“Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldredge

I just finished this book this past week, and I wanted to share my review of it.  I kept reading about this book and decided it was time I read it.  I’m so glad I did.

Captivating

The subtitle of this book is “Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul”, which is exactly what it does.  This book digs deep into a women’s heart and reveals what we, as women, need most.  To be romanced, and feel loved and to feel captivating!  And as much as we may search for this in the world, it will never satisfy us completely.  Only God’s love for us, and the fact that he finds us captivating can completely satisfy our hearts.  

This book gives many examples of women’s lives who were less than ideal, some of them  even unbelievably sad.  But the hope is that God can redeem all of this, and in God’s eyes we are all beautiful and we are so loved.

It’s a great feeling, knowing God is our #1 fan, and He is!  This book is great for all women, but especially women who have any regrets about their past, who have been hurt in their past, who are alone now, trying to figure life out…etc.  I, like many, do have hurts in my past, and there are definitely things I regret.  But I’ve let them go, I’ve asked God for forgiveness and I’ve asked him to redeem my heart and to fill it with Him.  What a wonderful feeling and this book explains the benefit and the beauty of this process and how it’s there for all of us. 

We can all feel “captivating” to God, our Father, or Creator, and the One who loves us unconditionally.

Plastic Pearls

We had a guest speaker yesterday at church.  His name was Joe White and he and his wife, Debbie Jo, own the Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri.   They have 9 different Christian sport Kamps for kids, mainly high school age.   He told us about some of the kids he works with and how so many of their lives have been transformed through Christ.  He even shared his own story, and how he is facing cancer right now, but he trusts God with everything he has.  He is an incredibly inspirational person.

He told a story about a little girl who really wanted some pearls.  So she decided she would make her own pearl necklace with some plastic pearls.  She bought some plastic pearls and some string, and she strung them into a pretty necklace that she wore everyday.  She loved this necklace so much. 

On her birthday, her father came into her room and said “Do you trust me?”  She said “Yes, of course I do”, then he said…then give me that pearl necklace.  She said “Daddy!  Why do you want my necklace?  I can’t give it to you”.  So the next year on her birthday, he did the same thing.  Figuring she was a year older and may respond differently.  He came into her room and asked her again…”Do you trust me?”  “Yes, Dad, of course” she said.  So he proceeded to ask her again for the necklace.  She asked him why he was doing this to her, that was her favorite necklace and she couldn’t give it up.  She held onto it and was very upset that he would ask for it again. 

The next year, hoping she would now trust him, he did the same thing on her birthday.  He asked once again if she trusted him, she said yes.  Then he asked again for her to give up the pearls to him.  She finally decided to do it, she said…”Dad, I do trust you, and I guess if you need me to give these to you, then I will trust you and do it”.  See the father had gotten a second job a few years ago and saved up enough money to buy her a pair of real cultured pearls.  He was saving them for when she would trust him enough to give him the plastic pearls.

Once she handed over those plastic pearls, her dad reached into his pocket and handed her the real cultured pearls. 

What an incredible analogy, don’t you think?  As he told us this story, he asked us to get out the pearls we were given when we walked in the door.  (They had handed each of us a plastic pearl as we were walking in).  He told us that just like this little girl, we all hold onto something artificial. Something we can’t let go of, that we THINK brings us happiness.  But if we turn it over to God, he will bring us true joy….like we have never known. It will be the REAL thing. 

Joe asked each of us to stop and think about what our “plastic pearl” is, what it is we are holding so tightly to, and can’t let go of.  What is it that we think gives us happiness, but it’s not the real thing.  What do we need to hand over to God?  Then he asked us to come up to the stage, and throw our pearl onto the stage, to signify that we are letting go of our “plastic pearls”, and handing them over to God on the altar. 

It was one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard.

Finding Fellowship

About 6 months ago, my husband and I desperately wanted to have more friends within our church.  We did not know many people other than a few acquaintances. We wanted to find ways to plug in, and we felt there wasn’t enough offered to us.  We spoke to our pastor, Mac Richard, during this time.  We told him our concerns, and that we felt there weren’t enough ways for us to connect to couples without just resorting to stopping people in the lobby and asking them to be our friends.  Playground style.  Mac  just told us that we needed to get more involved.  Wait, huh?  We had just told him we didn’t feel there was enough offered to us to get involved in.  Did he hear that part?  Turns out he did.

Here we were sort of complaining (not really, but in a sense) that we couldn’t find other couples like us to have fellowship with….and he very gently ,and matter-of-factly pointed out what we were totally missing.  Duh!  All we needed to do, was serve more, get involved more, get out there and offer more of ourselves in whatever way we could.

Isn’t that the way it is for all of us sometimes?  We want the world to come to us.  We want whatever it is we are looking for, to just knock on our door, and we will gladly let it in.  I think if we live like that, we are missing out on SO much!  We decided to do what our pastor said, we just got more involved.  We put ourselves out there in all different areas.  My husband got involved in a music camp they offered in the summer, we signed up to be HomeGroup (small group) leaders, we both have become Bible Study leaders in our respective Bible Studies, and we have each gone on the men and women’s retreats.  We also participate in our Mobile Loaves & Fishes ministry, which provides food and clothing to homeless people.  In addition, my husband has begun to work on a couple of projects with a few of the people he has met through church.  We decided we needed to give more of ourselves and in return….guess what?  We’ve met some wonderful people and we are in the process of developing lasting friendships.  Wow, amazing how that works.  It’s like our pastor knew what he was talking about or something. 

We didn’t really realize it at first…we didn’t really consciously go out and try to get involved in everything right after we spoke to him.  But I think it made us see things differently, and we slowly got more and more involved.  Now we look back…and see that he was so right!  Just do it.  Just get out there and serve, get involved….and see what happens.  As the old saying goes “If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain”. 

It’s similar to the mountain crushing Mohammed and those with him, if it did, indeed, come to them.  If we were still waiting on things to come to us….our spirits would continue to be crushed and disappointed.  The minute we “came to the mountain” we were blessed with a bunch of great people! 

Now when we walk into church on Sunday mornings, we are saying Hi to people left and right.  What a change!  I thank God for speaking through Mac to us, and for providing opportunities for fellowship where we did not see them before.  I thank Him for leading us, and guiding us in the right direction.  We know if we follow Him,  we will never be disappointed and He will always fill our needs. 

Get out there and just do it.  Get involved, serve, share more of yourself….you will not be disappointed.  I promise.

Relevant Magazine

I was working with a client recently, and as we were clearing off her dining room table (which wasn’t being used for dining), and we found a copy of Relevant Magazine.  I had never see it, nor heard of it.   The tag line under the title of the magazine says: God. Life. Progressive Culture.  I was intrigued.

When I got home that day I looked up their website, and was very impressed.  They have a feature where you can look at the entire current issue on line.  Very cool.  So, I did.  And I liked what I saw.  I told my husband about it and showed him the site, and we have now subscribed.  We do not have our first copy yet, but it is on its way.

They talk about issues that are….well, relevant.  So it’s a great name.  They cover lots of music related news, interviews with bands, articles on current issues, entertainment, churches, missions, cultures, etc.  It seems like a very interesting magazine.  I knew my husband would be interested because he has a music related business, and he is the biggest music lover I know.  And he, like me, is an even bigger fan of God…so, it made sense to see what this magazine was all about.

I, personally, sometimes struggle with how much music and entertainment we should allow ourselves to watch, listen to, and read.  There is so much out there that can clog our brains with information that is not helpful at all, and can even be damaging.   But it seems this magazine addresses those issues and concerns, and will hopefully give me a better idea of who’s music and movies I should be paying more attention to, an vice versa.

I’ll let you know our review of the first issue when we recieve in the next few weeks. 

Here is their site, if you want to check it out:

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/

Relevant Magazine

Being Me

Do you ever wish you were more like someone else?   Maybe they are more patient than you are, or they speak better than you do, or maybe they cook better than you do.  Man, if we could only be better at whatever it is, and be more like that person. 

But God never intended you to be like anyone else.  He would’ve made you like them if he did.  He has the power to do that.  No, he created you JUST as you are, for a reason.  You have your own list of strengths and talents.  You have a unique personality that he designed just for you.   And he wants you to use all the things he gave you, to glorify Him. 

If you have children, think about your kids for a second.  If they come home from school and say how much they wish they were like so-and-so, doesn’t that make you sad?  You tell them,  “No, honey…you don’t need to be like anyone else, you are so special just the way you are!”  Then you may go onto list for them all the great things about them. You would never want them to want to be someone else.  You want them to be proud of who they are and flourish within their own strengths and abilities, right?    And what if you gave your child one of the best gifts ever, something that others would envy, and once you gave it to them….they just never even picked it up, looked at it, or used it in any way.  Would’nt you be disappointed….?

Well…God feels the same way about us!  Remember, God doesn’ t make mistakes.  He has given you gifts he wants you to USE!  And you are, the way you are ,for a reason.   Find out what it is…

What do yo LOVE to do?  What things are easy for you to do?  What do people tell you that you are good at?  Maybe you should do more of these things.   Maybe give it a try this week, or this month.  Enjoy who you are, and how God made you.  And use all the gifts he gave you!

Our Thoughts

Over the summer I took a Bible Study called “Me, Myself and Lies” by Jennifer Rothschild. It was a study focused on our thoughts and how easily they can become negative about ourselves. We tend to be our toughest critics.

Through the study she reminds us of how God sees us, and references many places in the Bible to support this. She has us write our negative thoughts and then compare that to what God thinks of us.

It was a great study, it tought me to stop the negative thoughts before they start and to remind myself of how God sees me.

I think this goes along with fear. Whe we let fear and doubt about ourselves get in the way, we are keeping ourselves from growing. We are blocking God from all the wonderful things he has in store for us!

Start today by paying more attention to what you say to yourself…is it what God would say to you?

8 Years Ago

Can you believe it’s been 8 years ago that 911 occurred?  We will all remember where we were when we heard the news.  It was unbelievable, uncomprehensible….how could this be? 

At the time, I was not a Christian, I had not accepted Christ as my Savior.  I now have such a different view of tragic events.  I have hope and peace and faith that God will always turn evil into good somehow.  So many lives were changed that day, but those that were Christians still had hope and they had God to comfort them.  Some may have turned to God for the first time during the events of 911.  In that, there is hope.  

I look back at how sad I was watching all the news coverage.  I had just moved back to San Antonio and did not have a job yet, so I just sat in front of my TV sobbing.  I did not have hope, nor did I have peace at the time.  I had no place to find comfort, so to me, it was devastating. 

I am so thankful that God pursued me, so that I can now pursue Him everyday, and find the hope, peace, love and faith I need to get through each day. 

I prayed for all of those affected by 911.  I prayed that they would be comforted by God, and that they do have faith in him.

The Effects of Fear

Reading the book “Fearless” by Max Lucado really made me stop and think about how much fear affects me, everyday. It affects all of us. Even when we don’t even realize it. Fear is sneaky and persistent. Just when you think you are making the right decision, you realize fear is right there in the midst of the decision making process. You realize it just took over the whole process and made the decision for you.

One thing I do on occasion, is ask myself….if I had no fear at all, what decision would I make? I can almost say that all of my decisions are swayed by fear. And the Bible tells us “do not fear” more than any other command. Do you think it could possibly be because God really knows us? He knows we need to be reminded…oh, about every other minute….to not let fear get in our way. He never intended for us to feel fear or to be held back by fear.

If Jesus commanded us to not be fearful, why can’t we listen? Why is it so prevalent in our lives? Maybe because we let it?

I want to propose a challenge to you, and I will be doing it with you. For one week, stop and think about every decision you are making and ask yourself if you would come to a different conclusion if you took fear out of the equation. If you would, then do it. Make the decision you would make without fear. Isn’t that what Jesus commanded us to do anyway? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to choose to listen to Jesus. Even with all of the things he faced, he did not let fear stop him in any way. Now, you could say that it was easier for him because he knew heaven already and he knew God’s abilities and his ultimate love for us. Well, isn’t that an inspiration to us? If he knew those things first hand, and wasn’t fearful…why should we be?

Look back over your life the past 10 years and I bet y0u could come up with at least 5 big decisions that were based on fear, and at least 2-3 of them held you back from something you love. Let’s stop that cycle….God never intended for us to hold ourselves back!

Start today and stop and ponder your decisions….take a look at what role fear is playing. Tell fear to take a hike and see what happens

I once had a mentor that told me to do something that scared me, everyday! What a thought. That will be our next goal…but for now, try your hardest to take fear out of your decision making. Don’t invite it to the meeting….only invite hope, peace, faith and trust!