10.31.2011

Blog Bash Speed Meet





Let's just make this a speed meet, OK?

So, here is a fascinatingly, fun list of random things about me!
Aren't you excited you stopped by my blog?


*I started blogging at the end of May of this year- I am a newbie.

*I blog primarily about my Faith and the things I feel the Lord is leading me to share. 

* Tonight I just FINALLY "launched" my second blog, dedicated to Fitness.

*I have been in the field of Fitness (Personal Trainer & Group Exercise Instructor)
 for almost 30 years.

* Apparently I am really almost getting old!

* I have written for my whole life BUT refused to share,
I like to say blogging has helped me "come out of the closet" with my writing.

*I have competed in both power lifting and bodybuilding.

*I love to work with children!

* I teach Sunday School and love it.

*I am a "Domestic Diva" wanna be, but so NOT there!

*I lead a Moms In Touch group at my daughter's private school and
am grateful to be able to pray with a few faithful moms weekly.

*Words swim through my mind all the time. It might be part of my ADHD, but writing is like breathing to me AND my very close connection with God.
 I guess you could say it's my Love Language with God.

I am married to my BFF and just so happen to have a beautiful 11 year old daughter
 who knows everything (or at least more than me)!

*I enjoy writing poetry

These are some of my journals

*My writing is a reflection of what is going on "Beneath The Surface",
the unseen realm of my hidden life with Christ, hence the name.


Here is my Blog place! I really want a laptop!


This is where I sometimes have quiet time.
But sometimes the desk kind of, um, well...
explodes and then I have it somewhere else...

Sometimes I will catch the sunrise and walk and talk with my
Lord along the shore...
we are @ 2 minutes from the beach!

Banjo is my "other man". I wuv, this Rescue from Arkansas!

Aurora is my quiet time protege and she does not like me to stray
from my morning routine. In the Summer when I had QT on the back patio,
she would rebuke me from the kitchen window, with loud cries.

Buddy is my daughter's Bunny, but he is part of the family, after all.

Ashley, (Aurora's sister)  is posing as a lamb here,
see the resemblance?
Well, thanks for stopping by, leave a comment and I will be sure to visit you, real soon!
Happy Blogging!
Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

10.29.2011

Book Review: Jesus Calling By Sarah Young

Sharpening my reviewing skills and sharing my passionate,
personal opinion on this popular read!




      I felt led to share my thoughts with all of you on a very popular devotional book of our day written by Sarah Young and published by Thomas Nelson.

      I did not come easily to the place of receptivity with this book, initially. You see, although I periodically perused it a number of times at the local bookstore, included it on my "wish list" on Amazon and even came close to buying it outright on more than one occasion, I held back... for almost 4 years. Why, would a bookaholic hold back on buying a book, you wonder. Well, I will tell you, dear friend. Prior to my acceptance of the Glorious Lord of All, Jesus Christ, I read a number of new-age writings and quite honestly, as I debated about reading this devotional, I felt my inner alarm mechanism kick into high gear. This "be very careful here" alarm, which has been born from a love of Truth and a healthy skepticism toward anything that might be alluring at first but an impostor in the end. That being said, I am always on the look out for true seekers of The Way, that acknowledge His ultimate authority, yet share their own unique perspective, in turning out a gifted word, that draws others closer to His authenticity, grace and truth. To know Jesus better through the written word is not an easy undertaking.The thought of someone speaking for Him sent chills down my spine. He is after all The Living Word. He is the Author of all Truth and The One who will, after all, hold us accountable for every word we speak. He is the ultimate Judge of Truth. Yet, this God, allows His humble servants, friends, children to be used mightily when they yield themselves to Him. He is willing to meet those who will offer themselves to Him as living sacrifices to pour out Living Water and multiply and strengthen His Kingdom. I believe Sarah Young is this kind of servant. I believe she has done a good thing, for this day, to speak truth to those who are seeking truth amidst a myriad of voices calling out from the bookstore shelves, Internet, television and every corner.

     I finally broke down and made the decision to actually buy the book for my Kindle, after listening to K-Love (a local Christian Radio station) and hearing them share a reading from the book. It was a day in June and I was driving - I remember the DJ reading the day's offering and it was based on a scripture in Romans. I am not kidding, I ordered the book that same day! As I began to read Sarah's devotions, I was impressed by the scriptural integrity which was evident throughout her writing. I also was relieved, when I read in her introduction, "The Bible is of course, the only inerrant Word of God; my writings must be consistent with that unchanging standard." Also, after reading more about her own personal perspective and journey, I started to realize that this person might be a valid, authentic, down to earth seeker, who  happened to be a gifted writer and why shouldn't the God who created her meet her there, right where she was willing to surrender and listen. I started to feel that Sarah Young might have something valid and I understood this, as it resonated close to home for me, since I have experienced His presence in similar ways, as she has described and desire to live in close communion with Him as opposed to the compartmentalized, fragmented experience I see in the Christian community at times. Of her own writing of this devotional she admits, "I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God." I think for someone who wants to know God and share Him there is nothing better than to know that what you have written(or spoken) has helped another see Him more clearly, drawn them closer to Him, or sparked the flame for them to pursue Him more passionately than before. This is my own heart's desire as I write. And God meets me there, with my own pen in hand and finger tips to keys in this place. I believe He has met Sarah Young there as well and she has been able to have the privilege to touch many more than I am sure she ever imagined with this writing, inspired by His Word, love, grace and truth. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and have already bought a half dozen copies as gifts. One is sitting right by me waiting to be mailed off to a friend for her birthday as I write this review. I was hesitant to put this book into a certain category of favorites due to the popularity and newness of it. But I confess, I put it right by the side of my two faves "My Utmost For His Highest" and "Morning and Evening". Sarah, is in pretty good company with Chambers and Spurgeon. Historical, I'd say. That is my personal opinion and I am sticking to it. Oh, I have also purchased a hard copy that I currently keep in my purse! I just shared a reading with a friend at a school event. I refrained from giving her my copy as I just bought it, recently! However, I probably will eventually give it to the person God prompts at the moment! Additionally, I am considering purchasing the Children's Version for the Sunday School Class I teach as Christmas gifts - since I only have two boys, it is a realistic possibility! I have been stalking that copy and got a peak at it, at the school book fair just last night. I love the lay out, look and readability of it as well. My daughter's classmate was purchasing it and we checked it against the adult copy (remember, the copy in my purse) and I loved the pages, presentation of scripture and prompt to look up "on your own" some of the verses. It IS on my wish list, even as an adult! Perfect for sharing with a class, small group or for bedtime devotions. Have you read Jesus Calling, yet? I think you should- if you have or do, please let me know your thoughts!

*This review was written by my own desire to express my personal opinion and even though I have not received any copies of this particular book(s) from the publisher, I would absolutely graciously accept them although it would not influence what I have written nor what I will write in the future about the book or any other books by the author OR publisher. Thank you. Hope this is clear and fair.

10.28.2011

Am I Thankful?



My two healing partners:crutches and walker with my
hope for the journey reminders: leash to walk the dog, and a soccer ball
to dribble by the shoreline (a favorite activity)


...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18


     Sometime in Fall, I start to reflect on the year that is winding itself down to a close. I look back, on the hopes I had in January for all the "good things" that God had for me for that particular year. I ask  Him to reveal what I need to see as I look back. I usually ask the questions, "What is useful to my walk with You, Lord and in my relationship with others?" and "What do I need to learn from this year as I go ahead?". Fall is a reflective season for me as I journey toward the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas and seek to stay grounded, thankful and connected through the bustle of what is to come, a culmination of the days leading to, God willing, another year. So, with that in mind and this year in particular I ask myself the question, "Am I thankful"?

     What pops into your mind when you think about thankfulness? I know for me it's good stuff! Good things. God given, good things. Generally, I don't think I am thankful for the negative, bad, rotten things that may have happened. My mind goes right to the good stuff!

Enter the Mind of Christ.

This year my take home lesson, started with the anticipation of good things, but was interrupted by what could only be described as, well, let's just say less than equal to the good things anticipated! AT least by a temporal perspective.

     In February, while driving my daughter and her friend home for a sleepover, interruption number one occurred.  While sitting at a red light, we were struck from behind by a car that was sitting behind us, which had been hit by a Pick- Up Truck that never even slowed down! CRASH! So it began. My abrupt wake up call beckoning. Could I be thankful, in every circumstance? This present circumstance?
The girls were shaken but physically unharmed.
The car was totalled.
I woke up the next day, surprised by the pain I felt. Whiplash. And an un-drivable car.
(I want to add that I continued to work my regular hours, including classes while I went through the Physical Therapy for this. I pushed through and endured the pain because I knew my boss and clients were counting on me with no 'back-up" plan. We also did not pursue a law suit but settled for coverage of medical cost for treatment and "fair" compensation for my car.)
Thankful?
Instead, I asked, thanklessly, "Why, Lord?"
The still, small whisper, returned, "Trust me, I am here".

Changes came this year. Unplanned. Unexpected. Completely without warning.
All.
Circumstances.
Ouch.
Sometimes it hurts to follow you, Lord.


     The welcome weather of Spring and a fun-filled, anticipated school Field Day. As a mom, you bet I was there, to help, enjoy and share the day with my daughter and the wonderful school community.

Having taught 4 1/2 hours worth of moderate to intense type classes the day before, I would not have anticipated an injury. Obstacle courses are after all my business, more or less. But, on this day, there was one last squat, bend, twist and SNAP! I felt it. Wake up call. I ignored it. Until my husband found me crawling on the floor at three in the morning because I couldn't walk, or get back in the bed after I had slithered my way to the kitchen for another ice pack. We were off to the emergency room. Welcome interruption number two. All. Circumstances. Ouch. It really hurts, Lord.

     I work in the world of Fitness. Walking therefore, is a very minimal requirement. No walking possible. Pain, probable. Movement. Not happening. The Hip is complex, and so was the injury. Bone fleck, tear, Arthrogram, MRI, x-ray. Fearful words. Work as I knew it was halted. I literally went from active to sedentary. Halt. Thankful? No, afraid, yes.

     June, brought a final word from my boss. I was no longer a good fit for the future of the company. What good is a Fitness Instructor who can't move, teach, train? I wondered the same thing myself as I absorbed that blow. Strike 3!

     Was I thankful? Sorry to confess, I was angry, hurt, sad. I heard the Lord's voice: "I am with you, do not be discouraged or afraid."


I look back on this year and I see pain and loss. But I also see his hand intricately involved in redirecting my course and redefining me.
 My hope remains because hope resides in me:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

The reality is, there has been good which has come from each of these circumstances, that look so bad from a superficial perspective. Beneath the surface is where truth roots deeply and where faith is grown. Am I thankful? Ultimately the answer is, yes. Was I thankful during the wake-up calls that God allowed into my life this year? Not initially. But ultimately.

I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
Job 19:25


I CAN and will give thanks in all circumstances ULTIMATELY because
He has called me to it and He makes it possible for me to do it:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Phillippians 4:13



In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according
to the plan of him who works out
everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ,
might be for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:11-12















10.26.2011

One Small Step

...He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Psalm 23:3


It looks like a mountain. A giant. A behemoth. It looks impossible. The question is, "What now?"
I shake my head. Something's got to give. Something's got to happen. But, what needs to happen?
What will it take? Have you ever gotten to the end of the road and found a previously unseen path?
Having walked in that place before, but maybe not quite so far...soon you found new undiscovered roads. Or maybe you saw the road, and had no desire to go there, at that time. It was in the distance. You were not ready. You had no interest. Now, you ponder, should you have taken that route, or a different route? As you stand now before the mountain, the giant, the behemoth...you ponder, HOW.
How? How did it get to this? How will it be turned around?

I don't know what mountain stands before you.

I don't know what giant you're facing.

I don't know the behemoth which pursues your every waking hour.

I know it looks impossible.

I know seems dark and the road may not be clearly marked.

I know that you may feel like you have been down the road before.

What I am saying to you. What I am saying to myself, right now is.
Let's pause and consider the path before us.
Only.
After.

Considering-
 the Great, God that goes before us.

He who marks out the journey...one step at a time.

Journey with me, let's promise not to turn back.
No giant steps.

Focus.

Take, one small step...
further along the journey.


My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you,
God, will not despise.

Psalm 51:17




10.25.2011

How's Your Patience Barometer?

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer
Romans 12:12


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14


I'm considering patience today. Not mine of course...but yours. Just kidding. Seriously, as I drove by a sign which read " Be as patient with others, as God has been with you.", I contemplated this thought. I thought about how patient God has been, and continues to be with me. Have you considered God's patience with you as you weary in dealing with the sin and shortcomings of another? Yes, God has been patient with me when I 've been quick to speak, quick to anger and slow to listen. He has forgiven the sin that entangles me again, and again, despite my heart's desire and good intentions. My grandmother had a saying about those, ya know. She used to say, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". BUT,  that road to hell has been occluded by the one who stands at the crossroads - by His blood, arms wide open.

Patience.

Crossroads.

Blood.


Have you considered His patience today?

Do you need to remember it?

I do.

Are your arms and heart wide open enough to embrace, despite the
fact you have forgiven 70 x 70 times before?

Despite the fact you are sick of it?

Despite the fact it is breaking your heart?

Despite the fact that you ARE weary?

Will you turn your back OR will you consider how patient your Jesus,
 has been with you?


Lord, you are patient with me and I confess, I am so impatient with such small things
that in a BLINK will be insignificant. Burned up.
Remind me of your patience with me, Lord so that grace may be abundantly evident in me.
That I may reflect it, as I should, regularly, generously & daily,  in my life.
Thank you Lord, that you never turn your back on me.  
In Jesus Name, Amen.


But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,
as some understand slowness.
Instead he is patient with you,
not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:8-9







10.23.2011

Sunday's Promise

For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

Psalm 36:9

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
 through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,
who through faith are shielded by God’s power
 until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise,
glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Though you have not seen him,
you love him; and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9


     A new week awaits you and I. Although it may not be without challenge, it still is full of hope and promise. A fresh slate. We start refreshed. We purpose to do so in the way we got ourselves to church, even if we have come reluctantly, out of duty, guilt or true humility. We have received a message to ponder. We have taken part in worship, corporate prayer, and possibly served in an area of gifting for the joy of serving Him in this small but faithful way. Or maybe, it was one of those days when it took all of our energy to just show up, and secretly we hoped we could just slip quietly in and out without anyone noticing. But grace found us, despite ourselves and we have been exposed to a measure of light. We came expecting something. Even if only to see whether we can take Him at His word. 

     As I walked to church this morning I realized how Sunday reminds me of how, He really does make all things new. And how I desperately need that by the end of the week, regardless of what the week has brought my way. Sundays are to me a new beginning. God is all about new beginnings, after all. New mercies, hope, strength, these are all His promises for us.
     The past few weeks as I have taught my Sunday School boys their lessons, I have contemplated the gift it is to teach. Teaching is the gift of seeing, through the eyes of a child, always. Not to be childish, but childlike. The ability to let God take you by the hand, open your eyes of faith and see the lessons new, fresh and significant time and time again. The stories, lives and lessons of David, Samson and Joshua have not been lost on me. There are no coincidences in God's perfect economy. Only divine ordination and His holy agenda. He wastes nothing. He uses every opportunity to speak to my life and yours. Do I hear him? Do you hear Him? Do we say,  "Speak, Lord....your servant is listening" ?

     So the week starts anew and the Lord bids me to drink. He searches my parched places. He offers me Living Water. I being, thirsty, drink as I gaze into the eyes of the everlasting. Are my circumstances perfect? Of course not, but am I refreshed in the hope of His promise, ready to face all that lies ahead, sifted by His hands of grace?

I say, "Yes".

Bring it on.

I am counting on Sunday's Promise.

The promise that says:
....but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
 Indeed, the water I give them will become in them
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
John 4:14



For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.
   ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
Revelation 7:17


*This post is dedicated to my special blogging friend Pam
with love and prayers for the journey.



Linking Up Here Today:
Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters
http://www.carissagraham.com/search/label/miscellany%20monday











    

10.22.2011

M.I.A. (Mother In Agony)

"Earnest Prayer" by Artist C. Michael Dudash

M.I.A. (Mother In Agony)
My daughter is experiencing "growing pains".
I , her mother, am as well.
I must confess.
 I hate it.
I long for the days when, 
while standing at the sink washing dishes,
two little arms clutched my leg and
two Junior Mint eyes,
 stared up at me, full of adoration.

As opposed to,
eyes rolling.

Where has the time gone?

She is eleven. She may as well be eleven hundred.
She is as foreign to me as a far-away country-
she may as well be
 geographically.
It feels that way.

Distant.

It's as if someone has kidnapped my daughter and left
in her place, a rebellious teenager.
Stop!
She is not a teenager.
Was I like this at eleven?

I squint, as I try to force an age related memory out of my aging, uncool mind.
It seems such an awkward age.
I remember that feeling.
Awkward.

All too soon she is rushing away from me and into-
the danger years.
I remember those.

"This too shall pass" does not suffice.
Well meaning advice, from the
judge and jury crew
is not helpful.

Grace is needed.
Grace received.
Grace remembered.
Grace remaining for the days ahead.
I need more.

I remember, her nursing at my breast.
Precious, needy, hungry.
Contentedly,
peeking up at me
with one eye.
Always watching.

Now, a closed door.

Unseen.

I hate it.

I remember stroller walks on brisk days,
and seeing two eyes
peering through a snugly afghan,
draped over the canopy top.

Her eyes always watching me.
My eyes always watching her.

Connected.

Today our conversation turned to confrontation,
She disappeared again,
to the haven of her room.
A million miles away.
Door closed.

Shut out.

Yeah, I'm having growing pains.
Some days I'm not sure I'll make it.
I ponder where I have gone wrong already,
and how I'll redeem the remaining time.

Some days I fear the worst is yet to come.

Then I think back to hose little eyes
and their history of watching me.

 I ask for more grace for the day,
and for the love I don't possess,
apart from the One who is Himself
Love and whose pool is never dry.

It is on this One -
utterly dependent,
I rely.

©Dawn Paoletta 2011



Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

First beach visit Newport, RI - March 2001


My little Junior Mint eyed girl
(SOrry @ the grainy look - it is one of my faves)

10.21.2011

Portal

Exit your day and step into the realm of the Supernatural!
I love this portal - Whenever I walk by it,
it reminds me that I can choose to step through and walk in
the realm of the unseen world of faith with eyes to see and ears to hear.
His! He, walks with me!


There are days, and then there are DAYS. Some days we just need to walk away from it all. Not to avoid reality, but to find refreshment. Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone of conformity and the box of your own agenda and expectation. Some days words can be wearisome and silence magnificent. Some days were meant to be captured in images to remind us of the possibility in the present. Some days are meant to simply be lived well and fill the memory halls of our souls with simplicity, beauty and satisfaction .

Then there are days when you need to steal the moment
and let God be your portion and know the satisfaction of enough.
Today, I stole away from my "To Do" list and let God's presence be ENOUGH.

It brings to mind the lyrics by C. Austin Miles:

And He walks with me
And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

So, today I walked and prayed, without lengthy words or faithful journal, for the surfers and others I passed along the way. I listened to the beautiful whispers of the one who is Keeper of my heart. I let my soul smile in the presence of my Beautiful One as he showed me the things I never could see without Him.


"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
Jeremiah 33:3























Linking up for the Weekend Blog Hop
@ Create With Joy








10.20.2011

My Top 20 Christian Books List



 I like books. OK, I love books. I love to read and *supplement* my Bible reading with books which I find encouraging, challenging or that offer some benefit to my growth as a Christian. I love to shop for books and buy books. I love to peruse "used" book stores, new bookstores, my own bookshelves, your bookshelves (if I go to your home, I will check out your books as soon as I sniff out where you keep them!), online bookstores, garage sales and discarded library books. I just love books. I know I am not alone in this passion. I am not picky as I love my Kindle as well as the printed word. Well, I confess I do prefer books that have paper. I am a touchy-feely kind of person so it just makes me happy to paw that book up and smell the pages etc. I prefer Non-Fiction due to the practical nature of my personality. I need to feel I am getting something in return for my time. I am a time snob. Time is valuable and brief. So I like to learn or be challenged by what I am reading. However, I am learning to appreciate Fiction, more. I do think it can offer much, and I have benefited by the experience of reading the words of a number of Fiction writers which I may blog about on another day! Right now, I have been considering the books that I have read that have impacted my Christian Growth, one way or another. I ran around my house scrambling to find my faves. I am missing my all time favorite: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It is the most treasured valuable Christian read, in my humble opinion. Practical, useful and expertly written. I love C. S. Lewis for his raw, honest assessment of faith, reality and God. I also read "The Unlikely Disciple" by Kevin Roose this year and pushed myself through it at times but appreciated his candor. OK, well I could go on and on, but instead here is the list of books that I have chewed on and read! The list of "To Read" is long. I know there are many other great Christian books that are excellent, well written and popular. Quite honestly, I find a lot of the newer stuff well meaning and decent but not profound. So, this is a list of books that I love and highly recommend. I have many more in piles and on my bookshelves (read and unread) but I want you to finish the post. I also start some books but lose interest. I cannot include a book on the list I have not read and digested completely (except the concordance!).

I would love for you to share your top 20 books that have shaped your growth, views or faith with regard to your beliefs. If you do this, let me know! Or just share one book that has influenced your Christian views by leaving a comment!

1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong - seriously, it is one of my most prized and used possessions. Recommended to me by one of my Pastors in my early walk. Grateful. No Christian should be without one.
2. The Christian in Complete Armour: Daily Readings in Christian Warfare by William Gurnall
- I reread this every couple of years. It's that good.
3. Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot - I would say that Elisabeth Elliot is the finest Christian women's writer I have ever read and I think that you should
read any book by her to see for yourself. Everything she writes is worth reading.
4. Matters of Life and Death: 10 Questions No Serious Christian Can Avoid by Erwin W. Lutzer
Lutzer tackles 3 areas in 10 chapters which are, the
Perplexities of Life, Questions of Sexuality, and Eternity.
I have it heavily highlighted!
5. The Weight of Your Words: Measuring the Impact of What You Say by Joseph M. Stowell
A short but powerful book. Practical, applicable. Challenging.
6. A Fresh Vision of Jesus: Timeless Ways to Experience Christ by Cheri Fuller
This was the find of the century! I got it for $2 at a bargain table at the local Christian Bookstore.
It is one of the most encouraging, quotable, books I have read. I would pay full price for it without hesitation!
7. How to Be Born Again by Billy Graham
Timeless, classic Mr. Graham.
8. Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
We read this book as a family out loud together when my daughter was in either Kindergarten or first grade. She loved it and it was a wonderful book, which we all appreciated.
9. 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues
I actually discovered this book on the shelf of a sister in Christ and I borrowed it. Soon after I bought my own copy and have read it repeatedly. For obvious reasons. I will be rereading again soon. I also bought the workbook so may use that for the next reading round.
10. Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives  by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.
The best book I  have ever read, which accurately assesses and addresses the problem of  the time management mentality within our current cultural mindset with a biblical, appropriate perspective.
11. Every Child Needs A Praying Mom by  Fern Nichols/ Janet Kobobel Grant
Fern Nichols and her ministry have shaped and changed my life and approach to prayer, ministry and live. I love this book and of course the usefulness of it as well as the inspiration and topic!
12. 8 Choices That Will Change a Woman's Life by Jill Briscoe
Great book for women on so many of the choices and temptations we face daily: Touching on the many potential traps : Me, Money, Mouth, Minute, Morality, Ministry, Misery, and Mystical we potentially can fall into...without the proper perspective.
13. Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon 
Simply one of the best devotional readings available.
14. My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
OK, this IS the best ever devotional I have ever read. Except for all his other writing as well.
He is my favorite Christian writer of the male persuasion.
15. Daily Thoughts For Disciples by Oswald Chambers
A collection of Ozzie's (my nickname for all things Mr. Oswald) writings
16. My Utmost Devotional Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
OK, I wore this Bible out and loved it to mess. It is tattered, taped and worn
but someday I might just get another one. Just because.
17. A Woman's High Calling by Elizabeth George
I read this book as part of a women's Bible Study Group the year I got engaged to marry my hub.
It was meaningful on many levels at this time in my life. I have re-read it (and bought it for my Kindle) and appreciate her straightforward, practical approach to biblical truth with regard to women, marriage and faith.
18. A Place of Quiet Rest: Finding Intimacy With God Through A Daily Devotional Life
by Nancy Leigh Demoss
This book is one of the best on the subject of quiet time with the Lord.
I would say that after E. Elliot, Nancy offers some of the best biblical teaching- practical application and iron sharpening resources with her books, website and radio speaking.
19. Quiet Times Alone with God: A Devotional For Women by Emilie Barnes
I love this book which is written by a Jewish woman who accepted Christ as a teenager!
A true gem  of a read.
20. How To Listen To God by Charles Stanley
I really appreciate Charles Stanley and have read a number of his books. I love a book I can hand to a new believer with full confidence they will grasp and be able to comprehend. Simple and easy to digest. This one hits the mark.

So many books and so little time....

But if I only have time to read one book today, I will choose to read my Bible.
Amen.


Linking with Courtney @ Women Living Well



10.18.2011

There is "Fellowship" in the Blogosphere

Christian Devotional blogs

 
Well for those of you who believe this Internet world is just an evil, wicked, place - I have news for you! I have found a fellowship and community of passionate believers who enjoy sharing their own gifts, talents and abilities via the online community  affectionately known as this wonderful Blogosphere! They seek to go where no Christians have gone before...one such community I am excited to be affiliated with is called The Fellowship of Devotional Bloggers. I first heard of them when I visited a fellow Christian Blogger's site as a newbie to this strange new world back in May. I saw that there was a 6 month minimum for inclusion into this particular group and so I put it on my list as a future mental milestone and I continued on my own particular bloggy journey. Well hooray for me! I have hit that milestone, written past my 50th blog post and met some amazing fellow Christians along the way! In addition to having a minimum time standard for bloggers, and of more significance, is the call to the blogger to agree with and uphold the following statement:

  "I resolve to blog in a way that brings honor to God and encourages other Christians to walk closer to Him."


Well, that is exactly MY hope and prayer for this Blog. In addition I might add that my personal conviction is to remain authentic. I do not like superficiality, especially with regard to faith.
To me this means two things:
1. Without complacency in my walk and zeal for my God. I do not want to be a mediocre Christian nor do I desire to be a Super-Christian- My life verse is found in Ecclesiastes and I pray I am wise to follow it "Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes." (This is NIV and it translates differently in other versions - this particular version speaks well to this child!) I do want to be faithful, available and tender to that which He calls me to in Christ Jesus, my Lord whether it is home, work, blog, play!
2. I Never want to forget what it feels like to be lost and without the Hope and Identity that comes from belonging to and knowing Him. That keeps me sensitive, compassionate and open to others.
Mercy wins, hands down, always.

I am very grateful to the many fellow bloggers, who I have been blessed to meet and visit, thanks to the Internet. I am also thankful to two other groups I want to mention that are also excellent Christian Devotional Groups to which I am proud and grateful to belong: The High Calling and Faithful Bloggers. Check these great sites out,  discover and enjoy the Fellowship available in the Blogosphere! Now go and get your blog on! Don't forget to leave some encouragement wherever you visit! Have a blessed bloggy, day!


As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17
   


10.17.2011

Book Review: Where Has Oprah Taken Us?

     

The reason I chose to read this book, by author Stephen Mansfield, can be summed up rather nicely in the subtitle of the book itself, "The Religious Influence of the World's Most Famous Woman". I am fascinated by how people (famous or not) come to their conclusions regarding  things of  a spiritual nature. I am especially interested in people who influence millions for or against the cause of Christianity and how they came to hold fast their own conclusions and beliefs. The fact that this book is about Oprah Winfrey, is secondary to me as I am not a fan. However I am hard pressed to ignore the impact and influence she wields over many as she opens her stage to the various "teachers" of the day.

Mr. Mansfield has, however won me over to his writing, in this excellent pilgrimage through the life and times of Oprah Winfrey, from her childhood on through her current spiritual stand, he sensitively and thoroughly searches the heart, mind and soul of this modern day mystic. He writes with the pen of a journalist, and the heart of a truth seeker. He writes systematically and seeks to be both objective and yet honest in his presentation. He has interviewed Oprah's family, friends and colleagues as well as those she considers her closest spiritual confidantes.This includes those teachers she has sought to set on pedestals of gold, or at least allow the famous midas touch of being associated with Oprah. This touch sends millions flocking to the bookstores and outlets and secures financial "blessing" and security for those who receive Oprah's kiss of approval.

If you are a Christian who loves everything Oprah, you need to read and examine the philosophy she truly embraces. I encourage you to read this book, as it shows the tumultuous rise of a faith based young girl to the self-made, deity she believes herself to be today. She has taken herself far from her early roots, and she continues to take many along with her, where she is going is the question and answer to be addressed in this excellent read. Personally, I think swimming in Oprah's spiritual waters can be likened to swimming with seals in the shark filled waters of False Bay, South Africa, where Air Jaws is filmed. Deadly if you are in the water, potentially dangerous from the boat, yet fascinating to watch from a safe distance.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Booksneeze!

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Book Information: An evocative exploration of Oprah Winfrey’s religious beliefs, from her rejection of her Baptist upbringing to her controversial rise as “an icon of church-free spirituality.”

Born into poverty in Mississippi in 1954 and rising through talent, hard work and despite tragedy—she was raped at the age of nine and lost an infant son at 14—Oprah Winfrey has become one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and most popular women of her age. These facts alone would make Winfrey worthy of study, yet what makes her of even more profound impact on American society is her decision to champion the cause of “New Age Christianity.” She is, as Christianity Today has proclaimed, “a postmodern priestess—an icon of church-free spirituality.” Rejecting her Baptist roots, Winfrey has become a champion of the Course in Miracles, a seminar in which Christianity is reinterpreted in terms of self-actualization, personal divinity, and self-empowerment. She has also become a disciple of Eckhart Tolle, the increasingly popular teacher of a form of spirituality that blends Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Christianity.

Author Stephen Mansfield explores the Winfrey spiritual phenomenon—much as Mansfield has with figures like George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Pope Benedict XVI, and Winston Churchill.

10.16.2011

The Top Ten Reasons My Husband Is Awesome

Photographer: Adrienne Labonte

The main reason I have challenged myself to write a top ten bulleted list of why my husband is so awesome is because he skims my exceedingly long posts (he semi-admitted this fact...after I quizzed him)! OK, he won't admit it outright but I, his discerning wife, can wheedle out of him exactly what he read and what he skimmed over. Since I like to keep him on his toes, it is my good pleasure to check up on him. However since he has expressed point blank, my posts are too long - in his opinion- and I really wanted to honor him with a post that he would actually read every single word, I opted for a bullet list. That being said, I confess I am really bad at such lists, so this may exceed normal bullet list practice and standards. By a long shot. But here goes anyway...


Why My Husband is Awesome

1. He is strong.

Not the kind of strong you would assume. Exactly the kind that is quiet and enduring. I love his quiet, not "in your face" strength. He has what I call "persevering strength". This kind is not about appearances but more like the strength that displays kindness and grace. It does not make a big, muscly, look at me statement. It stands back and observes, patiently and without consideration for self but with gentle consideration of another. 

2. He is opposite me in many ways. This is a challenge and great blessing, for us both!

I am like a wild cat. He is pretty much like a donkey (he said that himself, for real). I am teeth, claws and hiss and he is gentle, calm and forbearing. I want it done now. He is not in a hurry. I confront, yell and throw. He counts to 10 (X 10), walks away, remains calm. I work out, he hits the couch. I am quick to speak, he holds his tongue. I explode, he remains intact. He grew up a strict, close-knit Catholic family, I was raised by a single, working mom who embraced the liberal, popular views of the time. He is easy going, I am rough around the edges. You get the point. It goes on and on. God has a great sense of humor AND reason for how he matches up his children!

3.  He believes in me.

Well, he was silly enough to marry me after all! Although we don't agree on lots of things we agree on the important stuff. Like the importance of our commitment to God and one another. Which way the toilet paper goes on the roll. The proper end to squeeze on the toothpaste tube and other such important details of life. He loves to brag about his wife at work, even though he is a very resistant to anything remotely resembling exercise or fitness. Before we got married he did buy Tony Horton's Beach Body Videos with the best intentions, but they remained mostly unused! I love him anyway...

4. He is my BFF!

We got married on July 5, 2003. We met on July 5, 1983. We have been best friends longer than we have been romantically invested and married. We were best friends while we dated others. We have been there for every major event which has occurred in and for most of our lives. We know the good, bad, not so good and downright ugly. Our friendship has spanned almost three decades. He knows all my baggage and he gently unpacks it and lovingly sorts what is worth keeping from what is to be released.

5. He is always there for me...

From rescuing me from the throngs of party going friends, any time meetings for coffee, being on the receiving end of my practical jokes and madness, junk food feasts, to early morning beach adventures and last minute plan revamps. He has endured my Mat Pilates and Cardio-Ball training practice without me actually making the call to 911. He has endured bodybuilding and power lifting meets, with people in whom he had nothing in common, but me. How could I forget the Gold's Gym years...when I believed every one I knew was a bodybuilder and just needed to be guided properly. Oh, yeah, he suffered that training...with much pain. Let's just say after those early years with me, he is not a fan of the gym. I have grown as a trainer and person since those days. Thankfully. He suffered no permanent damage. Physically.

6. He makes me laugh.

Sometimes my husband thinks he is funny and I don't think he is at all. But really, he can always make me laugh when I need it most. He always has a positive perspective and joke for me. He lightens me up. He balances my overly introspective, intense self and brings me silliness. We laugh together and it is our favorite thing to share. I love his sense of humor and the way he keeps me from imploding at times.

7. He is VERY brave.

Let me put it simply. He lives with three women. His wife, daughter (former nicknames: "Tiny Tyrant, The Queen of Everything, and The Littlest Witch) and his very outspoken Mother-in-law. Having said this is probably enough. But let me elaborate further: we are Italian. I think I need not say anything more as I might incriminate myself or others further. Ahem...

8. He is Patient....obviously.

He is very patient with me and my lack of Mrs. Brady-ness/Martha Stewart-ish. I really ...well basically,  I am really bad at housekeeping. My mom used to call me Hurricane Dawn when I was younger. I really try but struggle with keeping up. He never complains and better still, he always helps with the stuff I hate most. That would be too long a list for this list so I will keep it to,  he washes floors and scrubs the tub. When I am really overwhelmed he will do just about anything to help make things better.

9. He is ...wait for it....THE "S" WORD, drum roll build up :  Sensitive!

Living with three woman you figure, oh yeah- he is sensitive alright! He is tip toeing through minefields of a houseful of women's issues and needs daily. But he grew up the third of four boys, in a sheltered and close-knit, Italian family. I met his mom, before I met him. She used to come into the Salad/Smoothie shop I worked as a young Supervisor. She actually got him a job there through my boss at the time and Lo and behold I (for a season) was his "boss"! But the fact is he is sensitive, thoughtful and sweet. I still like to Boss him around.

10. He reveals Christ to me in many ways (without  awareness or effort)

My hubs calls me a prophet at times. He does not always enjoy when I speak a word that comes to pass. At the same time, so often he models for me areas in which God wants me to grow. Gentleness, faithfulness, long suffering, humility. It is not always easy to take, yet I see Christ in him. Before we both had our conversion experiences, I saw something of a glimpse of the Lord wanting to lead me.  He led us into a faithful friendship. He led us into relationship with himself and He led us into our marriage. He led me to the man he knew I would be able to trust with my heart to marry. He continues to lead me through him in our marriage now. My husband shows me my Savior in the way he does the best that he can, daily sacrificing to provide, protect and keep his promises to those he loves. Faithfully. He is not always aware how God is using him, that's OK. The fact is God does reveal himself, at times, through him. Praise God, the perfect Husband and Provider.


PS. (This is not # 11) He is an amazing cook AND baker.


So, this is a partial list of why my hubby is awesome! I challenge you today:

Make your own list!

Go ahead, my hubby is not perfect nor am I, but we do belong to the God who is perfect.
In Him, we live and move and have our being.


Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me,
or seen in me—put it into practice.
And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9