Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Book Reviews | Non-Fiction

The sub-title to The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks is Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level. The premise of this book is that our biggest obstacle is the Upper Limit Problem, which basically means that we sabotage our own efforts because we feel unworthy or flawed or that we shouldn't outshine others. We set our own upper limit! The author asserts that when we stop limiting ourselves, we can have more love, abundance, and creativity. He also suggests that all time comes from ourselves and that we control the time, it doesn't control us - a restatement of making sure we take time to enjoy the moment. Honestly, I was not very impressed with this book or its recommendations. I read it in spurts because I did not find it overly engaging.

George & Barbara Bush: A Great American Love Story by (their granddaughter) Ellie LeBlond Sosa and (writer) Kelly Anne Chase. I saw this book at the library and picked it up because I previously enjoyed Barbara Bush's memoir and President George HW Bush's letters. I thought this book would offer additional insights into their lives through the eyes of their granddaughter. However, I really didn't find anything new; there were lots of quotes from Barbara's memoir and HW's letters with just a few short memories from Ellie. This was more a retelling of their life story rather than additional specific things that made it the "great American love story" ... probably because their life together was a great love story.

Have you read either of these books? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Book Review | Empowered

Empowered: How God Shaped 11 Women's Lives (And Can Shape Yours Too) by Catherine Parks is geared toward teens and tweens. Each chapter tells the story of a woman used by God.

There were quite a few women I already knew a good bit about, including Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie ten Boom, Joni Aereckson Tada, Fanny Crosby, and Elizabeth Elliot. There were others who were new to me - Esther Ahn Kim, Sophie Scholl, Pandita Ramabai, Phillis Wheatley, Charlotte Forten Grimke, and Annie Armstrong.

Each woman's story illustrates a characteristic that helped her stand strong in her faith despite trying circumstances - loving others, expressing gratitude, fearing God, being obedient, using our talents for God's glory, living with adversity, being kind, etc. The chapters end with questions and scriptures to help the reader apply the lesson to her own life. This is a good book to introduce girls to some wonderful Christian women and share examples of how anyone can be used for His glory.

Note: I received this book free from B&H Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 | Reflections

I began working on my list of 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 on my 45th birthday in 2014. Can y'all believe it's been five years already!?! I turned 50 a couple of weeks ago, and I'm thrilled to report that I completed 31 of the items on my list!!!

I've learned several lessons by having this list of goals over the past five years.

A list of goals provides inspiration and motivation.
Several of the items on my list are ones that I've thought about doing for years. When I put them on the list, I moved past the thinking stage and began researching and planning and actually doing them. 

Without the inspiration and motivation of working toward checking items off my list, I might still be just talking about hiking in the Grand Canyon, taking piano lessons, learning to ride a horse, dyeing Easter eggs again, or finally carving a pumpkin.

It's ok if some things don't get completed. 
It would have been amazing to report today that I had completed every item on my list; however, in reality, there are 19 items that I did not check off. There was nothing on the list that was mandatory; it was simply something FUN I came up with to enjoy on my way to 50.

While I did read all the Pulitzer prize winners in fiction, I did not re-read all my children's/young adult books ... and that's perfectly ok. I didn't make a quilt; however, I completed 10+ scrapbook projects and reviewed all my paid for scrapbook classes. I didn't grow my own vegetables, but I did make Mama's biscuits and take a macaron cooking class.

Our desires/circumstances/goals can change in five years.
While I truly desired to lose down to a healthy weight and take a boot camp class and hold a one-minute plank, the past couple of years have held a good bit of trauma and emotional upheaval which I allowed to derail my goal of getting fit! Of course, we have made some adjustments to our eating and exercise plans, which have also ebbed and flowed throughout this time. I'm not as healthy or fit as I'd like to be (but I did complete a 10k walk in less than three hours at the beginning of summer). I was, however, more successful with my emotional and spiritual health goals as I kept a daily gratitude journal for one yearread through the Bible again, and completed a 3-day fast

I also chose not to earn a doctorate after considering and researching this option as I didn't feel it was the right direction for me at this point in our lives. And Robbie and I decided it was not quite time (yet) for us to buy a camper.

Sometimes I'm overly optimistic with what can be accomplished in a certain time period!
If you look closely at the list, you'll notice that there were quite a few travel items. Considering the fact that we typically take two vacations a years, we could have gone to all those places. But then we would have missed out on the family vacations and last minute trips and other things that caught our attention over the years. 

I feel so grateful and blessed that we were able to tour the Anne Frank House and visit Corrie ten Boom's home, travel to Paris, visit Harry Potter World in Florida, see New York from the top of the Empire State Building, have an Alaskan Adventure, travel on a train, see Niagara Falls, catch some holiday fireworks, and go glamping.  We even hiked to the top of a mountain in the Canadian Rockies and I rode in a helium balloon. So, it's hard to be disappointed that I didn't go snow skiing again or take a mission trip or visit Washington DC and tour the White House.

Some things are out of my control.
I knew when I put lead someone to Christ on my list that it was a stretch goal because it's not actually up to me whether or not it happens. While I strive to be a witness for the Lord in my daily life and I started my own ministry/business teaching classes that merge faith and art, I've never actually been the person who prayed with someone as they gave their life to the Lord. My giftings are in teaching and administration, not evangelism.  The Bible says that some plant, others water, but it's God that gives the increase. However, I put this item on the list to remind me to be aware of opportunities to witness to others and share about Christ. In fact, I did have several opportunities to talk with others (individually and in classes I've taught) about the way to eternal life. I feel great about the seeds I've planted and watered and weeded over the years and glad I included this reminder to myself to always be open to share the plan of salvation.

Sometimes I'm not willing (or able) to devote time to something new.
For example, I'd really like to learn to speak basic conversational Spanishtake swimming lessons and dance lessons and private singing lessons, and even learn to French braid my own hair. While I chose to focus on other things these past few years (like having something publishedrevising our wills, improving my photography and photo editing skillswatching many of the movies in our collection, and using a flower guide), I may find/make time in the coming years for these non-completed goals...as well as playing all the games in our collection and going fishing again.

All in all, I've thoroughly enjoyed working on my list of 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 over the past five years. And now I'm setting new goals and looking forward to all the things I'll do While I'm 50

What will you be doing over the next 12 months?