A Small Book about a Big Problem

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My husband asked me the other night if I ever thought I would say I struggle with anger.  Never. In a million years.

That is actually one of the ways I would describe my parenting – on my bad days (or my kids bad days).

And I love me some Ed Welch, a great counselor, very competent at getting to the heart of the problem.

This little book about Anger is hard to read because I find me one every page.  It takes less than a minute to read each devotional – but pray the Lord would allow it to stick for more than a minute.  I need to keep this book by my bed and read a short chapter each day.

I would encourage every single mom to pick this up.  And read it.  And allow the Spirit to soften your bent toward anger.  Like he is doing mine.  (And this isn’t a book big on application, but let the Spirit be your application writer.)

Thanks Litfuse for this book. All opinions are my own.

Dragon Seed – a review:

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I fell in love with Marty Machowski’s writing for kids, youth, and parents when I was working on designing a curriculum for a church in Raleigh 7 years ago.  And I’m still influenced by how he handles the Gospel to others.  Whether its kids or teens or parents, any body can benefit from his writing.

His use of the Gospel and application and getting to the heart of the matter and correct theology – is all important parts of his writing.

And how hard is sin to explain to teens?  When lives are hard, emotions run deep, friendships are off and on, hormones are raging, parenting relationships can be difficult.  In his new book, Dragon Seed, Marty does a really good job using his sanctified imagination to explain sin, how it cuts us to the core, and how spiritual warfare is a real thing.

The Gospel is so crucial to that and the empty tomb wins though.

This would be a great book for parents to read with their pre-teen sons, I think especially sons.  Maybe a good one for Dads and sons to read together or go on a weekend trip to discuss.

Thanks Litfuse for a chance to read this book.  All opinions are my own.

A book for every woman

posted in: Books, life together, Women | 0

Women’s ministries come and women’s ministries go.  I mean churches always minister to women, some way, good or bad.  But through the years we have seen many fads come and go out of the church.

But, if there is any book, that can be used by all women, young or old, to learn how God wants her to live in relationship with other women in and outside of the church, it is Adorned.

First, its a beautiful book.  And its thick – there are 350 pages.  And even though its long, all of it is so good.  I’ve underlined so much

Second, its written by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth.  She has spent most of her life in ministry with women as a single.  Now, she is still ministering to women as a married woman, who also ministers to her husband.  She is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.

She gears her book to women, young and old.  Each chapter can be read through eyes of faith, trying to live to spur each other on, to love and good deeds.

So, if you are in women’s ministry, or leading a women’s ministry at your church, I would get this book and devour it, answering the questions, going through it with your ministry team, encourage your pastor to read it for him to get an idea of what women’s ministry should look like.

This doesn’t tell you exactly how you should plan every event or what events you should have, but it gives you biblical guidelines about the personality or reason behind your women’s ministry.

Every women’s ministry should include: Teaching the word in a way that will grip the lives of your women. Time to build meaningful authentic relationships (not all teaching, but good relationship building time too).  Multi-generational.  And, as a side note to me: some celebrative worship and childcare!  But, it is all about living out the Bible in authentic ways to other women, celebrating the Gospel!

Thanks Moody for this wonderful book.  All opinions are my own.

Still Waiting (a review)

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Do you often feel like your whole life is one entire lesson in patience?

You wait in your mommy’s belly to be born.

You wait to take your first steps, to go potty all by yourself, to have your first day of school, to ride your bike without training wheels.

My big can’t wait to turn 5 because he wants to chew gum.

You wait for the day you get your driver’s license.  Till you graduate.  Till you turn 21.  Until you get married.  Until you have kids.  Until you buy a house.  Until you are an empty-nester.

My life has definitely been a long waiting period.  Let’s just speed things up till my 30s.  I had gotten my dream admin job.  Then I got my dream writing/creative job.  Then, shortly into my dream job, I met my husband.  I was 34.  Most of my friends were married.  I still wasn’t.  And I’d quit praying those prayers about finding my spouse.  I was enjoying being single.

Thankfully, we didn’t need to wait long to get married or to have kids.  But, already, I want them to be older so we can travel more, to be potty trained, or to be in school – without losing the swing time at the local park.

We are also in a time of waiting for restoration and news on a job.  I’ve learned a lot in waiting.  I can’t speed it up.  I can’t do anything by worrying about it.  Some would say I’ve gotten cynical and jaded, and may be I’ve in some ways about some things.  But, I also know that life is out of my hands, and God has bigger, perfect hands.

Ann Swindell, in her book Still Waiting, does a masterful job of sharing with us not only her journey in waiting for healing, but also uses her sanctified imagination to bring the story of the bleeding woman (in the gospels) to life.  I will never read that short narrative about her the same again.

When I was telling my husband about her book I was crying by the time I finished telling him of all the inner turmoil that the woman must have known.  How her life was eaten up with shame and loneliness.

So, let me encourage you, no matter what stage of waiting you are in, you can learn truths about others and the gospel and yourself in this book.  Ann is a skilled writer and storyteller and is authentic and real about boasting in the Gospel.

Thanks Tyndale for the book.  All opinions are my own.

The Elusive Miss Ellison (review)

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I need to learn some things about reading.  You think I’ve been reading for decades, I’d have it down, but my reading brain needs to be retrained.

For about 10 years now, post seminary, I’ve been reading mostly for review purposes, so it is hard for me to read for fun.  I’ve read books that I love and adore, but most of those aren’t the ones I’m reviewing (there are exceptions of course).  And when I read for review, it is hard for me to read for enjoyment.

And it is hard for me to read fiction, because it is hard for me to think that this will affect my heart and life.

Insert: why I don’t read much fiction anymore.  I don’t know why it is so difficult.

Carolyn Miller, in her new book The Elusive Miss Ellison, has so many important things about life.

“But although she prayed and tried to believe things would somehow work out for good, the mortification continued to ebb and flow, the questions whirled, and heaviness of heart made sleep impossible.” – Carolyn Miller

Pride, love, family troubles, societal obstacles – you’ll find them all in this book.

Thanks Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Parenting with Grace and Truth (review and giveaway)

posted in: Books, parenting | 2

I’ve never counted them, but I would assume the parenting section at your local bookstore is probably one of the largest sections on the floor.  You can easily find a parenting book to help you through and part of the parenting journey.  From attempting to conceive, finding out your pregnant, how to birth the baby, how to swaddle your baby, how to get your baby to nap, get on a schedule, eat solid food, potty train, learn their ABCs.  All of these books can be helpful to some degree.

When reading parenting books, I often say read whatever you can get your hands on, write down some notes that seem likely to work in your given situation, with your kids, or ones that you would like to try, talk it over with your husband or the people who help you parent, maybe run it by a group of other moms that you meet with or hang out with, and then try it. If it doesn’t work, move on.  Don’t get so flustered.  Not everything you read in every parenting book is going to be the right thing for your particular child or family.

Parenting with Grace and Truth, a new book by Dan Seaborn (I always think of West Wing when I hear the word Seaborn), is filled with practical help.  To me, though, I felt it leaned more toward behavior and actions, rather than to the heart of your children, growing them with hearts that were pleasing to God.  I know that there needs to be right actions.  And at any stage of parenting you are working to get your kids to act right (we are working on manners right now, as well as many other things.

“Forgiveness was at the heart of Jesus, and as such, it is the foundation of the entire Gospel.  God sacrificed His only Son for the forgiveness of our sins – past, present, and future.”  – Dan Seaborn

He helps families work through many different things likes crises or trying to become a healthy blended family.  He wants to help you discover what your kids talents and abilities are – it is helpful to know what drives them and what makes them tick and what they are good at.  I did appreciate the questions that he gave his readers to think through at the end of each chapter.  When reading any book, if you are given questions, at least take the time to think through them – it will help as you digest the book and try to implement what you are reading.

If you would liked to find some great tips in this book, just leave me a comment.  I’ll be choosing a winner soon – and thanks to SideDoor Communications, you can get a copy of it!

Thanks to SideDoor Communications for the book.  All thoughts are my own.

My Affection for Amish Lit

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I remember making my first trip to Amish country.  I was attending a wedding of some friend’s in college…and the bride lived in Amish country of Indiana.  It was neat to see a culture within a culture.  One so different from normal American culture, yet nestled in the quaint neighborhoods outside of the city.  The food was spectacular and the people were friendly.  The horse and buggies were iconic.

Now, I read Amish lit because it is fun.  Most of the books are filled with a culture I don’t know very well and are in some form religious.  Most of them are about romances.  Most of them have some form of “coming of age” story.

I think as I get older though, I’m realizing that I’m more removed from young adult fiction.  I love a good story, don’t get me wrong.  But, I have sensed that most YA fiction is filled with a little drama, but not much.  So much of it doesn’t tend to hit on the real hard stuff that hits most of American families.

Home to Paradise was slightly different: stories of God’s acceptance, forgiveness, family, heartbreak, and friendships.  Troubled hearts are clearly in this book. If you like Amish lit, you will like this third book in a series by Barbara Cameron and you don’t even have needed to read the first two books.  It draws you in and gives you enough of the backstory.  Hey, it might even make you go back and the first two.

Cultures are always intriguing.

Litfuse is hosting a giveaway (and thanks for the book).  If you would like a chance to win, enter here.

Liked – at any age

posted in: Books | 2

I don’t know of a single person who loves rejection.  We may learn from rejection, but it isn’t fun to go through.

I remember having to wear army green orthodic shoes in 3rd grade.  Yeah, that’s cool.

I remember being heavier than everyone in my class.  Another cool factor.

I remember not making the music group in high school that I wanted to make.  Tears for days.

Then I didn’t make the cheerleading squad the second year or the JV Volleyball team – more tears.

Then came guys.  Not being the one your favorite guy (at the time) ends up marrying.  Not having a real date all the way through college.  Not being the one the cool kids want to hang out with when doing youth ministry.

And let me tell you, at the age of 40, it doesn’t get any easier.  The rejections are just different.  Sure, you may be more confident in who you are or you may be able to get over the rejection easier, but rejection still hurts.

Kari Kampakis writes a great book that would be ideal for mothers to go through with their pre-teen or teen daughters.  You need to be talking about these things with your daughters.  Know the biblical heart that they need to hear.  They will find their worth somewhere and you need to teach them, lovingly, with full compassion, that their worth is set.

She gives you a great tool here.  And you can win a copy of this book – just leave me a message telling me one thing you like about yourself! 🙂 . Thanks to Tommy Nelson Mommies for this giveaway opportunity and the book.  All opinons are my own.

Engaging Your Community During the Holidays

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Back in high school, I worked at a Christian bookstore.  Some of the best memories were concerts and friendships and knowing when all the new DC Talk, Steven Curtis Chapman, and 4Him music came out.  I loved seeing all the new Max Lucado books and cute Pass it One cards.  One of the downsides were all the cheesy Christian t-shirts (ripped from secular companies) and the cheesy books (some of which are still out there).

As a teenager, even though I had been saved for over a decade at that point, I was just learning how to pray, interact with Scripture, have a quiet time, share my faith – all the things that a growing Christian does.  Some of the books that were helpful were those little “Scripture” books that were a list of scriptures you could pray if you : were afraid, needed advice, scared of people, didn’t know anyone, had spaghetti on your tie (well, not really but you get my drift).  Some were helpful, some verses were pulled out of the context they were in in the Bible.  But, really, they helped you learn to pray God’s Word for any situation you were in.

What I know now that I didn’t know then, is how cruel this world could be.  How much sin totally affects and effects our lives – every bit of it.  And if sin affects my heart, it must affect those around me.  Now, that we are more than two decades out from my Christian bookstore days, I know even more of the people around me and the pain and reality that intersect their 24/7.

Amelia Rhodes, in her helpful prayer book, Pray A to Z, doesn’t teach us how to pray, but she gives examples of prayers that could be prayed for your community : your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, your church members, your friends – and gives a verse and sample prayer that could help you – jump start or continue – in how to pray for these.

Here is just a sample:

Adoption (I know so many in this process right now)

Abuse (unfortunately, I know some who have been or who are in a type of abuse)

Law Makers (are there any lawmakers that you know?)

Law Enforcement (the Word speaks to their lives as they protect the community, especially with all the violence escalating in our communities)

Pain (physical, mental, chronic)

Prince of Peace (especially around Christmas time, people are in search of peace more than usual).

What a great way to engage your people this holiday season – ask them how you can pray for them.  And, if time permits, stop and pray right then.  If you are just passing them and have a brief second, please pray later (don’t forget) and shoot them a text or a snail mail letter recording that prayer, or just telling them you prayed.  Maybe it won’t seem like a big deal to them in the moment, but I’m sure they will remember your kindness and gospel opportunity later.

This is also a great way to teach little ones some practical ways to pray – it is systematic and has verses and prayers right there, on one page.  It will teach kids to invest in the lives of others so they know what to pray and it will teach them how to include God’s Word in their prayers back to Him.

Thanks to Litfuse for this book and all opinions are my own.

Sadness in a Joyful Season

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It is just 9 days before Christmas, everyone is hurrying around, crossing items off their lists, getting dressed up to attend Christmas parties, and drinking eggnog.  Maybe blaring Christmas music from the ipods and car radios.  Making peppermint bark and addressing those family Christmas cards.

It is definitely meant to be a joyful season – the reason being is that Jesus came to earth as a baby and we celebrate that at Christmas time.

But, what do you if your holidays are mixed with sadness?  This world is full of sadness, and maybe, as you look back over 2016, you realize that your life is more sad than happy, not going quite like you wanted or hoped it would.

Sadness is not a sin.  We see throughout the Psalms (especially) that the writers were sad: they were saddened by the events going on around them.  They were sad because of things happening to them.  They were just sad.  And that was ok.  We need to dwell on what is going to happen with our sadness?  Do we have to immediately dismiss it and never deal with it – no.  We need to think about it, think about why we are sad, maybe get someone to help think through our sadness, and let God have it.  Let Him take away your sadness.

You may be sad because of relationships that are broken.  You may be sad because you’ve lost loved ones over the past year.  Maybe you are sad because you were hoping to share Christmas with a new baby but that baby was lost to a miscarriage.  There is so much sadness.  We need to be mindful of other’s sadness and have compassion on them.

Tanika Fitzgerald, in her book Miscarried Joy, helps point women to the gospel who have suffered a miscarriage, but the truths that she encourages women with would be applicable to anyone who who has been dealing with hurt and needs some help helping your heart.  You need to hear these gospel truths that God is for you, delights in you, and is working in you even through pain.  This season of Advent and Christmas can help you realize that there will come a time when Jesus makes everything sad become untrue (thanks Sally Lloyd-Jones for that one).

You can win a copy of Miscarried Joy and other goodies before Christmas!