Book Tour! Day 6 – Lists to Love By

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.

DAY SIX:  LISTS TO LOVE BY FOR BUSY WIVES by Mark and Susan Merrill

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I received Lists to Love By from Faith Words for the purpose of reviewing.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ok… so Valentines Day is not too far away, and what a better thing to do on Valentines Day than celebrate your marriage!

Times have changed, women are not at home tending the kids and prepping dinner before their husband gets home.  We are busy.

* We are busy at work.

* We are volunteering more.

* We are pinteresting perfect birthday parties for our kids.

Ok… to be fair, some of our busy is self imposed.  But, I remember thinking how much free time I would have once all three of our kids were in school.  This was a lie.

My whole life is organized by ongoing lists.  Lists keep me sane.  Lists make sure I don’t forget.

It is no surprise that this title would appeal to me.  Yes, I’m admitting it.  I need a list to be a better wife.

I’ve actually been a fan of the Merrills for quite some time, through Family First.  I expected that I would probably read some familiar ideas and suggestions, but also eager to get new ones too.  Turns out that this book was not exactly what I was expecting.

Expectation:  I would find cute, fun, romantic, and inventive check lists of ideas for date nights or flirty texts I could send my husband.

Reality:  This book digs a little deeper than superficial lists.  For example, the first “list”, is 7 Truths About Marriage.  Yep, we are going to dig deep to truth.  And… there was a quiz at the end of the chapter. List Three was on 5 Powerful Words for Your Marriage.  I realized I could do a better job in how I communicate with my husband.  List 12, it wants to talk about a struggling sex life. Yep, we are going to get personal.  Discussion questions follow that one, so… yeah I also have to talk about it.  UGH.

In all seriousness, this book is filled with 30 lists that are well beyond check off boxes with novelty suggestions.  It is filled with 30 lists that are meant to help us refocus on our marriages, our spouses, with intention and purpose.  Reading ideas, lists of truths, answering questions to explore these little chapters, actionable steps to be a better wife.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is married, or preparing to get married.

Great engagement or bridal shower gift, for certain.  I might also recommend this book to the woman who is struggling with her marriage.

It’s true that the only person you can change is you.  So, if we want a better marriage… I can only change myself.  If we put forth the effort we can save a failing marriage, take a good marriage to great, or keep the exceptional marriage going forward.

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Book Tour! Day 5 – Successful Leaders

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.

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I received Successful Leaders of the Bible from Faith Words, for the purpose of review.  The thoughts and opinions are my own.

DAY FIVE:  SUCCESSFUL LEADERS OF THE BIBLE by Katara Washington Patton

Yesterday’s post was about building a culture of developing leaders within your church.  Today’s book is a collection of Biblical examples of leaders.  Each chapter of the book is devoted to leader, from the Bible, and the character of their leadership.

This is not the first book by Katara Washington Patton that I have read, and it just fits perfectly within her style.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  Patton examines the leader in relations to their purpose in God’s redemptive plan, highlights their positive attributes as a leader, and then applies these lessons to our every day life.  However Patton also reveals the areas where some of the leaders lost sight or slipped up.  A reminder that even the most Godly leaders we celebrate were still imperfect humans, redeemed by God’s love for them.

I’ve always said that we learn two things from the people we encounter, when it comes to our personal development.  We learn 1) who we want to be and 2) who we do not want to be.  Even from the greatest leaders we can learn just as much (if not more) from their mistakes and we do from their success.

If you truly want to understand more about what Biblical Leadership looks like, from the perspective of the leaders found in scriptures, Patton’s book is a great starting point.  Patton is careful to include scripture references, which can allow you to examine these leaders further.  I’d encourage you to look beyond these nine leaders and keep digging into the scriptures for more examples of good (and bad) leaders that you can glean from.

Book Tour! Day 4 – Designed to Lead

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 Designed to Lead from B&H Publishers and Lifeway Stores, for the purpose of review.  The thoughts and opinions are my own.

DAY FOUR:  DESIGNED TO LEAD by Eric Geiger an Kevin Peck

My ministry work revolves around the training of other leaders, therefore it is vital that I am reading books on leadership, team building, etc.  I read these books to learn to lead better myself, but also to convey to others more effective way we can lead in our ministries (and even businesses).

Leadership development is something that has been on my mind lately.  I’ve been looking at various churches and trying to understand why their Associate Pastors are hired in from outside, and not being developed within the church.  Curious as to why we need a Pastor Search Committee for a new Head Pastor, when we have a team of Associate Pastors that should move into place.  Contemplating why it throws a ministry into havoc when a leader steps down, shouldn’t there be someone ready to take over that position?

I’ve heard many leaders suggest that if we are a Paul (a leader) that we need to be training up our Timothy (eventual replacement).  Yet, I’m seeing very few upper tier leaders who are walking the talk.  Are our churches lacking the conviction to develop strong leaders?  Or, do they simply not know how to do it.  Is it one thing to train someone to become the next small group leader, but a totally different thing to train someone to be a Pastor or ministry leader?  If you are a Pastor, I wonder… how many people in your church are you personally mentoring because they feel called to the role of Pastor?  How many people from your church have answered the call to Missions, and how have you prepared them for that call?  Or, are you sending them off to some organization to do the work for you?

I’ve had the pleasure to bear witness to churches who HAVE been purposeful in not just encouraging leaders, but also developing them and encouraging them toward that call.  I’ve also scratched my head and wondered why the members of a church have no idea that leadership positions are being advertised on staffing sites, and not offered to qualified people in the church.  I’ve seen churches HIRE someone from another state, when a qualified person sits in their pews every Sunday who would do the job for free as a service to the church, using their talent to bless the church.

This is why I am a big fan of Designed to Lead, because the authors share that same vision.  A vision of not just developing strong leaders but creating a culture that also encourages those leaders.  A building structure that isn’t waiting  around for someone to say “hey, I’d like to be a leader”, but is instead INTENTIONAL on identifying those leaders and creating a system to develop them in to the best leader that they can be.

I must admit that I am tired of watching people LEAVE their church as the only way they can LEAD in the church.    If we had an intentional and systematic plan in place to develop leaders in the church, would we ever need a Pastor Search Committee again?  Would we ever need to put out a classified ad for a Ministry Leader?  Would we need to pay relocation expenses, or help our new hire find housing?  Wouldn’t we also create a place where we are creating jobs for our community of believers?

A woman once shared with me that a position opened up in her church, that she was qualified for, but she only found out after the church hired in a woman from another area.  The woman was not only qualified for the job, but currently unemployed.  That job would have been a blessing to her family, and her experience would have been a blessing to the church.

Designed to Lead walks us through the type of Leadership we need to encourage, creating a culture for leadership development by intentional pathways, and keeping a focus on the biblical models and expectations of leaders.  As you work through the text, there are questions that will prompt you to explore your own thoughts and the needs for your church.  There are diagrams to help visual learners understand the concepts being shared.

Ultimately, this is a great book for leaders who desire to build up other leaders.  It is also a challenging book for those who haven’t created that culture within their church or ministry.  I would recommend taking your time to read through the book and really examine your own positions on the subject and respond to the challenges and convictions.

Book Tour! Day 2 – Moving On

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.

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I received this copy of Moving On by Ruth Ann Batstone, via NavPress for the purpose of reviewing.  The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Tour! Day 1 – Curious Faith

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.

DAY ONE:  CURIOUS FAITH by Logan Wolframbooktour1

Curious Faith was given to me by DavidCook.com for the purpose of reviewing.  The thoughts and opinions in this piece are my own and not influenced by the publisher or author.

Before I talk about the book, I want to share why this book appealed to me in the first place.  Generally speaking, I am a pretty optimistic person.  I truly believe anything is possible when we are willing to put forth the effort and give the time.  It was part of the tag line, “The God of Possibility” that caught my attention.

As much as I believe anything is possible, I’ve learned over the years that possibility isn’t about what I can do in my own strength.  In almost every case, someone had to do some prep work ahead of me.  These people developed tools, researched date, created products, went through trial and error processes, etc.   The things that I want to do become possible in part because someone else had a least paved part of the way.

Thirteen times in the scriptures we are reminded that when dependent on man, little is possible… but with God?

ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE.

But the scriptures also remind us that while all things are possible, not everything is beneficial.  How do we know what is and what isn’t beneficial?

How do we find the HOPE in the God of Possibility?

In order to begin, we must understand WHO God is in the first place.  Curious Faith spends four chapters just helping us understand who God IS and ISN’T.   The reality is that when we don’t understand exactly who God is, we can’t even begin to fathom what He can do in our lives.  We learn who God is through those who experienced direct contact with God (Old Testament) and the actions of God that weave through the Old Testament provisions and protections to the New Testament crucifixion.    When we learn WHO a person is, WHAT their actions are, HOW they respond/react, and WHY they do this…

We can begin to see what possible things lie in wait for us. But our God even gives us a glimpse into what that future holds should we just believe.

Logan Wolfram then takes us on a journey through the following six chapters helping us to expose the roadblocks that hinder our hope.  If we know who God is, and we trust Him, why do we question what is possible with His favor and guidance?  We need to examine our own strongholds, we need to understand why the Lord will take us into the wilderness for a time, how to have patience when we are eager, and so much more.

When we can understand the roadblocks that are standing in our way of hope, we can begin to get beyond them.  No roadblock is impossible to move, it takes the faith of the mustard seed to move a mountain.

In the final three chapters we move forward into that pursuit of hope.  Now that we have understood more about who God is, and recognized the roadblocks we need to get beyond, we can feel the freedom to move forward in the hope that the Lord has promised us.

Recommendations:

I think Curious Faith is a great book for a new believer.  Depending on the person, you could even give this to someone who is seeking but uncertain.    I also would recommend this book to a person who is going through a trial, where hope seems impossible.  Even the most seasoned believer can use a gentle reminder about who God is, His promises to us, that the obstacles are the strongholds we are holding onto, and that there is freedom when we get past them.

Working Through Chapter 4, Enjoy.

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This past week was work. I had some things on my “to-do” list to accomplish, appointments to squeeze in before the holiday, and of course we actually celebrated the holiday with our family down south. Then, and I’m not entirely sure how this happened, I was wrangled into doing some Black Friday shopping. This is a first in my lifetime. Saturday was a blur, and here we sit… Sunday.

I’ll be honest, I don’t always enjoy work. My Pastor’s wife once called me “high capacity” because I am a person who can get stuff done, done well, and done quickly. But… that doesn’t always mean I want to do things I think in part it was how we were raised, you just do what has to be done. No sense whining, just get it over with.

When I graduated high school, I got a job as a cashier with an office supply chain as a cashier. Within just a short number of years I was promoted to Assistant Store Manager. This was unheard of for that company, and I was the youngest manager in the history of the company. Due to my high capacity? Probably. But to be honest, it probably had to do more with boredom.

I was bored as a cashier so I did everything I could to get bumped up to another position. I was the first to volunteer for cross training in other departments, it was nice to get called back to another area of the store. It would break up the monotony of my day. As a manager, each day brought new challenges and tasks. Even the mundane wasn’t as mundane being broken up by the randomness of each days obstacles.

When my husband and I had our first child, and we determined I would not return to my job… that was a shift. A huge shift for me. I missed my purpose and the identity I had created in my job. Almost immediately I looked for something to do that would provide that same self value.

I struggled seeing value in what I was doing at home. Emotionally, I knew it was right. I couldn’t bear to work the hours my job required of me and be away from my baby. Yet, sitting at home for hours on end when the baby would sleep doing housework… I didn’t get it. It was boring. It was the same thing every day. The mundane wasn’t being broken up by challenges to overcome and strategies to develop.

It is still something I struggle with, and I’ve been parenting for nearly 18 years. What it has always comes down to, for me, is having to remind myself of two points.

1. It’s a season.
2. God has a reason.

Eventually, these children are going to grow up and move out of this house. We had our children so young, that there is still a lifetime ahead of me. For whatever reason, this is the season the Lord called me to. He didn’t give me a heart to return to work full time and any attempts I have made to bring “work” back into my life… he always seems to thwart. I didn’t get it at first, but as my eldest navigates her senior year… I notice I say no a lot more often. Spending time together a family has become far more important, and I realize that all of these years with her have had more value than I could have ever imagined.

Chapter 4 of Trillia Newbell ‘s book Enjoy is centered around work and how we can find joy in what we do each day. Whether you are a parent, working at home, or out in the workforce. She recognizes the beauty of a God who worked for six days before He rested, doing good work. Pointing out that the call to work really hasn’t changed but instead sin corrupted our attitude toward our work. And, Trillia helps us to explore how we can find joy and delight in even the most mundane work, by shifting our perspective on work.

Lord, help us to see the beauty in this gift to toil for you!

The Unexpected of Chapter 3 (Enjoy)

Well, well… Chapter 3… Trillia Newbell tackles what can be a tough and awkward topic.

Chapter 3 is all about intimacy in our marriages, and if you are a fan of Authentic Intimacy … chapter 3 is a worthy read (Hannah Nitz ). Lord knows I have a heart for that ministry, because of my own failures. I am a tough cookie to crack, with some baggage.

(Also, single ladies… there are some pages in there for you too!)

What I didn’t expect were some of the nuggets from Chapter 3 that made me think of other areas and relationships. Yes, sexual intimacy is a marital… but intimacy is not exclusive to our marriages. We have other people in our lives that intimacy is a good thing (best friends), is a place of safety (parents), and our relationship with God is very personal and should be rooted in complete intimacy (we can hide nothing from Him).

So, a big thing that struck me from the chapter was when Trillia explained that bitterness in it’s simplest form is unforgiveness. Just a bit ago, I was a guest contributor for Virtuous Bella talking about wounds that are bound up so tight they begin to fester. So, perhaps that is why this caught my attention.

I started reflecting on my notes from the chapter, on the evidences of bitterness. I began to think of conflicts I have been involved in. I’ve thought about how people have responded to me, and even how I responded to others.

I think we’ve all been guilty of bitterness now and again. However, some of us have allowed the wounds of past hurts to created roots of bitterness that have grown deep. Too deep. Where these bitter roots of past relationships have begun to strangle out the healthy relationships that fall in their pathway. Skewing how we perceive people coming into our lives, always as a threat or at least someone to be suspicious of.

When our perspective is skewed, we see a threat that doesn’t exist. We take things personally, that were never meant to hurt us. We are so bent on self preservation that we become incapable of seeing those who God has brought into our lives to try cut back those roots. Instead we just let them grow deeper and continue to stretch further.

Let me share with you a great thing about the book, Enjoy, that I think is such a blessing. At the end of each chapter, Trillia challenges us with: The Enjoy Project. It is a list of tasks/suggestions that are based on the chapters theme, ideas to help us enjoy our lives and relationships more.

These project ideas are great ways to cut back those roots of bitterness.