Pearl in the Sand {10th Anniversary Edition} Book Review

Can a Canaanite harlot who made her living enticing men be a fitting wife for a leader of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes.

This 10th anniversary edition of Pearl in the Sand includes new features that will invite you into the untold story of Rahab’s journey from lowly outcast to redeemed child of God. Rahab’s home is built into a wall, a wall that fortifies and protects the city of Jericho. However, other walls surround her too: walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness. Years of pain and betrayal have wounded Rahab’s heart—she doubts whether her dreams of experiencing true love will ever come true.

A woman with a wrecked past and a man of success, of faith … of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.

My Thoughts

This is a fictional account of the story of Rahab of the Bible. It is well-imagined and does stick to the correct facts laid out in Scripture, though they are few. The story takes greater depth and becomes heart-changing in the hands of one of my favorite authors, Tessa Afshar.

In the opening pages, Rahab is faced with an unimaginable life circumstance. Her strength astounds me as she overcomes the obstacles this puts into her life’s path at a young age. And the lies it breathes into her mind and heart. Her dreams and hopes for the future lay at her feet as she digs in and finds a way through. As the story unfolds, she comes to find her worth is far more than she ever hoped and those lies are vanquished in the light of truth.

What I love about this story is the character development in both main characters. It is so helpful to see this in both the male and female character, which speaks to me of how life and relationships truly are. Both people needing growth, not just one person leaning on the other’s perfections. I could say a lot here, but I will leave the rest to this book and your own heart’s revelations should you read it.

I felt the Holy Spirit dealing with inner wounds that I think many women (and men) can relate to, concerning our worth. Or the lie that says we have none.

If you are looking for a Christian historic fiction novel that is full of cheesy romance, you will not find that here. What you will find is much more real. I found myself stopping to ponder and pray many times. And even to weep.

I highly recommend this heart journey for you, too. As I invite you to read this 10th anniversary edition of Pearl in the Sand!

XOXO,

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. I did purchase the original for myself before this new edition copy was provided for me.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and historical fiction. Her books have won the Christy and INSPY Awards and been voted by the Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of the year. Her first Bible study and companion video teaching, The Way Home, based on the book of Ruth, was released from Moody Publishers in June 2020. Born in the Middle East, Tessa moved to England in her teens where she attended boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for one year. She worked in women and prayer ministries for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

Connect with Tessa: https://tessaafshar.com/

God, our Father in Heaven

Many of us are familiar with this prayer from Matthew 6:9-13 which says,

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[b]
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.”[d]

Matthew 6:9-13

Who is our Father in heaven?

Is he like men on earth?

What comes into your heart when you think of the word, “father”?

Do you shudder?

Does your heart melt?

It is so polarizing, depending on what kind of father or fathers we have known.

Have we experienced their kindness, or debilitating pain? Or some mixture of both?

Have they pushed their agendas & mindsets on us harshly, or even cared to ask for our thoughts? Or have they sat down with us and truly listened to every word, then weighed in with life-changing wisdom?

It’s good to know that God of the bible is called Abba. This word is Aramaic and is related to the Hebrew Av from which Abba or “father” is derived.

This is Daddy, or Papa, or Baba, a term of endearment towards a father.

Romans 8:15 speaks of God as Abba.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”[b]

As I woke up today, the light was shining in all around me from a sunny day after many cloudy days.

I would go in and out of sleep and hear whispers to my heart of who I am, as God’s treasure.

Whispers from the Holy Spirit.

I do believe God to be three persons (Matthew 28:19-20). I know it doesn’t make sense, but I think it doesn’t make sense in a beautiful way, not an unintelligent way.

I’m thankful to not quite understand how God can be Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I love thinking on this mystery.

And I love addressing each one. The Holy Spirit makes Jesus known perfectly, and Jesus is a perfect representation of the Father. And the Father is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6).

New International Version
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven

Hebrews 1:3

I think my favorite thing I’ve come to recognize in interpreting Scripture from the Bible is seeing one principle repeated throughout all 66 books in different ways.

So I can find God as a father in the old testament and all throughout the entire Bible. These echoes and mirrors we can see throughout the 66 books makes me feel a sense of awe. So many different authors from different times and yet the connections are woven through every page. This is truly why I believe these words to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

And so, “Father” becomes something new to me.

Something different and better than I’ve ever seen modeled to me.

I’m thankful for every moment my dad and my father-in-law have shown me what the Father-heart of God is like. It’s generous, giving everything to provide for me, listening, kind, turning attention towards me, enabling me to skip out on some things in life that would hurt me by sharing wisdom freely without judgement.

And yet, that is just a whisper of who God the Father really is.

I don’t know about you, but I need to keep getting to know Him.

I have been getting to know Him in reading His word, through talking to Him and listening for that still small voice, or His shouts in the beauty of nature.

He is so much better than we ever dreamed and He has good things in store for us.

God is like a mother, more nurturing than we ever dreamed and He has comfort for us.

God uses all of His power to reach our hearts. He never uses it against us.

Will you join me in forgiving our fathers who have gotten it so wrong sometimes?

I don’t say that lightly, for many of you have seen far more abuse and only terrible things from that man known as “father.”

But I truly have found that forgiveness releases all of that bad from me, and I imagine giving all of that brokenness to my Father in heaven, letting Him absolve it in Himself, in His Son who died for us and was resurrected, who conquered all of that horrible would-be inheritance.

And then we get to go free. To become good fathers and mothers ourselves, and ask His forgiveness when we fail in our own fallen state.

His goodness keeps coming for us. His forgiveness is always there.

HE is always here, present with us. Not absent. Never unkind. Always using His power to give us good things.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

James 1:17

I love the whole book of James, such a good read!

Much love to you,

Eilah, the princess- reminding me of how we are adopted by our good Father in heaven & called His royal ones.

Renaissance

I was sharing this with my husband.

So much is going on within my heart and mind right now.

I think it’s a renaissance of me.

God showing me the very heart of who He created me to be.

And giving me the way forward to actually voice what has been stuffed inside for many, many years.

You see, I have a tender spirit.

And I love to agree with people to make them feel comfortable, while ignoring the voice inside of me or the feeling of warning within.

And so, I have been all set to vote inside the proper and acceptable viewpoints and mindsets that so many people around me deem to be correct.

But there’s a voice inside of me, that voice that only I have been given.

Hear me roar!

(in a kind way)

I’m not just meant to be kind!

I’m meant to say what I mean forthrightly and own my thoughts and viewpoints.

With grace, yes, but also with tenacity.

How many women do you know, who like me, discount themselves at every turn?

We say, “I’m not really feeling this but if you are that’s cool, or I feel this but sorry if you feel differently, or I will totally do that (while feeling completely overwhelmed and guilty inside).”

The most shocking revelation for me yet as I step into this, is that the views I hold within my heart and mind turn out to be liberal views.

Super shocking to my system because I’ve never even been up close to a real, live liberal!

I am pro-life, so I have always thought in common pro-life terms.

I’ve always been warned away from the devil’s way and what he’s doing on the earth.

But WHAT if the enemy doesn’t win, y’all?

What if God beat him, once and for all.

What if Christ is exalted more than worries and fears that consume us.

His kingdom is pure light.

It has yet to fully come and YET, within us, He HAS shone His light in the darkness.

His light WINS every time.

We can hug the homosexual, without fear that it will rub off on us or some ungodly spirit will enter our homes.

We can vote any way we want and not receive the judgement of those who would tell us who we are according to the way they think.

Their opinion?

Doesn’t matter.

That little love button that threatens to undo you because the comment that is loved is so mean, that comment that’s in response to you pouring out your whole heart before the person. And then you are called names and told that everything you’ve given to yourself as a life calling doesn’t count.

Who are you, huh?

MY GOD says I am loved.

He is ABLE to give me wisdom.

Ain’t nobody gotta be afraid for me!

I’m HELD.

I’m CLEAN.

My land, my nation is clean where I walk upon it.

I don’t bear the weight of the guilt of a whole nation.

JESUS DOES.

Love,

Ailene <which means bringer of light and messenger of truth, so there you go!>

*renaissance- yeah it means revival of the arts. I take it here as a resurrection of the heart and thus creativity of me. I believe we are each created as fully alive living art pieces. Each a facet of our creative God’s heart on earth, never seen before.

How to get Airline Rewards and Fly using Points

The most beautiful view on my most recent trip during covid-19.

Hi friends!

I’ve started to get a reputation for getting extremely good deals on flights, as well as flying for free. Even flying my family for free in first class.

Did you know that you can do the same?

And that airlines will many times automatically give you perks when you have an open credit card with them (and a family with small children, though this post is for anyone!)

Today I’m going to share about 3 different airline rewards systems I have used and my thoughts, including a funny story about not such a great experience!

Southwest Airlines: This is possibly my favorite airline for their rewards system. The deal most frequently out there is to spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening the credit card, and you get 40,000 points. These points, my friend, can truly take you far! 40,000 points is enough for about two tickets, possibly more depending on fluctuations. Look out for the $69 annual fee that is paid immediately. (But well worth it, in my opinion!) Southwest Airlines is a great family airline. I am thinking about the time that we boarded a SWA airplane and the flight attendant told us that if we took a certain seat, she would make sure to wave away anybody from sitting in our row. So that even though we didn’t pay for a third seat for our child, we could have the extra room. She knew that it wasn’t a full flight and she actually turned people away politely showing them another seat that was available. It was amazing and talk about special treatment! I’ve actually had no cons with this airlines, except that I have been on some that didn’t feel very comfortable. But my most recent flight with them, during covid-19 times, was absolutely wonderful. They actually have completely refreshed air every 3 minutes from a new air filtration system that takes in air from outside. And when I flew with them in August 2020, they had middle seats open for social distancing.

Delta: At the time of writing, Delta has many options for rewards credit cards. The one I have experience with is the Delta Skymiles Gold American Express Card. It currently offers 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening the card. Now, I have opened and closed this card twice. The second time, I received an email for an exclusive offer of 60,000 points when I spent $1,000 in the first three months of opening. I did an internet search and asked my husband to check his Skymiles emails, and could not find this exclusive offer online. I opened the card and really enjoyed the extra points! It was pretty shocking to only spend $1,000 instead of $2,000, as well. Also, the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months. Please confirm all of these details before opening your own card; I’m sure that goes without saying, but anyway!

There were some cons with these award tickets. *this is long but important if you are a family with a lap infant who is booking award miles tickets*. We have a family of 4 and used airline award miles with Delta to get 3 first class tickets (sooo exciting!) The fourth was a lap infant. This is where we ran into trouble. We went to check in and found ourselves waiting for many phone calls that totaled 1 hour, an hour that we almost didn’t have to give before going through security and getting onto our plane! It was a bit stressful. Not only that, I overheard one airline ticketing attendant say to ” just bump us down, we were somehow bumped up to first class for free.” This deflated my sails at the elation of my very first time flying first class! I stepped into the conversation and kindly but firmly let her know that we booked these flights with our airline award miles for first class, and did not get these flights last minute as a free perk. It was annoying, at the least! The kind woman on the phone kept calling person after person and could not add the lap infant to my ticket. I was very surprised that there was no protocol for her to follow and that she had to call customer service and stay on the line for 1 hour to finally get our lap infant added. She assured me that there would be no problems on the return flight. However, we were detained 1 hour, again, upon return with the same issue. I had even called in to customer service myself to check and make sure our lap infant was added, and she was added by name. It didn’t matter, as the ticketing agents struggled again with a seeming glitch. I do believe it was a glitch and hope that Delta got it sorted out for any other families who book award tickets and add a lap infant!

This is where having a family with small kids does turn into a positive when you finally make it to the gate, though! It doesn’t matter if you have a basic economy ticket, if you have a credit card with the airline, you get free baggage with your flight and for up to 4 people total on your itinerary. And if you have a family with small children, there is usually boarding right after the priority boarding. You can ask your agent if you aren’t sure, and don’t be afraid to smile and ask when you could board. We like to board early, even though it’s a tad more time on the plane and I’ll share why as the very last story on the bottom of this page!

American Airlines: American is probably my favorite for flying with a family. In our home airport, they are the only ones who have a nursing mother’s room and that was just so nice. They have bent over backwards to help us with strollers and carseats. And that is huge when you are flying as a pregnant mother with a 1 year old, for example! 🙂

Now, on to their rewards program. You receive 50,000 points when you open their Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card and spend $2500 in the first 3 months. The annual fee of $99 is also waived for the first 12 months. Again, please don’t take my word for it and be sure to read the fine print before you go to open your own! I don’t wish to lead anyone astray! I am not a spokesperson for any airline, just a blogger who is giving my free opinions and may be incorrect on some points. Though my aim is to be as accurate as possible!

I haven’t always had perfect experiences with American Airlines, but in recent years they have been wonderful! I’ll share a funny story in the bottom paragraph that has to do with them but could happen on any airline!

Now that I’ve shared about 3 different airline rewards credit cards, I want to mention that a wonderful time to open an airline credit card would typically be a few months before you plan to travel. Sometimes even after you meet the dollar requirement, it can take up to 8 weeks to receive the reward points. However, I’ve always done this about 1 month before traveling and have received the points within a month almost every time. (Oops!)

It is also a great time to open a credit card with an airline if you are about to pay a large sum. Perhaps on baby-related items or other various bills. Such as a phone bill, utilities bill, etc. We like to use the new credit card for current monthly expenses instead of this being an extra expense, so that the rewards miles are a true reward!

If you are wanting to do what I do and strategically “play” the airline rewards credit card game, be sure to consider the following.

Southwest requires the credit card to be closed for 24 months before you may open a new one and receive the current rewards on it. If you open it less than the 24 months, you won’t know until you put the work in that you didn’t actually get the rewards points. I’m not sure that they tell you, so be aware! I believe the other airlines have similar requirements, however that crazy Delta exclusive offer came after I had just closed the card. It was probably 2 months later and perhaps was just a strange fluke!

*note, just be aware that opening and closing credit cards will affect your credit score. I usually wait until my score comes back up before opening another credit card and reaping those rewards.

It is also totally up to you if you want to keep that card open. But if you don’t fly internationally or get referral points from friends totaling enough for another flight, it may not be worth it to keep it open at 1 point per $1. Up to you!

Okay and now, at long last, here is my story to finish this.

It was our first Christmas married. And my husband and I decided to fly on Christmas Eve, as the cost was lower on this day. An untimely bathroom break for me caused us to saunter up to the door, only to eerily find that everyone was gone and the door was closed! One lonely agent waved to us, with shifty eyes and a big pasted on smile. Poor guy! Anyway, he let us know that we would not be flying on that flight. And that they had given our fully-paid for tickets away. On Christmas Eve!

We remained in good spirits, shocked though we were. The agent explained that he was looking for another flight for us and was sure we would be there by the afternoon instead of the morning. We called my grandma to cancel lunch with her (so sad). He showed us a brochure and pointed out the system of how they would compensate us. At the time, if it was 4 hours or less, we would get the price of my ticket only. If it was 4 hours or more, we would get 4 times the cost of my ticket. He got us set up with new tickets for a few hours from then and we walked back out and down to ticketing for that airline. We got there and they assured us they did not have any space on any flight to Philadelphia.

By some miracle, we were allowed back into the original gate to speak with that same agent for our original flight. I thought, for sure that we had just lost our tickets and all we had was about $200 ish to show for it. (I can’t recall why it was only one ticket and not both, but I think technically it was only I who was bumped, though they bumped us both!)

Our lovely agent was not exactly thrilled to see us again, it seemed. But he faithfully searched for a flight and got one for that evening. I believe we had nonstop flights originally but now we would go through Chicago ORD. I was so so thankful my family had moved our traditional Italian Christmas Eve get-together to Saturday, for the first time ever. And by this time, the goal was to just do anything to get there by Christmas day.

The agent just about sent us on our way to leave and come back later that night, but his fast-talking did not deter me. I had realized that we now would get 4 times the amount of my ticket back to us, since it was now 4 or more hours until our new flight. He may have seemed less than thrilled. He cut us a hefty check. A member of the cleaning staff stopped us as we walked out, saying incredulously that he had worked at the airport for years and never ever had he seen an airline make out a check to a customer like that! (I looked it up and there’s a law about customers being compensated, up to $1350. Many times you will get a say in being bumped, unlike our situation. And if they ask you what it will take and you’re willing, I’d say go for the highest amount!)

We were gleeful by this time and thankful that we had parked our car at the airport. We promptly deposited our check and enjoyed ourselves until it was time to come back that evening.

I’m so so thankful we made it on the evening flight and got to my parent’s home in time to enjoy Christmas Eve with my family!

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough?

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough?

Don’t do enough, can’t give enough?

Everyone around you seems to do the best they can and you come up short, again.

In your tone of voice, your work, your estimation of yourself, your weight, your style, your smarts, your ability to save money, to raise your kids to be free-spirited yet educated…on and on.

Friend, can I lead you where my heart just went?

Let’s ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Is this an unusual season?
  2. Is it a tougher than usual season?
  3. Are you in the midst of what feels like a huge learning curve?

And some more questions:

  1. Are you getting the water intake you need, like how about in this moment?
  2. Are you able to take 10 minutes to do something de-stressing?
  3. Can you just breathe in and then breathe out in this moment?

There…so glad you joined me for that. 🙂

Is it maybe your own estimation that is causing you to be so tough on your own self?

This post is prompted by a realization I just had.

So, this is my second year of having two children. And continuing to work full-time. And since March, the two days a week I used to escape to the office turned into fully working from home. The weekly couple of mornings of childcare for my older child turned into having him home every day. The baby stopped needing naps in the mornings, and with all of the upheaval, the older one stopped taking naps altogether.

It’s been such a huge learning curve. I’ve had seasons like this in the past, where the amount of responsibility required of me for that season is just more than I can handle. And though there are some things I can drop, the minimum requirement feels many times like too much.

Anyway, I looked at my time off for the year and get this, friends. It actually makes me want to cry.

I only took one half day off for a personal day plus two more for a sisters’ long weekend. For the entire year.

I barely took that off.

I have had two children at home with me from March until September and worked full-time.

This means I’ve worked through their ups and downs and needs. And given myself to their needs while still making sure to catch up on work late into the night, after getting up early to do it.

This means, that because I’m already at home, even when I’ve been sick, I’ve just adjusted my hours instead of taking time off.

I had this thought, “girl, what is your problem?!”

I guess I would just think, I want to save my time off in case we get to travel in the summer.

And then, I’ll just wait until it’s closer to the end of the year, so I can look at those days off and have hope.

(I’ve used up my days off for the year early in the year before and it was so tough mentally!)

So now it’s OCTOBER.

Girl, take a day off.

Take.a.personal.day.

Haha, anyway, friend I hope you have days off. I know not everyone does. I am so very blessed. And yes, I’m privileged, I really, truly am.

And I’m here to remind you that so many breaths of fresh air are here for us after we go take the walks, or take that personal day, or just stare out the window and dream a second while drinking a yummy drink.

I pray you get that recharge time soon. Let me know if you feel comfortable, your thoughts and something you do to recharge below.

Xoxo,