Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian. Show all posts

Monday, October 29, 2018

Jesus Always by Sarah Young Book Review

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence
I seem to be able to manage stress and chaos less well as each year goes by. And I am very aware that when I meditate or pray I am able to feel more peaceful. Thing is, I'm not so good at the praying part. I have been looking for ways to slow down and find joy and peace. 

Recently, I was wandering around a Christian book store, looking for something I might like to read. This was probably the third time in my adult life that I've ever entered a Christian book store. I picked up Jesus Always and flipped through a few of the short devotionals. It was written in a way that was easy to read and it spoke to me, so I bought it. And thus far, I'm reading it daily and enjoying it. 

Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence


Susan Young is the author of the Jesus Calling series. She writes to help people connect with Jesus and the Bible. She and her husband were missionaries. They currently live in the U.S and she has written this series of devotionals.

Jesus Always consists of an entry for each day of the year. This devotional is meant to "bring joy for each day" and  "strengthen your relationship with Jesus" (from the author's website)

The hardcover version I purchased has easier-to-read print than many devotionals offered and is a well-made book. The book lays open, not quite flat, and includes an attached ribbon book mark. The book feels as though the paper and the cover will last for many years.

Why I Choose This Devotional


There are MANY Christian books for sale. Shelves full of devotionals, Bibles, testimonials, and more. So why am I recommending this particular book?

It is easy to read. Bible studies and reading the Bible alone feels too far over my head. Despite all of those years in Vacation Bible School as a child, I just "don't get it" when I read most of these types of books. I can't focus and it feels too much like work.

Susan Young has written Jesus Always as though Jesus were the writer. The daily entries are short - only a page in length. The writing is in a conversational and friendly tone which makes it very easy to read. 

Corresponding verses are listed. Each devotional is followed by several verses from the Bible that correspond with the entry. My skeptical side doesn't have to wonder how much of the writing is personal opinion - the verses repeat what was written in the entry. I like that. And there are not so many verses that it feels like homework.

My Birthday Entry. I sampled many of the devotionals on the shelves of that bookstore that day. Flipping through them, flipping specifically to my birthday, and considering each book. Some had print that was too small to read. Some had writing that was too much like a Bible study. Some used very formal language. Then, when I flipped open Jesus Always to the September 5th entry, I found this:


"Joy is a choice. You may not have much control over your circumstances, but you can still choose to be joyful."

That is exactly what I am looking for. A way to let go of my anxiety and grouchiness, and find joy. The photo below shows the remainder of the entry that spoke to me (and there are more samples on Amazon in the "look inside" feature).




Related Links and Other Books of Faith:

Our Bev Owens wrote a review of Mary's Message to the World. Bev writes, ".. if you are open to spiritual growth and want to grow in your faith; I recommend that you read this book." The book she reviews documents Annie Kirkwood's reported visits from Mother Mary.

Cynthia reviews the Bibles that make the best gifts. In her article she recommends different versions; from a family Bible, to a pocket version, to a study Bible, and more.

Olivia recommends watching The Young Messiah movie. In her review, she explains why she recommends this movie, especially during the upcoming holiday season, despite it being a work of fiction. 

Finally, in my search for peace, joy, and finding balance I am combining learning to pray with mediation from a variety of approaches. I have found meditation beads and chants (Christian and OM mantras) to be helpful. You can read my post about those things here. When I meditate, I am significantly more relaxed. And now I have added the Jesus Always daily devotions.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Come to the Quiet by Denise George: A Book Review

Are You Tired Today and Longing for Rest?


I know I am. Although I now live only with my husband and neither of us works outside the home, I still find it hard to find the rest I need. It's especially hard to find quiet rest. It seems there is always some kind of noise in the background. Maybe it's a neighbor using a leaf blower or my husband watching television or a motorcycle driving by. Since I've moved to the city it's never been quiet. That's why I have to use white noise to block unwanted sounds and get to sleep.



Even though I work at home as a blogger, it seems I never have time to relax. There's always something to read or write, photos to take or edit, other blogs to visit and comment on, and social promotion to do. That's on top of the normal chores involved in keeping us fed and in clean clothes, doing necessary housework, and paying bills. Interruptions come in the form of phone calls, husband, workmen, and knocks on the door. There are errands to run, doctor appointments, and emergencies to deal with. I have to plan carefully to spend time with friends.

Many reading this have even more on their plates than I have -- a full time job outside the home, children to care for, getting children where they need to go in their own busy lives, etc., etc., etc. It never stops, and probably neither do you until you drop physically and emotionally exhausted into bed at night.

The Right Book at the Right Time


Solitude and quiet have always been important to me. Up until we moved into our house in a small city I always had a place to get away to de stress . Since we now live in a one story house and have a television which can be heard from almost every room, it's been much harder to have my solitude. And I've been feeling the tension build. Sunday I had almost the entire day to myself and I spent most of it reading this book: Come to the Quiet by Denise George. I found it sitting on a shelf of samples publishers had sent me years ago. For me it was certainly the right book at the right time.



My husband was gone almost all day. I took advantage of the solitude to rest my body and my spirit. This book was like a drink of ice cold water on one of those triple digit summer days we've had this summer. It confirmed my need to escape to solitude more often.

When my mind and body can't rest my spirit suffers, too. Rest for body, soul, and spirit are essential for physical and mental health. George's book explains how we can find the quiet and rest we must have even though it seems like there is no time or place for it. We were created for quiet. To be healthy we must leave room for quiet rest in our lives.



Finding Rest in the Midst of Stress

George points out that we often bring unnecessary stress on ourselves. Maybe a mother doesn't really need to work outside the home. George helps a woman who has a choice evaluate the value of her job to herself and her family. Denise George also recognizes that some women must work -- especially those who already have the stress of parenting alone. She suggests ways even single working moms can find quiet rest in the midst of their stress.

She also helps us work through our priorities. Misplaced priorities are a major source of our stress and overwork. Some stresses are easy to get rid of by changing habits we might not have even thought of as stressful. She points out some of those stresses that have easy fixes. She explains ways we can tune out external noise we can't control and have a more peaceful life.

I think many of us are so used to some stressors we don't even realize they are there, but George shows us some practical ways to escape them. There are changes we can make and places we can go to rest our stressed minds. George's suggestions will help anyone, no matter what causes the stress or how economically well off one is.

Christian Answers to Stress

Christian women's lives can be as stressful as any other lives, but our faith and relationship with Christ mean they don't have to be. It's very easy to buy into the world's mindset and get our sense of worth from what we do instead of who we are in Christ. This book shows us how to let Christ transform our minds. It also offers suggestions for resting our bodies and spirits.

Stress eventually affects our bodies enough to make us sick. Researchers have determined how much stress we can take before this happens. The book contains a stress test that gives points for various life events and pressures and you can see how close you are coming to the 300 points that can make you sick. As the points add up, quiet, self-care, and solitude become more important than ever in keeping you well. There are plenty of suggestions in this book for lessening the stress both you and your children have in your lives.

George invites us to come to Jesus when we are physically and emotionally overburdened and find rest for our spirits and minds. She shows us how to do that. She leads us to the quiet place of healing and shows us how to guard our hearts against the hate, prejudice, bitterness, and selfishness which stress us and  hurt others. Jesus can replace those things with agape love in our hearts.

Jesus invites you to come and rest with him. He wants to lift your burden of stress and lead you to his quiet place of refreshment for your body, mind and spirit. Come to the Quiet will give you the details on how to rest in Him.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, August 13, 2018

I Can Only Imagine - Movie Review

The Bart Millard story.
I Can Only Imagine is a movie that was recommended to me by one of the young people I work with. That speaks volumes alone. If one of my work children tells me that a movie meant something to them, I watch it as soon as possible. And I'm here to tell you that you should consider watching it as soon as possible. This is a movie about pain, abuse, life, choices, anger, and eventual forgiveness.

I Can Only Imagine is a movie based on the life of Bart Millard; his abusive father, runaway mother, his hopes and dreams, and the anger that he can't release.


I Can Only Imagine The Movie


Bart Millard is growing up in a rural area. His father is abusive to both Bart and his mother. The abuse is both physical and verbal. Mr. Millard shames his son during what seems like every waking moment - pushing him to follow in his high-school-star football footsteps.

I ache from the irony of an abusive parent pushing a child to be like them.

Mrs. Millard drops Bart off at camp, which becomes the best week of his life. Only to return to find that she has left the family. Leaving Bart to learn to navigate living with his father on his own.

Bart attempts to become a football star too. He outgrows his dad physically. But is still finding his own way as an emerging adult. We hope that he outgrows his dad emotionally. But he waivers and also begins to hurt the ones he loves. 
The Very Best of MercyMe album

Clearly, he eventually finds his way and it leads to the record hit crossover song I Can Only Imagine by the group MercyMe. 

The messages of the story (and song) are far greater than the number of records and movie tickets sold. It is a powerful story of those who struggle, of real relationships, and how to find your way.

Cast: J.Micheal Finley, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, Madeline Carroll, Cloris Leachman and more. 



My Personal Take


This is a Christian movie. Should that keep you away from watching it if that's not "your thing"? No. A resounding no. I probably would best be categorized by others as a non-believer. This movie is full of real human experiences. And how to be a better person. Don't limit yourself based on genre.

This is a movie about redemption.

Redemption:
  • the action of saving or of being saved from sin, evil, or error
  • the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt

Which of us don't have debts (the relational debts that are a part of being human) that need to be cleared? 

There are lessons in his story. And one of those lessons are that what we experience as children can be the baggage we carry with us for the remainder of our lives - impacting us in ways we don't want to be impacted.

There are no eloquent tel-prompter type monologues. The conversations are simple and real. Too simple according to some negative reviews. I did not share that opinion. 

In my opinion, people of the Christian faith and things related to that faith are currently the victims of the bullies. I truly believe some of the negative reviews online are based on the reviewer's personal feelings about faith rather than on the movie itself. And interestingly enough, seem to parrot what mean Mr. Millard would have said.

This may not be your cup of tea. That's okay. It definitely touched me. And at least one young person I know, who liked it enough to recommend it. My only complaint is that it wasn't long enough. I wanted more. More details about the journey.

Good thing there is a published memoir by Bart Millard. I'm ordering it today.


The Movie on Amazon





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.