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23Aug

Broken Clocks & False Teachers

Broken Clocks and False Teachers

 

Last week, the battery stopped on one of our clocks. It was perpetually 10:47 in our master bathroom.

It’s always interesting to me the things the Lord uses to bring lessons into our lives, and last week he used our broken clock.  I remembered the saying about broken clocks:

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

As soon as that thought crossed my mind, the Lord planted another…”it’s kind of like false teachers.”

It is sometimes right

Yep, that quote is completely accurate…even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And false teachers are right about some of the things they say. In fact, most false teachers quote the word of God frequently.  But they also omit things.  They twist things around. They take things out of context.

That is why we should be diligent in comparing everything to God’s word.

Out of Context

The thing about time is that it needs context to make sense. In order for that 10:47 to be accurate, we need the ticking away minute-by-minute. 10:47 in and of itself is meaningless unless it was preceded by 10:46.

Similarly, God’s word is not meant to be picked apart like a salad buffet. I see false teachers doing this all the time, particularly some “prosperity preachers.” They teach that God’s will is for you to be comfortable, happy, and wealthy. In order to come to these conclusions, they omit. They conveniently leave off the less comfortable parts of verses, and focus on the feel-good parts. The focus of these teachers is man. Everything is man-centered, and worldly. Just as the popular book promises, “Your best life now,” these teachings are focused on the temporal and not the eternal.

It’s Most Dangerous when it’s “almost” right

This is so important. Let’s say my clock stops at 11:47. I need to leave at 11:50 to be somewhere. It’s now 12:00, but I glance at my clock, unaware that it’s not working and see that it’s 11:47. As far as I know, I’m not late, I still have 13 minutes to go. Now, if it says 11:47 and I know it’s around 8 am, I can easily see it’s wrong. Likewise, if it says 11:47 and I know it’s around dinner time, I can easily see that it’s wrong. However, when it’s closest to the correct time, I may not be able to easily know that it’s wrong.

This is why false teaching is so dangerous. These teachers aren’t usually teaching something that is straight up obvious. Sometimes, it looks so much like the real thing that we can be deceived. Paul warns us repeatedly about the danger of being deceived by false doctrine. The Bible warns us of a time when people will turn to false teaching in droves:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. -2 Timothy 4:3-5

Don’t be one of the people with itching ears who turns to false doctrine. This world has nothing to compare with the glory of Jesus Christ! The only truth is that which is not hindered by any part of the Bible and lines up with it completely.

Useless and Destructive

The bottom line is this. Like a broken clock, a false doctrine is at best useless and at worst, destructive. False teaching is dangerous.

I recently had a conversation with someone who said you shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bath water,” when it comes to preachers.

I disagree. False doctrine is dangerous, and not something to trifle with.

The Lord recently convicted me about even sharing quotes from some of those teachers. Yes, sometimes that little quote may be completely accurate and sound, but if the rest of their teaching is not sound, then you shouldn’t share or endorse that teacher.

Protecting Yourself

The best thing that you can do to protect yourself from false teachers is to get in the word!!! You can’t evaluate whether a teaching lines up with the word of God if you don’t know it.

You can also surround yourself with sound theology–friends and preachers in person, or those in the public sphere. Some that I like and recommend:

  • John Piper
  • Paul Washer
  • John MacArthur
  • Elisabeth Elliot

I also like to read from those faithful saints who came before us such as:

  • Charles Spurgeon
  • Oswald Chambers
  • A.W. Tozer
  • R. C. Sproul
  • J. C. Ryle
  • Jonathan Edwards

There are more, of course, but these are a few of my favorites. You can also hear some sermons from my preacher here. 

13Aug

Why I love Novellas (& Some of My Favorites)

collection

It’s no secret that I love to read. However, as a busy mom, it’s hard to find the time to indulge in something that can be time-consuming, and for practical purposes, unproductive.  This is why I’ve been reading more and more novellas lately.

Easier to Read in One Sitting

I’ve always loved to read. In my 30 years, I can’t think of a time in my life when I didn’t love reading. I read whatever I could get my hands on. There was just one problem—I couldn’t stop. I remember being 10 or 12, and there was a light on a pole outside my window. If I held my book just right, I could lie in bed reading, long after bedtime. (I know, I was living on the wild side.)

I still love to read, and I still haven’t quite gained the self-discipline to put the book down. I no longer have to worry about reading in the dark after bedtime, but I do have to worry about being coherent the next day, and staying up till 2 am reading is usually not a good idea.

I know myself too well, and I know that interrupting my book for things like making dinner and going to bed at a reasonable hour is going to be difficult. It’s difficult to find the discipline, and it also seems to mess up the flow of the story for me. I find it harder to get into the story when I’m stopping every 20 pages.

I can usually read a novella in about an hour, or a little more, which makes it easy enough for me to fit into my day.

Less Disappointment

I mentioned recently that I’m getting pickier in the books I read. I’m finding myself disappointed more often lately, and when I’m reading a full-length novel that has taken several hours to finish, it can be very frustrating to feel like I have invested all that time and mental energy in a book that was unsatisfying or downright disappointing.

Novellas take less of that time and mental energy. Yes, I’m still disappointed sometimes, but it was an hour that I “wasted” instead of 4-5.

Great Stories

Before I started reading novellas, I was a bit of a snob about reading only full-length novels. But, as I’ve read more of them, and higher quality ones, I’ve come to realize that there are some great stories to be found in novella form.

Yes, some are rushed and undeveloped. I believe it takes great skill to write a complete and satisfying story in roughly 20-25% of the word count of most novels. However, I have also discovered that some authors are able to do this and do it well.

Now all of this is not to say that I don’t still read full-length novels. I do! I love being able to really get a better feel for the characters and their backgrounds, and a more complete story. I do not want to go the way of our society where we are so into instant gratification that we can’t read a full-length novel. That’s not what I’m talking about. I love novels.

But, sometimes, novellas can be very satisfying, and fit into the schedule a bit easier.

Recommendations:

Barbour Publishing is the best when it comes to novella collections! However, other publishers have begun publishing them more as well, so I thought I’d give you some recommendations of my favorites. Some are available for pre-order, but I was able to get them early as a reviewer.

Most of these books contain 9 stories in each.

Other Historical Romance Collections (most of these contain 3-4 stories each)

The above recommendations are those that I have personally read at least some of the stories from, and I read almost exclusively in the historical Christian Romance genre.

Here are a few options for those who prefer Contemporary or Amish romance. I have not personally read these.

11Aug

Affordable Plus-Size Fashion & Modesty

 

Plus Size Fashion Modesty
This past year, I have made a big change to my wardrobe, making the switch to wear only long skirts instead of pants. I had actually put it off for a while, even though the Lord was convicting me about it, just because I didn’t want to face the backlash and comments I knew would come. But, I committed and did it and I have been so blessed in following the Lord’s leading! But, that’s a story for another day.

What I wanted to talk about today is one of the more frustrating aspects for me–it’s so hard to find good quality and affordable, long skirts! It’s getting harder and harder to find modest clothing these days, and add in being plus-sized and it’s nearly impossible.

I’ve had some good luck at goodwill now and then (yes, I’m a proud goodwill shopper!), but for the most part it has been very difficult to find affordable long skirts.

Which is why I was so excited to learn about the Classic Clothing Store. I was able to try out two of their skirts, and I can’t wait for you to see them!

About Classic Clothing Store

Classic Clothing Store is a family sewing business started in 1987, born out of the need to find modest clothing at a reasonable price.

In their own words:

We are interested in providing modest clothing for women and girls using high quality fabrics and using a combination of styles that are comfortable, classic, and/or traditional.

Classic Clothing Store values modesty and family, and that shows in every article of clothing they make and send out.

About the Clothing

The first thing to note about the clothing is that it is proudly handmade in the USA. That is a rare find these days, and I love supporting a small, family-run company with ethical business practices.

They offer a wide variety of clothing options from blouses to dresses, skirtsaprons, and more for both girls and ladies.  They offer styles that are both timeless classics and more updated.

They even offer quality head coverings (scarves) at the most affordable price I’ve seen.

The same company also makes beautiful old-fashioned (pioneer) clothing, and you can check out their pioneer dress here.

Customizable Options.

One of my favorite things about this company is that their clothing items are fully customizable–fabrics, sizes, lengths, etc. This is a rare find indeed, and just one of the many benefits of working with a smaller business- unbeatable customer service and value.

For my fellow plus-sized readers, they offer sizes up to 3x in most of their items.

The skirts Amy sent me:

3-Tiered Linen Skirt in Essex Tan

essex tan tiered skirt

I’ve been wanting a khaki skirt because the color pretty much goes with anything and everything, and it can be dressed up or down.  At the same time, I needed something durable. I don’t wear skirts just for “dress up” events, but also for every day–housework, garden work, etc.

For example, here I am petting our puppy.  You might remember her from our scare a few months back when we first got her. She’s all healed up now and you can’t really tell from this picture, but she’s grown so much since then! She just loves to have her chin and belly scratched. As my hubby said recently, “I do believe she’d lay there all day if someone would scratch her belly all that time.”

DSC_0483

Anyway, this skirt was the perfect khaki colored skirt for me.  It’s pretty enough to dress up and wear to church, but also durable enough that I don’t feel bad about working in it. The fabric is a very sturdy twill, so it was a bit stiff when I first got it, but very comfortable after a couple of washings, and still very durable.

I might have a slight obsession with tiered prairie skirts lately. I love that they are so comfortable and easy to move in and this one is one of my favorites.

The Full Denim Skirt

denim skirt

Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of denim skirts, they’ve always seemed stiff and uncomfortable to me. But that’s before I discovered this denim skirt from the Classic Clothing Store. Mine is made from a very lightweight, soft, yet durable denim fabric. Note: They do offer heavier denim fabrics if you prefer a heavier one–again, that is the beauty of this company, you can customize your piece to get exactly what you want/need.

This skirt is amazing! The wide bottom gives you lots of freedom for moving around, and the fabric is very soft and flowy. Similar to the khaki skirt above, this one is pretty enough to wear to church, but also durable enough and comfortable enough to work in.

A Note About Price

These clothing items at Classic Clothing Store are very affordable, with most items being $25-$35 (some customizing options increase the cost of the items).  If you’re a bargain shopper like myself, that might be more than you would generally pay for an article of clothing.

Confession time: so often I’ve fallen for the trap of thinking that cheapest = the best value. However, as I have grown into our budget more, I’ve learned over and over this is not the case. It’s better to pay a bit more for a quality piece that will fit well and last, than to get the cheapest thing you can find that will either be stuffed to the back of your closet or worn out quickly and need to be replaced.

Another thing that the Lord has given me a big burden for is buying ethically sourced products. Yes, sometimes they are more expensive, but it’s worth the peace of mind in knowing that I am  supporting a family rather than a corporation, and purchasing ethically sourced goods. All of the clothing items from Classic clothing store are proudly handmade in the USA.

Learn More

Follow along with this company and see more of the things they have to offer:

Giveaway

I know that a lot of my readers are moms trying to find quality and affordable modest clothing for their girls to wear. Classic Clothing store has many options for you! In fact, Amy has generously provided me with a size 8 seersucker pleasant blouse to give away to one lucky winner. Isn’t this just darling? Of course, the adorable little girl modeling it doesn’t hurt anything :)

seersucker

To be entered to win this shirt, please leave a comment letting me know why you’d like to win :)

 

08Aug

The Cactus Creek Challenge {Book Review}

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I love to read. I am passionate about literacy in general and I love to lose myself in a good book. However, I’m finding myself getting pickier and pickier. My standards are rising, and I’ve found myself frustrated lately with books that I’ve found disappointing…after investing hours and mental energy in reading them.

So, I have a few go-to authors that I know I can count on.

Erica Vetsch is one of those authors for me, which is why I was proud to join her influencer team for her new book, The Cactus Creek Challenge. (You may remember her from the author spotlight I did on her a while back.)

I have thoroughly enjoyed every story or book that I have read from her, and I knew this one would be no different.

The Cactus Creek Challenge

cactus creek challenge

When deciding on a book, I always read the back cover copy for a description of the main premise. When I read the description of The Cactus Creek Challenge, I was immediately intrigued:

Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.

It sounds like a really fun story, and it is!

As you might imagine, there are many humorous mishaps throughout the story as Ben tries his hand at being a school teacher, and Cassie is determined to prove that she can be the sheriff without any help. Cassie and Ben both have a drive to prove themselves–Cassie because she’s in love with Ben and he sees her as a little sister instead of a grown woman, and Ben because he feels he could never live up to his dad, the legendary Obadiah Wilder. It’s fun to see how that drive to prove something plays out for each of them personally and in their relationship.

The children in the story are just darling–even the mischievous twins–and I enjoyed their part in the book.

My favorite part of the story, however, is a bit of a fun twist that is left out of the back cover copy–there are 2 love stories in 1.

Interwoven throughout Ben and Cassie’s story is the story of Jenny and Carl.  Jenny the baker and Carl the livery owner were also chosen to take part in the challenge, and I fell in love with this couple!

They weren’t the main billed romance (as I said, no mention in the back cover copy), but they receive nearly even attention throughout the book and I enjoyed their story even more than that of Ben and Cassie.

Jenny and little Amanda have some things in their past that haunt them and make them fearful of men and relationships, and I love that it’s the big, strong Carl who shows them that all men aren’t cruel or mean.

Except for a bit of suspense toward the end, this book is mostly light hearted and a sweet, easy read. Two great romances, some laughter, and maybe even some tears if you’re sappy like I am… it all makes for a great book.

The Legend of Obadiah Wilder

obadiah wilder

Just for fun, you can also download a free short story–“The Legend of Obadiah Wilder: The Glorious Defeat of the Dickenson Gang.” This dime novel is mentioned in The Cactus Creek Challenge, and you can read it for free. How fun!

 

03Aug

Books on a Budget! 10 Ways to get FREE or almost-free books!

 

free books

I frequently post free & cheap book lists, and I have a big list of ongoing free Christian books that I update weekly. Several people have asked me about where/how to find free or cheap books. The obvious answer (used bookstores, goodwill) doesn’t work for me because I’m in a very small, rural town without access to those types of places–though I do love to hit up Goodwill when I visit relatives who have one!

So, I decided to put together a list for you all. This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, if you click and make a purchase, I might get a small percentage.

Also, this list seems to just keep growing, so ignore the number in the graphic ;)

1. Amazon.com (FREE)

Most of my freebies are found directly from Amazon’s website.  These are found easily by visiting the Kindle Bestseller’s Page. On this page, you can find the top 100 paid and the top 100 Free books. On the left side of the screen, you can also choose which categories you’d like to view, and there are tons of them.

If you have a bit more time and patience, you can also search amazon for free/inexpensive books by searching for your favorite genre in the Kindle eBooks store and then sorting by price lowest-highest.

You can also see some of the free Christian books I’ve posted here and here.

2. Tyndale Rewards (FREE Print book)

I love Tyndale House publishers, and you can sign up for Tyndale Rewards to earn free print books. So far the program has been pretty simple. If you sign up through this link, you’ll receive 25 bonus points to start out with. I completed a couple of surveys, signed up for a newsletter subscription (you can choose from several devotionals), added my bday, and a couple more simple tasks and within a few moments had acquired enough points for a free book. Update: I have now earned 9 free books through the program–all completely free!

Update: I have now created a how-to post to detail exactly what you can do to earn a completely free book.

3. Usborne (FREE & Cheap)

I love Usborne Books. They are both fun and educational–perfect for the homeschool mom or pretty much anyone with school-aged children in their lives, whether they are homeschooled or not.

Cheap: Usborne has some great internet specials that are updated every 2 weeks. These books are 50-70% off (most under $5 each). I can also offer you $15 in FREE books if you spend $85, and FREE shipping if you spend $100.

Free: You can host an eshow (conducted on facebook) to get FREE books. I love this because right now I can offer you DOUBLE rewards with just $250 in sales. That means that if your show reaches just $250 in sales, you can get $80 in free books!  And, the rewards increase from there.

4. Blogs (FREE)

If you are looking for focused, self-published information, signing up for blogger newsletters can be a great help. You can find books on everything from blogging, parenting, healthy living, cookbooks, printables, homeschooling, money saving, time management, etc. My friend, KM Logan has put together a list of websites that offer free book downloads. Also, many blogs publish lists of free books (like mine).

5. PaperBack Swap (Cheap)

I LOVE paperback swap!  Basically you can trade books with other members. There are tons of books listed, and you can get even more by adding to your wishlist–you’ll get an email notification when your book becomes available. You get 2 free credits upon signing up and listing 10 books of your own. After that, you will receive a credit to spend for every book that you mail out and is marked received by the requester. I’ve found some great books there, including Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which I was going to pay nearly $20 for at the time on Amazon. You can visit my guest post over at Money Saving Mom to see how I get even better deals there.

6. ChristianBook.Com (FREE & Cheap)

I just recently discovered this site, and WOW! They have some freebie kindle books similar to Amazon. However, they have a HUGE selection of greatly discounted books, and great sales online as well. They nearly always have a few bestsellers marked down to $5 for promotions. They also have great clearance sales, and an Under $1 section for real, physical books (not that eBooks aren’t real books, but I do love my print books!). There, you will find over 600 books priced at $1 or less! They often offer free shipping deals with a $35 purchase also!

7. Audible (2 FREE audio books)

If you sign up for a free trial of audible, you can get 2 audio books completely free. You can continue the service for a monthly fee, or cancel the service before your trial is up to avoid being charged. They offer a HUGE selection to choose from, including my all time favorite devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.

8. Amazon Prime (FREE with membership)

Many people don’t know about these perks for Amazon Prime, but there are a couple of ways to read books for free through them.

  • Kindle Lending Program–borrow one book each month. Choose from thousands of options, including my book Intentional Marriage.
  • Earn Credits with No-Rush Shipping–When you choose free No-rush shipping instead of 2-day shipping, Amazon will often give you a credit toward digital purchases! I have gotten many, many free $.99 books by doing this, and also sometimes save up these credits for other books I’m wanting. They do expire, so you’ll want to keep an eye on it, but it’s a great way to earn some free books for your kindle. (See exactly how this credit works)

Try Amazon Prime FREE for 30 days!

9. Dover Rewards

Many retailers offer rewards programs where you can earn points toward free books when you make a purchase and Dover rewards is one of the more generous that I’ve seen. (Note: Some have reported not receiving their 30 free points when using mobile, so use a desktop or laptop to ensure you get your points). They start you off with 30 points, and you only need 65 points for a $10 egift certificate.

Sign up today. 

10. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

If you live in a participating area, you can sign up your child (under 5 years old) to receive a free book delivered to them each month from Dolly’s Imagination Library. I don’t have personal experience with this program because I found out about it when we were not eligible. However, I have purchased a couple of the books second-hand and they seem to be high-quality books.

Bonus: Free Books For Bloggers/Reviewers

Okay, so these aren’t really free, but if you enjoy reading/reviewing books anyway, it’s well-worth the effort to participate in publishers’ blogger programs. If you are accepted into their programs, you can request books that you are interested in, with the agreement that you will review the book on your blog. Just a few of these programs: NetGalley, Blogging For Books, and Book Sneeze. You can also work directly with publishers like Tyndale and Bethany House.

So, there you have it. That is mostly how we find free/cheap books. We do occasionally find things at goodwill, when we’re visiting my in-laws, or at yard sales when we get lucky. And, we utilize the local library a LOT for checking out books and family-friendly DVD’s.

What would you add? Where do you find free or cheap books?

 

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