Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Rumors of God

Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson are explicit about why they wrote Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About. Many of us American Christians are bored, uninspired and disappointed with our faith experiences. Perhaps the life described in the Scriptures is more like a series of rumors instead of real life. Jesus said that He came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly, but how many of us can say that it describes our life experience? While Christianity is growing in places like South America, China and India, its growth and influence seems to be waning in America. Society seems to be drifting further and further into secular humanism and we, as Christians, feel powerless to do anything about it. It seems like the future of the Western Church is hanging in the balance.

The authors penned this book because they believe God is writing an epic, global, redemptive story that each one of us is invited to. They hope their readers will gain a clearer understanding of the cultural and spiritual obstacles the Western Church is facing and what we can do to overcome them. They are convinced that God has something fresh that He wants to do, and we merely need to earnestly seek Him in order to be a part of it. Using examples from their own lives, they show how powerfully God is still moving today.

I truly loved this book. It is absolutely heart-changing. There were two points made that really struck a chord with me. The first is that many people think of hate when they think of the Christian Church, not love. Too often we say, “Correct your ways and then I’ll love you” instead of “I love you right where you are.” The second is that we are all too often acting like an indifferent bride. If during a wedding ceremony, the groom is overflowing with love and excited to marry his bride and she, in turn, is indifferent to him, we would advise the couple to reconsider the marriage. We are Christ’s bride, but do we love Him the way that we should?

Rumors of God is both challenging and encouraging, and I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher's BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chomp, Chomp!

Beneath this adorable, innocent little face is a problem that I haven't quite figured out how to correct. Bianca loves to bite. In particular, she enjoys chomping down on her Mommy. I've read that this nasty behavior could stem from the child's frustration, but her biting antics seem to come out of nowhere. One minute we are cuddled up, reading a story; the next minute, she is chewing on my flesh. She does it in the middle of play. She also does it when she is tired and doesn't like my requests. She does it whenever the mood hits her - which has been quite a lot lately.

I've taken the advice I've found online. Stated, "This is biting. We do not bite people." I've tried simply talking to her. For instance, "If you want Mommy to put away my book, please ask me. There is no need to bite." I've given her time-outs. I've smacked her hand. I've even given her a small bite back - all to no evail. I really don't know what else I can try.

Is anyone else dealing with or have dealt with a biter? Is there any corrective action you can suggest? As far as I know, she isn't biting anyone else. She doesn't bite her dad, and she doesn't seem to bite any other children when she is around them. I seem to be the main target.

Snapshots of Nourishment

I've been on vacation since last Thursday, and I can't even explain how wonderful it feels. My week has been full of downtime, which is exactly what my soul needed. Here is a small glimpse of the wonderful week I've been having...

Friday morning, I headed to Boston to spend two days with my best friend. I missed being away from home, but it was also really fun to get away. We stayed in the Moroccan Suite inside of a cozy (purple!) house in Charlestown. On Day 1 we partook in an Italian-themed day, while Day 2 was focused on Mediterrian flair. (Day 2 also brought with it a rainy, Saturday morning. We spent the day curled up under plush white blankets talking and reading girlie magazines! It was a great way to simply relax and recharge our batteries!)

When I got home, I made sure to endulge in some extra quality time with my hubby and my Little One. This picture is of Bianca's first attempt at cutting up a strawberry. (She wanted to help, and I couldn't refuse that adorable face!)

Yesterday, my mom and I headed to DC for the Josh Groban concert. One word: uh-maz-ing!! The highlight of the show was him playing and singing on the B Stage, which happened to be a few feet away from where we were sitting! I was in heaven!

This morning after Harry headed to work, BiBi and I headed to the park. She had a blast running around and playing in the sandbox, and I was mesmerized watching her. She also brought home a new pair of sunglasses that the park keeper gave her. They had been in lost and found for over a month, and since no one claimed them, he passed them on to our Little Beauty. She was so excited! Now we are home and she is taking a nap. I plan on filling up her baby pool with fresh water and letting her swim when she gets up.

It's been a fabulous week so far, and we still have three more days to go before I head back to work. I can't wait to see what's waiting to unfold over the next few days!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enjoying some Natalie Grant and getting pumped for Women of Faith!

Not Quite Ready for Chuck E. Cheese

Over the past few weeks, every time Bianca saw a Chuck E. Cheese commercial come on television, she would excitedly exclaim, "Cheese too!" (which in toddler language translates to "I would like to go to Chuck E. Cheese, please.") We were finally able to grant her request this past Sunday, as her friend Logan held her birthday party there.

Our Little One was very excited to run around the building and climb on the jungle gym in the Toddler Zone, but that's where the fun ended. She was scared to go down the slide. She was too little to play most of the games. She started screaming when I put her on the Bob the Builder kiddie ride. She backed away from Chuck E. Cheese when he came out to interact with the children. She didn't like the pizza.

Lesson learned: We're not quite ready for the kiddie heaven ruled by a giant mouse.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: Restless in Carolina

Click here to read an excerpt from this book.

Restless in Carolina is the third book in Tamara Leigh’s Southern Discomfort trilogy. This story focuses on Bridget, a young widow who is trying to get over the grief of losing her husband. This environmentally-conscious woman is trying to save her family’s estate from the hands of big business. Along the way, she makes a connection with J.C. Dirk, a developer with the reputation of being earth-friendly. Can her heart open up to the possibility of love again? Restless in Carolina is a story focused on love, hope and forgiveness.

I liked this book a lot. Like most chick-lit novels, it was a fun, quick read. I was happy to see familiar characters from Leigh’s other books in the series like Piper, Axel, Maggie and Reece make an appearance in this story. I was also pleased to discover the truth about J.C.’s past. If you’re looking for an easy read with quirky characters, I highly recommend the entire Southern Discomfort series.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

So Excited!!

I will be attending the Women of Faith "Imagine" Conference in DC on August 26th and 27th, and I can't wait!! Speakers include Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll, Lisa Harper, and Ken Davis; Musical guests include Mary Mary and Natalie Grant; with Drama by Nicole Johnson; and special guest Henry Cloud! It should be an incredible two days! Who wants to go with me??

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: You Were Born for This

Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

In "You Were Born for This," Bruce Wilkinson states that miracles happen every day. God uses and actively seeks people who will act as delivery agents for Him. He calls each of His followers into a life of service to Him, but not everyone answers. Wilkinson walks his readers through a step-by-step practical plan that shows them how to confidently work in partnership with God to impact the lives of others. He argues that anyone can be used as part of a miracle as long as he/she is expecting it and knows the formula for making it happen.

This is another book that has the potential to be life-changing. It is exciting to think that we can play a part in delivering God's miracles every day, but at the same time, the thought is a bit scary. We only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains, but how many of us actually step out and exercise it? I was challenged by the concepts in this book, and I found myself doubting that I could step into the delivery role Wilkinson describes. The key is trusting God and putting my faith in Him. I'm not the one performing the miracle; I'm simply acting as His hands. I just have to become more aware of what He is nudging me to do.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.

Book Review: A Place Called Blessing

"A Place Called Blessing" by John Trent with Annette Smith is a story based on the classic book "The Blessing" co-authored by Trent. The authors bring to life the concepts of the original manuscript for a new generation by telling the story of Josh, an orphan with a dark secret that haunts him for years. As an adult, he is introduced to unconditional love and forgiveness through a very special family, and his life is forever changed.

All I can say is "Wow!" I absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in one sitting because I simply couldn't put it down. 85% of the time I will choose non-fiction books over novels, but I am so, so glad I had the opportunity to read this one. It gave me goose bumps, made me cry, and deeply touched my heart. I highly recommend this great read to anyone, but particularly to anyone with a passion for children in the foster system.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher's BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

This is What Happens When I Turn My Back...

Note to self: Don't leave Bianca unattended with paint while you clean the kitchen!

So Many Reasons to Smile Today!!

~ It's Friday!!
~ A 3-day weekend is waiting to unfold!!
~ It's an absolutely gorgeous morning!!
~ Traffic was relatively light on the way to work!!
~ Chelle begins her 31 Days of Wellness today!!
~ An email from my BFF was waiting for me in my inbox!!
~ I received a message on Facebook that was exactly what I needed to hear!!
~ I will be having lunch with two of my favorite people in a few hours!!
~ And perhaps the most exciting reason of all: I finally feel like 2011 is going to be the Breakthrough Year I had hoped it to be. God is doing something amazing in me, and although I can't reveal the details just yet, just know it is oh so good!!
~ As is He....all the time!!