Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: Stepping Out in Faith

     Book Sneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing blessed me with a free copy of Max Lucado's latest release Outlive Your Life.  Lucado guides the reader through excerpts of the Book of Acts in attempt to draw your own call to bless others. The young church after Christ's resurrection was breaking barriers and stepping out of comfort zones as God led them. Christ's salvation was being offered to everyone despite color, gender or creed. The people were taking care of one another. Where as Christians do we stand?
     I was so excited to receive this book. His books excite my soul. I want to run out and tell others not just about the book, but about God's love. Of course, I am a huge Max Lucado fan. His style of writing flows from his pen as if he were having a conversation with the reader. Yet, his books are always thought provoking and make you reconsider some of your values, actions and beliefs.
    Oddly enough, my pastor has been walking us through the Book of Acts, so this book was truly an extension of the current conversation. What am I doing for God? Am I bring him glory? What other ways can I step out in faith to bless others?
     Outlive Your Life probably isn't for the unbeliever and it may not be suited for those new to the faith. However, for believers wishing to grow, this book is wonderful. It can begin the conversation or be a continuation of the conversation. The greatest hope that I have for anyone reading this book is to strengthen their faith and renew their confidence to step outside their normal box and show the world God's love for all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sharing Lemons and God's Love

   As the saying goes, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade."  But my favorite is from the Bible, the best book of adages to live by.  Romans 8:28 states, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I find hope in that statement when things aren't working out as I planned. In fact how often do they go accordingly?
    The past two weeks have completely reaffirmed my faith in God's awesome Word. After my daughter was diagnosed with pneumonia at urgent care, the day after my son was having breathing difficulties and finally admitted for pneumonia the day after that. Trying to keep a four-year-old normally active little boy calm in a hospital bed for four days was excruciatingly painful to attempt. During this time though God was working his good.
     My pastor has been walking the congregation through the Book of Acts for a while. As a result, evangelizing, spreading God's message throughout has been weighing heavily on me. I want to share God's love, but I'm not one to just start preaching. I know that's not the only way to, but nonetheless sharing seemed scary. I prayed for God to present an opportunity for me to share. Did he ever! Where else, but at the hospital.  He hears our prayers, cares and answers.
     The first trip to the ER was when it happened. As Jacob and I sat on the infamous "asthma chair," another lady with her son was seated beside us for similar difficulties.  As we spoke, I realized this woman was having personal issues. I'll openly admit as a rather reserved person who enjoys her sleep,  being at the hospital at night, while your husband is at work and your other kids are elsewhere falling to sleep without you, is emotionally difficult. Yet, there I sat feeling prompted to reach out. How though?
     I ended up giving this woman a business-like card with one of my favorite Bible verses on it. Let me note, I had recently bought these cards, a hundred to be exact, knowing the opportunity could present itself at any time. Isaiah 40:31 "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." My heart was leaping, not out of joy, but terror. I thought "What if she laughs at me and my Savior?" And then the glorious peace of God washed over me. The Spirit within assured me it was for Him and whether she rejected it or not was not my concern.
    I handed this card to her, letting her know this verse helps me during turbulent times. She looked at it and put it in her wallet. Okay, I did it Lord, I'm done. I sat there wondering what she was really thinking. Was she looking at me as a nut or something better?
     As the nurse wheeled her son away to admit him to the hospital, this woman turned to me and thanked me. Not only did she thank me, but said she really needed that. The look in her eyes told me all I needed to know. I stepped out in faith during a time I could have inexcusably been timid out of exhaustion and concern for my son. Instead, I took a stand for my Jesus and was rewarded with love. How sweet is that lemonade?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

God's Grace, A Mother's Strength

    Yesterday began as a trial of sorts, one that was looking to refine me. As women we are precious in the Lord's sight. It is when we experience those days as mothers and wives that shape us into the gems we are created to be.
    The evening before knowing what my "planned" day was suppose to look like I asked God for extra strength. Little did I know, when I woke up I was going to have to rely on Him more than I could imagine. As a side note, I despise going to doctor's appointments as is. I actually get nervous and physically discontent. When there are added pressures I dread them even more. That said, my daughter woke up sick when I was planning on going to a bible study and my own appointment.
    It seems my husband is working when I need him, but I feel that is God's way of helping me rely on Him. I told myself after I said a prayer that what needed to get done would somehow. It's in those moments that I also remind myself that motherhood is a season and it too shall pass. Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." The sobering truth of it too, is that motherhood though is for a season, hands me responsibility that has eternal consequences. The way I parent today and present myself to the world will shape my children forever. If they see me standing strong in my faith, I am planting those seeds into them in hopes that God will harvest something wonderful later.
     My in-laws picked up my boys and I took little Mary to urgent care. In only what could be declared as God's perfect timing, my daughter was seen by the doctor, x-rayed and diagnosed with pneumonia in little over an hour. I checked in for my appointment one minute before my scheduled time. At the end of it all, I drove to the church and picked up notes on what I missed. I was determined. It was only through God's strength and grace that I managed it without losing my cool.
     As God brings those trials into our lives, as Christian mothers, we must remember it is all for His glory. Romans 4:20 "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God."  He is sanctifying us through those moments, so we may become more like Jesus Christ. When it seems unbearable and we lose our cool, we then will be reminded why we call on His name to begin with. It is only through Christ's blood that our imperfections are covered with His grace and love. I'm not a perfect mother and that is okay. May I raise my arms to the heavens and praise His mighty name. Jesus Christ is my Savior, my Love and my Strength.


Hope on Israel

    My latest book that I received courtesy of Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson Publishing was Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright. In this book Wright attempts to explain modern-day problems in the Middle East in historical terms going back to the time of Abraham. He states that the problem between Israel and the Arabs stems from the sin of Abraham and Sarah taking matters into their own hands when having Hagar carry Abraham's seed. God fulfills his promise and blesses them with their covenant child, Isaac, in Sarah's womb.
    I honestly thought this book might be a touch on the dry side. However, the depth of biblical insight into the history of the  peoples of the  Middle East was compelling. Wright didn't rehash the problems in modern terms over and over, but concentrated on the sin that was committed thousands of years ago that we can see reverberating through that region and the world today.
    As I read Seeds of Turmoil I was drawn into the lives that played out so long ago. How could Abraham, Sarah and Hagar know their plan to produce an heir would cause problems for such a long time? When God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a vast amount of descendants did he truly fathom the scale God was speaking of?
    Today as Christians we believe Israel has been restored rightfully. We are commanded to love each other as well as our enemies.  In Seeds of Turmoil Bryant suggests that Christians pray for Israel,  for peace to come to the region and for the Arabs as well. Christ came to save all.  John 3:16. This book is an interesting read for those concerned with modern-day politics and biblical history. I wouldn't recommend Seeds of Turmoil  for a young reader nor for someone new to Christianity.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Lapbook Lessons is having a giveaway courtesy of In the Hands of a Child for a one-year membership. It'll give you access to new units every month.  Follow this link and good luck.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Turning Your Curse into a Blessing for Others

    Someday I know I will look back at my illness as one of my life's greatest blessings. Today I view it as preparation for the work God has in mind for me. It's been almost two years since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I realize how much I have learned about myself, my husband, my family and even other people.  One of the greatest difficulties is trying to figure out what works, what doesn't and what else I can try to remedy my situation. The other challenge is not letting the illness/syndrome define me as a person.
    I remember when I had my first child. I could take care of him, play with him, read, clean the house and not need a ton of sleep to feel human. Now some days just taking care of my three children can prove challenging. It's frustrating not understanding completely why joints and muscles ache or why I feel nauseated with a flu.
    My husband understands and is as sympathetic as he can be.  He helps with the dishes and the kids, among other helps here and there.  Since we homeschool that is a true blessing for me. My oh my, has he listened. I couldn't have asked for a better shoulder to lean on. My kids are learning as well. They are helpful and rather self-reliant for kids their age. I'm hoping if nothing else my children will become compassionate adults that will truly look out for others and lend a helping-hand. They are well on their way.
    When I was first diagnosed with the illness I tended to look for any and all solutions. I talked and talked about it. When I have a flare-up I still do. It's not that I am intentionally chewing your ear off, I am sorting out my thoughts aloud in hopes of finding another solution. My apologies for all that have willingly or unwillingly lent me their ears.
    The worst thing about fibromyalgia isn't the pain believe it or not. Rather it's knowing there isn't a cure, each case is unique as the person's body and chemistry is unique to them. I also at times despise the fact that what works for me today may not get me through tomorrow.
    I have changed my entire life to deal with this syndrome. My diet is different and at times difficult to maintain. My sleep patterns are all over the place. The experts say the best thing is to go to bed and rise the same time everyday. I'm working on it. However, when you're told you have chronic fatigue syndrome as well the outlook is rather bleak. I'm lucky if I sleep through the night. I even know if my family and I plan an outing I need my husband home the next day in case my body doesn't agree the day's activities. I plan on waking up stiff and having extremely sore muscles for the next day or two.
     The greatest change is God has allowed me to realize I am not supermom. I need Him more than anything else. I am a stronger person now and I continue to grow until I am with my Lord. Each year provides a new challenge or two and new growth opportunities. I plan on making the most of my issues. In time I hope my travails will help me assist and encourage others.  The worst thing anyone can do to themselves is to go at life alone. I pray God will use me in magnificent ways for his glory and kingdom.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rough Road or Happy Trails?

    Lately I have been pondering my relationship with my husband. Now a couple years ago when I was introduced to Titus 2  principles our marriage was in need of some assistance. It was hard to hear at first that I had the power to make my marriage a happy marriage without changing my husband. It was me. God's Word struck me in the heart like a fiery dart cutting through ice. I drove home a different person convicted of my sins. How that hurt.
    That drive home was truly the beginning of our transformation. I knew I needed to let go of the steering wheel and let my husband be the man God created him to be.  I needed to zip my lips and stand BEHIND my man.  He is the protector and provider, yet I was always trying to tell him how to do his job.
     I like to be well prepared when I leave for a trip. My bags are packed, the car is in running condition, fuel is in the tank and I am ready to roll. Marriage is a lifetime trip, a journey to prepare for and one you have to keep your eyes on the road for. I look for danger signs, hazards and points of interest.
     Let's look at our marriages and apply what we know of cars to it. The Holy Spirit is our GPS. If we don't have Him as our navigator we will get lost. That is the most vital thing, without directions we'll never know where we are headed. You can make every preparation and still get lost. Your work will be for nothing.
    One of the hardest parts for some of us strong-willed gals is letting our husband not only sit in the driver seat, but allowing him to drive. My husband in the past has told me not to be a "side-seat driver". Oh, how I like to tell him how to drive, which way to go and "use your blinker". That's where I still have to try hard to be a good wife.
    Being a godly wife doesn't come easy always. Some days it seems it's never easy. We all have our sinful nature to deal with. Next time you speak with your husband watch how many times the word "me" comes up. When your husband walks through that door and you give a warm welcome asking how his day was, it brightens up his day. It washes some of the day's worries away.
    Every car needs to have four good tires. If you hit a bump in the road with a bad tire the consequences can be deadly. So it goes in marriage. Without a firm foundation in Christ our marriage may not be able to handle the "bumps" in the road  and we will end up getting off the next off-ramp at Divorce Street. 
    Another hazard is when we ignore our GPS, the Spirit, and wind up taking a detour right into Sin City.
    God has been gracious enough to provide a road map in the Bible. Are we going to be wise enough to heed His advice and commandments?  God has given us security within the sanctity of marriage. It us up to us wives to pay attention to our husbands, follow the directives given in Titus 2:3-5. "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
     Are you prepared for your trip? My marriage has gone from good to glorious in a matter of 3 years. Yes, we hit bumps, sometimes we are on cruise control, other times we try harder and have to shift into overdrive to make it up the mountain. We always do and always will. My husband is my driver. My family and I are thankful for him. The greatest part is both of our love tanks are brimming to the top. My prayer is that every marriage could be as wonderful as God intended it to be. What a glorious thing!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review: Overcoming the Chaos

    I recently received a free copy of Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah from Booksneeze courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Dr. Jeremiah paints a vivid picture of what is wrong with the world today within a few pages. Then he takes you through the Bible verses that you can rely on to bring hope, comfort, courage and assurance to defeat the world's anxiety.
    As I began reading the first few pages I began wondering if the whole book was going to be so abrupt and to the point. I feared Dr. Jeremiah was going to start predicting the end of times.  Though he forewarns of the inevetibility of the end, the book is more focused on how to survive as Christians until then. 
    God has given us all that we need in the Bible to face life, yet often life gets so crazed we fall into our sinful nature and rely on ourselves for the answers. In Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World the reader is given God's promises and instructions on dealing with the grim worldly problems.  When financial outlooks, terrorism threats, corruption and the plethora of other problems seem to be getting worse everyday we are to view them with an eternal view. Paul instructed the churches to encourage and support one another almost two thousan years ago. That instruction still applies.
    Christians are to stay connected, consistent and hopeful among other things.  When we apply what Dr. Jeremiah writes we will find courage and confidence in our faith. Some glorious day we will be able to stand in front of Christ with due reverence and know we did what we were meant to do on this earth for him. I am truly blessed for having read Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World