Knowing Who Loves You

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I love it when God gives you one of those brief moments of clarity.

Of what it really feels like to be loved.

Sometimes, we have to go through our days reminding ourselves of God’s truths in the Bible. Forcing our logic to overcome our feelings.

_...in that moment, we feel his freedom._But occasionally, we’ll have those moments where what we know meets a moment where we ‘get it’ – the glimpse of God’s amazing love through Christ. And in that moment, we feel his freedom.

We know it. We have faith in it – but because God loves us so well and so much, He will give us moments where His love becomes clear – and it’s beautiful.

It’s the reminder that the trial is temporary. That the pain won’t last forever. That no matter how hard, how long, how difficult, how shaken, battered, or scarred – we are completely free in His love.

And it helps us see the bigger picture.

For just a moment.

But…thank the good Lord – that’s enough…

Pepper

Book Journeys – Paris

This week I’m celebrating one of my favorite contemporary romance novels. An “oldie” but a goodie, this book was published in 2005, and oh la la, I was introduced to the story and the author in 2007.

Why is that important?

Well, as a budding romance writer, I’d had a hard time finding books that really fit the mix of depth and fun I was going for, and when I stumbled across Siri Mitchell’s novel, Kissing Adrien, it was a match made of fictional proportions.

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So, of course, I then purchased every book by her I could find. I’d also discovered Mary Connealy around the same time and felt pretty sure I’d struck gold! Two authors who combined faith, fun, and romance into well-written stories? Wowzah!

Now, let’s get to the Book Journey for today.

Kissing Adrien is a novel of self-discovery with romance sprinkled in. In the current flare of Katherine Reay, Siri Mitchell’s novel is about a young woman who’s allowed her creativity to dull beneath real-life expectations and has lost her dreams along the way. The story introduces a hero who is quite delightful in his own right. We’ll swoon over him lots more on the upcoming Swoony Saturday post, but for today…we’re talking setting.

Paris

Now, of course, there are a gazillion things to see in Paris, so we’re only going to chat about 5 and the #1 on the list is NOT the Eiffel Tower. GASP!

1. Notre Dame

Paris 1949 Notre-Dame de París, la gran campana
Paris 1949 Pinterest

Located on the River Sienne, the grand and gothic cathedral, Notre Dame rises into the cityscape with its memorable western façade, spires, and flying buttresses. Completion of the cathedral occurred in the 12th century and the building has been both a setting and character in many books, most notably the Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. For trivia’s sake, the largest bell in Notre Dame, and the one you’ll hear tolled on the hour, is named Emmanuel and weighs 13 tons. Here is a video you can watch to HEAR the bell toll for yourself!

2. The Louvre

Next on our tour list is…nope, not the Eiffel Tower! I know, I know! What about the most iconic building in Paris? Well, let’s take a side trip first to one of the most culturally exquisite buildings in Paris. The Louvre.

Hailed as being one of the best art museums in the world, the Louvre opened its treasure-trove doors in the late 1700s and features art from all over the world. With paintings, sculptures, and mummies, this former royal residence houses a truly breathtaking display.

3. The Eiffel Tower

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Next is the most visible symbol in The City of Love. The Eiffel Tower.

Gustave Eiffel at the Eiffel Tower,1889 by Neurdein frères
Gustav Eiffel at the Eiffel Tower 1889 Pinterest

Ready for this? It was originally designed as a temporary structure for the 1889 World’s Fair. So, #1 it wasn’t supposed to be featured on the streets of Paris forever and #2 it’s not sooooo old. Another interesting historical tidbit, Gustav Eiffel (creator of the famed tower), designed it with a true scientist’s brain. He ran experiments off the tower related to transmissions – and because of the tower’s height, it became a strategic communication tower during WWI to not only transmit Allied info, but to intercept messages from the enemies.

 

 

 

4. The Marais

Arcades of the Place des Vosges in the Marais, Paris
Pinterest

If you’re more into the city-life scene with a wonderfully historic-bent, another great place to visit is The Marais. Similar to Manhattan’s West Village, except with a French twist, The Marais is filled with trendy shopping, restaurants, hotels, and pastry shops, yet the setting is pre-Napoleonic France. Cobblestone streets and elegant whitewashed buildings bring a bit of small town (though quite liberal in philosophy) feel in the center of a thriving city.

 

Alright, last one (although there are many more I could list). I chose this one for me because I WANT to see it someday and I love historic houses…or in this case…um…palaces.

5. The Château de Versailles

The Château de Versailles is the former residence of King Louis XIV and XV. A conglomeration of architectural extravagance and dazzling beauty, the palace boasts The Royal Opera House, the Royal Chapel, and the most visited fixture – The Hall of Mirrors. There are also extended gardens to explore and a wonderful history to uncover, so what’s not to love?

Now, if we add a very romantic guy named Adrien to the list of things to see in Paris, then this Book Journey sounds like a dream-come-true. Learn more about Adrien Delaporte on Saturday in Swoony Saturdays.

So….if you could visit Paris, what would you most look forward to seeing?

Book Journeys – A Biltmore Love Story

A Biltmore Love Story

It’s sad to say that most of the best love stories are not widely known. We hear a great deal about people to split up, but real-life romances are not as celebrated.

TRUE LOVEThey happen. In all time periods, classes, places, and people-groups, true love has a way of making ordinary life rather extraordinary.

As we’ve toured the Biltmore the past few weeks in Book Journeys, we’ve had opportunity to see the beautiful creation George Vanderbilt envisioned when he first entered the mountains years before his grand estate was finished, but of all the beautiful things the estate housed…the relationship between George and his wife, Edith, was probably the most memorable for me.

George Vanderbilt surprised his love, Edith, in 1898 when he brought her to his romantic castle in Asheville after their wedding. Here is Edith's engagement photo.:
Edith’s Engagement Photo – Pinterest

George was considered a confirmed bachelor and Edith an ‘old’ maid at the time the two of them began an attachment. Having been among the same circles for years, it wasn’t until one of George’s friends encouraged the two of them to spend time together as they traveled aboard ship to France, that a romance began to bloom.

 

George’s more introverted and bookish personality bloomed in Edith’s vibrant and social wake. There was a genuine excitement about their marriage to each other, and despite the immaculate wealth of the Vanderbilts, they both chose a fairly simple wedding.

George W. Vanderbilt canceled his booking aboard Titanic the day before her scheduled departure. Supposedly, his mother convinced him that maiden voyages were too troublesome.:
George W. Vanderbilt – Pinterest

The Philadelphia Record reported this of the wedding: It was a union of quiet contentment…There probably never was so unostentatious a Vanderbilt wedding since the family made its millions. It is true that the church was full of costumes and the company was very fine, but there was an altogether marked quietness of tone and an absence of display.

 

After a four month honeymoon abroad, they returned home…man and wife, with great fanfare from the townspeople, tenants, and servants from Biltmore. The tenants lined the road as George and Edith rode forward and in the quiet of their first evening in their magnificent home, fireworks lit the night sky.

The classic story of a father's love: George #Vanderbilt and Cornelia Vanderbilt. www.biltmore.com #Biltmore:
George with his daughter Cornelia – Pinterest

They both had an abiding love for learning and bringing education to others. With their quick minds and compassion, they opened schools of various kinds for the mountain people of Appalachia and took a surprising interest in the meekest and poorest of those people within their influence.

 

Biltmore’s New Star “A new star has appeared at famous Biltmore, and the charming mistress of this most gorgeous home is smiling upon her first born, a tiny girl called Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt...”:
Edith with her daughter Cornelia – Pinterest 

 

Edith Vanderbilt’s reputation was one of sophistication, grace, and the unique ability to relate to people of all different social classes and rank, which would become one of her most memorable features to the servants and townspeople of Biltmore. George was a visionary with a generous heart.

Biltmore truly became a ‘home’ for them, especially when their only child, Cornelia, was born.

George and Edith Vanderbilt at Bucksprings Lodge:
George and Edith Vanderbilt at Bucksprings Lodge – Pinterest

Though their marriage ended too soon with George’s untimely death only sixteen years after they married, their legacy of compassion, ingenuity, and helping-others-help-themselves continued on in Edith’s life. She pursued her and George’s dream by selling a large portion of land to the United States Forest Service to create Pisgah National Forest. Her legacy, and Biltmore’s, continued and still goes on today…but the ‘story’ of their romance is worth telling.

 

I hope to do that some day 😊

Love at First Thought with Missy Tippens

Oh it’s another wonderful Seeker today. Missy Tippens, Fiction author with southern sweetness – let me tell ya.

If you’ve not had a chance to read any of her books, just check out her website here.

Missy and I are in cahoots.  She’s an author (I’m an aspiring one). She’s a mom of more than two younguns. She likes her southern livin’. AND she’s a pastor’s wife. (We gotta stick together, Missy 😉

Let’s here what Missy has to say about her Love at First Thought.

I’ve recently decided that my upcoming book is my new favorite (I wonder if the new ones will always be my fav??). 🙂 And one reason is because of where I got the idea for the story! In the back of the book, you’ll see this story in the Dear Reader letter. Here’s what happened…
 
A Family for Faith was inspired while I was flying home from a writers’ conference. Across the aisle, and up one row, a dad sat by himself with a young daughter. He was trying to fix the bow in her hair and was not having any luck at all. I just ached for him and his daughter, wondering if there was a mom in the picture. But I was also touched at how gentle and persistent he was, and that he tried so very hard with that silly bow. Right then and there, I knew I had to write a story about a single dad with a daughter who was hitting an age where she really needed a mother figure.
 
And, thus, my April Love Inspired release was born!
 
Look at the cover for her new book. Doesn’t it look lovely?!? The premise is great. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Inspirational Thought:
Isaiah 36:9-13
8 “Remember this, keep it in mind,
   take it to heart, you rebels.
9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
   I am God, and there is no other;
   I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
   from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
   and I will do all that I please.’
11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
   from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
   what I have planned, that I will do.
12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
   you who are now far from my righteousness.
13 I am bringing my righteousness near,
   it is not far away;
Just in case you didn’t know – this is GOD.
When I read these verses, I get a sense that God is saying “This is who I am, whether you believe it or not. I am in charge – not you. I am exactly who I said I was so… be prepared, or watch out.”
Have you ever thought about the notion that God doesn’t need us.
The first time I heard that phrase, it ruffled my pride. I thought, “well, I’m important to God. Of course, he needs me.”
But, no, He doesn’t. He’s perfectly content in who He is.
God, the Father – God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit find perfect communion in each other so…
we’re just the bonus!! 🙂
In the verses above, God is making sure we get a good picture of who He is. He is God. Creator, Sustainer, Time Keeper, Cosmic Planner…and so much more. Our existence, eternally, is intricately linked with who He is. He doesn’t need us, but we desperately need Him.
The two beautiful things about it all are these:
1. He WANTS us! He may not NEED us, but he WANTS us – so throughout of the span of eternity He reaches into our hearts and brings us to Himself. Why? Because of LOVE. Wow! We’re the icing on the cake! He already has the most delicious cake in and of himself, but we’re the bonus, the fringe (so to speak, of course).
We make Him glad.
Isaiah 52:5 states
 As a young man marries a young woman,
   so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, 
   so will your God rejoice over you.
 
2. He is NEAR
We don’t have to search far away for God. He is near.
In the beginning of time, he was so close he took walks with Adam and Eve.
The Fall happened and broke that intimacy.
But Jesus came to reconnect us to our Bridegroom. The bridge between us and God. The chasm of sin no longer seperates us from the Father’s love.
Acts 17:26-28
26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
Find comfort in this: You are loved extravagantly by a Bridegroom who is near.
Blessings,