faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

What would you do if…

What would you do if you were dying?

Butterfly

I actually have thought about this several times in my life, especially when I was battling cancer.  Now that I am cancer-free, I find myself thinking about this again.

What would I change about my life if I was dying?  

Assuming I had several months to live, this is what I would change –

I would stop writing my blog on a regular basis, and just post occasionally when I had something important to say.  I enjoy writing my blog, but it does take up a lot of time.

I would spend more time doing things I enjoy and never get enough of!  For me that would be sitting on the beach, walking in botanical gardens, listening to birds sing, having fresh flowers on my kitchen table, eating my favorite foods (even if they are not that healthy), and spending more time with my husband.  I do all these things now, but I would do them more often, and plan to do them on a daily basis.

I would shop less, exercise less, stop going to meetings of any kind, sleep less, and watch TV less.

I can’t decide if I would read more, or read less.  I love to read!  I enjoy learning new things.  But reading can be a waste of time.  So I think my answer would be to read less and pick only the best books to read.

I would give away things I don’t really need – books from my bookshelves, jewelry, games, music CDs, and movies.

I would call each of my family members and each of my good friends and tell them anything I need them to know (like I really love you a lot!), and give them advice that I think is important for them, and tell them what I think their good points are, and tell them what I would like them to do for me now and after I am gone.  If anything is too hard to say out loud, then I would write them a letter.

I would pray more.  I would donate more money.  I would read the Bible more.  These are things that are important that I always intend to do more, but don’t always get done.

It is interesting what changes I would make.  It makes me wonder why I waste so much time, and why don’t I do what I enjoy more often? This fits in with my One Word for this year “Re-focus”.  It is also being more intentional with how I live my life. 

Maybe I need to make some changes in my life now. 

So this week, I could take a walk in nature, go to the beach, watch less TV, bake and eat brownies, give away some things I don’t need anymore, and call one family member or friend I haven’t seen in a while, and donate money to a charity.

So what changes would you make in your life if you were dying?  Maybe you need to make some of those changes in your life now, too.

What is one change you want to make in your life now?

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The Mom Quilt

This is my book review of “The Mom Quilt

(stitching together stories of motherhood).

bookcover MomQuilt

This is the reason I got involved in this book project.–

All profits from the sale of this book go to the charity “The Mercy House” in Kenya, which provides a safe home for young pregnant ladies to live, give birth, and set up their life so each can raise their child.  The proceeds from this book have already helped build a well for clean water for this community. 

 I wanted to help the young pregnant ladies at “The Mercy House” keep their babies and learn how to support their young family.  I volunteered to write one of the stories in this book.  I was so happy when a paperback copy of the book became available, so I could purchase one for my bookshelves at home.  I was happy to do that to help raise funds for the children and mothers of “The Mercy House”.

So when I decided to start reading the stories in the book, I was amazed!  So many women (63) volunteered their time to write about their experiences being a mother.  There are so many different ways to be a mother, and so many different experiences.  I found every story to be compelling!  Some women talk about joy, some about responsibilities, some about health problems with the baby, some even about losing the baby.

All of these stories are true!

All of these stories are full of emotions.  All of these stories teach us something about being a mother.  These true stories are encouraging and challenging to us as mothers, whether you are a mother of several children, or you are pregnant with your first child.  Reading these stories you will feel joy, courage, sadness, and hope.

There are 63 stories in this book.  They all deserve to be in the book.  I enjoyed reading every single one of them! The title “The Mom Quilt” describes how each of these stories, like squares in a quilt, were all stitched together into one book.  The threads link all mothers’ hearts.

I would challenge you to buy two copies of this book, one for you, and one to give as a gift.  This book would make a beautiful gift for any mother or mother soon to be, or even a mother who has recently lost a baby.  All of these situations are included in this book.  All of these stories are told by the woman who experienced them.  These are first person, memoir type stories. 

After reading these stories, I feel like I have friends I want to get to know better.

At the back of the book, there is a list of the authors and their websites for those that have one.  You are able to communicate with any of these women that you would like to know more about.  I know that I plan to check out some of their websites and let them know how much I identified with their story, and how much I appreciate them sharing their story with us.

At this time, “The Mom Quilt” book is available in paperback format only from Amazon.com.

You can find out more about The Mercy House charity or donate directly to them at http://MercyHouseGlobal.com

 

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How to Be Happy

I had a friend who was always happy.  She had a way of making everyone around her feel good!  People would ask her “How are you happy all the time?”  She did not have an answer. It just came natural to her.

Well researchers have found out that there is a genetic makeup that makes people happier.  It is just the way their brain is made.  If you don’t have this genetically happier brain, there are still things you can do to be happy. 

I found a list of books recommended to help you be happier, but it was missing a very important book — the Bible!

I think one book that can definitely make us happier is the Bible!  In fact, researchers have proven that doing kind things for other people, makes us happier.  The Bible tells us that!  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) Yep, that means to treat other people well, and do kind things for them.

Another thing that the Bible tells us to do, and researchers have proven makes us happier, is being grateful.  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Thessalonians 5:18) I have started to keep a daily journal where I write down something I am thankful for each day.  This is an easy way to be happier.  It helps me keep a positive attitude.

Scientists have also shown that having good relationships with friends and family and spending quality time with them, makes us happier.  The Bible tells us to love one another.  In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.   By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Another thing that has been proven to make us happier, is getting enough rest.  We know we are supposed to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.  The Bible also tells us to take one day off each week.  One place we find this is in Hebrews 4:9-10, “there remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His”.  

God created us, so He surely knows what we need to be happy!

So reading your Bible and obeying God’s Word can help you be happier! 

Remember God is blessing you today, and every day, so be thankful, and be happy!

If you want more information about being happier, go to www.danroberts.com or www.doctoroz.com .  These are places I found some of this information.  I chose which Bible verses to use, and I went to www.BibleGateway.com to quote the verses.

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Jesus Talked to Me

This is my book review of “Jesus Talked to Me Today” by James Stuart Bell.

This is actually a collection of “True Stories of Children’s Encounters with Angels, Miracles, and God”.

BookCover JesusTalkedtoMe

I did find this book encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring.  Although some of the stories were not very remarkable, enough of them were awe-inspiring for me to feel good about my faith in God after reading this book.

Most of these stories are written from an adult’s perspective looking back at something that happened many years ago.  Sometimes it is told by the person who had the original encounter, and some of the stories are told by a close relative.  It surprises me that these people remember the event so many years later.  It even still affects their lives many years later, and the lives of other people near them. 

Evidently the faith of a child can strengthen the faith of adults who see it.

The stories are about healings, or about being told by a “voice” what to do, or about being given their calling, or seeing an angel and feeling safe, all happened to young children.  The events changed their lives, so that in itself is a miracle.

This is the first book by James Stuart Bell that I have read.  I found out that he has done other collections similar to this one.  I need to read more of these.  It never hurts to have encouragement to keep your faith strong, and to verify that God does care about us, and God does listen to us and answer prayers!

My favorite stories in the book are about being healed by God. 

I relate to these stories, because God healed me of cancer that my doctors expected me to die from.  My doctors call me a miracle, and I tell them, God healed me.  God performed the miracle.  Miracles from God are always inspiring, and bring us hope.

To read more about this book, or to purchase, go to Amazon.com

Some of the author’s other books are “Encountering Jesus”, “Heaven Touching Earth”, and “Awakening Faith”.  To find more of his books click here.

I did receive a free copy of this book from the Publisher, Bethany House.  I have given my honest review of the book after reading the entire book.

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Eating With Jesus

Our church is starting an interesting sermon series on eating with Jesus.  Jesus shares many meals in the Bible.  I am thinking today, that I might be missing an important ministry opportunity. 

Here is what I am thinking about today, as I celebrate the Lord’s Day.

Who does Jesus eat with?

In Matthew 9:10-12, it describes Jesus asking Matthew to follow Him, and He goes to Matthew’s house to eat.  Since Matthew was a tax collector, there were other tax collectors eating there too. 

Jesus also ate at the home of a Pharisee, as described in Luke 11:37-41.

Jesus ate the Last Supper with His Apostles, described in Mark 14:16-26.

Jesus also ate with the Apostles after his resurrection, when they ate fish and bread on the shore. This is found in John 21:5-19.

Why does Jesus eat with other people?

Eating with people produces a bond of friendship. All those present are safe, protected by the host’s invitation. Sometimes Jesus taught, and sometimes He repaired friendships over a meal.  

When eating with Matthew and the other tax collectors, Jesus was reaching out to a group that the Pharisees normally ignored, the tax collectors.  Jesus wanted to save these lost sinners.

At the last supper, Jesus was teaching his Apostles about what would happen next, and preparing them for the future.

Eating with the Apostles on the shore after they were fishing, here Jesus is repairing His relationship with Peter who had denied Him three times.  He is also encouraging His Apostles so they will be prepared for life without Jesus in the flesh.

Today we eat with Jesus at communion. It helps us form a bond with Jesus, and know that He loves us, for He has invited us to remember Him at communion. We remember that we are forgiven and saved by the power of Jesus and our faith.

How can I use a meal as a ministry?

Jesus shows us by example how to minister to others through having a meal together.  The minister at our church challenged us to think about who we could invite to dinner to share about Jesus, or to form a bond of friendship with so we can later share about Jesus.  Or maybe if we have a conflict with another Christian, we could use a meal invitation to repair our friendship

I have not used a meal as a ministry in many years.  In the past I would invite neighbors over for a cookout, or invite a church family over to share a home cooked meal with.  I have thought about inviting a couple from church that I have not seen much lately, to meet at a restaurant.  That is even easier, because there is no meal preparation, just good conversation. 

I need to pray and ask God, “Who do I need to meet with over a meal?”.  Maybe you need to ask God the same question. Do you relate to this?

Who do you need to meet with over a meal?

bg-blogger-badge-500x500-e1387301563797I have used BibleGateway for links to Bible verses.

MissionalWomen FridayLinkUp I linked up with FFF at http://www.missionalwomen.com

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New Type of Bible

For a long time, everyone read the King James Version of the Bible.  Then every now and then, another version would come out like the New King James version, the NIV and Today’s NIV, and many more.  Remember when The Message version came out? People ran out to buy this new Bible, because it was so easy to understand, and gave a fresh perspective to God’s Word.

Well, now there is a new type of Bible available!

NoteTakingBible Cover

 

 It is not the words that have changed, but how the words are presented.  This new type of Bible is part of the coloring books trend that are out now for adults.  I have one of these new Bibles, it is called “The Illustrator’s NoteTaking Bible”.  (It is in the HCSB version, Holman Christian Standard Bible.)

There are a lot of people who buy a notetaking Bible, so they can draw in it and make colorful pictures that help them see the meaning of God’s Word.  But face it, many people like me, have no artistic ability.  So here is an answer to that dilemma — This NoteTaking Bible has drawings already in the Bible, and all you have to do is color them in! Here is a page that I have colored.

NoteTakingBible Color

The other page has lines down the side, so you can write notes, or write out a favorite verse from that page.  This is very useful when doing a Bible study, and you don’t want to forget an important point.  The usual Bibles have no room for notes.  Below is a page in this Bible before any coloring or notes.

NoteTakingBible CloseUpBlank

As you may have noticed, the print is a little smaller than the usual Bible, to allow the extra space for coloring and notes, but because the print is in BOLD, it is very easy to read!

I already love this Bible!

It has great features, like a concordance to help you find Scripture with a key word in it like “angel”, or someone’s name like Adam or Barnabas.  There are several color maps in the back that show things like “the Migration of Abraham”.  That is something I had never seen before.  It was so interesting to see exactly where Abraham traveled to get to the place God sent him. Another color map shows the steps Jesus and his disciples took that last week leading up the crucifixion of Jesus.

I also like the page in the front called “God’s Plan for Salvation”.  It outlines how we get saved, and how God’s plan leads up to our salvation.  This page can clarify this process for Christians, and it can be used to explain it to a non-Christian who wants to learn about how Jesus can save them. It starts with How We Got Here – (quoting the book) People on this planet did not get here by some cosmic accident.  At creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image”. God created men and women and placed us here on the earth.  Then it takes you through all the way to How Will You Respond?The Bible says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord” will be rescued (Romans 10:13).

I can’t wait to read through this Bible and put important notes in it and color pages that interest me!

This Bible is going to make Bible study fun!

You can find this Bible (in tan) at Lifeway, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble. Some stores have it in purple also.

–>(This Bible is on sale right now 8-12-16 at all 3 locations, but I don’t know how long that sale will last.)

At Amazon, you can also buy a set of markers to color with. This is just one option for coloring. I used regular high lighters and color ink pens to do my coloring in the picture above.  They did not bleed through either.

I did receive this Bible free from the publisher through B&H/Lifeway Bloggers to do an honest review.  I think you will like this Bible as much as I do!

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Pointing to Jesus

At church this weekend, our minister said that John the Baptist had the job of pointing to Jesus.  John wasn’t the way, Jesus was.  Then he said our job is the same, pointing people to Jesus.

—> Jesus

That’s cool, but I’m just glad we don’t have to eat locusts, nor follow his dress code (camel hair)!

So, because it is the busy summer season, I will point the way to Jesus, by telling you about some online Bible studies that are easy to fit in your busy schedule.

I like to have online options because of the flexibility of time, and because of easy access (since I am disabled and aware of this issue), and often they are cheaper due to Facebook live and other easy video access that can be used to lead a Bible study, as well as chat rooms or Facebook groups that can be used for group discussion.  The new technology really makes Bible study much easier!

Here are a couple options for you this summer –

1 – First there is a study starting August 7.

It is a FREE Bible study led by author Jennie Allen.  You can sign up here http://jennieallen.com/danielstudy/ and you will get a link to download the free workbook to use for the study.  Then once each week at 9pm (EST) on Sunday, a live video will be streamed online in Facebook.  The video will also be available to use later in the week if you can’t make it live.

The title of the study is “Humble and Bold: How to Love God in a World that Doesn’t”.  This is an awesome opportunity to study with a well-known Christian author!  (Her books include “Restless”, and “Anything”.) And yes, it really is FREE!

2 – “Unashamed” Bible Study by Christine Caine

 This study runs from August 14 – September 17 (5 Weeks) at 9pm (EST.) The videos are free and available for the whole week if you can’t make it at 9pm. (Normally the videos would be purchased as DVDs to do the study, but for those who sign up for the online study, the videos are free for viewing online each week.)   The only cost is for the study guide, which is $7.99 (the discounted price for those who sign up).  Christine’s book “Unashamed” is also available at a discount, but the book is not necessary to do the study.

By signing up, you will get access to free downloads of the 1st session study guide and the 1st chapter of the book.  This allows you to get a headstart, or to sample them before you decide whether to buy them or not.

Sign up for the “Unashamed” study here — http://www.faithgateway.com/unashamed-study-registration

A neat option for this study if you like to discuss with other women — Every Thursday during the study there will be live online chats available from 2-3 p.m. EST and 9-10 p.m. EST, where we go through each week’s study questions and talk about the video lesson. These are hosted by a moderator and are FREE for all participants.

I hope one of these sounds good to you!  If you sign up for one or both, please let me know.

I am signed up for both of these studies! I am excited about getting in the word online with other women.  

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Got Courage ?

Have you got courage this summer to try something new?

I am having a crazy summer! I joined a new project at church involving their new livestream of their 4 services ( http://live.Tomoka.cc ) We dropped off a son at the airport today after his visit to Florida and the Bahamas, and will be picking up 2 grandkids tonight at the airport.  We will have the kids for a week.  It is all good, but it does take courage. It also plays havoc on my schedule, so this book review is a day late.

My book review today is on a book written by a woman who sets the best example of a woman filled with courage

If you need some encouragement to be courageous, read this book.  It’s awesome!

This is my book review of “Undaunted” by Christine Caine.

There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today.

That is correct.  I said today!  These people have been forced into unpaid slavery.  It is known by the phrase “human trafficking”. It happens everywhere in the world, including the United States, and possibly in the town you live in.

The author, Christine Caine, talks about how she got involved in “human trafficking”.  She talks about how God got her attention, even though she had not been aware of the problem.  Evidently God was. 

Christine came up with a list of excuses, telling God that she could not possibly deal with this problem.  It was too dangerous.  She did not have the skills or knowledge to deal with this huge problem.  Many people told her she could not do it.

But God uses the insignificant to do big things.

God used a boy’s small lunch to feed over 5,000 people.  God used a small shepherd boy with a stone, to kill a giant. Christine realized that God would be with her in this task he was giving to her.

Eight years later, Christine is still fighting human trafficking.

Through the organization she founded, A21, she has saved 326 people and given them their freedom and a life again, and she has helped convict 40 of the people who stole their lives and enslaved them.  A21 works to fight human trafficking in these 10 countries: Ukraine, Greece, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Norway,  USA, South Africa, Thailand, Netherlands, and Australia.  You can find out more and volunteer to help them on their website www.A21.org  and follow them on Twitter @TheA21Campaign  .

If you don’t know what God is calling you to do, Christine will lay out the steps, and show the small changes you can make, so you will be able to hear what God is asking you to do.  She says to just get started, and then go one step at a time, just like in the subtitle of this blog you are reading — “Faith Counts” “Following God one step at a time”.  That is all God expects you to do.

God may not ask you to do something as big as fight worldwide human trafficking.  But Christine tells you how you can dare “to do what God calls you to do”.

So what is God asking you to do?  Are you making lists of why you can’t do it?  Read this book, and Christine Caine will inspire you to be courageous enough to answer God’s call.  She will give you the Scriptures and the encouragement to get started.  

Whatever God is calling you to do —

The first step is to read this book, get “Undaunted” by Christine Caine.

 

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Hot Enough?

Right now the weather is too hot for lots of people.  People are coming down to Florida this summer for cooler temperatures!  Much of this country is over 100 this summer.

I am a person who is always cold, so I like hot weather.  I love living in Florida!  Other people like cold weather, so they love living up north.  They like winter.  I don’t.  This difference in preference may also affect whether people like to drink hot coffee or cold coffee or tea.  I always have been a hot tea drinker.  When we go to a restaurant and order tea, they will ask do you want hot tea or iced?  Then they ask sweet or unsweetened, which is a whole other kind of thing.  

Jesus addresses the hot or cold issue.

In Revelation (3:14-22), Jesus says that the people of the church in Laodicea, are not hot or cold, they are lukewarm and He is going to spit them out!  So, are you lukewarm, not hot enough?  I think I’m often not hot enough. When I feel lazy or too comfortable, I try to figure out how to get more on fire for Jesus.  Jesus wants us to have passion for God.

So here are some ways I have been working on my fire and passion.

First there is going to church every weekend.  Not once in a while, but every weekend. I want God to be a priority in my life.  When I am at church, I sing loud during worship.  I put up my hands and I sing to God.  I listen to the sermon so I can learn something, and usually take a few notes.  I donate to special projects and missionaries that the church is supporting.  I often donate right then when it is mentioned, so I don’t go home and forget about it.

At home, I spend time in prayer every day.  I give thanks to God for the many blessings in my life.  I take time to ask God questions and listen for His answers.  This keeps me coming back for more prayer time, because I am eager to see how God will answer prayers.

I spend time reading and studying the Bible.  This gets me yearning for more God in my life.  I also read Christian books.  I love to read, and I learn so much from Christian authors!  They encourage me and get me excited about what God has done in their lives.

I also write this blog.  This blog helps keep me in the Scriptures.  I follow other Christian blogs.  I also follow Christian people on Twitter and Facebook.  This all helps keep God on my mind.  It keeps me thinking, and growing, and learning.

Whenever I start to feel lukewarm about God, I turn to one of these activities to bring me back into God’s love and grace.  God is awesome!  I just need to remember that all the time.  I need to keep my mind on God.  I need to stay passionate for God.  

How do you stay passionate for God?  

 

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Book Review of “Enlarge My Territory”

This is my book review of “Enlarge My Territory” by Suzi Johnson.

BookCover enlargeTerritory

I have delayed writing this book review, because I want to be encouraging to writers.  Also, I know that it involves so much work and time to write a book, that I like to give authors reviews with a positive perspective.  Unfortunately, I am not able to do that this time.  As a professional book reviewer, I promise to read the entire book given to me to review, and to give an honest review.  I need to be truthful to my readers.  So hesitantly, I have written this honest review.

Over all, I did not like “Enlarge My Territory”.  Much of the book was like an outline listing topics and bullet points.  There were lists, but no explanations or examples connected to the list.  I would get to the end of a chapter and have no closure.  So the best thing I can say is that this author has a lot of information to tell us, but it needs to be more organized. 

Suzi Johnson has obviously studied the Bible, thought a lot about it, and has used it to live her life. There were a few nuggets of good advice that I underlined.  There were sections that I thought were bringing things together, but then there would be more bullet lists.  The many ideas the author has, seemed random and did not congeal into a conclusion or even advice to follow up on.

Since there were too many topics discussed for one book, I think it would have been better to divide this book up into two or three books, and then add to the discussion of the topics.  There were many places that needed to be expanded to give the reader more examples, more explanations, more details.

It seemed like the title “Enlarge My Territory” was used as an umbrella term to cover too many topics.  There was no logical connection between chapters.  The author went from “the journey of a lifetime” to “school reunion”, then “motorcycles and signs”, “ask for God’s direction”, “tell it like it is”, “25 fewer minutes of sleep” … “when you’re busy during peak tax season”, then a summary, and then on to Part 2.  This seemed all disjointed to me.

I suspect that the author took all the posts from her blog, or writings in her journal, and stuck them all in this book.  You can make a book out of your journals or blog posts, but this time it did not work.  More editing would help, but as I said, it needs to be at least two books with more cohesion to fit better under one title, rather than using a broad title to cover everything.

You can read some of the book and other comments on it at Amazon.com

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, through BookLook Bloggers, and I obviously gave my own opinions in this book review.

 

 

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