Friday, October 30, 2015

Truly Free by Robert Morris: review

I wasn't entirely sure what this book was about when it was initially offered to me. The title sounded okay, but again, wasn't totally sure. The book surprised me, in a good way, and I ended up really enjoying it. Though there was a few pages on demons that I was unfamiliar with and also hadn't really seen mentioned in many other books that caught me off guard.

Truly Free is about making sure that you are breaking free from the snares in your life that keep you from fully devoting yourself to God and your faith. The contents loosely follow what most people would call the Seven Deadly Sins which I found appropriate, though it does have a few extra that work well with the flow of the book.

While I hadn't really heard of Robert Morris previously, I was aware of his church which is a short drive from my hometown in North Texas. It's a large, megachurch that I have many friends who attend and love. Since he's a Texan, I enjoyed his little anecdotes on just Texan life and how it applies with faith.

I fully believe if one specific "snare" is catching you up, you could open this book and read that chapter for guidance, though the entire book is well worth the read as well! See below for a screenshot of the chapters.

The end of the book has additional helpful information that would be appropriate for a new believer, but might also be beneficial for a long time believer. A section called "Making Sure You're Born Again." I can see how this might apply to someone who has gone to church forever and just assumes they are born again but maybe isn't sure. There is also a few pages on further reading that might be helpful in conjunction with this book.  

I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Anything by Jennie Allen

Living in Austin and following Christian bloggers and authors in Instagram, Jennie Allen's name is bound to come up in conversation somewhere. She is the founder of IF: Gathering and the author of both Anything and Restless






I own both books and with everything going on, I am finally getting around to reading Anything. I am only half way through but wanted to start writing about it because, wow! The first sentence that really caught me (or caught me enough to pull out a highlighter and start making notes which I never do! I don't like writing in books...) was this 


But we seize more of God when he seizes us through our broken dreams. 
This took me some time to digest. God puts what we see as roadblocks in our way to strengthen us and build us up for something even better. We just need to keep our faith and if we are willing, be ready for whatever he wants to use our lives for in his glory.


I wanted to be right with God at the end of my life rather than right with all the people in it. 
So many of us live our lives in a "well, this person will think less of me if I do this," or whatever other thought processes that keeps us from giving our all to God. We thrive on hearing good things from those around us, but how many of us really and truly ache to hear a message from God based on how we are living for Him? I feel like not many. We may say we want to hear a message from Him, but are we really listening? 


Nothing mattered more to Jesus before he did than God showing himself through him and through us.
This book has made me want to relish my time on Earth and live in such a way that without even knowing me, others know my love of God. I want to live each day for his glory. Dang it Jennie Allen! 

I don't want to sit and go on and on about passages from the book, lots of people have read it and it has been around for over a decade. The version I read was the newer release with the study guide that is amazing and I plan on organizing a group in the future to read this book together as I think it brings up some important points that others who may be lost are looking for in their lives. Jennie Allen writes like a normal person, she admits her mistakes (like wanting to smack her children occasionally), how scary doing "anything" for God is, and overwhelming. Even if she is a Razorback fan; I guess I can ignore this. ;) 

Bible study additional information available through Faith Gateway




 I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Meditation



Meditation is not something that was entirely familiar to me a few years ago. I'm not sure how I came across it and started trying it out at random times, but I feel sure that it was due to Rebekah Borucki, aka BexLife, on YouTube or one of Deepak Chopra's free meditation series.

It does seem to be one of those things, like yoga, that everyone is starting to do. And yes, it can go hand in hand with yoga quite well, but can stand alone amazingly. Anyone can do yoga. And if you think your brain won't shut up enough to do meditation, I can promise you, after some time, you can. I have, what my doctors have said, an unusual though pattern in my mind. I can hold a conversation, watch something, have thoughts, and usually song lyrics, and pay attention to all of it easily. My mind is multi-wired somehow, and I have no idea how I accomplish anything! (I'm currently listening to an audiobook and typing this up).

I've been reading books that focus on meditation and I've learned a lot. I've also downloaded several podcasts to listen to and listen to Guided Meditations on YouTube. I feel like they have helped calm me down. It helps me figure out (slowly) how to get my brain to shut up a bit which in turn is helping other areas of my life.

Pema Chodron How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends With Your Mind is a great one that I see recommended often and I feel like I learned a lot from to take into my meditation practice.

I have had anxiety and depression since I was a teenager, or at least that was when I was diagnosed. I have been on all sorts of medication and they don't do much honestly. They have either made a neurological condition I have worse, have done nothing, or have turned me into a zombie. I try to keep this verse in mind when the anxiety gets really bad 

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Probably different for most people that practice meditation, is about half of the time, my meditation turns into prayer. The Bible mentions meditation several times, though it may not mean the same as the Buddhist interpretation of meditation. I've been using it to focus on a Biblical word, verse, or thought, and it has become my way of praying and calming my brain, and the verse above is definitely one that pops up often.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans review

The Church has been a rather finicky topic for so many of us in the last few decades. As children, we grow up with church being required due to our parents making us attend. We went to Sunday School, Sunday service, some of us Sunday nights, and Wednesday evenings for youth group or Wednesday service (depending on your denomination). I consistently hear from family, friends, and acquaintances that they simply "I believe in God, just not organized religion or going to church."

I think Rachel Held Evans brings across points that are quite common to many of us with the Church. There are so many churches that have turned church into a rock concert, or just churches that want everyone to appear perfect.



I think too that a lot of us, myself included, are simply afraid of the criticism of going to a church regularly, having our secrets splayed out for the world (ummm, the congregation) to see, and fear being judged for it. It always feels like being in church means you should already be perfect and not have any sins on display to cause harsh criticism. Which is why I found Rachel's chapter, Dirty Laundry, amazing. I finished Brennan Manning's classic book "The Ragamuffin Gospel" a few days ago and this fell right in line. In her book, she mentions how more people feel the way we SHOULD feel in church, in AA. Why? Everyone freely admits that they are a sinner and have messed up. Specifically, "So why do our churches feel more like country clubs than AA?" People in AA confess their sins, ask for help, and show fear. All things that seem not allowable in most churches unless you are Catholic and sitting in a confessional. Later on in this same chapter, she says "The truth is, we think church is for people living in the "after" picture. We think church is for taking spiritual Instagrams and putting on our best performances. We think church is for the healthy, even though Jesus told us time and again he came to minister to the sick. We think church is for the good people, not resurrected people. ...So we fake it." And I personally feel like this chapter, this is a big part of what is pulling people away from church and away from Christ. This idea that in order to be a part of fellowship, we must be the after picture. 

For me personally, as a single Mother, who is part Caucasian, part Native American, Spaniard, and Mexican, I feel like I don't have a place. Most churches that align with the doctrine I was brought up believing, are predominantly white. I don't speak Spanish so even though I look more like those individuals, I don't fit in because of the language barrier.

This book is a modern day Ragamuffin Gospel to me. There were so many times I found myself shaking my head in agreement, taking some kind of note on something, or understood or agreed with personally.

I saw a few other reviewers on Amazon state that they didn't agree with it and hated the book. I also noticed that these individuals tended to appear older than I think the under 45 demographic this book seems to be targeted towards.

If you've grown up never doubting, and always feeling like you absolutely had your place in the church, then this book may not be for you. But if you've found yourself on the verge of an anxiety attack just by the idea of walking in the sanctuary, or shaking your head in disagreement by the way minorities (persons of color, LGBTQ, females, et cetera) are treated in the church, then this is the book for you.

(I apologize for any errors that may be present in this review, I wrote most of it on a bluetooth keyboard when my computer died!)

I selected this book to review from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Abandon by Tim Timberlake

Tim Timberlake grew up as a pastor's kid (both of his parents!) He went to church regularly, and also had his mess up period like most of us do but it seems few authors are as willing to admit it as Tim. As an adult, he is now a pastor at his own church and wrote this book, Abandon: Laying Aside Your Plan for God's Purpose.

In it, Tim takes you through three phases of learning to let go and let God take control. The Phases are The Choice, The Challenge, The Change. Each phase has a couple of subsections as well.

The Choice

  • Don't Do It Yourself
  • Soul Junkie
  • Ditch The Doubt

The Challenge
  • Abandon Your Ways
  • Abandon Your Outlook

The Change
  • Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
  • Who Am I - Today?
  • Encore
  • Spoiler Alert

My favorite thing about this book is just how insanely relatable Tim's writing and experiences are! It felt like having a conversation from a friend, mentor, or teacher, and not just an author trying to explain his point or sell you on something. Overall, he's reminding us that, as much as we fight for complete control over our lives, experiences, and faith, it's not always up to us and we need to learn to "abandon" ourselves to God's loving mercy. We need to remember that God has a plan for each of us if we just listen.

I really enjoyed it, and realized that, unlike other books I've read that discuss this topic, it was very gender neutral so could easily be given to anyone struggling with direction in their life.

I received this book from bookfun.org in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

God's Beloved Daughters review

I was offered this selection from BookLook and thought, I'll give it a chance. I tried to read it. I read the introduction sections, and read a few days worth of devotionals but I just couldn't get into it. I tried!

Here is the cover. The book was just a little too all over the place, and a bit weird. It's meant to be read as a devotional which I did read a few days worth. Just not for me I guess.

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion from BookLook bloggers.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are review

I've read one of Shauna Niequist's previous books, Bread and Wine, as part of the Bloom book club and it was a great book. I'm not always a huge fan of devotionals though so I was somewhat wary of reading this one. I kept seeing this book, Savor: LIving Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are, pop up in my social media feeds, Instagram and Twitter, via some of my favorite Christian authors, so, after much hesitation, I signed up to review this one.



It's perfect. The devotionals are short and sweet, not requiring that you go to your Bible to read verses or passages. (Which is something that bugs me about some other devotionals since I tend to read books and my Bible on my Kindle).

Each day start with a bold word, a Bible verse that reflects that word, then a short passage, and a reflection question/task. Every few days, there is a recipe included.

An example page:


It's great, honestly. If you like devotionals, if you have ever read one of Shauna's books, and if you like to cook, it's seriously perfect. 


I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Christy Nockels "Let It Be Jesus" Album review + giveaway

This album has already been on my regular rotation in the last 24 hours, I can't even explain how much I love it. I actually was not at all familiar with her music when I agreed to review it (sorry!) but I'm always on the look out for new Christian music to listen to that grabs me but doesn't sound like it could just be any pop song on the radio. Her voice is fantastic and the music sounds eclectic, I don't think I could place it in any one music genre, folk, country, pop, acoustic. It's just beautiful worship music that's so full of love for God.

You can get the album on iTunes, and various Christian bookstores. I plan on finding everything else she has recorded because I am now obsessed!

Tell me your favorite worship album for a chance to win a copy of this cd.


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Learning freedom from Perfection

This has been a hard lesson for me, but I think it is for any woman. We are driven to be perfect for all kinds of reasons. To please our family, our friends, teachers, significant others, church, job. 

If you've ever studied Psychology, there is a theory by a Psychologist named Alfred Adler called the Adlerian theory of Family Therapy. In it, he has a distinct idea of how birth order effects a person and is driven based on if they are an only child, oldest, middle, and youngest. I am a classic oldest child. My parents divorced when I was young, and I have a biological younger brother, two stepsisters (via my dad) and three half-sisters (via my mom). I don't see the latter much, but I definitely feel like I have to protect them and guide them a bit!

Trademarks of an oldest child are as follows (from the Adlerian.us site): Dethroned by next child. Has to learn to share. Parent expectations are usually very high. Often given responsibility and expected to set an example. May become authoritarian or strict. Feels power is his right. Can become helpful if encouraged. May turn to father after birth of next child.

Yep, I hit all of those growing up! I had great grades, college letters took over an entire storage bin, was a total daddy's girl, my sibling's activities always took precedence over mine, anything they did wrong, I was blamed for because I was the oldest "I should be a role model," I was involved in church usually going three days a week. So I was an over-achiever in every way, rule follower, all of that stuff.

As an adult, I've had to fight against this ideal for myself. My partner is a classic youngest child, so he and I have butted heads a bit on some things and it's an interesting dynamic (my son thinks it's hilarious). I've had to really think about some things, like "Am I doing this because I want to or am I doing this because I believe it's expected of me?"

A lot of what has helped me overcome this has been reading the Word. I find passages that tend to remind me that I should be doing what God wants me to do not what other people expect of me. 

Holley's book have helped a lot on this one for me as well. I've read most of them and am currently reading her latest You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect. The chapter on guilt hit me. I apologize for everything. I swear, every 20 words out of my mouth is "I'm sorry." It's horrible! And it's generally  not even something that is my fault. My boyfriend is great at trying to help me out of this bubble I've put myself in. Having been around my family for a while, he sees why it's happening and tries hard to make me see that the weight of the world is not on my shoulders. And actually, moving 4 hours away from my family has helped a great deal as they stress me out tremendously. 

I'm learning that I don't have to be perfect. I'm allowed to screw up. I bought a fitmob membership to force myself out of the house and to try new things and I'm terrified but I KNOW it will help. I can't be perfect at things I've never tried and don't really expect to (now watch me freak out when I go anyway). It can't be fixed in a day, or a week, or a month, but I can start putting the puzzle pieces together with prayer and guidance from God.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: God's Story in 66 verses


Stan Guthrie took on the task of finding one pivotal verse than encompasses each book of the Bible.  No easy feat and even he says that it was a daunting task. However, as someone who has not finished every book of the Bible, I thought it might be nice to at least have a general idea, summary of sorts, of each book so I had some context and this book definitely accomplished that.

In God's Story in 66 Verses, each book of the Bible is first presented by one verse that the author believes highlights the overall theme of the book. Then he goes on to give a bit of background information, how it connects to other books, who the author might be, as well a brief outline of the book. I had never come across a book like this before and when I saw it available on booklookbloggers, I wanted to give it a shot. 

While I don't believe it takes the place of actually reading the Bible in it's entirety, I do believe it would be great for new believers, or maybe believers who just want an overarching summary of books of the Bible that they may not be familiar with...yet. It's almost like a puzzle, putting the pieces together and showing how the books connect in a concise format. 

Overall, I have really enjoyed it and I plan on passing it on to other's who might benefit from it's use. 

I was given the opportunity to review this book on my own. All opinions are mine! 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Year of Living Prayerfully

Jared “Jay” Brock definitely has a twisted sense of humor (I LOVE IT!) and is intelligent, and adventurous. He mentions in a few sections how some physical ailments prevent him from doing some things that he wants to do, however, he tries his best to get by. This, I can relate to. I’ve been dealing with chronic pain that has become degenerative, for the last 14 years or so.



In A Year of Living Prayerfully, he's gone around the world learning, and seeking, insight into prayer. I love how far he went in going around the world, getting down to the roots of it, even when it’s not necessarily a part of it he agrees with (such as Catholicism). He visited with Jewish rabbis, attended the largest church in the world (South Korea), went through some blizzard conditions to get to various places, may or may not have snuck into some sanctuaries...


Obviously, this book isn’t a book to teach you how to pray, to give you a step by step instruction, but it goes give you some ideas. Jay went around the world, to China, England, North and South Korea, and to places in Canada (his home country), and the United States to ask men of faith, how they pray and what prayer means to them. He met and had lunch with the Pope in Rome. Went to a men's only monastery island. He spent a year trying to deepen his own personal relationship with prayer, finding new ideas and outlets for prayer, and learning from others how they pray and what parts might work for him. His wife tagged along for some of these adventures, and you can read in his words that half the time she was super proud and excited by the changes these trips and events had made, in other ways, she was probably sighing and shaking her head in a "Oh Jay is being crazy again." 

So will it teach you how to pray? No. But it will give you ideas on how others around the world pray, why they pray, when they pray, and has a list in the back of some ideas that he learned while going around the world for his year of living prayerfully. I definitely took some ideas from it, such as writing down a list of those in my life who have yet to come to Jesus, and pray that they might come to know Him. I thought this was beautiful, and a way to remember all of those who you wish would come to know Him like you/we do. 

I received this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Lessons from a rescue pup

This is Whiskey, our rescue pup. We adopted her from a shelter last summer. I was not too excited about it. I love dogs, but I had never had an indoor dog before so I was hesitant.

I promise she likes the sweater, she was just in shock from it at first. Now she gets mad when we take it off. Her fur is so thin that she needs it whenever it's below 60.




She was timid, had been horribly abused with deep scars. You could see her ribs, she shied away and hid in corners of the apartment for a few weeks when we first got her. She doesn't bark, as that was apparently beaten out of her (she has barked a few times but it's so rare).

Now, as you can see above, she's a pretty happy, a little bit spoiled, pup. She's around 3 years old, weighs 30 pounds, and is the biggest cuddler. Most of the time at night, she launches herself under the blanket to curl up with me.

Why am I writing about her on a blog that is primarily focused on faith? This pup, who has been through such heart ache, is incredibly loving. She's not at all the same dog she was in June of last year. She runs up to you when you get home wagging her tail in excitement. Her favorite thing to do is to curl up on the couch with you and just be near you. So many of us, when we have had something horrific happen to us, can find no way to recover. We pray, but maybe we just have trouble ever believing everything can be okay so we half pray, in disbelief. We have let the bad take away all of the good that is in our lives. 

This dog has shown me much about forgiveness and love and grace. I earnestly believe we were meant to have this dog and she has been so therapeutic for me.

But she has also taught me about perfection. Is she the perfect dog? For us, yes, but to the hundreds of people who skipped over her because of her timidity, her scars, her weaknesses, no one was willing to give her a chance. I believe that God led us to adopt this sweet girl. I was literally pulled to getting her and we actually waited a month in between seeing her the first time, and adopting her. We have never regretted it (though I'm sometimes a little ornery when she throws up in the car on long trips...)

Since we've had her, my faith has grown enormously, tenfold easily, and I am constantly amazed with her unconditional love for us. Even when we leave her all day, or scold her for trying to steal food from the table (she begs and those sad eyes make it hard!) she comes running back to us no matter what. I think God's love is like that towards us. We may leave Him, we may think we don't need Him in that particular instance, we may not pray for months, but when we come back, He welcomes us with open arms.


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Set-Apart Woman Review

The Set-Apart Woman by Leslie Ludy



Leslie her husband are largely involved in ministry. They have 6 children, some adopted, some biological (I think) and live in Colorado. They have written several books, though this is the first I have read by either of them. 

This book made me uncomfortable. Not in a content driven way, but in a way Mom lecturing you after you KNOW you did something wrong and you know you are in trouble way. In a  “I know I should be doing this but…” It made me cringe at myself, at some of my actions, and thoughts, and it made me want to praise God even more. It also made me wonder if it was too extreme. 

Should we be living in the way that will help us now or in the after life with God? Well, the answer is obvious but it seems impossible to do so. The author sort of pops your hand and says “yeah, you know you can do this and you should do this and here are ways I made these changes.”

There are some parts of this book that definitely seemed rather severe to me. Such as a section later on in the book discussing social media, that everything in our online communications should be to edify your readers and to build up their faith in Jesus Christ as well as encouraging them spiritually. To quote, “If you online communications serve no eternal purpose, they become nothing more than time wasters and distractions, not only in your own life, but in the lives of those you are conversing with." It seems like she's saying "no don't post a ton of pics of your kids, don't complain about anything." It doesn't seem that realistic for most of us. A lot of us live far away from friends and family, and social media lets us see that we all have good and bad days. 

While there are extremes, the good information definitely outweighs them! On the whole, there are definitely parts of this book that I will try to actively add into my life. Especially to get up before my family to spend time with God in prayer, or in the Bible courtesy of Psalm 63:1 “You are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for You.”

" In a culture that promotes busyness and self-indulgence, many of us have adopted a lackadaisical mind-set toward our relationship with Christ. Few of us possess any lasting spiritual passion. And we don’t pursue it, because we don’t think it is possible to find it."

I think this is true for a lot of us. We aren't sure what we are doing and feel as though, because we don't know where to start or find it, that we just give up and don't pursue, or put much work into our relationship with Christ. I definitely feel more inclined to try harder regarding my spiritual life. I want a life that is meaningful to God, that guides me closer to him. 

Now, is the book REALLY that extreme or am I just a scaredy cat? Maybe a bit of both and I think it's more of the latter. I would recommend this book to other women for sure and plan on looking into her other books. Our lives should be more focused on God, our relationship with Him, and helping others build their relationship with Him. We may not be able to do this to the extent Leslie is, but we can form our own path and work on it the way that suits each of us.

She frequently mentions a website they run, ellerslie.com, for more information and videos, discussions, that are relevant to information in the book. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Prosperous Soul

I wasn’t sure what I would think about this book at first. The cover didn’t really intrigue me but the content did.



It starts with a few pages of introduction, then a few chapters on some overarching purposes she hopes the reader gets out of the book and some intentions. Following this are 8 weeks of daily readings with every five days having a set theme to follow regarding prosperity from spiritual to emotional to vocational. Every week, she takes readers through the theme in various ways, relating them to modern day situations as well as Biblical verses and readings. Each day follows a reading theme, then expounds a point of the day, and each day’s reading begins and ends with thought which is usually a quote or Bible verse. Like the other reviewers on Amazon, I loved it so much that I started it and finished it sooner than 8 weeks.

I enjoyed her use of analogies! Specifically, in A Problem of Paradigms she compares a car’s engine with the soul. If the car’s engine is bad, repainting it, or changing the oil, aren’t going to do anything to help the engine, the guts, the inside. Until the car’s “soul” is fixed, it will be unreliable. (page 47). It’s a beautiful comparison that anyone can understand about our own soul. If we just try to fake it, without doing any real change within, we won’t accomplish anything.

I also enjoyed the fact that she doesn’t seem to take verses from the Bible and twist them to her point. In fact, she often expounds on how much she dislikes others who do that, who take a verse and twist it to make their point even if it doesn’t really work! Her writing style is clear, concise, without flowery, over the top language. I would definitely recommend this one for someone who might feel stuck with the constant battle of “I must be super wealthy and prove to everyone what I can do.” Prosperity is so much more than material wealth and she does a great job of pointing this out.

I received my copy from The Book Club Network in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

No Longer A Slumdog

The first thing that comes to most people's minds when they see the title of this book is the Oscar winning movie, "Slumdog Millionaire." Now, I've never seen this movie but I've heard it's amazing (and now I need to watch it...).



This book discusses how one group of Christians in India have taken the power of God and prayer, and helped out thousands of children in India. The book many quite a few children and how their lives were before, and then after the organization helped them by either coming into their communities to meet needs, or having them enrolled in their school.

The book detailed a lot of information on the outlawed Caste system that is still very much at work in India, regardless of what they say they do. These children, the children born in the Dalit, or as is a more common term to us, untouchable, caste, have basically no hope of getting out of that as they are looked at worse than the homeless are in America.

I think the saddest were parents selling their children to make ends meet, thinking it might make life better for the children. Or the parents who get on a train with their children, then abandon them to wherever fate may lead them once the train stops, or they get off, leaving the children behind. Can you imagine just sending your child off to who knows where???? I can't!

The biggest thing I'm gleamed from this book was the absolute power of prayer. It seemed, almost extreme in places in the book! But you could feel the author's heartbreak over how hurt he was by the treatment of so many people in his country. Gospel for Asia seems to do a lot of work in India helping out the poor, and the children who seemingly don't have a future. They try to take in any child they can, especially if the only other available option is for their parent to sell them. I can't even imagine how happy these parents must be to have an education, and food, for their children. But on the other hand, India is not known as a Christian country, so I'm sure there are quite a few trials in that.

It really is a heart consuming book. Yes, in places it seems like a lot of propaganda for the country, but how it that any different than any other large, international, Christian group? I thought it was beautifully written, heart grabbing, with pictures of the children throughout, both happy that they are in school and have a future now, and picture of them before they had help.

You can get a free book here! Read it, pass it along. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Insomnia


This is something that is a daily struggle for me. I know for a lot of mothers, and working individuals, this can be an ordinary occurrence.

Once I have resigned myself to the fact that I won't be going to sleep, I either read, pray, or write.


Sleep is SO important. It allows your body, and mind, to recover. It gives you a respite from day to day activities. When you can't sleep, because your body physically will not shut down, or your head won't shut up, it's a problem! I can't sleep for both of these reasons. 


I did some digging and found that the Bible, especially Proverbs and Psalms, have a few things to say on sleep and the importance of sleep. 


Proverbs 3:24 (NIV) When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.


Psalm 4:8 (Amplified) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.


As someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, that last verse just grabs me. The Lord will keep me in safety and in his confident trust. How beautiful and poignant is that? But it also makes me sad that I can't sleep! Is it because my mind and body refuse to feel safe in the grace of our Lord, or is it all out of balance in general? But I also realized, in those moments of wake/sleep, when I'm in a state of seemingly never ending insomnia, I feel closer to God. I pray, I read, I spend time thinking over passages or seeking out authors of Christian literature. I just feel his presence even more so in those moments. 


There are also quite a few voices that follow along the lines of "and he was awoken by the Lord and [gift/lesson bestowed] on him."



God often woke crucial people in the Bible by waking them from sleep, or stating that he was "waking them up" in a metaphorical sense. When Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, he told his disciples, and Lazarus's family that he was asleep and that he would wake him up. (John 11)


I find it interesting how transformative sleep is both with our faith and our health. We often use sleep as a delay in making a big decision by saying "let me sleep on it." We will pray about the decision, then go to sleep and maybe pray some more. 


So maybe my insomnia is a double edged sword. On one hand, sleep would be nice to allow my body and mind to recover. But some nights, I need that quiet, alone time with the Lord to pray and read. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (AMP)
To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak,A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Simply Open Book review

Simply Open was a book that I really loved and would gladly recommend to others though it did take me a bit to get into it. Prayer, as I've mentioned on this blog before, is something I'm working hard on and when the opportunity to review this book presented itself, I jumped on the chance. 



"Loving God reveals that all humanity is beloved of God, that all men, women, and children are kin. And we cannot love God without loving our kin." 

This book is about prayer, but doesn't sit there and tell you how to pray explicitly. It is written by Pastor Greg Paul and takes you through a prayer process via the five senses plus the heart and mind. The prayer offered throughout each chapter focuses on releasing, receiving, becoming, and doing, with a focus on a different part of the prayer which goes the basics of:
Open my heart, that I may release what I have loved, and so receive your love for me, love you more deeply, and truly love others. 
Each chapter then focuses on parts of the author's life, that of famous Christian's lives, and of course, Biblical lives that represent one of the senses. It's an interesting take on prayer, how to pray, and how to look at prayer and I think it's one that is easily accessible to everyone and easily adjustable to everyone. Such as, for me, when I see a beautiful sunset, I could pray to God for allowing me to see the beauty in his creation. When my son, who is 12 and not as affectionate any longer, comes up and hugs me and tells me he loves me, I could utter a small prayer of thanks for the ability feel his hugs, and for how full my heart feels because of it.

I enjoyed it and it gave me a new take on prayer. There were some people I wasn't familiar with as someone who has grown up in predominately non-denominational and Baptist churches, but it gave me additional people to look up! One such was Saint Columba, who had an interesting story. 


I was given this book from BookLook bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Life...titles

It’s absolutely bizarre to me how caught up we as a society are in titles. Are you a mother? Father? Wife? Homemaker? Programmer? Lawyer? It’s one of the first things people ask about you when they meet you. What do you do? What do you do????


I lost my job recently and I’m not sure where to go with it. I was pretty upset at first, because the reason given was not true and I felt made me look bad. My boss actually didn’t say a word to me, and acted quite cowardly about the whole thing. Am I still upset? No. I'm actually amazed at how much better I feel. Not just physically, but emotionally I feel so much better. I didn't realize how negative the environment there had become so I'm looking at it like a blessing in disguise. 

http://nilsolson.com/unforgettable-christmas-eve-blessing/

I'm sleeping better, my headaches have gone away, my family and friends say that I look so much happier and have so much more energy. I don't feel blah all of the time. It's amazing at how much can change in a couple of days! I also met the group I now attend a small group with a woman I met at the company, so maybe there was a divine purpose in it all. That's what a few people have said to me. 

So I'm learning to look at the bright side, look at the positives in this experience? Did I learn a lot about myself through this job? Yes. Did I learn about careers that may interest me with other companies in the future? Yes. Did I gain experience that will help me? Yes. 

But most importantly I think, through this job, through groups there, and through a certain co-worker, I became closer to God, closer to my faith. So maybe that was the purpose of being there. My faith has exploded ten fold and I love every minute of it. The hard, the scary, the trying, the good, the beautiful. And the impact it's having on my son. Grace. Amen.

I"m using these unemployed moments as my Fringe hours (if you haven't read the book and you feel overbooked, please do!) I'm catching up on lots of things I've needed to do for a while, but hadn't gotten around to doing. Books to be read, car stuff to take care of, home stuff to do. Family time to cherish. Trails to hike!