Monday, July 27, 2015

Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae

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One woman's search for joy, beauty, and adventure--right where she is.

Wow, this is a really great book.  I'm not finished reading it, in fact I'm not even half way through the book, but I just need to talk about it.  This is the story/journey of Sarah Mae to living intentionally. That's my term for it.  Sarah wants to go to Paris, but her family's budget has no room for such trips right now and so she has endeavored to make her own Paris right in her own hometown in Lancaster County, PA.  To keep herself from going stir-crazy, she is seeking to live out her dreams while still caring for and providing for her family.

One thing she has done is to go and search out the best croissant (croissants are French) in her area. She likes to stop and savor her food, close her eyes and taste her food with all her senses.  She is endeavoring to learn to meditate, to spend time with God, to feel Him close and to ponder what He is saying.  And that is as far as I have gotten in the book, but I have been so challenged and excited to live intentionally.

And now I have finished the book and I have renewed vision to live out of the person God has created me to be, to live fully and to live alive and to live with eternity in view, because after all that is the ultimate of our longings. As Sarah brings out in the last chapter of her book, we are made for HOME--for eternity, for our heavenly abode.  The beauty that we see here and taste and enjoy is but a foretaste and can often leave us longing for more.  We were made for more than this life has to offer, but we need to live this life well while we wait.

I want to share a few things that stuck out to me from her chapter entitled: "Holy DNA".

"Get used to who you are.

"There is so much freedom in stretching into yourself, being comfortable in who you are and how God made you. It's not only freeing, but it's really just lovely to settle into the you God made you to be.

"Don't try to be somebody else; that's no fun at all! Plus it's one of the fastest ways to dislike your life! Accept who you are. If you don't know who you are, start figuring it out. Consider it an adventure! Have fun with it. Explore!

"The color in us--our dreams and desires and longings - can be from God, and I would say that they are all from God; they just can get twisted or misplaced sometimes. We are all susceptible to that.

"...the grace of release is being able to give our dreams back to God and trust Him with them. Because remember, He cares about us and He cares about our dreams. It doesn't mean all of our dreams will bloom the way we want them to, but it does mean He will make His love evident to us through them all."

Okay that is enough, it may not make sense just reading snippets here and there, but I have been challenged and stimulated to try and live me life to the fullest.  This week my goal is to severely limit my mindless surfing-of-the-web time and to use that time to work on projects and ideas and to hold my baby and to see beauty and to enjoy life.

So, yes, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for more out of life than just mindless hum-drum living.  Life is an adventure to be lived and I want to live it being fully me and fully alive and fully the person God wants me to be.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

You can learn more about Sarah Mae here

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's Good to be Queen by Liz Curtis Higgs

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Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba

This is a very interesting book about the Queen of Sheba and her visit to Solomon.  Liz takes the story straight from the Bible.  There is no romance read into it between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon like many movies and books can portray.  Just a few verses from I Kings 10 and there is so much to glean from it.

Liz has 10 chapters and I'm just going to copy her list at the back of her book as an idea of what each chapter is about and what the Queen of Sheba can teach us today:
Be bold and take frequent leaps of faith.
Be open to whatever God has prepared for you.
Seek wise counsel from trustworthy sources
Be humbled, trusting Him to lift you up
Be honest with God, with yourself, with others
Encourage everyone who crosses your path
Praise God in all things and in every season
Give generously, with open hands and heart
Receive graciously, to honor God and the giver
End well by loving well all the days of your life

There is much good advice held in the pages of these books.   I don't mind giving if it doesn't cost me too much and I don't mind receiving if I think I deserve it.  So, I think I have a lot to learn here.  Becoming an encourager is another area I would like to learn to do better in.  I want to make the world better for those around me because of the words I say or the way I live.

I really enjoyed this book. It is written in simple language and is easy to understand and the concepts aren't so deep that I can barely grasp it.  I will say after the last two books I read this one felt like a breath of fresh air, but maybe it should have stomped on my toes harder than it.

I noticed I have another book or two by Liz in my library and I look forward to the day I get caught up on my reading and am ready to read those as well.

I know some review companies like you to comment on the front and back of the book and its visual appeal: this book has a pretty cover that does kind of draw you in.  The background is purple which is fitting considering it is a book about a queen.  It's a softcover book and the design is very nice.

This book was given me by Blogging for Books for the purpose of reviewing and blogging about. All opinions expressed are my own..

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Your Sacred Yes by Susie Larson

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Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion, and Joy

I'm starting to feel like I want to quit reading books for the sake of writing reviews and getting free books.  I'm not serious, but the last two books have hit me between the eyes and then stomped on my toes.  I just wish I was able to retain a small fraction of what I read and what sticks out to me.

I really am not sure how to even describe this book: Your Sacred Yes. I just recommend getting yourself a copy and reading it.  I'll loan you mine if you're close enough.  In my words, the gist of this book is to look to God and let Him direct what you say yes to and what you don't.  God may call you to spend this season of your life resting in Him and that is okay. It doesn't matter what others think of you for not doing more outwardly where people can see.  If you are saying yes only because of peer pressure, you will wear yourself out and not be able to serve God as effectively as if you are listening to Him and resting in Him.  On the other hand, He may have called you to a season of busyness, but in that He will give you the strength and insight to do it well and to bring glory to Him.

This hit me because of where I'm at in life and in needing to give up things that I was enjoying, but also felt I needed to keep doing because others are still doing it. I realize that I also avoided saying yes to God and now have more things to work through then if I would have said yes promptly.  A big thrust of the book is to be in tune with God, read His Word, yield to the Holy Spirit and above all remember God loves you and will be with you and give you strength to say Yes and grace and mercy when you say Yes too late.

This is a little of what I said in the last paragraph, but when you are saying yes to God, you can't be thinking about other people and what they might be thinking of you.  There is a self-discipline in controlling your thoughts that must come into play as well.  This is just a surface glance at the book.

I'll finish with a quote from Susie's first chapter entitled: "Caution: Danger Ahead Say Yes to God's Wisdom".

"Though God calls us to live full, abundant lives, He doesn't run us ragged or ask us to grind our gears to the point of breakdown. We can trust Him to know what's best for us. If we don't practice a measure of restraint when it comes to all of our time commitments, if we don't say no to continual and perpetual busyness, we'll say yes to it by default and leave ourselves vulnerable as a result. Our human nature and our culture are powerful forces that compel us to commit to more than God asks of us. At some point, we have to humbly embrace this truth about ourselves: We all have our limits. "

This trust: this is what I need to learn.

This book was given me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and writing a review on. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver

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I'm not even sure where to go with this book review.  It feels so much deeper than just a book review. I'll do my best and see what happens.  Joanna takes the story of Lazarus and applies it to our lives today.  What graveclothes are we wrapped in that is keeping us from walking free and resurrected in Jesus?  Or more specifically what graveclothes am I personally hanging on to?  She first addresses helping others unwind their graveclothes and then talks about our own graveclothes.  There is much more, but I am going to copy a bit from her book.

This from Wes Seeliger on Kissing Frogs: "Ever feel like a frog? Frogs feel slow, low, ugly, puffy, drooped, pooped. I know. One told me.....Yes, at one time or another each of us has found himself on a lily pad floating down the great river of life. Frightened and disgusted, we're too froggish to budge. Once upon a time there was a frog." (the story of the the frog being kissed by the beautiful maiden) "Crash! Boom! Zap!! There he was, a handsome prince. And you know the rest. They lived happily ever after. So what is the task of the [Christian]? To kiss frogs, of course."  To love and help those around us.

And another: "While I am not my sin, thank the Lord, only I decide whether or not I will be controlled by it. And only I decide whether Flesh Woman continues her tyrannical reign. That's why it's so important that I keep saying no to my self-centeredness.

"And my tendency toward self-protection and self-pity.

"And my natural inclination to be self-absorbed and self-promoting, self-actualizing and self-relying.

"The list can go on and on. Just put self before nearly anything, and we've got a sin-sickness problem that can be cured only by a crucifixion."

This hit me as I realized how selfish I can be; how self-centered, how I want things to go my way and can get very defensive and manipulative when they don't or when someone tries to offer me some advice that I am not really looking for.

Another thing that really struck me at this point in my life: "It is far too easy to preach a Pollyanna gospel-....The story of Lazarus refutes all that. As does the whole of the Bible. Scripture never shies away from the reality that bad things happen to good people. That God doesn't always come running to the rescue, at least not in the ways and in the timing we expect Him to. Love does tarry at times. And there are moments when Love seems to actually take a step back, allowing things to happen that we'd never dream of allowing ourselves."

There is much more I could say, but some of it should be saved for a post that isn't a book review.  Let me just say this: this book has given me hope. It's given me a light in the never-ending tunnel I feel like I am walking through.  I find myself talking to God again throughout the day. I find myself more conscious of my attitudes and trying harder to be the wife and mom I should be--asking God for His help in these areas.  So because of these things, I highly recommend this book.  It's been a stepping stone for me and I hope it could be for you as well.

This book was given to me by Blogging for Books for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Brave Queen Esther, Pictures by David Miles

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This is an I Can Read Level 2 Zonderkidz book.

It was perfect.  My almost 8-year-old niece was here when I got the book. She promptly sat down and read it to my 4-month old daughter.  The reading level was perfect for her.  Some of the words she had a hard time with like Haman, but then who wouldn't with some of these names.  My daughter liked the book too, but that was because it was a nice size to grab and hold and is also very colorful.

As far as the story line itself--it was pretty accurate. There were some details left out that are somewhat integral to the story, but for the sake of the young readers it makes sense to leave out.  Things like Esther not having a choice about marrying the king or the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.  I would say the gist of the story was accurate.  The pictures were very bright and colorful and corresponded well to the story line.  I did find it a little intriguing that Esther was often pictured with pet peacocks, but then had a peacock veil as well.

I would recommend this book to others; I will read it to my daughter, but I do want her to hear the whole story too as she becomes old enough to fully understand

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

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Prejudice: what place does it have in your life?  Tamera brings out the prejudices present in the 1800's in Nashville, TN against the Irish and the former slaves.  The story was based shortly after the Civil War and slavery had come to an end.  It's easy to glibly say, "Oh, I don't have any prejudices. God made us all equal." But do we always live like that or can we tend to look down on people who we think don't measure up to the bar we have set? I'm not talking just skin color or nationality either; this could include education level, personality, social skills, etc. etc.  Do we truly look at each person as being in God's image and accept them for who they are regardless?  It's a challenge for me.

This is the story of a marriage of convenience to start with: Cullen marries Margaret and becomes owner of a farm. Margaret agrees to the marriage and she gets to keep the farm which otherwise was going to go to auction.  Of course, they fall madly in love, etc. etc.  I enjoy stories like this, but I do wonder that the man is always handsome and the girl is always beautiful or so it seems.  Be that as it may, Margaret did have to work on her prejudices against the Irish to marry Cullen.

I did enjoy the book.  A few scenes could have been left out, but over all it was a good book.  I especially like how Margaret was able to not only overcome her prejudice against the Irish but against the Freedmen and become friends with them.  Of course, the heroine of the story is the horse, Bourbon Belle, who was poisoned, but came back and won the Peyton Stakes.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review on it.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's Father's Day

I know Father's Day isn't toted around like Mother's Day, but it is a special day nonetheless and I wonder if Dad's wouldn't feel more loved and respected if we wouldn't make a bigger deal out of it. Or maybe I've had my head in the sand all these years and it really is a big deal.

But today is Father's Day and you know that saying: "You don't fully appreciate what you have until it's gone."? That's how I'm feeling today.  Actually I'm not sure I'm even feeling at all, but if I could feel I think that is how I would feel.  I didn't buy my father-in-law a Father's Day card this year; I told D if he wanted to send him one, he needed to go pick it out. I did get Amber's Daddy a Father's Day card (Ssshhh don't tell, he hasn't gotten it yet), but I went and only looked at the kiddy looking cards. I didn't want to see any nice flowery words that gave great attributes to a great Dad.  Wasn't into that.

 So this is my tribute to my Dad.  We miss you!!! You were quiet and rarely had a lot to say, but you were there. Your truck sat out in the driveway every night--a symbol of security, though we didn't think about it at the time.  Now, when I come over it sits in the grass with a "For Sale" sign on and it breaks my heart. I'm ready for it to be gone. Though I think in some ways the For Sale sign is easier than it sitting in the driveway and it appearing as though you are home when you aren't. You are finally TRULY HOME!!!!  You never said a lot, but we always knew you were going to come home every night. We never wondered if this was going to be the night you made a break for it and left all of us alone and destitute.  Yes, you have gone now and left us alone and feeling destitute, but you have left us with pride and dignity. We can hold our heads high when we go to town because Amos Mast is a name well-known and respected. Integrity and honesty are words associated with your name and that is the best legacy ever. So Dad, you are now at rest and we are trying to pick up the pieces and take care of Mom and move on. I don't know if you had any premonition or not when you told us the morning of your surgery to take care of Mom, but we are doing our best, though I think we might be smothering her a bit :) :) But to you, with more sincerity than ever: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

And to Nicole and Amber's Daddy, I wish you a Happy Father's Day from them through me.  You held the title of Daddy long before there was a little girl that grinned her toothless grin at you and chatted with you about your day, but now you can enjoy the benefits that go with that name.  It's been fun watching you be a dad and you make a really, really good one.  You have put up with so much in the last two years and currently in the last two months. I haven't been the wife that you as a husband and Dad deserve, but you have stood with me as I've fought whatever black hole has threatened to devour me. You have washed more dishes than you should have, lived through more depressing evenings that you ever want to repeat, and you have held on. I don't often make public tributes to you because I think it's cheesy, but you ARE THE BEST!!  And Amber is starting to realize that as well!!! Praise the Lord!!!  As I watched last night as you told her the story of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes and she drank it all in, I was blessed. To raise our daughter for Jesus is our heart's desire and I know it needs to begin now. 

And if Nicole could be here with us, I know she would be a Daddy's girl!!  I can try and imagine as the verse says, "Little voice that I hear is my little girl calling for her Daddy to hear just what she has to say" and while it can make me cry I just try to imagine the day when we will hear Nicole calling for her Daddy but in the meantime she is enjoying Father's Day with Grandpa. And to you from Amber: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

It's sad really, Nicole doesn't know Grandpa Glick and Amber doesn't know Grandpa Mast.

And last but not least to my father-in-law. No, these obviously aren't my children. I have a picture of you holding Amber, but I am too lazy to go dig it out of my camera. This is such a great picture though, you being surrounded by some of your grandsons.  You are delighted with each new grand child that comes along. It was fun to see you come out to the car Monday night and be so eager to greet the newest granddaughter.  She's going to love you; after all you are the only Grandpa she is going to know.

You are a great father as well; you have raised an amazing son who speaks highly of you. You have accepted me as a daughter-in-law and treat me as one of the family even though I know I do things differently than you do. I appreciate your acceptance and can learn from it for myself. Even though it's a LONG drive to come see, we always enjoy our times together. So to you as well, even though I doubt you will ever read this: HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!