Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thoughts About Motherhood

Another undefeated ball season...way to go boys!  This was Jacob's (on right) last year of coach pitch baseball.  This fall he starts a new school and a new sport...football.  I am not looking forward to the worry I will feel each time he gets tackled.  He says "Don't worry mom, I'll have pads on!"  If only it were that simple.

There are 2 questions that Jacob asks a lot that can drive me nuts.  The first is WHEN?  "When are we leaving?  How long will it take to get there?  Where are we going to stop (and in what order)?When does football conditioning start?    When are they coming over?  How long are they staying?  When is dinner?  What are we going to eat?  Where are we going for vacation in the year 2016?" (ok, maybe not that bad)  My point is that he likes to know the details.  He probably gets that from me :)  I want to tell him "Don't worry about it.  I'll get you where you need to go, when you need to get there.  Enjoy being a kid.  Live in the moment.  Let me take care of the details!"

The other questions is WHY? "Why do I have to go to bed NOW?  Why can't I stay up longer to read?  Why do I have to pick up my toys?  Why do I have to take a shower?"  To which I reply "Why can't you just do what you're asked to do without asking questions???"  Today we have a surprise planned for Jacob...his dad is taking him to Cedar Point for the first time.  We knew they would be leaving early and he needed his sleep.  Last night when I said it was time for bed I was met with a ton of complaining. "It's summer...why can't I stay up later?"  I gave him a brief explanation that he needed his sleep and was expected to do as he was told.  The whining got so bad I wanted to cancel the trip!  I knew he had a great surprise in store for him, but all he could see was his present circumstance.

In the midst of my frustration I was struck with a thought....I wonder if this is how God feels about all my When's and Why's.  I want to know the plan and understand why things happen the way they do.  So maybe God wants to say to me, "Don't worry about it.  I'm in control.  Enjoy living in the present moment.  Let me take care of the details.  Trust me that I know what's best."  Maybe I should quit complaining because I could have a blessing waiting right around the corner that God is preparing me for and is anxious to give me.  Maybe God desires that same thing that I do as a parent...a thankful heart that is willing to trust and quick to obey.

Philippians 2:14-15 "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe"

Friday, July 20, 2012

That's Why I'm Here by Chris Spielman

Many football fans know the accomplishments of Chris Spielman on the field.  While this book does talk about his football career, it's mainly about his wife's battle with cancer and the legacy she has left behind.

What makes Stefanie Spielman's story so inspirational?  Her attitude.  Chris says, "You need to know that Stef never viewed cancer as an unfair or undeserved penalty that took something away from her.  She saw it instead as an opportunity to complete a mission that God had designed especially for her...It became our mission to make her diagnosis public in hopes of helping others.  We saw it as our calling, our divine purpose.  We wouldn't have chosen this path, but now that we had to walk it, we determined to use our experience and our lives as an opportunity to serve men and women who might need our help."  They were able to use Chris's celebrity status to increase awareness and raise lots of money for cancer research.  Stefanie was also able to use her struggles to comfort and encourage others in many different ways.  The Spielmans' credit their faith in God as the sustaining force in their family and share that faith in the course of the book in a non-pushy way.

Football fans will not be disappointed...there is about 60 pages of pure football memories from the time of Chris's youth up until the end of his career.  I found some of it to be interesting, but personally could have done with a shorter re-cap :)  It is neat to see Chris's growth from a man obsessed with football to a man focused on how God would have him help others.  He says "The first part of my life focused solely on winning, or trying to win.  If I didn't win, it made me more obsessed to win the next time.  Now I look at life differently.  It's not what you accomplish that's most important.  It's what you experience and overcome along the way.  Instead of always looking for the end result, I've learned to embrace the journey."

Whether you read this book for the football stories, or you read because you can relate to the battle with cancer, you will come away with something good...an outlook that we can't always choose what happens to us, but we can choose what to do with it.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson

This is a story that every teenage girl needs to hear, especially those who struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. 

When she was 17 years old, Kristen Anderson was overwhelmed by all of life's struggles and spontaneously decided to take her own life by laying down in front of an oncoming train.  God, however, had other plans for her.  Kristen's life was spared but her legs were severed.  In this book Kristen shares her past, the details of that life-changing day, and the hope that she eventually found in Jesus.  It is a short book, sharing the perfect amount of information to get her message across without citing unnecessary details.

Kristen writes in a way that is authentic and easy to relate to.  I could see many teens, and adults too, being able to identify with her feelings.  I liked how at the end of certain chapters Kristen wrote a personal message to her readers, speaking directly to those who are having suicidal thoughts, have been raped, or want to know how to begin a relationship with Jesus.  The gospel is clearly presented as she shares her own journey of faith.

The path has been messy, but God is using Kristen's story and her heart for helping others to make a huge impact.  She has started Reaching You Ministries as a way to help those struggling with depression and suicide.  She desires to share the hope that she has found and encourage others who are hurting.  Click here to read the first chapter!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The following is Kristen's interview on Oprah.  It alone has saved at least one life.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond

While I don't read fiction very often, summer is a great time to get lost in a novel.  I enjoyed this one for several different reasons:

1.  The story was inspired by true events.  Taking place in 1876, the plot follows Sophia, a missionary who was assigned to be a teacher for the Ponca Indian tribe during an era when Indians were being "civilized".  It was a trip back through time, learning about the Ponca culture and history.   Sophia embarked on this journey with the wrong motives, but the change God brought about in her heart is similar to accounts I've read of other missionaries.  The characters were mostly fictional but the story was woven with truth.

2.  The book focused on a lesson..."ignore the rushing water".  Basically this means to ignore all the obstacles and worries that tend to consume us and focus on the here and now.  Today's troubles are enough for today.  It can be easy to get overwhelmed when there are so many people with so many needs.  This story teaches to do what you can with what you have, focusing on the need in front of you, and trusting the rest to God.

3. Yes, I must admit I liked the hint of romance as well.  What woman doesn't enjoy a good love story?  I do give the author credit for keeping the romance pure and tasteful. 

Overall, I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to a friend.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel

I've found that many books on spiritual growth tend to get boring and repetitive.  But I'm pleased to say that this book is not one of them!  Craig Groeschel delivers a message full of truth that is also laugh-out-loud funny! 

Soul Detox is about purifying our lives.  Pastor Craig says that just as smokers are unaware of the smell in their home, "many people aren't fully aware of the forces stunting their spiritual growth...and what many people don't know is not just hurting them but killing them spiritually...It is our responsibility to discern what we let into our lives and what we keep out."  Part One takes a look at our toxic thoughts, language, and hidden sins.  Part Two examines toxic emotions such as bitterness, envy, anger, and fear.  And Part Three reveals toxic influences including materialism, culture, relationships, and religion gone bad.

Reading this book was challenging in the sense that I still have some (okay...a lot of) purifying to do in my life, as we all do.  But the message is also full of transparency and grace.  I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting a little soul cleansing, with a few laughs along the way :)

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.