Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: Ashburn by Julia Erickson

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Title: Ashburn

Author: Julia Erickson

Series: I.C.E. Agency #1

Genre: Contemporary Suspense/Romance (a.k.a. Spy novel!)

Audience: New Adult


Cara Stephenson, a talented graphic designer at Silver Strand Technologies, never thought she'd see her childhood best friend again ... but when he suddenly reenters her life ten years later, he's a completely different man. What is he hiding, and why should she trust him? 

Bryce Reynolds is a man on a mission - a top-secret one at that! He never dreamed the girl down the street would one day become his link to the destruction of Ravenmeister, Inc.- a front for black-market arms and ammunition. Will he crumble underneath the burden of all his secrets? 

When the hunt for a missing technology developer in possession of a priceless prototype drags Cara and Bryce on a high-adrenaline ride through the streets of Paris, Venice, and Munich, they must work together to find what they're looking for ... and survive the trip!

**5 stars**

So ... contemporary isn’t really my thing. I usually don’t get into suspense either. But I decided I should attempt to slog through Ashburn by Julia Erickson, because I was trying to participate in the Homeschool Authors Read-To-Win contest; and I had bought it already, so better just read it! Well, let me tell you, friends, there was no slogging! Nope. I adored this book! Adored it! I have never enjoyed a contemporary novel so much in my life—and Ashburn has definitely made my list of favorite books in addition! ^_^ It was exceptional.

Cara Stephenson is a talented graphic designer. Bryce Reynolds is a mysterious man on top secret business. They were once childhood friends. Now they’re thrown together again; about to go for the rides of their lives. Does God have a plan amidst the secrets, struggles, and chaos? Or will Bryce’s many enemies ruin everything?

Eep! I just loved this book so much! From beginning to end, I was hooked! The crazy action. The intriguing suspense and secret agent stuff. The adorable, heart-melting, sigh-worthy, godly, beautiful romance(!!). The luscious trips to Italy and France, that may or may not have involved some danger. The hilarious, wonderful, perfect touch of humor. The sincere, conservative, deep faith theme. The awesome, relatable characters ... *huggles book* It was great. From start to finish. I wasn’t bored once! And guys, that’s saying something! Usually I dislike contemporary stories. I really enjoy a select few. Well, Ashburn—I loved! I squealed, and gushed, and laughed, and gasped, and cried. It was a perfect mixture of all the things I love.

There were a few moments here and there that it wasn’t “all professional”. For example, the first chapter was pretty wordy. Like too much. It kind of broke the natural-feeling flow. But I’m pretty sure that after chapter one, (or maybe after just a few pages), that vanished entirely, and I was sucked completely into the story, without complaint! *winks and grins*

It was a grand, romantic, mad-dash, heart-tugging adventure—with bursts of laughter erupting time and again.

I love, love, loved Bryce Reynolds! What a wonderful guy! ^_^ He is hilarious. And totally “cool”. And just sweet, and protective, and gentlemanly, and godly. And this super awesome secret agent with weapons, missions, and street fighting skills like none other. *grins* Altogether an epic character. I can’t say enough for this brilliant character.

I also loved Cara. She was real. She was sweet, and shy, and fun, and courageous. I really enjoyed journeying with her and watching her grow and everything else! And I love that she has loonnnggg blonde hair! *flails* She was pretty epic too!

And Penny!!! Bahahaha! She’s the best! *hugs her* What a fantastic lady! She is so cute, and hysterically funny, and just all her own! I so can’t wait to read her story!

Also loved Monty, Naomi Stephenson, Angel, and Mark, and probably some others that I’m just forgetting at the moment. Spectacular characters, Julia Erickson, you did a fabulous job with them!

What else can I say? Well, I could probably gush on forever; but I’ll try to stick to the main points. The humor of this book was priceless. I love humor. I love to laugh. And this book is definitely perfection with that. You just have to read it to know. It’s grand. Absolutely grand! *big grins* The Italian guys, hehe! The “cousin”. The bewildered but amused taxi driver. If you like humor, people, then Ashburn is the book for you!

The action/suspense/secret agent stuff was incredible. I'm not always into that; but I LOVED it in this novel. Awesome. Soooo "cool". Keeps you on the edge of your seat and scrambling to figure things out! (Mild warning here for younger audiences).

The faith and romance aspects. *Heartfelt sigh* I think why I usually don’t really like contemporary, is because it just has a “worldly” feel most of the time, no matter that it’s Christian-fiction. Well, that is definitely not the case with Ashburn. In this story, we see real faith, real trust, real seeking after God. We see sacrifices being made in order to stay true to God; we see characters conversing with God, asking for His guidance. They’re truly following. God is the center of these characters’ lives—not just some religion that they fit into their busy schedules.

The romance. How many contemporary books have I read that I just shake my head at the romance ... It’s not beautiful. It’s not godly. It doesn’t have depth. I’m like crying inside, “Where’s my fantasy? Where’s my fairy tale? Where’s my historical fiction? I don’t want this! I want a good, old-fashioned love story!”Yeah. So I just don’t like contemporary. However, it wasn’t like that with Ashburn. In fact, I absolutely ADORED the romance in this book! ^_^ First off, the two main characters were homeschooled. The guy checks himself and won’t enter a relationship if the girl isn’t on the same track as him when it comes to God. They both have purposed to save their first kiss for marriage. Like, eeepp!!! It was utterly adorable, godly, beautiful, deep, and just swoony, my friends! Praise the Lord for His amazing, original design for romantic love! It is truly a sight to behold! (Also note here; there's nothing inappropriate whatsoever, but it's just geared more toward an older audience, I feel).

Have a fangirled enough? No. Well, perhaps for this review. Now is the time for you to buy your copy! *grins* Seriously though, go read Ashburn. It is truly a gem among contemporary novels.

Note: I read Ashburn by Julia Erickson as part of the Homeschool Authors Read-To-Win contest. Check it out!! It's so much fun, and there's a $100 giftcard prize involved!!

Book Review: Dare by Tricia Mingerink

Purchase HERE

Title: Dare

Author: Tricia Mingerink

Series: The Blades of Acktar

Genre: Fantasy

Audience: Young Adult

**5 stars**

Dare by Tricia Mingerink was an excellent fantasy/Christian allegory. For some reason or another, I wasn’t expecting this book to be so much my style; but it turned out I loved it from beginning to end! *happy sigh*

Leith Torren in a Third Blade, loyal to King Respen. Renna and Brandi are two orphan girls, caught up in a resistance against that same king. When they unexpectedly meet up, they are both forced to make choices ... Forgiveness or revenge? Duty or redemption? Cower in chains of the pretense of “safety”, or step out in courage and change lives?

Can I just say I love Leith? I adore a book with an epic, torn, struggling hero stuck in a dark “past”. Maybe that’s cruel. Hehe. But it makes for an unforgettable, valiant, and loveable character somehow! So yes, Leith was amazing. I cannot wait to read more of him!
     Brandi was really sweet and fun; too cute not to like! She and her sunny personality added so much to the story.
     Renna was also a great character. Very relatable, I feel. Her fears. Her weakness. Her desire to be strong. Her awkwardness ... I really connected with her, felt for her, and am excited to see where her story goes!
     And I must mention Shadrach! First off, I love his name! *grins* And he was just a great guy too! At first I was afraid I wouldn’t like him because of ... well, you’ll see. But he quickly won me over!!

The fantasy world. Ah!! I just love, love, love fantasy! And Tricia Mingerink’s take on it didn’t disappoint. I must admit, at first, I was rather surprised by the very “our world” references to Christianity. There were Christians, church, Bibles, and Bible stories. God and Jesus were called by those names, instead of having more subtle, fantasy sort of names. But I soon got used of it and quite liked it. Tricia pulled it off perfectly! *smiles* I didn’t feel it was “forced” or “preachy” at all. Just a beautifully-done, sincere, and awesome story of forgiveness, persecution, grace, and redemption.
     I loved the setting. The manors, prairies, blizzards, lords and ladies, peasant farmers ... and just everything. It drew you into the story.

And the plot. I felt it was very well thought-out, and just overall spectacular. Of King Respen persecuting Christians; trying to squelch this resistance against him. Horrible stories of orphans’ families’ deaths. Blades, Respen’s men, with scars on their arms, marking either victories or failures. The real king and queen’s distant relatives ... will they try to rise and take the throne from Respen? Fighting for faith and family. I don’t know. I just really like and appreciate this storyline. It’s something like Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles. And it just emboldens me. Encourages me. Challenges me. I feel like these kind of stories strengthen my faith. I watch these characters, not so unlike me, find the courage and pure trust in God to stand strong and contend for the faith!! *cheers them on* It’s epic! It’s meaningful! Dare just has that incredible storyline that will surely encourage souls to stand by their Lord with new bravery.

There is some violence and frightening scenes. I would say perhaps 14 and up, depending on what you can handle. As for myself, some of it felt quite real and eerie—and my breath might have caught for a moment—but it wasn’t overmuch, in my opinion; and I liked the emotion and depth.

No romance ... really. But I think we see one approaching!!! *happy grin* In fact, it’s all coming together quite nicely, and I can’t wait to see this certain relationship deepen into something more; in the next book perhaps?? There were a few moments that weren’t necessarily romantic, but just very sweet and you could totally see this “thing” blossoming into romantic love. ^_^ I love it so much. Please write the next book quickly, Tricia!! *winks*

So yes. This book is wonderful! Do read it!! Dare just pulled me off my feet and into its world. The characters won’t let me forget them. I’m captivated, intrigued, and eager for more!! This book is for sure going on my fantasy favorites list!

I received an ARC of Dare from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: In Good Company by Jen Turano

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Title: In Good Company

Author: Jen Turano

Series: A Class of their Own #2

Genre: Historical

Audience: Adult


After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position.

Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he’s desperate for competent childcare.

At wit’s end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance–with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children’s parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?

**3.5 stars**

In Good Company by Jen Turano tells the story of a quirky, fun young lady named Millie Longfellow who is trying to secure a job as a nanny. Unfortunately, most ladies of society just don’t seem to understand her, and she finds herself dismissed time and again.
Everett Mulberry is a wealthy gentleman whose family name is quite respected among the upper class. Having just come into possession of three unruly orphans, he’s in need of a nanny. But Millie’s reputation proceeds her, and he refuses to consider her as an option.

After reading Jen Turano’s novella, Gentleman of Her Dreams, and quite loving it; I had high expectations for her novels. I was a bit disappointed when this book, all in all, didn’t make as high as a 4-star rating for me. Though it did have humor, action, and romance, it didn’t seem to have the amount or same quality of delightfulness that Gentleman of Her Dreams had.

That being said, I still enjoyed In Good Company. Millie was a fun and silly character. The children, though naughty at times, endeared themselves to you pretty quickly. They went on quite a journey. Lucetta and Abigail made things interesting! *grins* I loved some of the conversations that went on. The bat scene … hilarious! You’ll understand when you get there! I loved how Millie had such confidence and spunk among the “oh-so-much-better-than-you” rich ladies. Caroline was downright infuriating! The pastor lent a wonderful air to the story, though he wasn’t in it much. There was a sprinkle of mystery and suspense. A lovely, little faith theme or two.

So yes, enjoyable overall. Even though it wasn’t my favorite book ever (3.5 star rating), I still liked it, and look forward to reading more by Jen Turano!

I received a copy of In Good Company from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sisterhood Award + Liebster Award 2

Hey all! I was tagged by Deborah O'Carroll for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award and by Katie Grace for the Liebster Award. (I've already done the Liebster Award, HERE, but . . . why not do it again? *grins*)

Thank you, lovely ladies, for thinking of me and my blog! ^_^

So, let get on with this fun! :D

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  • Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate ten blogs.

Introvert or extrovert? Introvert, I believe. I'm like "shy", socially awkward, nervous at big gatherings, need my alone time once in awhile (which is usually at midnight, when everything is quiet and peaceful; I can finally think and breathe! XD)

Do you like coffee? I do not. But the smell is nice. And I force myself to drink it sometimes, when I have a nagging headache or am really tired.

What are you reading right now? In Good Company by Jen Turano. Fearless by Cheri Fuller. And Isaiah and Hebrews. 

Favorite fairytale? Goodness, that's hard! It's impossible to have a favorite fairytale!! ;P I'll pick three, okay? The Little Mermaid, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and Rapunzel.

~ The Twelve Dancing Princesses ~

~ The Little Mermaid ~

~ Rapunzel ~

Favorite color? Blue! ^_^ Sky blue, aqua blue, blue-green, mint, baby blue, etc., etc.

Favorite animal? I don't really know. I love riding horses (though I've only actually done it a few times!) Cats are fluffy and cute. :)

Favorite food? Pizza (with gluten-free crust). Pie. Cheesecake. Asparagus (when it's cooked and seasoned). Chicken alfredo meal. Sorry. That was more than one thing. I must love food, ;P

Favorite TV show? When Calls the Heart {2014-}

Favorite historical time period? Medieval and the 1700s are probably my top two favorites. But there are so many others that I just love as well!! :D

Favorite book character you met recently? Bryce Reynolds from Ashburn by Julia Erickson. Epic hero ... just ... I don't even know. Check out my review of the book HERE! And read the book, guys! Just go read it and meet the amazing Bryce!! ;D (Cara's pretty great too; and Penny and ... never mind. Go read it).

New Questions
  • What genre have you read most of this year?
  • Do you enjoy fairytales? Which ones do you like most?
  • Favorite dessert?
  • Which Disney princess are you most like and why?
  • Which Disney prince do you consider the most dashing?
  • What was your favorite blog post this year?
  • A few books you hope to read soon?
  • Favorite book of the year?
  • Summer or winter?
  • One goal you have?

I'm sorry if you're tired of me tagging you! I just don't know that many bloggers, I guess! :P Do the post if you feel like it, don't do it if you don't! :)


Liebster Award

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions from the blog who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award.
  • Come up with 11 questions for your nominees!

Why do you write? Because ... I can't stop. *grins* For real though, I constantly have stories going through my head. It's my passion and joy to pen down fantastic tales! I believe it's a gift from God to me and for me to use to serve Him and others! *smiles*

If any fictional character could be your best friend, who would it be? Hmm ... I really don't know. Perhaps both Renna and Brandi from Dare by Tricia Mingerink. Renna, because I believe we'd really connect. Brandi, to cheer us up because we both worry too much!! XD

What's one really weird dream you've had? Please don't laugh, but the other day, I dreamed it was my wedding day. Strangely enough, I didn't know who my groom was, what my dress looked like, or who my bridesmaids were. I saw my older brother in the hallway and was like, "Hey, do you want to stand in my wedding?" I don't know why I was the one asking, but anyway, he agreed to be a groomsman! :D It also happened to be a double wedding with this girl that I don't actually know very well in real life. The last scene from that dream, was me standing at the front of the church with a blond-haired guy. And I was thinking really hard, "What guy do I know with blond hair that I'd want to marry?" Hahaha . . . it was really so funny and strange. I never figured out who my groom was either. ;D

If you found a portal that could transport you to any fictional world of your choice, where would you go? Goodness, that's a hard one. Narnia? Perhaps Goldstone Wood. Or Ilyon. The elf city in Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit! Ooh, E'veria!! Yes, I definitely want to go there! ^_^

Paperback or Kindle? Why? Though I've grown to quite enjoy my Kindle, I think I still prefer paperback. It just feels more real when you're turning the pages of an actual book! :D If I really, really love a book, I definitely want the paperback to put on my shelf. Nothing else will do!!

What's one post you've written that you're most proud of? Um, I don't know. I guess I was really pleased with my movie review post of Cinderella [2015]
(http://shantellemaryh.blogspot.com/2015/03/movie-review-cinderella.html). The words were flowing nicely for the review, and coupled with pretty pictures, I felt it turned out quite lovely! ^_^

What's an interesting quirk that you have? Let's see. I talk to myself? Or rather, talk to the empty space around me. Is that quirky? ;D

Can you share a picture of your bookshelf? (More commonly known as: a #shelfie.) I most certainly can!! :)

What are three things on your bucketlist? Or do you even have a bucketlist? Goodness, I don't really have such a list. But three goals? Publish my 3+ book fantasy series. Rewrite a historical romance that I wrote when I was thirteen/fourteen. Go on a memorable summer trip to a state I've never been before with some of my girl friends! :) 

How old were you when you started writing? About eight-years-old, I believe! :)

Share the last sentence of your WIP with us! Very well. This is from Diamond Dark (sequel to Silver Rose): "She turned her head to blink big blue eyes at Karalee. “Deep breaths. Ready?"

'Tis all!! Since I already did the Liebster Award pretty recently, I'm not going to tag 11 bloggers this time. But if you're reading this and want a chance to do this award, consider yourself tagged!! ^__^ You can just answer Katie Grace's questions. And totally leave me a link if you do!

Comment away, and tell me what you think of my answers!! :D

Blessings!! <3

Friday, June 26, 2015

Faithful Fridays: Insecurity

Insecurity. Shame. Self-Hate. Fear. Depression. Worthlessness.

     It’s suffocating, isn’t it? That feeling that we’ll never be good enough. That we’re worthless. That life has no hope for us. Those dark lies whispered into our ears, snuffing out our light . . .

You will never be worthy of a godly husband. Who would want you? You’re too much work—too much of a mess.

Stop being so arrogant! Get your face back in the dirt, girl! As if God values you and has a future for you!

Your future is dark. You’ll never get where you want to be. God doesn’t really hear you. You may as well curl up in the corner and waste away.

You’re not good enough, because you don’t have a job. Look at all those hard workers out there! They’re so good. You, however, are pretty much useless to your family.

Ugh. You’re so stupid. Why did you say that? Why did you do that? When are you ever going to get it right, you idiot??

Remember all those dark and awful things you did in your past? You scum of the earth. If people really knew who you are, they wouldn’t accept and love you.

Look at you. You’re fat and ugly. Why would that man want you? He could have so many better girls!

You’re a horrible mother. You’re wrecking your own children. Your house is a mess. You’re tired and depressed every day. You’ll never get things right. You’ll never do anyone any good.

You think your gift is writing? Actually, your stories are stupid. You’re wasting your time. You’re not serving God or others.

You are so shy, and dumb, and socially awkward. Nobody even likes hanging out with you. They don’t want to talk to you. They don’t want to sit by you. You annoy them. Just go away.

     The list could go on and on. I’ve struggled with listening to most of these lies.

When I was about twelve/thirteen years old, I was convinced that I was fat. I didn’t want to visit my family and friends out of state; I was certain they wouldn’t like me anymore. I would get depressed when around girls thinner then me—feeling this irrational shame and less-than-ness.

Around the same age, I fell into a deep and dark season of doubting God. I knew, somewhere in my soul, that He was there; but I was afraid that because of my doubting, He would send me to hell if I died. And I feared the end of the world would come before I stopped doubting.

For years, I struggled with tying my worth to how hard and how much I worked. Around thirteen, I actually remember thinking that my parents probably didn’t love me that much. Why would they? I was a stupid, moody teenager who didn’t do much work around the house when it came down to it. Just some hand-washing dishes a couple times a day.

As I got older and still to this day, I struggle with ever feeling like enough for a godly husband. I have health issues, and emotional problems, and deal with irrational fear and anxiety. Who would want me? I’m nothing special. Nothing sets me apart. I’m boring, awkward, and dumb.

I feel bad for past mistakes. Sometimes shame consumes me, and I feel like all my wrongdoings of the past define me. It’s who I am. I’ll never be able to leave it behind. If people really knew . . .

     All this stuff . . . it just gets you feeling so low you wonder if you can ever rise again. I’m sure you readers can add your struggles to the list. The dark lies you hear daily.

     We, as human beings, struggle and struggle and struggle with insecurity. And the world tries to give us tips, like:

  • Just be you!
  • Have confidence in yourself!
  • Look in the mirror and say, “I love you. You are beautiful.”
  • You rock just the way you are!
  • Shake it off!!

     And some of this stuff has some merit. (Most of it sounds silly in the light of our monstrous burden of insecurity). But while it can have us soaring high for a few days, it never seems to keep us on the top of the mountains; as the world also tells us:

  • Skinny is beautiful. Don’t you see the models? They have thigh gaps, tiny waists, and long, thin legs. You need to be that way, and here’s how you can do it.
  • Stop being so meek and modest. You must be sexy, brash, and bold if you ever want love.
  • You don’t go to college? Don’t have a job? No boyfriend? Excuse me, child? You’re a messed up oddity.
  • What?? You’ve never been kissed? Don’t believe in having an intimate man and woman relationship until marriage? What is your problem? You’re definitely never going to get the beautiful marriage you think you will. You’ll probably end up an old maid.

     And yeah. We fall back in the same old insecurity. Because we’re “too fat”, or we’re “too thin”. Or we’re different—we stand up for purity and modesty and godliness, and people think we’re stupid. Or we see all the perfectly clean houses and happy, loving mother-children relationships of our friends on Facebook, and feel like a failure. Or we have high standards for romantic relationships, and feel worthless because we’re not dating yet—nobody’s even asked.

     And everybody tells us, “Yeah right. In your dreams. You’ll just never get it. You gotta be better. You’ll never be good enough.”

“You. Will. Never. Measure. Up.”


And then we look in the mirror and try to tell ourselves, “I love you. You’re beautiful. You can do it.”? 

Forget it!!!

Who believes that in the midst of the world’s nasty taunts and the Enemy’s even uglier lies that bombard us?

Are you tired of trying to believe all on your own? I am certainly am. So if you are, then join me. We need a new plan of confidence and finding our worth.

It starts with: Look to your Creator and His Word.

(All scripture taken from the ESV version. Large lettering my doing.)

God made you.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:26-31

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in 
the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13:16

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

     The Almighty God created you. He crafted you and your inmost parts. He designed your talents, your desires, your dreams, you future. He made YOU a temple of the Holy Spirit.

     Guys, this is huge! Imagine an unimaginable, holy, high Being taking dust gently into his big, loving hands, and precisely and purposefully forming YOU.

Readers, God made you.

God saved you.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are 
pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Colossians 1:13

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

     The Creator of the Universe, the one true God, the mightiest and holiest Being . . . He saved you. God sent His ONLY, BELOVED Son to die for you. He was bruised, and beaten, and killed so that YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE. And not just life, but abundant life! And eternity!

     The Bible says the greatest love is laying down your life for someone else. Wouldn’t you agree?? Well, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did that for you.

Readers, God saved you.

God does not condemn You.

Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:5

     Sometimes, what makes us insecure, is the shame of past sins. The guilt of failure. The fear of never being good enough. But the truth is, you don't have to be ashamed. Your wrongdoings of the past, are gone. Wiped away. You are free!!

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 18:36

     Furthermore, there's now no more condemnation. No one can point a finger at you and say, "Well, she did this that one time . . ." No.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ JesusRomans 8:1

     God is not a stern taskmaker, or a cruel father, or a condemning judge; waiting for you to mess up so He can strike you. No! He loves His creations! He desire that they be saved and cleansed and filled with joy and hope in Him!

14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:14

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Luke 13:34

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Luke 15:1-5

     Do you still carry the sins of your past, as a secret burden? Does it tie you up in knots of shame and insecurity? Do you feel like a failure? Do you think God is angry in heaven, shaking his finger at you because you just can't get it right? Read the above verses, my dear!! Those who look to God, their faces are radiant!! They are not ashamed! If you have simply accepted the gift, you are forgiven, you are free, you are shameless; there is NO condemnation for you. God is not waiting to shame you, He is waiting to gather you up in His arms and help you!
     And those past sins, they are no more.

Readers, God does not condemn you.

God sees you.

13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13

     Oftentimes, we acknowledge that God created us, we accept His gift of eternal life. But we don't actually feel like He values us. We feel ashamed or arrogant to claim God's love & care. I mean, me? I'm just a little nobody in the grand scheme of things. God allowed me to be born, but now leaves me to muddle through life on my own. Nothing could be further from the truth!! Here the Truth, dear readers:

11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
    he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, 
you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon mePsalm 139:1-5

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my handJohn 10:27-28

27 The eternal God is your dwelling place,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of GodRomans 8:16

     We are His children. He is our shepherd! He lovingly carries us close to His heart. He knows us. Our needs. Our pain. Our desires. Our thoughts. Our dreams. Our gifts. Our future.
     And not only does God know us. He cares about us. Every detail. Even little things that we think God wouldn't notice or be bothered with. You are never alone. Jesus saw the needs and hurts of those around them; He saw their hearts and He cared.

13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Luke 7:13

17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singingZephaniah 3:17

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you1 Peter 5:7

12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

     When we stray, He woos us back. When we ask, even in our dirtiest, blackest form, He saves us. He cares about our needs, He cares about us; and He will not allow anything to take us from Him.

42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42-43

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
    and bring her into the wilderness,
    and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards
    and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. Hosea 2:14-15

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18

     You are of much value to God. In your distress, your fear, your sorrow, your insecurity, your anxiety, your hopelessness, your pain, He is there.

Readers, God sees you.

God has a plan for you.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born 
I consecrated you; Jeremiah 1:5

18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:18-21

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, Hebrews 12:2

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

     Look to Jesus! Know there is hope, and purpose, and destiny for you! God chose you! He has a future for you! He has a specific plan for your life; you have a purpose on this earth. You are needed. Your gifts and talents are meant to be used. God has called you to abundant life, hope and joy, and eternity!

Readers, God has a plan for you.


     So . . . after all that . . . (which was really quite beautiful, don't you agree? The Bible never fails to surprise me, amaze me, and touch deep into my soul); what is the conclusion? How does that solve the issues of our painful insecurity?


     If God made you. Saved you. Does not condemn you. Sees you. Has a plan for you . . .

     That means you are worthy. Valued. Forgiven. Cherished. New. You are royalty. You have great hope. You have an incredible inheritance.


     Because of Christ. Because of this amazing Father God who looked down and said, "I want to save my children, because I love them". We are enough because Jesus loves us!

     If I throw off the world's sneers and Satan's condemnation, and look up into the glorious face of Jesus, I see that I am beautiful (He created me in His image), I am valued (He chose to save my weak, doubting soul), I am forgiven and clean (He does not condemn me), I am cherished (He sees me), I am royalty, I have hope (He has plan for me; on earth and in eternity).

     If I look to the world or to myself, I will never be secure. I will never be confident. I will never be good enough. I will never be clean. I will never be hopeful.

     Because it's all about Jesus! It's all about my loving Father! It's not about me. And that is perfect. Because when I stop looking at myself, and start looking at Him, all I see is His love. 

     And I'm convinced, somehow, deep down, that I am beautiful, secure, loved, strong, HIS. 

     And I see that others are too. And suddenly, I want to tell the world to stop looking for self-confidence and start looking for Jesus! Because I have found this incredible security, and I want you, my dear reader, to find it too! *Big hugs* <3

     Now all I have to say to you is . . . 19 Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. 1 Chronicles 22:19 

(All pictures found on Pinterest)