Friday, September 28, 2012

New Adventure

Those kicking and screaming death-throes moments when you realize you aren't and you can't are God's opportunities to show you He is and He can -  Marcia Moston

I need more of those moments.  With the exception of leading a small group, my life is pretty comfortable.  I love having my days free to work at my own pace and bury myself in books.  But at the same time I find myself longing for more adventure...more of a challenge.

One thing that has been mentioned to me several times over the past 6 months is substitute teaching.  While the schedule is ideal, I dismissed the idea quickly.  You see, while everyone is saying "You'll be great at it!" inside I know that it won't come naturally to me.  I'm a planner...not someone who is comfortable with change and spontaneity.  I'm not a natural with kids.  I fear being in a situation where I don't know what to do or say.  What if I fail?  And (now this is really bad...) what if they don't like me?

I kept hearing about the need and began wanting to help.  What finally occurred to me is that I don't need to do it perfectly.  I am not going to do everything as well as a full-time teacher would do it.  I won't do it as smoothly as someone who has experience subbing.  I don't have to be someone else...I can just be me and that's ok.  Where I am weak, God can show off. (I'm counting on it!) 

My questions began to change to: What if I am missing out on something because I'm too scared to try?  What if I forfeit this opportunity to see God working through me?  What if I can bring a smile or a kind word to some children who don't get that love at home?  What if I can make a difference?

I feel a bit nervous, but also excited.  I'm going to need God to show up in a big way.  The application has been turned in.  My license is being processed.  Let the adventure begin!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Soon To Be Released...

Normally I blog about books that I've already read.  This time I've been asked to highlight a book that will be released soon, on October 2nd.

I remember seeing a video clip of Nick Vujicic at church a few years ago.  This man was born without arms and legs, yet is a prime example of what it means to rise above our circumstances and live the life we've been given for God's glory.  When I watched him speak I was captured by his joy and optimism.  I have not yet read his first book, Life Without Limits, but it's on my list!  I have no doubt that his new release, Unstoppable, will be an inspiration to many.

You can read the introduction and first chapter here

Friday, September 14, 2012

Greater by Steven Furtick

"The thing is, most believers aren't in imminent danger of ruining their lives.  They're facing a danger that's far greater: wasting them."

Steven Furtick is a man whose life isn't being wasted.  In listening to his podcasts over the years he has become my favorite preacher.  So I must say that I had an advantage in reading this book...I could hear it being preached to me.   I could hear his tone of voice when telling a funny story and knew when his voice would raise with passion when presenting a point he wanted to drive home.  That being said, whether you are familiar with Pastor Steven or just hearing his name for the first time, get your highlighter ready - this book is full of wisdom and practical application.

Here's what I liked about the book that sets it apart:

1) It's Real.  Pastor Steven is willing to share his "behind the scenes" questions and insecurities.  The book also tackles the question of wasted faith.  What happens when you do all the right things on a path to a greater life, but your situation ends with heartache?  Was your faith wasted? 

2) It's Biblical.  The book follows the story of Elisha the prophet, taking events from his ministry and applying them to our journey toward being greater.  Pastor Steven shares God's Word in a way that brings insight and understanding.

3)It's Attainable.  He says "God's greater purpose in any area of your life means giving up your false expectations of greatness to find the greater things He's called only you to do."  It all boils down to taking small steps of obedience and allowing God's greatness to show through you.

This book will ignite God's vision for your life.  (Good preaching, Pastor!)  There are also small group discussion questions included for each chapter.

I just have one little complaint.  The last page advertises a new CD by Elevation Worship...12 songs written to go along with the content of this book, corresponding to each chapter.  That is right up my alley!  But after doing some research I discovered the CD won't be released until Feb 2013!  And so I wait...

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

From Psalm to Song

This morning I was reading Psalm 119: 153-176, part of the longest psalm in the Bible.  All of a sudden I realized...I know this song!  Many of the lyrics seem to be taken from the New King James version.  I am in awe when a songwriter can take Scripture and put it so beautifully to music.  Take a listen...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The $5 Cookie Greeting

A few months ago we had a scare after Jacob got hit in the back with a baseball.  Because of the symptoms he was experiencing we took a trip to the ER.  Thankfully nothing serious was wrong.  A few days later Jacob received something in the mail...a box of Cheryl's cookies from one of the families on his baseball team.  He got a big smile on his face and said "Mom, they really like me!"  There is something special about receiving something in the mail, especially for kids.

So when a friend from Jacob's football team got hurt this week, my first thought was to send him cookies!  Problem is that we have a little tighter budget being a single-income family.  But I decided to check it out anyway.  Then I saw this...

The $5 Cookie Greeting, complete with personal note and shipping!  I could handle $5 to bring a smile to a young boy's face. 

I thought I would share this find with you in case there is someone you want to bring a smile to today.

You can check out the variety of Cookie Greetings here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Reason by William Sirls

While it's been fun reading some fiction over the summer, this will be the last for a while.  Time to get back to reality! Anyhow...

I have mixed feelings about this fictional story.  The book is well-written and interesting to read.  There are several characters who are each searching for the reason why certain things have happened/are happening in their lives.  Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  That's a question that's sure to run through our thoughts every now and then.  With the help of the mysterious "Kenneth", many characters are able to confront their doubts, let go,  and find the courage to "Only Believe". 

It's difficult to explain what I didn't like the book without revealing too much of the story.  While everything that happened is certainly possible, I found the series of events to be a huge stretch from reality.  I also thought it was a bit predictable.  With few exceptions, I knew what was going to happen before I read it.  That took away from the suspense.  Even so, the characters expressed real emotions and I still found myself questioning and rejoicing alongside them.

The message is good.  God loves you.  God is able.  There is a reason why things happen the way they do, even when you can't understand why.

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Unfailing Love by Karol Ladd

The unique format of this book got my attention.  It is like a commentary on the book of 1 John, going through each verse and explaining all background information to help the reader understand what the words meant to John's original audience.  However, it is written like a Christian-living book; pulling in stories, quotes, and other scriptures to help the reader fully process the themes and learn to apply them.

I started out really enjoying this format.  The author has a clear love of the Scriptures and does a good job adding relevant information and explanations.  Then I began to lose interest.  Sometimes it seemed like the focus of the text moved too much into "related themes" instead of focusing on the words of 1 John.  I also felt that I wasn't learning very much that I didn't already know, which made it difficult to stay focused.  I did like that each chapter ended with summary points, additional reading, and action steps.  There are also discussion questions included in the back of the book to use in study groups.

For those wanting to study the book of 1 John without having to read a dry textbook-like commentary, this would be a good resource. 

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