Book Review: Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

Salt…small, opaque granules….

Too little can leave a meal lacking and too much can ruin a dish’s intended flavor.

It’s amazing how something so small can have such a big impact on a person’s palate.

Emily P. Freeman draws a similar parallel in her newly released book, Simply Tuesday (Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World). She writes about accepting and relishing being small in a world in which so many are searching for bigness. Freeman states,

I’m paying attention to the small ways that Jesus- and his kingdom- shows up in the daily ordinary, in the actual places where I live.

Freeman seamlessly weaves together personal life experiences – expressing emotions and concerns which are usually difficult to articulate. She calls to attention, through realistic applications, ways in which the human condition has become overcome with taking on the world instead of accepting responsibility for what God has given us to accomplish.



Simply Tuesday reminds me that ordinary is beautiful. That, like a grain of salt, the most profound and flavorful, if you will, things are often found in small moments.

Emily’s Prayer for the Ordinary Aunties

We confess our disrespect for ordinary time. We recognize all the ways we despise it. But we long to see with kingdom-eyes the small ways you [Lord] move in our Tuesdays. Mary we be people who see home right where we are, refusing to run into the future or pine over the past. Gently poke our sleepy souls awake.

As if reading this book isn’t amazing enough, a book club was just announced on (in)courage’s site. Be sure to get your copy and join the club!

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Additional Reviews:

Note: I was sent a complimentary advanced reader copy of Simply Tuesday  in which I, in return, am reviewing.

Book Review: Downside Up by Tracey Mitchell

“Rejection reveals, alerts, exposes, defines, confirms, and is one of the greatest motivators in life.”

This is one of the opening points Tracey Mitchell makes in her book, Downside Up: Transform Rejection Into Your Golden Opportunity. This out-of-the-box view on rejection is an example of how Mitchell takes an alternative look at the role adversity can play in life.

Mitchell relates to the reader from personal experiences in her own life and those she’s encountered. More importantly, she draws relative stories from Scripture to show that rejection is an emotional wound Christ can heal.

The end of each chapter offers a list of “Chapter Principles” to not only serve as reinforcements for Mitchell’s main points, but also as references the reader can easily access in the future. Following the chapter principles are “Words of Wisdom” which consist of Scriptures and famous quotes that relate to each chapter’s main points. Finally, building on her principles and Scripture, Mitchell offers a “Plan of Action” for the reader to directly apply to their personal life in tangible ways that will last long after this book has been read.

Downside Up, by Tracey Mitchell, is not like any other self-help book I’ve read. My pen went dry from all the notations and underlining I did throughout this book. The amount of ah-ha moments made me take this read a bit slower so I could ingest all the extraordinary points being offered.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through the BookLook Bloggers. program. I was not required to give a positive review.

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You can purchase Downside Up: Transform Rejection Into Your Golden Opportunity by Tracey Mitchell here.

Pure Spiritual Milk

“Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for the nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.” 1 Peter 2: 3

My son loves to eat!

LJ EatingHe knows when he sees me holding a fresh bottle that something wonderful is about to happen. He will cry for that bottle – and, until I get it into his mouth, he is unsatisfied.

It’s amazing to me the overwhelming amount of peace and contentment that comes over his body as he begins to drink. He literally goes from a state of total meltdown to sleep the moment a bottle is put into his mouth. He relishes in getting his craving for nourishment fulfilled.

And so, I read this verse from 1 Peter with new meaning this morning…

I read it with a stark visual representation in my head of what it means to crave pure spiritual milk…

To cry for the Lord’s kindness and interaction with a fierceness that isn’t calmed until the craving has been met…

To experience instantaneous peace and contentment upon entering God’s presence.

This is what my days should be centered around. Much like my son’s daily mission is to get nourishment – mine is to find that pure spiritual milk and to not accept any substitutions.

To My Under-Appreciated Husband

Dear Husband,

I want so badly to be the wife you deserve…

A wife that greets you at the door, when you come home for work, emotionally stable with a smile on my face.

A wife who could manage our son’s doctors appointments on her own.

A wife that could spend time pouring over recipes to make you the perfect dinner each night.

A wife that didn’t nag or snap at you.

A wife who didn’t need you to immediately take our son after a long day of work.

I yearn to be a wife that is nurturing, selfless and thoughtful.

I’m humbled each day when…

You come home from work greeting me with a smile and asking about MY day as you take our son into your arms to give me a break.

You take time in the middle of your busy day to attend EVERY doctors appointment you can for our son (usually having to work extra to make up for the time.)

You make your own lunch each day and pick us up dinner every night.

You support every weight loss program I try, wake up early so I can sleep in…

…change poopy diapers while getting ready for work, don’t criticize me for wearing cut off pants, crocs and a puke stained shirt in public with you (yes it really happens), and listen patiently as I rant and rave that you aren’t being attentive to my needs (clearly not the case).

Thank you for your unconditional love.

Thank you for providing each day for our family above and beyond what we need.

Thank you for making our son laugh so hard.

Thank you for being an incredible man of God…

…and for giving me a family I never dreamed possible!

Love your incredibly grateful wife.

Learning to Cook…at 31!

I’ll be turning 32 next week – and as I look back over the last year, I’m amazed at the things I have learned through this year’s changes. Each day has brought its wins and losses that have helped to mold my “evergreen” self, but nothing could have prepared me for the following lessons I’ve learned through these major changes:

We bought a condo! – Having lived in apartments since college, the adjustment from renter to owner was large. From the moment we closed on this home, we watched the dollars in our bank account get smaller and smaller as we took on the necessary renovations to make this place our “home.” It felt like, for the first time, I was putting on my big-girl pants and taking a step into the real world of responsibility. There was no longer a handyman to call about holes in the wall or broken ceiling fans – these had to be fixed by our own two hands (with the aid of  my father-in-law and a lot of YouTube videos). I learned that it’s okay to pull carpet off the floor and not to be afraid of a large bucket of paint (despite the fact that I still can’t paint a straight line).

Grow, Grow, GrowingWe got pregnant! – Well, I think this one speaks for itself. Except for the fact that Josh and I weren’t planning on kids. At most, I was working towards convincing him we needed a dog! But along came our little guy – growing so fast inside me. This life change has created a domino effect of subsequent changes both physical and emotional. And while the lessons I am learning every day during this pregnancy continue to grow in number, the most important one is that life is ever-changing. Concrete is not an adjective that can realistically describe any person’s life. This may seem like an easy concept that everyone is fairly aware of – but it still shakes you when the solid foundation you thought you were building is torn up to create a new (and often better) one. Needless to say, we are ecstatic about our son’s arrival this December!

I quit my job! – Work was, well…my life. My days and nights revolved around it. If I wasn’t busy in the office, I was traveling for business. Both my husband and I shared our work-a-holic lifestyles. I found my identity in meeting the daily challenges I faced at work. I defined success in my professional accomplishments. I honestly thought nothing would take the devotion I had towards my vocation until I became pregnant. Immediately, I became territorial of the time others would have with my son and knew I wanted to be the one to raise him. While I feel fairly new towards caring for a newborn, I know that no one can love or care for him like I can. This major life change has taught me that we can’t tie our identities to the things of this world. I learned that  jobs will come and go, but Christ is forever and He is who my identity must be tied to. I am most grateful for this lesson because it wouldn’t have been fair to shift my identity from work to my son – he needs to be his own person and both of us will find who we are in Christ!

I learned to cook…at 31! – Don’t judge me for this. When you work as much as I did – domestic responsibilities tend to go out the window. Cooking never appealed to me – why would I work all day to come home and work more? My husband and I found many restaurants we liked and were happy with that lifestyle. But, going from two incomes to one changes how you spend your money. Additionally, with the recent change of me not working, I now have time to prepare meals that are both cheaper and healthier than eating out. I can’t say I’ve mastered this art yet – but I am working on it (again with help from family and YouTube videos). I’ve learned that you can’t have enough cooking spoons and to only make what you will eat (as opposed to cooking enough to feed an army).

I had to say “good-bye”! – I am fortunate enough to say that I’ve never lost a person close to me. However, amongst the changes of buying a new home, becoming pregnant and quitting my job – I had to say good-bye to my kitty, my buddy of 9 years who never left my side. This loss was both unexpected and massive. Losing Miracle left such a hole in my heart. Watching life seep out of an animal you have loved and cherished changes you forever. I learned that making large decisions, like when to put your animal down, are hard and mucky.

I’m not sure what this next year will bring – but I know that I will take it head on knowing it’s important to roll with the punches, trust in God and just take a deep breath from time-to-time.

What to do with the Scars of Life?

An incredible message by Rev. Philip VanDop which asks us to look at the scars on Jesus’ hands and side as evidence of what He went through and the healing that occurred.  Each of us with scars have the same opportunity for healing.  You will be better for having heard this message.

What to Do With the Scars of Life?
Scripture: John 20:19-31.

Forgiven by Thomas Blackshear 

Happiness in a sandwich…

Yesterday was my bi-annual performance review.  Need I say more? Well, just in case I should, here we go…

There I was, like an elementary kid sitting on that dreaded stool for school photographs.  Not knowing how to place my extremities, fixated on the thought I had something green in my teeth, I sat…

Appropriately nodding as she talked…

Like any well-planned review, she went through my successes first. I quickly dismissed each accomplishment  as my thoughts tossed and turned over the “constructive criticisms” coming my way.  Heart pounding, sweaty palms (can I get a drum roll please!)…people skills.  I couldn’t believe my ears! – people skills!?  Something I had so confidently accredited as my strong suit; never did I consider this my weakness (even though I was taught that my greatest strength can also be my greatest weakness – but I was not in the mood for philosophical reminders).

Blindsided, I listened as she explained the concept of “perception is reality” to those we work with.  I excel at customer service and sales but fall short in communicating with my colleagues. She spoke from a genuine place which compelled a sense of urgency inside me to fix this.

Like any hot blooded woman, I called my sister the first moment I had.  I asked her to explain this “perception is reality” thing. I listened as her gentle spirit seeped into the explanation and advice she was giving. Slowly, I began to realize it’s not important how others perceive me – but it is important how I treat them.  I know – earth shattering isn’t it!?

Heather,” my sister began, “each person you encounter is struggling in some way.  You will be hard pressed to discover a person who has it all together.  Always keep that in mind, treat people delicately.

And then she said something that was truly earth shattering – an analogy I couldn’t help but blog about…

Communicating with people is like a sandwich; start with that first slice of bread – something fresh and soft.  Then stack the meat in the middle – what you are requesting or commenting on. Follow this with another slice of fresh and soft bread.

Something so simple to visualize when I talk or email people, is also a reminder to treat each person as a child of God. Because I easily get caught up in the urgency of everyday demands – it’s not hard to forget what really counts in this life, glorifying God.  Someday it won’t matter if 500 people got their rebate checks on time, or 20 warranty claims received follow-up phone calls or even if I organized that important training webinar…what will matter is the gentle humanity I extended to God’s children.  Did I portray His love in my actions? And because my colleagues, family and people in general deserve better – with God, I will fix this.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,38)

I would like to officially credit my sister, Jennifer Fitzgerald, with the sandwich analogy.