Booklook Review: Jonah and the Great Big Fish

Maddy was so excited when I told her the package on our porch was for her this time. I helped her open the tape and as she dug through the packaging she eagerly exclaimed, “New book!” I knew we had a winner with Rhonda Gowler Greene’s new title, “Jonah and the Great Big Fish” when the Little Girl instantly plopped on her bum and flipped through the pages.

Based on the Biblical narrative found in the book of Jonah, Rhonda Gowler Greene depicts Jonah’s experience when God gave him a task to accomplish, but Jonah refused to obey. Written in prose,  this story shares a good reminder to its readers of the importance of listening to and obeying the Lord.

We enjoyed reading this book with the rhyme and expressive typography. The retelling of Jonah’s story maintained accuracy with Scripture, which is something I am always looking out for in Children’s “Bible” books. Even though the target age for this particular book (kids aged 4-8) was a little higher than Maddy’s current age, I think it’s one she enjoyed and will continue to read in the coming years. I’m not sure how I feel about the illustrations. The colors and general style is bright and engaging, but the artwork seems a little blurry.

I would recommend this book to parents who want to add to their “Bible” story collection, and particularly for preschool aged children or early readers. It would make a great gift for a little one too!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

“Change your thoughts…change your world.”

change your thoughts change your world

So often I have heard this statement, and I have to say that it’s absolutely true. However, it may not be for the reason you might think.

There is a simple cycle that is fueled beginning with what you allow your mind to dwell upon. Your thoughts are KEY to working this cycle (and thus your life) to a HOPE-filled end.

Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brethren,

whatever is true,

whatever is honorable,

whatever is right,

whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely,

whatever is of good repute,

if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,

dwell on these things.”

 

There is a reason that Paul stresses the importance of thinking “ON” particular categories.

Thoughts fuel ACTION!

Action determines LIFE!

So, change your thoughts, and sure, you WILL change your world.

Not because you THINK something into being, but because you think yourself in a different direction!

It’s time to change the way we think, to propel ourselves in the direction of the life we desire to live!

change the way you think silhouette

Friday Ramblings

It so often seems that I come to the end of the week and haven’t blogged, and that’s okay. Building a blog isn’t my focus during this season of life. My focus is on my relationship with the Lord, my family, and building a business Counseling and Coaching. Hence, today’s post entitled, “Friday Ramblings”. It’s just a few things on my heart, a few things I have been mulling over and upon which I have been meditating. Read on if you want…or not. ;-)

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I have given my “why” a lot of thought.
Some people workout to lose weight, to have more energy, to be skinny, fill in the blank, someone works out for “that reason”!

My motivation for exercise is truly self-care. When I routinely exercise, I think more clearly. I make better decisions and accomplish more throughout my day because my energy level is higher. I feel satisfied in having taken care of myself and my body, and I am strong and prepared for whatever God has for me in that day, week, or season. It’s a point of stewardship for me.

Reading through Corinthians 6, I found myself re-reading, really chewing on these verses.

12: “All things are lawful for me,
but not all are profitable.
All things are lawful for me,
but I will not be mastered by anything.”

19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God,
and that you are not your own?
For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body.”

Does God care about what I, as his redeemed child, do with my body?
YES!
He cares about my physical conduct, what I feed myself, how I treat my body through exercise and hygiene!
Interesting.
What I eat, how I choose to take care of my body is truly a part of my spiritual discipline and a mode of glorifying God.
I have never connected these two concepts prior like I am now. As I am learning better nutrition, training my muscles for regular use, preparing for whatever work the Lord has for me during the day, I find that my workout, my run, my meals, they are all of a sudden spiritual.

It’s incredible as I have begun Coaching others in nutrition and exercise, I have seen them begin to deal with things on a spiritual level. Stuff they might never pursue counseling for, but that I can address (as a counselor) while they focus on their fitness!

Some find that they are trusting food to be their comfort and “god”, rather than placing their faith in the Lord.
Some find that they are abusing their bodies, this incredible tool granted by God, and have to find a healthy balance of self-care.

I am so fulfilled as I use my “why”, sharing my life that much more transparently, and inviting others along on this journey to wellness. Thank you to all who have joined me, and I hope that we can all help each other find balance in our spiritual and physical life!

Booklook Review: Smart Money Smart Kids

Ever since Mason and I were blessed to receive copies of Total Money Makeover, I began following Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze on social media, surrounding myself with as many positive influences as I could when it comes to financial decision making and pursuing debt-freedom. It was a no-brainer to snag this book for review from Booklook when it popped up on the “Available” list! I was giddy with excitement, as we are making financial progress by using Dave’s Baby Steps and working on creating a debt-free legacy for our own daughter. I was confident this would be a great tool to add to our arsenal.

Dave and Rachel share with parents the basics of raising money-smart kids in a DEBT-driven world. Our very culture SCREAMS that we must have debt, but just because the loudest voices are telling us we HAVE to, doesn’t mean we have to listen to them!

Davey Ramsey is a financial expert and best-selling author who has taught countless people how to win with money and become debt-free. Rachel Cruze, his daughter, focuses on the younger generation and preparing them for financial success and strategies for how to AVOID debt as they become adults. The two together are a powerhouse of financial wisdom!

In Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, Dave and Rachel cover all of the basics including:

  • working
  • spending
  • saving
  • giving

They even cover the tough areas like avoiding debt through all seasons of life, strategies to pay cash for college, and hands-down the most key element (in my opinion) is the portion covering waging war on discontentment. These two voices present a simple, common-sense method for changing the direction of your family legacy!

As a Christian parent, I want all the help I can get to learn how to influence my child in a God-ward direction. I knew I had the right book in my hand when I read, “The goal is to recognize who God uniquely created him to be and to teach him how to handle money, no matter what kind of personality he has.” This statement was made in regards to one’s natural inclination towards being a “spender” or “saver” and how we are designed to do BOTH in a glorifying way. Neither is WRONG, BOTH are right! This and so many other lessons fill the pages of Smart Money Smart Kids. I don’t know that I have a favorite part of this book, because it truly was well-written and full of incredible information from start to finish. A plus too, is that they included budget worksheets in the back, so the reader really does have all the tools necessary to WIN!

“…this book isn’t for normal people. It’s for people who have figured out that normal isn’t good enough. This book is for weird people–people who are willing to act differently in order to become wealthy. And wealth is so unusual and abnormal that we must say it is weird. So if your goal is to take mediocrity to the grave and raise children who perpetuate your stupidity, then this book isn’t for you.”

-Davey Ramsey, Smart Money Smart Kids pg. 131

As I read through this I wanted to send it to my friends, my college-age siblings, and every parent that I know! By far, this is a resource that I think will be on my Top-10 Recommended List for years to come! I HIGHLY recommend this book to any adult who has a direct influence on a young person’s life and finances. That means parents obviously, but also grandparents, aunt and uncles, foster parents, maybe even individuals who take an active role in mentoring and can speak into a child’s decision-making process. The information in this book is absolutely worth the cost of the book, and if put into practice, WILL dynamically change people’s entire life!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Discipline

This morning as I was on my last two “runs” of my jogging/walking training, my legs wanted to quit on me. Several times I had to TELL my legs to keep going, to keep pushing, to pick up the pace from a trudge of a jog. (of course, it didn’t help that Mason and I had just completed our “Lower Fix” workout first thing this morning!)

*note to self…not on the same day next time!

Can I just tell you that the Holy Spirit is SO TIMELY?!

“I discipline my body…” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

running shoe 1 cor 9_27

Allowing your toddler to drive decisions isn’t wise, and neither is submitting to the whims of your flesh.

So, I kept running.

I LOVE that my physical fitness and nutrition has become intertwined with my spiritual growth. I never really connected these two entities prior, but choosing to invest time in this body God has granted me to steward and feeding it well is a whole new connection than being an athlete in high school or college.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.

They do it to receive a perishable wreath,

but we an imperishable.

So I do not run aimlessly;

I do not box as one beating the air.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control,

 lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

How have you found connection, purpose, motivation between your fitness, health, and spiritual growth?

Strengthened through Christ

Strengthened through Christ

This week I have been really chewing on Philippians 4 and I was reminded that this verse (4:13), mostly seen as a platitude for whatever it is someone is DOING, is actually the testimony of Paul’s reliance on the Lord.

See, in the verses prior (10-12), Paul had just finished thanking the church at Philippi for their gifts and concern expressed for him, and how he had learned to live with much or little, depending on the circumstances in which the Lord placed him. Consider his statement, “I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

Contentment. That’s what strikes me after digesting that verse.

Then you read Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The Greek verb here for “I can do” is “ischyō” and literally means “to be strong, to have power”. Paul is pointing back to his source of strength to walk through hunger, abundance, need, etc. What an excellent reminder that the strength we have is not about “my” goals, “my” accomplishments, but about relying on the One who has filled me with His strength to glorify Him!

Women Living Well: Your Health

Wow, I loved this session from the Women Living Well Conference on “Health” featuring Clare Smith from Peak 313‘s keynote.

Here’s a highlight:

“This vessel: two legs, two arms, a pumping heart, muscles…
this is all by God’s design.
He’s created unique hormones and endorphines that release chemicals that help us when you’re fighting a down and depressed day or whatever it may be,
God designed our bodies in a way for us to live life and to create an environment for our families…friends…ministries that He gives us!”
-Clare Smith

QUOTED: “Travel pushes …

“Travel pushes my boundaries.
When you travel, you become invisible, if you want.
I do want.
I like to be the observer.
What makes people who they are?
Could I feel at home here?
No one expects you to have the stack of papers back by Tuesday,
or to fertilize the geraniums.

When traveling,
you have the delectable possibility of not understanding a word of what is said to you.
Language becomes simply a musical background for watching bicycles zoom alongside a canal,
calling for nothing from you.
Travel releases spontaneity.
You become a godlike creature full of choice,
free to visit the stately pleasure domes,
make love in the morning,
sketch a bell tower.
You open,
as in childhood,
and — for a time — receive this world.
There’s the viceral aspect, too — the huntress who is free.
Free to go,
free to return home bringing memories to lay on the heart.”

Excerpted from A Year In The World,
by Frances Mayes

LET your light shine

Christianity often seems like a lot of work. I certainly used to think so, particularly growing up with a list of “do’s and don’ts”, how to dress, etc. However, if you truly look at *just* scripture, there isn’t any “work” involved in maintaining or keeping my Christianity! My status in relationship to God is a once for all kind of setup.

Having this in mind as I look at God’s Word can unveil truth. For instance, last Sunday we were studying in Matthew 5 and I was able to glean something fresh (even though I have certainly read, studied, even memorized this passage before).

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world.

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others,

so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

What stood out to me was that last verse, ” let your light shine before others“.

I guess growing up, hearing this passage coupled with the song “This Little Light of Mine” I always felt like I had to really put effort or work to be a light in the darkness around me. Yet, when I reflected on this phrase and studied the Greek, there is no effort indicated in the original text. “Let” is actually a great word choice here because it implies that you aren’t DOing anything. It is passive in tone, implying that you are submitting to what is happening!

Here’s how I think about it…I have been redeemed. By simply allowing the new identity that I have in Christ to saturate my life, the light (Christ) that is in me will be evident and attract others to itself. Quite literally, that is the light shining through us, making our good works visible to those in our surroundings. This lifestyle is exactly what directs glory back to the Father, because we are merely being used as vessels to showcase the works that the TRUTH in our lives is producing.

Awesome, right?

Yeah, I thought so too.

So go LET your light shine!

The Cost of Change

Frequently I am asked how my counseling is going. (If you didnt’ know this about me, yes, I’m a Certified Biblical Counselor.) I counsel as a minister of our church, and I am blessed to be able to fit this in to our schedule as a part of my own personal ministry.

My email is often flooded with requests for a counselor, or for a recommendation for a counselor in a nearby region. It seems that the number of people who actually follow through to setup sessions or travel for a consultation is roughly one of every ten requests that I field. The stories that I listen to, the hurt that pours through in their emails, and the desperation for help tells me that these people are broken, wounded, and need someone to simply walk alongside them for a season of truth and healing.

Sadly, the majority shy away and aren’t ready to make the sacrifices necessary to change. Change requires giving something up in exchange for that which is greater. This may mean that relationships shift, habits are broken, entire mindsets are re-programmed. None of these aspects are easy. Change also typically comes with a financial price tag, and as someone who is living on a budget and aggressively working to pay down debt, I get that the money is sometimes tough to swallow.

The most common reason I hear people shy away from leaping into change is,

“I can’t afford counseling.”

I often want to ask in reply,

“Can you afford NOT to go to counseling?”

Stop and think about the worst case scenario of how your situation could turn out…is it worth skimping on the investment your life needs right now? Is it worth risking your kid’s future, the way your marriage will look in 5 years, for the cost of counseling at the moment? Is there something else you can sacrifice in order to invest in your own heart and life to stir change?

You never know, what you invest in counseling, you are investing in yourself and every relationship you have.

It could very well CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

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