Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pursuing Happiness.....right or wrong?

Happiness seems to be an elusive concept in our society.   Society chases it, hunts for it, claims it as the reason for their decisions, and hopes for it to come "one day".  It's as if happiness was a rare butterfly where people wait hours in one spot hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature, only to have it flit away on silent wings.  People gamble for it, shop for it, dream of it, and hope that by 'luck' it will come....if even for a moment.
But what if happiness wasn't a mystical creature that by chance you capture, but rather a fulfillment of the gifting and calling God has given each of us individually?  What if instead of being a 'kill-joy'as many people think of Him, God has already given us the ticket and it's up to us if we want to join Him on the ride.
Such is the premise of Jennifer Dukes Lee's book The Happiness Dare.  In it, she proposes that each of us has a specific style of happiness God wants us to fulfill. These five styles are Doer, Relater, Thinking, Giver, and Experiencer.  Jennifer writes from her farm house in Iowa, of her own struggles to experience happiness. She wrestled with whether God even wanted her to be happy in the first place. Jennifer finally came to the conclusion that God not only permits it, but desires for us to join Him in this pursuit of happiness through blessing those around us and delighting in His creation. 
Even without taking the handy quiz online or in the book, it was clear my style is the relater.   Take me out for coffee, send me a note, or let me communicate with the world in some form, and I am happy.  I also enjoy my moments of doing and sharing new experiences.  One of my dear friends is a Doer who thrives on helping others, while another friend is always looking for ways to give time or materials to support those around her. Each of us is most 'happy' when we are acting within our personal style.
To say I loved this book is an understatement!  I sent the quiz to my friends and processed how it would help me better support them in their journeys.  I also am learning to be content in my own gifting/enjoyments, instead of comparing myself to others.  I highly recommend this book. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for review purposes. 
Cover: The Happiness Dare

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Coloring our praises

I've been intrigued by people who draw their way through the Bible, adding artistic flare to what the Lord is teaching them.  I was excited to be able to review the Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal.  I was equally excited to see all the other products they offer in their  Living Expressions collection! How cool to be able to journal and color your Bible as you read through the text!
The Gratitude Journal provides space to record your heart's prayers in the areas of confession, praise, and petition.   The prayers are coupled with Scripture, surrounding the reader/artist with God's promises. This artistic journal provides another way of speaking  your heart to Jesus, and listening to his heart. It covers such topics as worship, family, unsaved people, daily time with Jesus, confession, blessing others, and many more. 
I received a complementary copy of this journal from Tyndale House Publishers for review purposes. 978-1-4964-1579-0

Having a clean home and a clean heart

How do you find the balance between keeping your life under control and keeping your heart in check? In her book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way, Sarah Mae gives daily assignments for your heart and your home.  It's so easy to feel overwhelmed and to not know where to start when you survey your closets and secret stashes of things you can't bear to part with, but don't know what to do with. 
One of my favorite phrases is, 'How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.'  In her book, Sarah attacks the elephant mess of your house and breaks it apart into 31 bite size pieces.  Each day, she provides a devotional reading dealing with areas of contentment, priorities, motivation, and developing a vision for your home.   She ends each chapter with an assignment for the day such as cleaning out the kids' closets, washing all the floors, emptying out the junk drawer, etc.  
The things I loved about this book were how she broke it down into small steps, and how she balanced house work with heart work.  From experience, it's easy to write a to do list, and know what rooms need help, then feel overwhelmed in knowing where to start. I've heard of people doing book clubs with this book, to keep each other accountable in finishing each day's assignment.   It's also easy to get caught up in doing, and miss Jesus' invitation to join Him in his vision for our home and life. 
To be honest, in this season of life with a 1 year old, a puppy, and expecting our next, I couldn't keep up with the assignments.  The layout won't fit everyone's season of life.  For some, it may be better to do two chapters a week, instead of one a day.  I chose to read it for the main ideas, instead of following the game plan. More important to me were the major concepts of: just do something/start somewhere (don't sit there), don't keep it all, determine your main priorities, have a vision for your home, be intentional, and ask Jesus for help. 
I received a complementary copy of the book from Tyndale House for review purposes. having-a-martha-home-the-mary-way-by-sarah-mae-cover

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Unveiled Wife (a book review)

I’ve been a follower of Jennifer Smith’s writings for a while, and was excited to see she had a new book out. Her new book, The Unveiled Wife, is a autobiography/devotional book. In it, she shares her personal struggles dealing with intimacy, trust, expectations, and how her relationship with the Lord affected her relationship with her husband. Jennifer shares her personal story of how she met her husband, and the trials and growth they shared for the next 5 years until the Lord restored them as a couple.

In a society where people are suppose to meet, fall in love, marry, have smooth/passionate intimacy, make pretty babies that always coo, and live happily every after, it’s refreshing to hear an honest voice. Having grown up in the church, I don’t feel like intimacy and the real life working out your marriage are talked about enough. It’s not like the movies where everything flows gracefully and there’s fireworks in the background. A healthy marriage and great intimacy take commitment, work, and they both are a constant learning process. I completely enjoyed this book and totally recommend it to all women, especially those who have been married 5 or less years! I’m passing my copy on to a newly married friend immediately!