Please note that all posts are copyright. Do not reprint in whole or in part without permission of the author. You may refer to one of my posts in your own writing; simply include the link(s) so readers can be taken directly to my work. Thank you, and enjoy! ~Susan

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

6 Words

The last Wednesday of every month, Eli compiles a post inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who said any story can be told in six words. Eli asks bloggers, friends, strangers, and a few strange blogger friends to respond to a prompt. This month's is as follows:

November 30 is Stay Home Because You're Well Day - who knew, right? In six words, share what you would do if you took a wellness day off from your usual activities.

For me it was easy: Get all my Christmas stuff done (I'm #24 on Eli's list of responses)

What Christmas stuff do I need to get done? Almost everything!

Well, a lot of my Christmas shopping is done and a good number of Christmas cards have been popped in the mail. But I still have to put up the Advent calendar (tomorrow) and the Christmas tree (fake); wrap the gifts I've purchased to see what still needs to be bought; do my Christmas baking and plan my Christmas dinner menu. Most of that can be done in a day, no? Maybe not the baking, but the rest of it...?

Unfortunately, I can't take today off, well or otherwise. This morning I'm off to a women's event at church, this afternoon I'm working, and after that I'm paying a visit to our financial advisor to make sure our ducks are all in a row. When I get home, I'll put my feet up for sure. Maybe I'll write a few more Christmas cards and get that dinner menu out of the way.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Book Review: At Work Within

Author: Rick Osborne
Publisher: Impartation Idea, Inc., 2016
Genre: Christian living, Discipleship

First Lines: “It’s often said that a good teacher tells you what he/she is going to teach you, then teaches you, and finally tells you what you’ve just been taught. So I want to start by clearly telling you where I’m planning on taking you with this book.”

Goodreads Description:

God saw you and determined to make you into His image and likeness long before you were born. His vision for you and your life is so amazing, it’s beyond your imagining. What if you could be that person now? Well, you can be. God sent His Son to make you a new creation and to transform you into His own image. The Bible shows you how and Jesus will personally take you there. If you want more of God and His vision and plan for you, this book is for you. That’s a big promise! We gave the first 1,000 copies of this book away and simply asked people that if it changed their life to pay it forward and give copies of this book to others. Now it’s your turn. Read. Change. Share.

My Review:

Sometimes it takes me a while to get through a book and that was the case with this one. In part it was because the subject matter was so important, the ideas so deep. Maybe I question my ability to follow through on the material. Whatever the case, my apologies to the author.

The subtitle of this book is “Be transformed into all God created you to be”. Osborne uses the device of dreams to frame each chapter. That is to say, he begins the chapter with a dream relevant to its contents, and concludes the dream at the end. Sandwiched between are his thoughts on how the dream relates to one of “seven truths of transformation.”

  • Truth 1: The goal of your salvation is transformation into His image
  • Truth 2: Jesus wants to transform you personally by discipling you from within
  • Truth 3: You can be transformed from within because Jesus gave you His righteousness and He empowers you by His grace
  • Truth 4: Everything you need to be transformed from within has been supplied but it won’t happen by itself; you need to receive it and walk in it by faith.
  • Truth 5: Jesus redeemed everything about you so that your transformation could be successful and complete
  •  Truth 6: Having your mind renewed with God’s Word is an essential part of your transformation
  • Truth 7: Knowing what the Spirit taught about prayer through James, John, and Paul will help you pray through your transformation

The author’s ultimate goal is that believers begin to grow spiritually from the point of their acceptance of salvation and that we know and understand how to effectively disciple others. It is not just the job of our church and ministry leaders to fulfill the great commission; it is every believer’s job.

Osborne uses a conversational style that is very effective in communicating his ideas. The book would have been much more difficult and off-putting for the average reader had he used a more academic approach. I liked the use of dreams to present information, but was less satisfied with the way they were broken up in the chapter. Often I read the beginning, skipped to the end, and went back to read the content sandwiched between.

A beautiful part of this book is that you don’t have to take what Rick says as gospel truth (even though Jesus was his teacher). Scriptures to back up his thoughts are peppered throughout so you can do your own homework and verification.

My favourite chapters were the last three where the author discusses redemption, the renewing of one’s mind through God’s Word, and the power of prayer in the transformation process. I was less enthused by the conclusion of each chapter which offered “Quotes for Sharing on Social Media.” It seemed contrived to promote the book and in my view patronized the reader. I like to do my own highlighting, thank you very much, and I’m capable of selecting my own quotes to share on Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter.

In his conclusion, Osborne encourages us to re-read the book and look up the scriptures cited for ourselves, as well as to set up “transformation groups,” where we can discuss the book’s ideas with others and grow disciples. These suggestions are valuable and I certainly plan to re-read the book myself. Transformation doesn’t happen in an instant and getting certain principles in our minds is crucial to their application.

Bottom line? I highly recommend this book to those who wish to deepen their Christian faith and make disciples for Jesus.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Please note that I received this book in exchange for my honest review through the Book Crash book review program.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Advent: Hope

I missed Flashback Friday this month, so I'm doing Flashback Sunday (smile). I wrote this post in 2014:

Today is the first Sunday in the Advent season. If you don't already know, Advent represents the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and is capped by Christmas Day. Traditionally, each Sunday expresses a different theme, usually in this order: hope, peace, joy, love. So today we will talk just a bit about hope.

Every day when we turn on the news or read about it in the paper, we hear and see stories of people living without hope. While there are occasionally positive items as well, more often than not we are treated to significant doses of murder and mayhem; people wigging out on drugs, drowning their sorrows with alcohol, and literally killing themselves. It's evident that there's a great heaviness in our world.

The reality, though, is that where there's life, there's always hope. And at Christmas, we remember the hope that was given to us through Jesus, who came to earth and was born as a human baby for the purpose of living among us, teaching us how to live, then dying that we might be saved for eternity. He is the bridge between us and God and came that we might have hope and abundant life (John 10:10). 
Even preschoolers can learn about Biblical hope. This can be done through examples: when Grandma says she has a Christmas gift for them, do they feel excited or disappointed? Do they expect to receive the gift? Explain to them that this is hope, knowing that Grandma will fulfill her promise just as we know God will fulfill all the promises he has made to us. You can also show how true hope differs from false hope (e.g. ‘I hope that if I drop something heavy on my foot, it won’t hurt.’  Or ‘I hope that if I push my brother, I won’t get in trouble with Mom or Dad.’ Those are foolish hopes).

And now May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Monday, 21 November 2016

Failing as a Parent

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a perfect parent and have had it all together through the years. That would only discourage you and the goal is to encourage and give you the benefit of any wisdom I may have. Some, or much, of that wisdom has been hard-won and only through the experience of failure have I learned what I ought to have done instead.

My kids would be the first to tell you that I haven’t arrived; in fact, they’d probably rush to tell you.

There may be times we deserve their dislike or disappointment. Out of the overflow of the heart come our words and actions, and the heart can be desperately wicked and self-serving. We say and do things that don’t reflect who we want to be as people, and unfortunately, once words and deeds have been said and done, they can’t be taken back. Occasionally time will dim the memories, but not always. An apology is in order, but even if it’s received and forgiveness offered, the damage is done and all you can do is move forward.

My husband and I have, I feel, been very good at apologizing when an admission of wrong-doing/wrong-saying has been warranted. I wasn’t raised with that example, so in my defense, progress has been made. Just the same, I have regrets and if I could get a do-over, I’d take it. I suppose that’s one thing many people love about becoming grandparents: it’s a second chance.

I’m not expecting to be a grandparent anytime soon. My kids are only 19 and 21, not currently dating, and not ready for the responsibility. I don’t want to rush them.

So, how can this post help you parent more intentionally? No matter what, you’re not likely to become a perfect parent. This side of heaven, no one can. But, anyone can become a better parent, and I hope this is where I can help.

At some point in your parenting, you are bound to become frustrated, annoyed, angry, even outraged. At that time (or those times), I’d encourage you to take a step back, leave the room (if you can), do some box breathing or count to ten in your mind. Let the emotions die down so you can think more clearly instead of just reacting or blurting out something you’ll later wish you hadn’t. Remember that this is your child, the one that God gave you for some reason you may not have figured out yet. You are to care for this person, to love him/her and to invest in who s/he is and who s/he becomes. Ultimately, our goal should be to raise a person who becomes a valuable, contributing member of society, who doesn’t think just of his/her own needs and wants. Make sure what you say and do will encourage this outcome.

Sometimes an apology will be in order. Swallow any pride you may have and just do it. Recognize that your apology may be insufficient. At those times pray, pray, pray that God will help your child to overcome the wound you have inflicted. Read and memorize scriptures that address areas you struggle with (impatience, anger, a judgmental attitude) so you can get control over these and, with His help, do better in future.

Parenting is without question the most difficult job in the world. Children don’t come with instruction books and we bring our own personalities, temperaments, histories and experiences to the table. Their personalities, temperaments and processing of experiences also enter into the equation. You are not going to be able to parent successfully without excellent input. Again, I encourage you to be in God’s Word, to read books on parenting, to engage with older parent-mentors, to listen to Christian teaching (e.g. Focus on the Family), etc.

In a way, parenting is war. If you’re a believer, you know this: we have an enemy (Satan) who seeks to destroy our families and our faith. Our response must be to put on the whole armor of God.

May He bless and guide you as you raise your children to develop His character and reflect His image. Depend on the power at work within you, which comes from your relationship with Christ.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Think Write Thursday

It's going to be a busy day. I'm working this morning, have errands to run this afternoon, and our life group meeting is tonight. We've eaten up the leftovers and if I want to save money by cooking during mid-peak times, I have to have our evening meal ready to put on the table by five. What will I make for dinner?

Quinoa (pronounced 'keen-wa' for those who are still wondering) is my go-to quickie. I don't remember where I came by this recipe other than to say it's one I photocopied from a vegan cookbook. Unfortunately, I can't credit the author. 

Quick Quinoa and Vegetables

1 cup quinoa
1.5 - 2 cups veggie broth
3 cups frozen veggies (I most recently used green beans, corn and a mix of onions and peppers)
1 15-19 oz can of chickpeas
2 teaspoons of basil
1 teaspoon of oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together in a greased 8.5 x 11-ish casserole dish and bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes. Enjoy plain or drizzle with your favourite Diana sauce. Serve alone or with a carb.

What I love about quinoa is that it's a complete protein and can be consumed hot or cold. This recipe is just as enjoyable as a salad the following day. I hope you like it as much as I do!
This post is part of the Think Write Thursday blog hop hosted by Carole and Kat. If you'd like to join us, sign up here.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ten on the Tenth

Occasionally on my old blog I participated in Ten on Tuesday, a hop hosted by Carole at Carole Knits. I've just discovered that Carole now hosts Ten on the Tenth and Think Write Thursday and I'm excited to be part of that for the first time today! 

This month's Ten on the Tenth prompt is: what are ten things you enjoy about this time of year? That should be fairly easy!

1. Fall colors!

2. Cool, crisp autumn air.

3. Turning on the fireplace for the evening.

Our fireplace is more traditional than this one.

4. Saying good-bye to the humidity of summer.

5. Using the slow cooker more often.

Potato soup!

6. Harvest foods: especially pumpkin, squash, yams and beets!

7. Remembrance Day ceremonies (I think you call it Veterans' Day in the States). Remembering those who fought in wars so that we could enjoy our freedoms. And believe me, we're all about expressing our freedoms!!

Thank a veteran. Many died so we could live.

8. Well into routines. Back to school, back to work, back to normal!

9. More comfortable to walk the dog at noon instead of first thing in the morning.

This is not me, or my dog.

10. Yummy soups like chili, lentil, butternut squash, French onion...

And since it's November 10th I want to acknowledge my grandparents. If they were still alive, they'd be celebrating their 88th wedding anniversary today. Just thinking about their love for (and commitment to) one another makes me happy.

If you'd like to join us for Ten on the Tenth, just visit Carole's blog and sign up!