Just a reminder that today is the last day to leave a comment to win a free book! (Check out Monday’s post if you missed it) Tell me what goals you want to accomplish this year, or give me tips you’ve learned on how to get better at reaching goals!
I feel like this post is a bit repetitive, because if you read my blog regularly, you probably already know what my favorite book of the year was. I only wrote about it three or four times….( An Invitation to Live,Say Yes, Casting Lots, Some Wet Fleece, and a Crystal Ball)
Since I’ve written so much about it, I’ll let you go back and check out those posts if you’re interested, but for now, I will just say that this book has changed the way I think about a lot of things. It’s challenging, inspiring, fun, incredibly interesting, and makes you want to go have an adventure, in the best kind of way.
I’m thinking it’s time for a re-read…
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?
For my birthday this summer, my sister gave me some devotional books – one by Beth Moore (can’t ever go wrong with her!), and one called The Resolution for Women, which is from the creators of the movie Courageous.
At that point, I hadn’t heard of the author before, and I tend to be a tad wary of books written after a movie. (Usually, it seems to work best to base movies on great books, instead of books on great movies, in my opinion!)
But I was gladly prepared to be wrong, and my sister assured me that The Resolution was a great read. So good, in fact, that she gave me two copies, proving how well she knows and loves me – she wanted me to be able to give away a free copy on my blog!
I wanted to read it before I gave it away, just to know what kind of book we’rere talking about here.
So first of all, I must say, if you haven’t seen the movie Courageous, you should. I’ve seen it once, and I don’t know if I could watch it again. I had a giant lump in my throat for most of the movie, from trying to keep the tears in and not to bawl my head off in public.
Oh, my word. The scene where the father dances without his daughter? I completely lost it.
Start with the movie. I think they did a pretty good job with it.
And then you should definitely read this book, even if you don’t end up winning it on my blog. It’s really, really good. Priscilla Shirer is the author, and she does a fantastic job of going through a list of thirteen different resolutions (similar to the resolutions made by the men in the movie), which cover a wide range of topics, such as forgiveness, integrity, family, grace, faith, and contentment.
What I appreciate most about this book is Shirer’s willingness to go after what we hold deep down. She writes some hard truths, and it’s been a bit painful to unearth some deep roots in my life, but I like it that she’s not after easy and comfortable.
She’s going after an extreme dedication, because, as she writes…
…I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman of godly, admirable character – one who in my moments of clearest, most serious thinking I longed to pattern my life after – who was not a person of extreme action and resolutions. Those who enjoy the extra measure of God’s blessing and favor, who truly navigate their lives well, are those who discipline themselves in ways that many of us would consider borderline ridiculous. But like David (referring to Psalm 101:2-3), they’ve found it necessary to be as extreme in one direction as the culture has chosen to be in the other.(p.151)
If you are ready to read a book that will take away your excuses for “good enough”, this one is likely to do it!
So, how can you win it?
Well, to get your name entered in the draw, leave a comment about a woman of “godly, admirable character” whom you look up to, and tell me what you most admire about her. How does she inspire you? In what ways is she extreme?
I’ll do the draw on Friday, so you have a few days to think about it! Can’t wait to hear what you come up with!
I always receive lovely gifts for my birthday, and I’m very thankful for all of them.
But for my birthday last year, I was given a gift which I’ve used many, many more times than any of my other gifts.
My mom gave me this book:
I was surprised when I unwrapped it, because although I’d been wanting to read it for months, I’d never told her that.
It was even better than I’d anticipated.
If you ever come over to my house, there is a very good chance you’ll find this book lying on my kitchen counter because I’ve just finished using it, or I’m just about to use it.
The resources in the appendix are my favorite. There are many recipes for natural cleaning products, as well as personal care items, which is why I use this book so regularly.
The book itself is a good read. I found the ideas for clearing clutter were similar to what I’d read before, but Tsh Oxenreider has an interesting twist to her perspective, in that she’s spent many years living overseas, and simply hasn’t had the space to collect junk as we do in North America.
I found this book highly motivating. It even made me have a garage sale, in spite of the fact that I had never thought I would do such a thing.
On top of all that, the pictures in Organized Simplicity are so clean and refreshing, it really makes you want to clean your house from top to bottom, and leave lemons lying around everywhere.
Definitely one of my favorite birthday gifts ever.
Do you have a favorite gift you’ve been given? Something you use over and over again?
And just a reminder…This is the last day you can comment on “34 Days of Favorites” to enter the contest! Here’s the complete list, in case you missed any, or want to go back and add a comment on any of them:
Natural Beauty Products, Blogs, Morning Routine, Prayer Book, Photo Galleries, Vintage Handkerchiefs, Books to Read Aloud, Purging, Restaurants, Overcoming Fear of Flying, Tea, Home, Counting Blessings, New Recipe, Quote, Getting Out of My Comfort Zone, Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Sleep Habits, Body Brushing, Pinterest, New Camera, New Friends, Serious Music, Happy Music, Apple Cider Vinegar, Movies, Smiling, TV Show, Books, Clothing
My friend Heather wrote a book.
A few months ago, she asked me to read it, give my opinion on my blog, and then give away a free copy. I thought that sounded like a good idea, and then…I moved.
Now that all the boxes are unpacked, and I’ve settled down to read Heather’s book, I find the timing ironic. Her book is called Dreaming Big, and I’m reading it at exactly the time in my life when I’ve been having a dream make-over. In the last month, my life has changed dramatically, and it’s been a time of re-examining what we’re doing here, what we want, what we feel God is calling us to, and what we’re going to do about it.
I find that slightly uncomfortable.
There are parts of Heather’s book that make me feel slightly uncomfortable. In a good way, if you know what I mean. I don’t think following our dreams could ever come under the topic of “comfortable”, anyway.
Although the book has a bit of a youth focus, there is fantastic stuff in there for anyone. Besides the fact that the topic is hugely important, I also love it that Heather is all over the Bible in this book. I really appreciate her insights into Scripture, and love it that this isn’t just a book about succeeding and accomplishing our dreams for our own advancement. It’s about God’s dreams for us, and how we can get on board with what He’s been doing all along.
You should read it! And you could win it.
Here’s how we’re going to do this whole giveaway:
In order to enter the contest for a copy of Heather’s book, all you need to do is leave a comment on my blog, anytime this week. In honor of Dreaming Big, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on dreams and goals and all that stuff I’ve been challenged with lately, so you have all week to jump in and share a comment, which gives you a chance to win your own copy of Dreaming Big.
To start off, I must ask…Anyone else out there who’s also struggling with clarifying some life dreams? Do you ever find it difficult to determine whether it’s God’s dream or yours?
*To find out more about Heather and her book, check out her blog here.
So there’s this little book on the New York Time’s Bestseller List…. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
Actually, it’s huge. It seems to have taken over almost every Christian woman’s blog out there. I bump into it everywhere I go on the internet.
I really wanted to read the book. I was very drawn to the idea of it – recognizing God’s gifts in everyday life and keeping a list. And I love Ann Voskamp’s blog. Plus, the cover looks so pretty. And I love books. I was totally going to read it….someday. I just wasn’t sure when I would get around to it.
But then, a few things happened.
First of all, I read this post by Ann Voskamp.
The two big lessons God has been teaching me in the last year have been choosing to control my attitude and emotions, and getting rid of the habit of worry and fear. When I read that listing your blessings has been scientifically proven to eliminate worry, and increase joy, I decided I needed to start my list of daily gifts from God ASAP, even though I hadn’t read the book.
And then, when I arrived at my parents’ house here in the Florida, there lay One Thousand Gifts on my mom’s desk. I’ve been reading it in snatches here and there, trying to finish it before it’s time to go home. Two chapters left! And my life may never be the same.
So dramatic, hey? But seriously. It’s so good.
Why could this be life-changing?
Well, I love the idea of eliminating the worry and increasing the joy in my life by making a habit of thankfulness. Listing our blessings is a spiritual discipline, and it draws us closer to God. It opens our eyes to all that He is doing, every moment of the day.
Ann Voskamp quotes:
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. (Sarah Ban Breathnach, p. 42)
Reverence sounds good. So do everyday epiphanies. I’ll take some of those, please.
But even more than that, I have connected with the idea that when we practice thankfulness in the small things, and practice joy in the easier moments, we are strengthening our ability to thank God in the hard times, as well.
Start small, and an attitude of thankfulness, trust, and worship will grow, until we can accept anything life sends our way with faith and peace, knowing that God is in everything.
I had never considered that something as simple as making a list would help me trust God more. It seems too easy to grab a pen and paper, and have that become the answer to so many of the problems I’ve struggled with my whole life.
And yet, Ann writes,
Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life – even the hard – is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.(p. 57)
When I go through a time of crisis, I keep looking at the big picture. I fill my mind with thoughts of how I will never be able to make it, and it is much too hard to bear, etc, etc.
Who could possibly learn thankfulness and joy with that kind of mindset?
But when you break it down into very small, manageable chunks, and surrender each chunk to God, then in that little moment, anything is possible.
So…if you want in on all the wonderful benefits of listing one thousand gifts, you could just start right now, and skip the book, but really, the book is making all the difference for me. Ann Voskamp’s list keeps going long, long after 1,000, and she’s still going strong. She’s like the thankfulness expert. I am loving the glimpse at the way she thinks, and how she searches out joy each day.
I want to search out joy each day. I want to notice the little things, and train my eye to see God in it all.
So inspired, love the book, and excited to see where this is all going to go.
What about you? Have you read it? Do you make a list?
There are so many thoughts that have been floating around in my mind as a result of this book.
It’s been a slow read, because I’m going through it together with one of my friends. We read a few chapters, and then talk on the phone and share the stuff we’ve been learning. I think slow has been good, because it gives me more of a chance to “chew” on the new ideas I’m taking in.
First thing I learned: I don’t exactly like reading a book about insecurity.
I like to take a book along with me when we’re running errands in the city, so that if I ever have to wait for an appointment or something, I have something productive to do. But do you have any idea how many women stare at you when you’re reading a book called, So Long, Insecurity?
I feel like I’m announcing to the world that I have issues. ‘Cause I wouldn’t be reading this book is I wasn’t insecure, right? But the book says that pretty much everybody, men and women, have insecurity issues in some form, at some point in their life.
So there you go. It turns out that I’m in good company.
For all of you who feel you also might have even a teeny tiny twinge of insecurity somewhere in the hidden depths of your being, or you have issues that don’t make sense and you’re not sure what the root is, and you haven’t read this book, but you’re feeling slightly curious….
Today is your lucky day!
Today is the day I tell you about my new little series I’ll be doing on this blog about insecurity. I was just going to do one post, but it’s a huge, slippery issue, so I’ll take a few days to tell you about the biggest things I’ve been learning when it comes to insecurity.
I’ve been surprised by the things that were uncovered. What I’ve been learning about insecurity is not what I expected. It’s been uncomfortable at times. But it’s also been interesting and challenging, so I’m willing to share some of the ugly stuff, in the hope that you can feel like you’re not alone, and can start releasing some things in your life to God.
Ready to get started?! I’ll see you tomorrow!
I met my first boyfriend the summer I turned 18. It was all very romantic, because his eyes were very blue, and that seemed important at the time.
We were working at summer camp together, which is an intense environment, and can cause people to do intense things, like dating someone they’ve only known for two weeks.
Anyway. It was not a healthy relationship, and he hurt me in many ways. I probably hurt him, too. And then it was all over, and I experienced heartbreak for the first time.
I tried again with someone else a couple of years later, and things didn’t go much better. My emotional baggage was piling up so high that by the time I met Ben, it was kinda hard to see clearly, with all that baggage in the way.
But if there was ever someone with limitless patience, kindness and sincerity, it would be Ben, and so we worked things out very nicely.
I don’t really think much about all that stuff from the past anymore. But I’ve been reading a book. It’s a book that explains a lot of the connections between the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects to the body.
It’s a book about how old hurts and heartbreaks, bitterness, unforgiveness, and broken trust can affect us in huge ways if we do not experience healing and restoration.
Now, I have not normally been into all that kind of stuff. I have a wonderful, happy life, and I would never have thought that there was much to restore in my past.
But there’s this: I remember a girl in high school telling me that I had the stupidest laugh she’d ever heard.
I laughed a lot quieter after that.
I remember a friend telling me that instead of singing, I should stick to playing piano.
I sang a lot quieter after that.
I remember the ex-boyfriend telling me I was pretty, and good for looking at, but not much else. He said I wasn’t smart enough, and so he felt we had nothing in common.
So I wrapped my insecurity tightly around me like a robe, and accepted all of those labels.
And even now, after all these years, they still come back. You can bet that I’ll think about them when I laugh or sing, or try to add up everyone’s score during a game, or try to have intellectual discussions with people.
Those labels in my head are saying: “I have a stupid laugh, I can’t sing, and I’m dumb.”
Putting that all out there makes it sound like I’m pretty pathetic. Who actually thinks stuff like that??
More people than you think, I’m guessing.
The weird part is that I don’t really completely believe all that stuff.
But I still remember it. Those words buzz around my head like an annoying fly that I keep brushing away.
And in real life, I would finally get so tired of the buzzing that I would go find the fly swatter, and kill the dumb fly already.
I’m at that point. It is time to get rid of those labels, and those memories.
How do you do that?
Well, this is still a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve figured out so far:
Forgiveness can take the sting away. Someone once told me that you make the choice to forgive, and then you say it out loud: “I choose to forgive ____________.” Every time the thought comes back to you, you say it again. And again, and again. And then you pray like crazy.
2) Look at the bigger picture.
I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately. All it takes is a little bit of perspective, and some imagination. For the first time, I thought back to that ex-boyfriend, and I tried to imagine what would make a person say something so cruel. And you know what? As an adult, it is so much easier to see a whole different side to that relationship. I can see now how he had so many insecurities just like me, and neither one of us could carry the weight of the other’s burdens. We hurt each other out of our own hurt. He had no idea what he was really doing to me, or how I would allow it to impact me for years after. People often say things they don’t really mean.
3) Replace those labels with words of truth.
God gave me this old laugh of mine, and it makes Him smile when He hears me using it.
God gave me this voice, and it fills His heart with joy when He hears me singing at the top of my lungs.
God gave me this mind, and these abilities, and He rejoices when I use my God-given strengths to bless other people. And who says that adding up a row of numbers is a true measure of intelligence anyway, for crying out loud?!
So, with forgiveness in my heart, and a view of the bigger picture, it is time to step lightly and freely into the beautiful future.
Ben’s sisters are both off on wild, exciting adventures. They’re off to Europe and to the unknown.
I know that we’ll miss them, but I’m excited for them, and in a deep, dark corner inside me, I’m envious. I feel that way because they are going off to fulfill their dreams, and I often wonder what it will take to fulfill my own dreams.
I feel like I can’t quite figure out if I’m waiting for God’s timing, and for things to become “ripe”, or if I’m holding back because of fear, and all I need to do is start actively pursuing those dreams, there for the taking.
I’ve written about it on this blog before – my dream to speak and write and be the next Beth Moore and change the world. Sometimes I feel a little panicky because I feel like I’ll run out of time for all that and I should definitely be farther along in my pursuit.
Other times I feel like I’m still marinating, and like God has so much left to teach me as I stay at home with my girls, creating order in the midst of chaos, loving and supporting my husband in any way I can. There will be time for all those other things.
And in the meantime, I write.
It’s funny, because there have been times when I’ve questioned my decision to start a blog. I love doing it, but it can be really time-consuming. But I realize over and over again that I need to write. I need to communicate with people. So even during times when it feels like I don’t have time to blog, or have time to write, it’s what I need to do.
Sometimes it feels vain – like I consider all of my thoughts so important that they must be shared with the world. But sometimes it just feels like it is there inside me, and it needs to get out.
While I was having these thoughts, I came across this quote on a great new blog I found:
When you have a calling, when you have a gift from God, this is what I’ve learned about it. Whether you do something with that gift from God or not, you carry the stamp of your gift, the weight of your calling, no matter how many years pass, no matter how many dreams you tuck away in the belief that you must have missed it.
You never stop wanting it, you never stop being it. It’s what you always loved to do and, yes, you do it every day without a single penny from anyone. Even if no one acknowledges it.
You know in your heart of hearts that you can’t stop being this, doing this, anymore than you can stop breathing. (Emerging Mummy)
I love that. It’s like it legitimizes my need to write – not only legitimizes it, but…encourages it!
All our lives we all need to create because creativity is the life breath of our Creator Father and if we don’t create we breathe stale air and we wither dry. (A Holy Experience)
I blog to create! I used to paint pictures. Then I got a job, got married, had a baby. I didn’t have time to paint anymore, so I started scrapbooking. I had another baby. Even less time, so now I blog. The ways in which I create have changed over the years. Who knows what will come next.
What about you? Are you creating something? If not, you’d better start, cause who wants stale air?!
Yesterday Anika said to me, “Mommy, sometimes I think like a book. Sometimes I’m a ‘she’.”