The Inscribed Collection (My Review)

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inscribed collectionThe Inscribed Collection is a series of four books, written by different authors on different topics. They are intended to be used as Bible studies although they would be enjoyable books to just read.

I’ve never agreed to review four books at the same time and I found the thought of it a bit overwhelming until the books arrived in the mail. These are quality books, printed on nice paper with that special, rough-edge page edge that gift books sometimes have. They are paperbacks but the kind of paperbacks that I would give as a nice gift.  That extra special “feel” to these books made it easier to dive into reviewing them.

Leaving Ordinary by Donna Gaines

I found this book disappointing because of the way the author constantly came back to her own personal experience as she learned to pray in a deeper way.  I felt that it was very experiential and might be disheartening to struggling believers who did not feel “successful” in their prayer life. In my opinion, a successful prayer life is one that continues in spite of flucuating feelings! Nevertheless, this book might be helpful as a study to many women.

“The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and be known by God. God longs for an intimate relationship with us as well. But how do we develop that kind of relationship with a holy God? It is one thing to long for such a relationship, but quite another to experience intimacy with Him. In Leaving Ordinary, Donna Gaines shares from her personal experience how prayer can become the channel that links the believer’s heart to the heart of God.”

Living “So That” by Wendy Blight

“Living “So That” is a fresh approach to understanding God’s Word, focusing on many of the powerful “so that” verses in Scripture, including Jesus Came So That. . .; God Spoke So That. . .; Pray So That. . .; Trials Come So That etc. Through her approachable style, personal examples, and biblical teaching, Wendy equips readers to take what they study in the Word of God and live it out in order to impact the world around them.”

Wendy does have a very fresh and appealing writing style. She is down-to-earth and very real. I found this book to be the most helpful of the series.

Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel

Most people have prayed for something or someone in earnest, seeking God’s will, only to be left confused by God’s response. Sometimes we ask, “Why would a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In Amazed and Confused, Heather Zempel tackles this question head-on by exploring the book of Habakkuk.

“When the prophet Habakkuk prayed that God would bring change to the backsliding nation of Israel, this issue came to the forefront. Habakkuk begged God for revival and that He would turn the hearts of faithless people back to Him.

God’s answer to Habakkuk was, “Take a look at the nations and watch what happens! You will be shocked and amazed” (1:5, The Voice). The vision God gave Habakkuk was one of warfare and exile. How do you respond when God answers your prayers in a way that seems out of line with his character and promises?”

This book tackled an important topic and did it well.

Dive Deeper by Jenifer Jernigan

“Equip yourself to fall deeply in love with God’s Word through this unique, interactive Bible study. Delving into the book of Ephesians, Dive Deeper is a tool for women—those who might be satisfied and content with their Bible study and for those who find themselves fearful or numb—to dive deeper into the living and active Word of God.”

The author uses the acrostic DIVE to help the reader study the bible as they;  define, investigate, visualize and embrace. I found that approach to be helpful.

This collection of books is, indeed, a practical, helpful resource for women who want to grow in their knowledge and application of God’s word. Helpful study aides are included in each book as well.

I received these books from BookLook for review purposes only.

When Good Friday Collided With My Life

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I don’t remember if I first believed on a Friday. It could have been a Monday or a Saturday but that day was a good day, a miraculous day for me.

It was the day that despair (disguised as cool-hippie-girl) met her Savior and was cleansed, redeemed and set free.

I’ve never forgotten that day. On that day, I stuffed a year’s supply of birth control pills into my college dorm dumpster because I wanted God to know that I was turning His way and leaving mine behind.

His way was hard because it was so very different.

Sometimes I walked in no joy and just plain old obedience.

I was determined to follow Christ because that peace He gave me when I confessed my sins and found His forgiveness?

There’s nothing like it. Nothing in the whole world.

It’s worth having.

And that’s why the Friday before Easter is called Good Friday. Because this day commemorates the day when our sins were nailed to the cross and He overcame death on our behalf.

It’s not just Good Friday. It’s the best Friday...ever.

On this day Christians everywhere remember the suffering and death on the cross of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

It was on the cross that Jesus, the lamb of God, took away the sins of the world.

The biblical account of Jesus’ death on the cross, or crucifixion, his burial and his resurrection can be found in the following passages of Scripture: Matthew 27:27-28:8; Mark 15:16-16:19; Luke 23:26-24:35; and John 19:16-20:30.

We have accounts of the deification of men in pagan mythology. But I do not remember any account of a god becoming a man, to help man. Whoever heard of Jupiter or Mars or Minerva coming down and attempting to bear the burdens of men? The gods were willing enough to receive the gifts of men, but Christianity is unique in the fact that our God became a man with human infirmity and emptied Himself of the glory of heaven, in order that He might take upon Himself the sins, diseases and weakness of our humanity.~ A.C. Dixon

Jesus, I love you.

Telling the Truth About Motherhood

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“If you drop out of the workforce to raise your children, you’ll never recover the skills and expertise you lost in your career.” Such ridiculousness.

As an older mother with children who are, mostly, teens and adults, I’m here to testify that you shouldn’t believe the lies.

My world is very different from when my children were little lap sitters. Now, I teach classes, serve on the Board of a pro-life organization and encourage women through retreats and workshops. The discipline and expertise that makes me very marketable and in-demand did not spring out of nowhere. No, indeed. I developed it as the desperate mom of a large family!

Those people who say that women who drop out of the workplace to raise a family are losing valuable time in their careers? They don’t have a clue. It’s true that women with highly technical degrees who quit their career to raise a family may lose out on specific knowledge and skills in that area but, they will recover them faster because of the wisdom and self-discipline they learned as a mom.

Here’s what I mean:

How to get to the bottom of a lie. Mothers develop wisdom and discernment with people. This is invaluable in any area of life.

Self-motivation when there is no recognition for it.  You just can’t put a price-tag on self-discipline.

How to think outside the box to solve problems.  There are no “one size fits all” solutions for motherhood so moms learn how to problem-solve creatively and to think critically.

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My skills in every area of life have grown exponentially over the years primarily because I am not paid for it. Any motivation has had to come from within…and that’s hard. The only reward I have gotten over the years has been the occasional, “You have a beautiful family” or “You’ve raised some great kids.” But, in-between those times? No paycheck, no quarterly review, no gold watch!images silhouette of children swinging

That’s what makes motherhood the absolute best training ground for any career. Mothers learn self-discipline like no one else! It just doesn’t look like self-discipline because moms have so many uncontrollable “variables” in their lives (such as constantly changing children). A mother can grow in discipline and apply all sorts of organizational techniques to her home and it can still look disorganized. This is when that oh-so-important self-motivation and discipline develops in the life of a mother so she doesn’t quit.

I have known women whose view of the home was so warped that they sat around doing nothing and crying into their vodka-laced coffee about how boring their life was but…the rest of us? We have our good days and bad days, we fight exhaustion and struggle to get out of bed but we keep striving because, by golly, we are building a family.

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Motherhood is an opportunity to learn and grow along with our children. Indeed, to survive and thrive in motherhood, most moms I know are constantly researching the developmental stages of childhood along with a myriad of other fascinating subjects. I breast-fed all eight of our children and always had a book nearby to read during that time. That’s a lot of continuing education!

Life is short. Embrace this season of motherhood knowing that rich blessings will come from it.

 

 

 

The Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver (My Review)

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the happy wives clubThe Happy Wives Club Discover the Best Marriage Secrets from the World’s Happiest Wives held some surprises for this reviewer.

Surprise number one;  The author is a business woman who can write! It’s a research book but it’s not boring, especially if you are married, interested in being married or wish you had known how to stay successfully married! This is a  well-written account of one woman’s travels to find happy couples and learn how they built their successful marriages.

I had “liked” The Happy Wives Club on facebook over a year ago, delighted to support the founder and author, Fawn Weaver’s, idea that it’s important to let the world know that there are a lot of happy wives in the world. And there ARE a lot of happy wives in the world, if the 688,000 members of THWC are any indication.

The book reads a little like a travel diary as the reader listens in on Fawns’ interviews with happily married couples across more than six continents and eighteen cities. Readers also get to vicariously enjoy the scenery, the food and the glamor of Fawn’s jet setting lifestyle as they read.

And, therein lies the books weakness (Surprise number two). As a successful businesswoman,  Fawn has been married for more than ten years and is childless (although she and her husband want children…now). Her interviews with happily married couples are helpful because her research reveals that the secrets to a happy marriage are the same in spite of cultural differences! Good to know.

However, this wife of thirty-three years believes that Mrs. Weaver overlooked some crucial couples in her research. What about those couples who have endured years of misery and come out on the other side, happy and more committed? What about those who haven’t had successful careers and have, perhaps endured great poverty and struggle? What about those with more than two children?

Studies reveal that couples who were on the brink of divorce but stayed married considered themselves happily married three or more years later! Sometimes, commitment to marriage is really all it takes.

As the reader gets to know Fawn a bit through her writing, Fawn shares some of her worries and insecurities about the effect that a child might have on her husband’s relationship. Her questions often probed couples to find out how they “shared” responsibilities. She continually highlights equal sharing and partnership in the married couples she interviews. Because Fawn is a Christian, I found this approach to be a bit disheartening.  Foundational to a Christian marriage is knowing that it is a covenant before God regardless of whether or not the responsibilities are equally shared. A shared-and-equal marriage will work until a child or two is brought into the equation and, then, that shaky foundation crumbles.

As the mother of eight children I wanted to tell Fawn that some marriages create a mini-nation where equal sharing becomes an impossibility. I wanted to tell her that for many years, outsiders looking into our family would have seen two exhausted parents just trying to make ends meet. During those hard years, those same outsiders couldn’t see the respect and esteem that were growing in both my husband and I (he, because he saw me transformed by the hard work of motherhood and I, because I saw him develop a strong work ethic to support the children of our marriage). There was no equality or sharing during those years…just survival.

I wanted to tell Fawn that there is something so much richer and deeper and more wonderful than an equal marriage with constant companionship. It is the knowledge that your marriage is building something far greater than best-friends-in-love.

That’s what I feel Fawn missed in her research. Not all happy couples are happy the whole time and many have endured long years of struggle but an understanding of the covenant of marriage causes it to endure.

Fawn’s observations of couples all over the world makes the book fun to read. In the course of her travels, Fawn delights the reader by sharing the wisdom she learns from happy and successful people all over the world.

the happy wives club

Fawn Weaver is an American black woman and rightly recognizes that black marriages are in trouble. Her research is encouraging to women of any color and nationality because the secrets to a great marriage are the same across all cultures.

I do recommend this book, I just don’t know if I would give it to anyone going through a really tough time in their marriage.

I received this book for review purposes only from HarperCollins Christian publishing.

Preparation by Effie Waller Smith

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mother lifting child

“I have no time for those things now,” we say;

“But in the future just a little way,

No longer by this ceaseless toil oppressed,
I shall have leisure then for thought and rest.
When I the debts upon my land have paid,
Or on foundations firm my business laid,
I shall take time for discourse long and sweet
With those beloved who round my hearthstone meet;
I shall take time on mornings still and cool

images silhouette of children swinging

To that great Soul in whom we live and move.
All this I shall do sometime but not now–
The press of business cares will not allow.”
And thus our life glides on year after year;
The promised leisure never comes more near.
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Perhaps the aim on which we placed our mind
Is high, and its attainment slow to find;
Or if we reach the mark that we have set,
We still would seek another, farther yet.
Thus all our youth, our strength, our time go past
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Till death upon the threshold stands at last,
And back unto our Maker we must give
The life we spent preparing well to live.
Effie Waller Smith was born in Pike County, Kentucky, in 1879. Her parents, both former slaves, insisted that Smith and her siblings receive the highest quality education available. After attending Kentucky State University, Smith began submitting her work, and published three volumes of poetry before her death in 1960.
Thank you, Johannah Banham, for introducing me to this thoughtful woman!

It’s Almost Spring…You Can do This!

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I wish I had a magic recipe I could give to my friends that they could spray around the house to make their joy come back; kind of like the lavender counter spray that makes me feel happy every time I clean my kitchen!

Joy can be elusive; one minute we feel pretty good about the world and the next minute we’re telling ourselves we’ll never do anything worthwhile and that we are lower than dirt.images woman at window

If this happens to you a lot you may have a physical reason for feeling so lousy. We women are a marvelous mixture of hormones. We are biological beings but we can forget that about ourselves!

My husband had a friend who used to say, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing a woman can do is get a good nights sleep.” I would look at him and wonder what in the world is he talking about?

Then, one night my husband and I had a heated argument that we couldn’t resolve, so I decided to go to bed. I was so sad and upset and angry that I thought it would be easier to face the reality of our horrible marriage in the morning.
You can guess what happened. I sobbed myself to sleep, slept deeply and woke up rested. I sat up and yawned and thought, what a beautiful day and look at that cute man I married!

Yes, sometimes the most spiritual thing a woman can do is to tell herself that maybe she’d better not do anything until she rests, eats less sugar or takes a walk in the fresh air!

Simple decisions can make a huge difference in this busy life we live. Don’t beat yourself up when you fail. If you need to confess a sin and repent of it, then do it knowing that God who is faithful and just will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. But, if you keep making poor choices because you are exhausted…give yourself permission to breathe deep, eat right and take a nap.

Listen to your Auntie Jill :-)!

Of Nanny Goats and Carpet Shampooers

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images.jpg goat
The Day is almost upon us and a woman can hardly enter a grocery store or florist shop without bumping into a man with his arms full of flowers.

Have you ever noticed that a man holds a bouquet of flowers up and out from his body, kind of like an Olympic torch? Take a good look at the next man you see who has just purchased some Valentine’s flowers and see if you don’t catch a look of triumph and pride on his face.

That look of victory is there for good reason. After surviving the stress of Christmas, here come the Valentine’s Day ads. These ads are targeted at women but the pressure is on men. The message to men is clear, “Men, if you really love her you will buy her something…and that something will be very expensive.”

In the back of every good-hearted man’s mind there lurks that niggling question,
“Will flowers be enough? What if she is thinking jewelry?” Oh help me Lord!

Men have good reason to worry because, let’s be honest ladies, Valentine’s Day is a big deal for women. It’s a big deal for us because, way back in our minds we have this niggling little worry,
“Does he really love me? Is this love that we have ‘it’?”

We want that sweeping, swooning, love like we see in the movies (that’s why most marriage books are read by women and the chick-flick industry is going strong).

We also like foo foo and candy and sweet little nothings written on cards and carved into chalky tasting candy hearts and (if we’re honest with ourselves) we love the envious looks our friends and relations give us when the man in our life makes some crazy, creative, romantic gesture.

Valentine’s Day is fun. It’s romantic. And it puts a lot of pressure on our men.

As a younger woman, I put a lot of pressure on my husband.

I thought I knew what love looked like and the flowers he picked out of the New Mexico State University Agriculture garden for free did not look like love!

While I was busy getting my feelings hurt, I failed to notice all the ways that he showed real love to me.

He’s always defended me. He’s really good at that.

Over the years he’s worked at jobs he hasn’t particularly liked just to provide for us.

He gets angry and blows it…and apologizes.

He’s put his jeans back on in the middle of the night to go hunt up something at the store to make my pregnant stomach feel better and he’s done this more times than I can count.

He’s rented a carpet shampooer to clean baby vomit off the couches and ended up spending his one free weekend doing the entire house because I insisted.

He once brought home a pregnant nanny goat in the back of our mini-van because I got it into my head that our little acreage was The Little House on the Prairie except I forgot we didn’t have a truck or a trailer to transport the brainless mother-to-be. I’ve never forgotten the look on that poor man’s face as he drove up our driveway with the van full of excited children and a bleating goat. He had that what-has-she-gotten-us-into-now look…

He says those magic words to me, “What would you like me to make you to eat?” and then he makes it…better than a restaurant.

He thanks me, often, for giving him eight children. That really makes my heart go pitter pat.

My husband has also gotten really good at giving special gifts and beautiful cards. Those are fun and wonderful and sweet but they don’t really prove his love like all the other things he does.

We have that swooping, swooning, epic kind of love but it looks and feels different than the movies. It is better. Real love means commitment and forgiveness and sacrifice and being there.

So what if he buys you a new set of dish towels for a gift and doesn’t bring you a soppy card or a box of chocolates? I’ll just bet that the man in your life is doing an awful lot of things right.

“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything.”
― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Give him a big kiss and tell him that out of all the men in the world, he is your hero.
Choose to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Love Their Tummys! Yummy Ideas for Valentines Day!

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What is Valentine’s Day without special treats?

If the love of your life gets happy over a big ol’ hunk of meat and a bunch of greasy fries and salt, give it to him for Valentine’s Day! Why not? The point is to make him happy, right?

Then, have a little fun and follow it up with one of these gooey, ooey sweet things. I’ve thrown in a few that are good for you, too!

coconut snowballs

or… a cherry pie from the store that you decorated a bit!                      images

or, how about yogurt parfaits? Just layer vanilla or honey yogurt with granola or nuts or coconut and fruit or jam. Healthy and pretty!11024559_T.jpg fruit parfait

or, even, pretzel sticks dipped in melted chocolate (chocolate chips work) and rolled in sprinkles. Don’t they just look like a party?images.jpg chocolate dipped pretzals with sprinkles

You don’t have to spend a lot to let someone know that you are thinking of them.

Happy Valentine’s Day Generational Womanhood readers!

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the History Of Valentine’s Day

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old fashioned wedding picture
The roots of Valentine’s Day seem to be obscured by time and a number of stories are told about why it began. This story is one that has enough historical details to be plausible.

In the days of ancient Rome, the fourteenth day of February was a pagan holiday honoring Juno. Juno was the queen of the Roman gods as well as the goddess of women and marriage.

The next day, the fifteenth, was the first day of the Festival of Lupercalia. This festival honored Juno and Pan who were two Roman gods. images married hands

Fertility rituals were held on this day. On the night before the festival started, it was customary for the names of the Roman girls to be written on slips of paper.These slips were then placed in a container and then each boy drew a name of the girl who he would be coupled with for the entire Lupercalia festival.

Rome was under the authority of Emperor Claudius the Second, and he was a vicious warrior (not to mention the fact that he was insane). His armies lacked the sufficient number of soldiers it needed, and Claudius could not figure out why more young men didn’t want to go to battle. Finally, he determined that the young men didn’t want to leave their wives, families and girlfriends. In order to remedy this, the Emperor instituted a new law and canceled all of the marriages and engagements in Rome.

In the meantime, there lived a priest in Rome by the name of Valentine. He did not believe in the Emperor’s new law, and he refused to abide by it.  He continued to perform wedding ceremonies in secret. Valentine lived in constant fear that he would be caught by Emperor Claudius’ soldiers, but he persisted in doing what he knew was right. justtwoofus

Finally, the day did come when Bishop Valentine was caught uniting a man and a woman in the bonds of holy matrimony. The soldiers dragged him to stand before Emperor Claudius’ throne. The Emperor condemned the Bishop to be put to death for his violation of the law.

While the priest was imprisoned, waiting for his execution, many young couples threw notes of thanks along with flowers and other gifts into the window of his cell.

Among these young people who admired the priest for doing the right thing, was the prison guard’s own daughter. Her father allowed her to visit Bishop Valentine in his cell.

They became friends.

Finally, the day arrived when Bishop Valentine was scheduled to die.

It was the fourteenth of February in the year of 270 AD.images.jpg old people in love

While he was waiting for the soldiers to come and drag him away, Bishop Valentine composed a note to the girl telling her that he loved her and would pray for her. He signed it simply, “From Your Valentine.” A short time later, Valentine was executed.

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In the year 496 AD, Pope Gelasiu finally did away with the pagan festival of Lupercalia, citing that it was pagan and immoral. He then chose Bishop Valentine as the patron saint of lovers, who would be honored at the new festival on the fourteenth of every February.

Over the years, Valentine’s Day has evolved into a holiday when gifts, cards, flowers and candy are given to the ones we love…all because of a brave, righteous man named Valentine.

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All You Need is Love! (and, maybe, a glue stick)

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It’s a toss-up for me…Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving Day? Which one is my favorite?

In the grey blah of February, I’ll take lots of pink and red and sugar anytime!

Our family has tea parties this time of year and it’s a good excuse to pretty up the house.

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to tell your entire family how much you love them. Here are some awesomely creative ways to do that and they don’t cost much at all. Check out this Exploding Love Box.

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Or…how about a message in a balloon, complete with confetti?

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Here’s one that might be especially meaningful to a child. Simple and special! Fill a jar with lots of reasons why you love them!

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For fruity, fresh and simple, try some fruit kabobs! fruit kabobs