Review: The Agony And Glory Of The Cross

The Agony and Glory of the Cross by Charles B. Hodge Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” Luke 9:23-25

I started reading it last year, but I took it slow so that I wouldn’t miss much, and it was worth it. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from it:

“Jesus was not on the cross six hours, but thirty-three years. He lived the life before He died the death. Salvation is free, but it costs us everything – our lives!”

“The way up is down; we empty ourselves to be full. We confess being wrong to be made right. The strongest are the weakest; the poorest, the richest. We die to live and give to get.”

“Jesus was both totally humbled and totally exalted. His exaltation did not destroy His humanity; rather, it glorified His humanity. ”

“Our salvation is not for a moment but for a crucified lifetime.”

“The U.S. has the Declaration of Independence; Christians have the Declaration of Dependence.”

The author includes a special section especially for meditating on before each chapter. Very thought provoking stuff! (Though it looks like one of the later printings took out the meditations, which is a shame – so if you look into getting this book, try to make sure it’s the older printing with the “More Confusing Than Amusing” meditations before each chapter – it’s the one without the “Give The Gift of God’s Love” on the cover.) I enjoyed this book so much. This is the perfect book to read during this Holy week; or anytime before or after! 🙂

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What Doesn’t Blow You Down Makes You Stronger

Special thanks to Daily Thankful, Adrianna, and Angela (click to read their fantastic posts) for unknowingly helping to inspire the words in this image and in the post below – seems that we are on the same wavelength. ❤

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 KJV)

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:3 (NASB)


Grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate or coconut water or whatever beverage you enjoy sipping on while reading long articles because this is going to end up being a long one. 😅

Last fall, I put some apple seeds that I saved out of an apple into some dirt to allow it to naturally go through the winter. I also put some in the refrigerator last November and again in January. I took them out briefly for the photo below. The seeds are wrapped in a damp paper towel which I placed in a Ziploc bag so that they wouldn’t dry out.

This process is known as stratification.  “In horticulture, stratification is the process of pretreating seeds to simulate natural conditions that a seed must endure before germination. Many seed species have an embryonic dormancy phase, and generally will not sprout until this dormancy is broken.” — Wikipedia

When it comes to apple seeds, it usually takes, according to the linked article, 70 to 80 days. However, it looks like they can sprout too soon. I say that because one of the little apple trees  I planted to be stratified this winter sprung up too early instead of waiting for spring like it was supposed to. The silly thing. Anyway.

Johnny Appleseed the Second, in his pig pot under the plant light

I brought that one inside and left the rest to be good little seeds and go through the rest of stratification. The little tree (whose name is Johnny Appleseed the Second, by the way – because I name everything – and this was my dad’s suggestion for a name) is now about three inches tall; I didn’t expect it to survive because it sprouted at the wrong time. But it did. So I put it under my plant light with my citronella plant, garlic, rubber plant, daffodil, Aloe Vera, Venus flytrap, pitcher plant, tomatoes, peppers, lemon trees, Mandarin orange saplings, and one other citrus tree that I am unsure of what it is. I think I’ve turned our “Arts and Crafts room” into a nursery at this point. 😅 Oh, I’m digressing. Getting back on topic…

So far, Johnny Appleseed the Second looks healthy. However, since Johnny Appleseed the Second will be indoors until spring, I wanted to make sure I was taking proper care of him. The ones I had last year (that came up in the spring like good little seeds) nature took care of, except for the occasional watering, so that they would be used to being outdoors. I thought I remembered this, and so researched it:

“Wind greatly affects plants throughout their growth. When plants are seedlings, slight breezes help them grow more sturdy. ” — Gardening FAQ

Turns out I remembered correctly. Thus, if the little guy is constantly protected from the wind and then planted outside this spring, his trunk will be weak and the wind could break him.

Therefore, staking a plant or blocking the wind from reaching a plant can actually do more harm than good in the long run, as long as the wind is not storm-strength. Every other day or so, I blow on Johnny Appleseed the Second, trying to mimic wind to make him stronger.

Tree trunk silhouette at sunset

And then I realized… just like I am doing for little Johnny Appleseed the Second, God allows us to go through trials that make us bend and knocks us around so that we get stronger in Him. He allows the wind to blow, and with it, strengthens us so we don’t break when the stronger storms come later.

In conclusion to this long-winded (sorry bad pun) post: We’re like apple trees! 🍎 🍏 Okay, okay: Our Father in Heaven allows turbulence to strengthen His children because He loves them.


This poem by Lillian E. Barr was in Streams In The Desert in the January 16th devotional; it seems relevant here. I hope you enjoy her poem as much as I did:

THE TREE GOD PLANTS

The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It bloweth east, it bloweth west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best;
The tree God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads wider boughs, for God’s good will
Meets all its wants.

There is no frost hath power to blight
The tree God shields;
The roots are warm beneath soft snows,
And when Spring comes it surely knows,
And every bud to blossom grows.
The tree God shields
Grows on apace by day and night,
Till sweet to taste and fair to sight
Its fruit it yields.

There is no storm hath power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane
When they are spent it doth remain.
The tree God knows
Through every tempest standeth fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still, fairer grows.

If in the soul’s still garden-place
A seed God sows
A little seed it soon will grow,
And far and near all men will know
For heavenly lands, he bids it blow.
A seed God sows,
And up it springs by day and night;
Through life, through death, it groweth right;
Forever grows.

Mama Kitty – Life Updates

Missing you with
A broken heart
My sweet girl
Always remember that I love you

Knowing you has been a pleasure
I still remember
The day we met eleven years ago
Today and forever you will be in my thoughts
You will not be forgotten.

Mama Kitty

(Today’s scheduled post has been moved to Monday.) I’ve known that this day was coming since last summer, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. The vet told me after removing six tumors that it was most likely cancer and that it had spread. For the past few weeks, I could tell that my darling Mama Kitty wasn’t feeling as well and that she was weaker. Last night, she passed away peacefully in her sleep.

For those of you who have been keeping up with life updates, this is the third beloved cat that I’ve lost this year. (Rabbit and Radar died in January.) I realize that my little babies are getting older and I knew that I’d most likely outlive my precious pets, but I didn’t expect to lose three in such a short time.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

God is such a comforter during times like these! I don’t know what I’d do without Him.

I don’t know how active I’ll be on WordPress this weekend, but you’ll have a new post on Monday. Love you guys! ❤

Review: When Dreams Come True

When Dreams Come TrueWhen Dreams Come True by Eric Ludy and Leslie Ludy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much! I’ve had this book for a while, but was saving it until close to Valentines’s Day. It didn’t disappoint! It was hard to put down. I loved their writing styles.

“And amazingly, through it all, there was a God watching me fall, watching me break His heart, and loving me still…” – Leslie

“The next hour passed like a hiccup attack in the middle of a wedding ceremony.” – Eric

(Those two sentences are from different parts of the book, by the way.) It pulled me right in.  I didn’t expect the book to have much conviction in it since it was a love story, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here are just a few:

“Eric, God doesn’t care about you accomplishing things, He cares about you obeying. When you obey, it’s truly amazing what you can accomplish!” – Eric’s mom

“I was in pre-med, and doing what I had always dreamed of,” he shared animately, “but I realized that, even though I’d been a Christian since I was five, I had never asked God what He wanted to do with my life.” – Eric

And there are also plenty of gems for the single Christian (like me):

“And as I had slowly learned to trust Him completely as the Lord of every area of my life, I had felt His gentle challenge to my heart, I have someone special for you, My precious child. Wait patiently for that man, set yourself aside for him in complete purity and faithfulness. I will bring him into your life in a way more beautiful than anything you can imagine. But wait for My perfect timing. Use this time of your life to focus on Me instead of chasing after foolish, short-term pleasure.” – Leslie

This book was such an enjoyable read, and I loved how Eric and Leslie respected their future spouses without even knowing them yet. It was beautiful.  It truly is a love story that only God could write. ❤

* Also, if you read the book, it advertises their music in the back. Leslie Ludy allows you to listen and download a few tracks for free on her website, Set Apart Girl, which are AMAZING.

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My Temporary Home

One of my best friends, Eloise from Highly Improbable, and I are (unofficially) writing songs for FAWM (February Album Writing Month). I don’t know enough about music to write melodies, however, so I just write the lyrics and pretend that I’m actually writing songs. 😅 Here is one of the “songs” I wrote, which was heavily inspired by a book I read this year called The Lost Art  Of True Beauty.

My Temporary Home

Always been told to draw strength from within
But what if I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin?

Look in the mirror and see only the flaws
But what if I take a moment and pause

It’s the lost art of true beauty
Viewing the outside is not the goal
Because the outside is easy to perceive
But it shouldn’t matter so much to me
The eyes are the windows to the soul
Look inside, tell me, what do you see?

All this time I’ve had it wrong – trying and failing
To fix myself, and in the waters of doubt, flailing

Look in the mirror and see only the flaws
But what if I take a moment and pause

It’s the lost art of true beauty
Viewing the outside is not the goal
Because the outside is easy to perceive
But it shouldn’t matter so much to me
The eyes are the windows to the soul
Look inside, tell me, what do you see?

God made me who I am and He doesn’t make mistakes
I try to tell my heartache
I trust in His reasoning and try to let my insecurities go
It isn’t easy, the going will be slow

It’s the lost art of true beauty
He pays attention to the heart for sure
He looks inside and tells me what He sees
He sees every little piece of me
A child of God that He created for His pleasure
Of all my insecurities, I am finally free

This is His temple, this is my temporary
Home


But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (First Samuel 16:7 NKJV)

Jesus Will Be With Me

When I go through water’s deep
Jesus will be with me

When billowing waves overtake
With me, He will still be

When at night I fall fast asleep,
Jesus will be with me

And when in the morning I wake
With me, He will still be

For without Him I would drown
In brutal waters deep

If He were not with me, I know
Water would overtake

For without Him, when I lay me down
Fears would keep me from sleep

If He were not with me, from sleep’s hold
I would not ever wake

Thank you for always being there, Jesus! ❤


When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown… (Isaiah 43:2 NLT)

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. (Psalm 42:7-8 KJV)

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8 NASB)


On an unrelated note, while catching up on responding to all of your wonderful comments, it only let me go back for four days. 😲 If you left a comment or responded to me before that, I am so sorry that I didn’t reply – I didn’t know that the notifications would only let me go back that far and I don’t know how to check for comments before that time. If there is a comment that I missed, please let me know and I’ll come respond! ❤

Edited to add: If you would like to hear this poem sung, Hayley did a wonderful job – click here to check it out!