The Sound of Emeralds Birthday Blog Tour & GIVEAWAY!

unnamed.jpgToday I have the privilege of participating in The Sound of Emeralds birthday blog tour, as we celebrate The Sound of Emerald’s birthday!

The Sound of Emeralds is the third book in the Steadfast Love series by Rachelle Rea Cobb – click here to read my post about the other two books in the series!

In this post, you’ll get a peak into Emeralds, learn more about the author, and have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for a chance to win all three books in the series!

Let’s get started…

About the Steadfast Love Series

In 16th-century Europe, the Reformation rages between Protestants and Catholics.
Gwyneth, half-Dutch, flees from England to Holland to escape the man who murdered her parents. When he follows her there and insists he came to rescue her, will she trust this man called Dirk? When tragedy strikes, will their steadfast love erode?

About The Sound of Emeralds 

Image result for the sound of emeralds rachelle reaWhat once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache? With the help of an old friend with uncertain loyalties, Dirk inches ever closer to clearing his name. Gwyneth throws her faith into good tidings and the promise of a future as a family. But an old evil comes to call, just as tragedy rips apart a fledgling truce. Enemies from the past and grief for the future threaten to tear asunder what God had brought together…

As the date of Dirk’s trial approaches, his fate and his family hang in the balance. Will he be proven innocent of Gwyneth’s parents’ murders—or separated from her forever? How much pain does it take to erode a love steadfast?

Find The Sound of Emeralds on…
Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/F53u5R
Kindle: http://is.gd/F53u5R
Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/RguS9l
Books a Million: http://is.gd/NdMWGr
Goodreads: http://is.gd/zRI9dg

About the Author

Times gone by snatch Rachelle Rea Cobb close, so she reads and writes aboutRachelle Rea
years long ago– her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance.
Rachelle wrote the Steadfast Love series during college. Five months after she
graduated, she signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher, WhiteFire. She’s
a homeschool grad, Oreo addict, and plots her novels while driving around her dream car, a pick-up truck. In June 2016, she married a man with the same name as her fictional hero, and they live happily ever after in Small Town, South. She is also the author of Write Well, a guide for writers, which released on March 4th!

Author Links 

Interview with the Author

1. When and where did you first get the idea for the Steadfast Love Series?

A song I was listening to on the radio inspired the title of the first book. So I wrote Diamonds, but when I finished it, I realized to my great frustration that the characters weren’t done with their story, even though I had been quite adamant that I would write a stand-alone novel. But the story wasn’t finished, so I kept writing.

2. Readers often pick out favorite quotes from a novel. Do you have a favorite of your own from The Sound of Silver?

Yes! In fact, my friend Mindy, a calligrapher, even created a beautiful piece of art from one of my favorite quotes: “Within the pages of books one’s heart can be revealed.”

3. Can you tell us what first drew you to writing Inspirational Historical Romance?

My first exposure to the genre came when I read Heartsong Presents novels when I was twelve. Those small books introduced me to how much I believe in the power of story, especially love stories set in times gone by.

4. I saw on your website that you also write reviews, articles and offer editing services. What’s one of your favorite things beyond writing novels that you enjoy?

Editing is such fun! I daresay I enjoy editing a page full of my own (or others’!) words just as much as I enjoy splashing words onto a blank page. I recently released my first nonfiction book, Write Well, which is a short ebook designed as a guide writers!

Enter the Giveaway! 

Displaying Emeralds.pngEnter using the Rafflecopter form below to signed copies of ALL THREE of Rachelle’s novels. The whole series, signed!

International friends, this giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive all three e-books.

Follow the link to go to the giveaway:  a Rafflecopter Giveaway

Thank you, friends, for stopping by today! Go ahead and grab your copies of the Steadfast Love books, and you’ll be all ready for reading by the pool this summer :)
– Anna

Right There All Along

I lost my Bible a few mornings ago. That was weird, because one minute I was sitting in bed reading John 17, and the next minute the Bible had vanished.

I didn’t have much time to look for it, so I quickly made my bed, grabbed another Bible off the shelf, and headed out the door to class.

“I still can’t find my Bible!” I called to my roommate once I got back to my apartment after class.

“Maybe it walked away,” she called back.

I sighed. “Well, the Word is living and active…”

I searched my bookshelves, then flipped on my phone’s flashlight and checked the space between my bed and the wall. Then my roommate did the same thing while I checked under my bed and all around my desk area.

Next, we flipped back each layer of covers on my bed, because knowing my pre-caffeine brain, it wouldn’t surprise me if I had tucked it in that morning. But no luck.

While my roommate stretched out across my bed to check between the mattress and the wall one more time, I stood in the middle of my room, completely baffled. Where in the world could it have gone?

Then it hit me.

“I know where it is!” I said, mentally smacking myself in the forehead.

“Where?” My roommate asked.

“In The Drawer of Secrets.” (Note: I keep my journals, notes people have written me, and other random things in this drawer. It’s just more exciting to call it “The Drawer of Secrets” than “my nightstand drawer.”)

I walked over to my nightstand and opened the drawer. There was my Bible, waiting for me. I guess I’d stashed it in there when I put my journal away.

The mystery was solved and I was once again amazed at how I can be mid-way through a Master of Arts degree in seminary and yet I can lose my Bible before I even get out of bed in the morning. Sigh.

But the whole thing served as a reminder for me.

See, sometimes I look for evidence that God is near me, but it’s hard to find. I pray, but it feels like my words just boomerang off the ceiling. I become frustrated when God doesn’t show me what to do or where to go.

It feels like God is distant.

But the truth? God is never the one who is distant. I’m the one who strays. I’m the one who gets too busy or too distracted or too stressed out. God doesn’t say, “Whoa, this one’s a handful,” and take a step back from me. He doesn’t stop loving me or showing me He’s right here with me.

I’m the one who wanders.

Hebrews 13:5 reminds us of the promise God has given His people all throughout history:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

That’s echoed all throughout Scripture. God’s people wander away from Him, love other things, and forget He’s right there, calling them back. Do a little digging in God’s Word and you’ll quickly begin to see God is not the one who moves away. He won’t give up on you or abandon you. He won’t decide you’re too much to handle or that you’re too deep into drama for Him to rescue.

Do you feel like God is distant? Spend time with Him. Read His Word, talk with Him, take time to sit and think about Him. Move in close to Him, and watch what He will teach you.

Just like my Bible was right where I’d put it all along, God has been right there all along, waiting for you to return to Him.

Reach out to Him. He’s right there and He loves you.fullsizerender

The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt: Clue #16

Hey, friends! If you’re looking for the next piece of the puzzle in The Lost Girl of Astor Street Clue Hunt, you’ve come to the right place!

Not sure what this is about? Click here to get started! (There’s a prize involved!)

Stick around for my review of the book, more info about the story, and clue #16!

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“I am many things, Detective Cassano, but safe isn’t one of them.” – Piper Sail

My Review 

Q: What do you get when you mix a strong female protagonist, the Roaring 20’s, and the Chicago mafia scene?

A: The Lost Girl of Astor Street, a story that will immerse you in the world of Piper Sail as she tries to solve the mystery of what happened to her best friend. Hold onto your cloche – it’s a wild ride.

The 1920s are fascinating. Flappers, jazz, speakeasies, and the likes of Al Capone all color this time period. And that’s where you’ll find Piper Sail, a tenacious eighteen-year-old determined to find answers to all of the secrets swirling around her.

Stephanie Morrill brings Piper’s world to life through vivid description and a keen eye for historical detail. The story grabs you and won’t let go, but the setting of 1924 Chicago – both the glamorous and the gritty – is enough to keep you reading. Even the dialogue is reflective of the time period.

The characters are unique and well-developed, and the plot will keep you guessing as you try to solve the mystery alongside Piper.

Lost Girl gives readers a perfect blend of suspense, humor, and romance throughout the story, which is realistic yet doesn’t include any iffy language or content.

I’m a big fan of all of Morrill’s books, but she outdoes herself with this one. It’s become one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it. I hope this isn’t the last we hear from Piper Sail!

“To love anyone is to risk.” – Piper’s father

About the book 

Lydia has vanished.
Lydia, who’s never broken any rules, except falling in love with the wrong boy. Lydia, who’s been Piper’s best friend since they were children. Lydia, who never even said good-bye.
Convinced the police are looking in all the wrong places, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail begins her own investigation in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. With the reluctant help of a handsome young detective, Piper goes searching for answers in the dark underbelly of 1924 Chicago, determined to find Lydia at any cost.
When Piper discovers those answers might stem from the corruption strangling the city—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.
From the glitzy homes of the elite to the mob-run streets of 1920s Chicago, Stephanie Morrill’s jazz-age mystery shows just how far a girl will go to save her friend.

About the author

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Stephanie Morrill is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids.

Website: www.stephaniemorrill.com
Facebook: facebook.com/StephanieMorrillAuthor
Twitter: @StephMorrill
Instagram: @StephanieMorrill

The clue 

Are you ready for the next clue? I thought so!

Clue #16 is…

NOT

There you go! Good luck on the rest of the hunt!

Blog stops

Here’s the complete list of stops along the clue hunt! Make sure you stop by each blog to collect all of the Lost Girl clues and be entered to win the prize!

Clue 1: Stephanie Morrill
Clue 2: Some Books Are
Clue 3: Gabriella Slade
Clue 4: Page by Page, Book by Book
Clue 5: Pens and Scrolls
Clue 6: Singing Librarian Books
Clue 7: Heather Manning
Clue 8: Annie Louise Twitchell
Clue 9: Noveling Novelties
Clue 10: Kaitee Hart
Clue 11: Classics and Craziness
Clue 12: Zerina Blossom
Clue 13: Rebecca Morgan
Clue 14: Keturah’s Korner
Clue 15: That Book Gal
Clue 16: Anna Schaeffer
Clue 17: Hadley Grace
Clue 18: Lydia Howe
Clue 19: Ramblings by Bethany
Clue 20: Matilda Sjöholm
Clue 21: Lydia Carns
Clue 22: Broken Birdsong
Clue 23 & Clue 24: The Ink Loft
Clue 25: Roseanna M. White

Heart Cleaning

Have you ever had one of those moments where you realized you were, well, kind of a jerk?

No one who knows me would deny I operate on drama-mode. Meaning, I feel things deeply, analyze things thoroughly, and discuss my opinions loudly. I always say I don’t start drama, it just kind of finds me. Like geese.

But that’s another story for another day.

Recently, I’ve been dealing with a really frustrating situation. The details of it aren’t important, but basically, I dealt with it all day, every day. Each morning when I woke up, I would try to have some quiet time with God, but my heart would be in such a bad mood. Kind of like how the rest of me gets when I skip lunch.

It was one of those situations that required addressing the conflict. And although I am no stranger to the dramas, I despise conflict. Like, seriously, I would rather give up my morning cup of coffee than bring up a problem.

So I prayed about it, which was the right thing to do. But there was still a problem.

No one has ever told me I have a small mouth. In fact, sometimes when the dentist tells me to open wide, he tells me to actually open my mouth a little less. It’s cavernous.

But I also tend to have a big mouth when it comes to my frustration. I found myself running my mouth about my frustrations with any friend who would listen. I was just SO over the issue.

And then, the other afternoon, God spoke to me. Not audibly, but in my heart.

I took a deep breath and addressed the conflict in the best way I knew how, then was smacked with the reality that, even though I’d addressed the problem in the right way, leading up to it had been all wrong.

When I got back to my apartment, I flopped on the couch.

“I am SUCH a sinner!” I declared to my roommate, who was trying to do her homework.

Bless her heart, she endures so much.

Rather than stick to praying and trusting that God would help me in the situation, I spent so much time complaining about it to others. While it would’ve been totally fine to tell a friend about what was going on so she could pray I would handle it correctly, it was not the best idea to just run my mouth. I was self-absorbed and selfish.

I had to repent about that and tell God I was sorry for trying to get other people to share in my frustration instead of leaving the problem in God’s hands.

But I also had to thank Him. Yeah, it hurt a lot to have God point out my sin, but it was necessary. Like removing a splinter. The process hurts, but it gets out the bad thing that will ultimately only hurt you.

While it might feel good to hold onto something and express frustration over it, it’s like a poison. You don’t want that junk in your heart.

Believe it or not, it’s not exactly fun for me to admit my brokenness to you. But I do so to encourage you.

I tell you all of this to encourage you to take whatever that One Thing is and give it to God. Completely. Like, take your hands off of it and back away. Rather than mumble and grumble and complain, give it to Jesus.

You know what? I can still be frustrated with my situation. It hasn’t completely disappeared. But God in His grace chose to clean and realign my heart, rather than leave me in the mud of my frustration. He chose to use the situation to show me an area in my life where I was weak.

He used the situation to remind me of how much I need His grace. Because, frankly, I can be a mess.

Psalm 51:10 says,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

God sent Jesus to earth to live the perfect life that we could never live. And then He took all of our junk and died a sinner’s death so we can live a life free of guilt and shame and the grossness of our sin. Then after defeating sin, He defeated death itself by rising from the dead. Thank God, He doesn’t give up on us when we catch a case of the crazies.

What’s something you need to let go of today? A grudge? Unforgiveness? Disappointment? Anger?

fullsizerender-3Take it to Jesus. Ask Him to clean your heart and give you an attitude that reflects His grace. Then thank Him for shaping you to look more like Him.

In His love,

Anna

Hey, 2017!

I know, I know. We’re 20 days into 2017 already, and I’m just now welcoming the new year to the blog. By now, y’all know I’m fashionably late to all the best parties. (For those of you who hang around me in person, remember when I finally watched Gilmore Girls for the first time? Oy with the poodles already).

But I did have my yearly New Years Resolution chat with my dear friend Emily, and I did journal about how I saw my word for 2016 play out in my life (we’ll have to talk about that one soon, because it’s a lot). And I did journal about my new word for 2017 (might have to talk about that at some point, too).

And of course, copious amounts of sparkling grape juice were consumed.

But in the middle of it all, the blog sat patiently waiting. Don’t worry, though. I have so much to tell you over the coming months of this new year. So many hopes and dreams and prayers to share with you all. We’ll talk about joy and heart growing pains and new seasons. We’ll talk about change and letting go and learning to trust. We’ll talk about the past and the future and how both of those affect the present. We’ll talk about uncertainties and things that are even more certain than the sunrise.

We’ll probably chat about my cat, how the characters in whatever story I’m working on have minds of their own, and grad school life.

I’ll for sure sing the praises of my crock pot, and I’m almost positive I’ll give shout-outs to some of the amazing books I’ve been reading recently.

So…lots of stuff still to come. Stay tuned as I celebrate the blog’s 6th birthday (!!!) next month, and as I continue being Anna and learning what, exactly, that looks like.

May God bless you between now and when we talk again soon,

Anna

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P.S. You may notice the links on the blog have changed a little bit. They now link to my website! Please go exploring and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to add to the site!

Another P.S. Told you I can’t go long without showcasing my cat. He’s my favorite.

For the Wonderer

He was old and frail, but wiser than men twice his age. He was a man of steadfast faith, choosing to spend his time in deep prayer and service to the Lord.

He knew the words of the prophets by heart. The ones who had prophesied about deliverance more than four hundred years ago. Before God went silent. He knew the Messiah would come to free mankind, though he did not know when. Every day he wondered when the Promise would be fulfilled.

He knew the stiffness of his joints and the thinning white hair on his head and beard. He knew the ache in his back each morning when he woke up, and he knew the fatigue he felt by the end of each day. He knew he didn’t have many more days. But he also had a special promise, a knowing he clung to deep within his soul:

He would not see death until he had seen the Savior.

And so, with sturdy faith and secure conviction, Simeon waited.

***

He hadn’t planned to come to the temple so early, but he had been unable to sleep the night before. He’d tossed and turned on his mat before finally lying on his back and praying toward the roof until the first sliver of light from the sun. He ate breakfast, all the while feeling something compelling him to go to the house of worship.

He had just arrived at the temple for the day when he saw them: a man and a woman stepping into the courtyard. The man held a staff and the woman held a baby. He watched the young mother tuck the blanket under the chin of her sleeping child.

Simeon saw this often: first-time parents bringing their son to the temple on his eighth day of life. He knew the couple was presenting their baby to the Lord and offering a sacrifice, according to the Law.

The man rested his hand gently on the woman’s back – she was barely more than a young girl – and gently led her forward. The young woman looked up, and her eyes met Simeon’s.

Instantly, he knew. Deep within the depths of his soul, he heard the Spirit whisper: I Am here.

Trembling, Simeon walked to meet the couple. The man wrapped a protective arm around his wife, and she snuggled the baby closer to her chest.

Simeon reached the man and woman and slowly stretched out his shaking hands. The young mother carefully placed the infant in his arms.

The child was so small, so helpless. Simeon held him close. The baby slowly opened his sleepy eyes and held Simeon’s gaze.

With tears streaming down the creases of his weathered cheeks and into his beard, Simeon raised the baby up in the air, careful to support his neck and keep the blanket wrapped around him.

“Lord,” he whispered, his voice wobbling, “I can now go in peace, just like you promised.” His voice grew in strength until it was steady and strong. “I have seen your salvation with my own eyes, who you have brought for everyone. He is a light so the Gentiles can know who you are, and He is the glory of your people Israel!”

Then Simeon pulled the baby back close to his heart, overcome that the Lord would allow him to hold the Promise in his hands. Aware God Himself was bundled in his arms.

The man and woman silently watched the moment unfold. The mother of the Messiah leaned slightly against the man, both of their eyes shining in wonder at what was taking place.

Simeon bent his neck and gently kissed the baby’s head before handing him back to his mother.

Behind Simeon, a prophetess, old and frail, stepped into the sacred moment. As a widow, she had known deep love and deep sorrow. She had known the joy of companionship and the throbbing ache of loneliness. She was a woman of steadfast faith, choosing to devote her days to fasting and praying in the temple.

When she saw what was taking place, she raised her hands in praise. While Simeon continued to bless the child and speak to the child’s mother, Anna whispered prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord.

The Savior had come.

***

Simeon and Anna are two of countless people who wondered when the Savior would arrive. They waited and prayed and fasted and sought to see God at work. They anticipated God’s answer to sin and shame. They knew with their whole hearts that He was coming, they just didn’t know when.

Just as Jesus came to Simeon and Anna in the temple, you don’t have to stumble around, aimlessly searching for Him because He has come to you.

Neither did the shepherds stumble into the stable on their own – they were invited. Moreover, they were chosen as the first to receive an invitation, and they were given the job of inviting others to come. To tell the world that He had come to save the world.

You are invited. You are chosen.

You aren’t chosen because of who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. Neither are you chosen in spite of who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done.

You are chosen because you are loved, and He came to us as one of us to prove this is true.

There was a star over a stable. Now there is a Spirit stirring hearts. Both inviting, saying, come and behold Him.

For the one who wonders if the good news of Christmas is actually true….come and behold Him.

 For the one who wonders if God will come through before it’s too late…come and behold Him.

 For the one who wonders if it’s too late to follow the Lord and live for Him…come and behold Him.

For the one who wonders if God has forgotten him…come and behold Him.

 For the one who wonders if her dreams and desires even matter to God…come and behold Him.

For the one who wonders if the darkness of night will ever end…come and behold Him.

 For the prodigal, the wayward, the searcher, the lost…come and behold Him.

Simeon and Anna wondered, but they never wandered. They trusted in God’s promise, and they saw Him faithfully deliver. They beheld the answer to their prayers – the Hope of the world.

If you’re ever tempted to believe God has given up on you…

If you ever doubt He could really love you after all you’ve done…

If you ever wonder if you’re wanted…

Your king has come to you.   

For the wanderer…come home.

For the wonderer…you are known.

To those who wander, stand in wonder. Behold the One who calls you beloved.

The Savior has come.

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“I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” – Luke 2:30-32

Merry Christmas,
Anna

 

 

 

The Waiting

Thousands of years of waiting for redemption, prophecies promising the coming of the King. Four hundred years of silence, wondering and longing and praying for a word from God.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus…

Then nine months.

Three quarters of a year between Mary learning she would bear a Son and the birth of the Savior.

Days and days before little limbs began to stretch and grow.

Weeks and weeks before the first felt flutter of life.

Months and months before the Savior could be seen.

Born to set thy people free…

Trusting in the promise, yet waiting weeks to know for sure.

Wondering what everyone would say, what she would do, where she would go.

 Knowing she was carrying the Messiah, yet patiently living daily life while a miracle was in the making.

Holding onto the hope of redemption, yet not holding Him in her arms.

Believing in the impossible, yet not understanding how.

Following in obedience, yet not seeing Him face-to-face.

From our sins and fears and sins release us…

Watching friends make choices about their futures, yet walking on a path she didn’t plan.

Waiting for God to speak to the heart of her betrothed, waiting for the accusations that were sure to come.

Traveling to an unfamiliar town. Looking for a place to stay. Praying for an end to agony. Longing for morning to dawn.

Let us find our rest in Thee.

Then, after thousands of years of waiting for redemption, four hundred years of silence, and nine more months…

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art…

 The waiting is over.

No more desperate praying for a word from God because the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us.

No more seeking signs, no more wondering, and no more longing because she gives birth to the Son.

Dear desire of every nation…

The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Joy of every longing heart.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. – Galatians 4:4-5

When the right time came.

On a divine schedule.

In the perfect moment, the perfect, sinless solution to all of our shame and sorrow entered into the world.

Born Thy people to deliver…

 Emmanuel. God is with us.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.

The flesh-and-blood image of the invisible God lies in a manger. The firstborn of all creation is cradled by a first-time mother.

Born a child and yet a King…

 She waited nine months to hold the promise in her hands. But He was already there, though she couldn’t see Him.

Grace was growing. He was already on earth, forming in secret. Unseen, but very present.

Born to reign in us forever…

She couldn’t yet see Him face-to-face, but He was with her.

His plan was already forming. Hope was already infiltrating history.

Now thy gracious kingdom bring.

When you’re in a season of waiting, longing for what’s next, remember: He’s here. And He’s already working.

He’s behind the scenes, but He’s not silent.

He’s working within us, stirring inside us.

By Thine own eternal Spirit…

He’s here in the middle of the waiting.

When others are living the dreams you’ve dreamed…

When you’re faced with failure yet again…

When you felt sure you wouldn’t be spending yet another Christmas alone…

When you wonder if He has forgotten you…

In the waiting…

Emmanuel. God is with us. And at just the right time, He will provide light in the middle of the darkness.

 …rule in all our hearts alone.

 He’s unfolding a plan too precious to show us all at once.

He’s telling His story.

 In the silence. In the stillness. In the most fragile of faith.

Take heart.

Hold onto hope.

Wait in faith.

Rest in His redemption.

By Thine all sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.

He is listening.

He is restoring.

He is speaking.

He is working in the waiting.

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But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. – Galatians 4:4-5