Fearfully Wonderfully Me

Growing in God and Inspiring Young Women Through Faith and Fashion

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Reluctant to Wed: A Book Review

Hello lovely readers and followers! Today I am reviewing the book Reluctant to Wed by the lovely Anneliese Dalaba. This is a special opportunity for me, as Anneliese is the wife of my former pastor. I had no idea she was a writer, so when I found out about her book, I knew I needed to check it out!

(Note: This is not a paid review or sponsored post. All opinions are my own.)

Reluctant to Wed is a regency period romance novel that centers on Emma, a young woman from a small farm town in Pennsylvania. In order to save her family’s farm, Emma agrees to move to England and marry the Earl of Devonport (also known as Devon).

Emma dreams of a marriage full of love and faith, but Devon is looking for a marriage solely of convenience. Due to hidden fears from his past, he is unable to trust women and marriage. However, Emma’s beauty and forthright personality begin to awaken his heart for her. Unfortunately, circumstances and people from their past may keep Emma from her dream marriage.  

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Reluctant to Wed: A Book Review

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Characters

Once I read about the premise, I was drawn to the story immediately. I’m not well read in the regency period genre, but Emma is the type of main character that I could see Jane Austen dreaming up.

I love character driven plots, which is what Reluctant to Wed is. Emma is sincere and straightforward, especially for a woman of that time period. Reading about her transition from an American farm girl to a British lady in high society intrigued me. Although Emma lacked any major flaws, I still felt she was a believable character.

Devon, the second protagonist, was definitely a favorite character of mine. I loved him and hated him at the same time! Although I could tell he was a man of integrity and had growing feelings for Emma, he was also stubborn and haunted, leading him to make poor decisions.

Anneliese also knows how to draw a reader into the lives of the supporting characters. I was especially fond of Emma’s maid, Bessie. I would really love to hear more about her life story in a separate novel–she is that dynamic!

Favorite Quotes

Learning to accept whatever life handed to her was her goal, and she would not allow anything to bring her down. Her faith was in God and she trusted Him to see her through. (p. 50)

She’d rather hurt because she dared to love than to become bitter and gain a cold heart. (p. 136)

Devon watched her walk gracefully across the room to the door. She was grace and fire. (p. 41)

Reluctant to Wed: A Book Review

Final Thoughts

In addition to the interesting characters and premise, I also enjoyed the plot of Reluctant to Wed. Although the pace was slower at times, every sentence was valuable in building Emma and Devon’s world and moving the story along.

I also love the way Anneliese wove the message of the Gospel and Godly values into every chapter. There are many romance novels claiming to be Christian, but don’t even mention the name of Jesus. Anneliese made God a main character in the story in a refreshing way.

I also appreciate that this novel was clean. Although the reader can tell that Emma and Devon are attracted to one another, it is not overdone. Any mention of sex was referenced in their marriage and in a tasteful way. This novel would be appropriate for most teens.

Overall, I highly recommend Reluctant to Wed. If you like romance or regency period novels, then this is a novel you will enjoy. It’s filled with romance, drama, suspense, and even moments that made me laugh aloud.

I look up to Emma’s character as a great role model of a strong, humble, and Godly young woman. If you’re ready to fall in love with a great story and dynamic characters, then you’ll definitely fall for Reluctant to Wed.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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3 Lessons Karate Taught Me About Jesus

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of watching Owen, my fiance, practice karate. He’s a black belt, which absolutely blows me away. His passion for martial arts and learning new things is so inspiring, and I felt honored to be able to watch him in his element.

Although some people may consider me graceful, athleticism is not something the Lord has gifted me in. So I was in awe watching Owen and his friends as they showed off their skills.

There are several lessons I’ve learned from watching just that one hour of practice. There were moments when the teacher (called a sensei) corrected his students or gave them some karate wisdom. However, I found that most of this wisdom reflected Godly principles on humility, perseverance, and focus.

Overcoming Failure With Humility

Even though Owen is a black belt, there were a few instances when he messed up a kick or got hit while sparring. Even the sensei messed up at times! It didn’t surprise me that these awesome people failed, but rather, how gracefully they handled each failure.

Each student was humble enough to acknowledge his mistake and accept correction. They were humble and open to receiving wisdom.

This is the posture we need to have towards God. None of us are perfect, but when we mess up or sin, we must be willing to humbly repent and receive forgiveness and instruction in order to live righteously.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:9-10 NIV)

When we take the posture of humility like David from the Bible, God will honor us and lift us up into victory.

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12 NIV)

Pressing on Through Trials

Owen helped his sensei teach a newer student different kinds of kicks, and although it was harder for the student to grasp, he never gave up trying.

Perseverance is one of the core values that makes faith possible. The things we want to achieve often take more time and effort than expected. The things we want God to do often take longer than we want them to.

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3 Lessons Karate Taught Me About Jesus

However, when we learn to persevere, we find that it builds our character and strengthens our faith. If life came easily and we got everything we wanted immediately, then there would be no reason to have faith or hope. But there is beauty in pressing on toward the things we are hopeful for.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 NIV)

A Karate Focus  

One thing that surprised me as I was watching Owen’s karate practice was the way the instructor often told the newer student to stop overthinking.

When the student was sparring, he was trying so hard to predict his opponent’s next move that he failed to recognize the opportunities for attack right in front of him.

This is so common in my faith walk, and I know I’m not alone. Often times I get so worried or caught up in my own thoughts that I lose sight of Jesus.

Life is exciting, challenging, and surprising. There are so many distractions the enemy hurls at us to take our focus away from God and fill us with anxiety and temptation instead.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NIV)

When we are so focused on trying to figure out our next move and how to win at this life, we open up a target for the devil to attack. The only way to win this spiritual battle is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He is sovereign and is the only one who will never fail us.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2 NIV)

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be able to watch my future husband practice such an incredible sport. It’s amazing how, if we have our hearts turned toward the Lord, we can find Godly wisdom in everything around us. When our focus is on the only One who truly matters, it changes our perspective on everything.  


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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Choosing Freedom in a Sinful World

Happy Independence Day to all of my fellow American readers and followers! And of course, a big hello to those from other countries who are reading this post. I’m so glad you’re here 🙂 Today is a celebration of summer, the birth of America, and more importantly, of freedom.

When it comes to the word freedom, many images come to our minds. We picture fireworks and family cookouts. We see soldiers sacrificing everything, including their lives, in order to protect our country.

While all of these images are beautiful and accurate for the American Independence Day, true freedom goes beyond even our patriotic celebrations. In order to understand what freedom really looks like, we must know the God who paid the price for our liberty.

A State of Bondage

Whether we realize it or not, we are in bondage. This world is full of sin and its consequences. We are lying to ourselves when we say we’re not in bondage.

Things like hatred, violence, jealousy, selfishness, lust, addiction, abuse, and shame fill our lives. No one is left unaffected by sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8 NIV)

This sin stems from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Almost everyone knows the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. Although it may seem like some cute ancient Bible story, the consequences of mankind’s first rebellion still affect us all today.

No one is perfect, and we all fall short of God’s standard for holiness. We must realize the state of our sin and the eternal separation it places between us and the Lord. Once we know how sinful we are, we can truly repent and make a change in our lives.

The Price of Freedom

Okay, so now we understand that we are in bondage to sin and shame. We also know to repent, but how do we experience freedom? What must we do to free ourselves from sin?

The bad news is that there is nothing you can do to free yourself from sin. Remember when I said that we will never be perfect? But that’s okay, I have great news!

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24 NIV)

The price to pay for sin and eternal separation from God is through death. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the ransom for all of the world’s sins by dying on the cross and rising again.

It is finished, lovely one. Jesus paid the price once and for all, and the only thing we need to do is turn to Him and accept this precious gift.

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Spirit of Freedom  

Although we were once slaves to sin and shame, Jesus freed us by His death and resurrection. How amazing is it to know that we can experience true freedom even in the midst of living in a sinful world?

When we choose to follow Christ, we are no longer slaves, but children of God. We have a perfect Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally and wants to watch us walk in freedom.

Choosing Freedom in a Sinful World

We are no longer separated from God, but have His Holy Spirit inside of us to empower and guide us. Instead of a spirit of slavery, we now have God’s Spirit of freedom!

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:6-7 NIV)

Today is a great day, lovely one. It’s a day of celebration for the joys of freedom. Will you choose the eternal joy of the only true freedom found in Jesus?


Happy Independence Day and thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

FearfullyWonderfullyMe would like to thank all military members for their service in protecting our freedom. God bless America!

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How God Turns Disappointment into Purpose

I felt the pain hit me like a tsunami as the doctor said the words, you need surgery again. After I broke my elbow last winter and had emergency surgery, I thought healing would come relatively quickly and easily.

After months of physical therapy, my movement is still restricted due to the size of the plate that helped fuse my bones together. Now that plate has to go so my arm can be free.

Whether it’s a breakup, job loss, or some other life altering event, disappointment affects us all. But where do we find healing?

If we look to the Bible, we find a woman named Hannah, who endured some heartbreaking disappointment with humility and faith. She found healing and victory, and so can we.

Becoming Vulnerable

In 1 Samuel 1, we meet Hannah in the midst of her anguish. She’s married to a man named Elkanah, but she can’t have any children. Although infertility is heart wrenching enough for women today, it felt like complete failure in ancient times.

Elkanah’s second wife, Peninnah, kept provoking Hannah, causing her to weep in distress as they went up to the house of the Lord to make their yearly sacrifice.

Hannah had a choice in how to respond. She could have chosen bitterness toward Peninnah or to wallow alone in her misery. Instead, Hannah took her burden to the Lord.

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:10 NIV)

When we are heartbroken and in anguish, sometimes our first response is to hide from God. However, this is the opposite of what God wants for us. He wants us to be open and vulnerable. He wants raw tears and haunting fears.

Our Heavenly Father wants His children right where they are. God can only transform our lives when we let Him into our hearts.

Turning our Disappointment into Surrender 

Sometimes what we think we want isn’t always the best thing for us. Or, as in Hannah’s case, we must wait for our prayers to be answered.

When we feel disappointed, we must grieve for the loss of what we had or wanted. After pouring out our grief to the Lord, we must surrender our dreams, hurts, and expectations to God’s sovereign care.

And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11 NIV)

When Hannah made  this vow to the Lord, she knew that any future child of hers would be dedicated to God. She had to let go of her past expectations and trust in the Lord fully.

When we’ve been hurt or disappointed, trusting the Lord is a challenge. But Jesus is always in full control of our lives. Nothing takes Him by surprise–not a job loss or diagnosis–nothing.

When Hannah dedicated her dream of having a son to the Lord, she showed true faith. Faith goes beyond this realm and is found only in complete dependence upon our Savior.

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How God Turns Disappointment into Purpose

A New Expectation  

Hannah didn’t stop at vulnerability and surrender. As she pressed on in faith, her expectations changed.

She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. (1 Samuel 1:18-19 NIV)

Instead of the deep anguish of her disappointment, Hannah’s face held hope. She got up and worshipped with her family. And then her miracle finally happened; the Lord gave her a son named Samuel!

Now, we might not always get what we want when going through a disappointing situation. But when we press on in faith and worship, God remembers us.

Jesus is known for showing up in unexpected ways, and He does what seems impossible by human standards.

In 1 Samuel 2, God honors Hannah’s faithfulness in giving up Samuel to the priest so that he could serve God all of his life. In return, Hannah received many more sons and daughters, as well as the honor of Samuel becoming a great judge for Israel’s kings.

When we trust God and keep our hope in the promise of His Word, we find that He is always faithful.

Having a second surgery on my arm was not something I wanted, but I believe that God is working out a higher purpose out of what now feels like a disappointment. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that with Jesus, no struggle we go through is ever wasted. It’s a journey of vulnerability, surrender, and faith for the future.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

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How to Thrive with a Chronic Illness

Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness turns your whole world upside down. Suddenly you can’t do many of the daily activities most people never think twice about. Fear becomes a constant nag in the corner of your mind, and you lose confidence in your future.

I know this because it happened to me. Getting diagnosed with POTS  and IBS was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding trials I have faced so far.

I’ve learned patience, compassion, perseverance, and most importantly, dependence on God.

I truly believe my faith and the prayers of those who love me have brought me this far in my healing journey. Although I’m not cured (yet) of these issues, I’m in a much better place than I was years ago.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to make friends with others who struggle with illness. Though I hope for their healing, I’m so glad God uses us to shine a light for each other. I’m often asked how I do it. How do I manage my life when sometimes just standing makes me dizzy or weak?

Well, here you are lovely ones. My insider pro-tips on thriving with a chronic illness.

1. Set Daily Goals

Having a chronic illness can force you out of your usual routine and school/work life. Suddenly you are dependent on others, and you feel helpless.

Although it may feel this way at first, it’s actually a hidden blessing. Why? Because we are all helpless on our own.

Every human being is one tragedy away from losing everything. The only thing that can’t be taken away is our relationship with Christ. When our dependence is on Jesus, we can learn to walk with humble confidence.

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My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26 NIV)

Having this confidence in God is crucial in order to be fruitful and set a daily goal. A good challenge is to write down one goal you want to accomplish everyday.

Maybe your goal is to clean the house or get an assignment done. Perhaps it’s showering or a doctor’s appointment. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. Just give it all you’ve got and lean on the Lord for confidence.

There are days when I still don’t feel productive. I get wiped out easily and fall asleep randomly from chronic fatigue. Not everything gets checked off on my list, but at least one thing does, and that’s good enough.

2. Make Time for Rest and Renewal

While goal crushing is fun, it’s important to balance work with rest. All bodies require rest, but in our fast-paced American culture, we hardly get the rest we need. Healing takes place when we listen to our bodies and just slow down.

It’s awesome to get things done, but don’t forget to take time to do something relaxing. Maybe this is taking a nap or warm bath. Perhaps a good book or listening to music is your thing. Find whatever it is that relaxes you and do it everyday.

The greatest rest we find is in Jesus, who renews us daily. The only way I got through five years of college with an illness is by God’s renewing strength.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

If we don’t abide in Jesus, we have nothing. If we seek Him constantly, we find physical healing, as well as spiritual renewal. Abiding in Jesus helps us bear fruit far richer than any worldly pursuit can give us.

3. Don’t Isolate Yourself in Illness

When you feel bad, it’s only natural to isolate yourself. However, constantly shutting the world out will only make things worse.

Yes, we all need time alone to rest and recharge, but surrounding ourselves with loved ones uplifts us and even improves our symptoms.

I know that when I hang out with my friends and family, I can’t do everything they can. Although I may need accommodations, I still have plenty of fun with my loved ones.

There will always be those who don’t understand or who get annoyed by you. These people will either learn to adjust, or you’ll find their friendship isn’t as deep as you thought it was.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 ESV)

How to Thrive with a Chronic Illness

Don’t let your limitations discourage you. You are more than your abilities. Our worth comes from the inside–the soul Jesus died to save.  No illness can stop your awesome self from truly shining.

Although living with a chronic illness is life changing, God can still use it for good. He is still a miracle worker and healer. As we wait on God’s healing, we can live for Him in faith, hope, and love.


Thanks for reading! If you or a loved one struggle with an illness, please feel free to comment below so I can pray for you.

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