Friday, August 12, 2011

Intentional - Part Deux

Do you remember back in January when I wrote about my One Word for 2011?

Remember Intentional?

So, you may be thinking about right now that I have not been very "intentional" lately.  After all, you haven't been seeing much from me here, so how "intentional" can that be?

Well, I may agree with that in some aspects---yes, my life has not allowed me the freedom to write and share as often as I would like to and frequently feel the need to.  However, I must assure you that my "absence" here has actually been a by-product of definite intentionality in many other areas of my life.

  • I have been spending quality and sometimes even quantity time with my family.
  • I have been studying the Truth of the Word of God and even leading a prayer challenge along the way.
  • I have been diligently working to keep up with requirements and deadlines for my full-time job, which in turn reflects glory to God as I am intentionally being a dependable worker living out integrity as much as I humanly can.
  • I have been plugging into a church in our new town, and greatly enjoying the new friendships.
  • I have been working to maintain and grow existing friendships and relationships.
  • I have been reading, growing from what I read, and sharing about what I have read so that others may benefit as well.
So, is this the way I had pictured my intentionality back in January?  Not necessarily.

Is this the right path for me right now and for those who come across my path in varying degrees?  Absolutely.

Trust me---you have not seen the end of me.  :o)  Most likely you will begin seeing more of me around here again soon.  But remember, I don't write to blog...I blog to write. 

In other words, I don't just put a burden on myself that says I have to produce daily or even weekly content for you to read just for the sake of keeping you interested and keeping you around.  When I have tried to do that I have found myself tired, burdened, and not always writing what I need to be writing.  I value you and your time more than just forcing myself to throw a lot of stuff out there in front of you to read frequently so that you'll stick around just for the sake of attention.  That is not what my blog is about, nor who you are to me. 

I started this blog to write. 

To put onto virtual paper the various thoughts and contemplations that are always going on in my mind and my heart.  To share with anyone who might read in a way that we can all relate and see that our God is real and He accepts imperfection.  He makes us new, becomes our Strength and our Hope.  He is actively involved in our daily lives and hearts.  And ultimately I started this blog as my way of making a decision to speak out for Him and about Him so that others could come to know and see Him in possibly a different and more real way than ever before.  I started this blog to no longer be silent, but to do my part in making sure others have the opportunity to know the one true God I know.  To know my Jesus.  To know His Spirit and be led by Him. 

I made a decision.  I started this blog.

You made a decision.  You read it.

Together we are Intentional

So, without further adieu and rambling, I want to leave you with this Psalm I read yesterday.  It truly speaks to the need for us to be intentional about everything in our lives and even guides us in how to do that.

1 I will sing of your love and justice;
   to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
   when will you come to me?
   I will conduct the affairs of my house
   with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
   on anything that is vile.
   I hate what faithless people do;
   I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
   I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
   I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
   I will not tolerate.
 6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
   that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
   will minister to me.
 7 No one who practices deceit
   will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
   will stand in my presence.
 8 Every morning I will put to silence
   all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
   from the city of the LORD. 

Now you, go and be intentional today.  Remember, someone is always watching you.  
And also remember...
To Not Decide...Is To Decide.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Life of John Newton {Author of Amazing Grace}

Do you get chills when you hear or sing Amazing Grace?

Even for those who do not often enter church buildings, Amazing Grace is one of the most emotion-invoking, recognizable hymns of all time.

After having read Life of John Newton, I will never hear nor sing that song the same again.  I only thought it stirred my soul before...but now...unbelievable...amazing.

This brief but powerful biography of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, was written and originally published in 1831 by the American Sunday School Union and was reprinted in June of 2011 by Attic Books.

I have read and reviewed most of the other books Attic Books has printed in the Life Of... series, and I must say that this one is my absolute favorite so far.  Though each one has been powerful, influencing, and insightful to read, this one...well, you just need to see for yourself.

Sure, the words of Amazing Grace allude to the author having been a "wretch."  BUT, we really don't get the depth of his meaning behind saying he was a wretch.  This man, John Newton, was as he says, "the chief of sinners."  Recognize that?
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. - Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15
After having read the account of John Newton's life, I would say he was even more "the chief of sinners" than Paul.  I know sin has no degrees, as in one is worse than another, but the life of Mr. Newton was truly a wretched one for many, many years.

Each time I thought his circumstances and demeanor had gotten as bad as they could---they got worse.

Each time I thought he had surely awakened and learned his lesson and was about to pen Amazing Grace---he didn't.


Yes, he obviously did finally come to that crucial turning point, and truly only by the Amazing Grace of God by the drawing and conviction of His Holy Spirit through the saving work of the spilling of the blood payment of His beloved Son, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

And today, because Mr. N. (as he is often referred to in this biography) lived a wretched life, seemingly beyond hope of redemption, and because he WAS redeemed and lived to tell and write and sing about it---because of Mr. Newton and many others like him (myself being one)---today you and I can sing a song that speaks to the souls of many far deeper than most songs can.

Are you a wretch?  
Are you the chief of sinners?  
Are you too far gone to have any hope for redemption 
or even any desire for it?

Do you know anyone who may be feeling that way right now?  

Have you been there and found that amazing grace 
is more amazing and gracious than you ever thought possible?

I challenge you all to consider reading this powerful life story of Mr. John Newton.  Then, don't stop there.  Share it.  Share it with those who need to hear it.  Those who can relate to it.  We all need to recognize the depth of our despair without the amazing grace, forgiveness, salvation, and redemption of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And we all need to accept His free gift, then share it until we cannot speak nor sing nor write anymore.

As Mr. Newton replied when in his physically deteriorating old age he was being encouraged to stop preaching before he could no longer speak,
"'I cannot stop,' said he, raising his voice; 'What ! shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?'"
We cannot afford to deny our need for God's amazing grace and accept it as it is freely given to us.  And we cannot stop speaking of it as long as we can still speak.

Who knows what blasphemer and slave trader may hear our testimony of the amazing grace we have found and in turn become the next John Newton and write the next Amazing Grace?

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Attic Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World by Shaunti Feldhahn & Robert Lewis

Well, if you know me or follow my posts at all, you have probably picked up on the fact that I am a very busy woman with a lot on her plate.

I commute at least an hour one way most days to my full-time job (and then back again).  I have a young son (who will be turning 6 soon).  I am the wife of a hardworking man.  Oh yeah, and I write a bit on the side when I am able.  (Which is really my outlet for the thoughts swirling in my head and is primarily my way of sharing with others what my Lord Jesus has done in my life and what He can do in anyone's life.)

Of course there are plenty of details I left out in that little life summary of mine, but you get the point.

I truly am a woman who lives "in a do-it-all world."  And I am trying to thrive in it, with God's help.

So, when I heard Shaunti Feldhahn on the radio on FamilyLife Today talking with the hosts about her new book and study, The Life Ready Woman, I was completely intrigued.  She described my life.  She described my emotions.  My struggles.  My desires.  She described me.

And, being a former Wall Street analyst as well as a current national speaker and syndicated news columnist, Shaunti knows what it's like to live in today's woman's world.  Her research studies and writing along with that of Robert Lewis' truly get to the heart of what women today need to hear.  They hit right where we need encouragement and tangible direction.

Shaunti and Robert don't just speak to women like me, but they specifically address, encourage, and guide all types of women in all seasons of life.  Additionally, Life Ready Woman is just a portion of a larger vision and project called LifeReady which reaches far beyond female audiences.  If Life Ready Woman is any indication, I would have to say that this LifeReady project truly will impact people, marriages, and families in a mighty way for the ultimate glory of our Lord.

Now, as you are considering this book for yourself or someone you know, I am off to get myself a copy of the study workbook based on it.  Who may see me leading an online Bible study of this soon...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher from B&House Publishing Group. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kiss, Bang, Boom! by Leslie Lamb

Do you remember how difficult your teen years were?
Were you awkward?  

Did you feel unloved by those you most desired to be loved by?

Did you march proudly to the beat of your own drum?

Did you gain satisfaction and fulfillment in knowing that others were attracted to you as a friend or even more?

Do you know anyone in any of these stages right now or soon to come upon them?

Are you still in any of these stages, just in a more "grown-up" way?

In Kiss, Bang, Boom! Leslie Lamb weaves an honest and realistic account of teens walking through some of the toughest years of their lives.  Her characters are bold, strong, and easily arouse a plethora of emotions in the reader.  Though I am not in her target audience (youth or young adults), I found myself identifying with many of the thoughts and struggles her characters experienced.

Kiss, Bang, Boom! is the first of a series.  It is told from Zella Storm's point of view.  Zella is one of the main characters of the story and is just as unique as her name...and not at all ashamed of it.  Zella has chosen to live quite differently from the majority of her peers in many (or a choice not to), hair color (hot pink then later rainbow!!!), living unapologetically for the Lord, and so on.  In this anecdote, she is dear friends with one girl and bitter enemies with another.  In the meantime, a dreamboat of a guy comes into the picture that unintentionally threatens to throw off part of her plan of being different than the rest.  (Leslie even makes you remember the warm, fuzzy feelings of first love, or first like, or first crush...whatever you wanna call it, she reminds you how it feels!)

Without going into the story details (because I can in no way do justice to the excellent job Leslie has done in writing this YA saga), I will say that Leslie has boldly tackled and brought to the surface some very real but hard to face teen being that of self-mutilation---cutting.  (If you scroll down to the very bottom of my blog, you will see the banner for "To Write Love On Her Arms," a.k.a.TWLOHA.  Leslie also supports this cause.  You should check it out.)

If this is sounding in any way familiar to you because of someone in your life (or yourself), please get a copy of this well-crafted, essential story of young adults at some of the most important and most difficult times of life.  I wish I had read this at a much younger age.  It would surely make a great gift for anyone in this target audience.

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from Leslie Lamb.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.