Meaning Follows Surrender

“Meaning follows surrender,” that is what Rebekah Lyons discovered when she faced a kink in her preplanned life path.  That kink was debilitating panic attacks and anxiety.  Here is how Rebekah describes one such attack, “The anxiety reached a crescendo on Thanksgiving Day.  How I wish I had anticipated this scenario….we were taking the kids to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade…we had big expectations, and even the craziest throngs of people would not stop us…These veteran Macy’s paraders were not going to let me and my three tykes push through to Daddy.  Cell service was gone.  The crowds even suppressed text messages.  I had no way to communicate as I helplessly stood two hundred feet away.  Finally my call to Gabe went through, and my frantic voice screamed above the noise, ‘I can’t do it!  If you want the kids to see this, you will have to come get them!’  Tears fell as my kids bore witness to my weakness once more. I didn’t have what it took to push through.  Not the strength.  Not the ability.  Not the will.  Who was I becoming?  The Rebekah I once knew was fearless and aggressive….Gabe wormed his way to us and grabbed Pierce and Kennedy’s hands.  I tugged Cade to the back of the crowd – he’d be no match for this moment.  I hailed a taxi to head home to baste my turkey and lick my wounds.  I’d watch the parade from the comfort of my living room like every other sensible American.”  Anyone who has suffered from panic attacks and anxiety understands completely what she was describing.  You might even be shaking your head while reading this excerpt.  However, Rebekah did not stop there in her book.  That is the beginning of her journey that she calls Freefall to Fly A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning.

Lyons’s book is poignant and revealing. Readers can understand where she started and where she eventually ended up as she began to understand the meaning behind surrendering to God. The freefall does no lead to a devastating ending but rather an ability to fly and soar above the storm clouds. In another excerpt, she writes, “For seven months, I’d been consumed by panic attacks and letdowns, loneliness and change. But I saw it now. God was telling a story. A specific kind of story. A daunting, frightful story. He was revealing meaning to me. In the midst of my own blizzard, light was shining through. I needed only to open my eyes to His tinkering and intervention. I was searching desperately to find meaning in my life, unaware that God had been leading me the entire time. I was in an uncontrollable freefall, but God wanted me to learn to fly. Perhaps this painful season of transition was closing for me.”

I received this book free for review from Handlebar Marketing and would highly recommend this book for your bookshelf!

Rebekah Lyons website


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Boldly Go!

I recently received a book from Handlebar Marketing to review that I must admit is a MUST READ book. Bold as Love What can happen when we see people the way God does by Bob Roberts, Jr. is one of those books that causes you to ponder God’s Word and your faith. God’s Word tells us to love our neighbors and it does not specify only certain neighbors or the distance between neighbors or even only Christian neighbors – it just plainly says neighbors. This includes Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and even atheists. That can be a difficult task sometimes, but to live and love radically as Jesus did requires each of us to step out of our box – not to a soapbox, but to just stand up and go boldy where we have not trod before.

Roberts dissects what bold faith and connectivity looks like when we “love our neighbor” locally and globally without boundaries of likeness. His book is radical and his point of view is challenging of your faith. The synopsis on the back of the book includes this statement, “Take the risk! Your faith wasn’t made to live in isolation. It’s something you do face-to-face, heart-to-heart, hand-to-hand. Whether you are in a suburb of Houston or a village in India, put away the fear and suspicion and, instead, answer the call to radically love others the way God loves.” Roberts does not merely write about what is means to live radically and boldly with love and faith. He stepped out first in his community by connecting with religious leaders of other faiths and brought that relationship to his church. One man reaching out to another spreading to others. Are you willing to take the risk?


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You and Me Akin This World

Mark Schrader, captain of OceanWatch, and a team of scientists, a writer, teachers, sailors, and conservationists circumnavigated the Americas between 2009 and 2010 beginning in the northwest.  The purpose of their journey was to educate children, youth, and adults about the similarities of our living space and how our actions affect that space.  The team sailed around North and South America in the 64-foot vessel making stops for educational forums for school children.  In addition, Herb McCormick live-blogged the adventure and wrote One Island, One Ocean as a permanent memorial and academic medium.  The journey took thirteen months to complete beginning May 2009 and was timed to navigate through the Northwest Passage during the northern hemisphere’s spring/summer when the ice would be less of a danger and around the tip of Cape Horn during the southern hemisphere’s spring/summer when the winds and ice were less of a danger.

The message that the team wanted to broadcast is that the way we use and utilize our community and continent affects more than just one area.  It impacts those who live thousands of miles away because we share one ocean.  It impacts human, plant, and animal life.  Our actions are depleting the ice which impacts the continent in rippling effect.  Each action ripples and affects another aspect of the environment.  The photographer, David Thoreson, compiled a breathtaking array of photographs from the journey.  This book is a must-have for anyone’s library!

I received this book free for review in ebook format from netgalley.com.

Photographer’s Blog

Author’s Web Site

Questions and Lessons on Faith

In my lifeftime, I have had questions about faith, God, His will for my life, and the big one – why does God allow suffering in the world.  It is hard to reconcile the loving God with the violence, starvation, hatred, and desperation found around the world.  I, as well as many others, question how can God allow this to happen and yet expect me to only believe in His love and blessing.  Andrea Palpant Dilley, author of Faith and Other Flat Tires: AMemoir Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt, travelled this path as well.  Dilley had been born into a missionary family who served as Quaker medical missionaries in East Africa during the first six years of her life.  By age twenty-one, Dilley was facing that road of doubt over the dysfunctionality of the church, the perceived silence of God, and the age-old question of suffering.

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This story is her story.  Her story of doubt, questions, searching, and her journey of being a Christian refugee.  Her journey is similar to many others including myself.  She pushed the limits of what she had held sacred, she clung to the fleeting security of men, and she questioned everyone about their faith.  This story is also about her journey back to the security of God and the outpouring of His blessings.  I found her book to be truthful and upfront about the struggles of many to reconcile the church, God, and the world – especially the younger generation.  Her chapters are not too long and keep the reader interested in the next marker on her journey – whether that marker be an obstacle or an insight.

If you are facing that rough road of doubt, or know someone who is, then this book is for you.  I received this book free for review from Handlebar Marketing and I would like to offer it free to a reader of my blog.  Please leave a comment on my blog and I will choose a winner using Random.org.

Author’s Web Site

Visionary Life Planning

A good business person begins with a plan. The business starts with a vision; then a purpose and goals are outlined. The same is true for someone who desires a life that filled with passion, purpose and definition. Craig Groeschel, author of Chazown Define Your Vision, Pursue Your Passion, Live Your Life on Purpose, has written a how-to of life planning. He has also explained the “why” and “what” behind the Hebrew word – Chazown. God created each of us with a purpose. However many of us live in a manner similar to bumper cars. We drive fast seemingly with a purpose in view and then someone else’s vision brings his/her path directly into ours resulting in a crash.

Groeschel begins the life plan by exploring your core values, spiritual gifts, and past experiences. He then moves on to naming your chazown and developing action steps in five spokes – your relationship with God, your relationship with people, your finances, your health and fitness, and your work. Chazown is an easy book to read with questions and activities to help you develop your chazown. In addition, there is a website that enhances your experience and journey.

I received this book free for review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Chazown Web Site

The Art of Waiting

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, waiting means to look forward expectantly.  Psalm 27:14 tells us to, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  However waiting on the Lord can be hard because we relate waiting with being still and inactive, to be wasting our time even sometimes.  Taryn Hutchison learned and exhibited valuable lessons about waiting in We Wait You Waiting on God in Eastern Europe. Taryn was a missionary serving with Campus Crusades in Eastern Europe – Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, etc. during the last ten years of the 90s.

Hutchison began her journey with a year-long commitment and ended up falling in love with the country and peoples of Eastern Europe. She began her journey in Austria at a hostel prior to receiving her assignment. Hutchison explains that the one place that she feared going to the most was the one place that God sent her and she cried out to Him for strength and grace. What she received was a group of friends and guardians that turned her one-year assignment into a life-long love of the country and peoples as well as a ten-year commitment.

Hutchison’s journey was not an easy coast. She was robbed several times, stalked by an admirer, detained by officials, and experienced difficulties when moving from Romania to Hungary and again from Hungary to the United States. Waiting on God to provide what she needed each day opened up opportunies to see the people that He loved and sent her to to demonstrate His love. She also saw the patience and acceptance of people who had waited 45 years for the United States to save them from the harshness and depravity of the Communist Regime.

I read this book as part of the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program and would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about Campus Crusades, missionary work, or Eastern Europe.

Author’s Website

Life + God = Hope

When you combine a small town in the South with “the way things have always been done” and then insert faith-filled people and God into the center, what you get is a Kim Cash Tate’s new book Hope Springs. The story is centered around the Dillon and Sanders families who attend Calvary and New Jerusalem churches. The Sanders’ clan comes home for a reunion and Christmas in Hope Springs, North Carolina at the matriarchal home of Grandma Geraldine “Geri” Sanders. Her children, except one, and her grandchildren, except one, gather round her as well as the Dillon family and other friends of the family. They have arrived just in time to bury the pastor of Calvary Church, Jim Dillon.

This story is the story of finding your faith in trying times, of finding your “sweet spot” in spite of yourself, of burying the dead and painful memories, and of the resurrection of hope. The story is about Stephanie Sanders London who finds herself in Hope Springs. The story is about Janelle (Sanders) Evans who finds love and happiness following the death of her husband by reconnecting with her past. The story is about Libby Sanders who finds she can bury the past and find the grace of God’s love with her lost love who now pastors New Jerusalem Church. The story is about Becca Dillon, wife of Todd, who finds that in order to be blessed and exalted, she must first learn to be emptied and humble. The story is about the uncovering of secrets and the reconnection of family when Todd Dillon finds out his father had had a child by Gwynn Sanders. The story is about the building hope in the small Bible study group meeting at the local diner facilitated by the unsure but faith-filled waitress that unleashes hope in the two churches, one for the white families and one for the black families, that bridges the past and blesses an entire community.

Hope Springs is one of those books that is like opening a flower – petal by petal- that leaves you breathless, crying, exhuberant, and praising God. It is a book that will keep you in your seat hungrily reading the words until you find yourself between the pages. Then you will be on your knees bowing before your God and Father with tears running down your cheeks and your arms raised in worship.

I received this book for free to review for netgalley.com.

Rainy Days and Mondays

Just about anyone who listens to contemporary Christian music has heard Laura Story’s song “What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops.”  If you have not hear this song before, please listen to it here:

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Story’s book by the same title breaks down the verses of her song into thirty chapters that can be used as a devotional. For instance, in chapter 18 entitled “When We Cry Out in Anger,” Story writes, “Sometimes, it’s very easy to become angry: angry with ourselves, angry with other people, and even angry with God. Sometimes, we face life-threatening situations that shake us to the very core of our souls. but more often than not, our frustrations are of the more mundane variety. More often than not, we are angereed not by earth-shaking events, but by the inevitable distractions and disappointments of everyday living: jammed traffic, difficult people, financial headaches, and a near-endless stream of minor inconveniences masquerading as major hardships. Our challenge is this: to display anger when it is appropriate and to rein in our tempers when it is not. How can we learn to maintain better control over our tempers? We do so by learning to focus our thoughts, not on the inevitable disappointments of life, but instead upon the innumerable blessings that God has given us (Philippians 4:8). When we allow our faith in God to become the cornerstone and the touchstone of our lives, we cultivate trust in the righteousness of His plans. When we do so, we begin to see God’s hand as it works in every aspect of our lives – in good times and in hard times – as He uses every circumstance to fulfill His plan for us. So the next time you become frustrated by the inevitable challenges of life, do yourself a favor: turn away from anger and turn, instead, to God. Turn to Him, as best you can, with open hands, a clear mind, and a trusting heart. When you do, you’ll discover that defeating anger is difficult but not impossible – because with God, all things are possible.”

In each chapter, Story also includes quotes from notable Christians that are related to the subject of the chapter. She also includes Scripture and a section to journal your own thoughts. She ends the book with additional Scripture on a variety of topics. This small book of 220+ pages is an excellent addition to any library or better yet – your coffee table! Share it with friends and strangers alike.

If you are interested in keeping up with Laura Story:

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I received this ebook free for review from Net Galley at netgalley.com.

Dross Is as Dross Was

Life. That one word brings everything from smiles and sighs to raging tirades. Life has both excitement and disappointments. Ephesians 5:20 says, “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It does not say give thanks for the good only – for the great house, perfect job, and amazing spouse. It says to give thanks for EVERYTHING – the good, the bad, and even the ugly. That can be difficult. Kay Arthur talks about how to turn your disappointments in life into God’s appointments in her book As Silver Refined Answers to Life’s Disappointments. Just in reconfiguring your perceptions of life’s disappointments into God’s appointments begins to turn a cloudy, stormy day into just a partly cloudy day. It is the first step in moving from seeing life pessimistically to seeing life optimistically.

I chose this book to read because of the synopsis on the Blogging for Books website. One line jumped out at me and intrigued me – “You can be defeated by life’s unavoidable disappointments, or you can become stronger because of them.” Powerful words! First of all Arthur highlights the first point that disappointment is unavoidable. It is going to happen, the only questions are when, in what fashion, how bad, and how am I going to react to it? And that is the next point that she so aptly makes – are you going to react or intentionally act? Choosing to be intentional rather than haphazard is the way to turn those disappointments into His appointments. It kind of reminds me of a childish chant about “turning that frown upside down” but it is just that intentional.

You can keep up with Kay Arthur at:
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I received this book free for review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Pearls of Wisdom

Breaking the Ten Commandments Discover the Deeper Meaning is a book in which the author, Eric Butterworth, has uncovered discernments concerning each of the commandments that takes the reader beyond the surface. Butterworth wrote this book originally in the 70s and it was re-released this year in paperback. I chose to read this book via ebook to review it. I honestly expected the book to be a dry read. I was completely taken aback by the honest appraisal of each commandment beyond the typical biblical discernment. Reading about each commandment was like the opening of a new flower – petal by petal, layer by layer.

I found myself going back to reread a section and then making a connection in applying it to my life. My pastor had linked the Sermon on the Mount to the Commandments so I had already begun a journey of unpacking the magnitude of Jesus’ words. I also found myself choosing to pneumonically tying an image to each of the commandments based on his explanations and discernment. For instance, the sixth commandment says, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Butterworth opens the discussion by saying this: “Four words, plain and simple, no qualifications. Does the frenetic advocate of the Decalogue keep this commandment and accept its implications unequivocally? No killing at all…no destruction of life of any kind…no eating meat…no killing insects…no killing in self-defense…no capital punishment…no war. Suddenly our ‘back to the Ten Commandments’ man runs for cover. Then begins his array of rationalizations: ‘But we must eat meat to get sufficient protein…and actually Jesus ate meat. We have a right to kill in self-defense. Society has a right to kill offenders. A nation has a right to kill enemies in war.'” Butterworth finishes that thought with, “We are left with the inescapable conclusion that no one really takes it literally.” Within that same chapter, he discusses the reason that pearls are created – irritation! Irritation is the beginning emotions for anger that leads to rage and in many cases – murder. Hence the image of a pearl will help me remember to not kill or become enraged.

I would encourage anyone who wants to uncover and disect the truths found in the Ten Commandments to pick up a copy of this re-release of Eric Butterworth’s book.

I received this book free for review from netgalley.com.