Friday, August 19, 2011

Good News - A Phone Call

After reading One Call Away, I figured I should write a post about a good phone call. I left today for a nice weekend road trip to CT for a very special wedding. After I arrived here, mom called and emailed me to let me know that Kohl's called me. I tried calling them back, but got no answer (it was just after 6 pm). So hopefully I'll know tomorrow or Monday what the specifics are, but it looks like I should have a job!!!! I was told by a friend that there were over 1000 people interviewed for 150 positions for the new store, and my friend was told if we got a letter, that was bad, but if we got a phone call, that was good. So here is to new beginnings, fresh starts. In relation to this post by Camy Tang, I think the right word is witness.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Community: Taking Your Small Group Off Life Support by Brad House

What images does the word community bring to mind? Is it simply a group of people living in the same neighborhood? Or is it a group of people choosing to help each other out, to think of each other when doing daily tasks, choosing to bless others with their actions? What about when a church is made up of community groups? Are they just awkward small groups of people living in the same area? or are they people who are intentional about getting to know and being there for each other and sharing God’s love with those outside their group?
The purpose of community groups is to help the church better do discipleship, pastoral care, and missions. Each of these are things that are not easily done in just a large group setting. It is the small group that fosters an atmosphere for these very things.
Having community groups means more people have ownership and rise up to the challenge of a community group. The church leadership is not spread out as thin as there are leaders under them caring for people, and the people within a group are caring for each other. Instead of 1-2 people caring for 100, you have several group leaders caring for a small group of people, and then leaders caring for the group leaders. So if one coach, was over 6 small group leaders, who each took care of 15 people, you could have 90 people in groups. If you went out another level and had a person over 6 coaches, they would have over 500 people in groups. This quickly multiplies the ability to disciple small groups of people.
Written by some of the leadership of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the purpose of this book is to get leaders to rethink the awkward small groups and to challenge leaders to have a vision for community groups that are intentional about discipleship, pastoral care, and missions. While this book does just that and does a good job of it, it stops short of helping leaders to create leaders underneath them who are intentionally trained just for that purpose. This is a good book to get started with the idea of community groups and gives the nuts and bolts of what one needs to think about, but some other books will be helpful afterwards (such as The Pocket Guide to Leading a Small Group: 52 Ways to help You and Your Small Group Grow by Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, and The 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders by Dave Earley). I would recommend this book to start a leader thinking in the direction of community groups, but I would not recommend this book be the only book they read.
This book comes out September 30th
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

One Call Away by Brenda Warner with Jennifer Schuchmann

Brenda Warner, wife of famed football player Kurt Warner, shares her own story, first for her children, but also for the rest of us. Her’s is a compelling story of both tragedy and triumph, pain and redemption.
Brenda's own summary tells it the best: 
"I am a former marine. I have a nursing degree. I've lived on food stamps, and I've lived on millions of dollars. I have been divorced, and I've been married to the man of my dreams. I've watched my seven children grow and succeed beyond my wildest dreams, I've watched one baby suffer permanent brain damage and blindness and two babies dies before they ever lived.
I am not immune to grief, and every day I miss my parents more than I think is possible. I am not a crier or a whiner, and I would rather control my world than be controlled by it. I've been mostly faithful and trustworthy, yet I've been betrayed and I've certainly had times when I let down those I loved. If you are in my inner circle, I will have your back, and I know some, but not all, I let in will have mine. I love babies with tracheotomies, seniors in hospice, and the homeless who ask nothing from me."
Chapter 39
Just because tragedy may be a phone call away, Brenda helps the reader see that it  doesn't mean we stop living. God gives joy and redemption. The book is a quick read. I was surprised how fast I flew the the pages. While not a football fan, warner's story intrigued me so much that I had a hard time putting the book down. 

This book comes out Sept 6th

I received this book free from Book Sneeze and Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of this review.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber

Surprised by Oxford is a great book about one young woman’s unexpected search for God during her first year as a graduate student at Oxford. Having grown up in London, Ontario, Canada, Carolyn receives a scholarship after graduating from college to continue her education in Oxford. The book starts with her traveling to Oxford and ends with her finishing her first year. During this year, she meets an interesting group of people who are integral in her search and understanding of God.
I originally chose this book because I have a love affair with England and with Oxford. I knew I was going to like the book simply because it takes place in a place I have only dreamed about. But as I got into the book, it surprised me how much I got caught up into Carolyn’s life and her search. Because it is such a long book (440 pages), I figured it would take me 4-5 days, but I easily finished it in 2 1/2 days. Carolyn’s questions were honest and very real. But she had something very unique. She had people who were willing to get her to think about things, but also answer her questions in a very real, honest way. Not that every question can be answered easily, but those around her didn’t shy away from her questions. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about God and Christianity and asking questions.
I received a copy of this book from BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of this review.

Monday Meanderings

Bible Reading: Bible in a year
Memory Verse: not sure yet
Reading Goals (I request free books from several publishers in order to read and review the books. I got a book from every publisher in the last two weeks (6 paperbacks) as well as deadlines closing in on some of the galleys of books (files of books before they are actually published). So I am trying to catch up on those (This year I have read over 50 books since January and 30 of which were free books for my blog review.) Here's the reading goal for this week:
Surprised by Oxford (Thomas Nelson Publishers) - Started this book on Saturday
Community (Net Galley) - Started this book on Sunday
Spiritual Warfare For Women (Bethany House)
Personal Goals:
Road Trip! This weekend will be my first solo road trip! I'm driving to CT for my friends wedding!!!
Draw some designs for earrings to be made in the future (when I have money to buy the thread and other materials)
Design and make jewelry for the wedding this weekend (floating necklace and maybe earrings)
Begin putting together a birthday calendar to put with cards that I buy.
New Habit: Getting back into blogging about life (including MM), not just blogging book reviews
Must Do:
vacuum my bedroom
Pack for my weekend in CT
Make jewelry for the weekend
Volunteer in the school office Tuesday (at least 2-3 hours?)
Spanish Rice with Sausage
Stuffed Shells
Fish and Chips
Sesame Chicken
Prayer Requests: JOB! I had an interview last week (along with over 1000 other people) for a new store that is opening up in town. They are only hiring 150 people. So hoping I get the job.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saving Savvy By Kelly Hancock

This book is great for those who are looking to be smarter with their money, especially saving in the area of groceries. It is a great book for those who are just starting to use coupons when shopping or already use them but want to make better use of them. The book covers the following topics: Stocking up, Preparing the freezer, Meal planning, Couponing, Reading sale ads, Grocery shopping, Living generously.
Rather than giving a summary, I wanted to make a list of some of the things that I had learned.
  • Planning ahead reduces emergencies
  • Having a good, organized place to store things can help you as you stock up on sale items.
  • Knowing what is a good sale price for an item is so helpful (and there’s an app for that)
  • Stocking up means buying more of an item when it’s on sale rather than waiting until you need it and its full price. It involves planning ahead.
  • Planning ahead means that giving things to those in need is easier. You have those items on hand.
  • Make double the amount of food for dinner and freeze half of it for another meal.
  • Buy foods in season (when they are at their cheapest) and freeze them.
  • Have both a weekly menu, and some go-to meals when time is short, or no one wants to eat what is on the menu.
  • Use coupons on items that are already on sale, otherwise go with the store brands.
  • Stack coupons (using store and manufactures' coupons on the same sale item)
  • Have a freezer (and maybe Fridge) inventory list (either a piece of paper or dry erase board). It is too easy to forget about things that you can’t see. When you use something, mark it off the list (make sure the whole family gets on board with this).
  • Know your schedule for the week. Do you really need to plan 7 dinners, or will you be eating on the go one night? Also, do you need to have a couple quick and easy to prepare meals?
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.
This book comes out September 6, 2011.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery By Gayle Roper

Two former runaways, now adults, a former cop whose wife and kids died from a car bomb, two former cult members and a jealous teen boy all add up to an interesting mystery with a bit of romance thrown in. Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery by Gayle Roper is the 5th of The Seaside Seasons books. Roper’s book is an enjoyable, well written mystery. While some of it is fairly predictable, I enjoyed getting to know the characters of this small town. Even though it is part of a series, I didn’t have any problems reading it without the other books before it. This is a great book to take with you on that last trip to the beach or curl up in a comfy chair for a few hours of reading.
310 pages
I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Conspiracy in Kiev by Noel Hynd

Conspiracy in Kiev by Noel Hynd was a book that intrigued me. I was initially drawn to it after having been to Eastern Europe. But as I started reading the book, I was drawn into the suspense and action of it. Alex LaDuca works for the US Treasury and is sent to the Ukraine to keep an eye on Ukrainian Yuri Federov while the US President was in the Ukraine on a political visit. Federov owes the US about ten million in personal taxes as well as owing corporate taxes and having a criminal history. Considered as one of the most dangerous men in the world, Federov was LaDuca’s assignment. In the midst of murders in several countries, will LaDuca be able to babysit Federov without getting killed herself? 
Conspiracy in Kiev is the first book in The Russian Trilogy (Midnight in Madrid and Countdown in Cairo are books two and three respectively). I am excited to read books two and three in the coming days.
I received this book free from Zondervan for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken By Cindy Beall

Cindy Beall doesn’t just write a book from Scripture, she writes this book from personal experience. Her husband had been unfaithful, not just once, but several times. Her story is proof that redemption is possible. In a very real and open way, Beall tells their story, from the moment she found out about her husband’s unfaithfulness through the redemption. Cindy’s husband Chris, started out looking at pornography; that turned into an addiction that grew. Weaved between the chapters are also section where other couples share their own story of failure and freedom.
Dealing with the progression and destruction of sin, this book takes an honest look at the consequences of sexual sin in a marriage. It does not just look at the emotional issues of a broken marriage and the journey to restoration, but the Beall’s write about the financial, medical, and other consequences too. The emotions, the pain, and the reality of the consequences of sin are real! The Beall’s don’t minimize the pain and hurts, but talk openly about them and their journey to redemption and healing. The interesting thing is that they are very open about Chris’ accountability and that while he is back in ministry, there are more safe guards around him. Not that he can’t be trusted, but because it is so easy to fall and these safe guards help him and help his wife continue to be able to trust him. I think all too often we think someone being restored to a position would not need those safe guards, but rather it is that they should have had them before, and because they weren’t there, that fall was easier.
I received the galleys of this book from for the purpose of this review.

Always The Wedding Planner, Never The Bride By Sandra D. Bricker

In the same vein as Always The Baker, Never the Bride, Sandra D. Bricker has written another laugh out loud book! In Always The Wedding Planner, Never The Bride, Emma Rae’s college roommate , Sherilyn Caine, has landed the perfect job, the wedding planner at The Tanglewood, the same wedding destination hotel that Emma Rae is the baker for. Sherilyn is engaged herself. So as she is helping other brides, she is trying to make plans for her own wedding. However, all of those plans are falling apart! Her wedding dress that was shipped from Chicago, goes missing. Her replacement wedding dress disappears, and everything that Sherilyn thinks could go wrong does. She even thinks she is allergic to her fiance!
Always The Baker, was a great book. Always the Wedding Planner is just as good! It is a perfect book to take a break with. You will laugh out loud as Sherilyn faces every disaster before her wedding. Sherilyn, Emma Rae, and the other characters will become good friends you can’t wait to hang out with. The tips and ideas at the end of each chapter are great, too!

This book comes out in October, 2011
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley.

Cherished By Kim Cash Tate

Kelli London had a heart, and a voice, for music in high school. But until her brother’s wedding 7 years later, she hadn’t sung anything. All of a sudden, just after the wedding, Kelli is moving from Texas to St. Louis. Now living near both her brothers, Kelli’s life is about to make some dramatic changes. Find out what caused her to stop singing and how she found God’s grace and mercy along with a chance to sing again, and even find a second chance at love.
I greatly enjoyed reading Cherished. For the first several chapters, as the characters and their back stories were being introduced, I had no clue where the story was going to go. But even as things began to unfold, there were still enough surprises to keep the book interesting. I look forward to reading Tate’s other book, Faithful and seeing what else she comes out with in the future.
This book comes out August 30, 2011.
I received the galley’s of this book for the purpose of this review.

Friday, August 5, 2011

5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son by Vicki Courtney

In an age where being a man is probably the hardest it has ever been, this book is a refreshing guide to Christian parents seeking to raise Godly sons in an ungodly world. It’s goal is to help parents tell their children the truth about life before they believe culture’s lies. In the book, Courtney describes some of the challenges she faced in raising young boys to become men. She often told her sons, “My job is to act as the frontal lobe in your brain until yours is fully developed.” While this book won’t solve all the problems the culture has thrown at parents, including early and frequent exposure to sex, feminist ideologies, and the Peter Pan mentality, it will guide parents in having conversations with their sons about what it means to be a godly man. 
The five conversations are listed below:
Conversation 1: Don't define manhood by the culture's wimpy standards. It's OK to be a man!
Conversation 2: What you don't learn to conquer may become your master
Conversation 3: Not everyone's doing it! (And other naked truths about sex you won't hear in the locker room.)
Conversation 4: Boyhood is only for a season. P.S. It's time to grow up!
Conversation 5: Godly men are in short supply. Dare to become one!
While this book is written by a mom primarily to other mothers, it is useful to both mothers and fathers, as well as youth leaders, children’s ministry leaders, and anyone else who has influence in a young man’s life. For those in ministry, this book and it’s counterpart, 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter, are two books that should be in your library!
I received the galleys of this book from for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Vision of Lucy by Margaret Brownley

Lucy Fairbanks is a young photographer in Rocky Creek, TX in 1882. She is trying to get a job with the local newspaper in order to use her photography on a more professional basis. Her first trial assignment is to prove that the wild white mustang exists by taking a picture of it. However, a robbery changes everything. Lucy is rescued by a mysterious man who she falls in love with. In typical romantic fashion, something threatens to break them apart. Will they be able to overcome this problem?
Brownley’s book was a bit predictable at times, but it also had enough twists and turns that kept it interesting. It was an enjoyable read and I liked learning more about photography during the late 1800’s. The quotes about proper photography by Miss Gertrude Hasslebrink from 1878 were a great addition to the story.
I received the galleys of this book from Net Galley for the purpose of this review.