Religion & Faith


Suor Cristina Scuccia

Suor Cristina Scuccia

Oops…I missed Friday but oh well. Anyway so I don’t speak Italian (but it sounds so cool :-)) I promised a follow-up to Wednesday’s post on the “Famous” Sister from Sicily Suor Cristina Scuccia – who appeared on the Voice Italy on March 19th and quickly went viral with over 36 million views – WOW. But lesser known is her amazing God given voice - “Last year she won a Christian music competition as part of the Good News Festival, in which she explained that she had found her vocation while playing a nun in a musical.”

She truly is the model of and inspiration of what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus – to go out and evangelize. And realizing her call into the ministry came from the most unlikely of places. So do not believe the crazies and the strange stories and accusations that will arise. The Lord knows that we need strong and willing people to connect on a personal level and introduce the grace of the Lord and the Mysteries of the Gospel to the entire world.

While I have Googled for countless hours and days etc…it is hard to find news coverage that I can fully understand – because I do not speak Italian :-) – but basically it is that she is not looking for accolades just to as she put it in (the most thoroughly translated video) “I have a gift and I am giving it to you – Shouldn’t things be this way?”  – Pope Francis (and The Lord) tells us “to go out and evangelize…God will not take anything away from us but instead give us more, I am here for this.” How true that is that we are truly blessed beyond measure or explanation when we serve others by mission from God. And finally…why choose that song you ask? Romans 8 – for nothing can separate us from the LOVE of  God in Christ Jesus – and vice versa nothing can make God stop loving us.

So enjoy and seek the Lord while he may be found.

 

Blessings,
Shari 001

 

If you are still in awe or wonder about this most recent (viral) event… check out the next video link  (1:45 – 5:15) and you will be wowed. (The translation does not make much sense but you could try it.

Enjoy and watch for a Follow Up Friday post.

Many Blessings,

Shariprpl

daily god book So in my quest/decision to choose a new devotional for 2014 – I didn’t need to choose – it was gifted. Yes, a Christmas gift. So I thought,  awesome!!  I love all devotionals that read like Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling books. I was almost tempted to buy another Bible – a One Year Bible this month but I am glad I didn’t.

This devotional – The Daily God Book: A Year of Listening for God by Erin Keeley Marshall – is set up a bit differently; there is a Bible passage to look up (so you must keep the “good book” close by), there is a theme – a message – and finally a prayer called ‘Talk to HIM’ and a thought challenge to carry with you all day long. I just love the set up. But more than that I love how the entire year of the devotional walks through the Bible. It is awesome to see a devotional incorporate the WORD into daily devotions – not just a verse but passages of Scripture. It is so important to rely on the Word of God to meet your daily, monthly and yearly needs. And so perfect for morning, evening or morning & evening devotions. I am so excited to walk this year through the Word, with the help of this devotional.

the-storycvr Also on my list of books to read – this month – is The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People foreward by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. This was a Christmas present last year and I was hoping to delve into it but better late than never and what a great read to start the year. I hope to be completed by the end of January. So, with all that I have chosen to take on this year – I know God is right behind (beside, before and around) me – I know that He knew that I was hungry to experience and understand more of His WORD, His truth, His Promises – HIS STORY!

I am all set to start 2014 – with gusto and true passion for the Word of God – I am amazed at what the Lord does with productive choices and longings. I know this year will be filled with ups and downs, I know the struggles will come and I know the doubt will creep in – BUT – I am determined to cling to His promises and HIS WORD that I may see the truth I craved last year and beginning this year afresh with the choice to make the Lord the focus of my every day – through this year of walking through the words of truth and grace – I will truly see where I belong, where my place is in His Story as long as I listen to His voice.

I pray this year that I hear Him and hear Him clearly – that I may see the path that He has set for me…
The path of life leads upward for the wise; they leave the grave behind. Proverbs 15:24

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14.

Grace and Peace be with you today and throughout this year!
Many Blessings,

Shari

Merry Christmas!!

imagestruth

What is it? Verified facts, evidence, testimony, written words, stories, details…and so on. Facts and statements are why I love the book of Luke – it is truth – it’s backed by other gospel accounts; Luke wasn’t the only one. But I enjoy the “truth” in the facts. To believe in something it first should be true (fact). Bible history is just that, historical fact, believe it or not.  And by faith, conscience, choice, wisdom, compulsion, desire, pedagogy, realization – I believe the Bible to be true. I believe its stories, messages, inspiration, and mystery – the historical redemptive message of TRUTH.

Besides the historical truth(s) – there are those personal truths that God has set on our hearts…You and I have been CREATED by God (Psalm 139), LOVED by God (Jeremiah 31) and REDEEMED by God (Isaiah 43, Luke 2:10, 21:27-28). We have been PROMISED eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11, John 3:16-18, Revelation 21:1, 5).  

Truth Combined copy

These are just a few of my most treasured passages in the Bible – the ones that speak to my personal journey of faith and truth – from the same “book” that has been esteemed and revered by many cultures for centuries.

My focus this past year has been a quest for TRUTH. Truth about God, truth about my life –truth in promises of God – plans laid out for me, for a specific purpose and long before I was born. It is my (responsibility) choice to seek and accept these truths and purposes for my life.

This is not an ego trip – it is and will be a life long journey. Believing and accepting – the truth –that the LORD God created us with a purpose, loved us and saved us is a hard one to accept. I think the hardest part is that our fear – reverence – of the Lord comes out of feeling as though there is no way that God as powerful and majestic as He is has our best interests in mind. We just don’t hold ourselves as that important to the Creator of the Universe. We ask – I ask – we all ask, why would HE care about us – love us – want to save us enough to die for us? Yet, our minute and meaningless existences are much more purposeful than you or I can ever fathom. We believe the truth, we accept the truth, we are led by the truth and still we are in awe of its glorious mystery…

That is…TRUTH. 

Be blessed and be a blessing....

I have so much to be thankful for. I really do. God has blessed me beyond wordsbeyond all that I could ask or imagine. I could never keep it all to myself – like Abram I need to share the blessings that have been given me. To give back, be a blessing, be an inspiration to those who are in need. Those who have done for me – I know that people have been on their knees praying for me this past year – I know the Lord has heard your prayers, He has carried me and I know He will bless you richly. So,I say THANK YOU for being a blessing in my life and may God continue to bless you abundantly.

I love mail. Email and snail mail (except bills – no one like those). And even more I love sending cards – I truly do and this pack is perfect – it comes at just the right time for me to reflect on the past year’s blessings and look forward to the blessings that are to come. There are so many people who have been a blessing in my life and I need to let them know that I am also praying and thinking of them daily.  God has made something beautiful out of such horrible circumstances. It will be so awesome to share things like grace, hope, thanks and just pure joy with those who have lifted me up this past year in my struggles.

Pens and stamps ready to share the love, grace and JOY!

So be blessed, be inspired, share the joy - be a blessing visit the Dayspring Online Store. And be sure to check out (In) Courage and the Inspired Daily Deals.

FTC Disclosure: I selected and was provided with the Holley Gerth Hope & Encouragement Pack from Dayspring, free of charge for review. These opinions are my own and do not reflect those of Dayspring in any way.

This giveaway has now ended – and the WINNER IS Beth Vogt. Thank you so much for your comments and tweets!

Now for the giveaway:
For a chance to win a $20 coupon code to Dayspring Online store, just do one of these things:

1) Comment below  – Share one blessing in your life from this past year.

2) Tweet this giveaway, be sure to stop by at the (in)courage site and remember to use the @ShariCakes so it will get back to me and you can be sure you’re entered.

Be blessed and Be a Blessing…#GIVEAWAY #indeals @incourage @ShariCakes http://wp.me/pOGoC-nP

This giveaway will run from Saturday, January 21 thru Saturday, January 28th, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST. And the Dayspring Coupon code is good until December 31st, 2012.

Please be sure to leave me contact info (email) so I can get your code to you.

Thanks again for reading. Be inspired, share your blessings and CHOOSE JOY!

Many blessings as always,

Last year my good friend, Amy (@Backseatwriter) wrote her One Word 2011 post for New Year’s Day. I didn’t. I wrote a post, yes, reflecting on my year past and the things I hoped to change in Reflections: A Year Past and A Year Ahead. In my post I had hoped that my 2011 would be brighter and filled with less of the stress, anxiety, negativity, pain and bitterness that overshadowed 2010 .It seemed each day was filled with dread – dread of each day at work, more bad news, more ho hum days, grim, grey and faithless. Looking back on my 2010 reflections, I suppose “trust” should’ve been my One Word 2011.

Not that 2011 was uneventful, no it was filled with a lot of events. Unbelievable events, uncertainty, and many questions filled 2011.  I claimed faith and trust in my Savior at the beginning of the year:

“And though it seems cold and solitary – my Saviour walks with me.
This year, this journey – I have no idea what lies ahead on this road.
I have to take it and I have to rely on my faith and communion with my God to make the journey…

I know that I will look and I will see the miracles, the grace, the joys and the hope.
Through the hard times and the pain – I will still see Him and I will rejoice.
I know I won’t understand everything but I haven’t given up and I know I am not ready to.
During this “new year” I am determined to rely on my faith and my God to guide my steps.

I am hoping and praying for a better year or a better way to handle what comes.
I truly hope and pray for a blessed 2011!”

I had no idea that I would have to trust God – I said I would trust Him and He guided me through life changing emotional pain, emergency surgery, cancer, medical bills, more surgery, renewed faith, relationships and He is still holding my hand. As of December 19th – my health is still of concern to my doctors, I am ending 2011 with uncertainty, about my health and wellness.

So this year I am claiming my “health” – yes, my physical, emotional and spiritual health. I am claiming it in the name of God. I feel like my trust came with faith and my health will come with happiness and abundance. No matter how dark the days seem, I have this irrepressible hope that remains. So I claim my health and happiness and my faith, trust and hope shall remain as I enter this year of uncertainty.

I claim my health for 2012. What are you claiming for this coming year? What is your ONE WORD 2012?

Have a blessed New Year! In Jesus’ name! May He bless you always!

I love Christmas, I always have. If you remember last year’s Advent postings on A Family Advent: Keeping the Savior in the Season, the focus of those four weeks was Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. Each week was filled with food for thought, family activities and children’s projects and goals for the season of Advent.

This year I decided to return to a book that I’d had for a few years Advent Moments: Preparing Your Heart for the Coming King. I have to admit I didn’t give it much thought – then while at the store I was looking at other new devotionals for Advent – a little voice said no use the Advent Moments devotional it would be good to take another look at it. I mean it’s true I can’t even remember where I had put Christmas decor last year (good thing I have pictures to help), so hardly could I recall the words and devotions in this book.

I am so glad I decided to give it a second look – I have been so inspired and filled by the words in the each day’s reading. I have been at a place that I never wanted to be – separated from God and those that I love, on the outskirts and not initiating like I usually do. Yet, the few minutes that I spend each day in reading the verses and meditations are making the meaning come alive, making its “message” more meaningful and keeping the purpose of this season at the forefront of my thoughts and intentions. Only then can the leftovers of shopping, baking, decorating and merriment be enjoyed at Christmastime.  During this season of Advent and Christmas – meditate on the hope, the peace, the joy and the LOVE.

Advent and Christmastime are not meant to be exclusive holidays to just Christians – no the gift of the Saviour Jesus Christ was a gift to the world. And that is LOVE! Jesus was sent for all – all those who hurt, all those who are poor, all those who are struggling, all those who are shameful, all those who are righteous, all those who don’t believe – ALL. Christmas is about Christ the gift of a loving God concerned for his creation, his world, his children.

The Merriest of Christmases to You, Remember the King!

I am not quite sure how to start this – very personal – book review. I had all intentions of getting this post out before I went into the hospital – but that never happened (all apologies to my readers and The B&B Media Group, Inc.)

Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage by Ted Cunningham is a book about marriage – mature marriage – but not necessarily young marriage. I say this because while the book makes the claim that marrying young is good – because marriage equals responsibility, challenge, maturity, sexual purity and it is God’s plan for you - it fails to make valid claims to why marrying young is a good idea. I love the fact that it calls for the respect of marriage, pre-marriage counseling, and a mature attitude from both parties. However, the book, geared for those 18 – 24, who are looking to get married, also sees this as a period of maturity from adolescence to adulthood, is confusing and makes some contradicting points. It is very idealistic in nature – not taking into account family history, parents’ marriages or relationships with parents (which aren’t always great) in regard to marriage (pg.93). It may cause young couples to enter into a marriage with maturity, but based on sexual desire alone (or sex as a justification for marriage -pg.86).

Marriage defined – legal, biblical or both – is a union of two people. Google it and you will find a host of differing opinions. Just so we are clear here on Shari’s Sentiments I am talking about marriage between a man and a woman. When we try to define it or defend it biblically it gets lost with traditions and ceremonies that many no longer celebrate.  I am not calling for a throw down of marriage. What seems lost today, is not respect for marriage but respect in general. There is no value for most people in long term relationships at all nor respecting the boundaries of a couple. People in general lack responsibility, maturity and respect. My own eleven year relationship has come under criticism of people who say, “Well your not married.” or “It doesn’t count.” Those comments from outsiders hurt – because we have a history, many years together and we are like family – those years count for much, much more than just a piece of paper and a public or biblical principle. We are no longer two stupid kids in love, fresh out of/in college, with no clue about what it means to handle struggles and naive thoughts about life, love and happiness.

So, I make a case for relationships, true character, lasting love, respect, sacrifice and inseparable bonds. With the book Young and in Love, the first thing that turned me off was the process, the rush – to appease a “public principle” and the lack of consideration for situations and circumstances. Yet it actually, calls for the wait and the time until you are mature enough to handle marriage (“the most important relationship of your life.” – Andy Stanley). Cunningham defends Genesis 2:18-24 as the prospect of marriage happening early in adulthood but I can’t completely agree with that defense. It doesn’t really state an age.

The beginning pages say a lot in regard to Cunningham’s history at Liberty University. He quotes Dr. Jerry Falwell, (whose opinion I never really cared for all that well) “If your interested in a girl…and she is dating someone else but is not yet engaged, then by all means ask her out.” “If the guy she is dating isn’t committed enough to put a ring on her finger, he doesn’t deserve her. Ask her out!” Whoa there, self-control much?  I felt a personal affront with usage of an ideal that states, “Ask her out, [anyway]!”, without regard to the history behind her relationship. If  gal or a guy is in a relationship, I say, have the respect enough to stay out of it. I think there is something to be said about couples (like Steve and I) who have weathered storms of life, tough economic times, job losses, death of loved ones and most recently my serious illnesses etc., like Cunningham talks about at the end of his book and, yet quotes this below (pg.195).

“Love seems the swiftest, but is the slowest of all growths.
No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until
they have been married a quarter of a century.”
- Mark Twain

Cunningham says he is in favor of young marriage, yet uses statistics (pg, 19 & 74) that state waiting until your mid twenties or thirties increase the chances of your marriage lasting and chapters of of reasons why  maturity, stability, character, faith and true devotion to one another are needed for a healthy marriage. The one thing that is essential in building all these things is time. It takes time to know someone. Whether it takes six months or six years -  time is needed to mold and shape a relationship’s true value. I believe that a couple’s history together is invaluable – it is something that cannot be changed and stands in the face of principles and opinions. Cunningham also gives the impression that marriage is God’s plan for “all” people or all “men”. He makes a great case for marriage – but not young marriage, while generalizing unmarried thirty somethings out to be lost lonely souls (pg.72). Life is defined by your personal relationship with God, your belief,  acceptance of grace though Jesus Christ and abundant life through the Holy Spirit. These are things that can be enhanced by a mature loving relationship and marriage – but not for all people.  God wants you to do great things and wants to give you life in abundance. He wants you to trust that He will show you how to use your gifts and share them with others- family, friends, loved ones, partners and/or spouses.

MARRIAGE is NOT God’s ONLY plan for your life. Maturity and responsibility aren’t only defined by a marriage and children; it takes many different forms. “Biblically, every believer is called. Single or married, if you are a Christian, you are called( pg.188).  God has a specific path and plan for each one of us. Marriage is one of God’s many gifts of grace – but isn’t meant to define everyone’s life. “Doing life with that one special someone” (as Andy Stanley put it) is one of the greatest experiences God has for his people. Not everyone is going to be blessed in a marriage and not all married people are going to be blessed with children.

Personally: I am 31 years – young and I am in love. I Love Steve  – we’ve been together for 11 years, of course, I would marry him in a heartbeat. I also love children, I have been a teacher for over 10 years. I would welcome children if that becomes God’s plan is for us. But, if it is God’s plan for Steve and I to be just “us” than I will accept that with open arms – and, of course, our dog(s) “fur kids”.

Book Giveaway: I can’t wholly recommend this book, as it doesn’t really apply to me and is pretty opinion based – even in the face of statistics. I don’t agree wholly with it.  It doesn’t make a great case for being young and married but rather entering into married with maturity and responsibility. That comes with time, patience and age. But never the less if you are eager to get a copy of Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage by Ted Cunningham, then leave a comment below.

How to Enter: Leave a comment below this postTell me if you are for or against young marriage and why. That is all and this giveaway will run from Monday, September 19th to Friday, September 30th at 5:59PM (EST). You can tweet to get the word out but please leave a comment, and a contact email so you can be notified when you win.

* I received a review and giveaway copy of Young and In Love by Ted Cunningham  from The B&B Media Group, Inc. for the purpose of this review and hosting this giveaway on Shari’s Sentiments.*

Here’s to praying that lots of peace, joy, love and blessings come to you, abundantly,
In Christ,

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