"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." ~ from ISAIAH 61 Bible verse for this Blog

Thursday, July 5, 2018

"UNBRIDLED FAITH: 100 Devotions from the Horse Farm" by Cara Whitney

"Unbridled Faith ... " by Cara Whitney was released on June 5, 2018 [so that is why I chose today a month later to review this,  since I did not receive it before this from BookLook Bloggers] Since I could not wait, I quickly did the YouVersion 5 day plan of "Unbridled Faith". I don't usually post the book description in my book reviews, however, I could not agree more with every statement given as if these were my own words and a very true description. 


BOOK DESCRIPTION

"Explore the timeless wisdom of God's Word through this beautiful horse devotional.

Horses nuzzle their way into our hearts and have a way of teaching us a lot about ourselves, about life, and even about God. Just ask horse enthusiast Cara Whitney, wife of comedian and actor Dan Whitney (aka Larry the Cable Guy).
Through years spent working with these majestic animals—Cara Whitney has learned countless spiritual lessons that have brought her closer to God.
In 100 heartfelt devotions with stunning photography, you'll
  • Learn about being flexible in your faith from a gangly legged colt.
  • Discover the secret to overcoming temptation through a horse's "sneak and eat" game.
  • From a pony with a sweet tooth, find out why we should be glad God doesn’t answer yes to all of our prayers.
  • Be reminded that you are priceless to God from a one-eyed quarter horse named Roanie.  
Unbridled Faith is the perfect daily devotional for horse lovers."

{I wonder how 'unbridled' my faith really is or should be. Not after reading this}


"Unbridled Faith ... " by Cara Whitney, indeed is the "perfect way for horse lovers to start the day" and even if you're not a horse lover, you too will be encouraged by this author. Cara Whitney is not a 'religious person' according to the forward written by her husband, Larry, the Cable Guy. {I, personally, never had heard of him, so he is not the reason I chose this book, but I appreciate his words in the forward like an introduction, which gives a good background into his wife's spiritual search and this book clearly shows a well-rounded, transformed woman to a well-versed Christian} Cara, writes, as he described as 'a detective' that has searched for Jesus Christ, she investigated in detail His Word, many resources and teachings, she interestingly applied what she's discovered with her life of horse knowledge and experiences for us with our own faith walk; because her big goal in life, as a result of her spiritual detective work, is 'to point everyone to the life she has found in Jesus Christ.' Cara has accomplished this in all she shares. I am amazed at her expertise both with horses and Christian truths that she found and worded so well and concisely

Cara Whitney, has written a simple yet profound devotional that compares our faith being 'unbridled' with some aspect of horses and her life on a horse farm. 

When I received this beautiful, hard cover book, I immediately was drawn to the quality of the book and the photographs included with each two-page devotion and after every 20, there is a two page layout of a gorgeous horse scene, well-worth framing. Each devotion has a clever and catchy title, and begins with a Bible verse. The first paragraph or two focuses on the horse aspect and how it compares to us and our faith journey, then drawn out in the devotion and the concluding paragraph. Simple connections, followed by a one line prayer starter with the perfect, touching horse photo. To me, the every day devotion spoke a Godly truth and I easily could relate to my days with my horses ... and horse love, although I'm not as knowledgable as Cara, I could clearly understand the connection she made like those cited in the book description. 

I could go on and on about these 100 devotions ... and how each one seemed to 'unbridle' a new delight and something for me to treasure once again in my heart, memories and my mind that nuzzled their way in and taught me a bit more about myself and my walk, how very priceless we are to God, blended with the 'timeless wisdom' and humor shared by Cara, her horses and this perfect gift of a devotional (her husband is not the only one with a good sense of humor). This book unleases my faith and refreshes my love of horses and horsemanship as I flip open to any one of the devotions for the day and grow my trust and beliefs in a fresh way - perfect for a summer devotional read! Off to "Clean Out My Spiritual Tack Room" (#79) and find "A Big, Happy Neigh" (#33) This book has everything I love included!

But instead of going on, I will share one of my favorites #77 and you can see for yourself.

"The One True Thing"

"Sometimes when we get around horse people, we find ourselves surrounded by all kinds of know-it-alls. And in some cases, they actually do. The equine educated can make us feel like inadequate equestrians at times. But that’s when we remind ourselves of what is most important: we love our horses, and our horses trust us.

What’s more, it can be so tempting to compare ourselves to other riders. But we will never succeed at being ourselves if we are trying to be someone else.

Our spiritual journey is our own too. When we are tempted to compare ourselves with other Christians, we should focus instead on the Lord. He is the One we are following. “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4).

The truth is, we will meet other Christians along the trail who seem to know every Bible verse, have theology degrees, and speak eloquent prayers. And it’s easy to feel intimidated by a person with that kind of intellect. Remember: all that matters is that you know the one thing that is most important: “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” If you know that, then you know the most important thing of all."

Lord, help me to avoid the temptation of comparing myself with others. Help me to hold on to the one true thing: my relationship" Unbridled Faith...by Cara Whitney, YV plan day 1

 
Disclosure: I received this book free through BookLook Bloggers, from the publisher, in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTCs 16 CFR, Part 255


[additional personal note: I have owned horses, like the one in my last photo image in the background of one of my blankets (looks like my Arabian horse), the 2nd image is another blanket that I was lying on as I read, so I truly do love horses and yet I do not believe that I could have written a devotional book like this. Often when I prepare to review a book after reading it, I want to (over) analyze the book and try to express what I feel or read. Often I try to see if there are categories (like the 4 bullets in the book description). I tried to figure out if the reason that this devotional was divided somewhat into 20 devotionals and then that 2 page layout of a beautiful horse scene and perhaps those 20 devotionals pertained to some particular area of our faith and were being grouped together purposely. At the time, I am posting this, I have not found the category of each group ... however, I am sure that I will continue to search the titles and the 'horse' connection to our faith, whether it's 'bridled' or 'unbridled' with hopes of making a list (chart) of all 100 titles and the lesson that horses and we share ... because I am sure that all God's creation exemplify more of God's amazing character and that we can learn from them as it relates to our faith and our faith walk. You don't need to be a life-long Christian in church, versed and trained to know we all are connected to Our Supreme Creator, and have something to better another's person life and relationship with Jesus and others. I know every critter and every verse in God's Word shout another glorious facet of our Divine connection for me as I'm learning to be in-tune to listen, learn, love and BElieve.

"The wind of Heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears."
- Arabian Proverb -

Friday, June 1, 2018

"THE SPIRIT-LED HEART..." by Suzanne Eller

"The Spirit-Led Heart - Living a Life of Love and Faith without Borders"
by
Suzanne (Suzie) Eller

It was more than an unexpected, welcomed surprise when I received my complimentary copy from Bethany House of "The Spirit-Led Heart - Living a Life of Love and Faith without Borders" by Suzanne (Suzie) Eller, who definitely was Spirit-Led as she wrote this heart changing book. Suzie, once again, captures your heart, as she ignites your faith in a fresh awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit in you and challenges you to be a Spirit-filled person - without borders, through her 'gifted' teaching, truths and promises from God's Word with practical steps in her well-organized way. I enjoyed "unpacking" and unwrapping this gift, chapter after chapter of promises and teachings of Jesus and the early church, as Suzie shows us and walks us through the gift of His presence available inside each of us who've received Jesus. The true gift of this book for me, is reawakening His Spirit or reopening my eyes to all the Holy Spirit is ... and my heart so that I am Spirit-led. 

Most definitely, this is my favorite kind of book with the content I like best, including a Study Guide right in the back of the book following the Epilogue. Ten solid chapters that include the same format pattern of well-organized *sections as Suzie shares her heart about a Spirit-Led heart: beginning with a quote by a famous person/author that capsulizes the theme or gets you thinking, a personal devotional introduction, *The Early Church (relating them to us), *Your Promise, *Your Invitation (both with personal reminders from personal experiences to encourage and apply to our lives), question(s) with further expansion of her teaching points, summing up with *Spirit-Led ... without borders, then ending with a special box emphasizing: *The Word, *Your Spirit-Led Promise, *Your Spirit-Led Invitation, and a *Prayer (always my favorite part)

[insert of photos of book pages of this]


In each chapter Suzie focuses us on our Spirit-Led hearts being: 1) Confident, 2) Empowered, 3) Defined by Truth, 4) Finds Direction, 5) Bold, 6) Advocated and Comforted, 7) Counseled, 8) Finds Discernment and Wisdom, 9) Marked by Conviction and 10) Gifted.  Suzie has the gift to inspire as she gives good, practical instruction with sound Biblical teaching of God's Word combined with keeping her writing personal, vulnerable, transparent yet powerful. Each chapter's Spirit-Led ... (fill in any of the 1-10 above) ...without borders, is the section that really personalized her point and God spoke more clearly to my heart. 

I was going to mention that my favorite chapter was Chapter 6  "We are Worth Fighting For" ... but that's because of where I am in my personal life, yet I'm sure that others would be my favorite in other seasons of my life. Over and over, I flip often to the different charts or tables that Suzie uses, like in Chapter 3 (pages 64 and 65) but the best one, is in the Study Guide, on page 189, "God's Truth Replaces Lies" {boy, do I need to do this frequently}. You can see this or get a copy at Suzie's blog plus some other wonderful freebies including the "Manifesto" and sample of chapters 1 & 2.

As I continued reading through "The Spirit-Led Heart", I sensed a renewed stirring of the Holy Spirit helping me to grasp that I am equipped with the power to live out my faith without borders and return to a Spirit filled life of love, or for me, love of life with my heart transformed by all that Suzie shares from God's Word, through the early church to me, the reader guided by His Spirit. 

I highly recommend this book and its teacher/author for individuals as well as small group church studies. I know that I will return to read this again and again, at a slower pace to reignite all Suzie Eller ties together about a Spirit-Led heart. I would love to lead a study of this book too since it is all given in the book copy. I have enjoyed other books by Suzie Eller dealing with the heart: "Unburdened" and "Mended", but this one stands out as I seek to be filled and refilled by His Holy Spirit, a recurring theme for me since last fall and so I invite you to read this as I invite the Holy Spirit to "Come with Me", once again ... and rekindle my Spirit, my belief of 3 in 1, Father, Spirit and Son, Jesus Christ. I need all 3(as 1) to help me live my faith better, without borders. 

"I'm worth fighting for. Just saying those words breaks something in me, Father. ... That one is worth fighting for Lord. I am not big enough to change the world on my own, but I can do my part. ...  " [parts of the Prayer for Chapter 6, page 114, "The Spirit-Led Heart"by S. Eller]

Spirit-Led Promise #1 [image credit:S.Eller]

Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House, the publisher in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTCs 16 CFR, Part 255


[This book was published on May 1st but I did not receive a copy til May 16th so sorry for not getting this review out earlier. I purposely chose today's date to honor my mother on her birthday as her spirit resides with His eternally. I love the artwork on the cover of Suzie's book and throughout in black and white, and other images I've seen, which remind me of the artwork my mother would do.]



APOLOGY

On July 18, 2017, I drafted almost 3000 blog posts that I had published since 2008 when I began blogging rather than edit each one. So if you clicked from somewhere and ended up here and the post was unavailable, I am sorry. It would be too much work for me to go back through each one and fix. I guess I'm still learning. I apologize also to anyone who subscribes that perhaps received many old ones in your email. There's somewhat of an explanation on 7/19/17.
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Peggy