I’m Not A Scaredy-Cat

posted in: Books | 2

Seriously, a book with a donut on the cover?  Yes, give me that book!

My kids loved this right away for the very same reason.  And because we ate donuts while reading it for the first time.

I’m definitely a Max Lucado fan, and have been ever since high school when I started reading his books.  He encouraged me in my faith so much during those first years of really growing in the Word.

And, raising boys, I think my boys need this book.

Boys need to be brave to grow into men.

Boys need to be brave to fight injustice in the world with the justice of God

Boys need to be brave to stick up for their siblings on the playground, or that boy who is getting picked on, or that girl who is getting teased.

Boys need to be brave when its not cool to do the right thing.

Boys need to be brave to work hard when it is more popular to be lazy.

Of when they are afraid of the dark and want their door cracked at night.

And this cat in the book reminds us, and our children of great truths:

God is good – always. (Our older son’s life verse says this very thing)

God is near – so good to know that.  When we pray we acknowledge that.

God is here – part of his perfect character.

And that He loves you.

If you’d like to win a copy of this book for your favorite little person – makes a great Christmas gift – then just leave a comment telling me your favorite kind of donut.

Thanks to Tommy Nelson Mommies for this book and the giveaway book!

 

As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire

posted in: Books | 0

Some preachers have a way of writing that gets deep into your soul and changes the way you read Scripture or understand Scripture.

There have been multiple pastors for me over the years, both personally and from afar, who have done that for me.  Who have made my eyes be more open to the truth and life of God’s Word.

Eugene Peterson is one of them.  And his new book, a collection of sorts of his writings/sermons, has caused me to think on certain passages in a new way.  I am still reading his new book, As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire, and will continue to do so.

As with the Message, I don’t read it as my main Bible version, and neither will I used these sermons as my main source of commentary.  But, I love how he brings new things to light in the reading of Scripture.

You will be challenged if you read this book.  You may not agree with everything he says, but as you process, take all to the Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for this book and Russell Moore for recommending it.

Coffee With: Asheritah CiuCiu

posted in: Books, Coffee with..., Uncategorized | 0

Advent starts this weekend.  And one of the books out there for you to read, by yourself or with your family, is Unwrapping the Names of Jesus.  And today, I get to share with you some fun thoughts from the author, Asheritah.  Asheritah and I wrote for the same blog a few years ago and her writing has been a continual source of encouragement for me.

I hope you enjoy the interview.

  1. So what some people might want some help with is how to pronounce your name.  And can you give us a little bit of your background: like your family, what you do, etc?

Sure! My name looks intimidating at first, but it’s easier than it looks. Asheritah, my first name, is pronounced like “margarita” and my last name, Ciuciu, is pronounced choo-choo like the train. It sounds like a silly way to explain pronunciation, but my name has deep significance. My father made it as a compound name, based on Asher, to mean “God is my happiness.” And that’s been the guiding light of my life ever since, and it’s the foundation of One Thing Alone Ministries as well, as we strive to help women find joy in Jesus.

 

I grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and met my husband in sixth grade summer camp. It took eleven years for us to eventually marry, but I’m so blessed to have him as my husband. We have two spunky little girls and currently live in Northeast Ohio.

 

  1. With all the Christmas books out there – why this one? Why now?  What compelled you to write an Advent book?

Believe it or not, I didn’t really enjoy Christmas growing up. Even into young adulthood, the Christmas season brought more anxiety than anticipation, and when I was expecting my first daughter, a mentor of mine encouraged me to begin new traditions for my own family. As I began praying, asking the Lord to help me rediscover the meaning and joy of Christmas, He pointed me to the names of Jesus.

 

If we really believe that Jesus is the greatest gift of all, wouldn’t it make sense that we would want to learn more about Him? What does it mean that He is the Lion of Judah? The Lord of Lords? The Alpha and Omega? Each name is a promise, a unique identity that reveals a facet of His character, and when we unwrap them one at a time, we discover the beauty of Jesus, Son of God, made man for us.

 

My desire with Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is to help readers rediscover the joy of Christmas by growing deeper in their knowledge and love of Jesus, learning to worship Him with all their hearts, so that when Christmas morning rolls around, we’ll all join in to sing, “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

 

  1. Can you share a special holiday memory that you have?

One of my favorite Christmas gifts was a box of English books my dad managed to secure for me in Romania. English books were so hard to find, and he hid a treasure trove under my bed one year, and instructed me to take out only one at a time. Oh, the anticipation of each new book made me both excited to read the next book and also slow down to relish each book I held in my hands. In a way, this special gift inspired the format of Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, as I want readers to have that same experience: excited to read the next day’s name, but also slowing down to relish the beauty of who Jesus is today.

 

  1. You graduated Cedarville.  What was the best part about being at a Christian university?

So much goodness! Cedarville was where I learned to think for myself, to hold up my own beliefs to inspection and really own my faith. But it also taught me the importance of defending my faith with gentleness and respect, something I struggled with as a teenager. I loved having a safe place to wrestle with the difficult parts of my Christian faith, and I still look back with fondness at many of the late nights spent debating transubstantiation, amillenialism, and arminianism, debates I don’t touch much today, but conversations that laid a foundation for my desire to help women dig deeper into the truth found only in Jesus.

 

  1. Being a mom to spunky children, do you ever wonder how you do it?  What about parenting and being in ministry (outside the home)?

Oh, this is a challenge, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or climbing the lego-strewn stairs, there’s always more tugs on your time and body than there is energy to do it all. I think it’s important to enlist the help of others, especially those whose strengths fill in the gaps of your weaknesses.

 

I’m blessed to be surrounded by a community that supports me in life and ministry. From my husband (who is my biggest champion and a huge support in the technical part of running our ministry), to my mom and mother-in-law (who take turns babysitting our girls), to my team of assistants around the world (from South Africa to San Diego and everywhere in between), to the countless women who respond to my SOS prayer texts before I jump on a radio interview or when I’m facing a book deadline, I am blessed with so much help. Seriously, I couldn’t do this all by myself, nor would I want to even try.

 

  1. Out of all the names of Jesus that you unwrap in your advent book, which has been the dearest to you?

This is the hardest question of all, because I don’t really have a favorite. Instead, I’ve found that different names take on new meaning in different situations in life. Just today, I got an email with some bad news, and for a few moments I panicked. But then the Spirit reminded me that Jesus is the Lord of Lords, and that means He’s in control of this situation too. His Names are either true all the time or they’re not true at any time, and it’s moments like those that require us to live out what we say we believe. (BTW, everything turned out ok in the end, because Jesus really can handle our crises, can’t He?)

 

  1. This blog series is called Coffee With…so if we were sitting down having coffee somewhere, where would we be and what would you get?

Easy. We’d be sitting at the copper-topped tables at Artisan Coffee Shop, where you can find me most weeks working on some new project. And I’d probably be sipping on a Dark Chocolate Orangeman, which is part of the secret menu, but if you wanted to try one, I’d order it for you too. 🙂

World View

posted in: Books, World Events | 0

Are you ever confused by everything you see on the news?  On your Facebook feed?  In the your Twitter feed?

Do you ever wonder how you are supposed to respond to all the happenings that take over everyone’s conversation?

New Growth Publishers and Marvin Olasky have put together a book of short writings that will help you know how to think with a Gospel-centered world view.  And there is nothing new under the sun.  So, while these essays will eventually not be headliners – the problems they talk about will just happen in a new way.  With new people.  In a new country or city.

Sin affects everything in our world.  And the entire world is groaning for the return of its Maker.  And Olasky helps us think rightly about the events happening in our world.  This is definitely one to read and discuss – or at least keep a journal on.  It is not a quick read – even though the articles are quite readable in length.  But, if you care about the world and how sin and the gospel impact our world, then you will want to read and digest the articles in here.

Thanks to Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible

posted in: Bible, Books | 0

I’ve not been this excited about a preschooler/toddler Bible in…EVER.

My friend Jared Kennedy makes this book a winner – by beautifully written stories and everything pointing back to Christ – for young kids.  Of course I love the Jesus Storybook Bible, but its more for older children, say 5-6yo.  But, this Bible, the Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, is perfect for preschoolers.  And that’s just where my boys are.

This Bible isn’t about us.  Its not about how to get our kids to behave better or obey a list of rules (even good rules).  This Bible is about Jesus.  And that’s what the God Story is all about anyway.

Jared hits it out of the park with this one.  And after we finish our current family worship book, and Advent, we are going to use his.

Thanks to Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus (Giveaway)

posted in: Books, Christmas | 2

We still have apple pie leftover from Thanksgiving yesterday, but already we are getting in the mood for Advent over here.  My mister is busy with other preparing for the Christmas cantata at our church and planning for the Christmas Eve services.

We’ve done our Black Friday shopping and stood in line with others – thankfully everyone was in a good mood as we stood in line buying our Christmas goodies!

But, even though I didn’t grow up with Advent (I’m Baptist by the way), I have come to appreciate it the last ten years.  It helps me slow down, focus on Jesus, think about the waiting period that happened in the world (both in the silence waiting for Jesus and the time we spend now waiting for his return), and plant meaningful traditions around my home and in my children even through the busy Christmas season.

My friend Asheriah Ciuciu has written a new book called Unwrapping the Names of Jesus.  This is a book that is short – not overwhelming – and focuses on 20 names of Jesus that you can study either by yourself or with your family.

Each day has Scripture, a prayer, application, prose, and Scriptures for further study.  The book also includes some information about why Advent – why celebrate it and what it is for or the intent of the church.  I’m glad that it is simple and asks questions.  We sometimes get so wrapped up in everything that we add our Advent study to the list of things we have to do instead of resting in just being with Jesus.

So, to help you start Advent, I’ve been given the opportunity to give a copy of Asheritah’s book away and with it comes this download that I did featuring all the names studied in the book.  PS: you can just click above and go buy your download, its only $5.

Thank you to SideDoor Comm and Moody Publishers for this book to giveaway!

To enter giveaway: share a Christmas or Advent tradition!  That’s all.

Trusting Grace

posted in: Books | 0

One of the things I’ve noticed in my patterns for hobbies is that when life is a little hard, I don’t want to do anything hard in my “free time”.  So…

Its hard to be mentally sharp to be creative when real life is tough.

Its hard to read non-fiction when my brain and heart is to tied up with life stuff.

Its hard to watch new shows/movies when life is tough in the real world.

So, what do I do?  I read a lot of fiction and binge on my favorite Netflix shows.  And eat comfort food – because why not?  And take long hot showers.  And read books to my boys.  And always have chips and guacamole on hand.

SO, I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately.

One of the books I checked out from my church library was Trusting Grace by Maggie Brendan.  I was introduced to the book by the author herself.  And I really enjoyed it.  It took me about 2 sessions on a bike at the gym to finish it.

After reading some reviews on Amazon, I know there are some problems with it.  But, really with fiction storylines, there is nothing new under the sun.  I think every fiction has tales of love, loss, salvation.  I figured the storyline pretty quick but it had some surprises in there.

And I just really enjoyed it.  It spoke of family, desires, hard work, the old west, cooking, and reminded me of the Janette Oke books I read growing up.

And now there is a Black Friday deal to get the last of this Trilogy.  And, I’ve not read the first two books, but reading Trusting Grace definitely made me want to go get the first two!

Indescribable (Giveaway)

posted in: Books, Kids r Readers 2 | 2

 

I’ve been influenced by Louie Giglio’s ministry since college.  That’s the time that Passion started, went to One Day 2000, all the Passion music throughout seminary, then just a few years ago we moved to Atlanta and I got to attend some events at Passion City Church.

If you’ve heard much of Louie’s preaching – you know he loves God and Jesus and the Cross.  You also will quickly learn that he loves space, science, stars, galaxies, etc.

And I want my boys to be influenced by writers and teachers who love creation and the God who created it.  That’s why Indescribable is such a good book.  Of course its a bit over their heads (I think this book would be good for grade school kids), but it is still a wonderful resource to have.

If you want to use it for family worship time, it would be a good “topical study” book.  There are 100 devotions for kids (of all ages!).  He includes good illustrations that kids will be able to understand.  There is a Scripture and prayer.  This would even be a good tool for homeschooling parents.

Thanks to Tommy Nelson Mommies for the book.  All opinions are my own.  And if you’d like a chance to win, just a leave a comment about your favorite part of science.  I love weather!

9 Characteristics of Wise Parenting

Six years ago, we were newly married, starting our journey together as husband and wife.  We weren’t even pregnant yet.  We decided we would go through the book of James together.  My husband memorized it. I prayed it daily for him, myself, us, and our future.  We entered into our marriage with difficult relationships around us.  We needed wisdom for how to navigate these relationships and for how to head into our future together.  James was a perfect book to study through as newlyweds.

Today, our boys are five and four.  And I’m going through the book of James again with a small group of women.  I need these verses and the Lord’s voice to enter in to my parenting and give me great wisdom as to how to parent these two little boys.  With the Lord’s help, not the world’s wisdom, we can parent well.

He has promised to help us.  He has promised to give wisdom to those who ask.  He has also given us His Word.  This is how the Lord defines wisdom from above.  How can we have parenting that is wise – with His wisdom.  The following is from James 3.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is pure.  It is not bought or coerced.  It is done with pure motives.  It is without error.  This is why we need Jesus in our parenting.  We are not perfect.  We will always fail in our parenting. Our boys do not ultimately need us – they need Jesus.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is peaceable.  Where we don’t raise our voices or cut off our children because we are doing something and they are interrupting.  We seek to bring peace (not fairness) to our children’s lives when they are interacting with each other.  I seek to appease and pacify, but I find it truly difficult to bring peace in our home.  That is why our sons need Jesus – He is our Prince of Peace.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is gentle.  Amazingly I find this difficult unless I’m showing affection.  I get irritable because I’m being interrupted.  I am not gentle if they are doing something wrong.  I need a Gentle Shepherd to shepherd my heart so I can in turn shepherd my children’s hearts.

(Parenting) wisdom is open to reason.  This is getting easier for me, by the grace of God.  Open to reason in parenting is (I think) being willing to hear help from others.  These tips and help may come from my husband, my friends, my pediatrician, books I’m reading, etc.  Find those moms and dads who are (generally) ahead of you in the parenting game and seek them to pour into your life as a parent.  Watch them.  Learn from them.  And that is why we need Jesus, He is all-wise and the perfect teacher.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of mercy.  Isn’t God so rich in mercy!  I love it.  I apply this to some discipline.  And hear me out – this does not mean never disciplining your children when they have disobeyed.  This means walking in step with the Savior who showed you great mercy and plead with them to know how to interact with your children at all times.  They may have done something wrong.  And the best way to show them Jesus in that particular moment is by talking to them about Jesus – not giving them a timeout or spanking.  Jesus is lavish in mercy to us!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is full of good fruits.  Abundantly pouring out in good fruits.  This is an opportunity for you to encourage your kids.  One saying we use in our our is “God is helping you become more…”  We don’t want to tell our kids that they are acting better to focus on their good works.  We want to help them realize that everything good in them is from God.  And to not wait for the big things they do, but be encouraging them in the times you see any kind of good fruit – even a little bud.  And Jesus helps us bear fruit if we abide in Him!

(Parenting) wisdom from above is impartial . See the pure paragraph above.

(Parenting) wisdom from above is sincere.  It is hard to be a mom.  Even those who love being a mom every moment find some moments hard.  But, let us sincerely think about Jesus has called us to.  To shape little hearts and minds.  To point them to Christ.  To grow little boys into men who will one day shape the world around them.  Jesus sincerely came to this world to save us.

(Parenting) wisdom from above will reap a harvest.  We can definitely know that God will bless efforts to shepherd our children and reward us.  It is a promise.  And he is faithful.

One tool I’ve found in helping me pass on wisdom to my children – and hope in the Gospel – is Pass it On by Champ Thornton.  It is a Bible study on Proverbs, with a great introduction to the book, commentary some, focusing on the Gospel (how Jesus fulfills wisdom).  But it is also a journal for you to fill out and pass along your thoughts to your children.  I’ve started doing this for my sons.  It could be used once a week, 30 minutes, and it would take you less than a year for each kid.  What a treasure it would be for your children.

Pass It On was given to me by Litfuse.  All thoughts are my own.

 

Total Christmas Makeover

posted in: Books | 0

I love makeover shows.  What Not To Wear, Fixer Upper, Biggest Loser, Flipping Virgins, etc.

HGTV and TLC are some good shows.

I love how you take the norm and make it into the fabulous new norm.

And what about Christmas?  I love having Christmas in my own home with my own little family: my mister and two boys.  I love the quietness of the day.  I love the phone not ringing and you can sit around all day in your pjs.  It is always hectic up until the day: church activities, retail hours, shopping, work.  But, that day is the quietest of the whole year and I love it that way.

Melissa Spoestra in Total Christmas Makeover, gives her readers some ways to make over your Christmas this year.  Christmas is more than buying gifts and giving gifts, singing in cantatas, and eating too much, and doing all the school crafts!

Christmas is more about thinking of the One who gave up everything for us – all for his glory.  These short devotionals in Melissa’s book have Scripture, gospel, prayers, applicable writing geared where you are, and activities to help you work out the truths that you’ve been reading about.  And they are short to read – you can think about it all day as you go about your day. Because we all know that the Christmas season is probably the busiest time of the year for most people.

Thanks to Litfuse for the book.  All opinions are my own.