Tuesday, September 15, 2015

book review: "the finishing school" by valerie woerner

In today's world, our pursuit of a life well lived gets squeezed out by the silliest of things: binging on Netflix or ice cream shopping trips for things we don't need, bad habits we can't seem to get a handle on and so much more. Valerie has been there despite knowing what she wanted for her life. Actually do it though? That's the real challenge.

After gobbling up all the non-fiction and self-help books her donut-filled belly could handle, she decided it was time to put her knowledge to use and start actually living it out. The result has been a refining process that has drawn her closer to God and produced the sweetest fruit in her life. You will hear about Valerie's journey filled with failures and victories and find practical tips to apply to your own pursuit of holiness. You will find homework at the end of each chapter that includes a worksheet to put real change in motion for your life as well as recommended books to further study those topics that really test you.

I really. liked. this. book! In the first chapter, Valerie gives suggestions for how to use the book: either read the book all the way through, slowing down and meditating on chapters that are applicable to you or spread the book over the course of a year. This is a book I definitely plan on slowing down to read, so I can reflect and get the most out of it! I like what Valerie says about the book: "My hope is that you will be encouraged in these pages to live out your faith and that people would see your fruit. This doesn't mean seeking after perfection. It simply means that we look different than we did last year because of God's work in our lives. I think when unbelievers can see our walk - trips and falls and all - that speaks to them too. Let's be genuine and authentic as we pursue Christ and point to His glory." I feel like this sums up the entire book. And that's what I want. To not go throughout life without changing but to continually strive to be who God wants me to be...and to be more like Him. One of the biggest take-aways for me is fighting distractions. "Our distractions don't just keep us from a productive day. They can also hinder us from something the Lord is calling us to do." Ouch. I'm trying to be more intentional and focused after reading this book. Making a weekly to-do list, really focusing on what I need to get done...and then doing it! I'm busy - I have my job, church commitments and then my family all vying for my attention. Valerie did a great job of encouraging me but also challenging me. 

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

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

book review: "gather around the amish table" by lucy leid

This cookbook offers favorite family recipes and charming stories from Amish and Mennonite cooks. Bake the pecan rolls that taste best after an ice-skating party, or try the hoagies that a community sold to help an Amish family with hospital bills. Discover the cocoa cupcakes with instructions to "stir by hand" that one young cook took literally, or whip up the whoopie pies that one Amish woman took to market in her horse and buggy.

Gather your family around the table to sample the delightful flavors and comforting traditions of the plain people. In the words of one cookbook contributor: "Bake someone happy!"

I love the idea of things centering around food; of having friends or family over on a weeknight to celebrate the normal. I think this cookbook is perfect for that! The pictures of the Amish community are beautiful and I love the stories attached with the recipes. There are certain recipes I make that have memories associated with them. I like what Lucy says in the "Compiler's Note": "It's one of the blessings of life to share ourselves with each other." That's so true. I love the simplicity of the recipes. Life is busy right now (as I'm sure everyone can relate to) but I want to make time for the simple. To find enjoyment in biting into a fresh, homemade blueberry muffin or doughnut. There are so many recipes in this book! Breads, soups, sandwiches, cookies, desserts - just to name a few. I haven't had the chance to try any recipes but I will be! At the top of my list are pumpkin cookies, brown sugar oatmeal cookies, Huntington chicken - they all sound delicious! The recipes in the book are easy to read and follow. I'm looking forward to making these recipes, knowing I'm tapping into some Amish history.

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

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

media review: "intersect" by rob peabody and chris rogers

Follow the journey of five individuals as they tell authentic stories of circumstances that have forced them to examine how God might fit into their lives. Within each story there will be a point where the viewer's own personal story intersects and an opportunity to discover where God's story converges. 

Starting spiritual conversations with those outside of church is viewed as a worthy, yet arduous and intimidating task. Intersect was created as an easy-to-use resource, perfect for sharing with co-workers, friends, neighbors, and family to enter into meaningful conversations. Each film is accompanied by thought-provoking questions to designed to encourage each participant to examine the world in which they live and the life they're pursuing, always ending with a conversation on how Jesus intersects the current topic.

Allow this powerful new film resource to engage those you are in relationship with, and then propel them forward in their next step with Jesus.

Intersect tells the story of five people and each story focuses on a different topic:
1. Expectations
How do we handle the unexpected things that we encounter in life?
2. Rest
In the long pursuit of your dreams and desires, do you find yourself feeling empty, dry and exhausted?
3. Disappointment
What do you do when you realize the life you are living isn't the life you were hoping for?
4. Trust
What if God is not against us, but actually for us?
5. Control
Are we actually in control of our lives or are our lives in control of us?

These five topics are things that anyone can identify with, no matter where you're at in life. One thing that stood out to me in the video is that when we face hard times, "God isn't the thing to run from but the thing to run to. His promise isn't about an easy ride but a safe arrival." I like how each story wraps up with a gently push toward God and the fact that He's with us, regardless of what we may face. The study guide includes discussion questions and scriptures to accompany each topic. When we go through hard times, sometimes people blame God. But as several people in the DVD said, God is the one thing we can hold onto during those hard times. I think about James in the video. His wife divorced him after two years of marriage. He said he wouldn't trade the experience because of what he learned about God as a result. All of us struggle with having unmet expectations, being so busy trying to achieve things that we fail to rest, feeling disappointment when dreams fall apart, trusting God and giving God control of everything. All of these topics are interconnected in some way. I like that each video is short yet thought provoking. Intersect is a great small group resource. One other thing said in the video: "I'm for you. I'm with you. Keep going."  God is the one cheering us on." And we all need a reminder of that.

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

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