Living Well at 40 to Live Well at 80

posted in: Books | 0

I love being surprised by books.  And I’m not 40 (yet), but my husband is past this mark.  And thanks to Crossway for this title.  I was intending on reading it right after the new year, but that never happened, but it has been perfect timing for me to pick up this book.

John Dunlop has written a great book, mostly for senior citizens, on how to live well and finish strong for the glory of God.  In Wellness for the Glory of God, Dr. Dunlop explores how people above the age of 40 can live well so that they finish well – not only in health, but in many other areas as well.

He does cover physical wellness.  He doesn’t talk about a particular diet, but he does talk about how our aging bodies need certain things to make them work to their highest capacity.  He doesn’t talk over his readers’ heads, but instead offers illustrations and practical steps to stir them up to good deeds in this area.

He covers mental wellness.  I actually think this chapter would be best read by children of aging parents.  This talks a lot of how to keep the mind sharp.  Again, a very practical chapter.

One thing he covers is social wellness.  He offers some advice to the aging adult – focus on others.  He gives tips on how to focus on others, ministering to them, pouring into them, getting out of your comfort zone, passing on knowledge, playing with kids and grandkids.  This is not only social wellness, but is greatly connected to the physical and mental wellness too.

In financial wellness – he covers tips on wills, leaving good financial legacies for your families, and not piles of debt to be a burden to those after you.  HE talks about giving and how that can be a blessing not only to you but also to the ones you give.

Spiritual Wellness is important.  Some aging adults find it difficult to physically be involved in church activities, but he encourages them to not their love of the Word grow dim.  Bible studies, prayer groups in your home, prayer ministries, mentoring.  Don’t spend all of your retirement years thinking you already know everything about the Word, but spend this time deepening your walk with the Lord.

Emotional Wellness concludes the book’s sections.  I know so many elderly who may struggle with two of the things Dunlop mentions: anger and boredom.  Forgiveness is such a crucial thing to emotional wellbeing.  Boredom should never be the case because this world is so big and we have so much at our fingertips.

What I figured from this book is that I need to start pursuing all these areas now – not wait until I’m 60 and my kids are in college.  Start taking these tips to heart and act upon them.  Be healthy.  Be giving.  Be smart with my finances.  And also that God intends us to be whole beings.  If we are healthy on the outside, but never help anyone or pray to our Creator, then our physical wellness doesn’t get us very far.

Whatever stage of life you are in, seek out how to best live ALL of it for God’s glory.

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet (Ramblings and Giveaway)

posted in: Books | 4

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet

One of the best books I’ve read lately, one that has captured my soul in a time of hurt and healing, is Every Bitter Thing is Sweet.  I was introduced to it by a few friends on IG and she spoke recently at my former church in the RDU area.  It has indeed been a book that I will re-read in different seasons of life.  I will be doing an official review of it on another site, but here I just wanted to give some personal reflections – and have a giveaway (Thanks to Zondervan.)

First, just two notes…This book may not be for you.  It is a memoir of Sara Hagerty’s journey of a wife, adoptive mom, and now a mom.  It is one written on a painful journey and how God met her in her time of need.  There are Scriptures at the back of each chapter – dive into those verse.  Even if you know you know them, read them again.  Scripture is good for our soul – as Psalm 19 says, “It revives the soul”.

“I was a different woman than the one I had been before my life unraveled, because God had become to me a different God than the one I’d contrived to be when it all was working as it should.” (pg 180)

2014 was a difficult year to say the least.  I had a 2 year old and a newborn.  We moved states and my husband changed jobs.  I learned new meanings of the word trust.  I cried so much.  Hurt was a regular part of my vocabulary.  But, what I’ve been learning even into 2015 is that God is an amazingly, close Father and I am in so desperate need of the Gospel every minute of my life.  When we walk through valleys, our God shows up so clear to us – because He is often all we have – and that is a beautifully hard thing to learn.

“She was finding a new identity.  She was walking out the fulfillment of our feeble prayers.  Her heart was growing.  Pain had made space.”

Friends, I’m not there yet.  Not completely.  There’s more space, but not near as much as there should be.  I’m learning every day how to trust again, how to be selfless (which I’m so not, and that’s not humble modesty).  I’m learning to lean into Jesus and his Word.  I want God to be daily re-creating me more and more into his image.

Perfect for Mother’s Day (even though it was yesterday)

“If my chief end as a mother is anything less than knowing Him and carrying His glory in my life, I will walk through these years empty.” (pg 156)

I need to hang this on my mirror so I see it every day.  Notice she didn’t say to have the cleanest house, have the best “work from home” business, or have the most well-dressed kids.  She said to know Jesus and carry his glory.  Reflect his glory!

“He wants us to make a habit out of coming near.  Because His response to our pain will be safe.” (pg 146)

In the presence of God is the only safe place there really is – because there there is no sin.  God is perfect and holy and gently.  He will not break us.  He will shape us into the image of Jesus with gentleness.  Other people – in response to our circumstances – will bring us (even more) pain.  Don’t set your hopes on other’s responses.  Focus your hope of the Lover of your Soul.  He is good.

“Delight and life from a tongue can change a soul.” (pg 101)

This needs to be the air I breathe to others.  Conviction shouldn’t be the first thing on my mind.  Critique shouldn’t be the first thing on my list.  I know God’s Word calls us how to live and I want to know how I can bring life (not sappy optimism) into others.  I want to love on others like Christ would.  That is a hard balance.  If you see others living in sin, tread lightly, be gentle, allow the healing words of Christ and gospel to speak through you – not the harsh words of condemnation.  Remember when you are speaking that there is no condemnation in Christ – so if your words leave someone feeling condemned – that’s not Jesus.

Giveaway Question:

I have one copy of this book to giveaway.  If you’d like it – please answer: What is one thing you’ve learned about God as you’ve walked through a difficult season?

Living the Dream in Ministry : Dream Teams (Scott Douglas)

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Dream Teams

I really love books about ministry and sports – two great loves of mine.  So, when Scott Douglas, or should I say Dr. Douglas, a friend of mine from my days in Kentucky, delivered his book – I knew it would be a winner.

Sports analogies, for most guys especially, is an effective way to teach them about most things.  So, Scott starts and continues his sports analogy well, but not overwhelming where those who are not sports fanatics will still enjoy and learn from the book.  It is just a good theme for the book and the title makes sense.

And sports that have teams involved is a good analogy for ministry teams.  Whether you serve in children’s ministry, youth ministry, family ministry, on a pastoral team, music ministry, VBS ministry – you understand, or hopefully should, your team is your most vital tool in succeeding in ministry.  Douglas realizes this throughout his years of ministry experience: “The journey of developing ministry teams that function effectively is driven by a single idea: ministry teams are made of people who have been called by God, have high character, have great skill, and have chemistry with the rest of the team.”  This is a really good summation of what Douglas hopes, and achieves, to cover in this book.

I have been on a ministry team, whether paid staff or volunteer for almost 20 years.  Some experiences were not as good as others, but I could pull from those experiences and compartmentalize the points in this book in how to respond and handle team ministry in the future.

One lesson I learned early on is communication is key with your “lead pastor”.   That was a hard lesson I learned early on in ministry.  That chemistry has to be there with the right team members, but you will have conflict that arises and you need to be humble and willing to deal with that conflict biblically.

Another lesson I have learned in ministry is that chemistry is vital.  Most recently I was part of a family ministry team that excelled in this.  It wasn’t always so and the elders had to deal with that wisely, but the men and women I served with…I also were friends with and still am even though I’m no longer in that city or church.  Each ministry team doesn’t need to be best friends, but if you can go on road trips together or fishing with some of them – you know its a keeper.

Douglas in his books doesn’t bore you with too many statistics like some ministry books do.  He is very practical with his words and you can tell they come from years of both church ministry and seminary education.  He is humble to admit his failings, and shares his triumphs in ministry as well.  I found this book very relatable.  Maybe this would be a good summer read for your ministry staff.

Book Review and Giveaway: Mommy Loves You

Mommy Loves You So Much

I love each night when it comes to bedtime and I get to read to my boys.  Ever since I had children I dreamed of reading to them – and one day hearing them read.  It is a snuggly time (and a wiggle time some nights).  I also love to see them flip pages in a board book – on trips, in their beds, or in the big comfy sofa chair we have in our living room.  It is a sweet time.

Tommy Nelson just put out a book called Mommy Loves You So Much (don’t worry, Dads – your book is coming soon).  It is a sweet and endearing board book full of animal mommies and their babies.  Jo Parry did a great job illustrating the book.  You can read through the book and use it as a tool to learn life basics, fruit of the Spirit, animal sounds, nature, etc.

This would be a perfect book for a friend who is about to become a Mommy (Mother’s Day, hint hint).

I really loved the book the first time I read it – my boys were looking on – until I got to the last page.

“How much does Mommy love you?

More than you can measure!

My heart grows bigger every day –

You’re my greatest treasure!”

That last line.  So, I don’t want to chunk the whole book – so here are two ways I can handle that line (since I don’t agree with it)

1.  If I am reading it to them I can change the line.  My boys can’t read yet so they don’t know if I do change it.

2.  If your children can read, you can help them understand why that line isn’t true.

Some reasons that last line bothers me:

1.  The Gospel is our greatest treasure – JESUS.

2.  If I have more than one child – do I only have one treasure – which one do I choose/

 

How do you interact with books for children that might not be exactly what you would say?  How do you teach your children through the books you read?

One way to enter in for this book from Tommy Nelson is to answer the question what zoo animals do your children like best?  This book has so many animals in it!

I will choose winner on Wednesday, 22nd.

Tommy Nelson provided this book to me as part of Tommy Nelson Mommies.  All opinions are my own.

Read This: Give Her Wings

posted in: Books, Uncategorized, Women | 1

Give Her Wings

I feel like the title of the book should be a country song – but I won’t venture there.

This is a more serious book with a serious message, not appropriate for a country song.

Megan Cox has become a friend of mine through another friend, and she has such a heart for ministering to women who have come from situations that no woman would desire.  She shares much of her story in Give Her Wings, and that is one of the reasons that Give Her Wings is such a powerful book.  When women share their story, where God met them, how God brought them new life from death, created a new heart where only death lived, it is a miraculous story.

She shares her story in this book and offers hope and counseling to women who might be struggling in similar situations.  She ministers to women with God’s truth on her lips and understanding in her heart.  This book speaks of that understanding and also can be used as a guide in how to minister to hurting women.

One of the best things I’ve read in this book is the following:

“Speak God’s truth into her life.  She Scriptures that encourage and comfort.  Remind her she is not alone.  Bless her with the Word.  If she heads condemnation, her crisis of faith may very well tip to the wrong direction.” (pg 89)

There is a spot of time that women who are coming out of hurting relationships are open to hearing God’s truth. Relationships can be redeemed by God’s Love and Justice.  He can bring healing.  And it is books like this that offer that Love, hope, and truth to hurting women.

 

Bedtime Traditions (and Giveaway)

Really Woolly Nighttime Lullabies

Do you remember what it was like to go to bed when you were younger?  Did you ask for 20 glasses of water or want to read the longest book over and over again?

As my boys get older, I’m (usually) loving bedtime routines.  I usually put the younger one to bed, and then get the older one ready.  He likes to sit and read one or two books in the chair in his room.  He gets really calm with his paci and sits in my lap and I read it quietly (with expression and voices) in his ear.  We pray while holding hands.  Then he hops down and goes to bed.  I know this won’t last forever, but I think it is the sweetest thing and one of my favorite times with him during the day.

One of the books I’ve enjoyed recently with him is Really Woolly Lullabies by Tommy Nelson.  Tommy Nelson sent them to me for a review, but all opinions are my own.  We’ve enjoyed the Scripture on every page, the sentence prayer that helps me pray specific things for my toddlers as I’m putting him to bed.

Nighttime routines are important.  They set a peace for the night that is crucial to my children, and probably yours.  Enjoy this time with them, when you can.  It doesn’t always work perfectly in our home, but it is getting better.

If you would like to win your very own copy of these lullabies, just leave a comment on here or on social media and tell me what your favorite song to sing with your children is.

 

God’s Delight in Pre-Teen Girls (Book Giveaway)

posted in: Books, parenting, Shepherding Children | 10

Brave Girls

(This post is sponsored by Tommy Nelson Mommies: they give me free books – and allow you to win them – in exchange for my review of them.  All opinions are my own.)

One of the first things we learn as believers (or are taught in Christian learning) is “God created everything.”  I already teach that truth to my boys.  We love the verses that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “created in God’s image”

But, somehow, I think it is a very easy truth to learn and put into belief the older we get.  I remember being a pre-teen girl.  I was overweight, wore glasses, didn’t have great hair, had zits, wasn’t all the cool, wanted to be cool, had a crush on the cool guy, started my period, looked different than most of the girls in my class, it wasn’t easy.

I believed lies.  I desired popularity.  I earnestly tried so hard to fit in.  But, one of the things I don’t remember reminding myself of is that God created me perfectly in his image and has a plan for my life.

Then, I graduated high school and started college.  I taught 7th grade co-ed Sunday School for 3 straight years.  I still keep in touch with some of those girls.  There were (and still are) so many battles pre-teen and teen girls face.  But, there is only one answer.  God’s truth.

My first devotional when I was in 10th grade was Spirit Wings by Ken Burns.  I loved it at the time.  I was just learning how to have a quiet time thanks to my youth pastor and youth workers.  Quiet time material has come a long way.  I think it is an important discipline for kids of any age to learn.  Taking time each day to talk with God, read His Word, and listen to Him.

You, as a parent to them, have a vital role in this.  You can not only model this for them, but also teach them how to do it for themselves, and engage with them after their quiet time.  Ask them what they learned.  Ask them what they read.  Ask them important questions of how they might apply it to their heart that God is in the process of making new and making to look like Christ’s.

Tommy Nelson has put out resources for quiet times for pre-teen or young teen girls called Brave Girls.  The two I have for the purpose of this blog is Faithful Friends (on friendships and relationships) and Better Than Perfect (on self-image and how to relate to this world in light of the Word).  Each day is a 1-2 page read.  Starts out with Scripture, then there is a story, lesson, truth, completely applicable to this time in their lives, and finishes with questions and prayers.

One way I think it could be better would be to bring everything in every story under the Cross of Christ – but I do think these are really really good and can be a great help to you as a parent in giving your daughter some solid material.  And, as you talk with your daughter and engage with her in what she is reading, you can tie everything back to the Gospel.

So, if you would like a chance to win these books, please comment with the answer to one of these two questions.

1.  What was the first devotional book you read (besides the Bible)?

2.  How do you train your children to have their own quiet time?

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family

posted in: Books, parenting | 1

Spiritually Healthy Family

(Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour for this new parenting book and giving me a copy in exchange.  All blog content in my own opinion.)

Can I just tell you that parenting is the hardest job…EVER.  I keep telling people that now that I have two toddlers of my own (whom I love very much and would do anything for) – I wouldn’t be a nanny for a million dollars for the rest of my life.  Every day I am challenged in my sanity, patience, grace, and knowledge and experience of the gospel in loving on these two littles.

Michelle Anthony, who has many years of parenting and ministry in her pocket, has written a helpful and engaging book for parents.  If you live in this world, you must think that everyone is dysfunctional – and basically, we all are.  Sin is a problem with all of us.  And now that I am a parent, I definitely see my sin patterns and struggles and strongholds coming out in my parenting.

Do I desire to be in control?  Do I want to be liked?  Do I want everything my way?

Dr. Anthony takes these and many more thoughts and scenarios and helps us as parents think through them.  Not only does she help us think through them, she also helps us identify answers to strengthen our parenting.

And the best news of all: we are not the Director. I’m so glad Michelle started out with this truth because it is one of the most discouraging and encouraging truths to hold on to as a parent.  It is discouraging because as person who likes to be in control, I can’t do much about it.  But it is infinitely encouraging because the Director I know (God, the Father) is a perfect Director who has a marvelous plan and He never needs a “take 2″.

The best I can see using Michelle’s book Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family is getting together and reading it with your spouse and reading it, talk about it, answer the questions at the end of each chapter – and then discuss it with a small group.  This even might be a great evangelistic tool to use in engaging especially single moms who are struggling to do this parenting thing solo.  This book is written for the average parent – you don’t have to be seminary trained to understand her terminology.

Either way, read this, identify yourself in this book, and find hope in the Gospel.  I’m thankful Michelle wrote this and I look forward to re-reading this at each stage of parenthood that I am in.

 

Teaching Young Boys How to Be Men

posted in: Books, parenting | 3

Building God's Kingdom: Tipper Tells a Lie, Andy Holmes

My life is full of balls, choo-choos, and bulldozers.  If you are a mom of young boys, you know what I’m talking about.  I live in the Atlanta area and many times a week I’m driving around specifically going to the site of the new Braves stadium just because my son wants to see the bulldozers.  He squeals with much delight.

So, when I saw these books (a new series) by Tommy Nelson for young boys featuring bulldozers and other machines – I knew my older son would love them.  And what is better yet, they teach them morals: not to lie, telling the truth, etc.  And these are great qualities for young boys – who want to grow to be men.

When I’m training my little boys – I want to train them up in the Gospel – for sure (which is where I think these little books lack), but I also want to train them in good morals in ways they can grow to be men.  Telling the truth and being honest is definitely something God desires and a trait they should have their entire lives.  Another trait I want to teach them is to be gentle and to be good stewards of their toys and possessions.  This is something that God told Adam in the Garden – to tend the garden and take care of it.

Do you have young boys – how do you teach your young boys to be young men?  To teach them morals?

If you do have little boys who love bulldozers or cranes, etc, and you want to win your own set of these books – then just leave a comment on the blog or on facebook and you will be entered.

Thank you Tommy Nelson for these books (all opinions are my own) and for giving an opportunity to win them!

Thoughts and Quotes on Grace Transforming (Ryken/Crossway)

posted in: Books | 0

Grace TransformingOver the years, I’ve learned that I absolutely love books that have been compiled of sermons.  My love for them started with Piper’s Swan series, and has continued – especially since I can’t make every conference but I can always buy a book that has the talks transcribed to fit between the covers.  It is a helpful ministry to put these talks together for those who can’t attend, but would like to reap the benefits of the talks.

Wheaton College is an amazing romantic place to me.  I’ve only been twice, but the moment I stepped foot on the campus outside of Chicago, IL – I was filled with a since of awe as I knew the likes of the Elliots and Pipers had attended there.  The snow was piled high on my first trip, and the quietness peaked an interest in my heart of that campus – which I still adore.  Now, with so many friends working in Wheaton or for the college, it still holds a dear place.  One of my current favorite preachers is now the president.  And while I can’t attend weekly chapel services, I can pick up the book of sermons on Grace that the President, Phil Ryken, preached to his students.

I’ve already reviewed the book, but now want to return to it and point you to some of my underlinings and notes:

Let me just tell you – it may be written for college students, but people in every avenue of life can glean from his sermons.  I mean, for me – what Mom and wife doesn’t need to revel in the grace of Christ on her behalf – especially in disciplining two toddlers and submitting to her husband (who is wonderful by the way)?

“One of the ways that grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness is by giving us a place to go with our sin and then offering us another chance to grow.” (58)  Man…I need this reminder daily.  How often we beat ourselves up if we yell at our children, pick a fight with our husband, or overeat, or have a messy house.  These things shouldn’t define us, but we need to step away from them and enter God’s gracious presence to receive healing and hope.

“Wanting people to think the est of us, we try to present ourselves to the world in the best possible light.  Yet most of us struggle with a deep sense of insecurity. Rather than feeling confident in our abilities, we live with the constant fear that we don’t measure up.” – Probably the most impactful quote in the entire book for me.  In a world of social media and my role as a SAHM – this cut to my weak and sinful heart.

“Is this any way for a person to talk who has received an absolute sufficiency of God’s abundant grace,” (81)  Especially, as I’m around my two toddlers who are learning to talk and see how I respond to life (especially Atlanta drivers and disappointments throughout our day – I want my speech to showcase God – not make my boys question my relationship with Him.

“We get discouraged by the burdens of our work and disheartened by the brokenness of our relationships.” (84)  This was indeed true this past weekend – when my pastor preached on parenting and I also learned that day of another marriage in trouble because of sin.  I wept for the hurt of those friends.  I was convicted by the way I don’t treasure the Word in my parenting like I should.  God’s grace is more.

 

 

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