Book Review: Kate's Innocence

When the FBI begins investigating bombings at Kate’s school, she becomes the main suspect because of her chemical engineering major and military background—however, Kate maintains she is innocent! As further evidence mounts against her, Kate must help the FBI clear her name—all while facing personal demons from her past—or spend the rest of her life behind bars. This was a great story and intriguing read that I was able to really “get into” and not want to stop reading until everything was resolved!

What I liked: I liked that life wasn’t perfect. Kate’s relationship with her father was strained, as was her relationship with God. Things like this are real-life, and while not condoned (for sure!) they were written in very well. Kate’s rocky relationship with God was something I appreciated because it gave her room to grow and for readers to be edified through the course of the story. This was done very well, and is something with which many readers will be able to relate.
I enjoyed the banter among the FBI team throughout the book, and that when somebody made a mistake or error in judgement, they owned it, and the responsibility that went with it, instead of pawning it off. In addition, I found the plot of the mystery to be very well thought out. You can tell that Sarah did her homework. I was skeptical as to whether or not this would be more of a romance/emotional story with the mystery tacked on, but was pleasantly surprised with the opposite. The mystery was very thought out and was the real, main deal, with the subplot woven in very well!
I also enjoyed that while romantic relationships are hinted at and feelings are felt, they were dealt with in a realistic manner! They were often ignored, pushed away for another day, dealt with slowly—any relationships or even deeper friendships were developing slowly throughout this book, leaving so much  to yet be resolved and I appreciated this soooo much! :D In real life these things take time, and they did in Kate’s Innocence, not occurring and resolving perfectly with a neat little bow in 120 pages! That, my friends, was refreshing! :D
What I didn’t like: While I loved certain conversations concerning faith and God in this story and was truly touched by them, there were a few that felt forced to me, usually between the lead male character and his best friend. Whether it was the man-to-man element or the lack of preamble that felt off to me, a few of those scenes bothered me.
Also, nearly all the FBI agents in the team were Christians; while as a Christian I would love if that was a reality ;) I did find this to be a little unrealistic. However, it seemed as though the main character Kate did as well, which I loved, so perhaps in future installments we will get more closure/information as to how this came to be.
However, neither one of these things bothered me enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book!!!

Favorite quote:  ‘“I just… I have neglected God. I don’t think He is going to give me peace and grace until I change.”
……“God doesn’t work that way, Kate. He is always waiting to be there for us, even if we haven’t done our part.”’

Final thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I found it a fun, intriguing, but also encouraging read, and was excited when I saw that Sarah plans on continuing the series! Check out Sarah's blog: The Destiny of One .
Find Kate's Innocence on Amazon here. 

**picture taken from Amanda's Review! :) 

Our Oikos

I had an extremely eventful weekend—boots in the house! cousins drove out for the day, Christmas program Sunday morning, and work at night. It was a busy, but extremely exciting!
Something we had to do while our cousins were here was go bowling—it’s almost become a tradition. But while we were on the way there—I cannot remember how it came up—but my cousin was telling me what she had been studying in their small-group Bible study at their church. She said they had been studying the word or the concept of oikos.

Oikos is a Greek word that, according to Strongs and BibleStudyTools.com, is defined as:
1. A house
2. The inmates of a house, all the persons forming one family, a household 
3. Stock, family, descendants of one

My cousin explained it to me as more of number two. She called it “the people you do life with”. She said they learned it was a group of usually 8 to 15 people that make up your every day, people you see, talk to, deal with, on a regular basis, and our big parts of your life (whether they’re “good” parts or not ;). I found a similarly minded article which I’ll add to the end of this post :D She went on to say how, yes we are to take the share the Gospel to our Judea and the “uttermost parts of the world” but also our Jerusalem, and our oikos is our Jerusalem. How we need to be impacting, loving, and leading/pointing the people in our oikos to Jesus.
It was a very interesting and new concept to me, and I really enjoyed learning about it. 

I usually work Sunday nights, and this last Sunday night, after they had our candlelight Christmas service, nearly our entire (yes, it is small ;) church came out to eat where I work. They filled up the lobby, gave me a hard time as I took their orders ;) sang a Christmas carol, and honestly rather made my night :D

After everyone was sitting down and fellowshipping, I was back behind the counter, cleaning up a mess, when I just tuned in to the conversation and laughter behind me. Sure, I hear this type of thing whenever I work, but this time it was familiar laughter, familiar voices. And I realized something: they were my oikos. That group of about 40ish people are literally the people I do life with. The ones I consider my family, closest friend, people I can trust for Godly counsel or simply encouragement; the friends I can be completely crazy with, but serious too; the ones I would miss extremely bad if I were to switch colleges and attend another out-of-state; the ones who love and accept me (and my family) for who I am.

They are my oikos.
And I love them and appreciate them very, very much!!

What about you? Who is your oikos at this stage in your life? What do you appreciate about them? :D How was your weekend? What random, awesome things has God been teaching you?

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Here is the link I referred to earlier: I haven't read it thoroughly, so I'm not saying I agree with/condone everything it says, and it is taken from a specific church's site; just sharing it for interest and the sake of further study :) 
http://www.granitecreek.org/oikos-defined/ 

http://biblehub.com/greek/3624.htm 
http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/oikos.html

HPW Update

(That looks really funny abbreviated like that, doesn't it? I've never done that before.) :)

I wanted to let all of you out there who still check on/visit/find my blog that I really appreciate you. I have been really wanting to do a post lately, but my river is still dry and I'm currently very busy with school. It blesses my heart when I log on and find that one of you have found my blog and subscribed, have commented on an old post, or to see that I have received X amount of views on a certain random day when it's been quite a while since the last post. 
I just wanted to let you know that, no, I'm not gone, just in a confusing/frustrating place right now, and that I see when you view and receive your sweet comments, 
and it really means a lot to me!
Thanks so much!!!! 
I would love to hear how you are doing, or if you have any ideas for future posts!
XoXo 
Katie <3

Princess Warrior-type Post to Share

I just finished reading a very good blog post over on the Lies Young Women Believe blog that deals with us going to battle with courage throughout this new year :) It made me think of how I want to be as, yes, a Princess, a daughter of God, but also His warrior, and not cowering in terror with the new fears and hard situations that 2015 might bring! I spent most of 2014 not being a good soldier, and by God's grace, I'd like to do better this year. 
Anyway, I'm sharing the link to this post in hopes that it will encourage your Princess Warrior heart as well :) Hope you enjoy it and are as inspired by it as I was. 
Link to post:
By God's Grace, 
Katie 

When God does the Unusual

So far, this has been a wonderful Christmas. Yes. Our family had "our Christmas" yesterday ;-), and we will be having it again tomorrow with my mom's side of the family. My brothers, sisters, and I have had lots of fun, eaten great food (thanks mom!), and received wonderful gifts... but perhaps, most wonderful of all, were the little gifts I received from Jesus (also known as special blessings :)

This past year has been one of anger and frustration for me. So. many. times. this year, I've cried out  to God, through tears of anger, in moments of raw honesty and asked,

why?!
Why God have you allowed this into my life, to happen to me? 
All I ever did was what was right! Why am I going through this {pain} when all through {this period of my life} I followed hard after you, loved you, served you, obeyed you, to the best of my ability, are others being blessed, and I am not?

First of all, you must understand, I know this is wrong. And I would tell God that. I would tell Him I knew I was acting as though I was entitled to His blessing and being utterly disrespectful, and I was sorry, but it was how I felt at the time, and He wants us to pour our hearts out to Him, so I was doing it! 
My dad always told me when I was little to 'talk to Jesus as though I was talking to my best friend'. I've been blessed with a few special friends. Friends I know I can trust implicitly and be brutally, ugly honest, and they will still love me, unconditionally, for who I am, who I can be through Christ, and will pray me through the bad times. 
And that's how I am when I talk to God. Brutally honest. He knows my deepest thoughts that even I don't understand, so He knows how I feel already. ;) 
But anyway. :) More than once I went through this. 
I felt betrayed.
Betrayed by the One who promised to never leave me nor forsake me. 
(Funny thing is, my head knew/knows waaaaaaay better. But emotions?? eh... not so much.) 
I felt betrayed. Like, since I had lived rightly before God, I should be rewarded for good behavior. But that wasn't what I saw happening. I felt my life falling into weird places I never thought it would, as I watched (over, and over, and agonizingly over again) all my friends lives fall (as i perceived it) neatly into perfect place. 
And I felt betrayed. Like I was being punished for having done the right thing. Like Joseph in the Old Testament. 
But last Sunday, my Pastor preached a sermon that, in a way, contrasted Jesus' birth and John's birth and the reactions to each. Not only did it help me to see Mary in a different way, but it was an encouragement to me as well. 
You see, when John was born? People rejoiced! When Elisabeth became pregnant with him, people celebrated! She and Zacharias were not supposed to be able to have children, and yet they did! There was joy for John. 
But except for a handful of people, there was no joy for Jesus. His parents were not married, and became the object of gossip and ridicule. His parents were poor and had to make the journey to Bethlehem, then flee shortly thereafter to Egypt. When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, people whispered behind her back, they did not rejoice with her. 
Then pastor made a comment about how "being in the will of God will bring contrast into our lives. 
God may ask us to do things, or allow things to happen to us, that MAKE. NO. SENSE. Things that very few people will understand. 
Just like when He had a virgin conceive and bear a son, and how Mary was ridiculed for the rest of her life... for simply bearing the son of God!!!! For being the Godly young woman after His own heart that He CHOSE to have His Son! Mary had done "everything right". So right, that she became the mother of the most high. But at times, when people would scowl at her in the streets, murmur behind her back as she traveled through the village with baby Jesus on her hip, make snide remarks about she and Joseph that were untrue-- untrue because God had done the unusual in her life-- I wonder if she felt betrayed. Lifted her eyes to heaven and whispered, "Why, Lord? All I ever did was serve you!" I am not trying to add anything to the Bible, I just wonder if Mary ever felt betrayed, too. 
But she knew. She knew, just like I knew, that even though I feel that way, it isn't/wasn't true. 
She knew that God had chosen to do something unusual in her life, and she chose to obey that call. 
I'm sure that often it made little sense to her, 
Just as though it makes no sense to us, when we go through what we see as useless pain. Pain so unbearable at times we cry out to God, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING??? How could you possibly intend to use this for your glory!?!?". But that's exactly what He tends to do. Use the unusual, the painful, the unbearable, the things in our lives that we and no one else understands, somehow. for. GOOD. 
So today, this Christmas, please dear friend. 
Don't lose hope. 
When God does or allows something not in your plans that seems to wreck your life, realize He's not betraying you. Remember He loves you, and somehow, He's going to work this all together for His good, for His purposes. (Romans 8:28) if we let Him. Mary let Him. I know this is hard :( Remember how Mary in the New Testament and Joseph in the Old did what was right, and it seemed as though they only got pain in response?? 
But the ending of those two stories?? 
God worked through Joseph to save many nations from starvation. 
and God worked, through Mary, to bring the Savior into the world who would redeem the souls of all mankind. 
What could He be doing with your pain today, sweet sister? 

Merry Christmas!!!


Picture Source: http://www.testimoniesofheavenandhell.com/Pictures-Of-Jesus/
Source of Post Title: was pastor's sermon title ;)

Being Wearied with The Journey

"Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well." {John 4:6a}

So....
We {the ladies of our awesome little church!} had our Ladies Fall Fellowship/Bible study last week. It was such a blessing, and full of laughter, but when my pastor's wife began to bring the devotional, I was totally not paying attention. 
"Wanna know why?"
Because after we'd turned to the Scripture from which God had led her to bring our study, God arrested my attention so completely, inspiration hit, and I was scribbling this from-God's-heart-to-mine encouragement in my journal before I lost it! 
(Don't worry! What God gave me actually had a lot to do with our Bible study anyway :) And my pastor's wife forgave me ;-)
But here are those notes, from my heart to yours. Not sure if they are all doctrinaly sound lol but it was if a light-bulb clicked on and I was seeing this Scripture in a slightly different hue than normal!

"Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well." {John 4:6a}
(seriously. that small, simple sentence was all God needed to use to encourage me and inspire three pages of writing. Isn't He amazing??? <3 )


"It stuck me as my pastor's wife read this verse aloud that John would include that Jesus-- king of the Universe; wholly mighty in strength-- became weary. 

Weary is a word I know well. Too well. 
Maybe you as well are far to familiar with that word :( 

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, I thought. 
But...
Maybe not.
Maybe, God wanted us to know that it's okay to be tired. 
He knows. He gets it. He KNOWS where we have been and where we are. 

It was Jesus' journey that caused Him to become weary. 
Could we, perhaps, use this as a parallel to our spiritual lives? 
Jesus understands.
Could we also equate this with our daily walk in general??
Jesus gets it. He got tired. 
So He sat down. 
Maybe God put a subtle hint in here that in our life's journey, when we get tired that it's okay to sit down, to take a break... 
as long as we don't intend to QUIT!!!
{{ouch!!}}
Jesus was planning only on taking a break. Not on STOPPING!
Also this break Jesus was taking? 
It didn't stop Him from encouraging  another even when He was tired. 
Maybe we can even encourage others better when we're taking a break. because at that point?? HE GOT IT! He "got it" well! He was taking a break at the time! So maybe we can encourage others better during or after that break because "we've been there too" and therefore are better equipped to encourage them. 
Another thing. We know as believers that because He took this break, a woman's-- a TOWN's-- spiritual needs were met. 
We know it was a scheduled divine appointment on His part ;-) 
Maybe God slows us down-- has slowed YOU down-- allows struggles, sorrows, trouble, depression, discouragement, unfair/overwhelming circumstances because we can reach certainpeople during our hard spots, because of our trials, that we may never have been able to reach had everything continued to be hunky-dory, smooth-sailing. 
We (YOU!!!) can meet the spiritual needs of others because we've had this struggle, because we're going through this problem

It's okay to be tired.
It's okay to take a break!
Just take that break intending to get back up after you are rested!!!
Take that break cognizant of the fact that others need breaks too!!!
Take that break knowing that because you're taking it, God may be able to use you in a way He never could have otherwise!!
Knowing that God can use that break to encourage someone else down the road. 


You can encourage someone from a sitting position! ;-) 

First picture mine, edited from movie Mom's Night Out; rest of pictures courtesy http://www.freebibleimages.org/

Encouraging Video (One) ~~ When "Wait" is Your Answer

A few months ago, my sister bought a movie she’d really wanted to watch. The trailer had piqued our interest, and so had the fact that Fireproof actress Erin Bethea was in it. When we finally got it, I was excited to watch it with my sisters.
But I was not prepared for how God would use it to bless and encourage me!
The movie is called This is Our Time, and I highly recommend it, especially for any young adults out there who are trying to “decipher God’s will” for them in this crucial and extremely stressful point in their life. 
However, there are a few pivotal scenes that spoke to me more than others, and over the course of a few blog posts, I would like to share them, and a few others, with you!
I wanted to share these with you a few months ago, when the inspiration was still fresh in my heart, but I slacked and let it die. But a recent conversation with one of my cousins reminded me so much of this film and the encouragement wrought by it, that I've finally decided to post these! 

With this new school year fully in gear and everyone finally either back in school or in the swing of homeschooling, I've heard a lot about the pressure put on seniors (in high school) to suddenly have all these plans about where they’re going to college, if they’re going to college, what they want to do, what they think God’s will is for them, and all these pivotal, intense decisions—suddenly, as soon as you hit 12th grade, you’re supposed to have the answer to all of these! And then, regardless of what your passions and desires and even God’s will for your life, are the expectations put upon us as young people: by our friends, church family, teachers, peers, and even, our parents! You may not be very sure at all what God wants you to do, but you certainly know what everyone ELSE thinks you should be doing!
And that causes stress and no end of pressure. My sister and her best friend (who are both senior this year) have definitely been feeling this pressure. But so have I, because of recent developments in my life, and so is one of my cousins, and we are past the ‘graduation’ phase of life.
But what if, when searching for God’s voice and will for this next phase of life, all you hear is “WAIT”??
Then what?
You’re not wrong. 
You’re not a failure or a “less-than”.
 If this is you, whatEVER season of life you’re in and no matter what unfair expectations are being placed upon you, while everyone else seems to have their act together? YOU DO TOO. Just in a completely different way than they do. Because God’s will is different for everybody. And He’s using us all in different ways. Even if that means you don’t feel used or important, God is still using you! Yes, we must "search" and pray for God's guidance and try to stay close to Him. But just because the answer is "wait" doesn't make you less important or mean you're doing "nothing". :)

God’s will is not limited to a four year college degree
and God’s will/timing is not limited to what everybody else thinks you should be doing. 
God’s will often looks like nothing you would have chosen for yourself or expected you would do.

I cannot word it any better than the professor does in this clip. I hope this encourages you as it did me <3 

video

(I in no way claim any rights to this movie and all credit goes to Pure Flix Entertainment and Director Lisa Arnold!)