Monday, February 28, 2011

Refreshing as Springtime

Springtime of the Spirit (The Great War)
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in Germany at the very end of World War I then Springtime of the Spirit (The Great War) is for you! Springtime of the Spirit follows the intertwining stories of Annaliese and Christophe. Annaliese (Anya) is a young woman who has left her wealth and her family far behind and has travelled to Munich to be a part of the political change and revolution going on there now that the war has ended. Christophe is a solider in the German army who is returning to his village after serving in the war for the past four years. He was a childhood friend of Anya and her sister so naturally when Anya goes missing her parents can find no one they trust more than Christophe to find her and bring her home. Christophe sets off after Anya and the true story begins.

Springtime of the Spirit is filled with conflict, suspense, love and hate. Will Anya ever learn the truth about her sister’s death? Will Christophe find Anya and be able to protect her in the midst of the political unrest which is tearing Munich apart? Will Christophe ever be able to forgive himself? It’s all in the journey that is Springtime of the Spirit.

I really enjoyed Springtime of the Spirit. If you love historical fiction and historical romances, then I highly recommend that you read this book. There are so many rich details that bring the story of Christophe and Annaliese to life. You never know exactly what is going to happen next. However, there are a few slow parts in the story that could probably have been cut or condensed, but there is much more that is good about this book than bad. I give Springtime of the Spirit four out of five stars and would gladly and willingly read it again and again!
This book was provided to me at no cost by Tyndale House Publishing for review purposes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The J.O.Y. of Albert Pujols

Pujols: More Than the GameJ.O.Y. is the principle that you put Jesus first, your others second, and yourself last. This week I read Pujols More than the Game. It is an autobiography about the man, the myth, the legend—Albert Pujols, and his passion to live everyday for Jesus Christ, serves others, and then seeks the good of himself. If you are an avid Cardinals fan like my husband and me or you just admire and respect Albert Pujols, you are going to love this book. The authors, Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth, do an amazing job of mixing real-life baseball stories, stats, and other interesting Pujols facts in a way that is both interesting and informative. I have learned much about how truly amazing Pujols’ career stats truly are without getting bored by all the numbers so I have to say good job and mission accomplished to Lamb and Ellsworth.

I did love reading the heart warming baseball and ministry stories in the book, and I was heartbroken at the harsh reality that Albert and Deidre faced before Pujols started bringing home the big bugs in the majors. However, what I loved most of all is the way that the authors’ writing style and format captured the very talented but also very humble essence of who Albert Pujols is both as a baseball player and a man of faith.

Reading Pujols More than the Game has been an enlightening and encouraging experience for me. I think the authors summarized the book and Albert’s life best in the very first chapter. There they write, “Puhols’ faith is neither a vague spirituality nor an improve-your-morals campaign. Rather, the core of his faith is in Jesus Christ, defined in his foundation’s statement of faith as “God’s only Son, [who] lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father and substituted Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He became our mediator to bridge the gap between mankind and a Holy, Sinless God.”(p 10)

I just have to say again…this book is a great read! It will encourage your heart and help you find some J.O.Y., and if you aren’t a Christian already it will open your eyes to the true Power behind one of the greatest men in history of baseball. If you love baseball, you need to read Pujols More than the Game!

A copy of this book was provided to me for free by Thomas Nelson Publishing for book review purposes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Every Season Under the Sun

Grandma Lawrence a few years ago at her 90th birthday party.
I know that I don't usually blog on Sundays so I am not expecting a bunch of readers for this one. Not that this week would necessarily be a normal schedule anyway because of the holiday. But I thought I would blog today.

Right now I am sitting in my Grandmother's hospital room. I have been here since 7:00pm yesterday. Slowly and helplessly I have been holding her hand and watching her slip away. You never feel quite so powerless and useless as when you are watching a loved one suffer. There is nothing I can do and I wonder why I am here. I posted something to this effect in my Facebook status this morning. That's when Lisa reminded me that I am here for a reason. Whether that reason is for my own closure because I haven't seen my Grandmother in 2-3 years or maybe I am here to bring comfort to my mom. Who knows? Only God.

However, as I pondered this and many other questions I thought about Ecclesiastes chapter 3. I am not going to comment on these verses today. I will let them speak for themselves. They are powerful and can speak much clearer than a brain that went to be at 4:30am and got up at 7am. So here they are, Ecclesiastes 3:1-9:

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
 Please pray for my family--especially my mom--as they go through this though time. Thank you and God bless.
The Problem of PainA Grief ObservedC.S. Lewis's the Problem of Pain/a Grief Observed

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Not For Lazy Relationist

Love at Last Sight: Thirty Days to Grow and Deepen Your Closest RelationshipsOverview:
Love at Last Sight is about improving the most important relationships in your life in just 30 days. It was written by the same authors as One Month to Live. The book is broken down into chapters, and is meant to be read one chapter a day for thirty days. Each chapter deals with a different key to make the relationship in your life (husband-wife, parent-child, etc.) work and to make them richer and stronger.

My Thoughts:
Love at Last Sight is well written and gives many key insights into what will help to keep your relationships growing and flourishing. In this book you are encouraged to take the Love at Last Sight Challenge. There is a whole website dedicated to the challenge and filled with valuable resources to help you meet the challenge. Much of what you will read in Love at Last Sight won’t be new to you. The overarching theme is that it takes hard work to maintain relationships. The book does focus on ways to make all your work more beneficial so you get the best results for the work you put into the relationships. No more wasted relationship energy…hopefully. As mentioned before, you will also find additional resources on the Love at Last Sight Challenge website to help take the book one step further.

I recommend Love at Last Sight to anyone who is really serious about improving their relationships. If you are only interested in having casual relationships or don’t want to put in the work then this book is not for you.

A free copy of this book was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for review purposes.

One Month to Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets LifeKerry & Chris Shook are also the well known authors of One Month to Live.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day Special: Part Three

(a.k.a. Singles Awareness Day according to some SBU alumni)

Today I wanted to write one more blog about L-O-V-E. I could go to 1 Corinthians chapter 13, but I think that would be a little too cliche. Instead I want to share with you what I consider to be one of the greatest love verses in the Bible.

"But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

This verse is short and to the point and that point is that God loves us. In fact He loved us so much that He gave up His perfect and only Son to come and die a horrible death on the cross so that He could have a relationship with us. If that's not love then I don't know what is.

Today, on Valentine's Day, celebrate your love for one another. Share the love with a friend who may not be married or dating yet. But most of all remember the love of Christ and share that with someone who needs that love today.

Other Resources:
These are a few other resources that can improve your marriage, dating, and life in general.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentines Day Special: Part Two

Valentine's Day is supposed to be a day where we celebrate the love in our life. Unfortunately it can also be a horrible day for those without the One in their lives. What would you say to me if I told you that everyone has the opportunity to be loved by the One everyday? It's true. It can happen. First, I want to talk about the five Greek words for love and then we will talk about the One.

When I think about the FOUR Greek words used to explain love I realize just how limited the English language can be. The Greek language uses the four different words at its disposal to explain the difference between the love you feel for your husband and the love you feel for your cheeseburger. In English it's just love. What a shame. No wonder people don't really understand what love means.

The first Greek word for love is Storge (στοργή) his means affection. I think when most people talk about their love for their cheeseburger they are talking about storge love...I hope.

The second Greek word for love is Philia (φιλία) this is a love between friends. You love your best friend, that's philia love. Ever wondered why the City of Brotherly Love is called Philadelphia well I think you are starting to get the picture now.

The third Greek word for love is Éros (ἔρως) this is romantic love or could also be translated erotic love. It is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing, but it doesn't have to be strictly sexual in nature. When we think about the commercialized version of Valentines Day the ad agencies are more than happy to sell us eros love. It can strong and passionate but it is often short lived. This is the love used to describe dating and marriage.

The final Greek word for love is Agápe (ἀγάπη) this is the unconditional love of God. Agape transcends any other kind of love out there. It is perfect and unconditional. Many people believe they agape their spouse or their boyfriend or girlfriend, but in reality the only person truly capable of perfect agape love is God. It is a sacrificial love.

Now...about everyone being loved by the One...

If you haven't figured it out by now, the One that I am referring to is God. God is waiting for each of us. He gave himself sacrificially to bring agape love to us. If we are willing to accept His sacrifice and ask forgiveness for our sins, He will never stop giving us the agape love we crave and were in fact created to receive. He wants to have a real and living relationship with us. He wants to be our Valentine, our love, and our desire. Even when we as humans fail, His agape love never will!

As husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends, we should be doing our best to give our significant other agape love. We should be willing to forgive and work through problems. Yes, there are times it won't be easy. Yes, we will fail. We are not God! We can only try to imitate and practice His agape love the best way we can. Thankfully, He is there to set the example in our lives if we will only start a relationship with Him.

Make God your Valentine this year and you will never be alone again!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentines Day Special: Part One

Obviously everyone is talking about Valentine's Day because it is just around the corner. Yesterday I was reading She Seeks--another awesome blog geared toward women--and the post was all about being Committed. Just so you know, She Seeks is a blog written by a community of female authors. Committed is this weeks post by Lisa Whittle.

The post itself was awesome but as I was reading the comments I was hit smack in the face with all the problems facing our marriages. Woman after woman talked about their struggles in their marriage. Sometimes they were the problem, sometimes it was their spouse, and your heart just breaks.

That's when I decided that my next few posts will be my Valentine's Day specials and will deal exclusively with love, dating, and marriage. It all starts today.

This song I have included here is called "Dancing in the Minefield" by Andrew Peterson. This first time I heard the title of this song I didn't have a clue what it was about. So take a good listen before you write it off. It's an awesome song about marriage. In a lot of ways, I think the chorus really sums up what marriage should be.
We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

No matter whether you find yourself in the good times, the bad times, or the in between times don't give up. You are not alone! Cling to Jesus. Cling to your spouse. Be committed! Live by the promise you made to each other on your wedding day. Seek prayer and support. Your marriage is worth it.

More to come...

Monday, February 7, 2011

the Super Bowl and Other Things that Cause Stress

Last night was Live Out Loud Student Ministries fourth annual Super Bowl Party. Our youth, college students, Jimmy and me, and a few of our adult leaders all gathered at the Nelson's house to watch the big game or play cards or play wii or just have a good time. It is usually one of the most laid back events we have every year. We gather at the church and bus the kids to the house. The kids bring drinks and any special snacks. We provide the  Game, the Wii, and pizza. Simple enough.

On the outside this year seemed just that simple too. Behind the scenes things were quite a different story. Over the past year our group has been going through some difficult struggles and transitions. Attendance has been up and down and tensions have been high. So as we called Little Caesar's Pizza to order 12 larges we prayed that there would be enough people there to eat them. In fact, the stress was so bad that Jimmy couldn't get a good night's sleep the night before.

I tried to tell him that everything would be fine and that kids would show up. Hey! It's the Super Bowl. There's free pizza! And although we do a devotion instead of watching the half-time show, most teens feel this is a non-threatening environment where they are not going to get preached out. So they would come.

But the whole week leading up to the party, we got phone call after phone call after Facebook message after text message of students who weren't coming--even some of our dependable regulars! It was discouraging and added to the already mounting disappointment.

Finally Super Bowl Sunday gets here and the phone calls start again. Only this time they are students who haven't been in months who wanted to let us know they were coming. It was a total 180. In the end, we ate 10 out of 12 pizzas. We had so much fun routing for our teams. We had about 30 or so students and adults, but most importantly God provided! He blew our minds and made us feel foolish for stressing out in the first place instead of trusting that He would take care of it. Even if it was just a Super Bowl Party. There was no need to stress. God is in control and always has been.

"Look at the nations and watch--be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One Sweet Deal

I don't know about you but the last few days I have enjoyed being snowed in at home. We have had a couple of our college students over and we have played games, watched movies, and laughed laughed laughed. It has been sweet! So to celebrate the sweetness of staying home in the midst of a winter storm, the sweetness of friendship, and the upcoming sweetness of Valentine's Day, I decided to offer you one sweet deal.

I design blog templates, banners, buttons, etc. For the month of February (while supplies last) I am offering them 66% off to all my friends here on Life as a Minister's Wife. To view the available items, please visit My Esty Store: Master Design. You can purchase and make payments through this site using this coupon code: LMWFRIEND . Supplies are limited so don't wait. Enjoy this sweet deal from me to you!

Grace and Peace,

See What's Available at Master Design on