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,, 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


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


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.

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!