I Blog For Books

28 December 2011

The BIBLE ... yes, that's the book for me ...

Does anyone know who wrote that song? I can't find it anywhere, but I certainly remember singing it in Sunday School! There are many versions of the Bible, my two favorites are the King James Version (the one I was "raised on") and the New International Version. Today, I believe I am going shopping for a new bible. I own three already, but a friend of mine just posted on Facebook a link to a group that is planning to read the Bible through in 2012, and I want a new Bible to read through and take notes in.  That excites me! To read through God's Holy Word with others, and to discuss it ... what a fulfilling thing to look forward to for the new year!

Some people read the Bible daily. Unfortunately, I do not. I have at times in the past, and have read through the entire Bible at least once. These past few weeks have been a time of reflection for me, a time to make me sit up and take stock of my life and the direction in which it is heading. 

Christmas Day, we (mama, Rob and I) went to Rob's brother Paul's house for Christmas dinner. My sister-in-law, Pam, was on call for the weekend, and had to go in to work for a short bit that morning. Shortly after we arrived, she told us that she and the girls (our nieces Paige and Piper) were going to church since they hadn't gone that morning, and asked us if we wanted to go along. Mama and I decided to go, underdressed though we were (as in jeans and sweatshirts). On the way, Pam called our mother-in-law, Jane, and she decided to meet us at church.

This was a first for me: I haven't set foot in church for a worship service in I don't even remember when. What does that mean? It means it's been way too long. There is a list of excuses I could use, but that is all they would be: excuses. I was raised in church! From this point forward, however, I have two choices. I can begin attending church again, or continue on the current path of non-attendance. The decision is mine, and I am the one who has to stand before my Lord. Will He love me less if I don't go to church? I don't think so, but there comes a feeling of peace, of community, of fellowship from attending church that you just don't find anywhere else. The simple service at the Vidor Church of Christ on Christmas evening touched my heart in a way that it has not been touched in far too long. I believe it truly was God speaking to me.

Today on Facebook, a friend of mine posted a link to read through the Bible in 2012. I got so excited when I read this that I immediately clicked on the link and asked to be a part of the group. I cannot even begin to explain how encouraged I am about this! Sometimes, I think you just need to share things with others to get the most out of it. I am in no way saying that reading the Bible on your own is unfulfilling, but I think that when you read with others you can bounce ideas and thoughts off each other and gain a deeper understanding than you can on your own. I will post the link if anyone is interested in becoming a part of the group. I am looking forward to the blessings that are to come!!

God, I humble myself before you, and ask forgiveness. I ask that you open my ears and heart to you, so that I may receive your guidance. Please keep your merciful hand upon me, and direct me on the path that you would have me take. As I prepare to begin another year, I ask for your help to follow your will in all things. 

Here's the link for reading through the Bible for those that may be interested: 
READ THROUGH THE BIBLE 2012-- An online Facebook group who will read the Bible through together in 2012 and occasionally share in some discussion about what we read. Would you like to join me in reading through the Bible in 2012? https://www.facebook.com/groups/211312092287987/

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death."
~Romans 8:1-2 NIV


16 October 2011

Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain

I will be the first to admit that I have been less than diligent about reading this particular book. I received this particular book from BookSneeze well over a year ago, and have just now gotten around to finishing the book. I could give you a litany of excuses, but that is all that they would be ... excuses. I would pick it up, read a few chapters, and put it down. When I picked it up again, I would read a few more chapters, then put it down. 

There is no good reason for why I did this. The book stands as a good reference, and the stories that it tells can rip your heart. I can imagine that sitting down for a conversation with either or both of the authors of this well written book would be extremely interesting. The main reason that I had such a difficult time getting through the book in one or two sittings (as is my norm) is that I believe the words were penetrating far deeper than I cared to explore.

Why read this book? Sometimes, we are going to hurt. I do not mean hurt in the physical sense, but sometimes mental pain gives as much or more anguish than does physical pain. We do not have to let the pain define us. Dr. Meier and Dr. Henderson delve into why our pain affects us the way it does, and how working past it can make us stronger. The authors explore seven areas (challenges) they list as life's most common: injustice, rejection, loneliness, loss, discipline, failure, and death. Instead of medical jargon, we are given biblical references, and I rather liked the departure. When you pick up a book written by nearly anyone with the letters M.D. behind their name, especially one that could be categorized as a "self-help" book, you expect to find clinical information. In this book, not so much. Referring instead to the Bible, Drs. Meier and Henderson guide us through the benefits of working through our pain.

While it did take me quite some time to read, I would recommend this book.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

23 June 2011

Today, We Celebrate

Seventy-one years ago, Ralph and Edna welcomed their second son (third child) into this world. As the years passed, they would welcome another six children, including a set of twins. When complete, their family included five boys and four girls. I can't imagine growing up in a household with eight siblings ... I wonder how they celebrated birthdays?

As one of three children, birthdays growing up were special. Not that we had elaborate parties (we didn't), nor even ridiculously expensive gifts (ditto); what I remember most about birthdays was the feeling of being special. Usually, our birthday cakes were homemade, and our favorite flavor. I remember one birthday spent in the hospital ... my biggest fear was not being able to have any of the strawberry cake with strawberry icing that my grandmother had made for me!

Daddy would have celebrated his 71st birthday today. Although I am still saddened by the fact that he is gone, I can't help but smile when I remember him. He had the biggest heart! He had a mischievous kid smile that made you smile along with him, even if you didn't know what was funny! I'm pretty sure that God has smiled with him over the past four years ... probably while He beat daddy at cribbage :)

If you have your parents, take the time to talk with them about their celebrations growing up. If you have a significant other, make their day special for them. If you have children, make memories! Show those you care about (relatives or not) what they mean to you. Remember that it doesn't have to be expensive to be special, just knowing that you are loved, that you are thought of as special, makes any day a "special" day!

Fortunately, our Heavenly Father can make any day a special day. How, you might ask? No matter how heavily laden I may think that I am, I know that all I have to do is ask -- just ask -- and God will be there to bear my burdens. I didn't say that He'd take them away, just that He will bear them. We are so very blessed to be children of God.

God, I have so many things to thank you for that I don't even know where to start. First of all, I thank you for giving me a wonderful earthly father! Thank you for allowing me to celebrate 43 years with him. Thank you for giving me a wonderful family, and for allowing me the blessing of children. Remind me always that everyone is special to you, and that it is not my place to judge a child of yours. Remind me that every day I wake up is cause to praise You ... truly cause to celebrate! One request, on this day ... wish my daddy a Happy Birthday from me!

"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." ~ John 1:12-13 NIV

19 June 2011

Happy Father's Day

Today is Father's Day, celebrated in a variety of ways. What did you do for your dad this year? Like many, I was unable to share this day with my dad because he passed away in 2007. What is a dad? What makes a father?

It's been written in a variety of ways, but biology does not always a father make. Don't misunderstand, the interaction of male and female can, and often does, result in a child. This, however, does not always create a father. What is a father? (Or in my more familiar southern vernacular, a daddy?). A daddy is a one who takes care of his children, one who teaches his children, one who shows his children right from wrong, but most importantly (in my opinion) - LOVES his children. It doesn't require large amounts of money, it doesn't require the newest/nicest/fastest anything. Being a daddy is time consuming. Being a daddy can be heartbreaking. Being a daddy is probably the most rewarding and hardest job you will ever love. A daddy doesn't have to be a biological parent, he can come into this role through marriage, adoption, foster care, or other ways.

I had a truly blessed childhood. I didn't grow up wealthy, but I was rich in love and family. My daddy was a wonderful man! Daddy could make the simplest things fun ... just ask Cheryl what "todadump" means and I guarantee it will make her smile. Although I lost daddy four years ago, his legacy lives on. He left behind three children, one stepson, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild. What did I learn from my daddy? I learned that to earn money, I would have to work for it. I learned that education is important. I learned that sometimes, things won't go your way, and that you have to learn from your mistakes and missteps and move forward. I learned that it's okay to cry, but no one particularly cares for a whiner. I learned that getting back up is a lot harder than falling down. One of the most important things that my daddy taught me? That a little faith and a whole bunch of hard work will usually get you where you want to be, and that God never leaves you. No matter what.

Our heavenly Father is always loving, forgiving, teaching, and strong. He made the ultimate sacrifice ... He gave his only son as payment for our sins, and made the price of entrance into heaven simply the belief and acceptance of him as our personal savior. What a father!

God, thank you for blessing me with my daddy for 43 years. Although I didn't want him to leave, I know that it was time for him to come to you. Thank you, God, for loving me just the way I am. Thank you for being my heavenly father. Happy Father's Day!

"Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" - which is the first commandment with a promise - "so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."~Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV

08 January 2011

The Walls Have Eyes

One good thing that can be said for working opposite shifts from your significant other is that deciding to take a shower in the middle of the night won't disturb anyone! This morning, I decided that I wouldn't be able to sleep unless I took a nice, hot shower. Imagine my surprise when I turned around to rinse my hair and discovered that the walls had eyes!

Yes, the picture on the right WAS taken in my shower this morning. The green walls in my bathroom were looking at me ... literally! Somehow, the relaxation goes out of the hot water when you're keeping an eye on the corner to see what the lizard is going to do next. My girls will be shocked to find that I didn't even scream at the sight.

What crossed my mind (well, once I got past the idea that I was sharing my shower with a crawly critter the same color as my bathroom walls)? Imagine living your life if the walls did have eyes! Supermarket tabloids bring photos to light that many people wish had never been taken. Imagine someone following you around to see whether or not you dare to step outside the house without being immaculately groomed at all times (what brand of shampoo you use, what flavor ice cream you purchase, what you read ... you get the idea).

Newsflash: someone IS watching you. I don't really believe that God is ogling us in the shower, after all, He made us and is quite aware of what we look like. I do believe, however, that He knows what I think, not to mention what I say and do. Jesus lived his time on earth as an example. By following in his footsteps, am I really following in his footsteps? I will be the first to admit that I stumble far more frequently than I'd like to think that I do. If I would be ashamed for my children to repeat what they hear me say, what on earth is Jesus thinking?

One of the most difficult lessons I've had to learn in my life is one that I should have mastered long before I did, and that is the not-always-so-simple task of thinking before I speak. Words are far more difficult to eat than swallow, and learning to swallow my thoughts instead of speaking harshly is a process that I am still learning. Please note that I am still learning. I try, and the operative word in this sentence is most definitely try, to think before I say something that I cannot take back. While a short answer might make me feel better in the now, what will it do five minutes from now? Five hours? Five years?

There are times that I bite my tongue, swallow my pride, and beg Jesus to keep His hand over my mouth. I ask Him to forgive me for a quick temper, a smart mouth, and a tendency to speak before I think. Before the glib answer or sharp comment falls from your tongue, ask yourself if the perceived hurt will matter five minutes from now. If not, ask for help and let it go.

While I seriously doubt that the National Enquirer will ever be piled up in the driveway at my house wondering what I'm going to wear to Walmart, God is always watching and listening. To clarify things just a little more, this time I leave you with a joke that I didn't create. Unfortunately, I do not know who did, but I feel it is appropriate here:

The robber smiles to himself as he steps into the richly appointed living room, until he hears a voice saying "Jesus is watching you." Frozen for a brief moment, he steps forward and hears "Jesus is watching you." He turns on his flashlight and illuminates the birdcage in the corner at the same times as he hears those four words once more: "Jesus is watching you."

He smirks and asks the bird "Jesus?" The parrot says "No, my name is Moses." "Moses? What kind of idiot names a parrot Moses?" The parrot's reply: "The same kind of idiot that named a rottweiler Jesus."

Father, may I never forget that Jesus is watching me ... and watching over me.

"The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry" ~ Psalm 34:15

02 January 2011

Pay It Forward

One of my friends recently posted a "pay it forward" challenge as her facebook status. For the first 5 people who commented and promised to pay it forward by sending something homemade to the first 5 people who commented on their status ... why does this sound so much more complicated when I try to explain it?!?!?

Here is the original post:
Pay it Forward 2011: I promise to send something handmade to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. They must in turn post this and send something they make to the first 5 people who comment on their status. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011....

In just under an hour, this wonderful idea has blossomed, and makes me think of a way to take it even further. What if we decided each day, to do something for someone who may never know what we have done. Before you think I'm talking spending hundreds or thousands of dollars (which I do not have), I'm thinking simply here. Next time you are at a restaurant, spend a few extra dollars on a meal for someone seated alone. You don't have to tell them, just ask your waitress. Too much? Buy an extra newspaper and give it away. Bake cookies for your next door neighbor. Smile at the next person you pass in the hallway. Do you see where this could snowball into a sea of positivity?

I'm not naive enough to think that everyone, myself included, can do this each day. Taking one day at a time, however, this is quite realistic. For example, tomorrow, I will make an effort to keep a positive attitude toward everyone I meet. How will that affect others? First of all, they do not have to put up with yet another grouch. Second? When you see someone smile, how often do you not smile in return? If I have something that I can share, I will. In sharing we are giving.

I have decided that 2011 will be my year of positive thinking. Life is far too short to be unhappy. By giving Jesus control, I have already made a positive change in my life. By following through and letting Him shine through me, it radiates out to encompass those around me. Will you join me on this journey for change?

God, please guide me in my quest to glorify you. Give me the words to say, one day at a time.

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."~Matthew 5:16 NIV

01 January 2011

Black Eyed Peas and Number Ones

What did the first day of 2011 hold for you? Did you make resolutions for your year? I wrote the date over and over today (at work, had to), secretly marveling at the fact that I was writing 1-1-11 ... This year I will turn 47, and like years past, I resolved to make changes for 2011.

Traditionalist that I am, I also cooked. Last night after work, I put my black eyed peas on to simmer with some finely chopped onion and neck bones. I chopped up most of a head of cabbage and threw together some coleslaw using mama's recipe. Before work this morning, I baked a few cornbread muffins to go with my lunch. After much discussion, most of us decided to order from Darryl's (po-boys ... yum!), so the black eyed peas came back home with me to be supper instead.

Let's see, po-boy for lunch (hey, I skipped the mayo), and black eyed peas, coleslaw, and cornbread for supper ... looks like one of my goals is going to be a tough one. I did, however, step on the scale today, and that only defined that particular goal more clearly. Because I know that ridiculous goals stand little chance of being met, I decided to break my weight loss goal into more manageable chunks. I need to lose a big chunk, but know from past experience that saying I want to lose 25, 30, 50 (you get the idea) pounds is simply an invitation to give up when I don't hit my goal. For 2011, my weight loss goal is this: I resolve to lose 5 pounds a month. From January 1 to January 31, my goal is to lose 5 pounds. Put that way, it seems far more realistic, and not unattainable. 5 pounds in a 4 week month is 1.25 pounds per week. Every week I may not lose 1.25 pounds. Some weeks I may lose more, some weeks the scale may not budge. If I manage to keep that goal for the entire year, guess what? Well, most of us can do the math without a tutor (sorry Allen, don't need you for this simple problem!) ... that's 60 pounds! Saying that I want to lose 60 pounds in 2011 seems like such a large number, but saying that I want to lose 5 pounds a month just sounds better!

Another resolution? To do my best to maintain good grades in all my classes this year. School starts back on January 17 so I will be hitting the books again in a couple of weeks. One class at a time, one assignment at a time is how I will keep this resolution.

Resolution three? To write more often. Specifically, to write devotions more frequently. Ideally, I'd like to write every day. Since I began this journey over three years ago, I've not come even remotely close to that goal. Probably not even a third of that, but guess what? 2011 is a New Year, and this is the first day of a year of change.

In the background, I'm listening to Big Dog Saturday Night on 96.9 as Allen plays artists' first number one hits. Guess what is playing? "Jesus Take The Wheel" by Carrie Underwood. What a great resolution for the new year! Let Jesus take the wheel of your life, because He needs no GPS, needs no atlas, needs no gasoline, and doesn't require inspections stickers, tags, or insurance. In the song, Carrie sings these words:

For the first time in a long time
She bowed her head to pray
She said I'm sorry for the way
I've been living my life
I know I've got to change
So from now on tonight ....

Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
'Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go
Give me one more chance
To save me from this road I'm on
Jesus take the wheel

And that, my friends, is the most important resolution any of us can make. If Jesus isn't controlling the wheel of our lives, we need to let go, and let Him. I'm not giving up, but I am giving it to God. Will you join me in making 2011 the year of the believer?

God, I ask your blessing and mercy on these words, and that you use them as you see fit to glorify you. Please continue to guide my fingers across this keyboard ...

"for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young - let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance - for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise." ~ Proverbs 1:4-6 NIV