Megan's Ponderings

Contemplations from a Blessed Life

Book Review: Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas – Colossians 3

I’m always looking for a Bible study that’s a little more than a devotional, but not as time consuming as other Bible studies. Pam Forster has written a book with busy moms in mind. This book, Thirty Days of Bible Study for Busy Mamas – Colossians 3, allows any mom to study the Bible in any short time period she has throughout the day. Ms. Forster starts off slowly, explaining how to study the Bible in a meaningful way. Then, she guides the reader through Colossians 3 while including topics like the importance of context, memorizing Scripture, and different versions of the Bible throughout the study. At the end of the book, Ms. Forster includes extra material including Materials for Your Study, Ideas for marking in Your Bible, How to Make Time When You Have Small Children, and How to Study on Your Own.

I really enjoyed this book. First, I like to be able to interact with the text through answering questions, writing lists, or making marks in my Bible. I also appreciated the “Catch Up Days” she incorporated throughout the month. I know, as a mom, I get behind in my Bible study, and I felt like there were built in days to get back on track. Finally, Ms. Forster encouraged readers to include their kids in the study. She included applicable activities to do with kids, no matte what age.

Overall, I would recommend this book to any mom who only has a few minutes to spend in God’s Word, but wants more than a devotional. Pam Forster understands the demands placed on a mom, and she’s written a Bible study that fits into a busy mom’s schedule.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from the Bookcrash Book Review Program. For more information, visit http://www.bookcrash.com/.

Battle of the Wills (KW – Personal Control vs. Surrender)

When I read the topics for today’s Kingdom Woman Blog Hop, I thought about using another post and changing a few sentences to covey my thoughts. Then, IT happened…

As a mom of young kids, I’m always finding material in their behavior that God wants to teach me. Today is no different. Ryan, my oldest son, is pretty comfortable going to the potty, but he’s been throwing major tantrums about doing it. I’d encourage him to go by rewarding his behavior. (Yes, I’m not above bribing my children in certain situations.) I’d lay down the law and sit there until he’d go. I’d give him time limits. You name it, I’ve done or thought about it. However, after I excuse myself from the situation and calm down, he tends to go. Then I think, “We could’ve avoided this whole thing if you would have gone to the potty in the first place!”

When it comes to strong wills, Ryan’s behaviors don’t fall far from the tree. I’ve always liked to be in control, and I’m realizing that from daily power struggles with my 3 year old. Why do I want control? Why do I feel the need to hold my stance so strongly that I lose sight of other obvious solutions? Well, I don’t want him to learn that I’m a pushover (even though I am in some instances). I don’t want him to think he’ll get his way if he just screams loudly, does his own thing, and doesn’t obey me the first time. I certainly want him to respect those in authority in his life. I…I…I… (it seems to be all about me, doesn’t it?)

So today, as Ryan and I battled in the bathroom for the umpteenth time, I stopped and prayed for wisdom and patience. Yes, I did what I should’ve done during the first tantrum and every tantrum after that. I prayed and asked God to give me wisdom in the situation and patience to deal with my child. Somehow, I feel God saying, “We could’ve avoided your selfish tactics, your frustrations, your ‘wanting to scream’ moments if you just prayed in the first place.” I can read all the Christian parenting books and seek advice from other Godly mothers, but if I’m not communicated with the Lord through prayer and searching the Scripture for how He wants me to parent, I’m doing everything in my own strength.

Today, after battling it out with my son, I’m relinquishing my love of control and giving it to the Lord. My selfishness will certainly come back, but I’m basking in the comfort and peace in knowing God can give me what I need to parent. He IS the perfect parent, after all!

Wearing God’s Glory (Kingdom Woman)

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m participating in the One Month Journey through Tony Evans’ and Chrystal Evans Hurst’s book, Kingdom Woman. This week, Chrystal challenged us to read the introduction. Let me just say: this book will probably mess with my heart in a way that’s refreshing and scary, all at the same time.

When I think “kingdom woman,” I conjure up thoughts of a woman who has it all together. She doesn’t seem to have a care in the world because the world is always on her side. I also envision a woman who is busy doing God’s work all the time. She’s on every committee at church, leads 7 Bible studies, and is involved in 5 different ministries at church. (Now, you know, she also teaches Sunday school, so that would make 6 ministries.) She is God’s poster woman – a woman I could never emulate.

Fortunately, for me, this in NOT a kingdom woman. Basically, a kingdom woman wears God’s glory in all she does. It’s not quantity of ministries or good things, but quality of her life for the Lord. She lives her life in the knowledge and truth of who God says she is in His Word, never selling herself short by believing the lies Satan throws her way through idle chatter and degrading mind conversations.

Personally, Satan’s lies take up more space in my mind that I care to admin. I want to be a kingdom woman, but Satan grabs a hold of my thought life and holds on for dear life. So, how can I free my mind from Satan’s poison?

1. Prayer – Prayer is super powerful. I went through a time where I continuously thought about a situation for months, and I couldn’t shake the negative thoughts that filled my mind. When I prayed, my mind slowly released these thoughts and my negative attitude. It was like I held up my clenched fist to God and He slowly pried my fingers off the the feelings I was holding on to so strongly. My mind didn’t change instantaneously, but before I knew it, God had filled my mind with thoughts that pleased Him.

2. Bible study – If I don’t spend time in the Word, I’m in a rut the whole day. Find a Bible study at a church in your area, or participate in an online one like Good Morning Girls or Proverbs 31 Ministries. There’s nothing that will encourage you to wear God’s glory that meeting with other believers to discuss God’s Word.

3. Transparency with a close, Christian friend (accountability) – This is the hardest for me. Pride crowds out thoughts of opening up to anyone.

“Do they really care about my thoughts?”

“Will they perceive me as a complainer who can’t get over herself?”

“I want to be open and honest with them, but they’re not reciprocating in the sharing. It’s a one-way conversation.”

This could be the hardest, but this could also be the most refreshing. How cool would it be to know another woman who struggles in the same area(s)! We just need to open our hearts and realize that everyone has struggles, and God can do great things through transparent relationships. (See, I’m talking like it’s so easy ;))

At the end of the Introduction, Chrystal quotes Eph. 2:10 –  “…God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” What a great reminder! I’m made in God’s image, and He has great things for me to do. We’re all messes, but God uses our messed-up life to glorify Himself. How humbling!

Even though I’ve only read the introduction, I’m already praying God will change my thinking about who He created me to be. I’m praying that I’ll live for Him alone and not the approval of others.

If you’re reading Kingdom Woman, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Book Club: Kingdom Woman

Have any of you heard of Chrystal Evans Hurst?

(Nope.)

What about a book called Kingdom Woman?

(Never heard of it.)

Well, what if I mentioned Tony Evans or Priscilla Shirer?

(They sound familiar…)

Well, Chrystal Evans Hurst is the daughter of Tony Evans (and sister to Priscilla Shirer), and she’s co-written a book with her dad called Kingdom Woman.

Walking in the way of a kingdom woman will transform you forever. Starting now, you can discover your true spiritual destiny and leave discouragement behind.

Come with Dr. Tony Evans and his daughter Chrystal Evans Hurst as they explain how you can unleash new spiritual purpose, power, and possibilities in your life. Tony Evans’ inspired teaching will give you new and transforming insights into biblical principles, assuring you that God is on your side and that He tenderly cares about every woman.

With humor and vulnerability, Chrystal Hurst shares personal and practical insights that will help you embrace your role as a woman with wisdom, spiritual beauty, and sensitivity.

You don’t have to seek anyone else’s approval for the life God has given you.

Kingdom Woman

http://chrystalevanshurst.com/about-the-book/

I’ve explored her blog (http://chrystalevanshurst.com/) to “meet” the author, and I’m pretty impressed. Chrystal isn’t only a humorous, fun-loving person, she’s also dedicated to the Word of God. As I skimmed her book, I noticed each chapter was saturated with Scripture. This doesn’t seem to be your typical “Christian Self-Help” book. Dr. Evans and Chrystal have used God’s Word and personal illustrations to bring home the concept of a Kingdom Woman.

I’d love for you to join me as we learn who (and what) a Kingdom Woman is. If you’d like to join Chrystal’s Kingdom Woman One Month Journey (like I have), visit http://chrystalevanshurst.com/its-kingdom-woman-wednesday/.  Each week, I’ll post my thoughts to Chrystal’s “R & R” (Reading and Reflection), as well as key concepts in each chapter (from my point of view). I encourage you to grab a book and join in the conversation.

Book Review: Take a Chance on Me

TakeaChanceonMe

I recently finished Susan May Warren’s book, Take a Chance on Me. This story, like You Don’t Know Me, is set in Deep Haven, MN. This small, waterfront town isn’t just know for it’s scenic views. Ivy Madison, Deep Haven’s new assistant county attorney, soon finds out that Deep Haven holds secrets behind it’s put-together exterior. Everyone knows everything about everyone else…or so they think. Ivy finds herself caught in a web between Jensen Atwood, Darek Christiansen, and Claire Gibson, and the link that brings them all together: Felicity Christiansen’s death. Ivy, Jensen, Darek, and Claire all have past hurts that command their lives, until their lives are put on hold by a huge forest fire. Through this and many other events, these four will learn forgiveness, unyielding trust, and most of all, God’s grace.

As a foster mom, I appreciated Ivy’s personal story. Warren introduced her as a child of the foster system, exceeding the sterotypically low expectations placed on foster kids. However, Ivy never had that forever family that is crucial to a child’s well-being. She found that unconditional love and acceptance in Ingrid Christiansen, Darek’s mom, after a horrific experience between Child Protection Services and the Christiansen family. Ivy certainly found the acceptance and love she desired, but she also found God’s grace and love in the midst of it.

I enjoyed this book, but it took more time to understand the story’s background. By the middle, I finally saw the relationship between all the characters. If you read this book, stick with it! Don’t be too quick to put it down.

For more information about Susan May Warren, visit http://www.susanmaywarren.com.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House Publishers.

 

Helpful Websites for Teaching Little Ones

I’ve mentioned that I’m doing a little schooling with Ryan this year. (We start Monday, so pray for me!) I’m not using an expensive curriculum, or even a workbook system. Almost all of my resources I’ve found through different websites offering FREE lessons on letters, numbers, and shapes. These are great resources for anyone helping young kids learn letters, numbers, and shapes or finding creative ways to teach them.

http://www.3dinosaurs.com/index.php

http://royalbaloo.com/

http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/   (Side note: I did purchase her Letters of the Week Curriculum for $15.)

http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ (I’m just getting used to this site, and I’m pleased with the amount of material on there. I typed in “lapbooks,” and a whole list of free lapbooks were there. I think I’ll enjoy this one too much!)

http://www.freehomeschooldeals.com/ (I love this site! It’s a compilation of a lot of free items in one place. They also have a daily list of free Kindle books!)

If you teach young kids, where do you find your free resources?

 

Book Review: The One Year Devos for Teen Girls

1yeardevosteengirls

Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel have written a fantastic book geared towards today’s teen girl. The One Year Devos for Teen Girls is a collection of 365 short devotionals focusing on the issues facing these young ladies. Topics include: prayer, being an ambassador for Christ, boundaries, spiritual gifts, and relationships, just to name a few. Each devotional begins with a verse, followed by a relevant story, ending with an “Action Step.” These “Action Steps” are a way for each girl to practically use what she learned in the day’s devotion.

The devotionals offer truth that girls can ponder throughout the day. Some are dedicated to raising awareness about a specific topic. For example, one day (Oct. 3) is dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking (and finding creative ways to get involved to stop this horrific act). Another day (Oct. 4), Ms. Gresh and Ms. Weibel introduce an organization, Clean the World. This organization, co-founded by Shawn Seipler, creates recycled soap and distributes it in Third World countries where basic sanitation is a must to fight diseases.  Throughout the book, readers are introduced to individuals and causes that carry out the mission of being a Christ-follower.

When I read this book, I was thrilled that each day was filled with Scripture. Not only does each day begin with a verse, but there are many references sprinkled throughout the devotional as well. Ms. Gresh and Ms. Weibel convey the importance of Scripture in a way that is relevant to today’s teen girl.

This book also grabbed my attention from the beginning. I couldn’t read just one devotional at a time. The variety catches the reader’s attention quickly and holds it until the end. As I read, I was encouraged to grow in my walk with the Lord. This book may be geared towards teen girls, but I was blessed by it as well.

Overall, The One Year Devos for Teen Girls was a wonderful read. It’s relativity to today’s teen girl, yet strong emphasis on Biblical truth, was a pleasant change to many devotionals written when I was a teen. Thank you, Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel, for creating a devotional geared toward teen girls that emphasizes who they are in Christ and the impact they can make on the world for Christ’s sake.

For more information about Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel, visit http://purefreedom.org/.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House Publishers.

Letting It Go (even the good things)

It’s the time of year when schedules are filled with activities upon activities: back to school programs, extra-curricular activities, filled-to-the-brim schedules. I’ve been caught in this trap before – each activity reels me in with it’s promise to satisfy one area of my life  (or my family’s life), yet fails to deliver when I’m stretched too thin to know what’s good for me. I then find myself frustrated for something I caused, something I did to myself. I usually justify my participation by saying, “It’s a good thing. I need to join because _________.” (The second justification is usually based on my own selfish desires or pride that I can prove myself in this activity.)

This looks completely different for each person, and for that, I’m so thankful. I love being busy and helping other people.  But, I’ve really been struggling with feeling like I’m going through the motions in some areas of my life. It seems like I keep doing something because I’ve always done it, or I want to please the people involved. Recently, I’ve had to say no to activities that I know are great, but would take away time with my family or not allow me time to rest after a busy day. It’s been hard because I want to do EVERYTHING. I don’t want to miss getting together with other Christians or giving my sons the opportunity to participate in social activities. Those are so important, and they do have a place in our lives. But, I’m not my best when I’m doing something out of routine or obligation.

This is a hard lesson to learn, and I’m not good at saying “no”. Maybe, for now, I can use what God’s given me to do a few things really well. I’ll struggle, but it’s certainly for the best.

How do you balance crazy demands on your life and finding time to rest and be with your loved ones?

Back to School Time

It’s that time of year when students return to the hallowed hall of their academic institutions (a.k.a. schools) and look back at a summer gone by too quickly. For me, this time of year has, and will always, hold a nostalgic place in my heart. I spent 19 out of my 33 years as a student, and 5 years were spent in the role as teacher. I remember the excitement and nervousness that encompassed the first day, and how I looked forward to it and dreaded its coming at the same time. The start of a new school year always signaled the return to routine (and getting up early…blah!), focused time on academic material, and meeting new friends or rekindling friendships with those from the past.

In a few weeks, Ryan and I will start “school.” I have goals for his learning this year, but I’m not pushing him too much. We’ll focus on letters, numbers, shapes, and colors, as well as his weekly AWANA verse and other topics that peak his interest. We’ll go places and see new things, have playdates throughout the week, and maybe do a craft or make a new food every once in a while. My hope isn’t that he can spell or add or read a book by the end of the “school” year. My hope is that he’ll enjoy learning and seek to find nuggets of knowledge in everyday life.

To all of you, whether student, teacher, or parent, I hope this is a great year of learning for you and yours. Happy Back To School!

 

 

A Lesson from Potty Training

Today was a breakthrough day! Ryan finally went #2 on the potty. Now, I know some of you are saying, “Woohoo. Another crazy mom telling me her son’s bathroom habits.” No, I’m not boring you with the mindless details of this developmental rite of passage in my toddler’s life. What I will tell you is something I learned by observing Philip’s and my actions when it happened.

I can’t begin to tell you how much we celebrated this little event. Philip and I were clapping and cheering like fools, but it made Ryan feel so good to see our enthusiasm. This started a thought: why do we lose our excitement over the little things in life as we get older? Why don’t we high-five each other when we make small strides towards a large goal, or forgo a habit we’re trying to break (even for a day)? Why do we shy away from celebrating those small victories that lead to greater achievements?

So today, I’ll celebrate your small victories too, whatever they are:

Great job!

Keep going!

You can do it!

Awesome!

Thanks, Ryan, for showing me that celebrating the small things in life is really worth it.

 

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