Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#Struggles by Craig Groeschel

Product Details

Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World

I'm not sure where to start with this book. It was really, really good. I don't really consider myself too wrapped up in social media. I have a Facebook account and a blog, but I'll be honest, Instagram and a few things like that are still a blur to me. I don't understand them and I don't need to. I was still convicted on certain aspects from this book. I care about people liking what little I post. I like comments on the blog posts I like. Even when I have my phone's volume turned up, I can still check it to see if I got a text that I might possibly have missed hearing come in. I can be guilty of having my phone out during face-to-face conversations.

Craig doesn't discount social media; he encourages its use for profitable and uplifting purposes, but he does warn against letting it consume our lives. There are so many quotes I could give from his book, but I'm going to stick with just a couple.

There are eight areas that he addresses that can be harmed through excessive social media. I'll give the eight topics and one quote from each chapter to whet your appetite for reading the book. This is the first book I've read by Craig and I hope it isn't my last. He's a good writer.

1. Recovering Contentment: The Struggle with Comparisons  "When Christ is all you have, you'll finally realize that Christ is all you need."

2. Restoring Intimacy: The Struggle with "Likes" "Make sure that the person you're with is the most important person in the world when you're together." and "Life is not about how many Likes you get. It is all about how much love you show."

3. Revealing Authenticity: The Struggle with Control "We've become skilled at filtering our lives, showing others only what we want them to see."

4. Resurrecting Compassion: The Struggle with Desensitization "If you say that you care but then don't act on that feeling, ti's the same as not caring at all." and "Clicking is clean. Compassion is messy."

5. Reviving Integrity: The Struggle with Secret Impurity "It's hard to be whole-hearted in your pursuit of God when your thoughts are polluted by worry and anxiety."

6. Remembering Encouragement: The Struggle with Constant Criticism  "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should."

7. Reclaiming Worship: The Struggle with Idolatry  "Our news feeds can be full, but our hearts and souls empty. Anytime we allow our souls to be consumed with anything other than God, we will never be satisfied."

8. Replenishing Rest: The Struggle with Constant Distraction "Many of use, when we're bored, have a default, brain-off habit of picking up our mobile devices and lazily clicking around."

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Worship Changes Everything by Darlene Zschech

Product Details

Experiencing God's Presence in Every Moment of Life.

I've experienced a bit of a caution in reading books by authors that I'm not well acquainted with. I like to think that I can read a book, take the good and leave the questionable and move on, but I realize not everyone looks at books the same way I do.  Books that I read and am encouraged in, others may read and see it as a license for them to go do something that I never even saw hinted at in the book. So in giving reviews, it has caused me to stop and be a bit more cautious in my reading.

And this book was one of those I thought I should exercise caution in. I actually had a harder time just really enjoying it because I was trying to dissect stuff to make sure it seemed to follow Biblical teaching. In my opinion, Darlene did follow Biblical teaching. Yes, she gave a few interpretations of Scripture that I had never heard interpreted like that before. I am not entirely sure what to think of them yet, whether she was correct or not. What I did like about her book is she used a lot of Scripture. Yes, I know Scripture can be interpreted and used a lot in a book and the book can still be wrong, but I like that she backed up her points with Scripture.

All-in-all I was impressed with the book and I'm laying it down with a renewed vigor to worship, to worship everywhere and in all circumstances. It can be easy to say, "That's easy for you to say; you are a well-known song writer, worship leader, etc. Of course you worship." But it does give you pause when she talks about her very recent journey with breast cancer and she is still worshiping in and through that journey. She does say it was hard to worship in that time, but she still chose to. She says we need to worship in the desert, in church, in our private devotions, in our service, in our love for others, in our attitude, in the words we say, in suffering, with our money, through loving ourselves, through our work, through our marriage, through our children, and in eternity. Basically, all the time, everywhere, whatever we are doing. I needed that reminder to be constantly aware of God's presence and allowing my life to be a reflection of Him and giving Him continual praise through worship.

I received a complementary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


My mind has been rolling over the last 24 hours. We are almost done with 2015 and what have I accomplished? I, all of a sudden, feel driven to do something, to be the wonder woman who is scheduled and organized and calm and cheerful about it all. How do I do that?

I ran across the idea yesterday again of having a word for the year: a word to focus on and try to live after. I keep thinking about what that word should be for me and if I'm committed enough to do it. On top of that, there are so many things I feel I should be focusing on and trying to do better in that one word feels insufficient. There's the word joy, but doesn't everyone want that. What about gratitude? Well, yeah, it's good to be thankful. Love? Ouch, I need that, but a whole year? Rest? That seems to be a driving force to a new group of thinkers out there and I'm not sure I agree, so don't know if I want to go there. Don't get me wrong. Rest is good, but not if comes at the expense of relationships and family and even finances. Rest is not good if it means protecting myself at the expense of others. Anyway, enough on that. Beauty? Well, again that seems to be a hitch to ride on as well, to be beautiful and attractive and etc. etc. My thoughts behind that word would have nothing to do with me and my physical looks. The challenger in me would like to pick that word to show people that there is so much more to beauty than looking attractive, but I'm sure they realize that too, if they are honest with themselves. 

I realized today that in the next month, we will have the 3rd birthday of my miscarriage and the 2nd birthday of Nicole. In the last 3 years, I have lost at least 4 people precious to me: two children, a dad, and a good friend. I have felt loose-ended and irritable a lot of those three years. I have been selfish and self-centered with brief relapses out into the world. I have been difficult to get along with, I know. My man has been very patient with me. I'm trying, but right now, I'm not doing that great at it. I let little things bug me. I don't know why I'm not into Christmas this year, but I'm not. So I don't go to the cookie exchange, I'm not making a single batch of Christmas cookies. I did decorate and enjoyed it and surprised myself a little. I have played a few Christmas carols, but haven't dug out the Christmas CD's. I did get Christmas presents taken care of.  And I am sitting here caught up on my list of things I wanted to get done in December. I have one or two things left on my list and that makes me happy. But I feel a need for focus, a need for some goals, a need for self-discipline. I don't like to hole away in my little world. I like people, I really do. Yes, they tire me out sometimes and sometimes with a baby who doesn't always nap the best away from home, gatherings are just not worth it, but there are other ways I can reach out and I want to. 

So I said all this to say this, I want to have focus and purpose this year, but I also need to work on being flexible and caring. Flexible, maybe that should be the word. We all know I need help in that. I'm not sure what the word will be, but whatever it is, I plan to have a few blog posts that follow that word throughout the year. 

Things like this excite me. I love goals and planning schedules and etc. etc. Now, if only I could do as good at following through on them, we would be all set to go. 

But enough of that, how about some cuteness for your day and then a little project that I did for Amber's Christmas. 

You were working here Mom? Really? But don't I just need to be here too? I like to help you work. 
 Hat lady.

And lastly a board book of Amber's Family that doesn't live around here.

We started with this

And ended with this. I'm quite happy with it except it doesn't lay nice and closed because of the extra space the pictures take up, but I don't think Amber is going to care. I modge podged over the pictures too to give them a little more authenticity and to protect them a little more.

The Time Chamber by Daria Song

Product Details

A magical story and coloring book.

If you've been around the block at all, you have noticed the increased surge in adult coloring books.  I use the term "Adult" here very loosely with no suggestive theme attached. (In case you wondered :)). As a child, I always had big plans of coloring; obviously dreaming and planning have been life long staples of mine. Anyway, just recently I was able to snag to ebook coloring books and I printed off a few pictures to color.

Then I got the chance to review a coloring book.  What good fortune. It is the story of a fairy girl who lived inside a cuckoo clock and wanted to get out and see the world. The pictures are more magical then real, but I see some real potential for coloring them and making them look pretty.  The story doesn't completely make sense to me. It's really more like a paragraph with a couple lines on only a couple pages, but obviously I'm not touched with fairy knowledge because the story ends totally different from how I understood it at the beginning. This doesn't really bother me except to make me wonder what I missed, if the pictures are supposed to be showing me things, I'm obviously not getting or what.

But I'm looking forward to coloring it. It's not completely my style and I was debating keeping it and giving it for a gift sometime, but I think my selfish ambitions have taken over and I will keep it and probably get about one picture colored in it a year, but we shall see. I also view it as a challenge to uncover the hidden as in the case of some maze looking pages.  Perhaps coloring will figure into my new year's goals for 2016.

This book was given my be Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Birthdays in Heaven

It seems like too many people are having heavenly birthday celebrations this year. Nov. 13 was  the first birthday of a little boy who couldn't stay. Nov. 30 was Cheryl's first birthday in heaven. Beings I could never remember when her birthday was, I for sure couldn't remember how old she would be. I think 26 though. I saw that somewhere. And today would be Dad's 80th birthday. 

How does this happen? Yes, I know they're all better off up there. That is true; I believe that. But I'm down here and I'm seeing the pain these dates are causing loved ones and feeling the pain myself and I just wonder why? All of these deaths feel so untimely. Yes, Dad was almost 80, but he was strong and hard-working and seemed to have many years ahead of him yet. I want to say: "Why not take the ones who aren't healthy, the ones who would love so much to go to heaven? Why take the young and the strong and the ones who have never had a chance at life yet?" I know God's way is perfect and His plan is right and there's such a thing as sin and the curse that has messed life up from the perfect way it feels like it should be.

But as I sit here this morning and I think about the pain that people are going through as they face birthdays and holidays without their loved ones, it hurts. We are going over to Mom's tonight for supper and it hurts because it's a stark reminder that Dad is gone and Mom is hurting and there is nothing I can do to help her in her pain besides being there and hoping that at least she knows how much I care. But it all feels inadequate.  Today should have been a day of celebration: Dad was 80. We wanted to throw a party for him this year--he would have loved seeing a lot of his friends, etc. He wouldn't have said much, but he would have enjoyed it. Instead, he is up in heaven where he joined a brother and now since has had a brother-in-law and a niece join him up there. He's up there with his own son or daughter and his three grandchildren and I can imagine him sitting there watching quietly as they play or talk, a contented smile on his face.  And I know he's happy. And it's because of that happiness and that fulfillment that Dad is enjoying from living a life for God down here, that helps me get up and go on. 

We know Dad and Cheryl and Bryan and all the others who are celebrating birthdays in heaven are in a better place. We know they are having a party that rivals no others. And so I must get up and go on. I must face each new day, content only to live for God to the fullest extent of my ability so that someday I too will go to be with them.

But in the interim, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!  

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...