Last Day For Giveaway!

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’ll be back on Monday to share the winner. Have a great weekend!

35 Days of Favorites: Favorite Book

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

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)

Love Does

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?

From My Sister, With Love:)

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.

The Resolution for Women

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!

34 Days of Favorites: Most-Used Birthday Gift

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

Dreaming Big: Some Love and a Giveaway!

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.

Finally Accepting One Thousand Gifts

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?

Insecure Much?

During the summer, I wrote a post about the books our family was enjoying, and shared that I was reading Beth Moore’s book, So Long, Insecurity.

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!