Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Love Changes Everything by Micah Berteau

Love Changes Everything: Finding What's Real in a World Full of FakeLove Changes Everything: Finding What's Real in a World Full of Fake by Micah Berteau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book. My husband and I named our 105 year old house after Hosea’s wife because of the lengths he went to in order to restore her. I love the story.

This felt like a poorly retold sermon filled with Christian clichΓ©s. I raised an eyebrow at some of the points given and how he was relating the story to Gomer. It felt like a cheap observation of the story.

I wanted to like it. I looked past the title and the fact that I did not know the author hoping to love the story because I love the original story, but sadly did not. It was hard to read and felt scattered. There are some good points in the book, but it was hard to follow.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Before & After by Judy Christie

Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home SocietyBefore and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home Society by Judy Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After I read Before We Were Yours, I was moved by the tales of the orphans that went through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. The thought of thousands of children kidnapped in a modern society in the middle of America with the help of corrupt politicians is bewildering. They estimated number of children that died there is grievous. After Lisa’s novel was published, so many of the people who were stolen from their families began reaching out to her. She formed a reunion and documented many of their stories. These stories are equally beautiful and devastating. There are lives that turned out well and those that have suffered for generations because of torment.

There was one story that spoke to my heart. A couple had been offered a perfect boy and when they went to pick him up, they heard a baby whimpering in the corner of the room. The couple pushed past the operator of the orphanage to the baby. She lay there tongue tied and covered in a rash. They took that baby home against the wishes of the orphanage. This baby would grow up and later find out how Georgia Tann would place ugly or sick babies in the corner and let them starve to death. The estimates are that around 500 babies died there. This couple that refused the perfect child and chose the baby in need of care spoke volumes to my heart. The is beauty amidst the brokenness. Great read.

This book was graciously provided by the publisher for my review.

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Blessed Broken Given by Glenn Packiam

Blessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of JesusBlessed Broken Given: How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus by Glenn Packiam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is powerful and beautifully written. The author has a wonderful gift of story and eloquence. I was moved many times while reading. His words on church hurt, lament, and being given out are some of the best I have read. If you are wondering how God could ever use the wreck that is your life, this is a healing balm. I loved it.

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Something Needs To Change by David Platt

Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent NeedSomething Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need by David Platt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that makes you wonder if you could do more with your life. Following David through a trek up the Himalayas gives a perspective on a life we cannot imagine. The terrifying death rituals, the sex trafficking of little girls, & the awful medical conditions there make your heart want to stop beating.

This book reminds me of my trips to Haiti. It is impossible to come home and not think about what people are doing to get by in a population that is 85% unemployed. People turn to all sorts of false religions (sprinkled with Christianity) to beg a demon for help. People are starving and dying because of preventable issues. The question David poses to us is what we will do with what we know.

I felt like there was more to say that was left unsaid, but the book spoke to me.

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This book was graciously provided by the publisher for review.

Friday, September 06, 2019

The Boho Table

A little over ten years ago, I lost my second brother to liver related illness. Mike's death propelled me to begin searching beyond my shyness in order to help the drug addict, the lonely, and those looking to love them. We sold our perfect little home in a white picket fenced neighborhood and waited for almost an entire year for God to show us what to do next. I was in no way prepared for the 3 story, 100 year old mansion that we settled in. It had sat empty for over twenty years. There was no insulation, no heat or a/c, no kitchen, etc. I really can't wrap my mind around that. We lived in Texas with no air conditioning for five years. I was pregnant a few of those years as well. God has cultivated a plethora of things in our waiting. We have seen rivers in the desert. In all humility, we are still waiting on some things. We are waiting on our balcony to be replaced, our house to be painted, a new oven, and more.

One of the great things about God is how he gives us kingdom things in our waiting that we could not receive in plenty. He never stops working on our hearts. I don't have any blood siblings left, but God has taken the pain of my heart and turned it into something beautiful. At first, it was just the boldness to invite around 1,400 people to eat at our table. That grew into a deep love of feeding, serving, and listening to homeless people.
A group of my girlfriends started our journey at Mission Waco serving at Church Under the Bridge. Every time we went, we were asked what church we represented. Truth be told, none of us attended the same church, belonged to the same denomination, or even lived in the same city. They told us we needed a name, so we came up with one. Kingdom Gypsies. We have since also become part of a homeless small group of about 60 people, volunteer regularly at the Trinity Center in Austin, and distribute clothing downtown in Austin.

If you know me, you know that I have also fallen madly in love with Haiti. My friend Christy is the Executive Director of an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. I never really had a desire to go there or be part of foreign missions, but God had other plans for me. I had the distinct impression that if I wanted to pray for my friend Christy and her husband effectively, that I needed to get on a plane. That was three years ago. I've been going to Haiti ever since. This December will be my third trip there in 2019. I have come to love a young homeless woman there and my hope is to help fund her to have employment at the orphanage.

Through the years, all the ministries we provided have functioned separately. In this past year, we have been feeling the need to put them all together. As we tried to come up with a common theme, I saw the table in everything we do. It was as if our table grew right out the front door and went into other cities and another country. Even worship is partaking in the table communion of God. What do you name a traveling table? I was not sure. All I knew was that I wanted it to not be too churchy, so that people who had been hurt by the church would eat at our table and that it would be fun. When I thought of our group of women that serve, the Kingdom Gypsies, the word Boho came into my head. The Boho Table. I thought it was too crazy, but my husband convinced me that it was perfect. He reminded me repeatedly what an outside-the-box thinker I am. Here I am...not getting in the conventional box that wasn't meant for me.

I wrote a blog about having a dream about a house and it coming true. When I went to that house and sat at that table, God birthed something. He birthed this table. He opened up my heart to be willing to tell my story and diligently search for other people's stories.
He showed me how much I need people around me to make this all work. It's in women's refreshing getaways. It's leading a Bible study. It might be in a women's night at the table or on a podcast. It might be worshipping under a bridge. I am trusting God to do whatever he wants at the table. Come sit with me.

Step into the story:

I was recently on a podcast. Redemption's Table: Click here to listen.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Raising Successful Teens by Jeffrey Dean

Raising children has been one of the hardest things I have ever attempted to do. I have never felt so ill equipped and so needy before the Lord. I pray and I pray to pray more over these people I have been entrusted with. Their hearts, minds, emotions, and sexuality are incredibly sacred. This book reminded me that I am in a battle. It has given me tools and equipped my heart for much of the journey. I highly recommend it.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I feel like I only survived adolescence. I was exposed to every bad thing you would never want your child to encounter. It came from teachers, peers, parents, and church members. It was horrible. I was in therapy. I went to church. The problem was that my parents were in no way invested in my life, they took no responsibility for their own actions, and I had no one to lovingly direct me toward truth. I collapsed.

As a parent, I have desperately sought to know how to love and guide my kids in truth. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. The more you care, the harder it is. The enemy hates family. Our kids come in with this broken DNA. We have broken DNA. What we need is the DNA of Heaven. It’s complicated and confusing to navigate the waters of biblical parenting. So many voices are coming at you telling you that you are wrong.

Then this. This book comes alongside you and resonates what you know to be true. It speaks life to everything the enemy wants to steal from us and our kids. There is beauty and hope to be had. The enemy wants to cripple our children so that they can never experience it. This is war.

Jeffrey tackled some tough subjects. Sex, homosexuality, lying, friendships, school, & mental illness to name a few. It was encouraged me to keep my head and my heart in the fight. Pray for your kids. You haven’t come this far to give up. Read the book. Take notes. Ask hard questions. Speak life.

This book was graciously given to me by Multnomah Publishing for review.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

I Had A Dream About A House ...

About 9 years ago, a woman I knew was going through some things and I asked her to lunch. Three days before I went to lunch with her, I had a dream that she bought a new house. I saw this old farmhouse in my dream take on new life. I watched it change colors and become a place of rich beauty. This was before Magnolia gave words to what I was seeing so I called it "rustic elegance." I saw people coming and going being revived. I could feel God's hand in it all. 

I will tell you that I had never had a dream about anyone getting a house. I have had things happen where God would impress on me things that I couldn't have known otherwise, but I was also quite shy and not really about letting people see my crazy. I decided to be brave and tell this woman anyway.

Years went by and she wrote to me that they were looking for a house and to pray. Fast forward. She finds the house and ends up on HGTV on the show House Hunters. As I watched the progress of the house, I felt like I was watching my dream. Every transition was a flashback.

Over the years, I have wondered if God had shown me that dream solely to encourage my friend or if there was more to it. At the beginning of May, I attended a prayer workshop and we did several exercises together. One of those exercises was to close my eyes and ask Jesus where he wanted to meet with me. The house from my dream popped in my head. It is now on VRBO for rent. I shared it with a few friends that I pray for and do ministry with and they wanted to go see what God was up to.

I cannot even begin to tell you the beauty of fellowship and the birthing of dreams that happened in that dream house over the last few days. I was constantly moved to tears by watching these women come alongside one another and encourage each other in their individual ministries. So many answered prayers and affirmations. Many seeds were planted. I will be excited to share over the next weeks and months. Also, my dream kept going beyond this initial house so you can stay tuned to see what happens there. 

If you are looking for a stunning vacation rental in Driftwood, TX, I cannot recommend Farmhouse on Elderhill enough to you. It is more beautiful than you could ever imagine. I had seen hundreds of pictures of it, but I literally gasped at the beauty of the real thing. 

Thank you, Audrey Church. You are one of the most hospitable people I have ever met.

Book your stay at the farmhouse:
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Friday, May 03, 2019

Rise of the Servant Kings by Ken Harrison

Wow. I am not a man and I am not rising to be a servant king, but I thought this book was powerful. Whenever I come across how to books, I admit that I assume they are going to be cheesy with poor illustrations. This is definitely what is happening here. Ken takes his time in and since the LAPD to share hard hitting stories about integrity in the face of cultural lack thereof. 

Y'all should read it. I was drawn in by the title. Humility is so lacking in our culture and I thought it would be good to get a nice dose of it. I thought I could pray through it for my man and I did. The thing I was not expecting is how much the book spoke to me. It reenergized things in my heart that had grown weary. It encouraged me time and again to seek God in humility instead of paving my own way. Ken's own telling of pride and God calling him to submission was a beacon of light. 

As I read, I write out things about books that speak to me. I wrote about the story telling. The unusual stories really drove home the point of the matter. He spoke about how spouses are called to submit to one another instead of obey because obedience is forced and submission is choice. Submission is our way of bringing about the greatest good of another for the glory of God. He railed against his own pride and cried out for God to make him humble. One of my favorite things was in the last pages. He thanked someone for helping him to forgive the Pharisees. In the age of church hurt, it is so important to offer forgiveness and prayer for those who hurt us. He encouraged standing against abusers, but to also go that extra step to pray and forgive. 

Great read! Get your man a copy.
Available May 7th

This book was graciously provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Introverted Mom by Jamie C. Martin

I am an extroverted introvert. I flip flop on the Myers Briggs between an INFJ and an ENFJ. Even the E in the ENFJ exhibits many high introverted tendencies. The unusual pairing of this personality type is one that has great love of people and a need to processes life in quiet. It has truly been one of the biggest challenges that I have faced as an adult. How to balance a love of people, a deep need for quiet, and the constant chaos of being a homeschool mom. In complete honesty, I have no idea. I just kept moving forward and hoping for peace.

Reading (and listening to) Jamie's book has helped me see clear to some strategies to help my heart thrive. If I lean too hard to the quiet or to the people, one side suffers. Jamie is helping me find balance. I am realizing that I need to build quiet days into my calendar after major people days. I have learned how people with a high sensitivity to people, their emotions and energy, need more rest to process an event. God made us like this on purpose. It's a strength, not a weakness, when used well. He wants us to see things and share them. I am learning to create margin for rest so that I am able to share.

I am definitely a book lover and Jamie did something I love within her book. She used introverted authors of classic novels to share stories about how to care for an introverted soul. It's a brilliant strategy to make an idea sink in.

Simply reading the book increased my calm and peace. Every time I read the title, I felt a renewed sense of hope. "Your guide to more calm, less guilt, and quiet joy." Don't you feel good simply seeing those words?

Y'all read it or listen to it. I loved the audio as well. Jamie's voice is quite soothing. If you are an introvert or simply have some introverted tendencies, I highly recommend this book to you.