Illustrated Notetakers Bible – #Write31Days

illmarker

Bible journaling isn’t exactly a new thing, but combining the journaling along with art is catching on quickly.  There are some people who are just not artistically gifted but love the idea of art journaling.  Then there are those who are like me, who love making art but also are a bit o a perfectionist.  If I mess up on a pad of drawing paper, I can rip it out and throw it away.  However, I would never rip a page of out of my Bible.  So, this artistic concept actually terrified me.

Then I got this, the HCSB Illustrators Notetaking Bible from B&H Publishing Group for the purpose of reviewing.

This Bible contains pages with gray tone sketches that you can follow along with (like an adult coloring book), use as a launching point and customize, and even blank pages for your own art. 

For someone like me, it works with my sensibilities and allows me the freedom to be artistic without the worry of perfection.  I experimented with a few different tools.  The pages are nice and thick, thus I expected to encounter few (if any issues) working with these different tools.

Colored pencils have a smooth finish on the paper, obviously won’t bleed through, and give you the option to erase.  I really liked the pencils on pages that included skintones and detailed garments.

Gel pens are fantastic for smooth outlines and coloring in the blank space.  I didn’t have any issues with bleeding through, as the ink seemed to sit on top of the page.  I really loved the metallic inks.  Depending on the type of gel pen, I would advise allowing the page time to dry before closing it.  Very detailed pages could be prone to smudging (pen issue, not pages), thus I recommend working top to bottom or taking breaks to allow portions to dry thoroughly.

Colored Markers tend to come in a greater variety of colors and ultra fine point tips.  In my Bible, I really enjoyed the smooth outlines.  I also preferred these markers for writing, and they didn’t require dry time like the gel markers.  Certain colors/pigments did bleed through, but I would attribute this to the markers themselves.  These particular fine tip markers were not as nice for filling in space as the gel pens.  If you choose to use markers, I would advise getting 2 sets of the same colors.  One with an ultra fine point for outlines and details, and then a fine/thin point for filling in space more smoothly.

Overall, I think this Illustrators Bible is going to be a perfect fit for my artistic nature and sensibilities.  This would also be a great gift this Christmas, or when Easter and Mother’s Day rolls around. 

Advertisements

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:

badmoms.jpg

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.

Have You Been Summoned?

summoned

I just finished reading the book Summoned, by Daniel Allen Jr,  and it was really quite an unexpected read.  First and foremost, I didn’t realize that the book was intended for men.  I saw the title, and the description and thought:  THAT’S FOR ME!  Had I taken a few moments to look a bit further, like the second sentence on the back cover, it would have been blatantly obvious.

While the central theme of the book is recognizing the call of God to step into a greater role in life, and some of the practical steps in heeding the call; the author also shares very real difficulties and obstacles that come along the way.    I have to admit, I was able to get a perspective shift on how I see some of the men I have worked with in ministry.  Issues and difficulties that I thought were more common for women (like relationships), it turned out were also a problem for men.   I found we had more common ground that I expected, even though we also have very unique experiences as well.

People want to have an idea on how to recognize God’s calling, but they are not always certain of what action that is going to require on their part.  Nor, are they prepared for the things in their life they may have to change, or the challenges they are going to face in the process.  Something that really stood out to me, on a personal level, was the chapter on Baggage.  We sometimes carry a lot of baggage around, and we may not even realize how it is affecting us.  We can become blind to our own character faults, and they can wreak havoc in our lives and in our ministry work.

The chapter on Porn, was one that was clearly addressing a larger issue but in a more specified instance… but is part of what makes this book bent toward men.  This isn’t to say women can’t suffer from this same addiction.  But, as a woman, I skimmed this chapter.  He wasn’t vulgar, please understand that, but just in relation to my own sensibilities on the subject… it wasn’t for me.  I do recognize though the importance, particularly in relation to recent news headlines, that it couldn’t be more timely of an opportunity to address this problem within in leadership.

I’m not sure if I would recommend this to other women to read, but I would certainly recommend it to men in leadership in my own church.  I am also of the opinion that it would make a great book for a men’s small group.

#FCBlogger

*I was given the book Summoned by #FamilyChristian for the purpose of reviewing the title.   The opinions on this book are entirely my own.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Unoffendable by Brant Hansen

genawhat

I have always considered myself an even-keeled person.  In general, I don’t get offended easily.  I try to give the benefit of the doubt to people.  So I might ask, “What’s the big deal?” or “Why are you getting so mad about that?”.  I might even play devils advocate a bit to try and understand the other side’s point of view before I get upset.  There may even be times where I don’t agree with a person, but I also accept they are entitled to their opinion or feelings on an issue.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize there on only a few things that can offend me.

1) Outright, purposeful attacks on a person.

2)  The misuse of the Word of God.

That all said, I admit that I get angry about a lot of things.  I just generally try not to hold onto that anger for very long.  I know it’s not healthy.  I also know… I am probably wrong.

Once my husband said something that really upset me.  Funny thing was that even though I was upset, I knew I shouldn’t be.  He recognized all the signs that I was upset and tried to mend it.  I admitted to him:

I am mad.  But, I am not entirely sure I should be mad at you.  So give me some time to simmer down, and then we’ll talk more.   If we do this now, I’ll probably say something dumb and not very helpful.”

I think I surprised him with my candidness, but truthfully I wasn’t sure I should be mad at him.  I was trying to handle the situation with wisdom, in spite of being angry.  It worked too, because about 30 minutes later, you betcha… I was not angry any more.  We laughed about it and moved on.

But, anger doesn’t always work that way.  Once, a friend said something that offended me.  I called her on it, because this wasn’t the first time she had been careless with her words.  I tried to give her an opportunity to clarify her point, in case I was misunderstanding her.  But, I wasn’t.  I was hurt.  I was offended (it was a #2 situation).  I was angry.  I won’t deny my initial response.

I also wasn’t surprised by it.  I had seen this coming, and made some effort to try and derail it but she never wanted to discuss it with me.  When I called her on her behavior, she just stopped talking to me.  After many attempts to try and rectify it, I gave up.  That was when I got a letter in the mail from her.  A multi-page letter that wasn’t exactly accurate & frankly tore me to shreds.  I was again hurt, angry and offended (this time it was a #1 situation).

And even then, I tried to give the benefit of the doubt.  I still tried to repair & reconcile, but she wasn’t receptive.  She had shut me out.  And that was when I decided that I just couldn’t be angry anymore.  Instead, I was going to pray for her, every time I felt that hurt well up again, I would pray for her.  Things were going ok, until I came across the letter when cleaning out my desk.  I thought I had thrown it away.

I was tempted to read it again.  I knew that it wouldn’t be healthy, and so…. I set it on fire.

letterfire

I really try not to hold on to anger, but sometimes I just can’t.  Even without reading it, all of those emotions came back to the surface again.  A fire consumes everything around it, and so does anger.  When we get angry, when we are angry people, that anger will consume everything around us.  I realized that day, as the paper went  up in flames, she was an angry person.  This anger was deeper than what ever I could have said to upset her.  Again, I knew that God would want me to be praying for her.  So, I did… as the flames reduced the paper to ash… my anger was reduced to compassion.

You may be wondering why I am bringing this up, if I healed from it, and what this has to do with a book review….

Good question… and a great book.  Brant Hansen wrote a terrific book called “Unoffendable”, and let me tell you it has everything to do with the story I just shared.  And so much more.

unoffendable2

His words, thoughts, on the subject of anger in this book… were SPOT on.

First, I had to spend sometime thinking about myself.  How many times I have gotten angry at a person for doing the very things (or similar) that I myself am guilty of.  I was angry at my friend for being careless with her words, but I know there have been times I am guilty of that too.  With my spouse?  My kids?  That person who cut me off in traffic?

unoffend1

I also recalled that my friend was angry, a lot… about a lot of things.  Remember how I stated that I recognized that her anger was deeper than whatever it was I could have said to upset her.    I think that when you have lived a tough life, you will begin to believe you have the right to be angry about everything that is done to you.  Perhaps you didn’t feel like you were allowed to be angry at those who hurt you as a child, or in a previous relationship.  You may begin to think that you have empowered yourself by expressing anger towards anyone who upsets you in the future.  You may feel justified in this anger, but the scriptures have a LOT to say about being angry, holding on to anger, and inflicting others with our anger.

 unoffend3

But, in the end… we have only cast ourselves as victims.  We never own our part in a conflict, because we have convinced ourselves that we are right, and have a right to be angry.  Even though the scriptures clearly call us to forgive and to reconcile.

unoffend2

I took these pictures as I was reading the book, because they were just such strong points, I wanted to share them with my friends and family on facebook.  Guess, what… I am not the only one who needed to learn a thing or two.

unoffendable

And a few more sentiments like that followed, so yes… a hundred times repeated… I think anyone would benefit from reading this book.  It’s written pretty straight forward, and if you have ever heard Brant on the radio…  you will hear his voice in your head as you read.  It’s a little unsettling at first, ha, but I just rolled with it.

Seriously though, it is well written and thought out.  It reads, in some ways, like a conversation.  I would find myself stopping after a paragraph or a few pages, shouting out “YES!” or “THIS IS SPOT ON”… and a few times “I am such an idiot.”  Then I would sit back in my chair and let Brant continue on sharing how being unoffendable, getting rid of anger and forgiving people is freeing.  Not just for specific situations, but for life in general.  Because, it becomes a part of your daily life. You simply decide to NOT be offended.  Ever. Again.  You are not going to hold on to anger.  Any. More.

… and you are going to forgive.  More. Than. Ever.

* The book “Unoffendable” was given to me by Family Christian for the sake of reviewing.  The opinions within this review are entirely my own and not influenced by Family Christian.

Movie Review: Holy Ghost

Recently I was given the opportunity to watch this movie for the purpose of reviewing it.   It made me very uncomfortable.  I’m going to break the movie down into 4 very specific sections, but first let me explain the purpose of the movie.

The concept of the movie, is the director wants to film a movie (documentary style) completely led by the Holy Spirit.  Going where the spirit leads him, encountering those whom the spirit wants them to encounter, and doing what the spirit leads them to do.

In essence, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

There are 4 sections in the movie’s progression:

Section 1:  2 Men head into a city which is predominantly Mormon.  They are claiming to heal people, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Section 2:  We head to an interview with Brian Head Welch from the band Korn, who became a Christian.  We get some personal testimonies of God healing people from addictions.  As part of this portion, they head into the crowds before a concert to perform healings, again through the Holy Spirit.

Section 3:   The team heads out of the country to Italy, where they are to have an adventure with a boat.  While there, there are are some prayers for healing (physical and emotional).

Section 4:  The team heads to India, to an incredibly dangerous area for Christians.  To share the gospel.  Healing prayers occur, but not as much of the main focus.  In fact, most of the focus here is simply that they are doing something dangerous and being protected by the Holy Spirit.

We are called to test the spirits, to discern false spirits.  We are told to test the word, to discern lies and misrepresentation.  I also need to acknowledge that I am a very skeptical, skeptical person.  It’s not that I don’t believe that divine healing is possible, or that God doesn’t still give us the gift of healing today.  However, I also don’t believe every instance we see proclaimed on television is real.  In part, because we have seen this exposed in the past.

In the end, after reflecting on the movie, doing some research, and prayer… I can NOT recommend this movie.  Let me explain why, section by section.

Section 1)  I am very suspect of the “healings” we see her, but rather lean toward these are tools of the power of suggestion.

  • There is no sharing of the Gospel in this portion.  In the scriptures, every healing was a tool to share the gospel.  Jesus revealed in the healing, and in ministry after Jesus final ascension into heaven… healings were a tool of the Gospel. Additionally there were instances were people were not healed, Peter, for the glory of God.
  • In their “prayers” for this healing they Command the Holy Spirit to heal, they are not asking.  In fact in one of their prayers, the person praying said “Holy Spirit, I give you permission to enter this man’s ministry.” – At what point do we as humans give the Holy Spirit PERMISSION to do anything?
  • In their prayers, only one did they ask for the healing in the name of Jesus.
  • In the actual acts of healing, the men are essentially having to convince the person they are being healed.  This is a power of persuasion.  In all but 1 account in the scriptures, was healing not instantaneous.  A woman was completely healed of her illness by touching the hem of his garment.  In this movie, the accounts of healing take repetitive suggestion.  Do you feel a difference?  No.   — pray again— How about now?  Do you notice any difference?  A little. — pray again— How about now?  A little bit?  — pray again — How about now?.      In scriptural healings it was that miraculous total healing that got the person’s attention.  Jesus and his disciples didn’t have to coax a healing.  Not one time.

Section 2)  Section two really started out well done.  We get an opportunity to hear the personal testimony of someone who was rescued (instantly) from a life of addiction.  Brian Head Welch’s testimony, and that of his bandmate, could have stood on it’s own.  It would have been a big redeeming from Section 1 of the movie. Unfortunately, the directors toss in another “healer” and they begin the same tactics as Section 1, but in the crowd of people at one of the concerts.

  • I question the legitimacy of the prayer healing tactic, because in the case of celebrity status… these are fans, and they’d say just about anything to be close to the two members of the band.
  • The “healing” tactic used on the atheist man’s is a well known deceptive technique.  He is positioned in such a way to give an illusion of healing (known as leg pulling).  Fact is, if the Holy Spirit wanted to heal this man… sitting was not required.
  • Again, the Gospel was not shown.  Instead we heal a bunch of people, and because you buy this… let’s accept Christ as your savior.   While I can hope that this illusion would at least plant a seed, to make any of these people dig deeper into belief.   I’m suspect.  And, when the atheist finds in a matter of days or weeks that he isn’t healed… this show did more harm than good toward leading him to Christ.  It becomes further evidence that we are just another bunk religion.
  • I also believe that this takes some of the creditability away from Brian Head Welch’s testimony, being associated with this production.

Section 3)  So, this big “boat adventure” is nothing, really.  They see the boat, they get on the boat, and then almost immediately leave the boat.  The rest of the section takes place elsewhere in the city. On the docks, in a restaurant, in a bar.  If the Holy Spirit tells you directly, that you are going to have an adventure on a boat, you have an adventure on a boat.   You don’t visit a boat.  The Holy Spirit didn’t tell them you will encounter someone with a boat.  Or, you will know them by their boat.  Their clear “divine” instructions were that they would have an adventure on a boat.

  • The boat, the whole inspiration for this trip, is totally inconsequential.
  • The boat owner, becomes their shift to explain the deviance from their original mission… is also really inconsequential.  I felt more like what I was seeing was a make shift therapy session & not a spiritual divine appointment.  People, have problems. It isn’t hard to find a person who doesn’t have some sort of struggle.
  • The other encounters (3) on this “adventure” were also inconsequential, and we are given no real explanation of how this was important to the Gospel.
  • There was no sharing of the Gospel message.

Now, before I move on to the 4th section, I also want to point out that there was ZERO follow up with any of these people who they “healed”.  They showed us only their initial encounters with these people, but not any follow up with whether or not these healings lasted.  In the scope of a documentary, they had to get permission (legal contract) to show this… so, there is no reason for them to NOT have contact information to follow up with these people.

This creates a feeling of suspicion in me, because if you were trying to PROVE something… you need evidence.  There is NO evidence.  No interviews later to see if the person was still healed, no interviews with their doctors to see if the doctors could explain it, etc.  This calls us to get caught up in the emotions that sensationalism evokes.

We want miraculous healing.  We want to believe it to be true.  We HOPE that it is.  As, believers, we also KNOW it is possible.  And because of all of these wants, hopes and belief… we are susceptible to the power of suggestion.

Jesus and his disciples healings had hard evidential proof.  A man born blind, that the entire community knew, healed… instantly.  This was not some random stranger that everyone had to simply believe his word that he was healed.  They knew him, they knew him since childhood.  They knew he was blind, without a shadow of doubt.  And he was healed.   In this particular case, there is evidence that the healing stuck, because a week later he was questioned by the Jewish Leaders.

This movie offers not a SINGLE evidence of proof toward of their healings.

Section 4)  The trip to India… this could have been the ENTIRE MOVIE for me, and done much more toward evidencing the proof of the Holy Ghost than the rest of the movie.   Overall, I agree with the amount of protection this DIFFERENT team had in their trip.  I cannot explain how they were not harassed, or how they were allowed into some of the areas they accessed.  Even the on the ground missionaries were shocked and didn’t believe them until they noted they had video of it.

  • Healing prayers were a very small amount of this portion of the film.  Only once, was there even a claim of immediate healing.  The difference, between the previous healings… it was IMMEDIATE, the reaction of the man was total shock and surprise.  Of all the healings in the movie, this is the ONLY ONE, that had at least some credibility.  The man’s response seemed genuine and it got the attention of those around him.
  • There was SOME Gospel introduction here, a stark difference to the rest of the movie.
  • While they exalted some of the moments were an local temple high priest was singing along with their worship music… I can’t ignore my skeptical side that wondered … did he know what he was singing, or just repeating words?  There are plenty of songs in Spanish that I enjoy and sing along to… but I have no clue what they are saying.  (I should probably look into that, ha.)
  • There was one point, where the crowd grows pretty big & at least someone from the crowd gets a bit aggressive.  They leave.  I don’t know if this counters that they were “protected by the Holy Spirit” or part of the protection, knowing that it is time to leave. So I can’t really give a solid opinion on that scenario.

When I watched the movie… at first, I was caught up in the emotions of it.  Even a skeptic like me.  However, as time passed, and I was detached from the emotional response… reservations begin to settle in.

Even when I searched for the youtube trailer, I began to find a LOT of videos and articles that debunked the movie.  These were well documented, well researched, and biblical sound arguments against the claims and behaviors in the movie.

In my own research in the scriptures, what they do here is not in alignment with how healing occurs in the scriptures.  It is also not in alignment with WHY healing was used in the scriptures.

You may ask… was there ANYTHING redeeming in the movie?  A little bit, but it is outweighed by the things that concerned me.  Which is what concerns me the MOST about the movie.  A little bit of truth can make a lie, misrepresentation, con, or manipulation seem TRUE.

I actually think this is a very dangerous movie.

That said, if there is anything positive I can pull from it is this…. THESE PEOPLE WERE BOLD.  They may fully believe that they are doing these things under the spirit, they may not be intentionally trying to scam or manipulate people.  But, there tactics are easily debunked.  The gospel is excluded from their mission.  There is no part of what they are doing that is in full concert with the scriptures.

But, they were bold.  I was very convicted by my own lack of boldness.  When those who are doing things outside of the scriptures are THIS BOLD… we as Christians need to be BOLDER.  Jesus was not timid when it came to calling out false teachers, false prophets.

If you are person strong in your faith, I think you could watch this movie and not be persuaded by it.

However, if you are a new believer, weak in your faith, or a long time believer who is not well versed in the scripture… this could be very damaging to your walk.

* The movie Holy Ghost was given to me by Family Christian for the sake of the review.  The opinions in this review are entirely mine, and not influenced by Family Christian or those who are involved in the making/production of this movie.  I received no cash payment for this review.

PRAYERS FOR YOUR CHILDREN – Book Review

prayersforyourchildren

To be blunt, PRE-ORDER THIS BOOK.

If you have children in your life, this book is frankly amazing.  I am so glad I was able to get my hands on an advanced copy!  Every so often, I will write reviews for Family Christian on various books they sell in their stores and online.  My compensation is getting books for free, which as an avid reader… that is a win.  So, when I was given the opportunity to get an advanced copy of this book… I SAID YES.

Let’s face it, sometimes…. our prayers for our kids… can become a bit ROUTINE.

Dear God, please watch over my children…

Keep them safe.  Help them to know you…

Let them do well in school, get along with their siblings better…

Heal their cold, help them pass their tests…

Lead them to a godly spouse…

Amen.

Sound familiar?  In recent years, I have been trying a lot harder to pray from the scriptures.  Yet, even with that attempt, I still found that the it was getting repetitive.  I needed help!

In the past, I have purchased devotion books for my kids.   They are great for teaching kids, and praying WITH your kids, but not for your kids.  At a recent meeting with my church small group, we talked about the difference between praying ABOUT people, and praying FOR them.  I really want my prayer life for my kids to be more meaningful, I don’t want to pray a laundry list of all the things they are doing wrong, failing at, or causing frustration to me.  I want to pray for my children with deep, scriptural, prayer.

In the book, Prayers for Your Children: 90 Days of Heartfelt Prayers, we get exactly that.  When you finish the 90 days, you may be ready to launch off on your own.  But, you may find, you want to start back over from the beginning, making small changes along the way.

The author, James Banks, has a very comfortable writing style that gets right to the point.  The 90 days of prayers are broken up into themed weeks (Knowing [God], [Being] Thankful, etc).  Each day, within that week, has a selection of scripture that reflects the days main point.  Immediately, you move into the prayer structure.  Supporting the scripture and theme for the week, every sentence of the prayer reflects scripture.  Not only is it written out for us in a prayer format, but the actual scripture is referenced in parenthesis next to it.

As you begin to move through the pages of the book, I would recommend reading through the prayer first.  With a prayer journal, or even just by writing in the margins of the pages, customize the prayers to the child you are praying for.  Change he into she, or substitute with your child’s name. Perhaps the prayer selection brings to mind a very specific situation, jot that down & make sure to include it in your prayers.  After reading through it, pray it!  Pray on your own, or with your spouse; you may even wish to include your child in the prayer as they get older.  Utilize your journal or empty space in the margins, to come back to it & keep track of how God is answering your prayers.

In moments of doubt, you can reflect on how God has answered your prayers & is working in the life of your child.  And, if your child is going through a season of doubt…. show it to them.  Let them see all of the prayers you had been praying for them, and how God was moving on their behalf… and they didn’t even know it!

Life will throw our kids loops and put obstacles in their way.  You may not choose to work through the prayers in order, but instead search for the ones appropriate to what is happening in your child’s life… right now.  Regardless of how you choose to use it, this is a great scriptural prayer resource.  A perfect tool for any parent.

At $12.99 it is not an expensive book at all, and one you may reference over and over again.  This would make a great gift for parents-to-be, parents that are new believers, or even for that parent who is struggling with their child.  When we shift from praying ABOUT our kids and into praying FOR them, it opens up compassion and allows us to see our kids from heavenly perspective.

Prayers for Your Children: 90 Days of Heartfelt Prayers

Author:  James Banks

Publisher:  Discovery House Publishers

ISBN: 978-1-62707-333-2

Currently on Pre-Order, Anticipated for Release March 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd

Housewife-Theologian-1024x377

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