Best Christian Memoirs

Monday, March 30, 2015

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What's a memoir? It's like a biography or autobiography. I love reading Christian memoirs and getting to see how people's life experiences influence their walk with God. They can help you realize that you are not alone in your struggles and also give you a sense of gratitude in that you have not had to face such obstacles.

Here's a look at some that I have read in the past few years...

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are-Ann Voskamp's story of loss, anxiety, and gratitude. For several years now I have kept a gratitude journal because of the ideas in this book. Life-changing.

The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up-I am partial to this book not only because it is an incredible story but because it is partially set in South Dakota where I am originally from. An amazing story of one woman who never gave up the idea of seeing the daughter that she gave away.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest-I love Bonnie Gray's book on how she dealt with panic attacks and a childhood of abuse. I can totally relate to some of her experiences as I know how anxiety can raise its ugly head as you try to heal from emotional trauma.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things-A story of infertility and adoption. I love Sara's perspective..."Each blow has a treasure of Him."

The Hiding Place-Corrie Ten Boom's story of hiding Jews and concentration camps. That we could all have such courage as she did!

Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope-The Chapman family's {Steve Curtis Chapman} story of loss and healing after losing their daughter in a tragic accident.

Here are a few that I am hoping to get to soon. The stories sound compelling!

Thin Places: A Memoir-I have read other books by Mary DeMuth and loved them {The Wall Around Your Heart and Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus}. This is her memoir.

The Devil in Pew Number Seven-The story of a pastor and his family who had a member in their church that terrorized them. A story of forgiveness.

Gianna: Aborted, and Lived to Tell about It-I have listened to Gianna speak {online}, and she is amazing! She was aborted and yet lives!

Into the Deep: One Man's Story of How Tragedy Took His Family but Could Not Take His Faith -His whole family drowns. His struggle to hang on to hope and faith.

Walking His Trail: Signs of God along the Way-This book is by Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint a missionary who was killed by the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador. Steve goes back to live with the people that killed his father.

Instilling Faith as Our Kids Grow

Saturday, March 28, 2015

My boys got their start in God's Word pretty early in life. Almost from the time they were born we were reading them Bible stories and taking them to church. However, as they have grown {They are currently 14 and 18 years old.}, the way we approach biblical teaching has had to change. Gone are the days of us sitting down together a reading a chapter in the Old Testament as we learn Biblical history. Gone are the days of us reciting verses together. As they have aged they have changed and we as their parents have had to do the same.

Come join me today at Future Flying Saucers as I discuss ideas on how to help your teen apply God's Word to his or her life...

Wisdom from Jane Austen

Friday, March 27, 2015

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Last year I spent my time in books with Jane Austen. I read six of her novels (I skipped Lady Susan). While I enjoyed them if I were to be completely honest by the end I was ready to read something that didn't involve people trying to pair up and get married. Don't get me wrong...I loved reading her novels, but maybe I should have spaced them out a bit. Here are the titles of all six of them (in no particular order):

Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abbey

What I did love about her novels were the way she described people and her perception of human nature and how it works. Here are a few of my favorite quotes (quotes are boldfaced)...

I have to admit at times I am a real home body. For example, I would prefer to watch a movie in the comfort of my living room than at the movie theater.

Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I love this quote as it is a gentle reminder to stay positive in what I write and say.

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart. So true! Those that are tender in heart I hold dear. A hard heart can be a repellent. 

I also tend not to love by halves. I am either all in or all out. So Jane's quote here makes a lot of sense to me. 

Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief. Yes! Once again Jane gets human nature. When we think too much of ourselves we tend to get ourselves in trouble.

There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves. This concept has been a hard lesson for me over time. I am the type of person that loves to give to others and help, but I have learned that too much help isn't always a good thing. People then can expect from you too much or something that they themselves are perfectly capable of doing.

Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. I love this! How I wish to be the person that stands firm in her beliefs and doesn't worry what others think of her.

So what are your favorite Jane Austen quotes?

Time with God {Over a Lifetime}

Monday, March 23, 2015

My relationship with God has changed over time as it should. So has the way I spend time with Him. I have been a Christian for over thirty-six years, and over that time God has traveled with me. As a child, I moved all over the country because of my dad's military career. I went through college. I married. I traveled internationally. I had a career outside of the home. I had two boys whom I have homeschooled. I have ran an in-home business. I have gone through loss (deaths in the family, relationships gone awry, abuse, and choosing to move on in my church life). With these changes have come change in how I have spent time with God. I am so thankful that He is a God of grace and meets us where we are in that moment. So here is a look at how my quiet time with God has looked over the past three decades. It is my hope that it will inspire you to find a method to spend time with God that will fit into you life in the here and now...

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As a young child and teen (I was seven when I gave my life to the Lord), I have to admit that my time with God was hit or miss. Personal quiet time didn't become a regular part of my life until my late teen or early adulthood years. For many of those years I did devotionals, not in depth Bible study. While I haven't given up on devotionals entirely I have found that I have for the most part moved on from them except for some by Paul David Trip like New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional and Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy

Sometime in my thirties I started to move from devotionals to Bible studies. I spent about a decade of doing intense Bible study (think: Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer). I learned so much during that time about God's Word. I am indebted to all those women who wrote the studies I did as they helped me to grow in my walk with God. If you are looking for a study to do here is my list of recommendations. During this time in life I was soaking in as much knowledge and practical application as I could. I came to realize also along the way that Bible study in and of itself does nothing for you unless you are willing to change and apply it to your life. Head knowledge doesn't make you spiritually mature, but heart change does.

In my late thirties, I read One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and began to keep a gratitude journal. Little did I know that God was instilling in me the practice of gratitude so that I would be able to make it through an extremely tough season of life (one that I am still working through). While I don't write in my gratitude journal every day I make an effort to once a week. It is a sweet time with God as I look back over what He has done for me. So many times we miss His graces if we aren't looking for them. I have found that focusing on what He has done for me and counting "griefs as graces" has helped me move forward through difficult circumstances.

These days I am taking life slow with God. Sounds strange, I know. It has been almost two years since we had to leave our church of twenty years. For me, it has been devastating. I have tried to work through the pain as best as possible. I have worked on forgiving and getting myself emotionally healthy again. It has been quite the process. During this time, I have slowed down with God. That doesn't mean that I spend less time with Him. It just means that I am not going through a ton of Bible studies. Instead I am camping out on a verse or chapter a day. I started doing this with Thom Gardner's book, The Healing Journey. I needed reassurance that God still loved me even though I had been through severe rejection from fellow Christians. I would only do a verse or two a day and journal about them. His book taught me to focus on what God was really saying about me and His love for me. That idea led to getting a...

Single Column Journaling Bible. I now am in a season of life where I am slowing down to really listen to what God is saying. I tend to journal in the margins of my Bible as ideas come to me...

I do use devotionals or reading guides to keep me on track. I have been using Wait Only Upon God which is a wonderful look at how God changes us in the waiting. Check out the author's (Candace Crabtree) website, His Mercy is New as she has other resources. I will be starting a book by Lyn Smith called WORD-Psalm 119: A Study in 22 Meditations. I have never really gone through the longest chapter in the Bible so I am looking forward to it!

I am sure in the future my time with God will change again, but for now I am taking the time to slow down and meditate and journal about His Word. 

So how do you spend time with God? Has it changed over the years?

Wisdom from Les Miserables {Victor Hugo}

Friday, March 20, 2015

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The best novel I have read recently would have to be Les Miserables . Yes, it is long. Yes, it is filled with historical detail that I didn't understand. But it is one of the greatest stories of grace I have ever read. You can read more of what I thought about his greatest novel here and here.

So here are a few of my favorite words of wisdom from the book...

Ten Ways to Make it Right {Apologies that Make a Difference}

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

I am going to be transparent in this moment and say that I have had many broken relationships in my life. They have not been easy to walk through, but they have taught me a great deal about how to handle those closest to me. They have been my greatest learning lessons. One of the biggest sticking points for me in moving forward in a relationship has to do with apologies. I can't seem to continue a relationship if the break was deeply painful and the other person doesn't make it right. There have been multiple (yes, more than one) relationships that I have decided to leave behind because the other person wouldn't go through the reconciliation process. There have been times I know I have offended others and not made the appropriate apology which cost me dearly. We all have failed when it comes to making an apology. So here are some tips that I have learned along the way on how to rebuild a relationship that may seem permanently broken.

Humble yourself. The first part of making an apology is to humble yourself. If you aren't willing to be humble then your apology won't be sincere. Many times people don't apologize because of pride thinking that they are lowering themselves. Here's the irony: Every time you apologize you become bigger in the eyes of the offended party. Without fail. Every time you don't you ultimately lower that person's opinion of you. So the only way to rise is to humble yourself.

Don't blame shift or counter attack. I had this happen a few years back...I accepted someone's apology and then she immediately started attacking me for what she thought I had did wrong. Can I tell you that at this point there is no reconciliation? Makes sense, right?  When you apologize don't shift the blame onto the other person. Keep it squarely on your shoulders and own your part. If they need to apologize to you let them do that. Trying to make them own their junk makes your apology null and void.

Drop the reluctance. Get over yourself. Run to reconciliation because the most important things here on this earth aren't things. They are people. God even sees it that way when He asks us in Matthew 5:24 to put reconciliation with others above worship of God. Why? Because He knows that how we love others is an expression of how we love Him. {I John 4:20}

Be specific. If you can't name your sin then you really aren't owning it. When my boys were little I would require them to practice apologies by also naming what they did. Saying, "I am sorry I hurt you" is good, but you need to admit what you actually did. Those that can't aren't repentant, and the offended party will pick up on it. Build trust by being specific.

Acknowledge the hurt. Acknowledge to the other person that there is hurt. Whatever you do, don't tell them they are being overly sensitive! You are actually blame shifting and tell the other party that they have a problem, not you. Honestly, if you have a broken relationship then both the offender and and the offended have a problem. By telling them you know they hurt you can soften their hearts toward you.

Accept the consequences. You break a dish, and you can try to glue it back together. It, however, will never be the same. Accept the fact that if the sin was extremely damaging that your relationship may never go back to the way it was. There is now a severe lack of trust that may take years to overcome. Forcing that person to be in relationship with you communicates that you have an attitude of "I can do what I want and make things go back to the way they were regardless of my actions." Not true.

Change the behavior. Repentance means turning around and going a different direction. Changing your behavior with the offended person instills trust which is what your relationship with him or her needs most at this point. The person who apologizes over and over again and doesn't change the behavior will soon be left lacking in relationships.

Give them time and love. They may need time to process. They may need time to heal. So you may need to stand back for awhile from the relationship. Other times what you will need to do is pour on the love. Go the extra mile for them. Ask them what they need {space or love} and also watch their verbal and non-verbal cues to figure out what is best.

Pray. Bathe them and yourself in prayer. Go to God on their behalf asking for healing. Pray that God will change your heart as you interact with them. Asking for true heart change for both parties is really what is needed in the reconciliation process. For the offended, he/she will need healed heart and one that will softened. For the offender, he or she will benefit from a broken heart that is eager to change and make things right.

Learn from your mistakes. Probably the best way to make an apology is not to have to make one at all! By truly confessing and making it right we up our chances of not committing the same "crime" again. Confession to another allows us to be free from the sin and truly move forward. Not dealing with it means you are still tied to it and are more likely to do the same action again.

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Here are some great books that deal with reconciliation and apologies...

The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in all Your Relationships

The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict

Peacefakers, Peacebrakers, Peacemakers: Member Guide {To be used with the above book.}

Encountering the Healing Power of Forgiveness (Living with Unmet Desires)

Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You {The section on guilt in this book has an excellent explanation of why making it right is so important!!

Paper Folding Salvation Message {in Spanish}

Monday, March 16, 2015

For years, I taught children and youth at a local church. I so enjoyed my time working with young people and helping them develop a relationship with God. That is why I love my friend, Anne Marie, and her website. Future Flying Saucers is filled with Bible lessons for kids. She has lessons on salvation, lessons related to holidays (i.e. Christmas and Valentine's Day), and lessons from both the Old and New Testament. I particularly LOVE her lesson on Cain and Abel, an object lesson on how our sin affects others. Sometimes as human beings we think we live in a vacuum and our sin won't spill out onto others. That is never the case! Anne Marie's object lesson demonstrates how  our sin can destroy the lives of others.

Last fall I had the privilege of working with Anne Marie on one of her lessons. No, I didn't create the lesson. The ideas are hers, but I did help by translating into Spanish her paper-folding salvation message. This object lesson walks kids through what Christ did on the cross for us (a great message just in time for Easter!) and then leads kids to respond. So now her site contains an English version of the lesson and a Spanish one! If you work with kids in Spanish please check it out!  Here are the links to each version:

Also, take a few moments to browse her site! You may find a lesson or two to use in the near future!