Saturday, December 31, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 25

Book: Evening By Evening.

Author: Charles Spurgeon

Info:  Copyright 2000: Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Inc.

Where acquired: Amazon purchase.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭ 1/2

What it's about:  This is the companion devotional to Spurgeon's Morning by Morning.  The author gives reflective commentary on Scripture passages.

Favorite Quotes

"A sense of Christ's amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt."  - p. 143.

"A deep sense of gratitude will nourish Christian zeal.  Looking a the hole of the pit whence we were digged, we find abundant reason why we should spend and be spent for God. "  - p. 147

"My looking to Jesus brings me joy and peace, but it is God's looking to Jesus which secures my salvation and that of all His elect, since it is impossible for our God to look at Christ, our bleeding Surety, and then to be angry with us for sins already punished in Him." - p. 208

"'Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.' Redemption is a solid basis for confidence. David had not known Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him; and shall not eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong pleas for present assistance. What the Lord has done he will do again, for he changes not. He is faithful to his promises, and gracious to his saints; he will not turn away from his people." - p. 220.

"Why then do we calculate our forces, and consult with flesh and blood to our grievous wounding? Jehovah has power enough without borrowing from our puny arm."  p. 261

"Purify flesh and blood by any educational process you may select, elevate mental faculties to the highest degree of intellectual power, yet none of these can reveal Christ." p. 283

"There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief." p. 332

What I Liked:
  • Spurgeon doesn't assume that all who will read the book are already Christians.  Several passages are evangelistic in nature.
  • The author speaks from a place of intimacy with the Almighty, so his take is not mere theory, but experience.  This makes his insights more genuine.
  • I enjoyed the author's flowing, poetic style of writing.
What I didn’t like: 
  • There are quoted passages with no reference cited, so we have no way to know where the quote came from.  There are also names and reference abbreviations that are not explained.
  • The fancy font used to quote the Bible passages was very hard to decipher.
  • This volume wasn't quite as intriguing as the companion volume.  There was a touch of unwarented negativity in some passages.  Some days, I felt like I was reading Oswald Chambers instead of Spurgeon.  Fortunately, those were few enough that I wasn't turned away from finishing the devotional.
Though this devotional wasn't quite as good as Morning by Morning, it will still remain a part of my personal library to be read again sometime in the future.  I'm also looking forward to reading other writings by this author.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Aunite's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 24

BookLife Strategies.

Author: Dr. Phillip C. McGraw

Info: Copyright 1999:  New York:  Hyperion

Where acquired: Amazon purchase.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): 

What it's about:  Dr. McGraw presents his ten life laws and seven life strategies for building a successful, authentic life.  Through real life examples and assignments, he asks the reader to take a long hard look at life and teaches how to form strategies for improvement.

Favorite Quotes

"In every church I have ever attended, the people with real problems hid them rather than seeking support, and those who didn't hide them wished they had, after the doses of guilt, judgment, or alienation they received.  We hide our problems, and judge those who don't or can't hide theirs.  It's not working people--not even close.  We have forgotten the basic laws of living in general, and living together in particular, and therefore violate them constantly." - p. 22

"Instead of asking whether the way you are living, behaving, and thinking is 'right,' I want you to ask whether the way you are living, behaving, and thinking is working or not working." - p. 30

"My dad had taught me there are times in life when you just don't want to miss a good chance to shut up." - p. 29

"Failure is no accident.  You set yourself up for it or you don't." p. 39 

"Once you acknowledge and embrace the second law [You Create Your Own Experience] you stop being a victim.  It's like sitting alone in a moving car, you can't not drive and expect anything besides a crash.  Take the wheel. Begin to consciously, purposefully, and actively create experiences that you do want, instead of suffering through experiences that you don't want." - p. 62

"Be a willing spirit.  Lean forward.  That doesn't mean that you are to suspend good judgement or take reckless risks in the name of willingness.  If someone is saying, 'Hey, try some cocaine; you'll love it.' that's obviously not the time to be a willing spirit.  Tell them to go blow their own nose!" - p 63

"Life doesn't reward quitting.  You are the only one who does that." - p. 110

What I Liked:
  • This book was written by a Doctor of Psychology, but it is not loaded with some pseudo-psychological, namby-pamby, mental voodoo.  Dr. McGraw, as he is known for, simply tells it like it is.  Yes, I like heavy reading, but I also want to understand what I read well enough to implement what it contains.
  • The author does ask the reader to deal with past issues, but he doesn't leave you there.  In fact, he emphasizes that one who still carries psychological or emotional baggage will not succeed at applying the strategies.
  • He doesn't tell you how to think, but he does get you thinking.
  • The assignments, though thorough, are an integral part of the entire life strategies process.  Without them, the book would be full of information, but no guidance on execution.
  • McGraw is very good at using humor to get his point across (thus some of the quotes above).
What I didn’t like: 
  • When it came to relationship strategies, McGraw assumes that the reader is in some sort of romantic relationship.  He didn't offer much help to those who wanted to improve friendships or fellowships, rather than marriages and dating situations.  Also, some of his assessment questions were scored based on a participants love and sex life.  So, what if you don't have one? Or want one?  Are those the only viable relationships?
  • Some parts were confusing.  For example, in Chapter Three:  You Create You Own Experience, McGraw seems to suggest that one takes the blame for every negative event in his life.  He nearly lost me on that one because I thought he was off his rocker.  It isn't until much later in the chapter that he explains that victims of certain atrocities are NOT responsible for creating that particular reality.  Yes, accountability is important, but not for victimization someone else is responsible for.
To sum up:  I attempted to read this years ago, but since I apparently wasn't ready for it, the book went back to the library unfinished.  Late last year, my mentor recommended I read it, so I purchased a used copy off the internet and got started.  Because of the assignments and soul searching required (plus rereading certain passages to deeply engrain them in my psyche), it took me all year to read it in its entirety.  Though I am still not done with all the assignments (you never really are), the book has helped me get a clearer picture of where I've been, and gives me better hope of getting to where I want to be.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Year in Review: The Best and the Worst Posts of 2016

I was over at Heading Home, the home of the Five Minute Friday.  Mrs. Kate asked us what our top posts were for the year.  I've never done an end of the year wrap up on my blog before.  Not only will I have you the top five posts, but the five bottom ones also.  There are links in case you missed any and would like to read them.  Here goes.

The top 5 posts of 2016:

Why My Future Children May Hate Me [Thursday Thirteen]

In case I ever become a mother.

Hot and Bothered:  The Simple Woman's Daybook
Searching for a Sunday School class, poignant quotes, and some Titters from the Twitter.

Lose Your Quit Quest 24
Examples of how excuses keep us from achieving our goals.

Loving to Hate Running [Thursday Thirteen]
Thirteen things that may turn someone off from running.

They Like Me, They Really Like Me:  The Simple Woman's Daybook

Chronicling the best day (so far) of my running life.

And now, the 5 least read posts of 2016


Lent Photo a Day 23: "Seeds"
My attempt at preparing for Easter

Lose Your Quit Quest 12
The benefits of having your own personal library.

Lose Your Quit Quest 15
The importance of charting the progress of a goal so that we'll know if we're on the right track.

Lose Your Quit Quest 04
Make a goal fun, or it won't get done.
Lose Your Quit Quest 10
Find the triggers that discourage your progress.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 23

BookBelieving God.

Author: Beth Moore

Info: Copyright 2004:  Nashville:  B&H Publishing Group.

Where acquired: Kindle download. 

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): ✮✭✮✭

What it's about:  Moore gives a call to action for Christ followers to stop merely believing in God, but to believe who He is and what He says.

Favorite Quotes

"We can't blame the devil.  For the most part we've dumbed-down New Testament Christianity and accepted our reality as theology rather than biblical theology as our reality." - Location 107

"You and I can be safely tucked in the family of God and have the full assurance of a heavenly inheritance without ever occupying the land of God's fulfilled promises on earth. - Location 210

"I don't want to be counted among the faithless who never claimed the land God promised them.  All that will matter about our earthly lives when we receive our heavenly inheritance is whether we fulfilled our callings and allowed God to fulfill His promises.  I know I'm going to make it to heaven because I've trusted Christ as my Savior, but I want to make it to my Canaan on the way.  I want to finish my race in the Promised land, not in the wilderness." - Location 216

"Faith is the only thing that will ever close the gap between our theology and our reality." - Location 220

"If God said it, I want to believe it.  If God gives it, I want to perceive it.  If Satan stole it, I want to retrieve it." - Location  474

"Beloved, no one, no matter how brilliant, persuasive, or credentialed, should have the right to take away our hope.  The God we serve is able." - Location 650

What I Liked:

  • Beth Moore writes and teaches in the same style--in conversational style rather than a lecture.
  • Not only are her real life examples vivid, but humorous as well.  OK, in some passages, she just plain cracked me up.  The story about her nearly getting in a fight with a fellow minister in Chapter 8 is a good one. 
  • The study is based on the book of Joshua.  We are studying Joshua in Sunday School at the time of this writing, so it's a great companion to what I'm learning.
What I didn’t like: 
  • Kindle version doesn't have real page numbers. 
  • The "aside box."  (Been a while since I've had to fuss about that one). Plus, it's in a squiggly font that's hard to read.
  • The author never said what her class did with the "blue cords" mentioned at the beginning of the book.  She said she would, but I never saw where she did.
To sum up

In case you didn't know, I was Bible trained in a non-denominational church for the first 26 years of my Christian life.  I've been a part of my current church (a denominational church) for the past four years.  Yes, we have some doctrinal differences, but none of them are "go to heaven" issues.  All of the essential fundamentals of following Christ are the same.  So, what I don't get is that it took Beth Moore, who is widely accepted in denominational churches, to say what I've heard in the non-denominational churches for years.  The "name it, claim it" Moore warns the reader of is the very "With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak (II Corinthians 4:13)" she's preaching. 

Quite frankly, we have let buzzwords and prejudice keep us from learning from each other and from living a full Christian life.  We've let other people's opinions, rather than the Word of God, dictate what we believe.  I'm glad someone in denominational circles had the courage to write something like this.

Update (2017):  I purchased a print copy for my personal library.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 22

Book:  Daring Greatly
Author:  Dr. Brene' Brown

Info: Copyright 2012,  Thorndike, MI: Center Point Large Print

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): ✮✭✮✭

What it's about:  Dr. Brown's previous work The Gifts of Imperfection helped the reader recognize and conquer shame.  This work expands on moving from shame to vulnerability to truly live and authentic life. 

Favorite Quotes:

"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage." - p. 52

"Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.  When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.  We all need help." - p. 72

"Perfection is not the key to success.  In fact, research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement,.  Perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities.  The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people's expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside of the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds." - p. 166

"'Don't try to win over the haters; you're not the jackass whisperer.'" - Scott Stratten. - p. 220

"I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous and hurtful as believing that I'm standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen." - p. 313

What I Liked:
  • Brown not only took great pains in researching her subject matter, she spent the same amount of time genuinely experiencing her theories in her own life.  She didn't play the distant clinician; she got just as messy as the people she studied.
  • Quite frankly, I enjoyed this book because it got into my head and brought out so many emotions.  A plethora of examples from this volume, both positive and negative, have played out in my own life.  The strategies employed in the text have given me hope to break the shame cycle and begin to live my life as God intended.
  • The author tackled the subject of parenting without turning the entire text into a mommy book.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The use of profanity.  I'm not easily bothered by it, but for such a powerful work, the cussing was little much.  Unlike the other book I read by this author, she does go over into "drunk uncle" level cussing.
Takeaway:  This is a secular work, but I wish church leaders would read it and implement it.  In fact, I wish every leader who wants to improve would take the time to partake of this tome.  Dr. Brown points out so much of what is wrong in the traditional approach to leadership.  The "never let them see you sweat" approach to leadership does more harm than good.  The use of shame to keep direct reports afraid and in line only sends the best workers to the competition.  Being the impersonal "boss," rather than a truly caring leader doesn't inspire anyone to go out of their way to meet your expectations. 

No, it's not a leadership book per se, but it's useful for that area of life.  It's not a parenting book, but it would help parents.  This book is useful for anyone wanting to live an authentic life.  I will definitely be purchasing my own personal copy of this book.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 21

Book: To Know Her by Name.  (Rocky Mountain Memories #3)

Author: Lori Wick

Info:  Copyright 1997: Eugene, OR:  Harvest House Publishers

Where acquired: Library check out

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars): ✮✭

What it's about: McKay Harrington, an investigator for the Treasury Department, gets caught in the crossfire of a family on both sides of the law; Callie, a simple woman with a air of mystery about her, and her brothers, thieves on the run from the law.  Can McKay apprehend the brothers without harming Callie?  Can Callie be open with McKay about her life without sacrificing their new found romance?

What I Liked:
  • The book was well written as far as grammar and mechanics however...
What I didn’t like: 
  • ...this is (so far) the weirdest and worst story I've ever read from Lori Wick. It made absolutely no sense.  The character of Callie was written from the realms of schizophrenia--she's a highly intelligent spy one moment, and an addlepated klutzy hillbilly the next.  The chemistry between Callie and McKay is forced and unrealistic.  It also looked like Wick was trying to make this fit in the series by brief mentions of Travis Buchanan.  However, his part in the story didn't make horse sense.  He happens to meet McKay through some mysterious note, then later just so happens to be up in the hills where Callie lives?  Maybe Wick was having an off year or was trying to meet a publishing deadline.  This was so unlike her.
Takeaway:  I hope book four is better.  I'm almost afraid to read it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 20

Book:  A Christmas Carol
Author:  Charles Dickens

Info: Copyright 1986,  New York: Bantam Books.  (Originally Published in 1843

Where acquired: Either a yard sale or a library book sale; I don't remember.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭✭

What it's about:  Dickens' classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a shrewd businessman with a penchant for greed and cruelty, especially at Christmas.  He is haunted by three spirits who show him through his past, present, and the "shadow" of the future the dangers of his lack of compassion.

Favorite Quotes:

Speaking of Scrooge:  "Even the blindmen's [sic] dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, 'no eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!'" - p. 6

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!" - p. 53

What I Liked:
  • Though this story is set in Victorian England, its message is universal to all of humanity.
What I didn’t like: 
  • I know this is a trait of Dickens' writing, but he writes 8 pounds to the word.  He can take two paragraphs to simply say that someone is dead.  It reminds me of when I weeded through Moby Dick in graduate school.  Flowery language is one thing, but goodness, get it said!
Through the years, I've seen various movie adaptations of this story, but I'd never sat down and read the actual book.  Reading it made me love the story even more.  Rereading this may become a yearly Christmas tradition.

Bubba Gump Shrimp: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

What's left to be done on your Christmas to-do list?
To enjoy the rest of the holiday season.  My joy is waning...and I don't like it.  I've gone from Cratchit to Scrooge in one fell swoop.  I've also gone from energetic to barely getting through the morning.  I hope I'm not sick.  I've managed to avoid every form of cooties that's come through the door; it would be a drag to be down during the holidays.
The Hodgepodge lands on the first day of winter this year. What's your favorite thing about winter?
Winter is my least favorite season of the year.  The only good thing about it is the Christmas season.  Well, I guess the college football playoffs and championship count too... if Alabama or Jacksonville State are in it.
In what area of your life are you immature? Feel free to elaborate or not.
Some days, I just want to hide in a blanket fort with a coloring book...and not one of those complicated adult coloring books either.  I haven't done it yet, but I just might start.  I've just got to find me a good coloring book.
What was the most (or one of the most) important lessons you learned in 2016? 
Sugar is the enemy, and it's EVERYWHERE!
It's Fried Shrimp Day...are you a fan? What's your favorite way to eat shrimp? Will there be shrimp somewhere in your holiday feastings? 
I'm not a big fan of shrimp, but my favorite way to eat it is in a dish that Effina's (a local Italian restaurant) serves called Voodoo Pasta.  The menu description of the dish is "Rigatoni pasta sautéed with bell peppers, mushrooms, shrimp, spicy Andouille sausage and roasted chicken all in a smooth Dijon cream sauce."  So, see, all that other good stuff covers up the taste of the shrimp.  I only get to have this wonderful dish once every couple of years (it's pricey).  I may treat myself to some for Christmas.
What sound lulls you to sleep? 
Rain, or a box fan on low.
What one word best describes your 2016? 
Insert your own random thought here.
Here's to getting this right in 2017.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Holly and the Ivy: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

Are you more task oriented or people oriented? Elaborate.
I think I'm a good mix of both.  I enjoy being with people (most of the time), but I like to be left alone to complete a task.
December 15 is National Wear Your Pearls you own/wear pearls? If you're a man answering the question, does your sweetheart own or wear pearls? Everyone share a 'pearl of wisdom' with us here today.
Nope, no pearls.  A pearl of wisdom?  Here's one I read Monday: "The only one who likes change is a wet baby." - Mark Twain
Speaking of pearls...oysters? Are you a fan or not a fan? If you answered yes, tell us your favorite way to eat oysters? If you said no, be honest-have you ever tried one or does just the idea of eating an oyster make you gag a little?
Not really a fan of oysters.  My friend, Suzanne, used to make a smoked oyster dip that I liked.  However, that was before I taught preschool and dealt with a lot of snotty noses.  Sorry, but the boogery texture of oysters causes my stomach to lurch now. 
Time Magazine has named President-elect Donald Trump Person of the Year. Let's take presidents and presidential candidates out of the mix for a minute. If a political figure had not been chosen who would you name Man or Woman of the Year for 2016?
Pastor Rick Warren should be man of the year.  He and Saddleback Church have done more to help make positive changes in society than any recent politician (federal, state, or otherwise).  Woman of the year?  It's a toss up between Brene' Brown and Beth Moore. 
The Pantone Color of the Year for 2017 has been announced, and it's a vibrant green aptly named-greenery. Your thoughts? Is this a color currently in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in this shade for the new year? Click here to see the color.
It's pretty and would make a great accent color.   However, I don't think it would make it to my wardrobe.  Because I have yellow (bronze) undertones to my skin, I don't look good in most greens and yellows.  I'll most likely include shades of it in various paintings.  Wonder what paints I need to mix to get that exact color? 
Today I've had too much________________________.
Sugar.  I went to my Sunday School class' Christmas party today and had a blast, but I ate too many goodies.
Share a favorite lyric from a favorite Christmas carol.

From O Holy Night:
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name
In this, my favorite version of the song, the last line is "Let every heart adore His holy Name."

Insert your own random thought here.
This is NOT a Christmas carol.  Just a fun song I like to hear every Christmas.  Have fun, y'all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bah Humbug: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

Let's talk holiday decorating. On a scale of 1-10 where do you fall? (1=Scrooge and 10= Clark Griswold). What's your favorite corner-room-table-space to decorate? Is it done?
This is going to take a hot minute, so you might want to get a cup of coffee before you start reading.
When I have my own place, I will be somewhere between Clark Griswold and Martha Stewart, so around 9.75.  It wouldn't be too gaudy and I may not put lights on the house, but I would make sure the inside was welcoming and festive.  The sky would be the limit.
As for this year, it started out as a Scrooge kind of year.  I love Christmas and everything it means, but I knew that most likely (for reasons withheld to protect the guilty) I'd have another bad Christmas (I've had several the past few years). My own sanity and emotional stability dictated that I simply not do Christmas this year--no decorations, no parties, no nothing.  The prospect was just too painful.  Some aspects still will be, but God has sent a Christmas blessing my way so that I can celebrate...and decorate.  More on that in the days to come. 
Is there a nativity scene in your decorating somewhere? Post a picture or, if it's special to you in some way, tell us why. Or do both-it's Christmas!
I wish.  I love Nativity scenes.
Do you live in a social neighborhood? If so are you glad? If not do you wish you did?
No, not really.  I wish I did.  We have several neighbors who are Alabama football fans (Roll Tide), but we all stay in our own homes and have our own tailgate get togethers.  It would be nice if we could all get together and enjoy the camaraderie.
As the saying goes, 'there's no time like the present'. How does that ring true in your life right now?
As I'm setting goals for the new year, I'm already working on some of the habits I want to cement as a part of my daily routine.  Why wait until January 1st?  As I read in Jon Acuff's blog: "Where does it say you have to wait until January 1 to turn some part of your life around?  If you start today, you still have two weeks to get a head start."
Sounds good to me. 
Do you dread Mondays? Why or why not?
Rarely.  I enjoy having a job to get out of bed for.  The only time I dread Monday is if I don't get enough rest over the weekend.  Then, it's only the tiredness I dread, not the day itself.
Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis-which on the list is your favorite holiday plant? Are any of these on display in your home right now?
Wait, I thought Amaryllis was a spring bulb.  I had bulbs at my old apartment.  The first year they bloomed in late spring.  The next year, the landlord's yard crew cut them down (along with a lot of my good perennials--yes, I'm still mad about it).   They are gorgeous, but as I said, I didn't think they bloomed in winter.  I also enjoyed my Christmas Cactus until it died.  Poinsettias are my favorite holiday plant.  I will not have one at home this year, but I plan on helping buy one or two to decorate the sanctuary of the church.
Share a favorite quote from a Christmas movie.
In the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present gets all up in Scrooge's Kool-Aid for his callous attitude about his fellow man while seeming to show concern for Tiny Tim's plight:
Ghost:  "If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, the child will die."
Scrooge:  "No, no, say he will be spared..."
Ghost:  "If these shadows remain unaltered by the future, none other of my species will find him here. But if he is to die, then let him die...and decrease the surplus population."
Scrooge:  "You use my own words against me."
Ghost:  "Oh yes.  So perhaps in the future you will hold your tongue until you have discovered what the 'surplus population' is, and where it is.  It may well be that in the sight of heaven you are more worthless and less fit to live than MILLIONS like this poor man's child!"    
Insert your own random thought here.
"If God said it, I want to believe it. If God gives it, I want to receive it. If God shows it, I want to perceive it. If Satan stole it, I want to retrieve it." - Beth Moore, Believing God.
My sister-in-blog, Annie, and I are reading this book.  It's a barn burner.  That quote from Chapter three is the cry of my heart.  Along with reading the book (among others), I'm also listening to Saddleback Church's series on believing God for breakthrough.  What I am learning has been amazing.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Vowel Check: The Simple Woman's Daybook

If you would like to join in and post your own Daybook, please head on over to visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today:  Sunday, December 4, 2016

Outside my window  Alabama is being blessed with much needed rain.  We've been in a draught and these soaking rains are definitely helping end it.

I am thinking...  About the upcoming year and what goals I want to set and actually accomplish.

I am thankful...  For my mentor.
From the Workshop...

For more information on this painting, please see my sister blog post here.
I am reading...  I've gotten a lot of reading done since my last Daybook.  I completed my goal of reading through the NLT Bible more than a month ahead of schedule.  For an updated list of completed book reviews, please read here.

I am learning...

One of the best practices I learned from reading Brene' Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection was the "vowel check."

Image available as a free printout here.
A= Have I been Abstinent today? (However you define that -- I find it a little more challenging when it comes to things like food, work and the computer.)
E = Have I Exercised today?
I = What have I done for myself today?
O = What have I done for Others today?
U = Am I holding on to Unexpressed emotions today?
Y = Yeah!  What is something good that's happened today?"

I use this prompt when I journal.  It's been the biggest help when it comes to me getting a grip on my eating habits.  See, I know food journals are beneficial to identify triggers and curtail overeating.  However, any attempts I've made at keeping a food diary were replete with guilt and shame over any bad food that I ate (which drove me to binge), or with so much fear of eating the wrong thing that a bird would look at my plate and say, "Dang, girl.  I eat more than that."  The A and the U help me deal with any emotional eating I'm dealing with without getting caught up in fear or berating myself.  I'm getting to the root of whatever the problem is that day. 
Favorite quote(s) of the week

"If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you." - Dave Adamson

"Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with out open heart.  When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.  We all need help." - Brene' Brown

From Charles Spurgeon's Evening by Evening devotional for December 1st:

"O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men." - Psalm 107:8

If we complained less, and praised more, we should be happier, and God would be more glorified. Let us daily praise God for common mercies--common as we frequently call them, and yet so priceless, that when deprived of them we are ready to perish. Let us bless God for the eyes with which we behold the sun, for the health and strength to walk abroad, for the bread we eat, for the raiment we wear. Let us praise him that we are not cast out among the hopeless, or confined amongst the guilty; let us thank him for liberty, for friends, for family associations and comforts; let us praise him, in fact, for everything which we receive from his bounteous hand, for we deserve little, and yet are most plenteously endowed. But, beloved, the sweetest and the loudest note in our songs of praise should be of redeeming love. God's redeeming acts towards his chosen are forever the favourite themes of their praise. If we know what redemption means, let us not withhold our sonnets of thanksgiving. We have been redeemed from the power of our corruptions, uplifted from the depth of sin in which we were naturally plunged. We have been led to the cross of Christ--our shackles of guilt have been broken off; we are no longer slaves, but children of the living God, and can antedate the period when we shall be presented before the throne without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Even now by faith we wave the palm-branch and wrap ourselves about with the fair linen which is to be our everlasting array, and shall we not unceasingly give thanks to the Lord our Redeemer? Child of God, canst thou be silent? Awake, awake, ye inheritors of glory, and lead your captivity captive, as ye cry with David, "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name." Let the new month begin with new songs.

"Life doesn't reward quitting.  You are the only one who does that." - Dr. Phillip McGraw
I am looking forward to... 
  • The new year.  It's time for a do over.

And now for something totally different...
From Twitter:  @GerryHouse1 tweeted:  "If life hands you lemons, throw them away and get some bacon."

From YouTube:  The Southern Women Channel Shared:

From Facebook:  C. Harper shared:

From Facebook:  G. Maddox shared:

From Facebook:


Friday, December 2, 2016

Five Minute Friday: "Crave"

Our Mistress of Ceremonies for the Five Minute Friday is Kate over at Heading Home.  Hope you link up with us and join the fun.

Crave - to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly:

What do I crave?
  • Intimacy with God.
  • Knowledge.
  • Having my own home; a sanctuary from the storms of the outside world and a place from which to bless others.
  • I crave to cry with joy rather than sadness.
  • Love, not mere tolerance (the way you put up with a nuisance).
  • I crave all the care and support as a single that all those who are mothers seem to get at the drop of a hat.
  • Face-to-face connection with people rather than staring at an electronic device hoping for an ounce of connection with someone.
I used to think that the things I craved weren't so bad, but now I'm just not sure.  Maybe wanting anything beyond what I already have is too much.  Maybe only certain people can expect these things and I don't have those type of permissions. 

I don't know.  Until someone can definitively prove that to me, I'm going to continue to crave the good, the better, and the best.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 19

Book:  Whispers of Moonlight. (Rocky Mountain Memories #2)

Author:  Lori Wick

Info: Copyright 1996, Eugene, OR:  Harvest House Publishers

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭✭

What it's about:  We were introduced to Travis Buchanan and the mystery of his missing wife, Rebecca,  in book one of this series. The back story reveals the couple's whirlwind marriage and a gross misunderstanding that separates them for years.  During their time apart, Travis' love for Rebecca never wanes, and he discovers the love of Christ, while Rebecca deems herself too hurt for any kind of love.  When they reunite, Travis must first prove his undying love for his bride before he can have any hope of her accepting the love of God. 

What I Liked:
  • There wasn't a tidy ending to this novel.  Everyone didn't end up married and/or saved.
  • The balance between tenderness and discipline between a father and his children was refreshing to see.
What I didn’t like: 
  • I've talked about this before, but I grow weary that the author feels the need to throw in some unbelief to explain God's sovereignty.  The best way to emphasize that is not to make God out to be an indiscriminant torturer of His children.  Rather, talk about the things that He sovereignly put in His Word about His goodness and love, and the fact that His will isn't that any should perish, but that all come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Takeaway:  Book two is a great sequel to book one.

Game of Thrones: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

Give us three rhyming words that say something about your Thanksgiving holiday (or your most recent holiday gathering if you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving).
Best rest to be unstressed.  I didn't succumb to the pressure to HAVE to go somewhere or do something because I knew that I was working my normal hours on Friday.  I took the opportunity to relax.  I need some more of that.
When did you last say, 'the more the merrier'? Did you mean it?
It's been a while. 
What's one piece of advice you'd give someone who is your same age?
Don't be like me.  And, no, that's not a joke.
You're ordering a veggie plate, what four veggies are on it?
Broccoli, carrots, spinach, and bell peppers.
Shop til you drop! Did you? Have you ever? Will you between now and Christmas?

Dave Ramsey says NO!
What's your favorite chair in your house, and why is it a favorite?
The upholstered chair in my bedroom.  It's where I read, study, pray, chillax, and ready for the day.  It was an old chair my CEO  didn't want anymore because he was redecorating his office.  When I get my own place, this chair will most likely go in my living room/library.  Thought it was cast off, it was in good condition, plus it's comfortable.
Share an early memory of faith, religion, or spirituality.
Oh, I could write volumes about this.  My best friend in 9th grade, Evangeline Pate, invited me to church and I heard the true Gospel of Christ for the first time.  I gave my heart to the Lord that day. No, it hasn't been a bed of roses, but I wouldn't trade the changes to this life and the eternal bliss in the next for anything. 
I mention Van's name because in all of the social media I'm involved in, I've never found her.  Finding my friend would be an awesome miracle.  I want to simply thank her for being my friend and not being ashamed of sharing Jesus with an angry, bitter, hurting pathetic excuse for a human being.  I don't know if she's married or what her married name might be.  She was here when her parents were stationed at the now defunct Fort McClellan, Alabama military base.  She moved away just before we went into the 10th grade.
I also need to thank her because she's the one who put the notion in my head to take drum lessons...and a band nerd was created. 
Insert your own random thought here.
Please pray for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hung Up: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!


What's something you might say runs in your family? 
I plead the 5th.  All I could think of was the bad stuff, so I'm shutting my mouth.
I read here a list of ten things you should do before 2017 arrives (in less than six weeks!)... visit your Dr. or dentist, deep clean your home, donate unwanted items to charity, look someone in the eye and tell them you love them, write an honest letter to yourself, clean up your inbox-desktop-photos, travel to a place you haven't been, compliment a stranger, watch the sunrise, think ahead to your goals/plans for the new year. Which tasks on the list might you do? What would you add to your own 'before the year ends' list?
Right now I'm thinking ahead to my goals/plans for the new year.  Here's to hoping.  One thing I'm not going to do is wait until January first to start.  If I really want what I say I want, then why wait?  Why sit around for the next month?  Yes, I know I'm finishing up things for this year and some of the newer things have to wait, but why not start establishing good habits now?  Why not get a jump on the new year instead of being jumped on by it?
What's something other generations (not your own) misunderstand about your generation?
Music.  My musical decade was the 80's.  Not to sound like an old fart, but some of this generation doesn't understand the concept of musicianship, innovation, and singing voices without autotune.  In all fairness, my parents generation didn't understand our music either.  Daddy always called it that "belly rubbin'" music (whatever that meant).
Sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread dressing-which would you miss the most if it weren't on the holiday dinner menu?
You can't have Thanksgiving without cornbread dressing.  My mother never made sweet potato casserole; she makes sweet potato pie.  Plus, I can eat mashed potatoes anytime (just follow the directions on the box).  However, dressing is a special treat that we only see at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  If I want to see it any other time, I'd better learn to make it myself.
What are you overthinking right now?
What am I NOT overthinking right now?  Not to go into too much detail, but I've got so many things hanging over my head right now, I feel like a dry cleaners.  Auntie seriously needs a vacation...a REAL vacation.
Your favorite slang word lately?
More of a phrase; "He/she ain't right."  Meaning he/she is addlepated...or just plumb crazy.
Write an acrostic for the word grateful.
Rid of
Estranges you
Ungratefulness tends to pull us away from our ability to freely love God, ourselves, and others and to receive that love.
Insert your own random thought here.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and a joyous start to this renewing season of Advent.
Love,  Auntie.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 18

Book:  Where the Wild Rose Blooms. (Rocky Mountain Memories #1)

Author:  Lori Wick

Info: Copyright 1996, Eugene, OR:  Doubleday Large Print

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭✭
(yes, blogger now has symbols and emojis)

What it's about:  Clayton Taggart, a hard working miner with aspirations of being a school teacher, has met his match in Jacqueline (Jackie) Fontaine.  Headstrong, prideful, and angry, Jackie makes her disdain of Clayton in particular and men in general quite clear.  However, is it disdain, or a cover up for something else?  Will a horrible accident destroy any chance of a friendship between them?

What I Liked:
  • This story was so good that I couldn't put it down.
  • I've read many of Wick's books, the spiritual aspect of this novel is a new angle for her.  She presented a character who thought he knew Christ because of his good deeds, not because of a decision to follow Christ. 
  • There's some chuckle worthy humor and banter among the characters.
  • Small spoiler: the interaction with a blind character in the book was not stereotypical.  They treated her as normally has possible.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The nicknames of two main characters, Addy and Eddie, got confusing sine they interacted with each other in the story.
Takeaway:  A good beginning to another book series.

Auntie's 2016 Bookwom Challenge 17

Book:  The Holy Bible:  New Living Translation (NLT).

Info: Copyright 2013,  Carol Stream, IL:  Tyndale House Publishers

Where acquired: Purchased at Books-A-Million.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # #

What it's about: This is a large print version of a modern English translation of the Old and New Testaments.  I've read several passages from this Bible version in the context of other Scripture-based literature, but I'd never sat down and read the whole thing from cover to cover.

What I Liked:
  • Though my favorite Bible translation is still the King James Version, the more modern language of the NLT does help clarify some of the more complicated passages.
  • The larger print was easy on the eyes.
  • OK, so I liked the pink cover.  What?  I'm a girl.
What I didn’t like: 
  • Nothing.
Takeaway:  I know this review is short and sketchy, however, reading the Bible isn't like reading any other book.  The text is much more powerful and meaningful than that.  I think this version of the Bible would be great for anyone who is new to reading the Scriptures.  However, this is not a study Bible per se in that it gives the clarity of a paraphrase to passages, but not the depth of a literal translation.  I'll definitely continue to use it as a reference.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Happy Meal: The Weekly Hodgepodge

Want to join the party?  Come on over to From This Side of the Pond  for the Hodgepodge link-up!

Let's all think happy thoughts...share one of yours here.

There's a Chinese proverb that says, "If you want happiness for an hour take a nap, if you want happiness for a day-go fishing...." What say you? If you want happiness for a day _____________.
Create something.  Whether it's visual art like a painting or a stitched project, or creativity with words, or to "make melody in your heart" (Ephesians 5:19),  creativity is the spark of joy and happiness.

Where do you go to decompress from the world around you?
Physically, I go to the Ladiga Trail for a walk or ride.  In my mind, I go into the pages of a book.
What song never fails to make you happy? 
(See question one and add Weird Al's White and Nerdy to it.) I can tell when my mood is going into the toilet when I don't want to listen to anything but the rattling of my own head.  Not a great place to be.  Fortunately, I don't go there very often and praise God, lately "there" doesn't last very long.
Wednesday is National Fast Food Day. Should that be a thing? Apparently it is, so tell us what's the last 'fast food' you consumed? If you were putting together your own version of a 'happy meal' what would you include? 
Everything else is a "thing," so why not?  The last fast food I consumed was a McDonald's bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit this morning. (Yeah, I need to go to the store.)  Okay, my happy meal would consist of a piece of original recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken, a honey butter biscuit (or two) from Church's Chicken, hashbrown casserole from Cracker Barrel, my mama's turnip green / poke salad mix (she knows how to prepare poke salad without killing anyone), a Coca-Cola from a tap rather than a can or bottle (tastes better and has more fizz), and for dessert:  cheesecake.  Yeah, I know it's worth about four million calories, but I can fantasize can't I?
In a few sentences tell us why you blog.
I blog to share ideas and create with words.  I blog because it's both cathartic and fun.  I blog for connection outside my own little world and to make friends.
List seven things you're feeling especially grateful for today. 
  1. The mercy and grace of God.
  2. I still have a roof over my head and food to eat.
  3. My car is still holding up.
  4. Cooler weather.
  5. Increased strength and vitality.
  6. My job.
  7. Being able speak to far away friends over the internet.
Insert your own random thought here.
I usually share a song right about now, but I've already shared some.  Oh dear.  Well, until next week then.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 16

Book:  Jessie. (Big Sky Dreams Trilogy #3) 

Author:  Lori Wick

Info: Copyright 2008,  Detroit:  Thorndike Press

Where acquired: Library check out.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # #

What it's about:  Picking up where Sabrina left off, Jessica (Jessie) Wheeler, owner of the Token Creek's mercantile, finds Seth, who she believes is the love of her life.  Years into the relationship, the couple is plagued with self-made misery.  So much so that the family totally disintegrates and Jessie is left alone.  Seth, suffering the consequences of the life he led while separated from Jessie, comes to Christ, and his senses.  Will Jessie take Seth back?  Can she trust him? More importantly, can she trust in his God through all the pain and uncertainty?

Favorite Quotes:

None that I could think of.

What I Liked:
  • Things between Jessie and Seth didn't instantly clear up.  Both characters had to mature and put serious work into reviving their relationship.
  • Wick quite cleverly included characters from a different book series into this novel.
What I didn’t like: 
  • The relationship between two minor characters went from calling, to courting, to marriage way too quickly. 
  • There always seems to be some unbelief, or at least questionable belief in these books.  This one seemed to be overloaded with it.
  • Jessie's children, ages nine and seven, were written way too immaturely. 
  • The big "mystery" of why Rylan calls Sabrina by her full name was never revealed.  Such a big deal was made about it in book two, it seemed it would be mentioned in the final book of the series.
Takeaway:  Though this book wasn't as good as the first two in the trilogy, it was still a good read.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Auntie's 2016 Bookworm Challenge 15

Book:  The Gifts of Imperfection. 

Author:  Brene' Brown

Info: Copyright 2010, Center City, MN:  Hazelden Publishing

Where acquired: Gift from my mentor.

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 hashtags): # # # #

What it's about:  Dr. Brown has done extensive research on shame and vulnerability.  The experience of this research led her to study the components of an authentic life.  The imperfect life she speaks of is not imperfect in that everything is wrong, but imperfect because that life  doesn't look like society says it's supposed to.  Her themes of courage, connection, and compassion and her ten guideposts of life draw the reader to seek authenticity and wholehearted living.

Favorite Quotes:

"When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness--the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging." - p. 23.

"...the absence of love and belonging will always lead to suffering." - p. 26.

"'To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself--means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight--and never stop fighting.'" E. E. Cummings. - p. 51

"Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it's about creating a clearing.  It's opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.."  p 108

What I Liked:
  • The author doesn't refer to this work as a self-help book, and it's not.  Self-help denotes self improvement outside of community.  Successful implementation of the concepts of the book require connection.
  • Dr. Brown seemed to be reading my mind and attitude in much of what she wrote. This gives her writings universality and genuineness.
  • Her research wasn't simply based on the lives of others, she has experienced the process herself.  In other words, it's not just "do as I say because my research says so," she's actually lived it.
  • I love her use of humor. 
  • She is an academic--a researcher, but the book doesn't bog down in obfuscation.  In other words, she doesn't talk eight pounds to word; she gets it said intelligently, but without patronizing language.
What I didn’t like: 
  • There is some strong language (cussing) in the book.  It doesn't permeate the text, but it's there.  It's nothing I haven't heard (or said), and it's not drunk uncle language, so it doesn't bother me.  However, some people may be offended by it.
  • This is a moot point, but I don't like Dr. Brown's take on the phrase "bless your heart."  She sees the phrase as passive aggressive.  Maybe in Texas, but here in the deep South, that's not how it's used.  It's not even a major point in the book, but it bugged me.
Takeaway:  I first came across Brene' Brown's work when I viewed a 99U speech on creativity and criticism (the video is below), so I knew her materials would be helpful. 

Dr. Brown's book has been a major game changer in my life.  I've walked around carrying feelings of shame and the overwhelming message that who I am and what I do is never enough.  Reading this has given me weapons and strategies to begin overcoming these obstacles of authentic living.  I'll definitely read more of Brene' Brown's work.