Sunday, May 24, 2015

time to breathe

It's summer! I'm ready for some time to relax, do some diy projects, maybe try a few new recipes and just enjoy some time off! I'll be doing some work as well. I know some people think teachers have it made by being off in the summer but in a few weeks I'll be back in my classroom, working on getting it ready for my next group of kiddos. I'll be planning and going to some trainings so I can be an even better teacher next year. I love that I'm never done learning. In my classroom, we are "eager to learn" and I want to be an example of that to them. Saying all of that to say, even though I'm not at work in June and July, it doesn't mean I'm not working. But that's part of my job and I like the preparation. I like making fresh name tags and the chance to start over each year. 

So summer is my time to regroup. It's my chance to take a deep breath and have time for more than just work. One thing I want to focus on this summer is growing closer to God. You can't hear someone if you're too busy either talking yourself or constantly moving. Summer is a chance for me to slow down and be with the One who knows me better than anyone else. This was my second year teaching so I'm still adjusting to the constant-ness of the school year versus the downtime of summer but I want this summer to be productive. I don't want it to feel like I accomplished nothing. And I don't think it will be.  I think this summer is going to be the best yet! I've got some things planned but I also want to be open to the unexpected. It's going to be good :)

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

burning bushes

Life is crazy busy but awesome right now! I'm wrapping up my second year teaching, preparing for another trip to Guatemala this summer and a lot of other things :) I'm ready for my schedule to slow down some this summer but really, it'll just be a different kind of busy. I felt God today in a way that hasn't happened too often. I don't know how to quite explain it but I'm just wanting to be open to whatever He is up to. I want to do a better job of not being too busy for God. Of not being so focused on what I need to do that I miss what He might be trying to do. I love the story of Moses and how it wasn't until he turned away from his path that he noticed the burning bush (Exodus 3). I don't want to miss any burning bushes in my life. A friend shared Steffany Gretzinger's "The Undoing" on Facebook the other day and it caught my attention. I started listening to her music tonight and wow, it's beautiful. There's a simplicity to it and it so worshipful. I think it's what I needed today. I like all of the songs but "Out of Hiding" might be my current favorite. I love how it talks about how God sees us and thinks of us.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

He took my place

I watched this video this weekend…and was not prepared to become as emotional as I did. And even during my church service this morning it was as if I was finally understanding what a sacrifice Jesus made for us. As I get older and have more life experiences, I see God in different ways and need Him in different ways. So as I was watching the account of Barabbas, something finally occurred to me. I know Jesus died on the cross for us - that's something I learned when I was little. But I never thought about the fact that Jesus literally took Barabas' place on the cross. It should have been Barabbas hanging up there but it wasn't. It was Jesus. I know how Barabbas has been depicted in the movies but I then thought about what if that was how it really happened? What if Barabbas, so stunned by this sudden turn of events and his new freedom, followed the crowd to Golgotha? What if he saw a man who didn't deserve to be up there and realized He wasn't just a man? What if he realized there was way more to this than anyone else knew? I think the part that touched me the most was the guard's account. When he said most of those he crucified would fight and try to get away before the first nail was in place. But not Jesus. He willingly laid down. For us. Wow. It's so powerful. Happy Easter. 

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

book review: "enough already" by barbara l. roose

We've all wondered what might happen if we were a little prettier, skinnier, or more stylish. Sure, we frequently hear that "the inside matters most." But let's be honest: What's on the outside matters, too. We've all stood in front of a mirror and taken an inventory that never quite measures up. We've all questioned what we could have done differently.

In her new book, Barbara L. Roose shares biblical teaching and stories from her own ugly struggle with beauty. Writing with authenticity and vulnerability, she offers a friendly perspective and practical advice on how to
- see goodness, blessing, and purpose in every area of your body, no matter your size, shape or style;
- balance inner and outer beauty - and discover why God values both;
- and WIN your ugly struggle with beauty once and for all.

I love Barbara's honesty. Her candidness about her own struggles allows women to be honest with themselves. And Barbara's right. There is such a battle over women feeling confident and beautiful. I think about the Bruno Mars song, "Just the Way You Are." The lyrics are words that every girl craves for the right guy to feel about her. To think she's beautiful as is. But, sadly, we don't. I'm just as guilty. We are so hard on ourselves. But not with each other. "What fascinates me about women is that we would never criticize our friends the way that we harangue ourselves." Throughout the book Barbara shares her own personal stories and also the stories of others. She uses humor as well, making the truth a bit easier to handle. At the end of each chapter are both discussion questions and personal questions. Barbara talks about Satan's plan for us as women. "Satan's deepest desire is for you to be discouraged and to give up on ever believing that God created you beautiful." And that makes sense. When I'm feeling confident and have on that cute outfit with my hair looking super, I feel like I can take on the world. But then there's the day I didn't sleep well the night before and my outfit looked great in my head but not when I put it on. But I'm running late and don't have time to change. On those days I don't feel victorious at all. Barbara's book is for all those women who doubt their true beauty. Who feel like they aren't enough. It's for all of us. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. 

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Monday, March 30, 2015

book review: "more" by tammie head

People everywhere are looking for something more. They're in the grocery store aisle behind you, in the nail chair beside you, singing praise songs in front of you, and perhaps in the mirror staring back at you. People feel messy; plagued by looming feelings of ineffectiveness, indifference, depression, and purposelessness.

Does this sound like you?

What if more of God is actually what's missing from your life? Whether it's a messy life or a messy problem, it can become a walking miracle when we see God anew and wholly surrender to Him. 

You were made for more than surviving. Old stale religion never satisfies. Neither do the solutions the world has to offer. What all of us need is an encounter with God that sets our hearts ablaze. Tammie has seen this in her own life as well as in countless lives around her. Join her in More for a picture of how you can move from a life marked by messes to one that is truly miraculous. 

I really liked this book! The title immediately caught my eye, causing me to think about my own life. Areas where I want more. More of God. More in my job. this life. I like how open and real Tammie is as she shares her story and how God is using her. She talks about how God wants us. "Indeed, the Gentlest Man of gentlemen simply bids us to, "Come." No matter what you've done, "Come." No matter what your messy state is, "Come." No matter how you've run, "Come."' There's a line in the book that I feel sums the whole thing up, "We were made for more." Tammie talks about the things that hold us back from accepting what God wants to give us. "I want you to know, the same Savior who walked into a synagogue two thousand years ago and openly declared He was the One sent "to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come," hasn't ended His mission. He's still seeking. He's still liberating. He's still determined. Our problem is, we struggle connecting with Him long enough to receive it. God wants to teach us in a greater way how to crawl up into His arms of love." This book encouraged me and I love the chapter openers, like these:

Tammie talks about waking up to who God really is and letting that truth truly change our lives. She challenges the reader to want more of God and the life He has planned for each of us!

I received a copy of this book from Icon Media Group for my honest review.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

book review: "how to catch a prince" by rachel hauck

American heiress Corina Del Rey caught her prince once. But the tragedy of war kept her too long in a fog of grief. Now she's shifting her life forward, reigniting her career as a journalist. Still, nothing can relieve her of the secret and the love she carries in her soul. 

Prince Stephen of Brighton is one of the world's most eligible bachelor and a star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life. But his days in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Command have marked him forever. And he can't seem to shake their dark shadow. 

But when his brother, King Nathaniel, confronts him with a document the prince thought long buried and forgotten, Stephen is forced to face the pain of his past and the love he left behind.

With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark on a journey of truth. But when the secrets are revealed, can they overcome and find love again?

I'm a fan of Rachel's books. I've read the other two books in The Royal Wedding Series and she didn't disappoint with this newest story. I think every girl dreams of being a princess and with Susanna, Regina and now Corina, I'm reminded of that childhood dream. I love that these are southern girls because it gives me that instant connection with them. When I reviewed Princess Ever After last year, I said there's at least one line in each of Rachel's books that seems just for me. This book was no exception. "Love well" was Corina's mission when she went to Brighton. She wanted to show Stephen how good they could be together and did her best to "love well." I love that phrase! To me, it's almost a kind of surrender. When Corina signed the annulment papers, she felt she was finally giving up on her marriage but she wasn't. She was loving well…and leaving the rest to God. I love the story of King Stephen I and Queen Magdalena. Of how brave she was. Each year I pick a word to be my focus for the year and this year my word is brave. I felt this story was timely for me in so many ways. The story was beautiful. I love how when Stephen was done fighting within himself, God was ready to meet him. When Corina thought it was all over and and had done all she could, Stephen showed up at her door. And at their wedding, I "ahh-ed" when Stephen asked Mr. Del Rey if he could be the one to present Corina to God. Oh my. How to Catch a Prince was such a sweet story of love, forgiveness and surrender. 

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity for my honest review.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

it's your time

I love the story of Esther. I love her bravery and the way God used her. We talked about Esther last night in the small group I help with. And to serve as a reminder, I made this printable for each of the girls in our group. I put two on one piece of paper and backed it on cute patterned paper. I had no idea making chalkboard printables could be so fun! It's super easy and super cute! My word for this year is brave and Esther's story is such a great example of that. She had a choice and could have refused to save her people. But she said yes. That was her moment for God to use her in a big way. This is your time! If you'd like me to send you the pdf, just comment with your email address :)

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