Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Good Friday

Hello Everyone!

I know I haven't written in a while (well, except for book reviews) but, I just wanted to say, quickly, to have a great day.  It's Good Friday!!! 

Are you ready for Easter???

(I love this song!  How about you?)

PS.  I will be back to writing soon.  I have a few entries in mind. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When Love Bend Down | Book Review

This book review is a little different than any of the others I have done.  I didn’t request this from any of the publishing companies that I partner with, I wasn’t sent this book in exchange for my review but, instead I was asked to read this book by my pastor to see what I thought.  Our church right now is doing a series called “City on Our Knees” talking about times when Jesus “bent down” and this is what When Love Bends Down is all about. 

Now, this concept might surprise many since we, as Christians, have a tendency to put Jesus on a pedestal.  He was the son of God and God in the flesh so, why not put Him on a pedestal?  The problem with that is that Jesus never meant for that to happen, that’s why he would bend down whenever He got the chance.  But, He didn’t just bend down for everyone although, I am sure He would. 

Jesus lowered Himself to His knees for people that we would probably just pass by and not take a second glance at.  In the book When Love Bends Down: Images of the Christ Who Meets Us Where We Are by Michael Lodahl, Lodahl paints a few stunning pictures of when Jesus went to His knees before people that are what, we would deem as unworthy, to show them and the people around them the true reason that God sent Him to earth….To serve. 

During the first half of the book Lodahl takes 3 chapters to share a few amazing stories when Jesus literally went to His knees before His humble followers.  I think my favorite story was the chapter about when Jesus washed His disciples feet.  He bent down to lower himself to a level that the servants were on.  It was the servant job to wash visitors feet when they entered a house but, Jesus was the one to wash feet that night. 

Yes, Jesus was in the position of servant.  This is where the moral of the stories (so to speak) come in.  Jesus wasn’t sent to Earth to be a God (like everyone thought) and rule over everyone.  God sent Him here to teach His church how to act and live.  It’s all about serving.  Living a life that is “bent down” is about humbling yourself before others to serve them in their times of need.  Who better to teach that than Jesus? 

We, as a community, would never expect Jesus to serve us but, in Lodahl’s book he shows us how that’s all Jesus was sent here to do.  He was sent to lead by example.  How better to teach than to show?  Jesus could have talked and talked all day long and still…nothing would have ever sank in.  But, when you read the words on the pages of this book and imagine the scenarios that accompany them you will change.  You can’t help but change the way you look at those times, Jesus and His teaching.  The biggest idea that will change is any ideas you had as to the purpose of God in the Flesh. 

I previously only mentioned the first half of this book and there is a reason for that.  It’s because I feel this book could have stopped right there and been better for that.  Lodahl writes amazing stories and shares some wonderful lessons when he is talking about Jesus bending down but, in the last half of the book I got lost.  He is constantly repeating himself and talking in circles.  I felt like it took away from all the power the first half had.  The book lost a ton of momentum and would have been a GREAT book had he finished it before adding, what I felt was, unnecessary chapters and words.  Overall though, this book was defiantly worth reading.  Minus the extras, there is some powerful ideas and teaching between to covers of this book.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Can Trust Your Life DVDs | Review

Louise L Hay and Cheryl Richardson team up for the 4 Disc DVD Set You Can Trust Your Life.  Most of you know them from their amazing transformational books as did I.  I was excited to get the change to review this set but, that excitement quickly left as I started watching the DVDs. 

First off, I will say that I LOVED the messages they were trying to get across to all the attendees of the conference and viewers at home.  To live a good life we need to change the way we are thinking.  Think positively and get rid of all the negative thoughts.  There is no room for negativity in a wonderful life. 

The way that they suggest you do this is by positive affirmations, which, I thoroughly agree with.   Setting the tone of your day with a positive statement or changing a “bad” day by taking the time to stop and make a positive affirmation to get your day back on track.

They also promote talking to yourself in a positive manner instead of putting yourself down all the time.  Again…I agree and loved the message.  It’s the approach that Hay used to get her point across that kind of got on my nerves.  She kept telling herself that “I love you.”  Yes, this is great but, she went a little to far into the over-kill category.  Even after a lunch break she pulled out a mirror and started talking to herself that way and promoting the audience to do the same.  While this might be helpful to others, it was just annoying me.

This is a wonderful set of DVDs and will help a lot of people if you can get past all of the excessiveness and extras.  It has a great message that can transform your life if you follow and listen.  It was just a little annoying to me.  But, maybe it’s because I am more familiar with their books and not so much their public speaking.

*I received a complimentary copy of the DVDs from Hay House for the purpose of this review.*

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Women's Study Bible (NIV) | Book Review

Thomas Nelson has released another wonderful Bible.  The Women’s Study Bible (NIV) has been complied with the hopes of encouraging women in their walk with God.

With this Bible being in one of the most popular translations, it is really easy to read and understand.  The publishers have included, in the footnotes of the pages, extra study notes to help you during your quiet time spent immersing yourself in the words of God. 

Before each book, there is a page of introduction.  These tell you a little about the book you are getting ready such as who the author of the book was, when the book was written, some background information that might be of interests and a wonderful outline of the book. 

While reading the Bible I found there are a few features that I just absolutely love.  They have put inspirational quotes throughout the scripture that encourage and inspire.  Along with the quotes, the other features are the diagrams and graphics that are included in the text.  Some of them include: Family trees, images of clothing from that time, and various tables of information.   Such information as Spiritual Welfare Strategies, The Seven Churches of Revelations and so much more.

I cant forget to mention the TONS of character profiles of women in Biblical times.  You just might be able to see some of yourself in them. 

 There is so much information in this Bible that I could just spend hours studying. 

Thanks to the features above and the included articles from well known authors Stormie Omartain, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, etc, this Bible has quickly became my new favorite study Bible.   I don’t think I will find a study Bible that I love more than this one.  It’s great for diving into God’s word and finding how it can apply to your life so that you may live the life of joy and happiness that God has intended for you. 

I was sent the hardcover of this Bible but, Thomas Nelson has a gorgeous "leather-look" version as well.  It's beautiful.  You must take a peak. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are my own.*

Friday, March 15, 2013

One Month to Love: 30 Days To Grow and Deepen Your Closest Relationships | Book Review

One Month to Love is the new book from Kerry and Chris Shook that teaches you how to strengthen your relationship in just 30 days. 

I have to say first off that I LOVE the format of this book.  Your 30 days are broken down into 4 sections.  1 section for each week of your month.  The days within each section have a common theme between them.  The themes for the weeks are:  Being completely there in each relationship you have, Being Intentional in everything you do, Taking risks in your relationship and taking the chance being awkward, and finally a week on letting go. 

The Shook’s touch on topics such as how technology affects our relationships and it’s not in a good way.  We all might want to take a step back from the computer or phone if we want long lasting and loving connections with people.  Physical people in the same place.  Now, they aren’t saying that we need to get rid of technology completely, we just need to limit our time using it when we are around others.  The people you are around need you…all of you.  I touched on technology because it's the topic that I am working the most.

We all know that technology can be a HUGE topic (especially if you have teens) but, what about ourselves?  Can we be standing in our own ways?  They say that we have to let go.  Not so much letting go of past relationships or material items but, of character traits that can be harmful to our relationships.  Things like pride, guilt, insecurity, etc.  We can allow our own feelings to dampen our existing relationships and possibly keep us from find new one.  But, don’t worry…They will help you through that tough process. 

The best part about this book is that it’s meant for everyone.  There are some days that are geared a little more towards marriage, parenting and friendship.  But, to save you the trouble of scanning through the book, The Shook’s have included an index at the back with the pages listed that correspond with that topic.  That way if you have read the book and are looking for something specific you have an easy time finding it. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review.*

Monday, March 11, 2013

Reclaiming Your Heart: A Journey Back to Laughing , Loving, and Living | Book Review

Are you ready to have a life filled with happiness, laughter and love?

Reclaiming Your Heart by Denise Hildreth Jones is a wonderful book if you feel like you have closed your heart down to the world.  This book takes you on a self exploration to find your way back to having a heart that cares and one that is set on God.

As you walk this path Jones walks side by side with you sharing her journey from a closed heart, one that was shut down by a controlling and miserable first marriage, to a heart filled with love and faith, and a second husband whom she loves with all her heart.  You might not think that a closed heart would be such a bad thing but, that’s where you are wrong.  Jones says that it’s a “sin.”  Now, at the time she said this I didn't understand WHY it would be a sin and was actually really shocked but, Jones says that if you have a closed heart you feel that God isn't enough.  That God hasn't given you enough and the way you were made isn't enough.

Now, there isn't just one way for your heart to shut down.  There are many different types of closed hearts.  I never imagined so many.  In this book Jones tells you about 8 different types of closed hearts.  They include “The Performing Heart”, “The Critical Heart”, “The Angry Heart”, plus more.  She shows you how YOU have allowed yourself to become miserable.  Yes, YOU are at fault and it’s a life that isn't glorifying God if your heart is closed to all He has for you.  But, there is good news.  (This gives you a small glimmer of hope.)  You can change your heart.  You will have to do the work and WANT to change but, it’s possible.

Now, if you chose to take the steps down the rocky road back to a warm heart filled with God’s love, there is even more help than just this book.  If you go to Denise Hildreth Jones website, she has videos and studies…FREE…to help direct you.   This is a great study for a small group or take the journey on your own.  Don’t forget though…You are never on your own.  Not only is Jones walking right next to you but, you will always have God walking hand in hand with you, if you are just willing to open your heart again.

There is also a companion novel to go with this book.  It's called "Secrets over Sweet Tea."

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the Tyndale House for the purpose of this review.*

Thursday, March 7, 2013

You're Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You | Book Review

Dreams are just that for most people.  Dreams.  But, did you know that there are God-Sized dreams?  Yes, they are different than just a “normal” dream.  Some people might dream to be a high powered CEO while others are dreaming about being stay-at-home moms.  According to Holley Gerth, in her new book You're Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You, its not what you are dreaming for.  God-Sized dreams area about “pursuing life with passion and purpose and going with God wherever he leads.”

We all have dreams.  I know this book hit home for me right now because I have a dream and it feels like its going no where.  Gerth explains in her book that if your dream is a God-Sized one that there are different phases of that dream.   She says that all we can see when we have a dream is that dream and the “promised land” but, fail to see the desert in between.   There will be a hard time between the conception of your dream and the place where you dream has come into reality.  But, we must stick it out.  During that desert time most give up and never realize the dream that God has given them.  Gerth shares something with us that we all need to remember…Nothing is impossible as long as we obey God.

She also talks about one of the biggest factors that have lead to failure of people’s dreams.  It’s fear.  She addresses fear because she says it will only grow and get worse if we ignore it and continue to believe the lies.  Isn’t that what fear really is?  LIES!  They are thoughts that we allow ourselves to have that haven’t come to fruition.  Her explanation of fear is the greatest one I have ever heard, “…fear is a Chihuahua that sounds like a Doberman.”  That’s probably the best line I have ever heard.  Fear really is that.  It’s just a small thought that sounds like enormous.  It’s not as bad as we allow it to be.  

Other things that she addresses to help you realize your God-Sized dream are:

A dreamers heart: how all dreamers have certain characteristics that even they may not see but, do   exist.
A battle plan for getting through the desert and making it to the promise land.  There is no idling here.  You must work for what you want.  You can’t just sit around and expect it to come to you.
How to stop sabotaging yourself.
Finally, the worth of your dream.  Yes, it’s worth the work and time and Gerth will explain why.

Though out the book Gerth includes questions, self-evaluations and other things that will help walk you through making your dream a reality.  She even has all of them on her website free for you to print if you want to have the pages for a notebook.

I am so glad this book made its way to me.  I am in the desert part of my dream right now and was getting so frustrated but then, thanks to Gerth, she reminded me of something.  I am not the first person that God has sent through the desert.  As long as I obey and stay faithful, my reward will be coming.  I will make it to the promised land.

Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.*

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year | Book Review

There are many plans to read through the Bible in a year.  Tons and tons of them.  But, there is a new book from Diane Stortz that plans out a yearly reading for WOMEN.  In A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year she lays out a “life-changing journey into the heart of God.”

The plan itself is like any others you have seen before.  Stortz lists all the daily readings for the week.  You might be reading a week full of Isaiah and on another week you might have some of Jeremiah, Lamentations and Psalms.  What’s different about her plan is she also give some “Checkpoints” for the week.  The checkpoints are some things that might be of interest or things that she wants to highlight for that week that we can take away as little tidbits of knowledge.

Before you see the reading plan for the week, in each chapter (1 chapter per week) you will get a small summary of what it is that you are going to be reading.  These are quick, short and to the point.  They are great. There is no long drawn out explanation  After the readings there is a section called “Share the Journey.”  This section is included to help you get more out of your readings.  You can list any observations that you got and any questions the passages might have brought to your attention.

Stortz also includes a section on how to use this book with a small group.  But, what I love about it the most is that it is free of any doctrinal views. It’s simply what the Bible says and a plan for incorporating it into your life.

We all know that as mothers, wives, and business women, the thought of trying to read through the Bible in a year can seem like a daunting task but, with Stortz plan, it will be a breeze.  We wear many hats in today’s society.  Why not have a little daily help from God and possibly change your life in the process???

P.S.  This plan works for any denomination and any Bible translation.  So, you have no excuses to pass up reading through the Bible.

*I was given a copy of this book from Bethany House for the purpose of this review.*

Your Beautiful Purpose: Discovering and Enjoying What God Can Do Through You | Book Review

To know ones purpose is a huge part of a woman’s life.  We are always wondering why we are here and what we are meant to do.  Susie Larson tries to address that issue in her new book Your Beautiful Purpose: Discovering and Enjoying What God Can Do Through You but, falls a little short.

Larson starts the book of strong in the beginning describing the type of women she has written this book for and that immediately captured my attention since I could relate to more that one of those women.  The sad part is, that’s about all my attention span lasted.

This book is redundant in that I have heard all this before.  Maybe not directed towards women but, this is a book filled with the “same old thing.”  Believing that God has a true purpose for us, waiting for it to happen on His time, and having faith enough to believe in God’s promises while following the walk He has laid our for us.

Now, she does have study questions at the end of each chapter and she explains that you can use this book for a small group bible study along with the study videos that she has made.  This might possibly be better for a small group study where you can get other’s opinions and their observation which may expand on everything that is said in the book.  As for a book to read on your own, I wouldn't recommend it.  It was hard to read and very lack-luster to say that least.

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the Bethany House for the purpose of this review.*