faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Be the GIFT

BeTheGift Cover

“Be the GIFT” by Ann Voskamp —

When I saw that Ann had this new book coming out, I pre-ordered it in hardcover!

It is now available at most book stores.  It is a book that includes:

  • page after page of color photos that Ann took herself
  • a list of 60 ideas of how to be the GIFT (Give It Forward Today)
  • 20 card-stock gift tags of Ann’s own color photos (or use as 10 bookmarks)
  • journal space to write about the ways you chose to Be the GIFT
  • over 200 pages

This book is a GIFT on its own!

Ann is a very generous author! This is a beautiful book with color photos, poignant words, as well as the encouraging spirit of the book, which is to “be a gift” to other people.

I was delighted when I received this book to see the quality of it!  I began reading it immediately, and had to smile in thankfulness. 

Each book is Ann being a GIFT to us!

Purchase this book for yourself or someone you love, and you will smile in thankfulness too.

–>Get the book HERE!

To me, this book is healing, encouraging, challenging, hopeful, and caring

Ann is reaching out to us, despite her pain, despite our pain, and she says, let’s help each other; let’s “Be the GIFT” for each other, and heal our pain together. 

Sample Bookmark photo —

AnnVoskamp BookMark

(Break at the perforations to get 2 gift tags.  On the back it says To:/From:)

(To get the gift tags/bookmarks, you must purchase the hardcover, not the e-book.)

 

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At Any Cost

AtAnyCost

The true story, “At Any Cost” by Mike & Hayley Jones, is an amazing story of faith!

When we say “Yes” to doing something for God, we can’t always know the full cost.  The Jones’ family had two young sons, and they decided to say “yes” to the call from God in their heart to adopt a child from Africa.

They thought they knew the cost of this venture, and were willing to jump in.  They had no idea what God had planned to ask them to do.  They had no idea how much time, money, courage, patience, and faith they would need to accomplish this adoption.  They did it! Despite feeling like they were building an ark in the desert like Noah did.  It was a huge undertaking that people thought they were crazy for doing!  But God asked, and they said “Yes”.

This story will challenge you to think bigger.  What big thing is God asking you to do?  Will you commit to it “At Any Cost”?  Read this true story first, so you can see if you have the courage and the faith to say “yes”.

The adopted children in this story are miracles themselves! These kids had to deal with an entirely different culture — different clothes, different food, different games, different schools, different weather… and they met every challenge!  They even had to home school to catch up with their grade, since their schooling in Africa was not up to standards.  

Only God could make this family work.  Only God could give them the vision, the courage, the strength, and the financing.

This family even set a world record for adoption, —  but I’m not revealing what record they set.  

–>Get the book HERE!

–>Check their website for current news!

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Beyond the Castle

BeyondTheCastle

“Beyond the Castle” is by Jody Jean Dreyer.

This is a fun book to read!

Maybe you didn’t think non-fiction could be fun, but this is the memoir of Jody Jean who worked at Disney for 30 years! 

As you might expect, she is fun, up-beat, has a great sense of humor, and has a ton of information about behind-the-scenes at Disney World.

This book tells you stories about the people who work at Disney parks.  As well as information about characters like Tinkerbell.  Of course the author also knows a lot about Mickey Mouse.  She tells us about Walt Disney himself, too.  She even tells us the rules of being a Disney princess!

The book starts with the author’s first visit to Disney World when she was 10. Later she talks about how she got her first job at Disney, and many more jobs to follow.  She even got to be on the Grand Opening Team for EuroDisney! (in Paris, France)

This is not just a book about Disney.  It is also about how to live a successful, happy life.  The author talks about things she learned from working at Disney.  There are a lot of things that Disney does right.  After all, for over 50 years, it has been a very successful business!

You don’t need to be a fan of Disney to enjoy this book, but it helps if you at least have visited one of the Disney parks, somewhere in the world.  There are Disney parks in California, Florida, Hawaii, France, Japan, China, and Hong Kong!  (Personally I have been to Disney parks in California and Florida, and loved all my visits!)  Maybe reading this book will inspire you to visit again!

You won’t believe who was the first Tinkerbell that “flew” over the castle during evening fireworks at Disney World in Florida!  I’m not going to tell you, because it is so surprising…

–>Click to get the book!

–>Go to the author’s website.

Have fun reading this book!

(I did get a free book through –>BookLook Bloggers so I could write my honest review. I so enjoyed reading this book!)

 

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Failure to Communicate

Communication 2people

You may have heard it said, —

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”!

(It’s a famous line from the movie –>“Cool Hand Luke, 1967, said by Paul Newman.)

There definitely are times when my husband and I are struggling to understand each other.  We try to rephrase what we said, to repeat what we said, to say it louder even!  HaHaHa!  There are times we just shrug and say, “Oh well I guess we just don’t understand each other on this issue”. 

The book “The Respect Dare” by Nina Roesner is targeted at this problem of communication between men and women.

“The Respect Dare” is about communicating with respect.  It is intended for wives who want to communicate with their husband better.  It is also definitely relevant for a woman and her boyfriend.  The key to communicating better with a man, according to several books I have read, is to show respect.  Evidently, research shows what is missing from most male-female relationships is respect.   Respect is shown in attitude, tone of voice, words used, facial expressions…

In case you didn’t know it yet, men communicate and think differently than women. Duh! We knew that right? This book tries to help women communicate better with the men they love.  It does not address how men can communicate better.  But as the book points out, you can’t change him, you can only change yourself.

There are 40 short lessons in this book, each on a different aspect of communicating with respect.  The book assumes the reader believes in God and wants to follow God’s teachings.  There were parts of the book that were too conservative for me in the attitude toward women, even though the book is written by a woman.  I chose just to ignore those few lessons.  Generally I try to get as much as I can out of self-help books, so I don’t throw out the whole book just because I don’t agree 100% with the author.  If you don’t want to ignore some old-fashioned attitudes toward women, then it might be better to skip this book.  I have definitely learned some helpful things from “The Respect Dare”.

At the same time I am reading “The Respect Dare”, my husband and I are reading “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  This book showed me that even though I thought I respected my husband, I was not always communicating that to him.  I realized I needed help figuring out how to communicate with respect, so I bought “The Respect Dare”.   

Dr. Eggerichs’ book (“Love & Respect”) covers both sides of communication, both how a man can communicate better with his wife through love, and how a woman can communicate better with her husband through respect.  I may post a book review of his book in the future, but I mention it here in case you want to understand how it is important for women to communicate to their husband with respect.  The same premise works when communicating to any man — your dad, your son, your boss.  Both books, however, are targeted to husbands and wives.   

I don’t agree with these authors that only women need to communicate with respect.  I wish all men communicated to women with respect!  Unfortunately, neither of these books addresses this problem.  Again, we can’t change men; we can only change ourself.  The hope is that by changing how we communicate, our husband will change in response.

My take on reading these two books – If I can have a better relationship with my husband, by communicating with respect, then I want to learn how to do that!  How about you?

–>Click THIS to get the book “The Respect Dare” by Nina Roesner.

–>Look HERE for the author’s website.

–>Tap on THIS for the book “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

 

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Love Casts Out Fear

Love BrotherNathan

The book “Love Casts Out Fear” by Brother Nathan is a true story. 

This true story is shocking, but also encouraging!  It is a good testimony for the Bible verse in 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

The book covers Brother Nathan’s life from birth to the current day.  It shows how difficult it is for Christians living in Egypt.  His world is shattered when his father is murdered.  But he is transformed when he chooses to follow Jesus.  

Brother Nathan describes a picture of life in Egypt in small rural villages, and in the big city.  Through this book, Brother Nathan will give you an understanding of the heroic lives Christians must live in Egypt.  I found this very encouraging.  

God finds a way to reach people with the story of Jesus, even in remote places, and even in places of fear.  It is wondrous to see how Brother Nathan is freed of fear, and now lives boldly for Jesus! 

In the dedication, Brother Nathan says of his mother: “for more than eighty years Mama has shown us how to trust God for everything”.

He learned this lesson well!  

–>Click HERE to get the book!

 

 

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Hidden or Unseen

Unseen SaraHagerty

“Unseen” is a good book by Sara Hagerty.

My question to you is what is the difference between hidden and unseen?

There are subtle differences.  The author uses both terms throughout the book.  It would help if you think about the differences between being hidden or being unseen to help understand the author (Sara) better.

Sara is expressing her need to be seen by God, but God wants her hidden in Him, so other people likely do not notice.  God, she says, is not interested in our busy activities. She used to feel pressured to do more, but now she believes God does not need us to do more, but to be with God more.

Sara has learned that she can have moments with God throughout her day.  The results are that she feels closer to God, and is less stressed.  (That sounds good to me!)

Sara says that when you feel unseen, God is looking for your heart.

I agree with the author that we need more quiet moments with God.  I really liked looking at the differences between being hidden from people, when you are seen by God. I like the idea that God always sees us, and appreciates our attention to Him even in a few minutes here and there.

This is an interesting book, with a point of view different from most.  Sara is not pushing you to do more, but suggesting that your slow, empty, boring or seemingly wasteful times, can be filled up with God.  He will love the time with you!

This is not a quick,light read; however, it is a very worthwhile read!

–>Click on THIS to get a copy of “Unseen”.

–>Go HERE to learn more about Sara.

–>Click to go to Sara’s website.

 

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Church Danger

ChurchService new-york-city

Deadly Mass shootings are increasing; 32 occurred in the last 5 years. 

–>(source: Mother Jones)

Yes we are not safe even in church.  

Of course Jesus says that we will have trouble in this world.

Besides telling Congress to step up and write laws to protect us against people with guns, what can we do?

  • Pray!
  • Be aware!  Always know your nearest exit.  Keep your eyes on your surroundings.
  • Stop watching the news.  You can do it; I did.
  • Encourage each other!
  • Tell your family and friends whenever you see them, “I love you!”  You never know when it will be the last time.  Give them a hug, too.

–Here is a quote that I think is profound.  It is from the book “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish.  A blind Rabbi says, “Blindness can never suffice to extinguish the sight of the terrors of this broken world.” (p.405)  

–>Click to see the book!

Yes this world is broken.  That is why we need Jesus Christ.  He has overcome it.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

–>(John 16:33b)

 

 

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The Mission Walker

MissionWalker EdiSundby

I literally finished reading this book a few minutes ago.  I have been so blessed by it.

“The Mission Walker” by Edie Littlefield Sundby is a book full of grit and determination.  This woman (a cancer survivor) walked and rode a mule or horse across 1600 miles of difficult trails to follow the trail of missions built hundreds of years ago by missionaries and priests.  Edie’s words are a testament to the strength people have to follow their dreams, but also to show that no matter how strong or stubborn a person is, everyone needs help to get through life.

Edie first had a long battle with cancer.  She did not fight it alone.  She had family, friends, doctors, and God.

After years of surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments, Edie was in remission.  She chose to celebrate by beginning an 800-mile walk to each of the California missions, from Sonoma to San Diego.  With the help of friends she successfully completed this walk! Amazing! I cannot believe she had the courage to do it having lost ½ a lung and ½ her liver to cancer.

I was drawn to read this book because I am a cancer survivor too.  I battled for years and I am still in remission.  A few years ago, I visited several old missions in Texas, and was blessed by their peaceful and beautiful grounds built around a church.  The missions were built and cared for with love and faith.  All the old missions are like that. 

When I heard that a woman cancer-survivor walked a California mission trail, I knew I had to read her book! 

After Edie walked the mission trail through California, she decided she was not done walking.  She felt that walking strengthened her, and helped her keep cancer from coming back.  She decided to complete the trail, by following the missions built in Mexico, because originally they were built as missionaries traveled through Mexico and continued north into what is now California.  Some of these missions still exist, many are just ruins, but their peace and holiness remain.  This would double her walk. 

When finished, she had walked or rode animals on 1600 miles of trails! 

Can you believe she did it?

I urge you to read this book, so you feel the courage and passion of this woman!

I was happily surprised that in the middle of the book are several pages of color photos from her walk.  This added reality to her story, and I am so glad she included them.  I could see the landscapes she described – rocky trail, hot sand filled with cactus with sharp thorns, and many mountain peaks and steep ravines.  Not an easy walk.  Yet Edie would say along the way, “All is well”.

Reading this book will awaken your dreams, and encourage you to follow them despite the difficulties

This book will give you hope to complete whatever life challenge you are facing!

–>Click HERE to buy the book!

–>Tap to learn more about her walk. (Then click the menu button in the upper right corner of her website.)

I would like to say, “Edie, thank you for writing this book, so we can share in your pilgrimage and gain courage from it.”

I was lucky enough to be able to get a free copy from –>Book Look Bloggers.  In return I have written this honest review.  I hope you can tell my heart has been touched by this book.

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On God’s Side

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I just finished the book “On God’s Side” by Jim Wallis.

Evidently he is well known, and has written a lot of stuff, but I have never read anything by him before.  I was challenged by this book.  The author does have a different perspective on religion and politics.  I liked his perspective!

I love these three clear goals for Christians —

As a Christian, the author explains that his book is about three things that are clear to him:

1) that becoming a Christian changes your direction after you die, but it also should change how you live now!

2) that your faith is above and separate from politics!

3) that each Christian should be living a moral life, leading by example!

He says that Christians should work for the good of everyone.  Instead of just pushing for Christian’s rights and beliefs, work for everyone’s rights, interests, freedoms, and health. He sees this as part of obeying the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”.

Something I found refreshing, is the idea that God is not on our side.  God created everyone and loves everyone.  Many people pray that God will help their favorite team, or their favorite candidate, and help them win.  But God does not favor any one team, or political party, or person, or country!   Instead, we need to be “on God’s side”!

There are so many people who are suffering terribly —  going hungry, having an illness with no health care, living under sexual abuse, homeless… There are so many ways we can help.  There is no excuse for not helping someone!  The author urges us to just start somewhere.  

Although there were a couple things I disagreed with, I enjoyed the author’s fresh approach to being a Christian.  The author’s perspective brings Christianity into the 21st century! He isn’t changing God’s words in Scripture, he is bringing it with him for today’s world.

This isn’t a quick read.  Be prepared to take time with this book.  You will be challenged to become a better, more genuine Christian, and that should make you glad you took the time to read this book!

–>Get your copy HERE!

I got this book from my local library, and I have written an honest review.

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Following Jesus

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This has been a year of contemplating who I want to follow and learn from.

Some Christians are following Republicans (various well-known political men).

Some Christians follow well-known pastors who write books and speak at events.

I want to follow Jesus Christ.

Now this can be difficult to do, since He is not here in the flesh.  I have studied the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). They have the most information about what Jesus said and did.  They do leave me scratching my head a bit, because they have so much information.  How do I follow Jesus?

So, I have decided to use ->Matthew 22:36-40, because Jesus himself said it is the most important commandment to obey.

  •  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
  •  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now I have an easier task!  I can just focus on these few Bible verses and follow Jesus by following His advice.  I can do this!

Some books that I have read that are really helpful for following Jesus are several written by Lois Tverberg.  I loved “Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus”!  I felt like Mary sitting at His feet, listening to Him teach.  

— Lois also has a new book coming out in January that I will definitely read, “Reading the Bible With Rabbi Jesus”.

–>Click HERE to see a list of her books.

If you know a good article, commentary, or book that covers these verses (Matthew 22:36-40), please tell me about them in the comments below!

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