Great reads & Bible Studies

Thought I’d post about a few great reads that have been helpful in my life lately…..

Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson

Sophie Hudson is absolutely hilarious and yet deeply profound. You will simply love her. I love this book that reminds us God designed us for relationships – with Him and with others.

The Armor of God Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer is A+mazing. I’ve had the chance to join an existing women’s group the last few weeks doing this study. And I’ve loved it so much. The study. The ladies. The discussion. Everything about it has been so wonderful. This is a 7 week Bible  study with 45 minute teaching sessions. Homework is 5 days and takes about 20-30 minutes give or take. I love how LifeWay is mostly producing 6-7 week studies now and this seems to be a good fit for many people. The study I’m in is not bound by the weeks and takes more time to discuss the homework before moving on to the videos. So you can do it however you’d like.

Tough Guys and Drama Queens – how not to get blindsided by your child’s teen years. by Mark Gregston.

A few of the chapters: Overexposure to everything; Overresponsible Parents, Irresponsible Kids; Loss of Gender Differences; Authority Cannot Be Forced; Relating is More Important that Winning; Pick your Battles Wisely; Offer Freedom to Make Mistakes.

And what I want to order soon is this……

Because I love Fern Nichols and these dvd’s are her teaching a 6 week prayer curriculum which includes time for discussion and prayer. You can order this brand new curriculum at the link below

Igniting A Passion To Pray DVD Set – Moms In Prayer

What about you? What are you reading right now that’s having an impact on your life? 

 

 

 

 

Kid Tools: a book that encourages gutsy faith

I’m thrilled at the new release of the second picture book in the Gutsy Girls series!

What is that you say?!

Gutsy Girl’s are ordinary girls who do extraordinary things.

My friend and author Amy Sullivan has taken the life of two missionaries and told their stories to reach children and tweens. The first book was about missionary Gladys Allyward to China. Her second book that released today is about Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie. Amy pointed out to me that we often overlook Betsie in the story of Corrie ten Boom which many of us are already familiar with. She’s right. I couldn’t tell you much about Betsie. So I’m really curious about this great little read for myself.

We had the privilege of having Amy come to our school and teach about Gladys last year. The kids loved her and they now love Gladys. One of their projects was to write a story about a time they were brave for God. And this is what I love about Amy. Her desire in writing these books is to stretch your girl for God. To get her thinking about being brave and gutsy for God. Not many books do that honestly. Instead you read books/articles telling our girls how to be more popular, get more followers, and how to take the best selfie. No thank you, says this Mom.

You’ll find the Gutsy Girl series a breath of fresh air. A tool in your parenting tool box for helping stretch your girl’s faith.

My book is in my Amazon cart at this very moment and Amy is giving away a copy to one lucky winner on the blog today. Whoop Whoop!  Just leave a comment on the blog and you’ll be entered in the drawing – good old fashion name in the hat drawing. Ha! Sometimes I love vintage. Okay, it’s more like I don’t know how to do that plug-in thing without hiring a techy person and I just paid her to add the subscribe button. Yeah, so that’s why.

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Book loves in 2015

Good Books

My ability to concentrate in reading was severely impacted during an injury and recovery this year so I only read for the last several months of the year but what I read was fantastic. I wanted to share in case you find any of them interesting yourself.

Hoodwinked – A great book on Motherhood. I found it perfect for the Mom with small children at home although I gleaned good stuff from it as well having elementary and middle school aged kids.

Coming Clean – Wow, just wow. A Christian man shares his struggle with alcohol. I came away with a new found sympathy for men and women struggling with addiction and how hard we can make it as a church at times. Through his story I saw how hard it truly is for people who have an addiction problem to be around those who are simply social drinking. This makes it so hard on those who are craving it but trying to stop a habit. I don’t drink and our church doesn’t serve alcohol at events/parties, etc. so I’m not in this battle personally but it’s really an eye opener. I loved this book.

Simply Tuesday – This book sold me on Emily P. Freeman. She has had more influence on my life this year than she knows. This book is an invitation to sit and breathe. To slow down. To build benches and sit on them and inhale a little longer than normal. Her writing style is not typically what I’m drawn to – eloquent and lofty in some ways – yet I keep coming back to her stuff because I relate so much.

How to love your neighbor without being weird – Loved it so much. Hilarious. Practical. Has a passion for every day people like us to get to know our neighbors and build relationships. She is both funny and profound in her writing and I love her message.

Come to My Table – A wonderful book on hospitality. Sue Donaldson and I have become friends somehow and she’s already rescued me from one major kitchen fail by telling me to pull my food out of the crock put and put it in the oven because it wouldn’t be done on time for dinner. She was right and her altered recipe for my chicken was divine and the whole family loved it. She talks to us in her book about how hospitality isn’t just for those who think they’re good at it or enjoy it. It’s for all God’s children because He has invited us to His table so we get to invite others to our table and commune. I love her biblical approach to hospitality.

Barefoot Church – We’re used to hearing from Jen Hatmaker and she’s so awesome but this book is by her pastor hubs and it’s awesome. They both actually write in it. This is a great read.

Bird by Bird – A book all my writer friends said I needed to get and indeed it’s a good one. Incredibly practical, hilarious and helpful chapters on how to hone the skill of writing. My goal is to read every year.

Shoot! Did it again…..

You guys! I ruined yet another meal and had another kitchen-freak-out-moment. So much so that our eight year old wrote out a prayer for me to put in her War Room –  “Dear God, help my Mom not to be so frustrated. Amen.”

Arggghhhhhh!!!!!! I hate it when that happens.

I mean…..I’m ever so thankful for the opportunity of growth and maturity that lies before me. (bull)

So here’s the lowdown – I was making an easy but good meal for a family in our church who just had a baby. I wanted plenty of food so they could have leftovers. So I made a fail proof roast – or so I thought. Rice and green beans.

Put the roast on high for four and half hours and it was hard as a rock as I was cutting it. I had no back up plan and didn’t have time to pick up something at the store. This was my only option at this point. I doubled the gravy recipe which ended up overflowing all over the stove sending me into sheer frustration. I had ten minutes to pull this meal together and be at Sunday night church. I thought the double gravy might make up for the toughness of the roast????? Maybe it did – perhaps? Okay, so we all know it didn’t.

So there I was again – showing my true colors and serving less than stellar food to people I love. And yeah, I was frustrated about it. Nobody wanted to be in that kitchen with me during those moments of meltdown. To top it off my crockpot cracked. Ha! No really it did and I promise it’s not because I slammed it against the wall. Just a perfect ending to a disasterous meal.

I took the fixings to the family and explained that the roast would be a little tough. Very tough in fact. As in I’m-praying-your-teeth-don’t-break tough. But it was made with love. The beans and rice would be good. She assured me the roast wouldn’t be tough and it would be wonderful. I just accepted that and knew she was in for a surprise.

I just finished a great book called “Come to My Table” by Sue Donaldson. She gives great tips and hints for serving and welcoming people. She has opened my eyes to so many new things in this area of hospitality. I simply love this book. Soon I will be giving away a copy of it because I want others to know about her too. It’s too good to keep to myself. Sue texted me after my latest fail (last night) and reminded me nobody is super mom or super servant and that’s why we have Jesus.

Good words for me. Maybe good words for you too.

Let’s not let the mess ups and mistakes keep us from what God is calling us to do. It’s just another opportunity to remind us of how much we need him.

Dinner tonight? TACO TUESDAY on Monday because I know I won’t mess it up. Ahaha!!!!

Linking with Kelly, Laura, and Jen and mentioned over at Sue’s place today.

The Fault In Our Stars and a response to teens.

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I’ve seen this book around and heard teen girls talk about how awesome it is for quite a while now. It made the New York Times Best Seller List and according to Movie ticket seller Fandago, “The Fault in Our Stars” broke the record for the biggest pre-selling love story in the company’s 14-year history.

I admit it. I was curious. Curious as to what teen girls are reading these days.  And so I cuddled up on a rainy day on my couch and devoured “The Fault in our Stars” in a day.

Below is a synopsis of the book taken from Common Sense Media. (*Spoiler alert)

“Parents need to know that The Fault in Our Stars is a story about teens fighting cancer, and sensitive readers might be uncomfortable with the subject matter and sometimes graphic descriptions of what it’s like to die. Hazel has some near-death experiences and also copes with Gus as he vomits uncontrollably, etc. Characters lose eyes, legs, control of their personalities, and more. Also, characters play violent video games and read books and watch movies with high body counts. There’s some swearing and drinking, and the two main characters, who are in love, do have (safe) sex, though it’s described only briefly. This is a mature and powerful story: Hazel not only provides teens with insight about what it is like to know you’re dying — and to lose someone you love — but her story is also about deciding to love and be loved, even when you know it will cause pain.”

My thoughts about this book come in the form of a hypothetical letter I’m writing to a group of tween girls in my church that I know  and love. And this is what I’d want to say to them if they consider reading this book or other romance novels like it.

Dear Tween and Teen Girls,

There is a book that some of your friends are talking about right now. You probably are fully aware of it. Some girls your age are huge followers of the author, John Green, and his most recent book “The Fault in Our Stars”. They quote lines from the book and get swept off their feet at the truly sweet romance that takes place between two dying teens. It’s a great story. Really it is. There’s humor, romance, friendship and heart throbs throughout the book. I’ll get right to the point, girls. In the book the two main characters, Hazel and Gus, have sex and although it is non descriptive you are brought there in your mind. And in some reader’s minds they might even justify the premarital sex between Hazel and Gus because, after all, they won’t even have a chance to get married before they die. So to experience what is perceived as true love and to culminate it in consensual sex might be okay. But then again it might not be. They’re pretty sure their parents would say No to that idea but now that they think about……if they were in that situation….it might seem okay even though it’s contrary to what they’ve seen and been taught from God’s word.  These girls, some of them your Christian friends, wish the strong language and continual use of God’s name in vain wasn’t in the book because they don’t use language like that. Or at least they try not to. They know it’s disrespectful to God and they love God. But the story is just so good that it’s too hard to put down. They decide to ignore the language. And so they read on. At the end of the book they realize they too would love to be held and cherished as Hazel was in the story. Gus did the most romantic thing ever for her. He shared his one and only “make a wish foundation” wish with her and went to extraordinary lengths to give Hazel what she wanted. A true knight in shining armor. It had to be true love – even though they’d only met and had a few months together. And so now your young reader friends are left with a visual and an ideal in their mind that has swept them off their feet. Oh, they know it’s all fiction. Of course there is no real Gus and Hazel hook up although the book was inspired by a girl who had cancer and died in 2010. Your friends have the clear ability to separate fiction from non fiction and to come away from this book still knowing that premarital sex is wrong but there’s a tiny seed planted in their hearts and they wonder what it might like to experience what Hazel did. To be held. To be loved in that way.

Oh girls, don’t fall for this. It’s not healthy for your faith walk. Guard what you read and watch. Fill your mind with better things than this. You may feel left out when you bypass the movie with all your friends or can’t hold a conversation about the book but it will be worth it in the long run. Promise. Our culture is not concerned about what you fill your mind and heart with. They could care less. God has amazing plans for you. Fill your heart and thoughts with pure things so that He can keep doing his amazing work inside of you. Let God be your first and only love until the time is right.

Bullying – what to do if you suspect your child is being bullied

As long as the human race continues to exist there will be bullies in our world. For a lot of different reasons people are bullies. As parents we’ve probably had some discussions with our kids about this topic and since Monday starts National Bullying Prevention Month I thought we’d talk about some tips to stomp out bullying.

5 things to consider if you think your child might be bullied at school. 

1) Talk every day with your child after school. A great open ended question to ask is,”What was the best part of your day and the worst part of your day?” Listen carefully to his/her answers.

2) Try to determine if and how your child might be contributing to the situation. What was his/her behavior prior to the incident? We don’t want to always assume our kids had a part in the event but we want to remain objective and try to see the whole situation. Don’t get me wrong – nobody ever deserves to be hit, spoken to cruelly or bullied. But if you sense your child started or contributed to the situation then help them recognize and own their part. Talk about what they could do differently next time if there is something they could do differently.

3) Encouraging your child to ignore his/her bully and respond quietly is the best response a bully can get. They’ll move on to someone else. If your child responds and engages in verbal retaliation it will only make things worse. On the flip side we do let our kids know that should they ever find themselves in a situation where they need to defend themselves physically they should even if there are consequences that result. But the first strategy is to ignoring the behavior and keep the mouth shut. (not always easy to do)

4) Pray with your child for your child’s bully. Hard to do but it’s amazing just how much this helps. Because God cares – both about your kid being bullied and the kid who is the bully. It might be hard to see it that way but it’s true. God loves your kids’ bully as much as he loves your child. Praying for bullies softens our hearts towards the ones we might want to snatch bald headed and it helps teach our kids a spirit of forgiveness.

5) If the bully continues to act out against your child encourage your student to report it to his/her teacher or principal. You may need to get involved with this as well by speaking with teachers and the principal. Possibly a parent conversation would be appropriate as well.

If enough people stand up to a bully’s behavior it will eventually stop. Help your children know it’s not okay to watch someone be bullied. To watch is to passively participate.

A great resource on bullying is the book Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic.

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Nick Vujicic has known what it is like to be bullied most of his life. And even as an adult he deals with being made fun of by other adults. Crazy! He shares so openly in this book as he talks through how to handle with strength those who come against you. It’s a great book even if this topic of bullying isn’t touching you or your children directly right now. I love Nick’s humor and his practical advice to kids in knowing who they are so that nobody can label them and it determine their worth. Seriously, this is a must read. Of course you can grab it at Amazon and you won’t regret it.

 

 

When More is Not Enough

Oh friends you will love new author, Amy Sullivan. She was born to write. I love anyone who makes me laugh and gets me thinking seriously all at the same time. And this girl does just that. Please take the time to hear her spirit in this guest post and then go grab her book “When More is Not Enough” for the benefit of your entire family. You won’t get more practical and awesome than this. 

I met Melody at a writing conference.

If you know Melody, you know she radiates a unique I’ve-known-you-forever kind of feel (with an added scoop of sass). Within twenty-four hours of our initial meeting, I learned Melody doesn’t have a problem sticking food up her nose for the sake of a perfect photo op (I do have pictures to prove this), and Melody also taught me about words of encouragement. 

See, at this writing conference, I had several big meetings scheduled, meetings in which I felt very less than qualified to attend.

In a swarm of women scurrying to the next session at this conference, Melody gave me this one sentence note.

note

Although, Melody may have thought this note would become lost among the handouts received at the conference, I folded up this tiny treasure and have kept it in my wallet ever since.

Three years later, Melody’s twelve words still encourage me. They remind me God is working in me even when I don’t see results and especially when I feel less than qualified.

I’d love to hear about a time when someone’s words brought you encouragement. Share, Share!

Oh and a big PS: In my new book, Melody shares some words about one of my favorite topics: drive-by giving.

 I had no idea that little note would mean so much to my friend. So three years later and here she is with a published work of her heart. A book that both inspires, challenges and causes a few out loud belly laughs. A book that shares her family’s story of pulling out of the typical American consumeristic lifestyle and into a lifestyle of giving and serving. You don’t feel beat up by Amy’s words and you aren’t left wondering how and where to start giving more as a family. I love the conversation starters she includes  for your family to talk about over dinner. This book is extremely practical and one that, if put into practice, could really change your community. Check out the adorable book trailer below……

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You can purchase “When More is NOT ENOUGH” by Amy L. Sullivan at Amazon or, thanks to Amy, you can enter to win a free copy by leaving a comment here.

I Quit Sugar

Okay, no I didn’t quit sugar but I read the book I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson. And honestly, I was disappointed in this book. It’s more like a magazine/cook book of impossible recipes. This author’s perspective of eating too much sugar meant  eating a lot of fruit and sweetened granola in a day. Okay, let me get this straight, she’s addicted to fruit and granola and that’s a bad thing? That’s like one of my life goals….to be addicted to good-for-you-foods.  I would consider that an accomplishment. But the overall negative effects of sugar on her body led her to quit sugar altogether and in this book she lays out an 8 week plan for coming off sugar.

While there were some helpful articles and bits of information I found the cook book impractical and unrealistic for me personally. I just don’t see myself making Lavender ice cream. I’ve never felt the need to add a smell-good relaxing agent to my ice cream. And I don’t even know what to say about the recipe for Summery quinoa tabbouleh. All I can think of is the Taliban. I could never eat it for fear of terrorists. Unless I ate the lavender ice cream first. Then I might could swallow or chew or whatever you do to tabbouleh.

This book was not a good fit for me but I feel that there are others who would enjoy this book and love it. Just not me. Sigh. I hate giving negative reviews.

WaterBrook Multnomah provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program.

I Like Giving

I’ve heard about this book the last several months and was so excited to see it on my list of books to review through Blogging for Books. I Like Giving by Brad Formsma is a collection of stories that will inspire, challenge and warm your heart. Brad’s premise is that when giving is our idea it makes us like giving. He states, “My hope is that you will give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but in freedom and joy.”

I loved reading the stories of every day people who chose to embrace a nudging of the Holy Spirit to give of their time, money and resources and how the impact of that giving, no matter how small or large, made such a huge impact. One of my favorite statements in this book was Brad saying, “I’ve never met an angry and bitter generous person.” He talks about how much giving does for our own souls. How we were created to give of ourselves to others.

Our idea of a book on giving might make us feel like we’ll go away feeling guilty and beat up on for not giving enough. But this book is different. As stories are shared you find yourself saying, “I could do that. I want to do that!” And there is a feeling of great hope and excitement. My eyes were opened and my heart challenged in some specific ways as the author shares practical tips on giving.

Oh, and I think you’ll love the I like giving website. The short films are awesome. My favorite one is “I like being 98”