Sunday, November 23, 2014

Give Me Grace

John 1:15-17 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, 
“This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, 
because he was before me.'”) 
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 
For the law was given through Moses; 

“Grace, then, is grace,
–that is to say, it is sovereign, 
it is free, it is sure, 
it is unconditional, 
and it is everlasting.” 
~ Alexander Whyte

Linking today with Give Me Grace with Lisha Epperson. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Prescription for Life (Book review)

I received a copy of Prescription for Life from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my review of the book.  Affiliate links may also present in this review.

We need to do better for our health.
We need to do better with our exercise and lifestyle choices.
We need to do better with our eating choices.
We know all these things.
Maybe we've heard these things from our spouse, or children, or parents.
Maybe we've heard these things from our doctor.
Maybe we've even tried to make some changes.

Prescription for Life
The book Prescription for Life, by Dr. Richard Furman, was an informative read.
As a vascular surgeon, Dr. Furman approaches the topic for better living from a unique perspective.  Focusing on weight, eating/food choices, and maintaining an active exercise/lifestyle plan, the book contains many helpful tips and hints for starting on the path to making changes to lead to a healthier lifestyle.
This book is full of examples from Dr. Furman's years of medical practice.  There are stories of people who successfully changed their lives for the better.  There are stories of people who chose not to make changes in their lives.  There are stories of people who made healthier choices for some time, but then chose to go back to what their previous habits had been.
Woven within all these stories are medical facts and explanations that are difficult, if not impossible, with which to argue.  Dr. Furman shares his knowledge authoritatively, yet with an underlying sense of urgency and sincerity being conveyed.  Additional topics such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer are also addressed.
In a way, reading this book felt a little bit like "everything you wanted to know about living healthy but were afraid to ask" given all the information that is shared.  If you don't have access to your own personal vascular surgeon, Dr. Furman's book provides a great opportunity to find answers to so many things we know we need to do, but maybe haven't done.

Everlasting Light (New Dayspring Products!)

I've started to notice one word coming up in my life quite a bit lately. 
I've been picking up on this for a couple weeks now.  
First, in an email message.  Then in a daily Scripture email that arrives in my inbox each morning. Then at Mass. Then on the radio. 
Now, I have moments of incredible brilliance.  Really.  Believe me. I do. 
But once in a while, I need to be reminded of a particular point a few times. 
Or, sometimes, more than a few times.  
More like lots of times over the course of a couple weeks.  
I have moments of spiritual blindness.  Really.  Believe me.  I do. 
But I am so grateful for God's gentle goodness to help me see what He's trying to call me to. 
In this case? 
We hear the word so many times throughout the Bible. 

  • Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path.  Psalms 119:105 
  • You will succeed in all you do, and light will shine on your path. Job 22:28 
  • The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.  John 1:5 

I love that in some Scripture passages, when the word "light" is used, it is referring to God.  In some passages, Jesus is the Light.  In other passages, WE are called to be the light, and to bring the Light to others.

Light is where the "good stuff" is.  We are called into the light of life that Jesus claimed for us through his death and resurrection! 

It has been said that the light from a single candle can be seen from two miles away.  I've never set that experiment up to test it for sure, but I think the point it well taken that light will break through darkness.  Good will prevail.  We are called by Christ to let our light shine.  I love the verse inscribed on this ring from Philippians 2:15: "You will shine like stars..." 


This ring is part of the Everlasting Light collection from DaySpring.  Don't you love that name?  

I am fortunate that our home is situated outside of any town or city, which allows us to see the stars on any clear (or relatively clear) night.  I never cease to be amazed at the vastness of the sky, filled with stars.  The Bible says that God calls each star by name.  With all the billions of trillions of stars in the sky, God knows  
To borrow a phrase from my teenage years, that blows my mind.  Really.  
In the same way that God calls each star by name, each of us are called to let our light shine as well.  To bring Christ, the Light of the world, to this broken world of today in which we live.  

So even though it takes me a while to "get it" sometimes, I have loved God's reminders of light -- to be light, to live in the light, to let my light shine.  
I think I get it now, Lord.  Really.  Believe me.  I do. 

This post contains images and my opinion on the Everlasting Light Collection from DaySpring.  I received a gift from them in exchange for my review of these products.  Affiliate links are present.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Woman Code (Book Review)

NOTE:  I was provided with a copy of Sophia Nelson's newly published book The Woman Code from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my review of it.  In addition, affiliate links are present in this blog post.

Something's going on.
Within my heart.
Ever get that feeling?
Nothing major, mind you. I'm not talking changing jobs, or locations, or anything like that.  I'm very happy in my physical space and in my life situation right now.
I love my husband.  I'm enjoying my job.  I have hobbies and interests I enjoy.
But still.....there's something.
This last book I read?  It touched on that "something" within me.
Women live by an inner "code", according to author Sophia Nelson in her new book The Woman Code (see it here).  This code is actually a combination of a number of codes which fall into five major categories: Personal Codes, Emotional Codes, Spiritual Codes, Professional Codes, and Relational Codes.
I have always enjoyed self-improvement books, methods, resources.  As a result, several of the ideas contained within this book I have heard before, but not in this way.
Sophia Nelson takes examples and personal incidents, and shares them in wonderfully beautiful ways to help us, the readers, understand what she is helping us learn.  The examples of Donna and Janet in "Know Your Value" are examples that, I believe, will resonate with every woman.  When we can look at this third-party instance, we realize the impact our understood value as girls has created us to be the women we are today.  Additionally, her grandmother's reminder to "never cut what you can untie" is a poignant reminder to keep the right doors open in our lives.  In the same Code, she helps us understand when to "cut" and when to "untie" to best serve the needs and times in our lives.
One part of this book that was a little overwhelming was the number of Codes Nelson introduces (twenty of them!).  However, once I got into this book, I saw how they were easy to group together under the major Code areas.  Although they were each separate, they were all interwoven with one another which made it easy to continue to read and grow from her writing.
An added bonus to this book is the Study Guide that is included as part of this book.  This is going to be an invaluable resource as I go back to study and learn the Woman Code in more instances in my own life.
That feeling of something going on?
Are you feeling it now, too?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Breathing Room (Book Review)

I was fortunate to receive a copy of Leeana Tankersley's upcoming book Breathing Room from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. In exchange, I am offering my thoughts on the book.  

Normally, I am a relatively fast reader.
I've always enjoyed reading, and am able to read and process material pretty quickly.
When I started Leeana Tankersley's new book Breathing Room, I figured I'd get through it within a day or two.  After all, it wasn't that long a book (just over 200 pages), and written in part as a memoir, I thought the story would move at a nice, brisk pace, allowing me to be done with the book in a brief period of time.
I soon learned Leeana's story, and her magnificent insights, would not be such a quick read.

 Within the first few pages of this book, Leeana drew me in to her world, in to her life.  I could imagine her life as a new mom, married to a Navy SEAL.  I could picture her struggles and challenges as she worked to put together their life in Bahrain.  I could imagine the scents and smells of the cities she described.
I could relate to the Come Aparts.  The Brain Vultures.
I couldn't bring myself to skim through her story.  I didn't want to miss out on how she handled the Hard, when it came around.  I didn't want to miss any of her wonderfully worded insights.  Beautifully phrased thoughts, like:
We are both lost and found.  And no matter where we are on the road home, we are loved.  That's it.  
I couldn't breeze through the chapter called "Saying No to Bad Pants."  
And, I mean - an author who quotes Dr. Seuss and Henri Nouwen within five pages of each other?

With each story shared, I found myself wanting to talk with Leeana.  I also found myself feeling ashamed of the times I've judged other women at first glance, without knowing their real stories.  Yet I found a new appreciation and respect for women who deal with emotional and mental health issues from which they take on and work to rise above every day.  A new tender spot in my heart developed for these women after reading this book.

I love reading books like this, where real women share their real struggles.  In her vulnerability, in sharing her ups and downs, in her honesty, in opening up with her weakest moments, Leeana helped me realize our struggles and challenges are shared.  We can relate to one another, understand one another, when we allow ourselves to open our hearts to each other, but mostly, when we invite God to "sit down on the floor with us" and come into the Hard with us.  When we give ourselves permission to just rest in Him.
To realize we can be blessed, but still struggle.
To see life can be hard, but it is beautiful.
To know it's OK to do what we need to do to take care of ourselves, to give ourselves breathing room.

Monday, September 8, 2014

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days (A review)

I received a copy of Holley Gerth's new book What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days in exchange for my honest opinion of this book.  
And honestly?  
I love it.  
Because really? 
There are days I get home from school, and the only thing I can think of is cutoff jeans, a fresh glass of water, and just simply putting my feet up.  
Ever have days like that?  Maybe not even one of *those* days, but a day when life just wears on you?
If so, you are going to relate to this book in a second.  
Have you read any of Holley's writings before? 
She has this fantastic way of writing that makes you feel like you're sitting down with a dear friend.  A sister, an aunt, or that wise friend with whom you love spending time.  
I've not yet met Holley in person, but from all I gather about her and read of her in her books, on Twitter, on Facebook, she's the real deal.  
She cares about helping women know their worth in Christ, but perhaps more importantly -- she helps women know Christ.  
Presenting ideas that we know that we know, Holley gives gentle reminders to us of how God is working in our lives, of what God has done and is doing for us, every moment of every day.  
This book contains 52 short reflections, and includes space with guided questions for personal journaling for each reading.  My first thought when I saw the number of readings, was, of course, one each week.  But it's not that easy  
And I can't stop thinking of how many hearts will be blessed by this book.  

Thank you Holley Gerth and Revell Books for the opportunity to read this book and offer my review!  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blog Hop

I am so glad to have been asked to participate in a Blog Hop. Not familiar with it? My friend Amy Boyd, who lives in Alabama and writes at Living in Harmony invited me to take part in this activity. 
She linked to my blog from hers, making it easy for people to "hop" from her blog to mine. I hope you will continue the hopping when I introduce my friend Kristen to you in a short bit.

As part of this Blog Hop, I've been asked to respond to the following questions. I feel I need to include a small disclaimer at this point: These are great questions to ask people who I would consider to be real writers. I struggle with really calling myself a "real" writer. I'm just posting some thoughts from my little corner of the world. So - that being said - here are the questions and my responses:

1. What am I writing or working on? At this point, I am putting thoughts together to write something later this week about summer coming to an end, the start of the school year, just general ramblings.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Hmmm, my best response for this is simply -- it's mine! I don't set out to write posts like anyone else, nor do I try to *not* be like anyone else. I just.....write.
3. Why do I write what I do? Sometimes it's just a way to get something off my chest. Sometimes it's to help me sort through something myself. Sometimes it's in response to something I've read or seen. Always - it's just to share what's on my heart.
4. How does my writing process work? OK - seriously - this makes me laugh. A process?? Good one. But, OK. With most of my posts, I've just sat with my laptop, tapping out my ideas, then hit the little orange "publish" button. Once in a while, I will sit with what I've written and go back and amend it as needed.
So that's it. That's how I write.

So now the fun part: I get to introduce you to a good friend of mine who agreed to take part in the Blog Hop.  Her name is Kristen McHargue, and she is one of the real life friends I've had for the longest time in my life.  I met Kristen wayyyy back in the day when her family moved to my hometown.  We became fast friends, and I am so grateful that the Lord has maintained our heart connection throughout the past almost 30 years.  

She is an amazing woman.  I know that word "amazing" is used almost to the point of abuse these days, but truly, that word fits Kristen.  Marrying her high school sweetheart Steve, giving birth to their son Corin, opening their hearts to welcome their daughter Izzy, Kristen and her family had incredible adventures: living in Hawaii, sharing the Gospel literally around the world, pouring their hearts and lives into countless young people to inspire them to live full-out for God.  In the midst of these adventures, they have endured hardships and hurts that would have flattened others of lesser faith: hospital stays, debilitating and life-threatening illness, the sudden death of her beloved Steve.  Yet to talk with Kristen today (something that doesn't happen NEARLY enough for me!), what is evident is her faithful trusting walk with her Lord.  In all her creative, whimsical, thoughtful, beautiful ways, Kristen is a daughter of the King.  You will love her, just as I do.  Do yourself a favor, hop over to Kristen's blog.  She writes at A Divergent Life: Living Out of the Box.