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!

ST-Announce-study

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.

blb_badge

 

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

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.

Dear Vacation Bible School Teacher…

Dear Vacation Bible School teacher,

I never had a chance to tell you in person – so I am hoping, somehow, my letter finds its way to you.

A long time ago, possibly 14 years or so, you held a summer Vacation Bible School camp in your garage.  Neighborhood kids came to play, sing, eat snacks and learn about Jesus.  One day, I happened to be one of those kids.

What came next would alter the course of my life forever.

You had no way of knowing how turbulent my life had already been and you have no way of knowing how turbulent my life would continue to be. Addiction, disease, loneliness and darkness would hover over me. There would be moments of hopelessness and moments of despair, but most importantly there would be times of incredible faith.

You see, on that day I attended your Vacation Bible School class – as you prayed, while sitting crossed legged on your garage floor – I accepted Jesus into my heart.

With tattered blue jean shorts, scraped knees and a hungry heart – my 7 year old soul responded to the Holy Spirit as you spoke those words which I repeated in my heart.

Your servanthood to me, as a child, has continued to serve me through my life. That day stood as the basis for a fierce faith and love for Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for me. That prayer engraved upon my soul a promise of love and forgiveness that I would need many times over.

Thank you for giving to the Lord, for I am a life that was changed.

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.

mandy
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!

Guest Blog: The Masks We Wear

Growing up, insecurity and I were the closest of friends. One might say we were constant companions. I was all too familiar with insecurity’s constant need – its endless hunger for more and more and more.

Insecurity fed my fear of rejection and ultimately my fear of being unloved. You see, like many of us, I had my fair amount of experience with both of these hurtful feelings.

behind_the_mask_III_by_dinemizLike many of you, my path to adulthood wasn’t smooth. In fact, it was the opposite. So, to cope with my fear and to pacify my friend insecurity, I affixed my “mask.” You see, my mask became my greatest defense. I believed that my mask protected me – or at least I thought it did. I believed that it shielded me from hurt, judgment, and protected my vulnerabilities.

BUT the mask is a crafty thing. It’s forever changing – shifting its color, shape, wants, and desires. I can still hear the voice of my younger self agreeing to things to pacify others and laughing at jokes to please.

Sadly, much of my laughter was only skin deep and much of what I claimed to “love” I don’t think I really did. You see, it’s not that I lied or intentionally tried to be deceptive. I said what I thought others wanted to hear – which was easy because not only did the mask stop others from truly knowing me- it also stopped me from knowing myself.

That’s the danger with the mask- it slowly suffocated and isolates. Our masks and insecurities leave little room for anyone else. They leave little room for beauty, truth, and peace.

But this is not where my story ends. You see, because we have a loving Father and He loves us so much – He won’t settle for our bondage. I was a believer the entire time I wore my mask – but I never truly accepted His love and His acceptance of me.  Some of the reason I clung to my mask was because of my painful road to adulthood, and some of it was that I didn’t know how to trust Him with my flawed self. After all, how could the God of the universe truly love someone like me – when so many others hadn’t and didn’t.

So, out of love God removed my mask. I STRESS out of love, because at the time, it didn’t FEEL loving.  At the time it felt hurtful. At the time I felt truly exposed, vulnerable, and alone. It was during that time I discovered that there is strength in vulnerability, power in exposing our true selves to the light – HIS light. I realized what I was most afraid of – the world knowing that I was hurt and everything wasn’t perfect – He already knew.

I learned that my mask/ insecurity weren’t my companions – they were my enemies. You see I had built a fortress around myself to protect myself. I lived alone in that one room cell and probably would have stayed there- BUT what I was willing to settle for – true isolation- Christ wasn’t willing to accept. So, He did what any loving parent would do- He tore down my walls and showed me how beautiful life can be when we truly accept HIS love.

Insecurity keeps us so busy running from person to person or thing to thing seeking to be fed – always hungry but NEVER satisfied. And we are left weak, hungry, and alone.

Insecurity has us constantly looking around comparing ourselves to our sisters and brothers. It convinces us that we never measure up. But the truth Christ gives us- is that we are ALL beautiful in His sight. The truth is, there is beauty in our diversity and our distinct differences.

The truth is, He is the only One we need to seek approval from. He is the only One who can ever fill us full. The truth is, in this world- pain is sadly the thread that binds many of us together- we all have experiences that have left us raw, sad, or discouraged. The enemy would have you stay in that place looking to the world to fix that pain. The enemy would have you believe that “this” daily hunger is as good as it gets.

But I say, thru Jesus, you can have true healing. He will fill up the empty corners – the places no one knows about- He will bind up your broken heart and set you free so you are no longer in captivity.

The truth is, that when we compare ourselves to each other, or tear ourselves apart, we limit ourselves in so many ways. So, as I stand before you, without my mask – I ask you to look at your own. What if we tried to love one another but really only sought out to please just ONE- the only One who truly matters. SO, when insecurity comes knocking on your door – which it will and still does for me- remember that we have an ultimate Healer who can set us free, be our constant companion and truly make us Whiter Than Snow.

Jen and Guy


Guest Blogger: Jennifer Fitzgerald
(my sister) lives in Michigan with her husband, Guy Fitzgerald and two dogs – Nellie and Zoey. Jennifer is currently furthering God’s kingdom through her service as a Christian Counselor at the Christian Mission, Inc. along with working in her family business, Team Fitzgerald.

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.