Book Tour! Day 8 – Leadership Promises

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

I received a copy of Leadership Promises for Every Day, Daily Devotional by John C. Maxwell for the purpose of reviewing.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

DAY EIGHT:  LEADERSHIP PROMISES FOR EVERY DAY by John C. Maxwell

Leaders really do need to be encouraged.   Leaders, good ones, are constantly pouring out into others.  We can’t pour out of an empty vessel, so leaders need to have someone who is pouring into their lives.  This isn’t always easy though, especially if you happen to the be at the top of the ministry ladder.  I love this devotional, where John C. Maxwell pours a daily dose of scripture and leadership wisdom into my life.

I’ve enjoyed the book so much, I have in turn found myself giving it as a gift to other leaders.  I would have preferred a “Day 1”, “Day 2″… format over a calendar dated format.  But, that may be my OCD talking… because despite flipping through it… I literally waiting until January 1st to official start using it.

Additionally, I get a lot of great feedback from those who received it as a gift.  Which really spurs me on to continue gifting it, knowing that it’s not just me… but various leaders who are benefiting from these devotions. 

Recommendations:  Pastor Appreciation Gift,  Ministry Leader Birthday, Anniversary, or “Just Because” gift, Speaker Gifts, etc.

 

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So… I saw Bad Moms, and I laughed.

In case you don’t have any clue what movie I am talking about, here is a promo shot:

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First, I’d like to admit right out of the gate I didn’t walk into this movie with naive expectations.  The trailers gave a pretty good indication that there would be some inappropriate humor.  Second, I am not planning on giving away any spoilers.  There were definitely some parts I thought the movie could have lived without, not only for the story line but even in the presentation.  Sometimes it could go too far.  Third, there were some parts of this that were REALLY unrealistic when you are talking about any group of moms.  Lastly, there were also a LOT of truths.

Overall, I laughed and I laughed hard.  At one point I laughed so hard (as I was taking a sip from my straw) that I pushed air through the straw, which caused a small tidal wave in my cup, and that resulted in my drink landing in my eyes.  Which just caused a whole other fit of laughter for myself and those sitting around me.  I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt.  Yet, there were some moments that I nodded in solidarity.  There were moments that were uncomfortable.  And, yes… as I said before totally unnecessary.

What I want to write about (and I’m up for conversation too) is WHY a movie like this not only resonated with moms but was drawing us in like moths to a flame.

My first thought is probably the most obvious, there is an enormous amount of pressure on moms to be it all, do it all, and do so perfectly.  Whether it is the perfect birthday party, bento box lunches, or simply making it to every school and sport activity… we feel the pressure.  We notice so much of what is around us, like the mom who has the perfect hair and make up in the parent pick up line… when we were struggling to get out of the house with a bra under our pajama shirt.  We see the kids with the perfectly styled hair, accessories, and sparkling white sneakers…. and we just spent the last 40 minutes looking for eyeglasses or a belt.  Other moms dropping their kids off early, and we are 10 minutes late because we had to go back home and pick up the flute that was left behind… or because our darling child took 15 minutes to brush her teeth.

How do these moms do it?  We cast shade in their direction, but really we are asking ourselves… why can’t I do it?

I think there are a number of moms who have run the scenario through their head of just saying no.  No to the requests by the husband, kids, school, coaches, etc.  An opportunity to just walk away from the pressure and enjoy life again.  To make the choice of not being the perfect mom anymore, and instead be the bad mom.

This brings me to my second thought, as you watch the trailers you see a group of women having fun. We are not talking bunko party fundraiser fun, but the kind of fun we had as teenagers  and young single adults.  The fun we had when we didn’t care what others thought, where it was ok to be silly, and there was an expected freedom in the general knowledge we were going to make mistakes and bad choices.  It takes us back to a time when we didn’t have to be an adult, and could just let loose and be free.

With motherhood came some sort of unwritten code of conduct, that we couldn’t be silly anymore.  We began to take everything too seriously, including ourselves.  Let’s face it, books and the advice of television “experts” reinforced this.  Reminding us over and over again that it was time to grow up, put away childish things, and get our heads out of the clouds.  As we did this, many of us sent fun sailing away for good.  We stopped smiling, we stopped laughing, and we stopped being silly.

The movie Bad Moms called out to that free spirit inside of us, that desperately wanted to laugh… and laugh hard.  So, it pulls out all the stops.  The women let loose in a way we couldn’t, and we live vicariously through them.  They say the things that roll through our minds & do the things we secretly wished we could.  (Ok, maybe not all of the things they say and do, but you get the point).

I also believe this appeals to Christian women so deeply because of the bar that is set for our expected behavior.  If other moms are feeling the pressure to be perfect in their every day life, Christian moms understand the additional expectations put on the Christian mom.  To have perfect children that love Jesus, quote the bible, volunteer with the elderly, and gladly donate all their birthday money to the missions fund.  To be women who are serious about the study of the Lord, leading small groups, inviting women over to mentor and pray together, to dress in simple clothes, and be ever diligent in our choices of entertainment.  There is a pressure that all of our time should be so seriously focused on Christ, that we can’t let loose and laugh until our sides hurt.

Confession… I saw the movie on opening night.  It’s taken me almost a month to admit I saw it, because frankly… I expected to be judged for it.  I was worried about what my church friends, my readers that look to me for wisdom, the women or leaders who are reading through my blog trying to decide if I would be the right speaker for their next women’s event… what would these people think of me?

I learned something from the movie though… my eyes were opened to how long it had been since I had laughed so much and so hard.  I realized how seriously I take myself and made the decision not to.  I embraced that silliness is okay and even healthy for my kids to see.  I made the decision that I wanted to laugh more, but with those whom I am the closest to… not a theater full of strangers.  I want that girl posse who has my back, in the most biblical way possible… and who will be silly with me.  Women who know how to laugh, smile, and stop trying to be something that is impossible to attain… perfect.

All of those parts of the movie that I thought were unnecessary, they don’t have to be part of my life.  But the good stuff… I welcome it.  We are all GOOD MOMS despite our imperfections and the times we muck things up… because we are LOVING MOMS.  In the end that is what matters.  The Lord didn’t call us to a life of misery, but of fulfillment and joy as mothers… and laughter.  So much laughter.

“Savor” the moments, right where you are.

It’s been a while since I had my hands on a good devotion book.  I’ve been spending more time digging into the word directly, school work with Christian Leaders Institute, and writing a curriculum on women’s ministry.  Most of the devotion books I have on my bookshelf require a little more effort than what limited time I have for supplemental reading.

Family Christian gave me the opportunity take review Shauna Niequist’s devotion book, Savor.  When I first opened the pages, I  was happy to see that these were devotions that were short and really got right into the heart of the message.  What I didn’t realize was how poignant they were going to be as I went through them.

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Like two days ago, as I was sitting on bench waiting.  My sixteen year old was taking her driver’s test, life was changing.  Shaunti’s words about embracing the here and the now, were so needed.  My youngest reached over and pressed down the right side of the book so I could snap a picture.  So aware of what I was doing, but suddenly part of it.  I closed the book and grabbed that little hand, holding on for a bit longer.

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Today, I read about being present with God in the demonstration of his power through his Word.  I find such joy in reading and studying scripture and bible history.  I find joy in teaching it to others, which is exactly what God has asked of us to do in the Great Commission.  It was an affirmation to the things God has been maneuvering in my life for quite some time, as I start seeing them fall into place today.

And, if a devotion book isn’t good enough on it’s own… I let you in on a little secret.   Scattered amongst the pages are savory recipes that fit the seasons; from summer salads to sweet fondues.    Each devotion page has a few questions on the bottom that serves as reminders of who we are, what God created us to be, and those who God has put into your life to help you get along in your journey.

This is a great devotion book, for you own use… but is also beautiful and would make a lovely gift for a friend or someone in your church body who is in need of a little pick me up.

The book Savor was provided to me by Family Christian for the purpose of reviewing on this blog.  The opinions, however, are entirely my own and without bias.

Easter Inspiration

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I don’t know about you, but I have a really bad habit of scrambling for Easter Baskets.  We adhere to a strict budget in home (a’la #DaveRamsey ).  When there was just one child, Easter was great.  I would buy up things in the months leading up to it, wrapped in special paper, hidden along with eggs.  So very #MarthaStewart.

Our first hiccup, is that every 4 years our eldest daughter’s #birthday is the same week as #Easter.  That will pinch the budget, quite a bit.  Then we had our second daughter, who miraculously shares that same birthday.  So now, we had 2 kids to Easter shop for, and every 4 years … 2 kids birthdays to shop for.  Double pinch.  It would come to an arch with the birth of our 3rd daughter, who doesn’t share the same birthday, but is still another person to shop for on Easter.  Not to mention by the time she came along, Easter baskets for my eldest were starting to get a big pricier.

The funny thing about all this #budget complaining?  I know #DaveRamsey would say “You know it comes every year, why don’t you plan for it?”  And, he’s right.  My girls birthdays fall the same day, every year.  With or without Easter.  And Easter, is conveniently on the calendar.  It’s not a surprise, it’s just not planned very well.  My fault, entirely.

2015 brought a particularly tight budget, though.  Not only did we have the year of the Birthday/Easter week, but for my eldest it was a milestone birthday.  Sweet Sixteen.   This year, however, I had my #DaveRamsey cap on.  I was determined to plan, and plan early.  I was determined to stay within my budget.  I was also determined to interject more #Jesus, less candy.

I know that it’s too late Easter 2015, dear readers.  But, you can start planning early for Easter 2016.  Here is a break down of this years baskets.  I hope it is a bit of inspiration.   (And no, I didn’t get any discounts or freebies from these companies.  LOL.  Not sponsored ads, just idea sharing).

candyThis is a 3.75 lb. bag of Palmer Easter candies.  They call it the “Egg Hunt Mix“, and it was perfect.  A little bit of everything.  1 price, 1 bag.   I grabbed my bag at BJ’s.  #Palmer candies are one of my personal favorites.  I’m partial to their peanut butter cups because the peanut butter is smooth and creamy vs. grainy like other brands.

I divided the bag of candy up by 4, because mom needs here share.  I plead the 5th as to whether or not those were “equal shares”.

For my 8 and 12 year old daughters, their baskets were virtually identical.  I headed over to #OrientalTrading and wanted the best value for my dollar.  I went with:

ebfiller  This Easter Basket Filler Assortment was a perfect solution, it had quite a variety and divided up perfectly.  You should be aware that you won’t get everything in the picture.   I did get most of what you see in the picture.  The blow up bunnies were my personal favorite.  The foam airplanes were the kids.    Most of the variety was just 2-4 pieces of that particular item, but there were a couple of things I got a ton of.  I held onto the extras & I am saving them for next year.  #BudgetWin   I also made the choice to inflate the bunnies and built the planes vs. putting the diy kit in there.

supertoy  I also selected the Super Toy Assortment.  On this one, there were definitely differences from the photo.  I pulled the whistles out, because that was one thing our household didn’t need.  I am going to donate them to a local rape crisis center, or place that offers women’s self defense training.    Despite the differences #OrientalTrading still provided a great assortment, with small numbers of each type of toy.

lamby  I purchased one these adorable I Love Jesus Sheep for each of the 3 girls, because who doesn’t love a sweet cuddly plushy?

chalk  I also selected a bucket of chalk and these cute bags carrotbag to wrap up some of the smaller items in.   The carrot bags do not come with any ties, so you will need to pick up some ribbon.  #OrientalTrading came through this year, for sure.  Plus I had a free shipping discount code.  WIN.

I then hopped on over to #FamilyChristian to grab up a few items for the individual girls.

For my 12 year old, I grabbed this great devotion bookdevotional  She’s growing up, and it was time to upgrade her from her “Action Bible“.  She loves that bible and I highly recommend it for your younger kids (girls and boys alike).  But it was time for something more, “Middle School”.

For my  year old, who has been telling us the same jokes over and over again… and is terrible at making up her own…. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of kid friendly, clean joke books #FamilyChristian carries.

jokebook  I picked these 2, but there were many more to choose from.  eastercolor You can’t go wrong with coloring or activity books for an #EasterBasket , so I picked up this too.  It’s perfect, for 8-12 year olds.

There is another great company called #CTAInc. that I have purchased all sorts of items from to use with our #WomensMinistry .   I had never paid much attention to their kids section, but I am glad I took a peek this year.  I got these awesome eggs to put in the girls baskets!   One tells the Gospel Story through cute little egg shaped cards.  Another has a dog tag style necklace that sums up the story with easy to remember color coding.  The third has a puzzle and mini story book to seal the deal.  I chose just to get the eggs because I had other items already purchased.  But CTA Inc. had a lot of other Easter items for various ages, and some coordinated with the eggs!

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For those waiting with baited breath as to what in the world I got for my 16 year old…. that was a bit tricker.  With it being her 16th birthday, we had a BEAUTIFUL Blessings Tea at a local Tea House.  She was gifted a lot of amazing things, to put into her Hope Chest (yes, we do that thing here, LOL).  So she didn’t get a lot of typical “fun” gifts.  I mean, sure grandparents gave her spending money…. because that is what they do.  But, at her party the gifts were much more personal and sentimental.

So, I filled her basket with the plush lamb, a bit more candy than her sisters, and then went for jewelry & some cute Easter socks.  I’d like to say she loved them, but frankly at the hour her sisters got us all up… she was less than human.   She promptly went back to bed, I expect I’ll know the success of my endeavor by whether or not pictures show up on her facebook page.

Frankly, I had already failed her with opting not to dye eggs this year the traditional way.  She silently protested.  Choosing to color her eggs solid, as if to say … “this is how they should look” … while silently thinking “mom not only disappointed me with a cheesecake instead of a real birthday cake, but now she has ruined Easter too.”

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WHO DOESN’T LIKE CHEESECAKE?????   People, really.  This happened.  Pray for her.

…. and yes, that is a Candy Corn Easter Egg…..

BOOK REVIEW: The Whole Bible in 16 Verses!

Family Christian offered me the opportunity to review the book “The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses” by Chris Bruno.  While Family Christian did gift me the book for the purpose of the review, the opinions in this review are entirely my own. 

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If someone came up to you, and asked if you could summarize the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, could you? What would be the key points you would want to include? What is the most important scriptures that you would want to convey? Those are some tough questions.

However, they are important questions for anyone serving in ministry. If we are teaching children, we need to understand the overall theme of the Bible. If we are leading a ministry or teaching bible studies, we should have a basic grasp of the overarching story line.

If you could only have twenty minutes with someone, to share the structure of God’s Word, there is a lot of text to shuffle through. Everything is important, it is the life breath of God in written word, that allows us to commune with Him. How do you cut anything out?

The good news, you don’t have to. Until you are at a place where you are an expert theologian, someone else has stepped up to the plate to identify the entire story of the bible, in just sixteen verses.

Chris Bruno tackles this task perfectly, but writing a concise and to the point guide through the scriptures that best represent that over all theme of The Word. The chapters are short and easy to tackle, making this book a perfect addition to your morning devotions. His organization of the selected scriptures covers everything from creation, biblical prophesy, fulfillment in Jesus Christ and the end of days, still to come. Bruno also takes care to help guide the new believer, or new Bible reader, on the next steps to take after finishing this book. Bruno points the reader back to the original text, God’s word. This clearly indicates this book is not a replacement for the true word of God, “read this and you’ll have all you need to know”. NO! Instead, Bruno gives us the prompting to learn more on our own and fill those gaps between the sixteen verses.

The chapters are structured in a manner that helps you not just understand the scripture, but how they each fit into the story over all.

If you are a new believer, or wanting to read the bible for the very first time, this is a great book to start with. It is also a great option for evangelism, have a few copies on your bookshelf to share and give away. It’s simple, easy to read and to the point; this book will not overwhelm someone who is encountering God for the very first time.

#FCBlogger

#FamilyChristian

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – BOOK REVIEW

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As a parent of kids of varying ages, from High School to Elementary School, finding new devotion books that encompasses the needs of my entire family is hard.  If I shop with my teenager in mind, it ends up being too deep for my youngest.  However, if I shop with my youngest in mind… my teenager is usually bored to tears.

When I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of Mission Accomplished, thanks to New Growth Press, I was very impressed.

1)  The book covers two weeks of devotions, specifically written for Easter.  This is a book I reference year, after year.

2)  Each devotion starts with scripture, that supports the devotion theme.  It is followed with sections that encourage us to think about the context of the scripture, discussion questions, prayer prompts and even songs or activities to support that particular devotion.

3)  The devotions are quick and to the point, which is good for shorter attention spans or those with busy schedules.

4) The devotions are written in a way that will engage your older children, but can be explained by the parents when needed.

Overall, this is a great book for the family who spans a broad array of ages.  That said, if your family is predominantly young children, you may want to read the devotions ahead and reword to fit the age group you are working with.  You will find some words that your children may not be familiar with (depending on the verbiage your church uses), some of the discussion questions are better suited for older children who have a background of Sunday school classes, and some of the songs referenced in the “Sing About It” portions were not familiar to me.  This devotion is definitely written for a more seasoned believer, in my opinion.

I do love this devotion, and with all of the tools we have available; simply pre-reading the devotion can help identify areas you might want to brush up on before sitting down with the family.  Since they are short, you can skim it relatively quickly and use your bible or the internet to define unfamiliar words, or even look up the music for the songs.

Do not be intimidated to pick up this devotion, even if some of the references are unfamiliar to you as a new believer.  It will help your grow, understanding the Easter story better, and more accurately.  The devotions are not overwhelming and they do a great job of tying in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

If you are looking for a good devotion for the family, one that you can learn from & teach from… check out Scott James’ A Mission Accomplished.

BOOK REVIEW: Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd

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If you are like me, any book about being a housewife, mother, keeper of the home or helpmate will grab your attention.  Then slowly, over time… lose it.  Why?  I believe, in most cases, it is because these talented authors are not writing TO ME.  They are writing to the new mom, or a young mom.  They are writing to the newlywed.  They are writing more about relationships with your kids or spouse…  like how to “train up your children in the way they should go”; which is really more a parenting book than a devotional.  It’s more superficial, or about THEM and not as much about ME.

Now, I am not saying that advice of that kind isn’t good.  In fact, IT IS VERY GOOD.   It’s just never what I have been looking for.  As a mom with a teenager, I need a devotional that is going to go beyond potty training and temper tantrums.  As a wife of almost sixteen years, I need advice on how to break those habits we allowed to get out of hand for so long, and reconnect ourselves as a couple.  Or, even better, a glimpse into what the future is going to be like when the kids are grown and living their own adult lives.   As a believer, I am looking for more than a reminder that God loves me, that this too shall pass, children are a gift of the Lord, etc.   I am looking for depth & life application.  As a person with a chronic illness, sometimes I have only enough energy and stamina to get a few pages of reading in.  On those days, I need a solid dose of information versus a light and whimsical devotion, wrapped around letting go of the anger when your toddler spills the cherry kool-aid on your brand new carpet.  My soul cries for MORE.

Aimee Byrd… she delivered it.

In Regards to the Writer: Aimee Byrd

While the book jacket refers to her as “an ordinary mom of three”, I find her extraordinary.  Her writing style is one that I enjoy, because she writes as if speaking to someone with a solid head on her shoulders.  No, I am not talking about it being uber intellectual & so cerebral that the laywoman couldn’t read it.  However, it’s not watered down reading.  You can’t rush through this devotional and get the gist of it.  You really need to slowly ingest every word & take some time to digest it.  (Sorry for the food analogy, I’m trying to ignore the fact that I am hungry.)

I appreciate that Aimee Byrd sees that women not only want more out of devotions, but we need it.  She balances wisdom and information with warmth; you feel welcomed into her world.  She is witty and funny, and real.  You can relate to her.  If you have ever wanted a mentor in your life, she would fit the bill.   Aimee Byrd doesn’t underestimate her reader’s ability to delve into the word, and amplifies the need to do so.

In Regards to the Book:  The Housewife Theologian

I didn’t really catch on, at first, that the book was a devotional or small group style book.  I actually thought the introduction was the first chapter, and even marked out significant passages.  If you are a person who skips the introduction of books, DO NOT SKIP THIS ONE!  You won’t regret reading it.  The chapters are well written, building upon each other.  While I would consider them easy to read, they are also packed full of so much good information, you are not going to want to rush through them.  Each chapter is capped off with a list of Journaling Questions, which you can use for independent study and reflection.  However, these questions would also be great in a book club or small group setting.

Highlights from the Text:

“When you fall in love with your husband, are you satisfied at that moment to learn nothing else about him?  Of course not, the opposite is true; you want to know more and more of him.  And your love grows in this way.  Now think of our all-knowing, all-powerful God.  Can we ever exhaust our learning of Him?”  (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

“Our American do-it-yourself way of thinking may make it more difficult to understand the gift of righteousness.”   (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

“We can get so caught up in the struggle with sin that we can forget that it no longer has a reigning power over us.  We need to be reminded that we are under the reign of grace.” (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

“Women especially play a huge role in showing the face of Christianity to the watching world.”  (Aimee Byrd – The Housewife Theologian)

Information on the Book

Title:  The Housewife Theologian

Author:  Aimee Byrd

Publisher:  P&R Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-59638-665-5