Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Prayer Before Opening Presents

Vintage Ribbon Images

"Let me just for a moment, Lord, hold this time in my heart. It is about mysteries and gratitude, unknowing and wrong sizes, snippets of ribbon and screams of delight. Help me to remember the immense love you have for each of us in this room. With each gift that is opened, no matter how perfect or not, let me feel again the many ways you gift us each day, especially with your presence in our hearts and the presence of each other in our lives." ~ Author Unknown

Monday, December 23, 2013

Baby Jesus

He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. God tapped humanity on its collective shoulder, "Pardon me," he said, and eternity interrupted time, divinity interrupted carnality, and heaven interrupted the earth in the form of a baby. Christianity was born in one big heavenly interruption.

~Max Lucado

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quote from Francis Chan

Vintage Christmas Image - Holly and Mistletoe
“The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.”   ~Francis Chan

Monday, December 9, 2013

5 Books On My Nightstand

Here are five books that have been recommended or given to me to read. I've already started The Church Planting Wife and Eleven Indispensable Relationships You Can't Be Without. I really love them! How I wish I had more time to read!

Have you read or heard of any of these? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quote from Edmund Burke

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
~Edmund Burke

Monday, November 11, 2013

Life Filled With Excess

     When I was about eight years old I was driving in the car with my dad. Out of the blue I told him that I wanted to donate my appendix to someone that didn't have one. He said that's not something you donate...it's not even something you need to have in your body to survive! I was bummed. I thought I could sacrifice something of mine for someone else. 
     However, I've had a recent revelation that there is a lot of other things that I can cut out of my life or trim down, in order to experience a closer walk with God and a heart more focused on others.

     Speaking of getting rid of excess in our lives, I read the book Seven by Jen Hatmaker and was left speechless. Seven is the account of Jen Hatmaker’s journey of “seven months, seven areas, reduced to seven simple choices. I’m embarking on a journey of less. It’s time to purge the junk and pare down to what is necessary, what is noble. 7 will be an exercise in simplicity with one goal: to create space for God’s kingdom to break through.” The seven areas she focused on per month were: food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. Her desire to fast in each of these areas was “an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God’s movement in my life. A fast creates margin for God to move.” She also included why people fasted in the Bible. Jen said, “according to Scripture, fasting was commanded or initiated during one of six extreme circumstances: mourning, inquiry, repentance, preparation, crisis, and worship”.

Month One: Food
 Jen fasted all foods except: chicken, eggs, whole-wheat bread, sweet potatoes, spinach avocados, and apples (and salt, pepper, and olive oil)…and only water to drink. 

 “He can heal me from greed and excess, materialism and pride, selfishness and envy. While my earthly treasure and creature comforts will fail me, Jesus is more than enough. In my privileged world where ‘need’ and ‘want’ have become indistinguishable, my only true requirement is the sweet presence of Jesus.” And Jen concluded, “This held me fast to the heart of Jesus.”

Month Two: Clothes
Jen assessed her family’s closets and came away realizing how much they spend on clothes.  She decided to go with these seven clothing items for one month: “one pair of jeans, dark wash, kind of plain; one long-sleeved solid black T-shirt, fitted; one short-sleeved black ‘Haiti relief’ T-shirt with white print; one short-sleeved gray ‘Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop’ T-shirt with yellow print; one pair of gray drawstring knit Capri pants; one long silk brown dress shirt; shoes: cowboy boots and tennis shoes” (they are one category).

“We cannot carry the gospel to the poor and lowly while emulating the practices of the rich and powerful.”

Month Three: Possessions
In month three, Jen commits to “give seven things away that we own. Everyday.” 

“Please, don’t miss it because the American Dream seems a reasonable substitute, countering the apparent downside to living simply so others can live at all. Do not be fooled by the luxuries of this world; they cripple our faith. As Jesus explained, the right things have to die so the right things can live-we die to selfishness, greed, power, accumulation, prestige, and self=preservation, giving life to community, generosity, compassion, mercy, brotherhood, kindness, and love.”

Month Four: Media
In Month four, Jen shuts down: TV, Gaming, Facebook/Twitter,i phone apps, Radio, Texting, and Internet (texting and internet only for time saving, job, or life related)

“These don’t enrich my life in the slightest. They do, however, steal energy from my home and family, substituting face-to-face time with screens. We’re losing on this exchange, and we won’t revert to the plugged-in family we were before.”

Month Five: Waste
Jen focuses on gardening, composting, conserving energy and water, recycling, driving only one car, shopping thrift and second-hand, and buying only local

“What does it mean to be a godly consumer? What if God’s creation is more than just a commodity? If we acknowledged the sacredness of creation, I suspect it would alter the way we treated it.”

Month Six: Spending
Jen’s family only spends money for the entire month in seven places: The Sunset Valley Farmer’s Market, HEB gas station, online bill pay, kids’ school, limited travel fund, emergency medical, and target

“I’ve discovered reduced consumption doesn’t equal reduced community or reduced contentment.”

Month Seven: Sabbath
Jen honors the “Seven Sacred Pauses” written by Macrina Wiederkehr everyday: The night watch-midnight, the awakening hour- dawn, the blessing hour-mid morning, the hour of illumination-noon, the wisdom hour-mid afternoon, the twilight hour- twilight, and the great silence-bedtime

“Is it coincidental that God named every person included in the rest? Sons and daughters, servants and animals, guests and visitors; we all need this. My neglect of the Sabbath doesn’t just affect me but my entire household, my extended community. The pace we keep has jeopardized our health and happiness, our worship and rhythms. We belong to a culture that can’t catch its breath; rather, we refuse to catch our breath.”

My Thoughts:
Seven is a radical book. It presents a radical way of living. It encourages a radical overhaul of everything that is excess in my life. I realize I have so much of everything in my life.

I found Jen's book to be incredibly challenging. Really, how pathetic to realize that it's so hard to go with less, or just not as much as I'm used to (or would like to go without).

Although Jen's book was thorough and well written, I felt that there was an area that Jen didn't cover in her book that I personally could use a fast from...negative words and thoughts (words or thoughts that are negative, hold doubt, lack faith, or don't think the best of God or other people). I realized it is so easy for me to live without limits on my thoughts and words. But, God wants me to take every thought captive.

What if I only lived with 7 kinds of words? How would it change my relationship with God? How would it change my relationship with others? Maybe God would have a chance to talk?!

Jen's desire to rid her life of excess has convicted my heart. STUFF permeates my day, my thinking, my decisions, and my life. I really admire Jen’s passion to empty herself, in order for God to fill her life with Him!

*I need to include that I don't agree with the author's choices regarding alcohol. However, the book is still very challenging, and I believe it's a great read.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How I Learn

Tell me, and I forget
Teach me, and I remember
Involve me, and I learn
~Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Design of the House

The Crown of the house is Godliness
The Beauty of the house is Order
The Glory of the house is Hospitality
The Blessing of the house is Contentment

~Old Inscription

Monday, September 9, 2013

35 Books That Have Shaped My Life

Today is my 35th birthday. I thought about what has shaped my life-other than my relationship with Jesus and wonderful people in my life, a myriad of books also came to my mind. I love to read books and learn about new areas that I can grow and challenge myself in order to become a better Christian woman, wife, mother, pastor's wife and friend.
Some of the books listed are on my sidebar under "some of my favorites." 
Others are links to reviews that I've written.

Here is the list of books that have shaped who I am today...

  1. The New Spirit Life Bible
  2. Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler
  3. Open Heart, Open Hand by Karen Mains
  4. Power in Praise by Merlin Carothers
  5. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
  6. The Stronghold of God by Francis Frangipane
  7. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
  8. How to Win Over Worry by John Edmund Haggai
  9. God Said Yes by Heather Hornback-Bland
  10. Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard
  11. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  12. Becoming a Woman of Influence by Carol Kent
  13. A Hunger For God by Hohn Piper
  14. The Power of A Woman's Wordsby Sharon Jaynes
  15. I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
  16. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  17. A Woman's High Calling by Elizabeth George
  18. Experiencing God As Your Provider by Brian Kluth
  19. Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
  20. The Three Battlegrounds by Francis Frangipane
  21.  For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
  22.  The Power Of A Praying Wife by Stormie O Martian
  23.  The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
  24.  The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger
  25.  Created To Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  26.  Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin

  27.  What the Bible Says About Child Training by J. Richard Fugate
  28.  Teach Them Diligently by Lou Priolo
  29.   The Mommy Manual by Barbara Curtis
  30.  The Mission of Motherhood By Sally Clarkson
  31.  Creative Family Prayer Times by Mike and Amy Nappa
  32.  Life Skills for Kids by Christine Field

  33.  Renewal on the Run by Jill Briscoe
  35.  You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes by Lisa McKay

Maybe you would find some of these on your list of life changing books, too! I'd love to hear what books have shaped your life in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Helpful Tip Tuesday: The Key to Everything

"...the Key to Everything centers on giving:

  • on forgiving because we've been forgiven,
  • on letting go because we've been set free,
  • on giving up because nothing's ever gained by holding back,
  • and on giving freely because God has charged us nothing for all He's done for us or given to us."
~taken from The Key to Everything by Jack Hayford

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Helpful Tip Tuesday: Ten Commandments of Human Relations

1.  Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.

2.  Smile at people. It takes seventy-two muscles to frown, only fourteen to smile.

3.  Call people by name. Music to anyone's ears is the sound of his/her own name.

4.  Be friendly and helpful.

5.  Be cordial. Speak and act as if everything you do is genuinely a pleasure, and if it isn't, learn to make it so.

6.  Be genuinely interested in people. You can like almost everybody if you try.

7.  Be generous with praise, cautious with criticism.

8.  Be considerate with the feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a controversy: yours, the other fellow's, and the right one.

9.  Be alert to serve. What counts most in life is what we do for others.

10.  Add to this a good sense of humor, a big dose of patience, and a dash of humility, and you will be rewarded manifold through life.

~Adapted from the Bible Tract  Bulletin

Friday, August 2, 2013

Quote from Helen Keller

"I thank God for my handicaps, 
for through them I have found
 myself, my work and my God."

~Helen Keller

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Master Weaver

"My life is but a weaving, between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily,
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.
Until the loom is silent, and shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unfold the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the skillful Weaver's hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned."

~as anonymously quoted in Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom

Thursday, June 13, 2013

40,000 Thoughts

"Your reactions break you loose from your social inhibitions and manifest who you really are inside and what you really believe at your core level. We lose our carefully preserved 'front' when we are pressed beyond calculated thinking. Then, who we really are is made manifest.
You can control your future reactions considerably by changing the way you thinke before you are pressed into a response. The way you think every day determines the way you feel, and it will determine how you will react in stressful situations.
Researchers have determined that the average person thinks over 40,000 thoughts each day. The heart is filled with thoughts, and it is out of that reservoir of thoughts that the mouth speaks words of praise or bitterness. When the pressure is on, and the dam of reservation breaks loose, you cannot control what you say, because you will speak from the abundance of your heart-from the 40,000 thoughts you had that day, and all the days before.
'A good man out of the treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man of the of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh (Luke 6:45). 
If you, as a wife, are going to change the way you have been speaking it is not a matter of willpower; it is a matter of thought power."

~Debi Pearl, Created To Be His Helpmeet

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Helpful Tip Tuesday: Preparing For Father's Day

10 Ideas For A Fabulous Unforgettable Father's Day

1.  If you can't be together, mark your calendar so you will be sure to call your father. Include comments about what he means to you as a father, mentor, and friend.

2.  Pick a photo of you and your father together and write a note to him about why the picture is meaningful to you. Send it in time to arrive a day before Father's Day.

3.  Buy tickets to a game of his favortie sport and go together.

4.  Offer to join him at his church for the Father's Day services.

5.  Write him a letter thanking him for two or more traits he taught you that really make you a more successful person.

6.  Record a cassette for him that shares a special memory of childhood that you both cherish so he can enjoy it in the car or at home.

7.  Order a beef stick and and cheese box, or some other favorite snack gift package, and have it delivered a day early. Enclose a card that says you will join him to watch a game or movie of his choice.

8.  Make a video for him of your childhood home and include a commentary on memories and lessons you really value from your childhood.

9.  Take him to a dinner place of his choice and surprise him with two or three of his friends that he may not see often. Plan this for the day before or after Father's Day so they will be available.

10.   Ask your brothers and sisters to join you in writing notes sharing how your father's influence and availability over the years benefited your family life. Include them in a memory book with a nice masculine cover.

~Daniel L. Mcauley
Father of three, grandfather of six
as quoted in Lists To Live By

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Quote from Beth Moore

"Maintaining purity in ministry is the result of nothing less than deliberate devotion."

~Beth Moore

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Helpful Tip Tuesday: 22 Things Kids Appreciate

What Kids Appreciate

1.  We were often spontaneously getting hugged even apart from completing a task or chore.

2.  They would let me explain my side of the story.

3.  They would take each of us out individually for a special breakfast with Mom and Dad.

4.  My mother always carried pictures of each of us in her purse.

5.  They would watch their tone of voice when they argued.

6.  My parents made sure that each one of us kids appeared in the family photos.

7.  They were willing to admit when they were wrong and say "I'm sorry."

8.  I saw my parents praying for me even when I didn't feel I deserved it.

9.  My folks wrote up a special "story of my birth" that they read to me every year.

10.  They attended all of my open houses at school.

11.  My mother and father would ask us children our opinions on important family decisions.

12.  My mom had a great sense of humor, but she never made us kids the brunt of her jokes.

13.  My parents wouldn't change things in my bedroom without asking me if it was okay with me.

14  When I wrecked my parent's car, my father's first reaction was to hug me and let me cry instead of yelling at me.

15.  My parents were patient with me when I went through my long-hair stage in high school.

16.  My mother would pray with me about important decisions I was facing, or even that I would have a good day at school.

17.  We would have "family meetings" every two weeks where everyone would share their goals and problems.

18.  Even though I didn't like it at the time, the chores my parents made me do helped me learn responsibility.

19.  When I was down about my boyfriend breaking up with me, my father took extra time just to listen to me and cry with me.

20.  My parents never acted like they were perfect, and they never expected us to be perfect either.

21.  My mother would let me explain my point of view on issues-even when she disagreed with me. She always made me feel that my opinion was important.

22.  My parents didn't compare my abilities with those of my older brother or the other kids at school, but helped me see my own unique value.

~Gary Smalley and John Trent
selected from a list of one hundred, from "The Blessing"
as quoted in Lists to Live By

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Forgive Yourself

"I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him."

~ C.S. Lewis

Friday, May 24, 2013

Righteousness Exalts A Nation

"If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world."


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5 Books On My Nightstand

True stories inspire me to my core. I love them. I came across the story
of Darlene Deibler Rose who survived great trials during World War II.
I pray her faith to overcome so many obstacles will stir my faith and trust in God.

A teenage girl in our church recommended this book. 
She read it and was challenged to be radical in her walk with God. 
I want to be radical, too!

I discovered this book onlilne and it sounded very "appealing" to me.
I desire to be a feminine woman...thought this book could give me some

I received this book as a gift from my mother-in-law and am excited 
to read it because I've heard so many great things about it.

The Heavenly Man is about the underground church in China. 
Christians in those churches have a radical
and inspiring faith in God.
 I want to knit my heart to other believers around the world.

Have you read any of these? Any thoughts or opinions on them?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Book In Quotes--The Noticer

My husband read the book The Noticer awhile back and loved it. I have since read it and can say the same thing. It's a wonderful book! I jotted down in my journal some of the most profound quotes I read in the book...

  • "Think with me here...everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you'll remember, mountaintops are rocky and cold. There is no growth on the top of a mountain. Sure, the view is great, but what's a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination-our next target. But to hit that target, we must come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life's next peak."
  • "Remember, young man, experience is not the best teacher. Other people's experience is the best teacher. By reading about the lives of great people, you can unlock the secrets to what made them great."
  • "Remember, whatever you focus upon increases."
  • "When a person is negative, complaining, and disagreeable, other people stay away. And that person receives less encouragement and fewer opportunities-because no one wants to be around him."
  • "Ask yourself this question everyday: 'What is it about me that other people would change if they could?' "
  • "...all people-all lives-are either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed for crisis."
  • "Unfortunately," he said, "the way we feel loved is usually the same way we express love."
  • "It's time to stop letting history control your destiny."
  • "Well, that's why smart people get tripped up with worry and fear. Worry...fear...is just a misuse of the creative imagination that has been placed in each of us. Because we are smart and creative, we imagine all the things that could happen, that might happen, that will happen if this or that happens."'
  • "From this point forward, you will focus on what can be controlled. And, you will no longer be sad or worried. You will be grateful! After all, the seeds of depression cannot take root in a grateful heart."
  • "One way to define wisdom is the ability to see into the future the consequences of your choices in the present."
  • "Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you."
  • "If you have changed," Jones said, "show evidence of it."
  • "Forgiveness is about the past. Trust and respect are about the future. Forgiveness will be in the hands of others and can be given to you, but trust and respect are in your own hands...and must be earned."
  • "See, if you ever want folks to believe in you, then it really helps if they like you."

Friday, April 26, 2013

Quote from John MacArthur

"The most important responsibility of love 
for believing parents is to lead their children to 
a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ."

~John MacArthur

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Helpful Tip Tuesday: A Parent's "Never To Do" List

"Things NEVER, NEVER (well hardly ever) to do!
Don't threaten-you decimate your own authority.
Don't bribe-bargaining usually makes you the loser.
Don't lose your temper-a clear demonstration of lack of control.
Don't refuse to explain-they'll go elsewhere and you're on the outside.
Don't use sarcasm or embarrassment-the fastest way to demolish a relationship.
Don't dash their dreams-your ticket into the next generation gap."

~taken from Heaven Help The Home by Howard G. Hendricks

What else would you add to the parent's "NEVER To Do" list?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: 1000 Gifts

I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and it has changed my life. It is a book about one woman's journey to being thankful to God for the little, everyday things in life. 

I feel that God has been trying to get a hold of my heart in the area of praising Him for quite some time. It seems that I struggle with thanking God not only in the good times, but in the difficult times as well. Ann's book took me out of myself and my natural tendencies of worry and stress and shifted my focus to thanking God. Her writing in the book is beautiful and poetic; I wish my thoughts would translate into words that beautiful and profound! Many times I came across various thoughts so deep and thought provoking that caused me to stop and think for the rest of the day about them.

For example:
"We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks."

"Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life."

"…this dare to write down one thousand things I love. It really is a dare to name all the ways that God loves me."

"God gives us time. And who has time for God?"

"Hurry always empties a soul."

"Without God's Word as a lens, the world warps."

"The dark can give birth to life; suffering can deliver grace."

"Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love?"

Getting Personal:
The biggest challenge Ann's book brought to my life was to stop intending to be thankful and praise God for little and big things and start doing it. So, I did. I bought a cheap composition notebook from Target and began my list of 1000 gifts. 
Honestly, it felt a little strange at first. I felt like I was LOOKING for things to be thankful for (I felt guilty shouldn't they just be flowing from my brain onto paper??). Then they started to come to me-the view from my window, my kids in their pj's , my quiet time to journal and write my thoughts, etc.

The book has inspired me to want to look for things I can be thankful for throughout my day. I now think, "OK, I need to write some things down that I'm thankful for in my journal. I need to keep it up." When I start writing, so many thoughts begin to fill my journal. As I write them down I find myself becoming more thankful. My heart softens and changes. I begin to see with new eyes. And the truth sets me free. I HAVE BEEN BLESSED IN SO MANY WAYS. There are countless little ways that I feel loved by God or others. Every little thing that I write down that I'm thankful for comes from God; HE loves me! For it says in James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift comes from above." All these little things I am thankful for came from God. Joy fills my heart, and I see now the goodness and blessing in my life, rather than the emptiness or areas that I haven't seen God do something that I want Him to. It has built my faith-if God can bless me with so many little things in my day and life, can't He still do it again and do abundantly more and in ways I don't expect?

Please read it for yourself and start writing your list of 1000 gifts today. It has definitely been a gift in my life. God has used it to change my life, my heart, my attitude, my joy, my faith, my love for God and others.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Christian Defined

"A Christian is
     a mind through which Christ thinks
          a voice through which Christ speaks
               a heart through which Christ loves
                    a hand through which Christ helps."

~as quoted in A Woman's High Calling

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: The Circle Maker

I was given The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson as a Christmas present from my husband. He knew it was a book that I would want to read because his dad read it…and I always want to read what he is reading. He loves to read too, and I like to keep up with his book recommendations  This particular book is about prayer-how important it is, how powerful it is, and how necessary it is for believers to go to God with our prayer requests...HE HEARS US!

Some excellent quotes in the book:
"Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? because they don't require divine intervention."

"Who you become is determined by how you pray."

"The author, pastor of one of the largest churches in Seoul, Korea, wrote, 'God does not answer vague prayers.' When I read that statement,  I was immediately convicted by how vague my prayers were. Some of them were so vague that there was no way of knowing whether God had answered them or not."

"When you pray regularly, you never know when God will show up or speak up. Today could be the day. When you live in prayer mode, you live with holy anticipation. you know that coincidences are Providences."

"Praying hard is hard because you can't just pray like it depends on God; you also have to work like it depends on you. You can't just be willing to pray about it; you also have to be willing to do something about it. And this is where many of us get stuck spiritually. We're willing to pray right up to the point of discomfort, but no further. We're willing to pray right up to the point of inconvenience, but no further. Praying hard is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but that is when you know you're getting close to a miracle!"

My Thoughts:
After reading this I am not the same Christian. It has challenged me to pray specifically for things. I don't need to be general in what I ask of God, I must be specific. God answers specific prayers. I think I'm all too often afraid to ask God for specific things because I'm afraid He won't answer me or do them for me. I have thought, "Maybe I'm not worthy enough of that specific request."  Or maybe He'll think I'm stupid or ungrateful or asking too much. But that is simply not true. I have had a distorted perspective of God as my Father. He wants to bless my life. He wants and needs me to be open and honest with him. He wants me to have a vision for things and ask specifically for them. He wants to use me and move through me. I have had to grow in my faith and believe these things of God. It has challenged me to get a bigger perspective of who God is.  By the way, I've learned He's much bigger than I've made Him out to be. I have been stirred to seek God. I'm seeking His vision and purpose for my life at this time and specifically praying for those things to come to pass. 

The Circle Maker is filled with encouraging stories and testimonies of how God has answered prayer in Matt's life and those he knows. I needed to read this book. It has fanned the flame of prayer in my life in a powerful way. I pray it does the same for you!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Several Ways to Make Yourself Miserable

1.  Count your troubles, name them one by one-at the breakfast table, if anybody will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.

2.  Worry every day about something. Don't let yourself get out of practice. It won't add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.

3.  Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.

4.  Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon. After all, a man's gotta live.

5.  Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they're going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do  it.

6.  Stay away from absolutes. It's what's right for you that matters. Be your own person and don't allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.

7.  Make sure you get your rights. Never mind other people's. You have your life to live, they theirs.

8.  Don't fall into any compassion traps-the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people's troubles, you may neglect your own.

9.  Don't let Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what's really relevant-things like TV and newspapers. Invisible things are eternal. You want to stick with the visible ones-they're where it's at now.

~taken from Keep A Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Book Review: The Money Saving Mom's Budget

Book Review: The Money Saving Mom's Budget (Slash your spending, Pay down your debt, Streamline your life, and Save Thousands a year) by Crystal Paine

Crystal's book is an excellent book on living within your financial means, creating and living on a budget. It contains helpful resources. I appreciate Crystal's approach-slow and easy! She emphasizes to not try and do a complete overhaul overnight. She has an extremely thorough chapter on coupons. If you ever wanted help in using coupons, this is the book for you. At the end of the book, she also has an appendix on "10 tips for a successful garage sale" and "10 ways to earn an extra $100 per month."  There is also a list of websites and specific book recommendations on various topics.

A Few Quotes:
"If you want to get your finances in order, you must learn to say no. Not only do you need to learn to say no to overspending and no to buying things you can't afford, but first and foremost you must learn to say no to over-booking your life. You'll never be able to take control of your bank account or make significant traction toward your financial goals if you spend the bulk of your time running around like a chicken with its head cut off."

"When your children have a birthday and get new toys, have them choose the same number of old toys to get rid of. Without much effort, this rule keeps clutter from prolific breeding in the closets behind your back."

"A budget gives purpose to your money and it frees you up to enjoy living life rather than spending most of your time worrying about how you're going to afford to live."

"On occasion, challenge yourself to see how long you can go without going to the grocery store. When we do this, I often find we have a lot more food on hand than I realized."

My Thoughts:
Crystal's book is so valuable. It helped me to see that money itself is not the only thing that needs to be budgeted. Time and priorities show first and foremost where your money goes. Every hear the saying "show me your checkbook, and I'll show you where your heart is?" It's true. So, unexpectedly, I really got the most out of Crystal's chapter on setting personal goals, knowing what I'm good at, what I want to see happen in my life in the next 5-10 years and the end of my life. I did this and it really opened my eyes. I saw what is REALLY important to me. What goes across the board in all the areas I wrote down is where I found my priorities and where I'll deposit my time and money. For example, rather than buying a new outfit, I learned that if I really love to write, I'd rather put money towards a writer's workshop, some sort of class, or babysitter so that I can write. I like to look nice, but what's my goal? Crystal's book really helped me to think about my goals long term and how my finances affect them.

I loved her chapter towards the end of the book on contentment. It is so important to make a gratitude list and remember what I've been given by God-the list is endless. If I can keep a grateful perspective, it will help me remember that eternal things are much more precious than earthly, material things. God is so good!

 *You can check out Crystal's blog here.


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