Monday, May 12, 2014

Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee

""We all want someone to think we’re sensational. We desire to be recognized, to be valued, to be respected. To be loved. Yet this natural yearning too often turns into an idol of one of God’s most precious gifts: love itself. If you, like so many of us, spend your time and energy trying to earn someone’s approval—at work, home, and church—all the while fearing that, at any moment, the facade will drop and everyone will see your hidden mess . . . then love may have become an idol in your life. In this poignant and hope-filled book, Jennifer Dukes Lee shares her own lifelong journey of learning to rely on the unconditional love of God. She gently invites us to make peace with our imperfections and to stop working overtime for a love that is already ours. Love Idol will help us dismantle what’s separating us from true connection with God and rediscover the astonishing joy of a life full of freedom in Christ.""

All too often I worry about what everyone thinks of me. I am afraid to mess up and have people look at me and think; "Wow, she is not the christian she claims to be." or "She is such a hypocrite.". Even now I struggle with my desire for the world's approval, the church's approval and my family's approval. I have become so consumed with the fear of losing that approval that I have become miserable.

I often saw other christians and thought: "I wish I had it as together as they do." I now realize I am the only one holding myself back. I am starting to truly long for God's approval because in the scope of eternity, His approval is all that matters. It is not an easy task. I still struggle with wanting approval from others and often wonder what is wrong with me. After reading Jennifer Dukes Lee's book, I realized I wasn't the only one struggling. I had thought I might give this book away after I was done reading it but I started underlining so many sentences and paragraphs in the book that I decided I might need this for future reference, like next week or tomorrow.

I will gladly lend this to anyone who desires to read it and we can pray for each other in this lifelong battle. Once I decided that I wasn't going to worry about what the world had to say I physically felt a weight lift off of me. There are moments when I feel it start to press down on me again and I have to immediately pray for God's help. Thank God! He is there when I need Him. I need only live for Him and not for anyone else. It is so freeing.

I have often thought of idols as physical things, like a person, tv, money, homes, or cars. But now I realize it can be anything we set our hearts on. Anything we desire more than God. Such as love. What's wrong with love? Nothing as long as it is a Godly love, a pure unconditional love not a worldly love which is conditional and based on our performance. We will never live up to human standards. Yes, God has higher standards but He is also much more forgiving. He loved us before we were us. Before He created the world. Before He sent His Son to die for us. In spite of all the sin in our lives, He loves us! Praise God He loves us. Regardless of our performance, He will always love us. Now isn't that the approval you would rather strive for?

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Twists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situations [Kindle Edition] Stephen Altrogge

""This collection of stories is entitled Twists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situations. These short stories are not Christian stories. In fact, they don’t even deal with Christian themes. Rather, these are short stories about strange situations, the kind of strange situations only my strange brain could come up with. What sorts of strange situations?
- The Marlboro Man gets a modern, updated image makeover.
- The real story of what happened to Edmund Pevensie.
- The woman who discovered that you can’t recall a hitman.
- The kid with the unstoppable karate move…which turned out not to be unstoppable.
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s other dream.
- And many more.
The book officially releases on Friday, May 9th.""
This is the first time that I have reviewed a Kindle release book written by a friend of a friend. I have read many of his devotional blogs and find them thought provoking and I am curious to get his other Kindle releases and check them out as they are Christian in topic. So when the chance came to read his newest, albeit fictional, release; I thought:  "Why not :)".  Given that I read books and give reviews on them, I figured I could help out here. Maybe encourage a few to check his stuff out.
As his descriptions states, these are short stories about strange situations. I enjoyed a few of them. I found the stories about subjects I could relate to, like Edmund Pevensie's story and the unstoppable karate move, amusing. I think The Poker Game was my favorite. About halfway through the story I figured out who the characters were and just started chuckling and looked forward to reading the outcome. Some, most of the sports based ones, I found a little dull. But I don't get sports, so that is on me. He definitely has a unique sense of humor and puts a twist on stories that I would never think of. 
To be honest, there were a few that made no sense to me whatsoever but I am sure others would enjoy them. This book has a good mix of stories for all reading tastes. I recieved this book from Stephen Altrogge for my unbiased review. Check out his devotionals here:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Heart Wide Open

I haven't blogged in awhile, nor have I read very many books. I have let life consume me even though mine is slow and drab compared to many of my friends. I have been feeling overwhelmed by my lackluster walk with God. Feeling empty and wanting more. So I took a look at the  Blogging for Books website to see if there was a book that would catch my interest and maybe inspire me. I believe God led me there purposely. (It has been well over a year since I had visited there.) He led me to this book by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson called Heart Wide Open, Trading Mundane Faith For An Exuberant Life With Jesus.

Once I read the description of this book I knew I had to get it, if for no other reason but to jumpstart my flailing spirituality. Now I am hoping to inspire you to get it for yourself. Here is part of that description: As a Bible-believing churchgoer, author Shellie Tomlinson harbored a secret in her good-girl heart. She longed for something more than routine faith; she wanted to love God with a genuine, all-consuming passion. So she got honest with Him: “I admit it. I don’t love you like I should, but I want to love you. Help me!”  

It is exactly how I had been feeling lately. "God, I love you, but I don't love you like I should. And I want to want to. " The title of her first chapter;  "When All You Can Bring Him Is a Broken Want-To" is so fitting for me. (You can read the first chapter here: Read Chapter One) I know that this is a book I will read over and over again. I related to the author  a lot in this book. She gave examples of her own failures and also her victory in falling more in love with God. 

She also pointed out that this is NOT a one and done kind of "fix-it" book.  It is a present tense, ongoing adventure for life. "The more He answers these prayers, the more earnestly I petition Him for more. I ask God to give me more love for Jesus, more courage to go further, higher, and deeper. I want more hunger for His Word, more awareness of Him in my days, more faith through a growing obedience born out of gratitude, more of Him and less of me, and more love for those with me on the journey."

It is written in a "girlfriend to girlfriend" point of view, which was only a tad off-putting because I could think of a few men who might enjoy this book but might be a little wary of being called "Girlfriend". But if you can get past that I think everyone and any age can enjoy it. It would be a great book for new converts too. Especially since many might find a "fading" of joy after their initial conversion. But only because they don't know how to seek more of God, and how to get past the lies of the flesh telling us of our unworthiness to approach God.

In her final sub-section of the book, which is called "Chase Him Until He Catches You" she describes how she chased her husband while letting him think he was doing the chasing. She points out that we may have been acting on a whim when we picked out this book, but that it was no accident. "Whatever stimulated your interest, the yearning didn't originate with you. You're in God's cross hairs....What you're feeling is the Holy Spirit wooing you to the Father." I was no accident that I happened to go to that book blogging website and that this book happened to be available for reading. I was in God's cross hairs.

Thank you, Father :) I am ready to fall more in love with You,with Your help, of course.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. I did not have to post a positive review.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson

The 40 Day Prayer Challenge...This book was inspirational and convicting. I read through it quickly so that I could post a review on it but I know I need to read it again. I may even share this with my church's small group.

Last year my pastor had a short sermon on drawing circles. He even passed out a piece of chalk which I still have in my Bible. He talked about Mark Batterson's book The Circle Maker, which I have not read.  When I saw this book I felt drawn to read it and I am so glad I did.

My prayer life is lacking and I wasn't even sure how to go about it nor did I have the conviction to follow through with it. This book has inspired me to pray more, to pray more specifically, to pray better and to expect God's work.

The key words there are "God's work". I have to learn to discern what God wants to happen not what I want to happen. If it isn't God's will the answers will almost always be no.

This book is so easy to read and enjoyable. This is set up to be read over 40 days. Each day is meant to challenge the way we pray, what we pray for and how long we should pray. Which is, by the way,  for as long as it takes to get an answer. The back of the book asks:   " Do you pray as often and as boldly as you want to? There is a way to experience a deeper, more passionate, persistent, and intimate prayer life. "

This book contains many testimonies from faithful prayer warriors. It is meant to encourage us and give us a desire to become bolder in our prayers and experience growth in our faith. The prayers we are to pray are for God's glory not ours. They are to further His kingdom and to draw us and others closer to Him.

I definitely recommend this book. I wish I had read this book years ago.

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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reclaiming Your Heart by Denise Hildreth Jones

It was the description of this book that caught my eye. "Have you ever wondered where the abundant life Scripture promises is, and how you seem to have missed it? Do you ever catch yourself saying, “Those were the best years of my life?” A failed relationship, a health crisis, a job loss, the death of a loved one—all can cause us to hide out, go numb, give up. Before we even know it, we’re simply coping with life instead of living it to the fullest."

After reading the book I realized that I have been through periods in my life where I have  allowed my heart to shut down. Denise talks about 8 different types of hearts. I think I related to almost all of them. I realized that the reason I can't seem to get closer to God is because I have allowed anger, shame, disappointment and critical thinking close up my heart. I also realize that I will be on a life long process of reopening my heart. It will be a daily battle to keep emotion from shutting my heart up again.

There were times I felt a little bogged down in this book. Maybe it was a spiritual attack from the enemy, after all why would he want me to open up and get closer to God. I did enjoy reading the examples she provided. It's nice to know I am not alone in my struggles. I also feltl she used scripture from "the Message"  or "Amplified" versions a little too liberally although they fit nicely with the points she was making. I am old fashion and prefer NKJV or NIV.

Otherwise this book is a good read. There is a free 10 week downloadable study guide and it could make for a good small group discussion.

I received a complimentary copy through the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for a review. I was not required to provide a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Homemade jewelry cleaner

A while back I was looking for a sterling silver cleaner for a few pieces of my jewelry. The store stuff reeks and is just nasty in general. Silver paste was just too much work for my tiny jewelry and for big pieces as well. So I searched the internet and found baking soda, aluminum foil and boiling water. It seemed too simple. I was doubtful but it was cheap, I had the ingredients and well, why not.

WOW!! It takes like 30 seconds, although you can leave it in for longer. My silver charms were so bright and silvery again.

So here I am months later and my gold jewelry cleaner is a bit watered down and not cleaning my wedding ring as well as it used to. I have gone to the store to price the cleaners and I just don't want to pay $5 or more. I wanted to make my own, less toxic cleaner.

Many recipes I saw had ammonia in it and dish detergent. I do not have ammonia on hand. I do remember it smelling awfully strong and "toxic".  Dish detergent worked ok but it still had some tarnish in the stone settings.

Other recipes I saw had a few extra ingredients to the homemade silver cleaner I found a few months back. In addition to the foil and baking soda and boiling water, they also called for salt and dish detergent. Well being lazy, I thought, why not just try the same recipe I used on my silver minus the salt and dish soap.

It works really well. My ring is so bright and sparkly and that tarnish in the setting is gone. Apparently it's silver but don't tell my hubby, he thinks silver is cheap. *eyeroll*

So from now on I will be using baking soda, foil and hot water to clean my jewelry. Everything I have read says it is safe on all metals and most jewelry. Obviously anything glued may come undone due to the boiled water. It says it is safe on pearls although I would think it would dry them out. So I would just continue to clean those with a barely damp cloth and buff them dry.

I love cheap and natural and I know some of my friends do as well. I just had to share my experience with this in case you have heard of it but doubted it. All you have to do is :

place a piece of aluminum foil in a bowl
place your jewelry on it
cover the jewelry with baking soda (enough to cover it, but I had shaky hands and dumped alot, oops)
pour boiling water over all that (enough to cover all of the jewelry)
wait 2 to 3 minutes
rinse and dry with a soft dry cloth

Try's cheap and easy.

Here is a link for pearl care:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Grace by Max Lucado

Grace : More Than We Deserve  Greater Than We Imagine by Max Lucado

I don't think we really understand the word grace. I know I didn't. I thought of it as something you say before you eat, a pretty girl's name, an adjective describing someone's personality or ability to do something. What is grace? What can it do for us? Max goes into great detail in his book with typical Max style.

Grace happens in big and small ways everyday. Max's book is full of examples. He describes biblical examples such as Zacchaeus, the woman caught in adultery, and the ungrateful servant who went and threw a man into debtor's prison for a small debt owed right after the king forgave his enormous one. He also gives examples of modern day people. People like you and me going through things that we may be going through too. People like Victoria Ruvolo, the Amish in Pennsylvania whose daughters were killed by gunman Charles Carl Roberts, and Max Lucado himself who describes times when he was given grace by those around him and God.

On the back cover of this book several questions are asked: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped by grace? Strengthened by grace? Emboldened by grace? Softened by grace? and my favorite: Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace? Grace is God given and it never ends. It is abundant and overflowing according to several versions of 1 Timothy 1:14. It is sufficient for us, for in our weakness He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I really enjoyed this book and as an added bonus it has a discussion guide in back so that you can use it as a personal devotional or a group study. I always enjoy Max Lucado's books because he brings a unique God-given perspective to godly subjects. But the point in all of his books is this: God wants us. He is so desperate to have us in his family, to be with Him and fellowship with Him. He went to the extreme to give us a way to overcome the sin that separates us. To cleanse us from that sin, He sacrificed His son. Because of this cleansing, He floods us with love and grace. We only have to accept Him and He will fill us to overflowing until we are drenched in His love and mercy and grace.

One more point to make and it is this: If God is so very gracious to us, should we not be gracious to those around us? Whether they are deserving or not, because we certainly are not.

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.