The Bronte Plot

posted in: Books | 0

I guess sometimes it is hard on your heart to read books about people who get to travel when you don’t get to do it anymore that often (and would really love to).

But, I really enjoyed the Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay.  Christian fiction without being sappy Christian-ese throughout the book.

A love of books and travel.

A family that has real problems – but not dismissing the problems but knowing that generational sin has an impact on us and what we do with it and its impact with shape our own lives.

Doubts with life and death.

And hope.  Hope is always fitting in a Christian fiction.  Not hope that all is going to work out perfectly.  But hope in a God who does all things well.  That’s of course where our hope lies.

I think my only thing I would do different in this book is not make the conclusion about 2 pages long.  I wanted a continuation of this book based on where it ended.  I would have liked that with her Dear Mr. Knightley too.  So, I guess that’s a good thing!  How about it Katherine Reay – sequels?

Sunday Funday

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

I’ve not done a fun link post like this one in a while.

Thought I would share with you some fun things I’ve found scattered around for your Sunday Funday!

I love to travel.  One of the places I’ve been wanting to return to (since stopping there for such a short time on a cruise) is Vancouver.

Every year until college I went to the Strawberry Festival in FL.  Since then, I’ve been to just a few of the NC State Fairs and maybe one day I’ll get back into going. The cost keeps going up for them (food, entry, parking, rides) and if you take your kids that’s more expensive, or you have to find babysitters (which would be even more expensive).  I really don’t know how my parents afforded us to do so much stuff when we were growing up!  Here is GA’s – and you never know, we may get there.

In the Fall, we celebrate our sons’ birthdays and our anniversary.  Its a crazy time.  If I could do anything with my mister this year for our anniversary I think it would be to go here.

Eating is the best in the Fall.  Warm and inviting tastes and smells.  Who wouldn’t want to make all of these?

What are some fun things you are looking to this Fall?

Gracelaced

posted in: Books | 0

The kids wake you up all hours of the night.  Whether its night terrors, wet beds, loss of their stuffed animal, or maybe still night feedings.

You have an argument with your husband early in the morning that sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Your jeans don’t fit the way you want them to.

The car won’t start.

You burn the cookies.

You don’t love well.

You are anxious about meetings coming up in the coming day.

Whatever hits your world today, the Word of God is your hope.  Christ is your hope.

That’s why I think Gracelaced is a helpful book, no matter the season you are in.

If you are female – this book will meet you were you are.

Ruth is a watercolor and lettering artist, mom of lots of boys, wife, writer, believer.  I had the opportunity to meet her at the last TGCW conference.  Engaging in every way, in person and on the page.

She writes a devotional book for women that is full of truth – just overflowing with it. I know many women who don’t think they can understand deep theology.  Theology is just what you believe about God – the study of God.  And this book will help you grip tighter to your solid beliefs about God.

This book will help you rehearse the truth of the Word that your soul, your heart, and your mind, so desperately need!

And its pretty!

Other Gospel-rehearsing books for anyone to read:

The Gospel Primer

Cross-Centered Life

Coffee With: Sarah Bragg of Surviving Sarah

posted in: Coffee with..., creatives, Women | 0

Though we are no longer Atlantans, I still think of many of the friends that I came to know during our 3+ years of living in the city.

One such friends who welcomed me into her world, listened over coffee, prayer, empathized, cheered on, and encouraged me in the Gospel, was Sarah Bragg.  She is a podcaster, wife, mom, author, cheerleader, and gingham-wearing, coffee-drinking friend.

Her podcast has been such an encouraging feed to me over the last year and I encourage you to go read her blog, her book, and hear her talk to many others, championing what they do, and encouraging women along the way.

So, here’s a little interview with her.  I hope you love her as much as I do.  Friend, I’m thankful for you!

1.  Can you tell my tribe a little about who you are?
I am in my late thirties (its strange even typing that), married to Scott for 12 years and we have two elementary age girls, Sinclair and Rory. I worked full-time student ministry for about 6 years and then transitioned to work for a non-profit organization, Orange, who helps equips those to work in ministry. After creating resources for middle and high school students, I currently lead a team who creates small group material for adults. My first book, Body. Beauty. Boys. The Truth About Girls and How We See Ourselves chronicles what I wish I’d known when I was a teenager—how to learn to be content to be who God made me to be. But my most favorite and fun thing that I do is host a weekly podcast called Surviving Sarah where I get to have conversations with different people about how they are surviving life. We talk about all the things that relate to women.
2. With so many other forms of “social”, why a podcast?
Before kids, I used to travel and speak to young women or women groups around the country. I absolutely loved using my voice to inspire and encourage others. But when my kids were little, it was difficult to even put words together to form sentences so using my voice stopped. As elementary school approached for my kids, I would pray, “God what do you want me to do?” And for two years, I felt like God answered with, “I want you to push others forward.” But I didn’t know exactly what that meant. I would tell God that I just wanted to use my voice again. I liked writing but I loved speaking.  I was still unsure of what God would do. But in October of 2015, God spoke to my heart and said, “I want you to start a podcast so that you can use your voice to push others forward.” I still get to inspire and encourage women while shining a light on the guest on my show.
3. I know you learn so much from each person on your show, but has something really stood out to you in the past eps?
With nearly 100 episodes in the books, I have had several favorite episodes. For me, my favorites tend to be ones about motherhood since that is the state of life for me. I’ve loved chatting with Sissy Goff, David Thomas, and Julie Barnhill. And one of my all time favorite episodes was with Suzanne Stabile, the author of The Road Back To You, as we discuss what the enneagram is and how when you understand who you are wired or those around you, then you are able to extend grace more for yourself and others.
4. How do you balance it all?  Is balance such a thing or just this lofty idea?
I definitely wished that I was able to balance it all. Most days I feel like I’m dropping the ball on something. I think it looks different in different seasons. My kids are a priority, but in this season I can’t volunteer weekly in my kids school. I can’t lead in the PTA. And I can’t bring homemade cupcakes to the Christmas party. I have to be realistic about my schedule and my own limitations. But I can send in money to help with something. Or volunteer once a month in their classroom. It also requires some effort on my part to schedule well. And not just my work hours, but family hours and personal hours. Some days are good and some days are a struggle. And at the end of the day, I have to receive a lot of grace. 
5.  I love your thoughts on hospitality and your kitchen table, your intro the blog each week. Can you talk about how you use your home for hospitality other than your podcast guests?
I have learned a lot over the past several years about not waiting for perfection until you allow others to step into your world. If we wait for perfection, then we’ll be waiting for a long time. Hospitality is about letting others in. It’s about sharing what you have. It’s about vulnerability. I want our home to be a place where people are welcome and feel comfortable enough to be their authentic self. So we have people over for dinner or impromptu sprinkler fun outside. In fact, our front yard has really become an extension of our home. We spend a lot of time in the front yard. My girls know all the dogs in the neighborhood. It takes effort to know the people around you and sometimes the last thing you want to do after a day of working is to talk but that is what hospitality is. Come as you—even if its messy or untimely.
6. If I was still in ATL, and we could sit down at your fave place to chill and chat…where would we go and what would you be drinking?
Well, that depends on the time of day! But my favorite place to sit and chat with someone is my local Starbucks. I can always count on my drink being just right. And I always see people I know from the community. In the summer months, my drink of choice is an iced coffee with cream and vanilla. In the winter months, I stick to a Misto which is basically coffee and steamed milk.

Dear Mr Knightley

posted in: Books | 2

I think I might be becoming more of a fiction reader.  As long a its good fiction.

With being a mom and a creative and a wife, sometimes I don’t have the mental capacity to read a Christian living non-fiction book.  Its a lot of hard heart work.

And Christian fiction really doesn’t do it for me a whole lot because it is filled with cheesy loaded Christian-ese, and it is sorta predictable.

This is why I liked about Katherine Reay’s book Dear Mr. Knightley.  About halfway through the book I looked on the spine to see Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher.  I was surprised.  I just thought it was a clean novel, chicklit, that was fun with a good story.

By the time I finished the book (2 days later), I had fallen in love with the author’s way of storytelling, loved her letter forms for this novel. and couldn’t wait to get my hands on her other books.

If you love non-overbearing Christian fiction, Jane Austen, books, literature, a good chicklit story without a bunch of sex and language – then this is your book.

What I loved about this book from a personal side : growth.  I thought back to what I was like when I was 23.  I had just started seminary.  I moved away from everyone I knew.  I was on my own.  I was thin for the first time in my life.  I could really choose to be anything I wanted.  I was growing.  I was growing in faith.  I had finally come to realize that the world as I knew it wasn’t perfect.

And you know what, I keep growing. I keep going through experiences and daily life that make me think, ponder, and grow.

I like reading books that help me think about who I am – and make it entertaining too.

Just Mercy

posted in: Books | 0

When I was in high school I remember reading John Grisham books – like devouring them.  I read all of this earlier work and still really enjoy him as an author.

Just Mercy reminds me much of Grisham’s work: rivoting, makes you want to keep reading, personal, you get to know the characters.  Bryan Stevenson does an excellent work of drawing you in to his world and not just letting you sit on the sidelines.  And this is, unlike most of Grisham’s work, a true story

This book will grip you in many ways and open your eyes to life in the south, life for those who need justice (which, by the way, is all of us).  And will allow you to see Christ’s redemption for you in a new way as well.

Thank you Blogging for Books for a chance to read this book.  All opinions are my own.

Acts: The Unexplainable Church

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

Last night I was at a church in the country outside of Augusta.  Friendliest church to newcomers I’ve ever been in.  I was quickly shown a seat, many people were including me in conversations, introducing themselves to me, and telling me about the oldest church building in Georgia and that they did baptisms in the creek there and still do them there.  Talk about a loving church.  A welcoming church.

The book of Acts is all about the early church, the adventurers they had in sharing the Gospel, and how the word of the Cross was shared throughout the region.

In Erica Wiggenhorn’s second Bible study, The Unexplainable Church, one covering the last half of the book, you will find thoughtful questions, great history, and spaces to write your own story – how God is leading you to obey the commands that is found in Acts.

We all have a journey in the Gospel.  Acts is filled with conversions, and beatings, joys, friendship, sorry.  And today, in the life of Christians, we find relationships, new relationships with Christ, we find our brothers and sisters in Christ being persecuted because of the name of Jesus.

When you study the book of Acts, you find yourself in God’s story.  His story is neverending.  And so thankful we get to be a part of it.

For a good study on Acts, check out this one., which is the first half of the book of Acts – and then follow it up with this one here. Here is my review of the first one. They are a great set of studies and you will know God’s story better.  Thanks SideDoor communications for this book and Moody Publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Dreamland Burning: a review

posted in: Books, World Events | 1

Earlier this week, so many of us in North America got to witness a beautiful display of God’s creativeness.  I was in the path of totality in SC, and I loved standing there, holding my almost 4 year old, seeing the moon cover the sun, shining in all of its glory, pointing directly to its Creator.

We don’t need to wait another 99 years to be in the path of totality witness the beauty of God the Creator.  We can see it every day.  In the people around us.  Whatever color we are, God created us all.

Dreamland Burning is definitely not my typical book I pick up.  But, when I have a deadline to return it to the library, I literally read 75% of it in one day.  It is so good.

Dreamland Burning is a YA fiction set in both modern day Tulsa, and in 1921 Tulsa.  It shares the story of a high school girl named Rowan (modern day) and a boy named William in 1921.  Amazingly, I didn’t get confused going back and forth, which means her writing two timelines was well-done.

Latham, the author, doesn’t make the connections of the two really cheesy or too predictable.  She uses words and names that are crucial to the story, but doesn’t use them for shock value.  She tells of the happenings, especially in 1921, in such a way that you know what’s going on but doesn’t drag out the details.

This book was captivating and I might recommend it for high school seniors, but would definitely not let them read it on their own.

Here are some thoughts: I wish books like this didn’t need to happen.  I wish my boys could grow up in a world where color really didn’t matter.  I wish my little boy could always have a little friend, named Austen, who is black, lives next door, have birthdays in the same week, and no one would ever thinks that’s odd.  I wish we didn’t pick out county that we lived in because the schools are better.  I wish churches didn’t have to exist so they could be the reconciliation – because reconciliation wouldn’t need to happen.

But, we live in a sinful world.  The only world where we will ever be free of racial injustice is heaven.  And for sure, there will be people of every race in Heaven, worshipping Jesus, because Jesus died for every race, tribe, tongue, and nation.

In the meantime, since we live in a sin-filled, broken world, we need to talk about race, the gospel of reconciliation, and how we can pursue peace.

Fitting in or Belonging (Included in Christ review)

posted in: Bible, Books | 1

There are some themes that take over the Christian conversation world from time to time.  And by that I mean so many of the books being published are about the same topic, or podcasts are interviewing people speaking on the same topic.

Right now is seems to be about friendships, belonging, community, etc.  And one of the questions or tips with figuring our my enneagram number has something to do with this.  One of the reasons I chose my enneagram number is because I have the ability to fit in anywhere, but I don’t always feel like I belong.

Belonging is a deep sense of “I’m loved no matter what” and “these people get me” verses just being able to get along, hang out, or blend in.  As someone who has been in ministry leadership for 20 years and moved around for 17 years, I’ve been rather good at that.

But fitting in is not belonging.  Belonging is sitting down and having your soul poured into for hours on end, and you don’t even have your flip flops on.

Belonging is sharing whatever is on your heart without a lull in the conversation because you don’t have to worry about what to say.  You won’t be condemned because you aren’t perfect or don’t fit the mold.  I’ve lived in areas where I’ve not fit the mold and so I’ve neither fit in or belonged – and that is so lonely.

I was listening to a podcast just yesterday and they were talking about Sabbath, resting, and loneliness.  And usually, I have found if I am lonely, it is not primarily because I am not around friends.  It is because I’ve been absent from the Word in an intimate way, slow to pray, and seeking all of my fulfillment from those who can’t fill it.

Heather Holleman writes a Bible study called Included in Christ – a study on the book of Ephesians.  She does a really good job at helping us know where we are in Christ – rooted in Him – and known by Him – and tells us that we can belong.  She helps you see your part of the story in this wonderful book of the Bible.

Some folks are very detailed and organized in their Bible study.  I’m not.  I kinda pick a book then study it in different ways: a Bible study, sermons, books, lettering, drawing, writing it out, etc.  So, this is a good one to help me along my journey in Ephesians.

If you would like to win a copy of it, just leave me a comment about anything and I’ll pick a winner soon!

Thanks to Sidedoor Communications and Moody Publishers for my copy. All thoughts are my own.

Between Heaven and the Real World : a review

posted in: Books | 0

When I started listening to CCM music in the mid-nineties, it was 4Him, Jars of Clay, Point of Grace, and Steven Curtis Chapman.  I worked at a local Christian bookstore, got to attend many Christian concerts that swept through our town.

I was in our church youth group’s choir and we went on choir tour every summer.  It got me into ministry and shaped my heart for ministry, and we got to wear white hats as we “saddled up our horses” for the Great Adventure tour starring SCC music.

So, to say I was excited when Steven Curtis released his biography I was ready to get my hands on it.  Thankfully I borrowed it, devoured it in a few days and cried my way through it.

I loved how he shared about the good and the bad in his life and marriage and ministry – not just the glamorous life of an artist, but more in-depth.  I wanted to underline most of the book because it is so grounded in the character of God and the truth of the Word.

When we walk through hard times, we can either fall away, fall into a depression, or we can pour out and cry out to the God who made us.  That is what SCC does in this book.

And here is my one warning, you don’t have to read this book.  A few months ago I tried to pick up Mary Beth’s book.  I couldn’t read it.  It was bringing up my fear and anxiety in my heart and my husband, out of care for my soul, asked me to return it to the library unread.  I might be able to read it in a few years, but it wasn’t wise for my heart at this time.  And my best friend encouraged me, if needed, to put the book down and come back to it later.  I couldn’t read this book aloud to my husband because I would weep through most of it.  He finally got to a point and said “no more SCC”.  But, I relished it and finished it, more grounded in the goodness and holiness of God and his perfect and sometimes broken plan for our lives.

My favorite genre of book is memoir or biography.  I love how people can articulate their story.  So often, in our church culture, we get shamed or rejected when sharing the brokenness of our stories.  God accepts our brokenness.  He welcomes us.

 

 

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