A Love Like Ours: Book Review

ALLOcoverA Love Like Ours is the third book in the Porter family series by Becky Wade. However, even if you have not read the first two, you will have no problem jumping into the storyline of this one. It is a stand-alone story!

About the Book: Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

Authors34About Becky Wade: Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.beckywade.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorbeckywade
Twitter: http://twitter.com/beckywadewriter
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5298259.Becky_Wade
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/beckywadewriter/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/beckywadewriter

My Review:

I absolutely adored this book! Jake’s story of healing and redemption brings so much hope to those who are living with deep pain. God uses Lyndie, the only one who could get through to him, to bring Jake truly back to life. It is a beautiful story of friendship, unconditional love, purity, and grace. When I got about halfway through the book, I had trouble putting it down. 🙂 After reading this one, I plan to go back and read the first two Porter family books. Highly recommended!

To celebrate the release of her new book, Becky is giving away a $100 cash card and a book-inspired prize pack!

lovelikeours-400One grand prize winner will receive:
A $100 cash card
A copy of A Love Like Ours
A copy of the Secretariat DVD
A scarf
A dog-tag/cross keychain
A pair of earrings
A Texas-shaped cutting board
A Jake Porter mug
love like ours - prize pack
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 26th. Winner will be announced May 27th on Becky’s site.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Halo Found Hope from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review on my blog. This review expresses my own personal opinions.

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To the Mama Who Feels Overwhelmed

Lead me to the rockWhen you look at the floors and realize your house is never clean enough…

When you forgot the eggs were boiling on the stove because you got distracted by another “emergency”…

When you forgot to cook the fish in the fridge, so you have to throw it out… and you have to explain why you forgot…

When you’re interrupted 20 times during your time with God and you feel like your relationship with Him is never focused enough…

When it just got to be too much and you yelled at them with those big eyes looking up at you…

When the husband needs you, the kids need you, the dog needs you, the floors and the lightbulbs and the bathrooms need you…. and it just feels like there’s not enough of you to go around…

When your thoughts about what needs to be done spin out of control and in circles and you just sit down and cry…

When you try and try to get everyone out of the house on-time, but you’re still always late…

When your insecurity and feelings of inadequacy rages because you just. can’t. get. it. all. done…

When you forget to make the cupcakes or fill out the permission slip or remind your husband… and you feel like a failure…

When you don’t get time for yourself and you forget who YOU are and then you feel guilty for thinking about yourself…

When you’re struggling with something that no one knows but you and God…

When you feel like no one understands and that you are all alone…

You’re not.

I hear you. I get it. I’m right there with you. And God gets it too.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. – Psalm 61:2

Psalm 61:2 is one of my favorite verses because it always reminds us to take our thoughts to the Rock. When the troubles in our lives weigh us down, God sees things from a higher perspective. He sees our hearts and feels our struggles, but He also sees things differently than we can.

When we put our focus on the Rock and remember that we were made in His image, we can breathe easier. God’s got this, Mama. Put your trust completely in Him and just lay back and rest in His arms. Feeling overwhelmed is the perfect opportunity for God to do something amazing in your heart and life.

Above all else in this life, you were called to be a daughter of Christ, then a wife and mama. God knows it’s hard, but He made you to fill this specific role. Hang in there! The life you live is very important in God’s eyes and in the lives of those precious people you are loving and serving! 🙂

You’re not alone. 

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Real Life Press: Firmly Planted, The Gospels Part 2 – A Review

real-life-press-logo_zps1dhdihp5I was immediately drawn to the title of the family Bible studies offered by Real Life Press, written by Heidi St. John. The name Firmly Planted draws quite close to my heart, as this blog was founded on the concept of growing where we are planted. Psalm 1:3 is the key verse for this set of Bible studies: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord; he is like a tree, firmly planted by streams of water who yields its fruit in due season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Yep, I was immediately hooked. 🙂

For this review, our family was given a complete set of Firmly Planted, The Gospels Part 2: Stories from the Life of Jesus. This includes the Family Study Guide and the Student Workbook. You can get them as a PDF download or as a black-and-white print set, depending on which format works best for your family.

Firmly Planted Gospels 2_zpsxl13k57xThis is such a great study! Each week of the 10-week study sets up with the scripture passage that will be studied throughout the entire week, plus a specific verse/passage for students to memorize, the main idea for the week, and extra explanation and activities to enhance the lessons. After the weekly overview, there are daily studies for each day through the week, which help to direct the topic of conversation to a different learning moment each day. The Student Workbook is INCREDIBLE! There are so many activity options, including nature studies, crosswords and word searches (with choices for younger or older students), coloring pages, mazes (with choices for younger or older students), copywork, journal & drawing pages, vocabulary lessons, fill-in-the-blanks, plus special digging deeper sections for your oldest student(s).

Here’s one lesson from Week 3: Jesus and Zaccheus as an example of how we are using Firmly Planted, The Gospels Part 2:

First, we learned the Zaccheus song. You remember… “Zaccheus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.” 🙂 Music really helps kids remember concepts. After the song, Josh and Katherine climbed up in our tree to understand more about what Zaccheus may have felt like, wanting to see Jesus over all of those tall people!

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Next, we read through the scripture passage and talked about the meaning, the main idea of how Jesus has compassion on all of us… The kids then got to do some “fun” work, reinforcing what we learned. Here is Katherine working on the Maze for Younger Ones.

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And Joshua doing his coloring page…

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I helped him do the Crossword Puzzle for Younger Ones because he’s not writing yet, but he got most of the answers right when I asked him!

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Here is Katherine working on the copywork that goes with the lesson…

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These few activities are really just a sampling of what’s included in the 259-page Student Workbook. It is so comprehensive and I think using a variety of activities helps kids retain so well!

Here are a few of the other products offered by Real Life Press, including more Bible studies plus homeschooling help books, that you may want to check out:

Guide to Romance_zpshbbmjaqq Guide to Daylight_zpswevzieff Firmly Planted Moses_zpsv2iyjloj Firmly Planted Gospels_zpsmub6mib9

Lapbooking Made Simple_zpsbnftrjri

 

So what do we think of Firmly Planted, The Gospels Part 2?

We love it! I highly recommend this study for homeschooling AND non-homeschooling families. It is a great, short, comprehensive daily study that can be used by families with kids of all ages. There are so many different pieces. You can choose to use what you want, and not use others. Everything is broken down for you in a very easy-to-understand and easy-to-teach fashion. This is definitely one to check out for your next family Bible study!

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Science Project Hog

IMG_3027As I worked on the banner for Jeffrey’s baseball team, my introverted heart was somewhat glad that I’d been given the chance to do the project myself. Jeff looked over my shoulder and said, “That’s good, Sweetie. I would have loved being on your science project team.”

I kind of laughed to myself because I’ve always kind of prided myself in being a hard worker. But the laughter turned into analytical mode, as I realized that my introversion and desire to get everything right has made me isolate myself at times. I’ve not always been the best delegator. This can be a not-so-good quality.

We weren’t created to be islands. God created each one of us with different gifts that we can use TOGETHER to do His work. When we only use our own gifts, we miss out on beauty that may have been intended. I wonder how much better the banner could have been if a few of us had worked together. Not only would there have been more creativity, but new friendships could have also been created.

Someone I admire once told me that when leading a project, I should do only the things that ONLY I can do. Everything else should be delegated… and if someone could do something 80% as well as I could, I should let them do it. Although it’s hard, it’s true. How else can we help others learn and grow if we hog all of the tasks for ourselves?

Challenge for you… If you struggle with this, make a point to give away a task that you usually are possessive over… Let someone else learn and grow. Who knows? Maybe you’ll make a new friend.

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Thankful for the Chisels

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As I read through the chapter in my Bible study this morning, a couple of sentences caught my attention… “God has placed you exactly where you are according to His purposes. Thank Him for that today. Write a commitment to not dwell on how some of these people have let you down.” – Lysa TerKeurst from What Happens When Women Walk in Faith.

It made me think about all of the people God has put around me, past and present. There have been good and not-so-good relationships, obviously, because we’re all human. But how many times have I thanked God for the negative from others that has actually IMPROVED my life? The painful things people have said and done that actually led me to a more positive place? The objective criticisms that have sharpened my perspective.

Then a picture of a chisel came to mind. Chisel = a metal tool with a flat, sharp end that is used to cut and shape a solid material (such as stone, wood, or metal). There are a ton of different types of chisels, all used for various reasons. For example, a carving chisel is used for intricate, detailed sculpting. A flooring chisel lifts flooring materials for removal and repair. A skew chisel is used for finishing. The list goes on.

Every person who comes into our lives is there for a reason. It may not be apparent until years later, but each one is being used to sculpt, repair, and finish us. These wonderful people are not there to make us complain. They are not put there for us to judge, be envious of, or gossip about, although that’s what satan would have us do. They are also not put there for us to allow our thoughts about them and hurts that they’ve caused to suck us down into a spiral of bitterness.

It’s easy to get caught up in bitterness… and it happens slowly. That life-destroying trap almost cost me my marriage. It led me to a negative spiral that affected every single person in my life. Thankfully, God rescued me from that prison several months ago… but only after I submitted.

So, today I’m thanking God for the people He brings to mind who are and have been chisels in my life. When I look back, and look at where I am now, it’s amazing to see how God has been methodically putting me together as the person He created me to be.

My challenge to you is to think about the people in your life who you may be harboring bitterness toward. Maybe you are angry and have allowed this anger to take control of your mind. It’s time to let it go and realize that there’s a REASON for everyone who is in your life. Thank God for those people and learn to love the purpose they are in chiseling you to become who God created YOU to be.

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Put the Phone Down!

smartphone

We were at Steak & Shake one day during Spring Break. As we sat down and started looking over the menu, I caught a glimpse of a father and teenage daughter sitting at a table across the restaurant. They were sitting at a 4-seater, diagonally from each other. Not straight across from each other. They gave each other space.

I kept watching them quietly. He was talking on his phone and she was playing on hers. After a few minutes he hung up… and she put her phone down, looking up hopefully. But before long, he was back on his phone again, texting, emailing, or maybe scrolling Facebook. I watched her face as she sat there, waiting for him to stop being busy and pay attention to her. She looked so sad.

Finally, the sweet girl gave up and dropped her head. She picked up her phone and the two of them engaged in connection with others in cyber world. They missed an opportunity to connect with each other.

It’s easy to do, isn’t it? Conversation stops for a minute and we grab the phone and proceed to scroll Facebook, seeing the same posts over and over again. Mindlessly existing. Maybe we check an email or text a friend. We fill the time with superficiality instead of having meaningful conversation with the real flesh and blood that is right. in. front. of. us.

Friends, whatever is on that phone is less important than what is right in front of us.

It’s time for us to recognize how far we’ve fallen as a society. We replace conversation over coffee with text messaging. We hide behind our text/computer devices, where we can more confidently confront without being face-to-face, and we are becoming more and more insecure and judgmental everyday.

But real life is lived in flesh and blood… it’s not lived by sitting at a screen in some false reality where we have tons of twitter and Facebook “friends.”

Here’s a Monday challenge for you… This week, whenever you have family/friends time, put the phone completely away. There is nothing so important that it can’t wait until after you spend time with the people in your life who are yours. The ones who will be there and love you even when it feels like the rest of the world has decided you’re not good enough for them.

Make a commitment. Today. Every day this week, as soon as you sit down to the dinner table or as soon as you leave the house to go on a family outing, put that phone away and don’t get it back out until your family time is over. It’s a small challenge to start… see how much it improves your family interactions.

And see how much more joy you have in your heart.

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50 Shades of Pain

As some of you have probably noticed, I don’t normally speak out about controversial issues. However, this time I can’t be silent. The movie that the world has been buzzing about opens in theaters tomorrow. This is a rare moment when the self-inflicted pain that has shadowed me (and those close to me) for 20 years needs to shared.

Be warned… what you are about to read is raw and ugly. My heart has pounded every time I’ve thought about writing this. I almost chickened out. There are pieces of my story that only a very, very few people know. My mother does not know some of the things I’m going to share with you today. But out of pure love for all of you… teen girls, single women, wives, mothers… this is why 50 Shades of Grey is so. very. dangerous.

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I was 17 when I was first introduced to the traditional form of pornography, video-style. It seemed harmless at the time. We were teenagers just being teenagers, right? Not so ironically, the person who first exposed me to it was also my first sexual partner of many. Thus started Paula’s 10-year tornado-like path through life.

Something felt empty. College was a period of internal torment, although you wouldn’t have known it by looking at me. I was finally free, after all, which was great for this rebellious heart, right? Those years were filled with sickening insecurity and depression covered up by heavy alcohol use that seemed to cover the pain for a while. My deep insecurity led me to one-night-stand after one-night-stand, and also to several longer sexual relationships that again… left me empty. I could never stay faithful to anyone. Guess what? This made me even more insecure. I filled that void with more fun, alcohol, partying… and boys.

I had mistaken sex for love. And I needed love.

After leaving a destructive mess at ECU, I seemed to come clean, moved back home and met Jeff a couple of years later. He saw the “good girl” image that I had portrayed so well in high school. We got married and had a great first year. The only problem was that my brain apparently was still in singles mode… By the end of our 2nd year of marriage, I had been unfaithful to the one man who was absolutely made for me. How did I do this? I thought the sickening pattern was gone?

We separated for two months, but thankfully God brought us back together. I’m still amazed that he stayed with me. The next several years were extremely hard in our marriage. Just because he forgave did not mean things were peachy. Trust was shattered. But that man has loved me through all the hard times and the Lord has blessed us with 3 beautiful children.

Happy ending… yes. Easy path… no. In fact, a big piece of my healing just happened within the last year… After 20+ years of struggles.

Now, let me go back and explain how all of this relates with the 50 Shades of Grey books & movies.

It started with schoolgirl crushes that I let run amiss in my head. As a young teen, the Coreys & River Phoenix were all I could think about. This was my fantasy world. Boys didn’t seem to like me in real life (I was quite the nerdy tomboy) so I made up my own happy place. You know… the perfect mental images from the perfect pictures that Hollywood blasts in front of us to make us think we DESERVE for our lives to be just like the movies. For so many years, reality never lived up to my imagination.

Then a boy liked me. Then we broke up and another boy liked me. And that boy led me to “real” pornography. Images that I will NEVER be able to erase… images that flooded my head and mixed with the so-called innocent romantic scenarios I played in my head about boys I liked. It just snowballed from there…

That turned into real sex with the wrong people at the wrong time, destroying my purity and wrecking the next several years of my life (and probably the lives of those caught in the wake). Then it became erotic novels (but only secretly of course). Yep, I would stand in a bookstore reading a book and look around from time to time, making sure no one I knew was around. I was too much of a “good girl” to get caught… or to actually BUY these books.

We don’t call the books porn because it’s just a bunch of words on a page, not pictures on a screen.

We don’t call 50 Shades porn because it’s socially accepted… PRAISED… even though the entire story is demented and sick, promoting abusive relationships. (Quick disclaimer: I have not and will not read/watch, but I’ve learned enough about it to see how dark and messed up it is.)

We don’t call anything porn that we look at, read, or watch because…. well, that’s something only MEN struggle with.

NO! Women struggle too. Our mental struggles just look a little different.

It’s much darker now too. With these sexual fantasy type movies attracting so many female viewers, we are in a dangerous time! Our society is becoming so desensitized and it’s time we take a stand for our minds, our hearts, our marriages… and for Jesus, the One who died to save us from all of this mess!!!

We must protect our purity at all costs.

We must recognize that when we close our eyes and romantic scenes flash through our minds… it WILL affect how we view our husbands. It WILL affect our desires for our husbands. It WILL affect the amount of intimacy we share with our husbands. It WILL affect how we relate to other men. It WILL lead eventually to destruction. There is nothing that Satan likes more than for us to view a deadly sin as a little harmless fun. Please hear me… there is no such thing as harmless fun when it comes to sin.

It is pain. 50 shades of pain. Some shades with unknown color codes left in unknown locations. This stuff is death. It will suck you in slowly and destroy your life, along with the lives of others you care about.

I love my husband so much. For YEARS he dealt with the repercussions of my sexual sins, and not just the physical ones. My fantasy world was destructive! It still tries to rear its ugly head now, but with Jesus it is so much more under control. My life-long fantasy vs reality sickness still affects how I relate to men. It’s just ugly. Girls, I can’t stress this enough… it may seem harmless now, but it is truly a slow fade that stays painfully shaded for a long time.

If you’ve read the 50 Shades books and now want to see the movie, please reconsider. Please choose to stop it here. I am not judging you, friend. My stand is not legalistic, but coming from a heart of care and compassion for you. I’ve been there. If anyone can relate and share with you what it’s like to go down that path, it’s me. The words in the books, maybe you can let go of. But once you see the movie, those images will stay in your memory!

There is no delete button!

To my married friends, how much is your marriage worth to you? How strong do you want the intimacy to be with your husband? Give all of your love to him… mentally, emotionally, physically. He deserves to have ALL of you, including your mind.

To my single friends, how much is your purity worth to you? How important is it to share that purity with the man God gives you? Save it. Not just physically, save it mentally and emotionally as well.

This stuff is trash. It is ugly. It is sin. Let’s not sugarcoat it.

It is porn for women. 

Don’t just avoid seeing the movie, girls. RUN away from this and anything else that causes your mind to be distracted from the man God has given you (or has for you in the future).

PLEASE, I’m BEGGING… completely out of love for all of you! RUN!

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

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If you’re struggling with this or you need someone to talk to about anything in this post, PLEASE feel free to contact me! I’m here!

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The Open Closed Door

Okay, imagine you have some friends coming over tonight. As you do a good cleaning of the main areas of the house, where do all of your clutter-y things get thrown? Either you have a this-is-where-we-put-everything-else room or you toss things into your bedroom, right? 🙂 If you’re like us, the master bedroom door has always stayed closed when company was over. Not anymore.

If you’ve read any of my posts in the last year or so, you’ll know that we’ve been through quite a time of growth in our family. For a long time, my heart was predominantly invested elsewhere… not in our home. So, when it came time to really start making our new house a home, I wanted to start with our bedroom. It’s the lesser of the rooms that people see, but it’s the one that is our spot, so it deserved attention first. Here are a couple of before pics (obviously after I had already torn it apart):

IMG_2536 IMG_2537You can see that I had a lot of work to do! 🙂 I kicked my hubby out of the room for a couple of weeks (although he got some peeks throughout the project), and got to work. It was SO FUN pouring my energy into something that I knew was going to bring him joy. He has always wanted textured walls, so I learned how to do venetian plaster, which is now my favorite way to paint. No brushes or rollers… just steel spatulas and sandpaper. I felt like Picasso. 🙂

God led me to just the right pieces to put on the walls and an awesome artist (Laura Oliver) who made all of the wood signs. When it was finally done, I couldn’t wait for Jeff to see it! Ready to see the after pics?

IMG_2576IMG_2577         IMG_2574So much of my life, I’ve been a people pleaser… worried more about what people thought of me than about what was really going on inside of me. To go along with that, I was worried more about the areas people would SEE in our house than the areas that were ours alone. The Lord started challenging me with all of this last year and now that I’ve surrendered that weakness to Him, He is giving me more peace than I’ve ever had.

I guess remodeling the bedroom first was a representation of that. My heart needs to be clean from the inside out… I don’t need to put on a smiley plastic face to try to make people think I have it all together… that we are the perfect couple… the perfect family. And all of us need to make sure we don’t take for granted those places in our homes that only our family usually sees. We need to pour ourselves into every part of our families and our homes, not to be seen before men, but because God calls us to be good stewards of what He gives us… and because we love our families.

It felt great to know that I had used the gifts God has blessed me with to then bless my husband. I’m so thankful for him, and this was just a small gift to thank him for how amazing of a man, husband, and father he is.

Our bedroom will no longer be the place we throw stuff when we want to clean up for others to see. It will be taken care of just as much as any part of the home. The door will remain open. And this is the sign that’s in a place where my husband will see it every day…

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Because he is.

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