I Blog For Books

17 August 2016

What Do They See When They Look At You?

Do you ever have one of those days? You know the days I mean ... the ones where you wake up feeling semi-motivated, and by the time you've been up just a short while, you wonder where the motivation has gone? I seriously think it went back to bed this morning!

Not to bore you with the minutiae of my day, but after breakfast I ventured out to run a few errands before meeting two of my favorite people for lunch. My mama's sisters Mary and Barbara (otherwise known as Aunt May and Aunt Bobbi) come to Dothan usually once a week, and if I'm not working, we meet somewhere for lunch. Today's choice was Express Family Restaurant (between Haven Drive and the Circle near SAMC), and we had a great lunch while talking and laughing the way we always do when we get together. Driving back home, my mind began to think about the past few days and stuck on a conversation I recently had with a patient.

I'm not sure how we even got on the subject, but I remember telling the patient something I had recently read, "Remember that you may be the only Jesus some people ever see." After agreeing, we determined that to be one reason to do your best to always be yourself, while letting others see Jesus in you. Please understand that I am in no way comparing myself to the goodness and perfection that is Jesus. What I understand that statement to mean, however, is that the way I live, the way I interact with others, and my very existence paints a picture. What picture am I painting? 

Do I serve with understanding? Do I speak truth? Do I love others? Oh how many ways I feel that I fail Him daily. You know what? He loves me still. Jesus does not require perfection in His followers! How amazing is that? I'm broken, imperfect, and still struggling at times. And that is okay. 

Jesus, I thank you for loving and believing in me. I know that you are there, that you will guide me if I only listen and have faith to follow your commands.

"Though you may stumble, you will not fall, for the LORD upholds you with His hand."~Psalm 37:24

07 January 2016

The Post That Almost Wasn't

Lying in bed, late at night, I listen to the rhythmic sound of my husband's breathing and wonder why peaceful sleep (or any sleep, for that matter) eludes me. The soothing voice of Tahmoh Penikett has failed me this night, for the sleep-inducing meditation did not. Words, phrases, voices, and thoughts fight for recognition in the echoing cavern of my wide-awake mind. In what is now the wee hours of the seventh day of this new year, I stumble over these words and realize that I have thus far made minimal contributions to my 2016.

I had the best of intentions for the new year. Surely I am not alone in dreaming dreams, making plans, and setting some type of expectations for myself at the end of every year. As 2015 drew to a close, I vowed to read and write more, to discipline myself to write each day - even if only a few words, to eat less and move more, to quiet the discomfort and embrace the joy. Why is it, then, that I feel like a failure less than a week into the year?

New Year - New You! Nope, not my idea, I read it somewhere, probably Facebook. I find myself spending far more time there than I should. What started initially as a way to "keep up with friends and family" has turned into a time-consuming black hole for many, a portable soap opera for some, and an almost infinite source of amusement for most. The reality of Facebook, in my opinion, is that it isn't. Reality, that is. What we see of posters lives is what they choose to capture and share. I fully confess my part in the 'perfectionism.' I post the finished product of a kitchen creation, carefully hiding the dirty dishes and spills that usually accompany said creation. Here's a confession: I don't always wash the dishes immediately. I restart the dryer (sometimes more than once) to de-wrinkle my clothes, and I rarely make my bed. Does that matter in the big picture and overall scheme of things? I'm not sure if it does or not, but it obviously bothers me enough to confess my shortcomings.

The worst thing? In three short paragraphs, I have completely managed to change the post I intended to write. The thoughts that kept me awake had nothing to do with Facebook. Struggling with my own perceived imperfections lead my thoughts down roads better traveled in full daylight. Instead of reviewing my fears and delving into the Word for comfort, I scroll through social media and check my email. Why?

Psalm 139 reminds me that I am God's creation, that He knew me before I was me. He created me, He is everywhere and always with me. I am not now, never have been, and never will be perfect. What I do have, however, is His unending love, patience, and care. Psalm 138:3, 7 explains this with great clarity, "On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased ... Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me."(ESV)

What will 2016 bring to the Beadle household? Those answers have yet to be revealed. This much I do know with certainty - those answers won't be found on Facebook. I can only pray for guidance, seek understanding, and strive to follow God's plan, even if that requires me to step out on faith on a path not yet visible to my eyes. Will there be mistakes? Almost certainly. They won't be intentional, and I will certainly strive not to repeat them. Each journey begins with a single step, and this is mine.

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands."~PSALM 138:8ESV

29 October 2015

I'm Happy For You ...

The title of this book caught my eye immediately, but it was the subtitles that drew me in. In this age of Pinterest and Facebook, we are continually bombarded with images displaying a perfection that seems to relentlessly poke holes in our "real" lives. In our house, we rarely sit down to dinner together. Why? Work schedules and other time constraints. Typed out, however, they sound like pitiful excuses. After all, a family has to eat, do they not? Why not make time to eat together? We leave the laundry in the dryer (and sometimes, in the washer), rarely make the bed, spend too much time online or involved in computer games, and we don't exercise. We are apparently not your typical Pinterest family!

The back cover of Kay Wills Wyma's 2015 book asks "Feeling weighed down by the pressure to be Pinteresting?" Eureka! That's it! The answer immediately came to mind. "Of course." For a while, I refused to even get on Pinterest. Snarky comments chased themselves around in my mind, comments that probably bear a remarkable similarity to those voiced (or not) by the Facebookers who have seen their connection place become overrun by oversharing grandparents and pre-teens. Remember when Pinterest required an invitation? Now, Pinterest chooses pins for you - based on previous things you've pinned.

Paragraph two on the back cover highlights society today: "our cultural obsession with comparison is undercutting relationships and sapping contentment." Isn't THAT the truth! Theodore Roosevelt reminds us that "comparison is the thief of joy." As I sit in front of my computer, stacked high with papers that I really should go through, I am reminded of the absolutely fantastic home of a friend - that has not one single item out of place. Not even in the office. Does that make my office less functional for me? Of course not. I glance down beside my desk and see my dog, half-snoozing while on his self-appointed mission of guard duty (I'm important to him). The empty glass at my right elbow reminds me that not only do I need more water, but that I have an ice maker AND hot and cold running water in my house.

The rain stays outside, for this roof has no leaks. The house is temperate, because we have a functioning heating and cooling system. There are areas of this country, this CITY even, where residents are not so lucky. How can I be so selfish as to complain - even if only in my own mind - about the life of another, when I have so much to be thankful for? Does that make me a bad person? No, I don't think so. It simply makes me human. Instead of focusing on what we have, we tend to focus on what is thrown in our faces, and we are sucked back into the never-ending treadmill of comparison.

Read this book. I think Wyma's take on things will open your eyes.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."~Phillippians 4:12-13 NIV

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for writing an honest review. The opinions included in this blog are my own. 

24 June 2015

Bringing Heaven to Earth

Do you ever start reading a book in the middle, or near the end? While this is not the preferred method (for obvious reasons), there are occasions when it just happens that way. I picked up Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment's Bringing Heaven to Earth, and it fell open to chapter 13. Chapter 13 begins on page 169, pretty close to the end of the book. What struck me so strongly that I continued to read from this odd starting place was the chapter's title, How to Lose the Fear of Failure. How weird is that? This book began speaking to me from the time it fell open to that oh-so-fitting chapter.

Subtitled Fears and Perfection Keep Us from Joining Jesus's Celebration, this chapter begins by explaining the difference between phobias and pet peeves. Before you begin ticking off a list of your pet peeves, bear with me. Chew on this sentence for a moment: "Phobias interfere with life and cause deep personal distress" (Ross & Storment, p. 169).

Why do we fear? The reason for fear is as varied as the number of people who fear. What I fear may be something different that what you fear, or it may be the same, for very different reasons. This is not intended to be a discourse on phobia, but rather an attempt to understand that aha! moment that comes when something is explained so clearly that it suddenly, amazingly, makes perfect sense. "Fear can paralyze decision making that would draw us deeper into the heart and mission of God. There is a reason the command 'Do not be afraid' shows up more than any other command in Scripture ... atychiphobia, a fear of failure" (p. 172). 

I fear failure. There have been times when I refused (and still do) to do something that I do not believe I can do well. If I can't be good at it, I don't want to play (hence the reason I never played team sports). Instead of stepping out on faith, I stepped back. Instead of stepping forward and sharing Jesus, I stepped back into my secure world. Have I denied Him by doing so? Another question that bears asking is "What have I denied me?" Please don't take that in the selfish context that it appears to read. I don't mean that I have missed personal gain, or glory, but rather the possibility of a connection, a shared growth, or the ability to reach out to someone who might need it. Does my fear keep me from living fully for Christ?

This book is well written and well worth a read. It has changed the way I look at Heaven, in a good way. I recommend this book, and will be reading it again. Most likely in the not-so-distant future. (Yes, it was that good).

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for writing an honest review. The opinions included in this blog are my own. 

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.~Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

02 June 2015

Be The Message Devotional

The package containing Kerry and Chris Shook's Be The Message was waiting for me when I returned home from work one evening near the end of April. As I opened the book and began to read, I immediately thought that I would do what the book suggested, and take each devotion a day at a time. I didn't end up completing the book that way, but I will be going back and re-reading this book more than once.

Subtitled A 30-Day Adventure in Changing the World Around You, the back cover of this small volume asks a question that resonates - "How will God live out His message through you?"

As you read Day 1, you discover the intent of this devotional guide. Day one starts by OPENing - yourself, God's word, and your mind. The words of John 5:39 are used as a reminder that memorizing scripture does not always equal knowing and living the life of which they speak.

This is an interactive devotional. Each day has space for you to contemplate the message, write down in your own words the message that you have received.

Day 3 spoke to me, really spoke to me. "If you are disappointed or troubled or just weary, God will meet you there. He sits with you in the silence. He whispers His love. Quiet your soul and hear His gentle breathing." (Shook, p. 10) How incredibly awesome is that? God meets me where I am! And stays with me!

The more that you open yourself to Him, the deeper your connection becomes. I have a long way to go - but I am so much closer than I was yesterday.

"Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." ~ Psalm 143:8 NIV

I received a free copy of this book in return for my open and honest review.