Monday, September 19, 2016

Grace in the (Midwest) Wilderness



Bare heights of loneliness...a wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to HIM? Even there He can refresh us, even there He can renew us.
Amy Carmichael

I moved here last Fall with a heavy heart and with hope in a Sovereign, loving Father who was directing my steps. 

My Presence shall go with you and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14)

I moved here just as the corn was ripening and the earth was growing brown and as the first splendor of Autumn was descending like a harvest angel over the vast, glorious landscape. 

I moved here in fear and trembling, an abundance of tissues beside me, not knowing when I would see my beloved family again. 

Just as the corn was growing ripe.

I moved here with a promise--

My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest . . .

And with the words of the missionary David Livingstone etched on my raw, bleeding heart--

God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours.



The Lord sent me here. 


Here with my two little ones and with my husband, here to do what He had called us to do so long ago, here through the pain to follow Him. 

Because I love Him more . . . because of His grace. And with trembling hands I have held out the sacrifice and then grasped it back and then held out trembling hands again-

If we hold tightly to anything given to us unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used we stunt the growth of the soul. What God gives us is not necessarily "ours" but only ours to offer back to him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of, if we want to be our true selves. Many deaths must go into reaching our maturity in Christ, many letting goes. 
~Elisabeth Elliot

For Him to take and to give life.


In November, I inwardly shuddered when it snowed before Thanksgiving, when the cold crept in like the night overtaking the sweet glory of day. I wondered what the winter would be like.

Here. Alone. Without even a car for most of the week as my husband and I were sharing a vehicle. 

In a cold, drafty house, with two very little ones--would I make it? Could I do it? 

I couldn't. But He could through me. And I learned that 

. . . to be left alone is not always to be forsaken."
~George MacDonald

There was a breakthrough for me at one point as I struggled to find joy amidst ashes. 

One morning, a bleak, overcast December morning, this Scripture came to me with strength and power and hope as I prayed to the Lord for strength--like a spiritual whisper to my heart--

The joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

The joy of the Lord is my strength . . . hope, refreshment, life--as the Lord placed into my aching open hands the promise of His strength.

Joy with my children . . . joy with my husband . . . joy in Him . . . 

In Him, in Him. 

Grace in the wilderness. Where everything seemed barren and bleak--a wasteland where the reaped corn looked like jagged teeth standing crookedly from the snow. 

Grace. 

And one of the highlights of that year was attending the Christmas service at the church where the Lord mercifully directed us--singing the hymns, listening to the Gospel preached powerfully and with a pleading for souls, enjoying the sincere love and fellowship of other believers . . . 

My heart was filled with grace.


Grace through brokenness, grace through loneliness, grace through pain,

Grace in the wilderness because-

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God's story never ends with 'ashes.” 
~Elisabeth Elliot

And it hasn't. 




You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopA Little R&R WednesdaysTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Sharing His Beauty Blog LinkupCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market Friday

Monday, September 12, 2016

Why I'm Voting for Donald Trump



Recently, my sister shared with me about the Franklin Graham prayer rally in Rhode Island that she and her husband were able to attend. 

She spoke to me about how Graham had encouraged evangelical Christians in America to vote in the upcoming election . . . because so much is at stake. He also encouraged Christians to be active in their local communities, local school boards, local politics--because the voice of one Christian standing for truth can make a difference through the grace of God--William Wilberforce is an excellent example of that principle. 

Many times as Christians we are tempted to shrink back, to cower under the oppressive liberal policies that are being enacted in our country. We don't want to step out and speak for fear that we will be ridiculed and ostracized. But the Bible speaks to us about that (Mark 8:38)--and we must put on the full armor of God in holy boldness and continue to speak the truth, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation--no matter how difficult--and it is difficult. 

Other times as believers, we are just too comfortable. Persecution hasn't really hit us yet--and we are enjoying our cozy-middle-class-lifestyle as we watch the evening news and bemoan liberal policies from our plush couches in our cozy pajamas. But persecution will come. It is already coming. And if we don't begin to take that fact seriously and fall to our knees, I fear that many will be unable to process the changes that take place and crumble when they come. 

And then there is yet another stream of thought that I have encountered. That to vote for Donald Trump in the coming election would be morally unconscionable. And you and I must both vote our conscience. But for these reasons (among many others), I intend to vote for Donald Trump. I am praying that many other believers will choose to do the same and that is why I share these thoughts with you:



I am voting for Donald Trump . . . 

To slow the tide of evil
The evil ushered in under a Clinton presidency is beyond comprehension. From LGBT issues and hate-crime laws, to transgender propaganda and legislation to pro-abortion measures, the list goes on and on. To vote for Trump may slow this tide and preserve something of the dignity and decency that this country has left. 

For my children's sake
Our children and grandchildren are almost certainly facing a future of repression and persecution if they claim the name of Christ. If the country continues in the direction that it has taken under President Obama, the downward slope can only continue. Do we care about the future of our loved ones? If we do, now is the time to stand while we still can. 

To protect religious liberty
The recent court cases such as this one, are an indication of where this country is headed and has already arrived. More and more Christians will be affected by these decisions if this trend continues. We have the opportunity to preserve our religious liberties, to freely speak the Gospel, to practice Christianity, to homeschool our children, and the list goes on. A presidency under Trump would most definitely only help the cause of Christians and allow the Gospel to continue to freely go forward. 

To protect and to save the unborn
I will just briefly touch on this. We have murdered millions of children in the United States, and Hillary Clinton would like to continue this trend in wider, more far-reaching ways. How can we, by not casting our vote for Trump, encourage such unimaginable evil to continue? We have to search our hearts in this. 

When I consider these things, I cannot in good conscience not cast my vote for Donald Trump. We all know that voting for a write-in candidate or not voting at all will only propel the opposition forward. By not voting for Trump we are essentially allowing evil to triumph in such multitudinous ways and with such devastating effects, that I must doubt the sanity of some believers, not their conscience. And so I urge you to consider these things--for your own sake, for your children's sake, for the country's sake and finally for the the sake of the Lord who has still given us tongues to speak and the ability to cast our vote for someone who will not destroy the future of this country irreparably and bring such a flood of ungodliness and shame that cannot be fully imagined. So pray. And vote. And trust that the Lord will honor the prayers of His people. 

This article written by Wayne Grudem was excellent and helped me to direct my thoughts on this subject. Please read it and consider his thoughts. 



You might find me on these link-ups:


Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopA Little R&R WednesdaysTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Sharing His Beauty Blog LinkupCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUp

Monday, August 22, 2016

Old-Fashioned: A Sweet, Sensitive, Christ-Honoring Love Story

I want to share with you a film that has deeply touched my heart over the past several weeks ~ Old Fashioned.



Old Fashioned was recommended by someone very close to me. Because I have two small children, I'm not able to watch many movies, but for some reason this one really piqued my interest. It is a beautiful, beautiful film. I'm so glad that someone recommended it to me. I'm so glad that I watched it. And I am so glad that I may share it with you! 



My husband and I watched Old Fashioned together the first time on our somewhat-fuzzy TV. I watched it later on my laptop because it so deeply drew me in and I was able to better observe some of the beautiful imagery and symbolism in the film~ Rick Swartzwelder, the Producer/Director/Screenwriter of this film is extremely gifted in painting an exquisite canvas of the images/scenes that make up this movie. I think that a person has to watch it at least twice to fully appreciate his artistry and sensitivity in making this film.

Old Fashioned is not your typical sweet love story served Hallmark-style. It is a gritty, sometimes-painful look into the lives of two flawed ~ but deeply-searching human beings who find, through the grace of Christ, deep love for one another. And yet at the same time, it is fun to watch, peppered with enough humor to lighten the heaviness of some of the themes. The storyline also just draws the viewer in; it was so excellently done.



Description of the movie:

Clay Walsh is a "former frat boy" (from the back cover of the film) who has turned to Christ and forsaken his formerly-sinful lifestyle. He lives in a small midwestern town in the state of Ohio where he works in an antique shop restoring "old-fashioned" odds and ends. He holds high ideals for a flawless courtship, one in which he has pledged not to be alone in a room with a woman who is not his wife. As the film unfolds, the viewer learns that Clay still struggles with severe guilt over his past sins and is trying in his own strength to keep his high standards. Later, he embraces the grace of Christ over his past regrets and a beautiful transformation occurs in Clay's life. 

The main female character, Amber, is a fun-loving unbeliever who goes wherever the wind takes her, who has been hurt in past relationships, and who providentially ends up in Ohio, renting the small apartment above the building where Clay restores furniture.  She is mystified by Clay's gentlemanly behavior, sincerity, and high ideals, although she thinks him a "little odd." 



Clay and Amber slowly and sweetly, though sometimes painfully, fall in love with one another. Clay ultimately sheds his legalistic mindset toward romantic love while at the same time still maintaining his high standards and respect towards women. Amber, in my understanding, embraces Christ as her Savior toward the end of the film, realizing that "all things have been made new," (referencing her past sinful life of mistakes and broken relationships), and Clay and Amber become engaged in a very tender love scene (enter box of tissues and replay button ;-)).

Some things (among others :-)) that I LOVED about this film:
  • Clay's sensitivity towards Amber and his genuine love and respect for her that is not "forced."
  • Amber's conversion and her very realistic portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in past relationships but who comes to know Christ and understand His forgiveness.
  • The artistic spin that Rick Swartzwelder gives to the film.
  • The beautiful biblical message of redemption and grace and true Christlike behavior from a man towards a woman.
  • The film writer's willingness to take on difficult issues with tact and grace in a realistic manner.
Some things to consider before viewing this film:

I highly, highly, recommend this film. However, it deals with some heavy topics ~ a scene with a "stripper" at a bachelor's party - which is very carefully done, (in my judgement); several nightclub scenes (also carefully done); and a scene in a bar. There are a few instances (very rare) of somewhat "crude" language - spoken by unbelieving characters (for example, the radio host uses the phrase "knocked-up" - which is probably the strongest language used - this is in order to show how degrading his behavior is, in contrast to Clay's). Someone may feel uncomfortable with these things; the film is Rated PG-13 for those reasons. I believe that the film was beautifully, tastefully done, but if you think that these issues would be offensive, I wanted to make sure that I let my readers know about them ahead of time.

I would  recommend this film for anyone over the age of 16-18. I tend to stay on the conservative side of things, because I always believe that it is better to wait until a person is mature enough to handle the content that they view. So, even though this film is a sweet, sensitive, Christ-honoring love story, I wanted to be sure to give that heads-up. :-)


So go grab your husband, or a friend, or several friends and watch this movie! :-) It is a wonderful film for couples to watch together - it is a wonderful film to watch alone with a nice big slice of cake :-). I hope that it will bless you as much as it blessed my heart. We need more films like it. 



Official Website

Trailer: 




You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopA Little R&R WednesdaysTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Sharing His Beauty Blog LinkupCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUp

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Blessed




From prisons dark, in caverns deep-


They gather; round the world, they creep


To meet in hidden places


Tucked in silent alleys,


Tiny homes,


And fields.


They meet to rally round the Word-


Their bread, their life


For this they dared


To come


And risk their everything


On earth-


For this, the Word of Truth.


It burns within their hearts, their souls


With grace


And boldness


Sharpened like the angel’s sword


By troubles, persecutions, torture-


Great is their reward.


They are the blessed ones-


They come-


The world cannot conceive


What they believe and why


Each one would risk their all


For this Great One-


The Son of God,


His favor rests upon their heads . . .


“Blessed are those


Who are persecuted


For righteousness’ sake”—


For they will wake


In light-


Some with a martyr’s crown-


No frown will be upon them.


And they will cry before the everlasting throne –


“How long, O Lord?”-


And He will answer-


“Just a little while; wait-


Until the hour is complete-


For now, you sit here at My side-“


The glorified


Redeemed in love,


Refined,


And blessed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




You might find me on these link-ups:


Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopA Little R&R WednesdaysTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Sharing His Beauty Blog LinkupCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUp

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Time of Grace Delightful Summer Giveaway!


Recently, my author-sister, Alicia G. Ruggieri, completed her beautiful Christian Fiction trilogy--A Time of Grace. You can read my reviews for her books and learn more information by clicking the following links:

Book One~The Fragrance of Geraniums
Book Two~ All Our Empty Places
Book Three~ A Love To Come Home To

I want to share these books with you with a special giveaway. I pray that the Lord would use these books to greatly touch someone's heart! They are books filled with redemption and mercy and driven by a powerful and touching story line. Alicia is a gifted author, and I know that the stories that the Lord has given her will bless you greatly.


The Giveaway Includes: 

  • A paperback copy of each of Alicia's beautiful books, The Fragrance of Geraniums, All Our Empty Places, and A Love To Come Home To
  • A lovely "geranium" address book bearing the Scripture verse, "For I know the plans I have for you . . . " (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • A tumbler for iced tea or coffee inscribed with the Scripture verse "Sing to the Lord . . . " (Psalm 96:1)
  • Replacement straws! :-)
  • Iced tea -for the tumbler, of course!! :-)
~Open only to readers in the continental United States, due to shipping costs~

About the Author:
Alicia G. Ruggieri writes grace-filled, Christ-centered fiction, including the A Time of Grace Trilogy. She’s a graduate of Rhode Island College, where she studied Communications and History, and her adventures include children’s theatre direction, restaurant management, and small business ownership. Alicia and her husband live in coastal New England, where she may be found drinking far too much coffee and penning stories with her emotionally-disturbed second-hand pug by her side.


AUTHOR LINKS:


If you would like to purchase these books apart from the giveaway, here are the purchase links:

The Fragrance of Geraniums

All Our Empty Places

A Love To Come Home To

Please feel free to ENTER and to share about this giveaway! The Lord bless each and every one of you, dear readers!!! :-)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


You might find me on these link-ups:


Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopA Little R&R WednesdaysTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Sharing His Beauty Blog LinkupCoffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUp

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Love To Come Home To: Blog Tour and Giveaway!





I am so excited to announce the release of the third book in Alicia G. Ruggieri's 
 A Time of Grace Trilogy:

A Love To Come Home To

July 22, 2016 in softcover and on Kindle
Purchase: http://bit.ly/1XVezoM


Please read to the end of the post to enter a wonderful giveaway! 


Hardened Ben Picoletti thought he’d turned his back on Depression-era Rhode Island years ago. Nothing remains there for him, except for haunting memories of an abusive childhood. Yet when a criminal accusation shatters his ambitions, Ben has nowhere to flee but back to his stepfather’s home.
There, he finds that redemption yet waits for him… but the sacrifice required to attain it may exceed the limits of his family’s hearts.
Meanwhile, his musical sister Grace continues her studies in New York. She longs to hear a word of affection from her high-school beau… yet only Paulie’s silence greets her. Grace must decide whether she wants to live in the past or move into an unknown future with unexpected love.
Lyrical and sensitive to the aching heart, A Love to Come Home To affirms that God delights in being a stronghold in times of trouble; that He renews His mercy every morning; and that He will work every bitter thing together for the good of His 
children.


My Review of A Love To Come Home To:

This book . . . so, so beautiful. It just captivated me. It brought me back in time, it brought me to tears, it brought me to the cross. The first two books led up to this one so perfectly, and A Love To Come Home To was such a fragrant offering to complete the trilogy.
I love Alicia’s writing. I love her style which is not overtly feminine or frilly, but is also not wooden or stiff. I love the way that she develops her characters, getting inside their mind for a glimpse of what and why they are thinking and doing what they think and do—it adds a depth and a realness to her writing.

I love the character of Ben. I love the way that one can relate to his struggles and fears and sorrows. I love his sensitivity that shyly emerges throughout the story and then blossoms into spiritual life at the end of the book. His character repels the reader and then draws them in at the same time.  And Alicia develops his story so well throughout the book and makes him such a believable character—rough around the edges, but loveable at the same time!

Grace’s story and her romance with Paulie is also beautifully played out throughout this book. The theme of surrender is one which I love and Alicia captures that wonderfully, both in Paulie’s and Grace’s actions and lives. I won’t give the ending away, but it is so, so well done! Anyone looking for a good romance with substance won’t be disappointed in this one!

The conclusion took my breath away and brought me to tears. I won’t give it away here, but as one who has always loved symbolism in stories, the ending was deeply satisfying for me. The way that Alicia tied everything together, using a symbol from the first book, and bringing restoration symbolically and physically to what had been lost through Ben’s father’s sin was really brilliant.

This is a book that the reader will not want to put down. It is deeply spiritual without being preachy. It is gritty and Alicia is not afraid to delve into difficult and ugly situations, but she handles it with thoughtful tact and grace—something that I find as a rarity in modern literature.  Her end motive is always healing and restoration, not “grittiness” for the sake of the “shock” value.

I love the Spirit-filled sense that the book gives me, that the author was relying on the Holy Spirit as she wrote, and the Word of God comes through richly because of this, I think.


I highly recommend this book, and the two before it, read in order.  What a blessing these books have been to me! I pray that the Lord may continue to use Alicia’s writing to show powerfully the grace and redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ. Well done!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alicia G. Ruggieri writes grace-filled, Christ-centered fiction, including the A Time of Grace Trilogy. She’s a graduate of Rhode Island College, where she studied Communications and History, and her adventures include children’s theatre direction, restaurant management, and small business ownership. Alicia and her husband live in coastal New England, where she may be found drinking far too much coffee and penning stories with her emotionally-disturbed second-hand pug by her side.


AUTHOR LINKS:


RELEASE WEEK SALE INFORMATION FOR A TIME OF GRACE TRILOGY:

·        July 21-25, 2016 – The Fragrance of Geraniums (Book 1) – FREE on Kindle – http://bit.ly/1VXSyDO
·        July 22-28, 2016 – All Our Empty Places (Book 2) - $1.99 on Kindle - http://bit.ly/1UOfV02


A LOVE TO COME HOME TO RELEASE GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

·        July 19 (12 a.m. EST) – July 29 (8 p.m. EST)
·        Wrap-up and winner announced on Saturday morning, July 30, 2016 at www.aliciagruggieri.com.
·        
·        Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.

One winner will receive:
·        A complete set of signed softcovers of the A Time of Grace Trilogy.