Tuesday, August 22, 2017

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

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Awhile ago, I reviewed her book of 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart. This is very similar to that book. It's been awhile since I read that book, but I think I liked this one better, but I have no idea why.

This would be a great book to take a month to read and read one chapter a day. She expounds on each phrase in the verse and most chapters start with an illustration or story of some kind. Some of the verses were quite applicable to my life. At the end of the chapter, she has a short one minute exercise she wants the reader to do. This can be anything from putting some cash in an envelope to give to the person the Lord prompts you to give to, to listing all the things you can think of to be grateful for in 60 seconds, to laying your clothes out for the next morning. It appears random, but does go along with the context of the verse that was just studied.

There is also a study guide at the back of the book to go with each chapter, so you could do it as a devotional for yourself or as a Bible study with your friends or Bible study group. One thing I like about the book is that Liz uses a lot of different Bible translations and uses them to help interpret what the verse is saying.

Some of my favorite verses or verses that I needed to hear right now are: "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness." Proverbs 16:31.  As I fight against the increasing gray that is coming on the top of my head!!!

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." Proverbs 27:1. I like to have a plan in place and then execute my plan and I can be frustrated with interruptions and spontaneity. This is a good reminder for me to leave everything open-ended or open-handed for God to use my day as He sees fit, not as I see fit.

I received this book from Blogging for Books and was not required to write a positive review.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling

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This is the first book in a new series called "Under the Northern Skies" and it is definitely a series I want to follow. None of this fluffy romance of boy meets girl in this book, rather it is the conditioned, committed love that carries through the rough and tumble of life, a move across the ocean, an impertinent and aggressive uncle and so on.

We need more books like this. The boy meets girl is the fun stuff of life, but the commitment and sacrifice and courage required to make a marriage work is the stuff of life, the stuff we face every day and it's what our younger people need to read about. A young family uproots from Norway, moves to Minnesota, and is sharing a house with a mean workaholic uncle and his bedridden wife who screams and screeches about everything. The family deals with a lot, but the husband and wife are committed to each other and they stick it out. The aunt does get better under the care of the wife who will not allow her to just lie in bed and she becomes a friend. The uncle? Well, after going to the sheriff about the family, the tables are turned and he forced to make some changes.

I just really liked this book. It's the story of every day life in the hard days of settling the land, cutting trees by hand, cooking on a woodstove, and so on. Things I only have read about and have no idea what it was like. Yet, the commitment required to make relationships work is the same commitment that is required today.  And we need more of that.

This book was given me by Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. I will be eagerly looking forward to the next book in this series. If anyone has read Lauraine's Red River of the North series, this series is based loosely from that one. I think I read it quite awhile ago and there would be some of the same family lines in it, though not set in the same place.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Deal with It

Yep, I'm well aware that my title could be entirely inappropriate, but right now I'm not sure I care. But I might change it, but I don't know if I will change these sentences and then you will be left wondering what I originally put there. HA!!

So first off, try explaining the concept of a wedgie to a 2 year old who's complaining of something being in her butt. It's interesting and humorous, at least to her mom.

If you want to see how you handle criticism, list your car on Facebook. People are more than willing to tell you that you are asking too much money for your vehicle. They know nothing more than what the pics are showing, but they know that $3,000 is too much. Well, kudos to you. And guess what? We know that too, but since when do you actually put your actual selling price on items like this? Everyone wants to have the option of chewing you down, so we started high so they have that option. Then they can feel good about the deal they got and we can feel good that we sold it for what we wanted anyway. And besides? Why is it your business to tell us what our vehicle is worth? Had I been wondering, then instead of putting a price on the vehicle, I would have asked for people to comment on what they think the vehicle is worth and then we could have done a poll and drawn numbers and decided on a price from there.

And if you were to look at the actual car or on Craigslist, you would see that we also listed OBO, which means that we are not set on $3,000 for said car because yes we know that it's rusty and we know that it needs new tires. I chose not to list OBO on Facebook, because my observation of Facebook Buy and Sell is that people love to chew you down anyway, so I didn't think listing that as an option was really necessary. And after the comments, I was too stubborn to go back and add it in. It took an exercise in willpower not to comment sarcastically back. But in the end, I tried to put on my big girl panties and not take offense.

I'm also trying to do that this week as I deal with a large protruding belly that wiggles and giggles and contracts at random, leaving me pretty much constantly uncertain about when the D-Day is actually going to happen. Yes, I know I'm still early and I should just shut up, but hey read my title. It's what I'm trying to do. And what I'm trying to do as I send my husband out the door in the morning (wait, who am I kidding? I'm lucky enough to wake up well enough to say goodbye.) knowing he is going into the land of no cell phone service and from there he's heading about two or three hours from home. But I'm trying to be okay with it.

I will spend my week getting most of the last of my to-do list done. I cannot express enough gratitude to my sis-in-law for coming to help me for a day and a half this last week. We did applesauce and cleaned the kitchen. My appliances haven't shone like that ever!! It was a huge blessing.

There are other areas that I need to just grow up and deal with life too, but I'm not sure if I want to go into those right now. Things like realizing that people do things differently, people host differently, people respond differently, people do things differently than I do and that is okay. I can still love them and still be gracious to them. Yes, I can learn from them and try to do things differently for me, but I need to remember that what feels like inhospitality to me might just be their love language and how they feel they are taking care of people. That because people don't gush in the same manner I do doesn't mean they don't like the same things, etc. etc.

So basically what I'm saying today might be a rerun of what I said on my last personal blog post. We have a choice on how to respond and how to live with the life we've been given. I want to make the most of it. I want to face it with courage and joy, to put my big girl panties on and deal with what life hands me and walk the path with grace and courage and most of all, with Jesus.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

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Wrangling Delight out of this Wild and Glorious Life

Mess, I think we can all relate too. Life is messy and it can be hard and that's okay. Moxie, this word seems a little more foreign to us. According to Jen, "It is a throwback to women with pluck, with chutzpah, with a bit of razzle dazzle. It says: I got this...we got this together. It evokes a twinkle in the eye, a smidge of daring and stubbornness in the face of actual, hard, real, beautiful life."

And I suppose that really is how life is. It's messy, but it's beautiful, but takes courage to live it and live it well. It's the resilience in the face of the pain and the heartbreak. I think I maybe just now understood this better than I did while reading the book. It all felt a little out there to me, like I couldn't quite grab a hold of it, but writing this out, it makes sense. It is that looking for the beauty in the bleak, the joy in the juggling of the baby years, the intentionality when the days feel intense with just doing what needs to be done. Okay, that's all my rambling now, what about the book?

I think this is the second book I have read by Jen. I read Seven and loved it. This book was a  little harder for me and I think it might have a lot to do with the stage of life I'm in right now. I feel large and pregnant and duckish and ready to have a newborn in my arms and so books that require too much thought processing right now might not have the same appeal to me that they might in two years from now. I'm not sure that's the reason, but I struggled a bit with this book. I love a book that looks at life in a humorous way and yet pulls out truths to live by. I struggle with a book that can feel a little sacrilegiously humorous to me. And yet, that wasn't really this book either. Basically I finished the book and am still unsure what I think about it. The style of the book is in many ways so me, and yet I couldn't quite get into it.

One chapter Jen talks about the church and how the church needs to be geared for more people than the typical mom and dad with children. How it needs to be accepting of other types of people, how there needs to be room for the LGBTQ community, etc. I absolutely agree with this, but I was uncomfortable with what feels like acceptance of them and their lifestyles. Jesus loves everyone, absolutely, but he didn't love their sin. To me, church should be the same way, we accept everyone, but we do need to address the sin. And maybe that is what she meant, I don't know. That chapter just disturbed me a bit. I also am not a proponent of women in leadership as a pastor. Definitely use women to lead ladies' groups, etc. But yet, I really like the idea of church being a sanctuary that we can come to and be accepted.

Jen has some funny stories, including some great How To's, like How to Dress a Toddler in Three Easy Steps, How to Get Uninvited Back to a Home Decor Store, How to Mother Adult Children, etc.

So overall I did like the book. I think I struggled a bit to go back and forth between the humor and the serious and I think that might be some my personality (though I do love sarcasm) and some might be a temporary decrease in processing ability from which I hope to fully recover. Because most of the time, I think I can appreciate humor from which you can learn a good lesson.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Included in Christ Bible Study by Heather Holleman

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I think I have a thing for Bible Study guides. Actually, let's face it, I have a thing for anything that is in a book form and is set up as a question/answer system. So give me Bible Study guides, quiz books, activity books, coloring books, etc. and I will be all in.

So it's no surprise that I requested another Bible study book. I need to get going on doing all the ones that I have.

Heather is a college instructor on writing and composition. She is into verbs that stick out and make an impact, so she chose seven verbs for this eight week study of the book of Ephesians: included, chosen, seated, strengthened, renewed, filled, and proclaiming. Those words do sound enticing, don't they?

Now, I haven't gone through this Bible study day by day, but I have looked through it and read the introduction to try and get a feel for the way it is laid out. It's not as much of a verse by verse as I was hoping for when I requested it, but I do like the idea of these seven words and searching them out a bit more. Heather also seems to do a lot more writing in her daily guides than what some Bible study writers do. Beings she teaches writing, I think this does make sense. It also seemed there maybe wasn't as much Bible reading, though I also noticed she included some of the verses right into her text so maybe that's why it seems that way.

The one thing I noticed that is different in this study guide from others is the emphasis Heather places on writing your Savior story and your shadow narrative. Your Savior story is what she calls the story of your life in Christ and what led you to where you are today, while your shadow narrative is what keeps you from experiencing full life in Christ. She puts emphasis on journaling. She also emphasizes learning by comparing and contrasting and providing visual images. To her, the mosaic on the front cover of this guide signifies her included identity in Christ.

I think the book of Ephesians is a powerful book and I am looking forward to going through this study.

I received this book from Moody Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Freedom's Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

Freedom's Ring by [Chiavaroli, Heidi]

And another new author for me to read and analyze and decide if I would read more of her books.

Freedom's Ring is set in Boston in two time periods the time of the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the time of the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 and beyond. At least, that's where the stories start. Again, I would say the author did a good job of flipping back and forth between the two time periods.

Connecting the two is a ring that Anaya and Brad are determined to find out the history of. I'm not going to give you much more than that. There was the usual romance, blah, blah, blah, blah, but again the parts I look for are the parts you can take with you and think about later.

After the bombing, Anaya walked away from her family in the midst of their grief and struggles. Now two years later, she's trying to pick up the pieces with her niece and sister and her sister is having a hard time forgiving Anaya for walking away and deserting family at a time of great need. But she has also found Jesus in the two years and realizes what a hypocrite she is being by talking about God's grace and yet being unwilling to forgive. They are able to come to a place of wanting to start over again.

Anaya must also learn to quit letting fear and even guilt control her. She feels responsible for her niece's injuries. If only she had run the Marathon a little faster, they would have been gone by the time the bomb went off. Anaya also needs to learn to let God carry her through, not to depend on herself and allow her fears to control her. She wants God to hold her fast and by the end of the book, she is slowly starting to allow that.

That is what we all need, God to hold us fast. Otherwise wouldn't we all be carried away by our fears and griefs and torments?

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It's a Choice People

I'm sitting here on my couch this morning, feeling like it's time again to post something other than a book review. I actually want to post something other than a book review, but will admit to feeling a little uninspired, so I'm not sure what is going to come spewing out from under my fingertips.

It's 7:15 in the morning, the house is quiet, the sun is shining, the corn is providing a beautiful privacy fence for us this time of year, the AC is humming (which makes me happy in and of itself these days), and I realize anew that life is really good right now. Yes, I feel like an off-balanced duck right now, waddling around. D was mocking me the other day when I said that and was saying, "quack quack" and outside the door I hear our own little echo going "quack quack". There's no good reason to get mad at the mocking at that point!!!!

But again, I realize I have so much to be thankful for. I have made it to the final four weeks, I have made it past the dangers and scariness of a premature baby. I'm in the home stretch. And yes, I feel like that home stretch has the potential to stretch out for way longer than I want it to, but it's there and I can do this thing. So I am blessed.

My house is getting a much needed cleaning and organizing, which makes me happy. I am learning to love cleaned off spaces and so our dresser is rather bare with a doily on which sits a very dusty unity candle set that I am determined to burn and an alarm clock and it just makes me so happy!!!  The children's room is ready to accept another occupant, oh wait, the new guy goes in our room for the first while. We aren't ready there. I still need to get the cradle upstairs, but that's for another day. I still need to make a sheet for the cradle that isn't pink and flowery and I'm sure dust the cradle well. But all in good time.

I nearly had a meltdown last night. Amber decided she wanted to sleep in the big bed which she lovingly calls "Hannah's bed". She was all tucked in complete with a comforter rolled up along the edge of the bed to hopefully prevent her from falling out. I could feel the tears in the back of my eyes longing to come leaking out as I looked at her looking all big and grown up in her big bed. And I knew, I knew if she stayed in there all night, that my little girl would be one more step closer to growing up and I knew this momma heart was going to get squeezed a little tighter and there was going to be a moment of panic as I wondered what had happened to her. But as she realized that we were really and truly going to let her sleep there, she popped up and decided she wanted to sleep in her crib after all. Whew!! Meltdown procrastinated. In the three minutes, she had been in the big bed, she had already proclaimed that she just wanted to "lax a little" and then that she couldn't sleep anyway.

I am back in the kitchen and cooking again, another big, big, thing to be grateful for that makes me all happy again. And we have fresh New Jersey peaches to eat. They are well past their prime and I need to throw the rest in the freezer today, but they are so yummy and the Peaches and Cream Sensation and the Peach Cobbler that I made and the Peach Shakes that Dave made have been so utterly yummy. I forget how wonderful and tasty fresh peaches are.  And making food? Fun, fun, fun again. I still have lots of freezer meals for after the young man's debut, but in the meantime, I think I'm going to enjoy some cooking.

So I've only named a few things, but I am so incredibly blessed. And I firmly believe the title of this post, it is a choice. I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be grumpy. And let's face it, I'm not perfect, some days I choose, rather happily even, to be grumpy. But as Amber even knows, it's much happier to be happy.

So you all have a happy August 2nd.

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs

Awhile ago, I reviewed her book of 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart. This is very similar to that book. It's been awhile since I read ...