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.

The Knot Prayer

Dear God,

Please untie the knots
That are in my mind,
My heart and my life.
Remove the have nots,
The cannots and the do nots
Erase the will nots,
May nots,
Might nots that may find
A home in my heart.

Psalm 116:2

Release me from the could nots
Would nots and
Should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my mind,
My heart and my life all of the “am nots”
That I have allowed to hold me back,
Especially the thought
That I am not good enough.

Amen

Author Known to God

Book Review: Second Chances by Max Lucado

Second ChancesThe title of this book, Second Chances, caught my eye because I have been on the receiving end of many second chances in life. From very small happenstances to extreme life changes – being granted a second chance is the greatest form of grace I have encountered.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this book was not comprised of  chapters directing me on how to accept second chances with a grateful heart. Instead, it contained stories of grace from Max Lucado’s library of writings.

From traditional Bible stories to biographical recollections from Lucado’s life; this book reminds us, page by page, that God’s love is endless and His grace will return moment after moment.

Favorite quotes:

  • God’s efforts are strongest when our efforts are useless.
  • Reconciliation restiches the unraveled, reverses the rebellion, rekindles the cold passion.
  • Deflating inflated egos is so important to God that He offers to help.
  • Their [Your] sin collided with their [your] Savior, and their [your] Savior won!

I received this book from Thomas Nelson through their Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review.

In the Light

Co-authored with my dad, Reverend Philip VanDop @ CalculatedWanderings.com.

jesus-savesShe sat in my office, shoulders slumped – heavy with the weight of fear from past memories. Burdens she’d chosen to carry too many long and lonely years.

My heart broke as her life’s painful timeline unraveled through desperate, broken sentences.

Tears and exhaustion stained her face. Her heart – a well trodden battleground. Her soul – discouraged and lost in the dark.

She’d lived her life blinded by pitch black – with no light to guide her steps. She needed the light switched on, directing her path.


Why do we choose to live in darkness?

In a time in which electricity is a commodity and “light” is always a flip switch away – we consistently chose to clothe our hearts in darkness.

Driven by fear from deeply hidden secrets – we believe Satan’s whispers that hiding from the truth (light) is safe and acceptable.

Fear and hurt build up…

…secrets bang on the door of our lives, threatening to destroy us…

…vulnerability becomes a consistent worse case scenario.

We double down on poor tactics and destructive coping mechanisms which are misguided at best and outright lies at worst.

Satan, like a cock roach, lurks in the dark. Hiding under floor boards and between the cracks slithers around where we can’t see him. Shine the Light and see him, the cock roach, scatter – running towards a blackened sanctuary.

God is Light. He is the Truth that erases the shadows which seem to make our lies bigger than reality.

You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. (Psalm 18:28)

It is my hope and prayer that if you are hiding behind corrosive secrets, you realize God is here to help you heal. Nothing is beyond Him, nothing is more than He can handle. Remember His Son died so that you could be healed of the greatest hurts, the deepest secrets and the loudest criticisms. Let His light shine in all of your life so that your secrets, whatever they may be, will scatter for darker sanctuaries.

Guest Post: Humbled and Amazed

My sister-in-law, Mandy Mianecki, wrote an amazing story on her blog, Hearts Undaunted, of the journey between my husband any myself. Enjoy!

My Assignment:  Find a God-sized dream story that inspires you and share it with us. It could be the story of someone in Scripture, your family, your community or the great, big world out there online. Then write a post about how that story inspires you.

It blows me away…how the love of the Lord transforms.

How the Spirit reaches right down in tenderness and mercy awakens mustard seed faith, planted deep within, long ago.

My brothers and I were raised in faith.

Born into, baptized, blessed.

Our parents exposed us to faith in our formative years.

Gave us a Catholic education through high school, and two of us through college.

And yet.

Faith must be embraced by each, individually.

Must be sought, examined, tried on…

Often times, that takes the form of veering off the path of faith. There can be hurtful experiences that push away. Crazy, experimental, just-wanna-have-fun years. Perhaps life happens and God seems to slip through the cracks.

Or we never truly experienced God’s mad love for us personally.

I didn’t always understand that. In my legalistic years, I saw my brothers fall away.

And I fretted. Truly worried. And prayed.

Offered the role of godfather to one brother.

And I can’t help but admire his answer. Can’t help but respect his honesty, that he wanted to accept for the right reasons–but couldn’t because he didn’t want to “just be going through the motions.”

I admired, respected, and prayed.

Years later, Josh began dating his wife-to-be, Heather.

Life threw crushing blows that brought them to their knees–in front of the altar.

It was make or break…and they chose make.

They married. In church.

And I marveled as listened to the sermon about a spousal love that lays its life down for the other.

I witnessed the joy and peace in their eyes, the palpable love in their embrace.

Not the mushy-gushy, oh-my-honey-sugar-poo kind of love.

More the kind that does this:

For real.

He loves her.

In a you-come-first-and-I-am-honored-to-take-care-of-you sort of way.

In a covenantal and I-don’t-care-if-anyone-looks-at-me-funny-for-it sort of way.

He wears an I Am Second bracelet.

He gives generously.

He lives honestly.

He’s surrendered his heart.

And I am humbled by it.

I’m so proud of him.

And it makes me want to be a better spouse.

It brings tears to my eyes, from my heart overflowing, wanting to burst with the knowledge of the goodness of God…and the way that He loves.

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About Mandy Mianecki:

Wife, mama, daughter, sister, and friend, passionately pursuing my Savior. Coffee-drinker, art-maker, word-nerd, homeschooling-attempter. Cheerios in my carpet, dust on, well, everything, but love in my heart. Encouraging you in this walk of faith that you can do this!