The good news that Elyse Fitzpatrick writes about it that Jesus has already fulfilled each and every “step” required for righteousness and He exchanged that righteousness for our sin at Calvary.

This is GREAT news for women who are exhausted by trying so hard to be the Proverbs 31 woman or the Mary in a world full of Marthas. The truth is, God is pleased with us, but it’s not because we have done great things. It’s not because we have obeyed all the rules. It’s not because we serve four times a week and keep our house spotless and always smile. Its because Jesus Himself intercedes for us. When The Father looks at us who have believed in Jesus for salvation, He says, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” That is good news! 

I loved the honesty in this book. I loved that Elyse Fitzpatrick didn’t talk to her audience, but instead talked with us as a fellow weary woman who desperately needs the finished work of Christ for salvation. I loved the freedom she gave to rest in that salvation, knowing that the work has already been done!

My only hesitation in recommending this book would be the beginning. I realize that Elyse was trying to get the point across that “steps, lists, and bad advice” are not what save us, but I think there could have been a little more balance. To be fair, she addresses this later in the book, but the first couple of chapters read a little harsh (in my opinion).

All that said, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a welcomed message for a worn out, people-pleasing woman like myself! 

The dedication to the book is fitting for all who need to read it: “To all the wearied, burdened, wounded, and struggling women who live their Lord but can’t seem to find the joy, peace, or freedom they’ve heard so much about. Hear His good word for you: ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28).”

*I received a free copy of this title in ebook form through netgalley.com and Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.*

New Morning Mercies {review}

Paul David Tripp shares in the intro to New Morning Mercies that the idea for this 365 day devotional was born because of the response he got from tweeting Gospel-centered thoughts on Twitter every day. He took those “tweets” and expanded them, and this treasure was written.

I think it says a lot that these devotional thoughts started out as tweets. 140 characters is not a lot at all (anyone on Twitter knows this) but Tripp was clearly able to communicate Gospel truth with just a few words. In this age, skimming is often favored over reading in depth, but thankfully Tripp packed each word intentionally with truth we all desperately need to hear.

The format of the book was my favorite aspect. The devotional thoughts were rich with truth but short enough to read in 2-3 minutes. It is obviously written as a devotional for a whole year, but with the entries being so short it is not hard to read multiple passages in one day! I have this on my kindle and enjoy reading a thought when I get to work and again at lunch (and maybe even again at bedtime!). I loved that he also gave a Bible passage to go with each thought for more in depth study, so the reader has freedom to use this in many different ways. 

I would recommend this for a new believer or someone who has been walking with the Lord for 50 years! We all need to be reminded daily of our desperate need for saving grace.

New Morning Mercies has a publication date of October 31, 2014 from Crossway.

*I recieved an advanced copy of this in ebook form from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.*

In the Field of Grace {review}

In the Field of Grace is a beautiful adaptation of Ruth by Tessa Afshar. This fictional account brought the story to life in a new way for me, not only because of the author’s giftedness in writing, but because of the Biblical truths she drew out through the characters.

Ruth grew up not feeling loved or wanted by her family, and just tried to stay out of the way. When she meets Naomi and becomes part of her family, that changes. Ruth’s past makes her decision to stay with Naomi easier because Naomi had become her true family. Once in Bethlehem, though, it soon becomes clear that they will not survive without divine intervention.

God led Ruth to Boaz’s field, where she will be protected and well provided for. Both Boaz and Ruth are soon drawn to each other but wait for the Lord’s leading. They both have seen much heartache, but have also seen the Lord’s faithfulness to them through times of heartache. They trust in Him, knowing His way is good and loving.

This book, unlike some historical fiction that I have read, brought forth a lot of depth and Biblical truth. The theme of God’s faithfulness through loss was especially meaningful to me.

from the book: “If God spared us from the piercing shaft of every sorrow, we could never fulfill His best plans for our lives. Sometimes the sweetest things in life rise up out of the worst things in life.” 

I loved the writing style, I loved the romance, and I loved the way the author brought the characters to life. Overall, it was a sweet, beautiful book.

I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy Ruth in the Bible, and those who enjoy historical fiction. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

In the Field of Grace was published by Moody Publishers in 2014.
*I recieved a free copy of this in ebook form from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.*