Monday, January 31, 2011

You Are Not Forgotten

I have put off writing about this. I feel like this was a very clear message from God when I needed it the most, and it spoke to me immediately and deeply. So deeply in fact that I almost kept this promise to myself, but then I decided that maybe someone else needed to hear this as well. I am going to share the message but if you don’t mind, I am going to keep the details that made it so personally moving to myself. Sorry.

Wednesday I was reading Girl Talk with God (read my review of Girl Talk with God) and one of the “talks” included the passage Habakkuk 2:3. I read the words without much emotion and kind of brushed them off. I didn’t want to read too much into them since I randomly read them in this book although I did remark that it was an obscure verse. I mean who reads from Habakkuk? Who puts it in their book? Evidently Susie Shellenberger does. Anyway…

Thursday morning, I opened my copy of Voices of the Faithful: Book 2 (Read my review of Voices of the Faithful: Book 2) and turned to January 27th… *Pause* If you don’t know the format of the book let me give you the low down. Each page has a scripture passage at the top, then a story or devotional by an IMB missionary, and it closes with a prayer which is relevant to the topic. *Play* Guess what! My eyes immediately filled with tears when I saw the verse was Habakkuk 2:3. This was no coincidence. These words were for me. God knew I was going to read the passage the night before and brush it off so He put it in my path first thing the next morning! I mean what are the odds?! The same obscure scripture in two totally different books that I have been reading for days and I read the verse twice within 10 hours of each other. No way! This was definitely God.

I want to share Habakkuk 2:3 with you because maybe you need to hear it today. God has a promise and a plan for you. Don’t give up hope.

“The message I give you
waits for the time I have appointed.
It speaks about what is going to happen.
And all of it will come true.
It might take a while.
But wait for it.
You can be sure it will come.
It will happen when I want it to.” Habakkuk 2:3 NIrV

God, please use this verse to speak to someone else today. I know there are others out there who have almost given up on their dreams or the things they felt you had promised them because they have been a long time coming. Use your Word to refresh them and to renew their hope. Remind them that they are not forgotten. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

More Resources

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Girl Talk with God Review

Girl Talk With GodOverview:
Girl Talk with God by Susie Shellenberger is designed to teach teenage girls about having a real, viable prayer life. It teaches that prayer is more than just ritual “it’s actually all about talking to Him and listening to Him talk back.”

My Thoughts:
Girl Talk with God allows you to eaves drop on conversations God is having with His teenage daughters. These conversations cover many relevant topics including: entertainment choices, what it means to be a Christian, the language you use, eating disorders, and cutting. The writing style is almost script like as you read the prayer dialogue between God and the girl He is talking with. It honestly made it a little hard for me to get into as I prefer to read a single narrative or a more continuous writing style. The chapters are short and easy to manage. They are written in a way that is easy to understand and that I think any teenager will get. Some of the chapters are almost too simple or they just seem a little too perfectly packaged because teenagers (and adults alike) just don’t listen that well. I would also have liked to see some more added material in addition to the actual “conversation”.

One thing that I really, really appreciated is that each conversation with God was packed with scripture. It wasn’t just the references so that you would look it up later. It was the actual written word right there on the page. Which is good because we are often too lazy to look it up later and it’s important that those scriptural truths be read because they directly deal with what the conversation is about. It also makes for an easy way that teen girls can share scriptures with their friends. If they are talking about sex, just turn to the chapter that deals with sex and you have several scriptures ready to go that talk about sexual purity and what God intended sex to be like.

Overall, Girl Talk with God was a quality book and teaches strong lessons that we all should learn. I would read it again and I will probably recommend it to several of the girls in our youth group.

This book was a free copy provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing for review purposes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lady in Waiting Book Review: A Tale of Two Janes

Lady in Waiting: A Novel

Jane runs a family antique shop in New York, loves old things, and after 22 years of marriage now finds herself alone because her husband (Brad) needed some “space”. As she is coping with Brad’s abandonment and the possible end of her marriage, she finds a treasure hidden in the spine of an old book. It’s a ring, and not just any ring! It’s pre-Elizabethan and has a Latin inscription in it which includes one word she instantly recognizes—Jane. As present day Jane works through the problems in her life, she seeks to discover what became of Jane and the man who gave her this ring.

My Thoughts:
I’ll be honest, when I first picked up this book I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to like it. I do love historical fiction—especially romance—so it did have that going for it. This is the first book by Susan Meissner that I have ever read. I wasn’t sure about reading a book that centered around possible romantic tragedy but the story telling and the plot were fantastic! They drew me in quickly and kept me entranced until the very end. I highly recommend Lady in Waiting, and it has inspired me to read more of Susan Meissner's work. Lady in Waiting is an engaging and rich story about two Jane’s and how their stories intertwine. Don’t miss out on this amazing book! And believe me, you’ll want to find out how it ends…

I give Lady in Waiting five stars and recommend you buy it immediately! :)

See Other Works by Susan Meissner

The Shape of Mercy: A NovelWhite Picket Fences: A Novel  Blue Heart BlessedA Seahorse in the Thames  The Remedy for Regret  In All Deep Places

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Little Things

I know that I have written before about how Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University Changed My Life, but I was thinking about the little things that have changed in our lives since we started being more financially responsible. I also thought about dedicating that blog post to the two college couples in our student ministry who are getting married very soon and all the conversations I have had and will have with them about how to make their marriage strong and how to get by financially and just life in general. So as I sat there on a snowy Sunday afternoon clipping my coupons and later working on my design stuff, I thought I would write about a few of the things we do to make our marriage stronger and to get by financially.

3 Things Jimmy and I Do to Strengthen our Marriage:
  • Spend Time in Prayer
  • The Love Dare Day by Day: A Year of Devotions for Couples  Every night when Jimmy comes in to tuck me in (he goes to bed later than I do) we spend time cuddling and talking and we end in prayer. It isn't long, but it is very meaningful. I love that he prays about 90% of the time! It isn't that I am not capable or that I don't want to, but that when he does it makes me feel protected and taken care of and loved.
    • Communicate
    •  I have to be totally honest on this one. Sometimes our communication comes out in a loud volume or in a heated discussion but at least we are communicating. We make a conscious effort to try and let the other person know what's going on. Whether that is passing on important news, what we have done today, or taking the time to resolve an argument it's important and we try. We are NOT perfect and sometimes we fail miserably at communication but the important thing is that we try.
    • We say "I Love You"
    • The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts Jimmy is way better at this one than I am. I am not always a very open or verbal person (stop laughing because you are thinking about how long my blogs are). I am quick to tell him back but sometimes I fail at initiating those three little words. So I really do have to try. I want to be the one that says them first sometimes. So when I fail at the verbal I love Yous. I try to find other ways to let him know how much I love and respect him. Too often we forget the difference these three little words can make. If you aren't doing it already, try to say I love you (verbally or through your own method) to your spouse everyday and see what a difference it can make.

    3 Things We Do to Be More Stable Financially:
    • Live by Our Budget
    • The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness After three plus years of following the Dave Ramsey Method. We are getting pretty good at making a realistic budget. Are we as good at keeping it? Not always. It takes a lot of self-discipline and weeks like this one where we get a little off track can be difficult and frustrating because we know better. Still having a plan that we can go back to when we realize that we have gotten off track helps. If you need help learning how to make a realistic budget or learning how to make your budget actually work please visit the linked blogs for more information.
    • Yes, We Clip Coupons
    • Wow! You Saved How Much?: A Step-by-Step Money-Saving Guide This one takes a lot of time and effort but you can get really great results. Now I am not an extreme couponer like the ones they have TV shows about but I do make an effort to clip coupons for products that I know I need and for ones that I already use. I don't know about you, but there are a few products (like me girl stuff) that I am always going to buy my name brand for. It just makes me feel better. So why not save some money? There are a TON of great resources out there if you want to start saving some money with coupons. I suggest starting with Coupon Mom.
    • Every Little Bit Counts
    • This is one of the biggest money savers! It is simply keeping in mind that every little bit counts! When we started thinking this way we changed a few things. We started putting our change into a jar and when the jar was full we would take it to the bank and deposit it into a special savings account. We now have a small but growing savings account that we are saving specially for buying things when we have our first baby (whenever that is)! I also started designing and selling items on Zazzle and Etsy and it turns out that people really like my work. There have been many months that I have been able to put a little more money toward dumping our debt and paying off our credit cards because of making every little bit count. It also opened up a whole new dream and realm of possibility for me. I don't know that I would every be pursing graphic and web design now if I hadn't given this a try in order to make extra debt payments.

    Ok, I know that this post was really long! Thanks for hanging in there with me. I just had so much that I am thankful for and that I wanted to share with you. I hope that some of this has been helpful to you and encouraged you.

    Grace and Peace,

    Other Resources:

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Better is One Day

    In my quiet time this morning, I was reading from Psalms. I love the fact that many of the Psalms and other scripture have been put to music. Even as I was reading the words of Psalm 84, the songs resonated in my heart and my mind. They go with me everywhere because they are a part of me. That scripture (even if I never remember the reference) is a part of me and goes with me. I guess this speaks so deeply to me because of the big role that music has always played in my life. My high school French teacher once made the statement that I would remember anything that was set to music and it's true! To this day, I still remember which French verbs are conjugated with Etre. Think how much greater it is that thanks to so many talented singers and songwriters, I can remember scripture through music.

    "Better than One Day" is a song written from portions of Psalm 84, which I read today. Enjoy the link below (a version by one of my favorite bands--Kutless) and maybe the scripture from Psalm 84 will stick with you too.

    More Resources:

    Psalm 84

     1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
       LORD Almighty!
    2 My soul yearns, even faints,
       for the courts of the LORD;
    my heart and my flesh cry out
       for the living God.
    3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
       and the swallow a nest for herself,
       where she may have her young—
    a place near your altar,
       LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
    4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
       they are ever praising you.[c]
     5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
       whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
    6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
       they make it a place of springs;
       the autumn rains also cover it with pools.[d]
    7 They go from strength to strength,
       till each appears before God in Zion.
     8 Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
       listen to me, God of Jacob.
    9 Look on our shield,[e] O God;
       look with favor on your anointed one.
     10 Better is one day in your courts
       than a thousand elsewhere;
    I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
       than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
    11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
       the LORD bestows favor and honor;
    no good thing does he withhold
       from those whose walk is blameless.
     12 LORD Almighty,
       blessed is the one who trusts in you.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Married to the Funny Guy

    My husband, Jimmy, has started a new blog. While I was reading it this morning, I laughed at all of his jokes and rolled my eyes at some of the things I know he said just to get a rise out of me. Jimmy is the funny guy. Right now he has undertaken a challenge to watch 365 different movies in one year--not one per day exactly--and blog about them. Part of this came from his own conviction about us owning just over 360 movies not to mention the ones we rent, Netflix, and see in the theaters. We're three posts into this blog and his posts are really good. He just has a way of drawing people in and making them laugh that I find more than a little intimidating. His quickness to laugh and be crazy--to be the funny guy--is a natural icebreaker. It amazes me! I wish I had a little bit of his natural, God given talent for making new friendships. It would make life so much easier.

    As Christians, we should exude Christ in a way that draws people to Him--much the same as Jimmy uses humor. We are the light of the world. When all else is darkness people naturally gravitate toward the light. We shouldn't hesitate to share the good news with them. We shouldn't use the fact that it might not come naturally to us as an excuse to push people away or not share the love of Christ with them. It can't come naturally to all of us. Some of us--like me--will have to work really hard to build those relationships with people, but that doesn't mean I should give up. Don't let your fears and doubts about who you are or the gifts you have or don't have hold you back. Be who God created you to be--even if it isn't the funny guy--and share Christ in anyway you can!

    If You're Interested...

    • to learn more about Jimmy and his 365 day movie challenge, visit his blog  the 365 Blog Challenge.
    • to learn more about the design work that I do, please visit my website Mustion Design

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Idoleyes Book Review

    Hello, Everyone! A week ago I told you that I was reading Idoleyes by Mandisa. I also promised that when I was finished I would post a book review, and here it is.

    Idoleyes is an auto-biography by former American Idol contestant Mandisa. Although the book centers mainly around her experience auditioning for, participating in, and after effects of American Idol, the reader is also given stories from her path and what led her to audition with American Idol. The book is full of highs and lows, personal triumphs and defeats, and most of all Mandisa’s love for Christ and scripture.

    My Opinion:
    I’m just going to come right out and say it…I loved this book! From the foreword by Beth Moore to the very last page I was hooked. I am a Mandisa fan. I have been since I was first introduced to her on American Idol. So to say I was biased from the start is more than a little pointless. However, I want to make one thing absolutely clear—I didn’t read this book from cover to cover because of American Idol. I was intrigued by Mandisa because of American Idol (side note: my husband and I choose who we think are going to win once they reach the live show—I picked Mandisa), I was drawn in when I saw her sing at a Women of Faith event, but I read the book because of the candid honesty I felt from Mandisa in the very first chapter.

    Mandisa is open and honest about the struggles she faced before,
    during, and after American Idol and I could relate to that. It was a breath of fresh air to know there is another real person out there. So many times we get wrapped up in hiding our imperfections that we miss the opportunity to share what God has done despite us, but Mandisa does not miss a single opportunity in this book!

    I give Idoleyes five stars and highly recommend it to any woman who has ever struggled with food, self-image, or doubt because God doesn’t work in our ways or on our time tables.

    I hope you will read it and be encouraged too.

    Visit Mandisa's Official Website        
    Read Mandisa's Official Blog

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Words Bite

    I must confess that lately I have been very weak. I have struggled in my Christian walk and I have struggled in being the Christian woman I desire to be. God used this morning to convict me and remind me of one very important thing…words hurt.

    It is sad that so often—like today—we let our tongues get away from us. I don’t know about you but when I get angry I can say the meanest and most hurtful things even if I don’t mean them (which is even worse). It’s no wonder that the Bible speaks so strongly about the evils caused by tongue!

    “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” James 3:1-9

    Unfortunately it is WAY to easy to tear someone apart with the words that come out of our mouths. Word bite! I don’t know who made up the “Sticks and Stones” nursery rhyme, but they must have been out of their minds. Of course words will hurt you! Yes, it may not be a physical pain or hurt but emotional hurts are often more deadly. They lead us to fight back or to take rash actions that we would have never considered otherwise.

    I pray that you and I will both learn from my mistakes and take better care to keep a reign on our tongues.

    More Resources

    “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.” Psalm 64:3-4

    “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

    “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23

    “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26

    The Faith of Ronald Reagan Book Review

    The Faith of Ronald Reagan
    The Faith of Ronald Reagan is designed to be the untold portion of America’s 40th President’s life. While many authors have written about the man and the politics of Ronald Reagan, they have found him hard to understand and the author argues that is because the secular world hasn’t paused to consider how Reagan’s faith factored into his life and his presidency.

    Although this book would appear to new, it is really a re-titled and re-published version of the 2004 book entitled Hand of Providence: The Strong and Quiet Faith of Ronald Reagan.

    My Opinion:
    Ronald Reagan was President when I was born and I have always grown up hearing about all the great things he did when I was only a small child. I knew that Reagan was supposed to have been a Christian but knew little else about him. Therefore, I chose to read The Faith of Ronald Reagan to find out more about the man, the President, and his faith in God. I was not disappointed with all the details and stories told about his life and faith. However, I found the book hard to get through. I don’t know if it was the way the book was organized or the writing style of the author, Mary Beth Brown. I found it informative but I just didn’t find it enjoyable. I am thankful that this book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson publishing so that I could review it because I would not have purchased it on my own. However, others may have no issue with reading the book. It is only my opinion after all.

    If you are fascinated by Presidents or Ronald Reagan and have no problem reading autobiographies then you will probably enjoy this book. However, if you only have a minor curiosity and prefer to read mainly non-fiction, I would not recommend this book for you.

    This book was a free copy provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing for review purposes.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Walking with God

    In my quiet time today, I read a fact that intrigued me. The word "walk" appears over 380 times in the Bible ("Voices of the Faithful: Book 2" p 12). In those 380 times that it appears it has many different uses and subsequent meanings. Sometimes, it is the description of physically walking--as in "he was walking in the garden"(Gen. 3:8). Other times it has a much deeper meaning--"Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you"(Deut. 5:33).

    I want to focus on the second kind of walk. So many times you hear about people, especially in the USA, who claim to be Christians but you couldn't tell it by their lifestyle. The Bible speaks about these individuals in Titus and 1 John...

    "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good." Titus 1:16

    "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18

    Sometimes God calls us to physically walk around and share His word or to do something for Him, but He always calls us to spiritually walk with Him. Are you walking with God today? Are you walking in His word? Are your actions telling people that you love God and that He is the Lord of your life? I pray that each of us will use this year to have a closer walk with the Lord that people may know we are Christians not only by the words that we say but also by the walk we are living.

    Walking thru the Bible:
    Walk FaithfullyGen. 5:22,24; Gen. 6:9; Gen. 17:1; Gen. 24:20; Gen. 48:15; 1 Kings 2:4; 1 Kings 8:25; 1 Kings 9:4; 2 Kings 20:3
    Walk in ObedienceDeut. 5:33; Deut. 8:6; Deut. 11:22; Deut. 19:9; Deut. 26:17; Deut. 28:9; Deut. 30:16; Joshua 22:5; 1 Kings 2:3; 1 Kings 3:14; 1 Kings 8:58; 1 Kings 11:38; 2 Chronicles 6:31; Ps. 128:1
    Walk in Godly Instruction1 Kings 3:3; 1 Kings 3:14; 2 Chronicles 7:17
    Walk in Integrity1 Kings 9:4; Prov. 10:9
    Walk in Fear of the LordNehemiah 5:9; Prov. 14:2
    Walk in RighteousnessPs. 1:1; Ps. 15:2; Prov. 8:20; Isa. 33:15
    Walk BlamelesslyPs. 84:11; Ps. 101:6; Prov. 2:7; Prov. 19:1; Prov. 28:6; Prov. 28:18
    Walk in the LightPs. 89:15; Isa. 2:5
    Walk in WisdomProv. 28:26

    There are many, many more ways that the word "walk" is used in the Bible. If you have some that speak to you particularly or that you would simply like to share, please tell us about it in the comments section.

    May you walk in Grace and Peace today.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    2010 in Ten Words or Less

    I was reading a blog on January 1st that another minister’s wife had written. It was only ten words long but it spoke to me. It wasn’t a poem or a sentence. It was a list. A list of ten words encapsulated this woman’s experiences in 2010. It gave me pause. If I were to sum up my year in ten words or less, what words would I choose? Would we have any words in common? Would they be more positive than negative or vice versa? What memories and experiences stick out and determine the words I choose? Could I even do it—limit myself to ten words?

    In the end, I still haven’t made my list. However, I have spent time praying about the things that I have seen and done in 2010 and the things that I would like to do or to do differently in 2011. It has helped me to focus my attention in a few measureable and achievable New Year’s Resolutions. Who knew that 10 simple words could have such depth?

    How would you summarize your 2010 experience in 10 words or less?

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Dealing with Weight Issues & Food Addictions

    Yesterday, I started reading "Idol Eyes" by Mandisa. For anyone who doesn't know, Mandisa is an AMAZING Christian music artist. She has the most beautiful voice and even better than that she is a beautiful person inside and out. Like most people I was introduced to Madisa through the TV show American Idol. Although Mandisa didn't win, she was a very well known contestant for 3 reasons. #1 She was an outspoken Christian witness. #2 She rocked her vocals almost every week she performed. #3 After she left her audition, Simon made comments about her weight.

    In reading her book, I am beginning to understand a little more about her world and her struggles with eating and being overweight. These are not things that are foreign concepts to me. I know exactly where she is coming from. Although I don't look it, I am just over 100lbs over my healthy weight range (although I really hate the whole BMI scale because it doesn't take into account build and muscle mass). Also, my husband, Jimmy, deals with major weight issues.

    For the past 19 months, Jimmy and I have been making major life adjustments when it comes to eating and exercising. I have to admit that Jimmy is doing much better than I am. When it comes to food I find that I cave WAY too easily. Mandisa would say that we are both "addicted to food" and it's true. It's not that I eat when I am stressed. I eat when I am bored and when I socialize. Unfortunately those two things happen often which makes temptation great. The question is...

    How do you overcome an addiction to food?

    The only true solution is to trust God and work really hard to overcome it with His help. Does that make it easy? No way! To believe that just because you asked for God's help your struggles are automatically going to go away is naive. God equips us to "do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength." (Phil. 4:13)

    Practical Tips for Overcoming a Food Addiction:
    1. Eliminate Easy Access
    If you are a snacker, throw away all your junk food. Get it out of the house, apartment, office, car, or other snacking locations. If you really must have something try replacing it with healthier foods.

    2. Find a Support Network
    You need people who support you and will pray for you as you try to make lifestyle habits that will help you overcome your food addictions and weight problems. If there isn't anyone to ask you the hard questions then what's to stop you from falling right back into your bad habits?

    3. Make a Plan
    If you fail to plan then you plan to fail. Create a food plan. Know what foods and how much of them are okay to eat. Plan to exercise. Plan to report in to your support network. Plan your benchmarks and goals. Plan to succeed.

    4. Pray and Memorize Scripture
    This really could be number one but I like to list this hear because by the time you do the other three steps you will have more specific prayer needs and you will know what kinds of weaknesses you need to memorize scripture to help you with.

    Although it won't be easy, you can succeed. You might mess up but it you get up and get back on track then you can keep going. God wants you to succeed. He wants you to find freedom in Him. He will give you the tools. Just ask Him. That's a great place to start!