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Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Better Mom by Ruth Schwenk



The Better Mom: Growing in Grace between Perfection and the MessThe Better Mom: Growing in Grace between Perfection and the Mess by Ruth Schwenk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a good book. It helped me breathe a deep breath in the chaos of mothering young children. It helped me clearly see that children are like a payment we can receive joyfully—and one we must handle wisely. No matter the struggles we face, our children are a reward.

“In God’s hands, our kids can grow up to fulfill God’s purpose of piercing the darkness of the world in which they live—they are like weapons of truth, life, and light in a broken hurting world.”

This book is akin to having an exceptional mentor. It hits on the topics Christian moms truly care about. We want to know how to care deeply for our children and keep alive ourselves. Ruth reminds us that God used suffering and pressure to help Paul learn to rely on God’s strength. God used hardship to teach him to focus on building up an eternal kingdom. This is what we yearn for in our own hearts and those of our children. She calls it the blessing of our own weakness.

This is a great read for navigating the mess of motherhood with grace. It will bless you and remind you that, like it says in Psalm 127, your children are arrows and a reward. May you be blessed in your mothering.

This book was graciously provided by Zondervan Publishers for review.


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42 Seconds by Carl Medearis


42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions42 Seconds: The Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions by Carl Medearis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The thought that Jesus’ interactions were so short and intentional is fascinating. The average length of his talking with someone in scripture is 42 seconds. He didn’t give a bunch of long theological speeches to convince people to come to his kingdom. He simply saw into what was going on with people and spoke to their needs.

Carl did a great job writing a simple guide on how to have simple conversations that draw people to Christ. He encourages us to be normal. That something a lot of us over eager evangelists have trouble doing. We are so focused on our agenda that we miss the people we are talking to. This book is an invitation to take notice.

{As a side note that has nothing to do with the book, I immediately thought of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I saw this. The super smart computer told them the answer to everything was 42. Maybe they were on to something.} :)

This book was graciously provided by NavPress for review.


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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Better Together by Rusty George


Better Together: Discover the Power of CommunityBetter Together: Discover the Power of Community by Rusty George
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I read through Better Together, I thought that I should tell everyone longing for community and everyone in a community group to read it. It’s a cut above the cookie cutter idea of community. It’s a call to vulnerability and admitting we do need someone.

The pages dive into the “we” of scripture and the Jewish culture.

“I remember when WE crossed the Red Sea, when WE were fed by manna, when We heard that Jesus was the Messiah, when wE found out Jesus was alive...” It dismantles the western ideal of me and my experience. It reminds us to take joy in the success of others.

“Our problem is not the monster, the clown, or even the haunted house. Our problem is that we have failed to lock arms, circle up, and walk bravely into the darkness.”

This book is full of beauty and reminders of real men like CS Lewis and fictional men like Frodo who found healing in community and went on to heal others in community.

It’s grand. Read it. Be encouraged to love again.

This book was graciously provided by Bethany House Publishers for review.






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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Y'all. This Holy Interruption.

 
Today we were holy interrupted. We had just sat down on the back porch of our cottage in Gruene when this woman apologized for wandering in to our space. I told her she wasn’t bothering us and we’d be totally happy if she just joined us on the porch. She started telling us how she had just had a divine encounter on a rock out back. She was walking by and thought about standing on the solid rock. She climbed up there and she was stunned by how being three feet off the ground (on the rock) changed her perspective. I thought that was such a powerful sentiment. Standing on the rock changes your perspective. Emily and I thanked her for sharing her story and maybe told her we loved her and her boldness.She told us she was on an new journey and then went off exploring more. As I sat there, I thought of someone I wanted to share her story with so I called out to her and asked if I could get a picture of her on that rock. That’s when the deeper story began to unfold...
As we walked over to the rock she told us that she wanted to tell us the reason her encounter was so powerful. Her kids were still asleep in the room and she went to eat breakfast by herself alone. This was the first time she had eaten alone since her husband died three weeks ago. She went on to tell us that she had lost her dad in February as well. Her husband had a heart attack while they were out sailing and he fell in the water. Her daughter jumped in and held his body. Her son then administered CPR. At the ER, she was on her knees outside of the area where he was with her hands in the air praying and believing God for a miracle. She said all of a sudden her hands dropped and she just surrendered to whatever God wanted to do. That's when the nurses came in and told her that they had been working on him for some time and he wasn't responding at all. So she went to the kids and asked if they wanted the good news or the bad news. Good. "Daddy is with Jesus."

You know we had to climb up on that rock ourselves. I was honored to get to pray with her. Then, we took a selfie and exchanged numbers. Jesus stuns me with his ability to bring 3 people together that didn't know each other, but needed one another so much. 
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you kindly for stopping by. 
Love y'all,
Steph

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala



The Rescue: Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories…The Rescue: Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories… by Jim Cymbala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These six stories are soul stirring and faith building. Each story is the worst case scenario of perpetrators and perpetrating. There is deep sin with a great foothold. But, when God writes a story... there is redemption.

The thing that stood out to me the most is how simple acts of kindness brought these people to Christ. It was not some great movement, it was simple words and gestures. One man living in an alley heard a tv from one of the apartments above him saying that Jesus was the only way. He was able to get off drugs and out of homelessness after this encounter. It spoke to me because it is so easy to be discouraged and not feel like small acts of kindness do anything. These six stories help us remember that no act is to small to be used by Christ.

I am a big fan of Ann Spangler and the stories that come out of the Brooklyn Tabernacle via Jim Cymbala.


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Publisher's Description:
By New York Times bestselling author and pastor Jim Cymbala, The Rescue tells the powerful, true stories of men and women whose lives should have ended badly but miraculously didn't. Something unexpected happens to each of them and their incredible stories will take you by surprise and restore your hope.