Sunday, January 29, 2012

AB4T (a.k.a.Answers Book for Teens): Your Questions God's Answers

Straight-forward, power-packed book that meets teens right where they are and prepares them for the tough, mind-boggling days ahead.

I was on a good path in my teen years, but I must say, I think I needed more grounding at that time of "why" I believe what I believe.  If I had been given a copy of the book AB4T: Answers Book for Teens: Your Questions God's Answers I believe I would have been a bit more prepared for what awaited me on my journey of life and faith.  Not that I would have been perfect in my navigation of young life, but I would have been more grounded in the what's and why's of my worldview that God created the world and gave us His Word to guide us as we live in it.

In AB4T, Bodie Hodge, Tommy Mitchell, and Ken Ham pose fifteen common questions asked by people who are seeking to learn the truth about God or even to challenge one who believes in God.  These questions are not for the shy at heart.  They hit hard to the heart of what our culture questions and struggles with about God and the Bible.  They are not just common among young people; I would say they are just as common among believers, doubters, seekers, and skeptics of ANY age.

A couple of the Questions are:

  • Q2 - If God is really so great, why does He let so much pain and bad stuff happen in the world, like earthquakes, floods, and wars??
  • Q5 - With everything I hear about God not can we even know that He does exist?
  • Q9 - Should people from different races marry each other; or is that wrong?
  • Q13 - How can we be sure Jesus is the only way to get to God?
  • Q15 - Why would God ever want to save someone as messed up as me?

The authors use Genesis 1 and 2 as their complete basis for answering these tough but real questions.  In their introduction to the book, they explain why they wrote it and specifically why for teens.
I've worked with teens for years...and there is a big misconception about them (and hopefully you will agree)...they are much smarter than we often think! The young people I've worked with are intelligent and bright.
Yeah, I'll admit, some are smarter in some areas than others...but the point is they are much brighter than people give them credit for. So with this book series, we are not going to be afraid to answer the questions they have without a "bunch of fluff," but with solid biblical answers that "have some meat to them" and challenge the secular religions like atheism and evolution that are forced on them in many settings---like movies, schools, and so on.
~ Bodie Hodge - Answers in Genesis 
So, with your interest piqued (I pray), I will wrap up this review by not only letting you know that I suggest getting a copy of this to give to a teen in your life---but I also suggest to read it yourself before giving it away.  Teens face and ask the same questions we adults ask (even if only internally).  You may just find some solid, foundational, biblical answers to some of the questions you yourself have wrestled with for many years.

Got questions...God's got answers!

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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

4 Days to a Forever Marriage by Dr. Gary & Norma Smalley

4 days? 

Could it be that easy?

In these days of uncertainty about the state of marriage and even the future of it, believe it or not, many still long to marry and remain married forever.  If you don't believe me, check out this quick but enlightening article by titled "Is Marriage History?"

With that in mind, the question still remains: "How is a forever marriage possible anymore?"

Could it be that making a simple yet difficult choice could be the key?

In 4 Days to a Forever Marriage: choosing Love or Anger, Dr. Gary Smalley and his wife Norma propose that it is so. 

The Smalleys not only have a lasting long-term marriage but also have helped countless other couples do the same.  In this small but invaluable book, they have packed in practicality and honesty by letting us into some of the things they have learned together over the years---often the hard way.  They do this in a conversational manner primarily so that it feels as if we are sitting in their living room with them gleaning from their years of wisdom as well as mistakes.

In this book, they structure it very simply by walking the reader(s) through four days---yes, only FOUR days---of learning practical ways of choosing love instead of anger in marriage as well as life in general.

Think about it.  We truly do have a choice in how we respond in life.  Often our own response to good or bad things others have done or said to us is what determines how strong or weak that relationship grows.  Though we truly feel we have the "right" to be angry when we are wronged (as we very well may), we still can choose instead to respond in love rather than wallowing and fuming in anger.

It is a tough concept, I know.  Maybe that is why The Smalleys have chosen to give us this lesson in small, digestible bites.  Whatever the case, they have done a marvelous job of being so transparent and basically reading my mind and most likely yours as well. True, they are not reading our minds, but that should bring comfort to us all to realize that our lives and struggles and emotions really aren't all that unique to each of us. I find comfort in realizing I am not alone in how I think and instinctively react to situations.

I pray that someday soon my husband and I can read this book together so that our marriage can grow even stronger as a result of learning together and communicating with each other about our journey toward choosing love over anger.

In the meantime, I do highly suggest that you and your spouse (or future spouse) glean from the wisdom, honesty and practicality presented to us by Dr. Gary and Norma Smalley in 4 Days to a Forever Marriage.

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

easy 2 write ~ not easy 2 post

{easy 2 write ~ not easy 2 post ~ maybe not easy 2 read}

I have had a few posts like this but admittedly not enough.

The words and scriptures come easily and flow clearly.  Obviously directed by God. Obviously needed by someone.

But clicking "Post" is just not quite as easy.

My Facebook post for today was like that.  So much so that I felt like I needed to share it here as well.
Here is what I wrote (from my mobile phone!):
Don't exchange the truth of God for a lie. "...then you will know the truth & the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

Don't ignore the guilt you feel when living under the lie. (We today are not too different from the Romans Paul wrote to & about.).

So, do you think you don't feel guilty? You're not just okay with but proud of the way you're living - so "independently" & so "true to who you are"?

I thought that, too, once. Then I recognized my guilt that was still there. It was cleverly disguised - cynicism, boldness to go against all I knew in my heart to be right, pride in my "realness," judgment of others who were still trying to live according to what they thought "God said," thinking I was the better & more self-aware & wise person than the fools who believed the Bible & the God it speaks of, even thinking my version of that God was more accurate than theirs.

Any of that sound familiar?

Maybe it's time for the most honest self-evaluation you've ever done. Guilt in disguise, once recognized, requires boldness & humility to admit it is there. Then, even more boldness, humility & supernatural (given by God) strength to begin to heed the warning guilt is meant to lovingly give us.

Drop the tough, intelligent, enlightened, free act now. Let go of the lie. Only The Truth will set you (& your heart & your mind) FREE!
And here is the scripture passage I posted with it:
Romans 1:18-32
New International Version (NIV)
God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Now do you see why it was a bit tough to click "post"? 

But sometimes we need to give and/or receive tough love.

I did get a little FB response activity in the form of a few "likes" from it.  Wasn't really expecting very many of those from that post, though, honestly.

Most notably, however, was the comment of one unnamed friend of mine (yes a "real" friend, not just an FB one...a boy {who's a grown man now} that I used to chase around the playground and hide in tunnels with in elementary school...don't judge!  You remember doing that, too!).

He merely thanked me for posting it saying he "needed that!!!"  Then our brief convo proceeded as such:
Me - ‎:o) You're welcome, J. I sooo understand. Can you tell? ;) Thanks for letting me know God used it to speak to you. It wasn't an easy message to post.
J - It's not easy to admit that I need a self-evaluation. Thx again!!!
Me - No it's not, J. But when you finally face the lies, accept the truth, and with God's help begin to break free - you will become more real, genuine, & at peace than you have ever been in your life.
So, I share all of that here, because just as I know there were many more who saw (and hopefully were impacted by) that post today who needed to see it, I also know that there are many more in blogger world and beyond who need it just as much.

Is that you?

Are you angry right now because of something you read above in this post or this scripture?

Are you wanting to call me judgmental?

Though I am not perfect, I can assure you that this post is a post of love for you. Before you call me judgmental, I would like to ask you to consider one thing...who is judging whom?
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." ~Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." ~Jesus in Luke 6:37
My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. ~1 Corinthians 4:4-5
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”  To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. ~Romans 2:1-11, 16
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. ~Romans 14:9-12
All I have left to add is, if you hung in here with me through this long, difficult post...bless you!  

I apologize for the length, but I do not apologize for the content.  

There have been many times in my life when I needed someone to put these very same words in my face.  I pray that I have done that for many of you today.  Not out of judgment, but in love - to remind you that His kindness (& tolerance & patience) leads you toward repentance.

He IS real and He alone IS Truth!  

Again, as I said before: 
Drop the tough, intelligent, enlightened, free act now. 

Let go of the lies. 

Only The Truth will set you (& your heart & your mind) FREE!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The World of Animals {published by Master Books}

This book is AMAZING!  What a collection of pictures and information about all kinds of animals (and insects!) for kids!

As my son and I were looking through The World of Animals together we were amazed as we flipped each page.

You should have heard the oohs and ahhs and "Mommy, look at this!"s.  (Is that a word?! lol)

Of course he learned more about and saw pictures of some of his favorite creatures (like sharks and monkeys and big cats).  But he also learned about some creatures he has never heard of before, and as we go through this valuable and fun reference book more I am sure he will continue to learn from and enjoy it for years to come.

Some interesting things to see in this book:
So, if you read many of my posts, you know I live in and LOVE Louisiana!  (Even after disappointing ends to football seasons...I still love my homeboys!)

BUT, I never knew that the Indonesian sea slug could pass for an LSU fan, since it is vivid purple and yellow (gold) in color!  

Geaux Tigers!!!  And Indonesian Sea Slugs!!!
(Do you think they would ever consider adopting it as a secondary mascot?! Just a thought...)

Along the same lines---Louisiana, that is---my Louisiana-born son and I argued about the proper name for a "crayfish."  

I would say this is the one "error" I found in the book.  

You see, the book calls it a crayfish.  Yes, that technically is its name, but seriously...we are Louisiana born and bred.  We do NOT have crayfish in our state!!! But CRAWfish---they are everywhere!  And boiled or fried up just right, they are quite tasty!  

Of course, since the book calls them by their "other" name, my son insists they are CRAYfish.  Will the boy every learn?!  Tell me there's hope!

Now, above all else, the section my son giggled and got most excited over was by far---

The WORMS Section!!!

(What else would you expect?!)

Worms, worms, pages and pages of worms!!! A six-year old boy's dream come true! 

So, what makes this animal (and worm and insect) book so special and different from the rest, you ask?

Aside from the vivid photographs and educational drawings and diagrams, the very beginning of this book unabashedly lays out the truth of how all of these amazing creatures and their habitats came to be. 

The very first words on the introductory pages of the book are, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." (Genesis 1:1).  

From there, the introduction goes on to talk about God's creation of all living things, then about the world-wide flood of Noah's day, then about animals and how God very intelligently and specifically designed them. This book is truly designed to help parents to #TeachtheTruth to our children.

Speaking of that---join us MOMS of Master Books Tuesday night, January 17th at 8pm Central Time for our World of Animals Twitter Party!!!  To join in, make sure to follow @MasterBooks4u and @mamahall and use #TeachtheTruth hashtag on each tweet to participate. We use to follow the party conversation. You could also use or or any other similar platform you like.

Can’t make the party – stay tuned to for more details on how to win a copy for yourself.  (HINT:  Be watching the other MOMS of Master Books' blogs on or about Thursday, January 19th...)

Hope to see you at the party, but even if not, do get a copy of this book for your family's collection!

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

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Intentional / Unintentional

One Word for 2011---that was it---
just one word.

Remember mine?


How did that go for me?

Well, as I mentioned in my mid-year check-in, Intentional - Part Deux, my intentionality did not get lived out as I had intended for it to, however, I definitely was intentional throughout 2011---all the way up to the very end.

Another thing happened throughout the year that I noticed as well.  It really stared me in the face around Christmas.  In 2011 there were also times when I was UNintentional.

Yes, I know we all do and say things that cause unintentional side effects.  My unintentionality, however, was partially the culprit in some disappointment and even hurt feelings during our family's Christmas time together.

You know the scene...

Stress is building.

Unintentional, unexpected tears are shed related to said stress build-up.

Close family member reacts in a way that unintentionally makes stress and tears more abundant.

Fast forward through some awkward moments of family member's bad mood at family gathering...

(Most likely many unintentional, unkind words have been said by me at various times up to this point, by the way)

Now it is Christmas morning (on a Sunday)...

Sitting in the living room with family enjoying watching the children enjoy the Santa presents...

Unintentionally lose track of time...

Oh, no!

We have completely unintentionally missed gathering together at church as a family to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who was born on this day we are celebrating with these Santa gifts.

Additionally we have disappointed another dear family member who so longed to share this special time together as a family at church.

UNintentionality at its best worst!

So, yes, I have been intentional throughout 2011...
...but I have also been unintentional when it mattered most.

How about you?

Can you relate to my UNintentionality?
Please share.

Also, did you have a One Word for 2011?

If so, what was it and how did it go for you?

If not, would you consider focusing on One Word for 2012 
and sharing your word and experience with me as well as
in the One Word 365 Community?