Book Reviews

Putting your Faith in Action | by Nick Vujicic

unstoppableHaving faith, beliefs, and convictions is a great thing, but your life is measured by the actions you take based upon them. You can build a great life around those things you believe and have faith in. I’ve built mine around my belief that I can inspire and bring hope to people facing challenges in their lives. That belief is rooted in my faith in God. I have faith that He put me on this earth to love, inspire, and encourage others and especially to help all who are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I believe that I can never earn my way to heaven, and by faith I accept the gift of the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus. However, there’s so much more than just “getting in” through the Pearly Gates. It is also about seeing others changed by the power of His Holy Spirit, having a close relationship with Jesus Christ throughout this life, and then being further rewarded in heaven.

Being born without arms and legs was not God’s way of punishing me. I know that now. I have come to realize that this “disability” would actually heighten my ability to serve His purpose as a speaker and evangelist. You might be tempted to think that I’m making a huge leap of faith to feel that way, since most people consider my lack of limbs a huge handicap. Instead, God has used my lack of limbs to draw people to me, especially others with disabilities, so I can inspire and encourage them with my messages of faith, hope, and love.

In the Bible, James said that our actions, not our words, are the proof of our faith. He wrote in James 2:18, “Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’”

I’ve heard it said that our actions are to our faith and beliefs as our bodies are to our spirits. Your body is the housing of your spirit, the evidence of its existence. In the same way, your actions are the evidence of your faith and beliefs. You have no doubt heard the term “walking the talk.” Your family, friends, teachers, bosses, coworkers, customers, and clients all expect you to act and live in alignment with the beliefs and convictions that you claim to have. If you don’t, they will call you out, won’t they?

Our peers judge us not by what we say but by what we do. If you claim to be a good wife and mother, then you sometimes will have to put your family’s interests above your own. If you believe your purpose is to share your artistic talents with the world, then you will be judged on the works you produce, not on those you merely propose. You have to walk the talk; otherwise you have no credibility with others—or with yourself—because you, too, should demand that your actions match your words. If they don’t, you will never live in harmony and fulfillment.

As a Christian, I believe the final judge of how we’ve lived is God. The Bible teaches that His judgment is based on our actions, not our words. Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” I act upon my beliefs by traveling the world and encouraging people to love one another and to love God. I am fulfilled in that purpose. I truly believe it is why I was created.

When you act upon your beliefs and put your faith into action, you, too, will experience fulfillment. And please, do not be discouraged if you aren’t always absolutely confident in your purpose and how to act upon it. I have struggled. I still struggle. And so will you. I fail and am far from perfect. But deeds are merely the fruit—the result of the depth of a true conviction of the truth. Truth is what sets us free, not purpose. I found my purpose because I was looking for truth.

It is hard to find purpose or good in difficult circumstances, but that is the journey. Why did it have to be a journey? Why couldn’t a helicopter just pick you up and carry you to the finish line? Because throughout the difficult times, you will learn more, grow more in faith, love God more, and love your neighbor more. It is the journey of faith that begins in love and ends in love.

Frederick Douglass, the American slave turned social activist, said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Your character is formed by the challenges you face and overcome. Your courage grows when you face your fears. Your strength and your faith are built as they are tested in your life experiences.

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Adapted from Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Plain Wisdom or Plain Boring?

Growing up in rural Missouri we had a large Amish Mennonite community. A few of the children attended the local public school but left after the ninth grade. I imagine they left because they were needed back home on the farm. These girls kept to themselves in school, so I didn’t have the opportunity to socialize with them. But I have always been fascinated by their religious cultures; a way of life other than my own Christian Nazarene upbringing.

That is why I was excited about reading Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miriam Flaud. Plain Wisdom is a collection of short stories told by the unlikely friendship of Cindy, a modern city woman, and Miriam, an Old Order Amish woman. I was hoping this book would shed insight on the way of life of the Old Order Amish but sadly this book didn’t deliver on that promise.

Continue reading

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Busy Kids Summer | Keep Your Kids Reading all Summer Long

Keep your kids reading all summer long with Scholastic’s Summer Challenge.

“The Scholastic Summer Challenge is a free reading program dedicated to stopping the “Summer Slide” and encouraging kids to read more books this summer.”

Kids who log in can participate in weekly challenges, earn digital points and much more. There is even a program for the little ones in your house who aren’t old enough to read on their own yet.

There are plenty of resources for parents including recommended summer reading lists, ideas to keep your kids reading and tips on choosing the best books for your child.

The Scholastic Summer Challenge is a great way to keep your kids reading!

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one thousand gifts

Surf around the blog world and it won’t take you long to see that just about everyone is writing about the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. I really want to read this book but, I have 2 books on my nightstand that I am still trying to get through (it’s been a challenge). I feel I need to try to finish those books before reading this one. I hate when I have high hopes of a book and then I get half way through and have no desire to finish it. {sigh} Not to mention I have recommitted myself in to finishing the Bible workbook on Proverbs. There just isn’t enough time in the day for all I want to read!

As if that isn’t enough, I have joined “blog for books” (I will tell you more about that later). Basically, I get free books and all I have to do is write an honest review. I can do that. Besides, who doesn’t like free books? My first book is on its way to me…so first that book, then maybe this book.

Until then, I found a free excerpt download from Scribd. After reading the first chapter I am putting this book at the top of my must read list today! Have you or are you reading the book? What do you think about it?

Just from reading the first chapter I am hooked. The message? Life is a gift from God. Although you may not “see” the gifts, they are there. You may not understand the reasons for events (even tragic events) that happen in your life, they are not for you to understand.

I haven’t been this excited about reading a book in a long time. Can’t wait to delve into it.

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summer reading list

I was first introduced to the writing of Mitch Albom when a friend gave me his book Tuesdays with Morrie. The book tells the story of Albom’s old college professor who had ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Because, at the time, Ron (my step-father) had just been diagnosed with the same fatal disease. That was almost 9 years ago. Since that first book, I have become a faithful fan of Albom’s writing.

I just finished reading his newest book Have a Little Faith and I just wanted to share this except from the book:

(This is from a conversation Albom has with his Rabbi friend, who the book largely centers around.)

So, have you solved the secret of happiness?

“I believe so,” he said.

Are you ready to tell me?

“Yes. Ready?”

Ready.

“Be satisfied.”

That’s it?

“Be grateful.”

That’s it?

“For what you have. For the love you receive. And for the what God has given you.”

That’s it?

He looked me in the eye. Then he sighed deeply.

“That’s it.”

_______________________________________

Good advise. I love this book so much. So far it’s my favorite of Albom’s…I have many pages ear-marked so that I can go back and read again soon. It’s tender and compassionate. It touches on the struggle of faith that is in all our hearts at one time or another. And it’s a quiet reminder of how not to judge too quickly, and to love each person as a human being rather than based on what we have (or haven’t) done in our life. Ironically, that was the basis of Pastor Brian’s sermon this morning in church. Um, someone trying to tell me something? I highly recommend this book.

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everyday should be valentine’s day

I found this on http://www.simplemarriage.net/:

Love Everyday is a collection of ideas, thoughts, tips, and the like complied from over 25 of my fellow love and relationship bloggers. There are essays from Dan Miller, Kathleen Quiring, Alissa Bowman, Mandi Ehman, SM Columnist Dustin Riechmann, Stu Gray, and many others.

This Ebook is definitely worth the read. And the best part – it’s free.

Download it here: http://www.mediafire.com/?2climtjzg1n

I downloaded my copy!

On another note: Glenn’s 49th birthday was on Friday.  He wanted to go bowling with just the adults. So, I got babysitters, reserved a lane at Splitz and invited some friends to come along. I didn’t know it was cosmic bowling night and that they played club music too. I got the feeling we were getting a little too old for this. But the beer was cheap and the company was good. Our friend had the DJ announce that there was a birthday boy on lane #10…”He is 69 today, folks!” Everyone around us said he didn’t look like he was 69! He had a blast. The girls each bought him a t-shirt. One had a picture of the Lucky Charms lephercon on the front from Parker, because Lucky Charms are her favorite cereal marshmellows. And Alex got him a “King Ding Dong” t-shirt with a picture of the Hostess Ding Dong on the front…very appropriate.

Did you see Apolo Ohno win Silver in the short track last night? Very exciting! For a split second it looked like the Koreans were going to sweep the metals, but 2 wiped out and the U.S. took the Silver and Bronze metal.

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