Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review: An Insider's Guide to Praying for the World by Stiller

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This book is magnificent! I highly recommend it for all Christians.

First, it gives great background into the history of each country that it features. It also gives a personal, real life story from someone who has traveled there. Someone who has seen and heard and smelled the land. This is moving in and of itself. But after you are given this experience, it gives you key items to pray for the country or people and a prayer that you can read to aid you in praying for that country.

It also gives you a key Scripture to pray for each country or people it is focused on. I have been using this book as an aid to help me pray for a country or people group a day. The book divides these country or peoples up into 52 chapters so you could easily focus on one a week. It is divided for your ease and guidance.

Any way you embark on this prayer journey is good because you are helping others by praying. It is a unique way that God allows us to partner with Him in His greater work and this book just moves you, giving you the desire to pray. I think every Christian should have this book. It will only grow and challenge you while strengthening your prayer life for the nations.

 I received a copy of this book at no charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here.

Book Review: Curio by Denmark

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This book was interesting. It depicted two creative worlds. One that is ruled by evil magical overlords called chemists and another that exists in a curio cabinet. The Curio world is filled with wind up and porcelain dolls that are alive. It was inventive and curious for one's mind exploration. And though I love the striking cover of this book; you cannot judge a book by its cover. This was not my favorite for several reasons:

1- It was listed as a book from Zondervan which is a Christian book publisher. I did not see anything Christian about this book. This fact bothers me, like it is deceptive to the reader or something. I would much rather see it published under a non Christian label. I mean what is the point of distinguishing between Christian and non Christian if this guideline is not followed.

2- This book was listed as a teen fiction book. I would not be comfortable with my teen reading this book for all of the descriptive scenes of intimacy, though not sex, there was way too much kissing and touching guiding the mind into sensuality for a YA book. I found more in this book than other non Christian books that I enjoy with my daughter. This is sad that it was included while not necessary.

3- The book did not flow well. It was not pleasurable to read. I think it was because of the switching between the two worlds too often and trying to describe two unknown worlds to the reader. It was exhausting to keep up with especially because the descriptions did not flow with ease. It was too choppy.

I appreciate the author's imagination. I however cannot, in clear conscious, recommend this book to my readers. When you browse a Christian book section you should be able to trust its appropriateness for your children. This book really opened my eyes to this failure here.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book at Amazon.com here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review: Whatever is Lovely

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This is a beautifully done adult coloring book. I have seen several of these now but I really love how the pages in this one are based on biblical concepts, thoughts, and Scriptures. Each page is made with great deal of detail that will take concentration to complete.

The books intro suggests that as you color a page, you take that time to meditate on the truths of that page. They also offer a spotify playlist to spurn on worship of God as you do this. This is a great enhancement that this book offers that others do not. Of course you can listen to this playlist whether you are coloring or not but the time put into that is what makes this one a little different from the other coloring books I have seen.

It has thick pages that seem to be compatible with color pencils, sharpies, and crayons. There are 45 pages to color in this book.



If you want to get a copy of this coloring book from Amazon.com, you can here.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Help Empower People with Fair Trade Products

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Trades of Hope is an incredible organization that not only helps women around the world earn a sustainable income but also shares the gospel with these artisans all around the world. The products are great but the best thing is your purchasing with a purpose. When I wear my products I often like to picture the women who made them and pray for them and their families. There are stories after story on youtube of the help done for women around the world. This video explains each artisan's work well. If you are interested in anyway please contact me or purchase products at a party I just opened here. https://mytradesofhope.com/MemberToolsDotNet/ShoppingCartv3/MainCart.aspx?PartyID=24418&PartyGuestID=-1&RequestedGroup1Code=&RequestedGroup2Code=&ReferringDealerID=815218

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book Review: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Welch

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This was a practical book on raising kids against the current cultural situation we live within. I found helpful info all throughout on many topics. I think many Christian parents can be encouraged and instructed by it.

I was challenged by it in a few ways regarding my own family. I am hoping to implement the changes. It is nice to know others struggle in the same ways and it is worth exploring possibilities of improvement.

Overall this was an encouraging book. It was worth the time and an easy read which is important to a busy mom.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here.

I received a copy of the book free of charge from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Some Thoughts on Sharing 25 Years with My Love

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Once upon a time in a faraway land, two crazy young kids who were temperamentally similar to the sensitive and emotional Anne Shirley and no non-sense unemotional Mr. Spock met. They were blinded by “love” and quickly got married, but when two people so different join together in oneness, in order to keep that oneness, lots of dying has to take place.
            Due to this strange union that I found myself in, I was confused, challenged, and angry. Often times, by God’s grace, we find ourselves around people who God uses to sanctify us as light sand paper but this union was like a sand blaster. It wasn’t gradual and it wasn’t gentle.

Then I read this piercing passage of Scripture and found myself conflicted: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask” James 4:1-2.

“Wait, what? But it is him, he is the problem. If he would just act the way I need him to act then we would be fine. Our marriage has problems because he does this or doesn’t do that.” I had reasoned that I was not asking for too much. How could this quarrelsome heart be about me when he failed to meet my needs? After all a husband is to love his wife like Christ loves the church right (Ephesians 5)? Yet the Scripture stood for itself. What causes fights in our relationship is within me. That was not fun to hear or receive as truth but it drove me to my knees.

God, in His graciousness, started opening my eyes, you see, my marriage has not always been the easiest, yet whose has? When you throw two sinners with different upbringings and backgrounds together there are bound to be some problems, but mine had a little more difficulty to it because we have a problem of properly communicating. Not just your typical communication problems that others have but one brought on by neurological disability. And as God gave me more grace freely in areas, in our marriage, I withheld grace from this man God gave me. I did not take the neurological issues into account. I was expecting things that were not physically possible for him to give me.

You see, he didn’t think like me or act like me or even learn like me, we were completely different. It was like living in a foreign land not knowing how to speak the language. I was lost. I was so frustrated with him most of the time. My eyes were on our problems and not our Savior. Our marriage was not working until we both learned to die to ourselves. And by God’s goodness we were able to slowly die little by little allowing grace for the vast differences in our marriage and relationship. Communication continued to be hard; it still is to this day.

When our relationship improved and we started reflecting Christ and the church better, God granted us with children. This journey was incredibly hard for us because we ended up having a child with autism. It was not obvious autism but a mild, high functioning type of autism that is not apparent to others looking in yet in the home it is very evident and life altering. Many marriages find it hard to survive this kind of pressure. They lose the ability to support one another when they enter the world of special needs parenting but this was the biggest grace gift God has given to our marriage.

As I watched my child struggle socially over time my heart overflowed with compassion. I watched people reject her while she did not even know it. I watched her think people were friends while they manipulated. I watched this sweet innocent girl struggle socially and as she grew I watched her struggle with anxiety and communication skills. I helped walk her through obsessions though I could not fix them. I was broken over her strange world that she was forced to live in, there was nothing natural about it for her because she does not pick up social cues like most of us learn as we go. She doesn’t understand sarcasm or common sayings. She is very concrete in her thinking while her peers excel in abstract thought. We easily take for granted some common sense granted to us that has not been given to her. Since nothing is apparent about her disability it surprises many people because they don’t understand the secret world of this invisible illness.

God started opening my eyes toward my husband during this time. I started noticing that some of the things my daughter did or ways she behaved, I also observed in my husband. Yet when you grow up with spectrum issues and no one to help you with them you just learn to cope. Those patterns follow you into adulthood. As I watched my husband, I realized that some of the areas that I extended her grace in, I held my husband under judgment. Oh how my heart broke. As I watch my daughter navigate this difficult road, I now am filled with more compassion for my husband. He is not the same as her but he is on the spectrum with her. And with this new knowledge I am learning to give grace. I am learning to communicate in the proper way and not take things too personally. I have a lot to learn and it is great practice to freely give grace. God gives more grace (James 4:6) and I am learning to do the same as He makes me more Christ like when I have to opportunity to die to self. God does this for my husband as well when I unravel into an emotional whirlwind that makes him extremely uncomfortable. 

You see, our marriage works, despite the vast differences, because we both know that our eyes need to be focused on Christ and as we both individually behold him He transforms us from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). We also learn the art of dying to self and how to be great forgivers who freely lavish on mercy and love. It is a process that is not by any means perfected or natural but it is what God had in store for us both so that our differences sanctify one another for the better and when we stand before God we will be able to say we are more like Christ for it.

Because our relationship is sometimes like observing Mr. Spock and Anne of Green Gables it can be quite comical but when all is said and done, we learn to love better, forgive fuller, pray harder and to pour forth mercy. We are better off for it because we both died a little more and both look a little more like our Savior. If it wasn’t for our daughter with autism, I do not believe I would have ever realized how to love well in our marriage. And I do yearn for the day we will be together in Heaven with no neurological deficiencies so we can communicate without the problem of sin getting in the way. What a glorious day that will be! But until then we press ahead for the prize that Christ (Philippians 3:13-14) has called us to with our eyes fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:2). We praise Him for His good gifts whatever kind of package they come in. All things are gifts of grace from the Father above and we are grateful.  

This year those crazy kids mentioned above give thanks for 20 years of marriage and we stand in awe of His great grace as we achieve this milestone that we know makes God smile because He is the God who sees and He knows the real struggle. It pleases Him when we chose the Christ path of dying to self. Marriage is a great tool to learn and practice that art. So those two crazy kids who got married too young with too many differences are going to make it, not because they are great but because God is great and He is at the center of their marriage. They are very different now than they were then but they would not trade the adventure for anything because it is HIS story. And the Author is good. The happily ever after is soon coming and what a day that will be for their testimony is about His great power that shines through their great weakness. May HIS name be praised!

Friday, January 8, 2016

When Sickness Tarries

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 I have been living in a lot of pain lately. Health has always been a struggle of mine for about half of my life now. The problem is that the professionals cannot seem to give me a certain answer for what is really going on. Often tests come back stating "normal." Yet the pain persists. the weird symptoms still occur limiting my ability to live and do everything I want to do, things that "normal" people can do.

But the pain in these past few months has been tear inducing. And I have no idea why. I have my theories of course and so do the professionals, however, as we wait for other things to happen or show up, my body rebels. It attacks itself. It produces great pain.

When people see this, they want to fix it. I think this is a natural tendency. We don't want to see people in pain, and really, if you see me you would probably never know because I do try to hide it if I can. There is no point focusing on it. I need no help with the temptation of self-pity. Yet also I am tired of people recommending the next big fad of health curing alternatives which cost lots of money and have no real guarantee. You see, after half my life of searching and trying to figure it out, I have just had to resign to the fact that some things cannot be figured out. Some things cannot be cured. I have decided not to expend anymore income on it. We are in enough debt already that we are faithfully trying to pay off.

It reminds me of a woman in the Bible. A woman who was desperate. A woman who spent all her money on trying to find a cure. A woman talking to the professionals. A woman broken, alone, desperate for a cure. A woman who reasoned that if she just could touch this Jesus she was hearing about, if she could just touch him, she would be well. And it worked! He healed her. What she wanted to do in secret and discretely he singled out to the crowd. He addressed her as daughter. I find this beautiful. You can read about it in Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8.

As I read, I could only think about her desperate attempt to reach out and touch him. Yet now, after the resurrection, I don't have to reach out to touch Him. He came down to us, to me. He has reached down and touched me. He was resurrected from the dead to beat sin, sickness, and death. Because I live in the in between of the already but not yet period of time, I can be encouraged by this story because it foreshadows the final, once for all healing that will come upon His return. 

He has healed my soul and I can truly say all is well. My body may fail me but my Spirit is strong. When I am weak, He is strong. My goal is not to be healthy and healed though I wish I was and He surely can do that but instead my goal is to rest in His reach because He reached down to me. He holds me close. He reassures me that He is coming back. He helps me know I can trust Him even in this plan of pain. I know that this temporary trial is producing a greater weight of glory and it will be worth it though at the present I do not understand. I don't have to understand because He is God and He is good, that is all I need to know.
 
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