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Saturday, January 19, 2019

How to Read a Book

Ten and a half years ago, I decided to start reading a book a week. In ten years, I had read five hundred books. Right now, I'm on book five hundred and twenty-two. Reading books changes you. It creates empathy and gives purpose. It helps you see those in your own life more clearly. I'll share more about all of that in a follow up post. In this post, I want to answer a simple question I get asked constantly. How do you read so many books? People also want to know how to read any book at all.


Step One: Find a good book.



This seems simple. Sometimes we choose poorly in this area. It isn't to say we are poor at making choices. We simply have no idea what we actually enjoy. Think about it. What sorts of stories or ideas make you feel alive? Learning what you are most interested in and passionate about can not only shape your reading, but give you better quality of life. You won't be running around pursuing everything. You'll gravitate to the the things that set your heart aflame. I personally enjoy books on prayer, classic novels, and historical fiction best. I love people and their stories. I enjoy seeing God interact with people in their stories. What do you love? I say to start with a story. Story captivates more than learning material and we actually learn better from story. 



Step Two: Decide how long you want to take to read it. 



This is most helpful because deadlines help us craft our days. It will help you to schedule the time to read. One of our major problems is that we are incredibly distracted consuming life and not actually living it. We scroll mindlessly through every sort of social media feed and never achieve the things we hope to do. When you are on these things, don't just scroll. Interact. Encourage, love, pray. Be a good human. Now that you are a lovely human, make a deal with yourself to put it down for a set amount of time each day so that you can cultivate a beautiful inner life of your own. I read a book a week. That means I have seven days to get through generally 250 pages. I simply divide my pages by the number of days that I am reading. That's around 36 pages a day. Do you want to read a book a month? That is only 8.3 pages a day on average. Sounds simple. The thing is you have to commit to it. Put up your phone. Turn off the tv and read. Reward yourself with screen time at the end of your pages.



Step Three: Bring Supplies



I sit down with my journal, pens, and highlighters ready to glean something. I get much more out of it and retain much more when I am ready to learn. Highlighting, revisiting, and writing things out are great ways to help us remember what we read. It keeps us from getting to the end of the book and not having any idea what happened. I have read that we come to books for mere sentences. Story stirs us, but it will be two or three lines out of the thousands we read that will stick with us and shape us. Write those lines down.



Step Four: Create a Reward System



My reading time has become a reward itself, but I like to have some sort of a self high five when I finish a book. Honestly, it might be getting another book much of the time. Sometimes, it's a movie I never make time for (mom life) or coffee out. Sometimes it's permission to look through a magazine or something online. If you have trouble getting off of your phone, your phone can be a good way to train your brain to read. Use it as a reward for completing your daily task. I think you will soon see that you will want to read more.



Step Five: Don't Get Discouraged



I had a difficult time reading in the beginning. I suffered from major depression growing up and in my early twenties. Depression makes attention and comprehension quite difficult. It was a struggle to get through a whole book. Now, I read professionally and publishing companies bring me on to read and review their books. You are worth the effort. Be your number one encourager. You are worth the knowledge you will attain. Invest in you. 



Step Six: Share What You Enjoy



I find myself snapping pics of pages and writing out words that speak to me. The more you share, the more you want to share. Be generous with your heart and mind. There is a world full of people that need the encouragement. You will find that people need exactly what you need, to see someone in front of them leading the way to an abundant life. 



Let me know what you are reading. Maybe I will want to read it too. 



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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Raising Great Girls by Darlene Brock

This title grabbed at me. It's what we moms of girls long for. We want to give them the skill set to become great women who cultivate what is good, beautiful, and true in their grown up lives. I yearn for them to give life to the world around them. As with most mothers, I internalize all of the ways they are not living up to this potential. Their unkind choices must reflect on me personally, right? Darlene reminded me that we are on a journey of becoming and I am mentoring my girls to greater good. They come to us in a sinful state and we must constantly show them the good God calls them too.

She has many brilliant points about standing up against culture for the hearts of our girls. Culture is calling our girls toward death and we must call them back to life. Boundaries are good and purposeful no matter who speaks against it. Darlene offers such wisdom that lines up with biblical principles. She encourages us to raise competent adults instead of craving to a society that tells you to do everything for your kids and never let them lose. Our objective is to grow them in grit and grace.




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I was thumbing through my journal yesterday and I came across a list I had made while reading Raising Great Girls. List 10 Strengths. It was a little hard to get going, but then the ideas came easier and easier. It helped me to see that I have a lot of talents that God had been cultivating over my lifetime. I also came to see how I was too emotionally drained to share these things with my children. I was withholding gifts from them unawares. I’ve been trying to feed my soul more so that I can share more. I’m trying to write. I’ve set aside striving for prayer. Joy is coming. It bubbles up and I’m simply enjoying the simple moments of my life. (Chayah’s Joy Bird and my Joy Bird: an ode to the beautiful women of Haiti) #haiti #joy #watercolor #acrylic #pen #canvas #instaartist #bird
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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Maybe You're Going To Haiti To Bury Your Dead

Maya Angelou said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. There’s a lot to unpack there. Most of us have no idea what the truth of our story is. We have not plumbed the depths of our lives. Learning to tell our story is much greater than sharing the bullet point moments of our existence. We must search our heart and allow feelings to surface. We must face those feelings through fear. First, we present the story to ourselves in an unedited, unabridged format and we must work through it. We must pour salve and healing balm on every part so that it heals us and heals others. Often, I leave out parts of what needs to be told as to not dishonor others. That’s where this starts. 

I am an empath. I feel and carry other people’s emotions. Good and bad. It has taken me years to learn how to hand the things I pick up to the faithful hands of God. Sometimes, I will catch myself carrying hurts that I do not need to. The actions of a perpetrator often have nothing to do with the person they land on. This is especially true of unhealthy family members and armchair theologians. We know this is truth, but we still must deal with the pain. 

I’ve been unknowingly carrying pain the past few years. I have tried to laugh off the actions of others, but in the last month I was overcome by hurt. The day before I left for Haiti (Christmas Day), I was flooded with pain because of someone close to me. I spent quite a bit of my day in tears. I would even catch myself tearing up the first few days of the trip. This made me keep flashing back to a distinct impression I felt in my spirit when I was reading my Bible one afternoon in December. “Maybe you’re going to Haiti to bury your dead.” Dead thoughts, relationships, emotions. 

On our 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta on December 26th, I read through a few ebooks for creatives by Alabaster Co. The words of those books pounded a resonant drum beat in my spirit. Those words were for me. God was speaking to me about the need for death to come in order to experience new life. Life requires death. Blooms must fall for seeds to come. 

On the evening of the first day of our women’s conference, we did some prayer painting. We would paint with our hands while listening to worship music. We would rotate our painting with each song through 4 songs. One of the lines in the book I read on the plane kept resonating in my head, “When you get there remember you were carried by the Holy Spirit.” 

I began with a horizontal painting of several colors of blue to form a sky that gave me peace. I then rotated to a vertical direction and added deep red coming up from the bottom and dragging it into the sky. Fire. I could feel this throbbing need to burn up old things. We rotated our painting horizontal again and I realized that I did not have the colors that I needed so I started grabbing colors from other people. I knew that I was going to need new tools for the journey I am on. As I did that, I created a bloom that spoke to me about the seeds that would come when the flower dies. Lastly, as I rotated the painting vertically, I saw the beginnings of a butterfly, “papillon” in Haitian Creole. That whole death to life theme kept speaking to me as I added gold to its wings and prayed for the glory of God to come and rest on my story. 

Every single place we went to in Haiti, from the mountains, through the slums, and around the trash I would see a butterfly. As I stare into the face of the impossible, I am remembering that hope can come to rest anywhere. This gave me my word for 2019. Papillon. I will pray to focus on the resurrection and know that death brings life. 

“This may be why Jesus tells his disciples that, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” We must have courage to face that kind of dying, and in that death, embrace a limitless kind of living. There are the seeds of many creative dreams inside of us, if only we have the humility to let them emerge.” -Alabaster Co. 

"The first step to connection is departure." -Delta Flight Attendant


Friday, December 21, 2018

Beloved: 365 Devotinals for Young Women



If you are looking for a good devotional to start the year for a girl in your life, I recommend Beloved. My girls and I have been going through it and it is truly inspirational. We also learned quite a bit about different women in the Bible. It is amazing what you can pick up and process in under 10 minutes a day. The book is affirming of how God created women in their beauty and helps us put the focus on what true value is. Dig in!

BOOK REVIEW – ZONDERVAN BELOVED: 365 DEVOTIONS FOR YOUNG WOMEN


Book: Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women
Author: Lindsay A. Franklin
Publisher: Zondervan
Relationships, inner beauty, and chasing your dreams are all topics on the top of a teen girl’s list. So give them great Biblical role models to admire as they grow and understand who they are. Beloved is a topical devotional that uses the inspiring stories of girls and women in the Bible—such as Ruth, Esther, Mary, and Abigail—to encourage faith and confidence in today’s young women. Perfect for everyday use, Beloved will resonate with girls searching for truth and guidance.
What others are saying:
"Beautiful devotional for young women that offers encouragement and inspiration for every area of their lives. The devotional takes an in-depth look into the lives of sixty women in the Bible. Each day features a devotion with journaling space below for notes or reflection. This makes a perfect gift for that young teen or woman who is seeking wisdom and inspiration. The Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women is a hardcover, 5×7 devotional/journal with pink metallic flowers and lettering. This devotional inspires young women to discover their true identity as a beloved daughter of God.
Learning to love yourself and embrace the beauty of who you are may be difficult for some, especially in today’s society. So many teens and young women are struggling with identity and self-love, acceptance and they are facing challenges trying to overcoming them. This devotional is a perfect resource to learn from the women in the Bible and read how they overcame the obstacles they faced. Reading about how these women pressed through their circumstances may also provide hope and encouragement for greater things to come." -Twianna, The Tickled Diva


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Pass the Gumption: I read While the Men Were Gone



Pass the gumption. While The Men Were Gone was a fabulous read. The story about this woman who bravely coached a football team during World War II is interesting in many ways. You can see things about the time and the harsh reality of how war crushed families and spirits. Many people were losing their boys to the fighting as they were shipped off at an age that seems far too young. Our female protagonist saw a deep need for the small Texas town of Brownwood to keep the Friday night lights lit because she knew it kept the heart of a community alive during tragedy. As you can imagine, this was greatly frowned upon by the male population of the area. She truly had to fight to keep the football season going after the coach was shipped off to war. Tylene seemed like a woman with a lot of grit. I would have loved to have met her. 


This is a fictionalization of a true story. The author, a female sportswriter did an amazing job writing this. I loved it. It made me feel at home. Y’all should read it.

When the Men Were GoneWhen the Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pass the gumption. While The Men Were Gone was a fabulous read. The story about this woman who bravely coached a football team during World War II is interesting in many ways. You can see things about the time and the harsh reality of how war crushed families and spirits. Many people were losing their boys to the fighting as they were shipped off at an age that seems far too young. Our female protagonist saw a deep need for the small Texas town of Brownwood to keep the Friday night lights lit because she knew it kept the heart of a community alive during tragedy. As you can imagine, this was greatly frowned upon by the male population of the area. She truly had to fight to keep the football season going after the coach was shipped off to war. Tylene seemed like a woman with a lot of grit. I would have loved to have met her.

This is a fictionalization of a true story. The author, a female sportswriter did an amazing job writing this. I loved it. It made me feel at home. Y’all should read it.


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