Posts tagged book review
Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley REVIEW & Giveaway!

When I was asked to review a children's book I thought it would be a great opportunity and on top of that Bible stories, I knew it would be a great addition to our family. 

Being interested in children's book illustration myself, I noticed the drawing first. I think the only thing I could find about the book I didn't love altogether were the eyes of the characters, but the rest of their funny and cute characterization were so great.

The author takes the old stories that we all know and love and makes them into and easy to read, easy to perform, sing-songy lyrical stories that I love to read. 

Sometimes when you are a parent you find that you are reading the same stories over and over again and I have found myself trying to say the words more interestingly or simply getting bored on how the words were laid out. Not with this book, every single story I read, although familiar, was so fun to read.

The rhyming of the lines reminded me of my speech meet days in school when you had to choose a children's poem and recite it for the class in competition. I don't know if they still have such things, but if they did I would have my kids choose one of these stories. They are not only telling you the story but cleverly rhymed and fun and sometimes even funny.

Both my boys really enjoyed the brightly colored pages and me reading to them the stories. I would highly recommend this book for bed time reading for a fun and entertaining alternative to Bible stories at night. From Adam and Eve to Jesus this is a fun and educational book.

If you would like to win a copy of this cute book, please leave a comment and one will be chosen by! Good Luck!

Watch this quick video all about it chose the 7th commenter out of 10 which is.....
Jena Abaria!!
Yay, I will email you Jena!!

AHA by Kyle Idleman: Book Review & Giveaway
**Giveaway closed: Congrats to Jennifer W on winning!**

I didn't know what to expect when I started reading Kyle Idleman's newest book, AHA. The prospect of having a moment or moments of clarity that change ones life is always appealing to me.

Mr. Idleman bases his book around the parable of the prodigal son and the way that son reacted once realizing he needed to change and as soon as possible. Right away he gets into how God sends alarm bells in our lives to get our attention. It reminds me of that part on Bruce Almighty where he asks for a sign and all the signs on the road say, "wrong way", "dead end", flashing red and he keeps on driving. He refers to the story in Genesis of the brothers, Cain and Able and how God tried to warn Cain and give him the opportunity to do what was right. In Genesis 4:7 God says to him "But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it".

A situation rose up in my life concurrent to reading this, a situation that was not bad but had the potential to become so, left unattended. I must have been at least conscious of the possibility because I immediately knew God was speaking to me through these verses, through the message in the first few pages of this book that I was "coincidentally reviewing". I heard the Lord whisper yelling at me, "come to your senses now!", "be like Joseph and run!".

As I grow closer to the Lord and more confident in my identity in Him I have also felt attacks rising against me. I saw this situation clearly as a trap, it didn't look like much from the outside, and perhaps if I hadn't have been reading this book I wouldn't have bothered seeing it as such. The author is so right, and God gave me an up close and personal example of these warnings God gives us to save us from what could hurt us and others. I felt the Lord telling me, listen now before it becomes something altogether different than you think it could. I've never felt a need to radically obey the Lord as I have in that circumstance as I read concurrently the proverbs that warns, "can you hold fire close to your chest and not get burned?" and so I ran.

The very next chapter he speaks about coming to that desperate moment, the moment that can bring the AHA. The one in which, if we haven't heeded God's warning we reach this place and we no longer can run from Him. I've had these moments in other circumstances, much of my depression could be defined by this. That place where we become desperate and God becomes real, for the prodigal son it was eating pig slop. Sometimes deserved consequences, sometimes inflicted pain by outside circumstances but as he says these moments are "the defining moments can be our response to loss" . God calls us, wake up, come back, respond.

He talks about how so many times we try to do this life of following Jesus in our strength, only to end up living under deep guilt because we can not do it. That many times this AHA moment comes from realizing this and letting God reveal truth to us, sometimes this happens over a period of isolation. He says "sometimes we want to seize AHA, but AHA is not seized it is received." Again, this resonated with me. Throughout this last year and half I met a few times with someone who told me to change my posture with the Lord as one who was receiving, and stop striving. To let Him give me His love, show me who He is, who I am, what my identity really is. This is not something I could grasp and grapple for, it had to be received. Not hurried, but slowly imparted.

I have heard it said that self work is hard work, so also is the life of the Spirit. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, not work for it, but work it out, but its WORK. It is hard because we have to stop, look at what is hurting, feel it. You must be brave because it's admitting that you are not OK, that you have made some mistakes along the way, that there is healing that is needed, and there is healing that is available. Being honest with ourselves is also a part of that AHA, as he describes, and this can be scary.
 He says
  "I don't want to spend any part of my life missing out on what God wants me to see now. I don't want to come to my senses in twenty years if God is trying to wake me up now." 
Do we want to be awake? Or is sleep a comfortable shadow of false security?

He goes on into other key aspects of having these AHA moments, brutal honesty about our shortcomings, mistakes, brokenness, and being able to be honest with others about these as well. How instead, many times, we embrace things to protect ourselves such as denial, projection, or minimizing these things in hopes that they will just go away. 
He says 
"AHA won't happen until we come to a place were we stop defending ourselves".

The last part in the book he talks about is immediate action, how the prodigal son decided he would go back to his fathers house, what he would say to him and got up and went. He points out, "so often we know what needs to be done, but we just can't move." There are so many good points in this section about why we stall ourselves. About what we say we believe and what we actually believe and the power that lies in the chasm in the leap between the two. About our passivity, our procrastination, and our defeatism.

Finally he talks about the son having returned to the father's house. Pointing out that the father runs to him and repetitively kisses him, and I thought about how I kiss my own boys. That he, just like our Father, isn't like a cop waiting to bust us but to run to us, welcome us back with open arms. Also not forgetting that older brother who is mad about this, and pointing out that he, also, was a prodigal. He quotes Tim Kellar who says, "the bad son was lost in his badness, but the good son was lost in his goodness." but points out how the father approaches them both, God initiates with us, no matter where we might be stuck.

He closes by telling us 
"we expect God to be an angry father who demands justice, but through Jesus, HE gives us love and grace and we don't deserve it. Ultimately it's not a story about two sons who disobey, but about a Father who loves His children unconditionally."
 That is the best news.

I really recommend this book, it was insightful and personally really helpful. God definitely used it to speak to me in many ways. So often we want this big moment to come to us easily, but there are so many aspects that go into this AHA moment we want to change our life.

If you would like to order this book you can go to the website HERE
also I am giving one away to one reader, and it might as well be you!

Voices in My Head: Thoughts on Crash the Chatterbox book
When my blogging friend sent me a copy of Crash the Chatterbox by pastor Steven Furtick, I knew it was something God must want me to read. Every chapter was filled with the things I feel God has shown me over the past year or so.

Struggling with inner dialog is something I believe every person deals with, but for someone who struggles with depression it's even more prevalent. They call is ruminating, where you think the same negative thoughts repetitively and you can't stop yourself. Eventually it becomes so true to you it feels like the weight of it is going to crush your heart and soul, the very life out of you. I was literally trapped in this way of thinking, I felt scared of other people's opinions and was always afraid they were going to judge me, criticize me, or worst of all, misunderstand me. The truth is, I should have been more scared of myself, of my chatterbox, of the bully that I let run my head space.

The truth is, without eyes to see or discernment, you just think whatever thoughts pop in your head. I saw a quote recently that said something to the effect that people only believe about 20% of what other people tell them, but 100% of what they tell themselves. This is scarily accurate. The problem is that every thought you think, we think, is not necessarily true and yet we play out scenarios as if they are. I suppose that is why Jesus tells us to "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ." We can't let our thoughts run the show up there.

My beginning awareness in this season of this problem for me was recognizing that I felt guilty about everything. I felt guilty about how I was a mom, a wife, a church go-er, a sister-in-law, a daughter, a sister, and especially a Christian. I felt trapped in my own guilt, in my own feelings of unworthiness. For years I felt like I scrambled to figure out what the source of all this was, from where. I searched and became bitter at whose fault my brokenness could be. Where was the strong, adventurous, carefree girl I used to be, know, and enjoy. She was gone and this witch with a b was left in her place.

I read all sorts of things and listened to endless sermons. Just show me what to do and I'll do it. I read the Boundaries book, it helped me start seeing some things more clearly. Mostly, that it is not my responsibility to keep everyone happy with me. They won't always be, not everyone will like me, but I have to like me, and remember that God likes me and made me, so it's OK. 

Time marched on and those old familiar voices invaded again. "Look at you, they think you are disgusting with your big fat body" "You will NEVER be mentally stable enough to anything of significance for the Lord." "Your life is so boring, it will always be boring" or more frequently "Ugh!!! You are so annoying, no one can stand you!"

When I started going to counseling my counselor pointed out this bully inside me. That she was shoving me into imaginary lockers calling me dorky, weak and ugly. I could really resonate with that, that is how I saw myself, and I saw that as annoying. I started to pay more attention to that bully, this chatterbox, and I started to tell her to shut up and sit down.

You see, chatterboxes sound just like us, so we tend to listen. That chatterbox is many times the Enemy using something we might struggle with, be insecure about, or unsure about and use it against us to get us to believe we are those things.

When I first really understood shame was when I was listening to a book by Brene Brown as I was training for my marathon. Finally, I understood. Guilt was when I felt bad about doing something wrong, shame was when I began to identify myself as someone wrong. I didn't overeat, I was a fat girl. I didn't lose my temper, I was an out of control beeotch. I wasn't isolating myself, I was unworthy of having friends. See that huge difference? One is manageable, the other crushing.

There were so many great parts of Crash the Chatterbox but I really resonated with a couple parts. In one was in the book where he tells a story of when he loses his temper and cusses at his wife in front of his kids. Watch the sermon with the story HERE. He talks about the immediate chatter that took place in his mind, this being only a day after preaching his Christmas sermon. I recognized in myself every part of that story. But he points out how to start differentiating between the voice of condemnation "You always, You Never, You suck" from the voice of the Holy Spirit and conviction "come to me, lets work on this, I love you." He points out how God loves him as much in the front yard cussing and he did preaching behind the pulpit, that is true love, that unconditional love we long for. 
He talks about when Peter denies Christ three times and the look Jesus gave him after the rooster crows. Although purely speculatory, he wonders was it a look of disapproval, or sadness and disappointment, or love? That same look that Peter had seen in Jesus' eyes many times before, the look of acceptance, the love of someone he didn't deserve, this is what brought him to his knees. That God isn't the one condemning me to a shameful label that makes me question trusting Him, or makes me want to stay away and hide what I have come to believe I am. No, conviction draws me to His heart, reminds me He has already called me worthy because of His son's death. He asks me, then, will I hold onto Him, with that same look of love and acceptance in His eyes, as He changed me. And the change isn''t to look better or act better, rather it's about my freedom to be more of who I really am, rather than chained to the shame names the chatterbox shackled me to in hopes for forever imprisonment.

The other great insight for me was at the very end of the book in the conclusion. He talks about Elisha and his last miracle. Elisha is giving instructions to the king who is begging him for victory over them impending enemy. He tells him to pound the ground, and the king does, only three time and Elisha reprimands him for not doing it more times. At first I am thinking "calm down, grumpy ol man!" but then Pastor Steven explains more. The pounds were representative of the battles to be fought and one, and wars were fought over many more battles than three. Had the king struck the ground more times victory would have come, but instead only three times would they overcome. My realization or question that I asked myself is "what do you want? Do I want partial victory, to win a few battles and feel better, or pound that sucker till victory is declared. That latter please.

I think I am beginning to catch a glimpse of who I really am, who He has made me to be. I am slowly letting go of who my bully has labeled me and stopped being shamed by wearing name tags that don't belong to me. God has used this book to further expand my weapons. And believe me, the more aware, the more awareness to new problems, temptations, weaknesses, oppositions. But God has put a fire in my spirit, one of a lioness {which I wrote about here}, a warrior princess {both fierce and lovely},one of pure passion. Yes, my passion can be a double edge sword, like Peter's was, but I pray in the hands of God's sanctification it will be a sword He can use.

I highly recommend checking out this book and sermon series. Actually anything by Steven Furtick has proved to be good. Maybe I see a little of myself in him, but I really appreciate his authenticity and believe God speaks through him greatly,

I was inspired by the pound the ground story to write this poem...

Wake Up, You're in a War
Life is hard, you're barely hanging on
Wake up, you're in a war

It takes too much, it lasts too long
Wake up, you're in a war

Someones found another reason to show you why you're null
You're feeling strong, you're moving on, then you feel that wordly pull
Wake up, you're in a war

I hear you Lord, give me one more day
Wake up, you're in a war

I'm hit again, make them go away
Wake up, you're in a war

My eyes are heavy with the weight of apathy
there's no way I can be who I'm made to be,
Wake up, you're in a war

Wars rage on to break you
So much easier when you lay back and let them take you
You fight a battle, you've been hit
You give up, you're over it
Wake up, you're in a war

You have to see your purpose here
You'll be taken out by doubt and fear
Wake up, you're in a war

Don't lay there and let them take cheap shot
Wake up, you're in a war
Paralyzed like it's all you've got
Wake up, you're in a war

No one to come and pat your back
Or hold your hand or stop attack
Wake up, you're in a war

It's not one battle and you're done
You fight until the victories won
If God is for us, who's against
Stand up no and take offense
Wake up, you're in a war

Feel it rising, the fight within
Remember whose you are
Keep fighting as you stand in Him
Wake up, you're in a war