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.

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.

Book Review: The 5 Money Personalities

The 5 Money PersonalitiesThe Five Money Personalities is written by “The Money Couple” Scott and Bethany Palmer, who work as financial counselors and have written several books and studies on money and relationships. I choose to read this book because my husband and I are at opposite ends of the spending spectrum. I figured I would be doing my part (as the spender and not the savor out of the two of us) to read a book which might teach me to become financially responsible.

I was surprised to find this book wasn’t necessarily about becoming financially responsible, but really about understanding your “money personality” as well as your spouse’s – and how the two can work side by side to create harmony and not discord within your marriage.

If you consider yourself a “visual” person, this book is for you. The interactive quizzes and self-assesments draw a picture of your spending personality and how it relates to those in your household. Whether reading this on your own or along side your spouse, you will learn understanding each other’s money language can drastically enhance your relationship.

Quotes from the book that I thought were meaningful:

“There’s something life-giving about dreaming together as a couple. It’s a reminder that you are stronger together than you are apart. It’s a way of saying to your spouse, “I look forward to the future with you.”

“A strong marriage is only possible when couples reclaim that attraction, when they stop seeing the downsides of their differences and start loving the way they complement each other.”

“Seeing the ways the Opposite Dynamic plays out in your marriage isn’t a free ticket to no more conflict. It’s a way to recognize that those conflicts don’t have to get personal or painful. You can address problems as partners, not as adversaries, because you know that the other person is coming at the problem from a legitimate perspective that just happens to be different from yours. And when you know that, you can work through problems with respect and a true desire to find middle ground.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Duck by Ben Loory

Listen to this story read by its author on This American Life by clicking here.

DuckA duck fell in love with a rock. It was a large rock, about the size of a duck actually, that was situated off the bank of the river, a little past the old elm.

Every day after lunch, the duck would saunter off to admire the rock for a while.

“Where are you going?” said the other ducks.

“Nowhere,” said the duck. “Just around.”

But the other ducks knew exactly where he was going. And they all laughed at him behind his back.

“Stupid duck is in love with a rock,” they snickered. “Wonder what kind of ducklings they will have.”

But there was one duck, a girl duck, who did not laugh. She had known the strange duck for a long time and had always found him to be a good and decent bird. She felt sorry for him. It was hard luck to fall in love with a rock. She wanted to help, but what could she do?

She trailed after the duck and watched him woo the rock from behind a tree.

“I love you,” the duck was saying. “I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you more than the stars in the sky. I love you more than the fish in the river. I love you more than, more than–” And there he stopped for he could think of nothing else that existed.

“Life itself?” said the girl duck from behind the tree. She hadn’t meant to pipe up. The words just sort of leapt out of her.

The duck spun around to look at her. He was terrified.

“It’s OK,” said the girl duck, waddling out from behind the tree. “I know you’re in love with the rock. In fact, everyone knows.”

“They do?” said the duck.

“Yes,” said the girl duck. “Yes, they do.”

The duck sighed and sat down on the ground. If he had had hands, he would have buried his head in them.

“What am I going to do?” he said. “What am I going to do?”

“Do?” the girl duck said.

“How can it go on like this?” Said the duck. “I love a thing that can not speak, can not move, can not– I don’t even know how it feels about me.”

The girl duck looked at the rock. She didn’t know what to say.

“I know,” said the duck, “you think I’m crazy. You think it’s just a rock. But it isn’t just a rock. It’s different. It’s very different.” He looked at the rock.

“But something has to happen,” he said, “and soon. Because my heart will break if this goes on much longer.”

That night, the girl duck had a hard time sleeping. She kept paddling around in circles, thinking about the rock, and the duck, and his heart that might break.

She thought long and hard. And before morning, she had an idea. She went and woke up the strange duck.

“Things happen when they must,” she said, as if it were an extremely meaningful statement.

“So?” said the duck.

“So I have a plan,” said the girl duck, “and I think that it will work.”

“Well, what is it?” said the duck, nearly bursting with excitement.

“We will need help,” said the girl duck. “And it will take some time. And also, we will need a cliff.”

Two days later they set out. It took four ducks to carry the rock. They worked in teams and traded off every 15 minutes.

Everyone joined in, even though they laughed, for ducks are all brothers when it comes right down to it.

“The cliff is over that hill and then quite a ways to the south,” said the most elderly duck. “I remember flying over it when I was fledgling. It looked like the edge of the world.”

The ducks trudged on under their rocky weight for hours. For hours, and then for days.

At night, they camped under hedges and strange trees, and ate beetles and frogs.

“Do you think it will be much farther?” said one of the ducks.

“Maybe,” said the old duck. “My memory is not so good anymore.”

On the sixth day, the ducks began to tire.

“I don’t believe there is a cliff,” said one of them.

“Me neither,” said another. “I think the old duck is crazy.”

“My back hurts,” said a third duck. “I want to go home.”

“Me too,” said a fourth. “In fact, I’m going to.”

And then, all the ducks began to turn for home. The rock fell to the forest floor and lay there. The strange duck looked imploringly at the girl duck.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I won’t leave you.”

They watched all the other ducks flee homeward. And then they hoisted the rock onto their backs and trudged on.

“What do you think will happen when we throw it off the cliff?” said the duck.

“I don’t know,” said the girl duck. “I just know it will be something.”

Finally, they came to the edge of the cliff. The drop-off was so great they couldn’t see the ground. Just great white clouds spread out before them, like an endless, rolling cotton blanket.

“It looks so soft,” said the duck.

“Yes, it does,” said the girl duck. “Are you ready?”

The duck looked at the rock.

“This is it, my love,” he said, “the moment of truth. And whatever happens, please remember, always remember, I love you.”

And the two ducks hurled the rock off the cliff together.

At first the rock simply fell “like a rock,” one might say. “Like a stone.” But then something began to happen.

It began to slow. It began to grow. It began to change. It narrowed. It elongated. And it also spread sideways.

“It’s becoming a bird,” the girl duck said.

And it was. It was becoming a beautiful gray bird, really not that unlike a duck. Its wings began to move slowly up and down, up and down. And it dove down, and then coasted up. It looked back over its shoulder at the two ducks on the cliff, and it called out just once, “Good bye.”

And then it was going, going, getting smaller and smaller, flying off over the blanket across the sky.

When they reached the pond, the other ducks gathered around and clamored to hear what had happened. The duck and the girl duck glanced at each other.

“Nothing,” said the girl duck. “It fell.”

In the days that followed, the duck stayed to himself. The girl duck went and swan around in circles. She thought about that rocky bird flying off into the sky. She saw it over and over in her mind.

And then one day, not too many days later, she looked and saw the duck come swimming up. He was carrying a small salamander in his bill.

“For me?” the girl duck said.

And the duck smiled.

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.

Forgiveness by Matthew West

“Losing a loved one is the hardest thing we have to endure in our lives, but the pain and grief becomes unfathomable when someone else takes the life of someone you love. Matthew West has spent the last few years collecting stories from his fans to compile the beautiful songs on his past records. Renee is the mother of a daughter that was killed by a drunk driver and inspired Matthew’s latest song Forgiveness. Renee demonstrates forgiveness at it’s finest as she not only forgave her daughter’s killer, but fought to get his prison sentence reduced. To make this inspiring story even sweeter, you get to hear a sneak peek of the new song by Matthew West!” -www.Godtube.com