Monday, June 27, 2016

I'm Still Here


I know it's been quiet as can be on the blog. My weekend was so busy, I didn't even remember once to post my usual Sunday Sentence. Literally, just came to mind as I typed the first sentence of this post. What can I say? I've been reading, but not necessarily writing reviews. Reading is a relaxation and escape venue for me, so it's a must. However, busyness doesn't always get set aside for writing right now.

Renovations on our home are ongoing. We are in the painting, laying flooring, hanging kitchen phases. So we've done painting prep work all last week: priming new drywall, staining new trim, painting ceilings and redoing spots on those ceilings, and bleaching and odor prepping one bedroom floor base we're hoping will not need replaced. So the rest of life didn't happen last week.

We've been blessed with a couple friends helping last week and a couple more offering and set up to help out this week. Also, my parents are back from vacation and ready to jump in. Can't even say how much it means for people to seriously offer, let alone come. It's a huge project to take on, but we already know it'll be worth it with the cost savings and such.

So, if you think of us, send up a little prayer. Laying everything out in my head week by week, August is already looming. And for my that means going back to school as both the teacher and a student. I need to have everything settled by first week of August, so I'm feeling the stress of getting done so we can move in. My husband works all day, scarfs some dinner, and heads over to the house. My younger kids are kinda trapped at the apartment cause there's not much they can do at the house and I feel horrible, what a way to spend your summer, but there's nothing we can really do about it. My kids are also babysitting the little kids of those coming to help paint as needed. And then life just keeps going - would help if I could freeze all other things life demands while we do this, but we all wish that at different points for different reasons. Just won't happen.

So keep on reading and don't forget me in the meantime. I'm still here and definitely have some reviews scheduled.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Begin the Week with Words

I finished reading Lysa TerKeurst's book Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Ummm, this book? I am so mad I have to wait until its publication in August to buy copies to hand out and meet with others to read and discuss. It is THAT relevant. So, for now, here are more quotes to hold us over.





Sunday, June 12, 2016

Begin the Week with Words

I've been reading Lysa TerKeurst's newest book coming in August, called Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. It's amazing, as all of her books are, and this one in particular has a ton of great quotes. Here are a few I've been posting to Instagram this week, with more to follow in the coming days. (And prayers for Mrs. TerKeurst's recovery from emergency surgery too!)




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Motivational Book Reviews

I'm not sure what you expected to find with the title of this post, but basically, I've spent a whole lot of time reading motivational books from Christian authors over the past couple months. (I don't call them self help because the belief is we can't help ourselves without turning to God.) There are so many of them I've recently read and still more waiting on my Kindle app, each one refreshing me and building me up, each one a treasure I want to share because the messages have truly helped me. Yet, interestingly, many of them overlap each other and my journey through their lessons has just begun, so what to use to fill a review? I figured what better way to put them out there than to give you a post of mini reviews, exemplifying the best of each one?

The first two I read I actually reviewed in the past two months. The first book that started the whole process was A Confident Heart, by Renee Swope. The second was Anything, by Jennie Allen. It would belabor the point to rehash them here, so please see the links for the reviews already written on these books. They are the titles that started the inkling of real change for me.

The third title, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst, hit home hard. I had a consistent feeling of "this is me." The strange thing is, it wasn't what I thought it was going to be and I bought it more because of the author, who I already know I love. Plus, Proverbs 31 (a women's ministry of which TerKeurst is President) was running a read-a-long. I don't really have anyone to read books alongside so I always jump at the chance of a good read-a-long through Proverbs 31. I assumed the book would be about how to do more than just rote Bible reading and do-gooding. And it was that, but it went much deeper. TerKeurst probes at the core of who we are. What do you expect from life, what are doing in life, and is it going to really give you what you need? (Spoiler alert: it isn't). Among her discussion points she discusses allowing people and things to fulfill you and be the source of your happiness, which will fail you because no one and nothing is perfect. She talks about trying to measure up, do, do, do, go, go, go...and again this will fail because you are only human, you will tire going nonstop in your own strength. Plus, you don't have to measure up, you are accepted as you are by God...and true friends will see you the same way. There are many more points like these and all of them spoke to me of reevaluating my decisions and actions.


The fifth title, Undaunted, comes from another author I adore, Christine Caine. (Yes, fifth title because the fourth book I read is by far the best, so I'm saving it for last.) Undaunted discusses ways in which we find life getting us down and out and possibly giving up on what we've been called to do. I will admit some of what I read here was repeat as I've read other Caine books and the material from this book is referenced in them; however, Undaunted gave her story in more detail. She talks about ways in which we become easily discouraged or let the facts dictate what we can do when we are called by a God much bigger than any facts. And then her story of starting her A21 Campaign, an organization that fights human trafficking, absolutely backs up every point she makes. This book encouraged me in my next step forward and the life changes it will bring for me this Fall as I start my PhD program. It's daunting, but I can go forward undaunted if I choose to activate my faith.



And the fourth title? Christine Caine again, this time her newest title, Unashamed. This book can be highly personal to those for whom it applies and that's what makes it so valuable. Unashamed is about the ways in which shame has taken over our lives. Sometimes it's from something done to you and sometimes it's from things you've chosen to do. Everyone is affected by it in some way, at some point in their lives, and that's the value of this book. However, for some shame has played a much larger, tragic role, their lives encumbered by avoidance of and coping mechanisms for shame reactions. The best way to give a look into what shame does is to give a description Caine wrote (from experience) about how the mind reacts even in the smallest hurtful situation, intentional or not:

"So much emotion came with this hurt. Especially the emotion of shame—and it was loud just like a shame-producing giant always is. I was so tempted to interpret that I was being negatively judged. I was sensitive to and fearful of rejection and criticism—and wanted to withdraw. I began to feel I was the problem. I started to slide into my black-and-white perspectives of whether I was either loved or unloved, accepted or rejected, wanted or unwanted—with no rational zone in between these extremes. I began to be tempted to make adjustments to make others feel more comfortable, to people-please. So many of my shame buttons were being pushed all at once!"

Can you imagine living that way with each and every hurt and disappointment magnified ten fold? If you can or you do, you need to read Unashamed by Christine Caine. I've so enjoyed these books so far. It's all hard stuff, but when it comes down to making a life change, following a calling or becoming the you that you are intended to be, you can only change the things you are willing to confront. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Begin the Week with Words

I read this quote referenced in Anything by Jennie Allen, which I reviewed last week. The quote prefaces a section about the need to overcome things in order to serve your purpose, meet your destiny, etc.

"It is a rare soul indeed who has been sought after for who she is—not because of what she can do, or what others can gain from her, but simply for herself . . . so what are we to conclude? Often we conclude that there is nothing in our hearts worth knowing. Whoever and whatever this mystery called I must be, it cannot be much." The Sacred Romance, by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Anything: A Prayer

I love when I stumble across books in good timing. Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen is one of those books. To put it briefly, the book is about Allen and her husband's realization that they were simply living lives of safety and comfort, while a whole wide world raged around them. On the day Allen and her husband felt this, they prayed "Anything," telling God they were willing to do exactly what He needed of them - anything at all. The book summary from Amazon gives a good definition of what such a prayer means: "Anything is a prayer of surrender that will spark something. A prayer that will move us to stop chasing things that just make us feel happy and start living a life that matters." 

What I enjoyed about this book was Allen's passion for her discovery and her willingness to discuss all the journey led her through and is still leading her through. Her life turned upside down and she wouldn't trade a minute of it. Adopting a child, writing books, and starting IF: Gathering, a group that equips women to live out their callings, are all things she'd never imagined doing, but is what was in store for her when she handed over her life for something bigger than herself. None of it came without cost though and she showed how the bad can work for good and how sometimes it's just a matter of faith that all will work out that gets you through.

Her book gripped me and made me realize that this is a prayer I'd like to pray and yet, I'm not sure I can. Am I really willing to pray "all in" like that? I think I am, but I also think I am still stuck in a position of wondering what I have to offer, so I'm unsure where that leaves me at times. I did enjoy her great insight though, especially this: "What no one sees about my life is that I am simply a product of years and years and countless hours of people depositing God in my life–eye to eye, in living rooms and classrooms and over coffee....I was in the back row–yes. But I was also in a season of preparation that I didn’t even realize was happening for a time I couldn’t even fathom."

I guess I am in that place more than I think. A point at which a new season of life is upon me and who knows where it will lead. And so I keep Allen's prayer and experience in the back of my mind as much as possible.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Begin the Week with Words

It took me awhile to get to reading Library of Souls (aka Miss Peregrine's #3). I thought the gap between the last two and this one would hurt it, but it hasn't. It's just as good and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. And, of course, great quotes.

"To some it might've seemed callous, the way she boxed up her pain and set it aside, but I knew her well enough now to understand. She had a heart the size of France, and the lucky few whom she loved with it were loved with every square inch - but its size is dangerous, too. If she let it feel everything, she'd be wrecked." Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs.