Thursday, May 31, 2012

Waterbrook Multnomah Book Review: The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter, Jr.


Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (January 17, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030773028X
ISBN-13: 978-0307730282
Price: $19.99
Purchase at:  Amazon | BN


Overview

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” —  Jesus

Congratulations!  Your Goliath Has Arrived.

Enemies often seem to get in the way of our plans, leaving us discouraged and disoriented.  But what if these obstacles are a part of God’s plans for us?

Our enemies - whether our weaknesses, circumstances, deep-seated sins, other people, or any other challenge—can become our stepping stool to new breakthroughs in life, if we leverage the opportunity.  Just as David’s encounter with Goliath transformed him from a delivery boy to a national hero, our enemies can be a blessing in disguise - if only we recognize and face them head-on.

Human nature tells us to flee our enemies, but Ron Carpenter will challenge you to embrace them. In The Necessity of an Enemy, Ron shares engaging insights like: 

   • God intended for every enemy to be your footstool for promotion.
   • If you want to be number one, you can’t just beat number nine.
   • The depth of your battle gives you insight into the greatness of the potential God put in you, and enemies are your key to unlocking that potential.
   • All battles are fought over your future, not over your past or present circumstances.

Are you ready to reach your next goal in life? Do you want biblically-based wisdom to help defeat every enemy and move with confidence to your destiny?  The Necessity of an Enemy will give you the tools to change your perspective – and find meaning and purpose in all of life’s trials.

Review

The Necessity of an Enemy by Ron Carpenter Jr. is an interesting book.  The title alone is inviting.

This book was full of a lot of wisdom, it was like reading a sermon a day.  Ron Carpenter Jr. writes in a real and down to earth style.  He shares all of the things he has learned in his spiritual journey.  He presents things in a very matter of fact way and with humility.

I personally gleaned a lot from this book.  Before reading this book, I didn't know who Ron Carpenter Jr. was.  I didn't know anything about him actually, so it was refreshing for me to get to know him in his book.

Unfortunately, he has been through some pretty tough circumstances which he was completely candid about.  Ron Carpenter Jr. shares his personal experiences and testimony in The Necessity of an Enemy.  All the principles he writes about in his book, he has applied in his own life.

This book is very encouraging and teaches you a lot about adversity and overcoming the enemy in your life.  I was inspired by Ron Carpenter's life and wisdom.  He has spiritual insight based on all the trials and hardships he experienced.  He generously shares how he overcame it in The Necessity of an Enemy.  

My favorite chapters are "Seeing Is Not Believing", "Dream Killers" and "The Three Courts of Intimacy."

If you have been undergoing great conflict and difficulty in your Christian walk, I highly recommend this book.  The Necessity of an Enemy will definitely encourage and inspire you.

In conclusion, I want to personally thank Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me this complimentary book to read and review.


RON CARPENTER, senior pastor of Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina, is recognized worldwide as a leader of leaders. As both a senior pastor and an entrepreneur, Ron's relentless passion for developing potential in others permeates his organization. After graduation from Emmanuel College, Ron and his wife, Hope, founded their church in 1991 with three members and a passion for breaking down walls of racism, crossing cultural lines, and changing poverty mindsets.  Today the congregation numbers over 16,000 and the ministry of the church includes 150 community outreaches, television and web programming, and a worldwide network of over 1,500 affiliated churches, Ministers, and leaders. Visit his website at www.RWOC.org.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Platform | Michael Hyatt

 

PLATFORM: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling product and a meaningful platform. It has never been easier, less expensive, or more possible than right now to build your platform. Michael Hyatt, one of the top bloggers in the world, will show you how, step-by-step, in his new book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

To celebrate the launch of the book this week, Michael is giving away $375.98 worth of free bonus content for those who purchase the book between May 21 and May 25. Complete details are available at http://michaelhyatt.com/platform
 ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

Description

To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling product and a meaningful platform. In this step-by-step guide, Michael Hyatt, former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, takes readers behind the scenes, into the new world of social media success. He shows you what best-selling authors, public speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and other creatives are doing differently to win customers in today's crowded marketplace. Hyatt speaks from experience. He writes one of the top 800 blogs in the world and has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. His large and growing platform serves as the foundation for his successful writing, speaking, and consulting practice.

In Platform, Hyatt will teach readers not only how to extend their influence, but also how to monetize it and build a sustainable career. The key? By building a platform. It has never been easier, less expensive, or more possible than right now. . .  The book includes:
  • proven strategies
  • easy-to-replicate formulas
  • practical tips
Social media technologies have changed everything. Now, for the first time in history, non-celebrities can get noticed-and win big!-in an increasingly noisy world.

Review

Ever read a book that completely changes your perspective? A paradigm shift of sorts? Platform by Michael Hyatt did just that for me.

This book is jam-packed with relevant information on how to build your platform. Michael Hyatt generously provides you with step by step instructions and lists on how to start a blog, build a following, use social media properly (i.e., Twitter) and much more.

Platform equips the novice to the seasoned professional. This book is a guide in which you can go back and refer to at any given point or phase in your platform building.

You will find nuggets on every page of this book. Michael Hyatt creates a masterpiece and a "wow" experience for his readers. There has never been a book written like this one.

If you are serious about building your platform, I highly recommend this book.



Michael Hyatt is a full-time blogger, author, and speaker. He is the former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S.

Hyatt has spent his career in the book industry. As a publisher, former literary agent, New York Times bestselling author, and popular blogger, he has a unique perspective on the rapidly changing world of content creation and delivery.

In his 30 year career, Hyatt has worked in nearly every facet of book publishing, including serving as the CEO of Thomas Nelson for six years. He is also the former Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

His blog, MichaelHyatt.com, is ranked by Google in the top one-half percent of all blogs with more than 300,000 unique visitors a month. He also has more than 120,000 followers on Twitter.

Hyatt has been married to his wife, Gail, for more than thirty years. They have five daughters and seven grandchildren. They live just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Worthy Publishing Book Review: My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon


ISBN 978-1-61795-076-6
Trade Paper
List Price: $14.99
Trim Size: 5 3/8" x 8"
224 w/ study guide
Purchase at: AmazonCBD
Worthy Publishers: Book Website

Description
_____________________________________________________________________


Teasi Cannon's lifelong battle with body image nearly destroyed her.  Yet today she feels blessed--not because the size of her lower half has changed but because her perspective has.  In her often hilarious, no-nonsense style, Teasi's gut-honest journey and transparent insights will propel every one of us who struggles with... you name it: bad hair or chubby cheeks, skinny arms or wide hips... to realize our value and beauty.  Even if nothing ever changes on the outside.

Review
_____________________________________________________________________


"I let my doctors (not Vanity Fair or Cosmo) tell me if I'm physically healthy,
and I let God alone assign my value." - Teasi Cannon

My Big Bottom Blessing was a God send.  I couldn't help being amazed by the parallels and similarities of Teasi Cannon's life and my own.  Except for the fact that she is way funnier than me. 

Teasi Cannon is a gifted writer and entertaining storyteller.  She writes about difficult topics with ease and makes them understandable to the reader.  She also writes with humor, authenticity and transparency. 

In My Big Bottom Blessing, Teasi Cannon's writes about her own struggles with weight, which coincidentally happens to be one of my struggles.

Since childhood, I've struggled with my weight, inheriting the slow metabolism gene.  I was a chubby kid which resulted in my being made fun of a lot.  Unfortunately, between being ridiculed and other factors which this book discusses at length, I developed a complex. You can call it low self esteem, bad body image or self image. As a result, shame is associated with my weight and body image. 

I am thankful to have received a complimentary copy of this book from Handlebar Marketing to read and review.  This book brought clarity and changed my perspective on many levels.   

My Big Bottom Blessing helps dispel the lies women believe about themselves. If you are a woman struggling with weight, self esteem, body image or anything hindering you from seeing yourself the way God sees you, I encourage you to get this book.  My Big Bottom Blessing will completely change your life!

To win a free copy of this book, please leave a comment.  The winner will be randomly selected by May 27th.

Teasi (pronounced Tee See) Cannon is married to her best friend, Bill, and they have three awesome children: Carli, Ben and Sam.  Teasi has a master's degree in pastoral counseling from Liberty Theological Seminary and is a sought-after speaker who loves to help woman remember who they are in Christ.  Visit her at: www.teasicannon.com

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Facing Your Fear | by Pilar V. Arsenec


I tell ya, there is nothing like blogging to face your fear.  

Blogging takes courage.  It's definitely not for the faint at heart.  

So why am I doing it you ask?

The answer is... (drum roll please), I haven't the foggiest.  I'm just compelled to write.

I begin by looking at my computer screen while eating a mouth watering almond croissant from Au Bon Pain.®  Ever try them? They're loaded with high calorie goodness which helps soothe my anxious soul (or at least I'd like to believe that).

Surely this delicious croissant will inspire me to write... not.  I proceed to crumple the Au Bon Pain paper bag and shoot it into a recyclable trash bin.  Drat!... I missed.

I then stare at a very blank screen hoping some brilliant idea will come to me.  When suddenly I begin hearing those familiar voices pervading my consciousness.  Let me introduce you to my faithful companions.

Ms. Perfectionist:

"Goodness gracious!!  Oh.My.Gosh.  Seriously??  What are you doing staring at the screen???  Hel-loooo!!  Wake up!  Are you there?  Will you puh-leeze (which means, please) get over yourself.  Write.  Just write something.  ANY-thing!!  How can you call yourself a writer?? 

Ms. Fear replies with her usual exhaled sigh:

"Okaaay.... I'm tryin'... But..."

Ms. Perfectionist interrupts:  

"But... but... but what?!  I do not even want to hear the word "But" ok?  Are we understanding each other here?  Just stop all the dilly-dallying and get to work already!"

Ms. Fear whines:

"I will... I will... But... I don't know if I can really do this. I don't know if I'm a writer, or if I'm even suppose to write.  I have a blog... but there are so many great writers out there. They write so much better than I do. How can I even compete?  And what if noone likes me?  What if I fail or I'm rejected?  Ohhhh noooo.  I don't know if I can do this.  I. Just. Don't. Know."

Sound familiar?

Listen to the advice of a favorite author who tweeted me this last week. "If you're writing, you're a writer. Ignore your narcissism and bad self esteem. Write a little, badly, daily, now." ~ Anne Lamott

Well, that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?  So I decided to let Ms. Perfectionist and Ms. Fearful duke it out while I write.

How about you?  What is preventing you from pursuing your dreams or doing what you love?  

 © 2012, Pilar V. Arsenec

Friday, May 11, 2012

Michael Hyatt | Platform Book Launch Team

Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt has spent his career in book publishing. As a publisher, former literary agent, New York Times bestselling author, and popular blogger, he has a unique perspective on the rapidly changing world of content creation and delivery.

Michael is currently the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publisher in the world and the seventh largest trade book publisher in the United States. He began his career at Word Publishing while a senior at Baylor University. In the 30 years since then, he has worked in nearly every facet of book publishing, including serving as the CEO of Thomas Nelson for six years. He is also the former Chairman of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

His blog, michaelhyatt.com, is ranked by Google in the top one-half percent of all blogs with almost 400,000 visitors a month. He also has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter.

While Michael loves his work, it is not the most important thing in his life. That position belongs to his family. He has been married to his wife, Gail for thirty-three years. They have five daughters, three sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. They live just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

 ~    ~    ~   ~   ~

Pretty impressive, huh?  Michael Hyatt rocks!  Seriously.  I am so thrilled to be part of his Platform book launch team.  

So far, I have been learning so much in a short span of time and also working alongside some pretty incredible people.  I am truly in awe and humbled at the same time.  God definitely works in mysterious ways because I was praying about learning more on this precise topic. God just blew my socks off when He answered my prayer by allowing me to be part of the Platform Book Launch Team.

When I was explaining all this to my husband the other day, I actually wanted to cry, because God is so good and faithful.  Nothing we do goes to waste.  He truly sees us.

God is teaching me not to fear and dream big, which is why I believe He's allowed me to be part of such an amazing team of people.  He is teaching and helping me to grow, not only my platform, but my character as well.    

Platform will launch the week of May 21 with an amazing set of bonus gifts. But please do not buy the book until May 21 – 25. Please check this link out: http://michaelhyatt.com/platform

In conclusion, I look forward to posting my review next week, so keep your eye out for it. 

Stepping Out On Faith by Bonnie St. John


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!


Stepping Out on Faith by Bonnie St. John

"Darcy . . .”

“Yeah, Mom?”

I momentarily held the undivided attention of my teenage daughter. Her thumbs, free of their ubiquitous texting keypad, quietly dangled by her side. Her computer and its omnipresent Facebook page were completely out of sight. I had almost forgotten what she looked like without all these adolescent accoutrements. As we sat down together on the burgundy leather sofa in our living room, I realized this fleeting state of electronic dislocation was my chance to hatch a plan I had been formu- lating for the past several weeks. Carpe diem.

“How would you like to write a book together?”

“About what?” I asked my mom. Write a book? This was a real surprise. I felt a bit suspicious, but still curious.  I love to write, and Mom kept telling me I was really good at it. I like writing poetry, fantasy, and sci-fi, though.  The books Mom wrote were all nonfiction.  I wondered what we could possibly do together.

“Well . . .” I hesitated. If I wanted her to commit to any extra work out- side her busy schedule at school—not to mention work alongside her mother—I had to make this really great. “It would be about women as leaders,” I continued, “a mother-daughter investigation into leadership styles and structures.”

“Leadership?” I blurted. It came out as if I had a bad taste in my mouth—which I did.  I couldn’t imagine a more boring topic to write about. What is there to say about leadership anyway? When you’re in charge, you just get things done, right? Who wants to talk about that?

Her furrowed brow told me I was losing her fast. “Um . . . we could find women leaders all around the world!” I said impulsively, frantically casting the ultimate bait.

“Really? Would we get to travel a lot?”  I hadn’t thought about that. Heck, I’d write about the mating habits of tsetse flies  if I got to go to Africa to do it!

But this project wasn’t just about the influence it would have on Darcy. I wanted to do something that could have a potent impact on an alarming trend I had witnessed in workplaces across the country: far too many women appeared to be making a choice not to apply for top leadership positions when presented with the opportunities to do so.

This project, then, was a bit of a Trojan horse. On the one hand, the saga of a mother-daughter journey could seduce female readers, who might never bother to read the Harvard Business School dissertations on the subject, into a meaningful conversation about leadership. At the same time, if Darcy met a series of brilliant, accomplished women— people even a cynical teen would be in awe of—perhaps they could tell her all the things I’d like her to know—and more.

And she just might listen.

But where to start? How would we make it work? I suggested we do most of our research by phone, as I did for How Strong Women Pray. My telephone interviews with a governor, some CEOs, actors, sports figures, a college president, and others yielded great stories and information. I promised my intrepid co-author, though, that we could punctuate these conversations with a few visits in person to exciting and exotic places—all with reasonably priced airfares.

“Why don’t we follow each subject as she goes about her daily life? That way our readers get to come along with us and get a behind- the-scenes look at what happens to them. Instead of just a boring interview, we—and our readers—get to hang around with these women, see them in their natural habitat, and even see how other people treat them.”

Although I agreed it was a wonderful approach, this idea of “job- shadowing” each featured subject wasn’t going to be easy. Would these high-powered, important women deign to allow us that kind of access? Would they be able to impart the kind of wisdom that would resonate with our readers and truly make a difference in their lives?  We looked at each other, both of us hooked on a crazy idea that we weren’t sure we could pull off.

“It sounds impossible, Darcy,” I said. “We might as well get started.”

And so, we stepped out . . . on faith.

###


Bonnie is a 1984 Paralympics silver medal winner in ski racing. Her education includes a degree with honors from Harvard, a Rhodes scholarship, and an M.Litt in Economics from Oxford.  Her career includes positions as an award-winning sales rep for IBM and a Clinton White House member of staff. She now is a much-in-demand speaker, who makes nearly 100 speeches each year to corporations and civic groups. You can visit her on the Web at www.bonniestjohn.com.



Re-printed with permission from How Great Women Lead by Bonnie St. John and Darcy Deane




Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I Am Not | Tricia Goyer


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!

What I Am Not by Tricia Goyer

Becoming a mother is a complicated thing. Not only am I trying to negotiate a relationship with my child, I am trying to negotiate a relationship with myself as I attempt to determine how I mother, how I feel about mothering, how I want to mother and how I wish I was mothered.
— Andrea J. Buchanan, in Mother Shock3

Sometimes the easiest way to discover who we are is to know who we are not.

We are not our children. We all know mothers who go overboard trying to make themselves look good by making their children look great. I saw one woman on the Oprah television show who had bought her preschool daughter more than twelve pairs of black shoes just so the girl could have different styles to go with her numerous outfits! Just as we -don’t get report cards for mothering, we also -don’t get graded on our child’s looks or accomplishments. While you want your children to do their best and succeed in life, your self-esteem -shouldn’t be wrapped up in your child.

Life as I See It:

My individuality will never end. There will be no one exactly like me, not even my child. She will be like me in some ways, but not at all in others. I -wouldn’t have it any other way.
— Desiree, Texas

We are not our mothers. I remember the first time I heard my mother’s voice coming out of my mouth. The words “because I told you so .  .  .” escaped before I had a chance to squelch them.

It’s not until we have kids that we truly understand our mothers — all their frets, their nagging, and their worries.

It’s also then that we truly understand their love.

Since you are now a mother, it’s good to think back on how you were raised. If there were traditions or habits that now seem wise and useful, incorporate them into your parenting. You also have permission to sift out things you now know -weren’t good. Just because you’re a product of your mother, that -doesn’t mean you have to turn out just like her. Repeat after me, “I am not my mother.”

We are not like any other mother out there. Sometimes you may feel like the world’s worst mother. After all, your friend never yells at her son — and sometimes you do. Then again, your friend may feel bad because you have a wonderful bedtime routine that includes stories and songs. In many cases, the moms you feel inferior to only look like they have it together. All moms feel they -don’t “measure up.” Instead of feeling unworthy, we should realize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The key is where we place our focus.

The Bible says, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without .  .  . comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we -aren’t” (Romans 12:5 – 6, MESSAGE).

The problem with comparison is, we always measure our weaknesses against the strengths of others.

Instead, we need to thank God for our strengths. We can also ask God to help us overcome our weaknesses — not because we want to compare ourselves, or look good in someone else’s eyes, but because we want to be the best mom out there.

###



Tricia Goyer is a CBA best-selling author and the winner of two American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Awards (Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights). She co-wrote 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and contributed to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Also a noted marriage and parenting writer, she lives with her husband and children in Arkansas. You can find her online at www.triciagoyer.com or at her weekly radio show, Living Inspired.





Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

She’s My Everything | Suzanne Woods Fisher


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!

She’s…My Everything by Suzanne Woods Fisher

A mother is one who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.
--Cardinal Mermillod 

Just a few more months. My mother was hoping Dad would hang on long enough so they could celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary in April. But on January 1st, as the sun rose on the new year, my dad’s worn out heart beat its last. Dad had battled Alzheimer’s Disease for ten years. As many of you know, AD is a long, hard journey. Hard on the one afflicted with the disease, hard on the caregivers.

But not without its blessings.

Four years ago, as I began researching stories for Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, my path crossed with a handful of Plain families who were coping with Alzheimer’s. It was just about the point when Dad’s illness was shifting from early to mid stages AD and the timing was a divine accident. I learned so much as I observed the calm acceptance of these families. Rather than waste time shaking a fist at God for allowing this disease to take their loved one, they put their energy into trusting God’s sovereignty. They didn’t deny the difficulties and complications and sadness of Alzheimer’s, but they didn’t dwell on them. “God has a plan,” one woman told me. “He always has a plan.”  

Something else I noticed was how privileged my Amish friends felt about caring for their loved one. Caring for the elderly, they believe, is the time to give back to them.

Those encounters shaped my perspective of Dad’s illness. I started to pay attention to how God provided answers to new wrinkles created by Alzheimer’s, just in time. God may be slow, but He is never late.
I started to cherish special moments or good days with Dad—just as he was at each point in his illness. Not mourning the past, not dreading the future.

I really miss my dad. I miss his scratchy whiskers and the way his eyebrows would wiggle at us, even as words failed him. Yet I have such peace in my heart that he was well loved and well cared for, right to the very end. And as hard as Dad’s end of life has been, it isn’t the end. We will meet again. As the saying goes, “Some may see a hopeless end, but as believers we rejoice in an endless hope.”

There’s a beautiful story that illustrates my parents’ 59-year marriage. This event happened about a year or two ago. My sister had accompanied our mother to the doctor appointment for Dad at the Stanford Memory Clinic.

Dad had declined quite a bit that month. He was weak and lethargic, even to the point of whispering, as if it took too much energy to project his voice. During the doctor's appointment, the doctor told my mother and sister that Dad was now in late stages of Alzheimer's. Dad didn’t have much vocabulary left, but when the doctor asked him who mom was, he whispered something back. The doctor looked at Mom and asked, "Did you hear what he just said?"

Mom shook her head.

"When I asked him who you were, he whispered, 'She's...my everything.'"

###

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a writer of bestselling fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne is the host of Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program on toginet.com, and writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post. Suzanne can be found on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.


Re-printed with permission by Cooking & Such, www.sherrygorebooks.com.



Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Joy Comes from Perseverance by Sheila Walsh


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls™ products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!


Joy Comes from Perseverance by Sheila Walsh


One of the most important lessons I have learned in my own life is the joy that comes from perseverance. Eugene Peterson, borrowing a phrase from Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote his book  “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction …Discipleship in an Instant Society.” He points to the Psalms as the way believers have always learned to pray what they live and live what they pray but it is not a short journey. It is an intentional commitment to keep walking even when you are worn out.


*If we want to see lasting results in any area of life it’s important to keep walking in that direction.

*If we want to have a better understanding of the Gospel of John then it takes time and commitment to dig deeper day after day.

*If we want to be thinner this summer than last summer then the work begins now not then.
So too in our relationship with Christ…..

*If we want to know Him at a more profoundly intimate level, that also takes an intentional seeking after Him every day.

As a grown woman I have come to love the beauty of this gift. Passing this “mined treasure” onto my son on the other hand has been an interesting challenge.  We live in such a fast paced, attention-challenged culture where the latest thing can be delivered to your doorstep by tomorrow for a few dollars more. But, as you know, by the time it is delivered it has already been replaced or updated!

How do we speak then into the lives of our children to help them understand and value perseverance?

For me…part of the puzzle meant a large piece of poster board, scissors, some photos and a bottle of Elmer’s glue. My son, Christian and I spread everything out on a sheet in the game room as I explained our project. “We’re going to make a family faith-tree,” I said. “These are photos of family on your dad’s side and on mine. Many of them have gone on to be with Jesus but the seeds they planted into our family continue to grow.” Then we wrote down their names and when they came to faith in Christ (as many as I knew).  It was quite something to see when we were finished.

“Your life matters Christian. Running your race well matters.”

That night we read these words from the writer to the Hebrews,

We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up.
Hebrews 12:1 (NCV)

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Sheila Walsh is a Bible teacher, speaker, singer, and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. Sheila Walsh is the creator of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess® and her new series, Gabby, God's Little Angel. Meet Gabby in Gabby's Stick-to-It-Day. As a featured speaker with Women of Faith®, Sheila has reached more than 3.5 million women by artistically combining honesty, vulnerability and humor with God’s Word. She resides in Dallas with her husband Barry and son Christian. Visit www.sheilawalsh.com for more information about Sheila, her other books or Women of Faith.






Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fiction Studio Book Review: Everybody's Daughter by Michael John Sullivan


Print Length: 328 pages 
Publisher: The Fiction Studio (May 1, 2012)
ISBN: 13: 978-1936558445
ISBN: 10: 1936558440
Price:  $15.95
Purchase at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Description
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What if you had a chance to ask a loved one for forgiveness – after they died? What would you say? Would you give up your own lifetime of happiness for someone else? Michael Stewart confronts these questions as he travels back in time through a mysterious tunnel in an old church when the Romans ruled with brutal violence and Jesus preached his peaceful message. His teenage daughter Elizabeth soon follows Michael, but is surprised to discover that her father is nowhere to be found. Little does she know that Michael has returned safely to the present, leaving her to battle a vicious Roman soldier. Separated by centuries, Michael is trapped to fight his own battles in the present day. Elizabeth’s disappearance, and the discovery of her blood in his car ignites a rush of judgment as the FBI focuses on him as a person of interest. Michael’s only hope for saving his daughter rests in the hands of his best friend – a local pastor with secrets of his own – and a mysterious old journal containing tales of miracles within the walls of the old church itself. Thrilling and suspenseful, Everybody's Daughter takes readers on a miraculous journey of their own, where salvation can be found in acts of sacrifice and hope remains forever eternal through the passage of a tunnel.


Review
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I confess, I wasn't sure what to expect after reading the above description, but decided to take a chance and read this book.  I'm so glad I did because I was delightfully surprised!  Everybody's Daughter illustrated love and forgiveness in a real and tangible way for me.
   
Michael John Sullivan is a gifted writer who brings this story and characters to life.  I was able to visualize and feel everything intensely.  My emotions went up and down like a roller coaster.

I was especially engrossed by the time travel element of this story.  I found it particularly interesting as well as fascinating.  But, what truly tugged my heart with such longing was reading about Jesus.  Michael John Sullivan describes Jesus so beautifully that tears welled up in my eyes.

Everybody's Daughter is a unique, captivating and suspenseful story.  I could not put this book down nor did I want the story to end.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't recommend this book enough!

In conclusion, I want to thank Mr. Roberson from The B&B Media Group for sending me a complimentary copy of Everybody's Daughter to read and review.


Article
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 My Talks With Jesus
by Michael John Sullivan


For most of my 23 years, my refusal to take part in the sparring wars that happened daily at the dinner table had made me an outcast in my own family. I survived many battles by escaping to my attic room, wondering if I would ever truly find peace. I sought the answers sometimes from music, sometimes from a deep dream, many times by praying. When my mother – my     protector – lost her battle with cancer and was called home by God, I knew my continued existence in our Richmond Hill house was fragile.

On a cold November night, my father asked me to leave.

It wasn’t long before my more affordable shelter was a subway token and an overnight ride on the E-train in New York City. I continued to seek employment, sometimes landing a job interview, then waiting outside by a pay phone for hours for a job offer.

While riding the trains at night, I reflected on my motives, my goals, and most importantly, my faith.

Who was Jesus Christ to me?

I thought about what He meant to me as I would sit huddled at the end of the subway car, warming my feet. I avoided eye contact with the other passengers whenever possible, embarrassed by my dirty appearance and fighting off the nausea that accompanied the realization that this was now my bedroom.

And I asked the question again: Where are you, Jesus?

On some nights, I pulled a notebook and pen out of my green garbage bag of belongings and started to write. Was there something more to my relationship with Jesus than just my reciting of the Lord’s Prayer?

On New Year’s Eve that year, as I walked through the streets I had biked as a kid, I started to cry. It was frigid and the wind spit into my face. I didn’t want to spend another night on the dangerous subway. I walked to a familiar church in the neighborhood, waited until the last service of the evening ended, and hid in the back under a pew. I waited anxiously for everyone to leave, hoping no one would notice. I felt a sense of relief as the doors were locked.

I was alone. The wind creaked eerily in the old church. The slightest sound echoed loudly, causing my heart to skip a few beats. But was I really alone?

I walked to the front of the church. There was a makeshift manger with the baby Jesus lying in a wooden cradle. I knelt beside it and wrote and wrote. I looked at the innocent baby. His life lay ahead with so much promise, hope, and dreams. I spoke softly, telling the baby how sad I was. I even picked Him up and kissed His cheek. He was so beautiful, the dim light from above shining proudly on His face. I sat there for a couple of hours and reflected. I wondered why my life had become a complete mess without any hope. I wondered if there would ever be a day where I would lie down again in my own bed, under a warm and sturdy roof, surrounded by loving people.
Then I realized who Jesus is. He was there for me whenever I needed Him.

The spiritual conversation I had during this bleak period inspired me to send my characters back in time. In my latest novel, Everybody’s Daughter, the main character, Michael Stewart travels back to the time of Christ when He was preaching. I wanted the main character to witness the Sermon on the Mount. What would Jesus say? How would the main character react? What would he say to Jesus later when they met? How would Jesus address a man of the 21st century? Would it be any different than when He had spoken to people back in first-century Jerusalem? What would it feel like spiritually to look into Jesus’ eyes and say The Lord’s Prayer with Him?

In Everybody’s Daughter, the fictional Michael Stewart is given an incredible gift – a chance to say the Lord’s Prayer with Jesus, an opportunity to speak to Him, a few minutes to visit his deceased wife and ask for forgiveness, and a chance to truly understand why Jesus was walking this same earth with us many centuries ago.

I allow Michael Stewart to honestly express his anxieties, fears, and concerns to Jesus as he struggles with his own faith and the challenges of raising a teenager daughter in modern day America.
Everybody’s Daughter allowed me to heal and regain my faith in many ways. While the fictitious Michael Stewart was taking this trip, I was alongside him for the journey, expressing my thoughts and fears, speaking to Jesus as I had done on that cold winter night inside the old church by the makeshift manger.



Michael John Sullivan graduated from St. John's University with a communications degree and a promising future in the field of journalism after working for the official school paper the previous two years. Six months later, he found himself washing his hair in a toilet at the same university as he prepared for a job interview.

Sullivan was homeless at the age of 23 after first watching his mother -- his protector in a dysfunctional family -- die from cancer. A year later his father asked him to leave. Riding a New York City subway train at night, his only companion was a green plastic bag of belongings. During these bleak days he began writing his most reflective and emotional childhood and adult memories now featured in two of his novels.

 On a bitterly cold New Year's Eve that year, Sullivan intentionally hid under a pew in the back of a church to stay warm for the night. After the doors were locked, he lay near a makeshift manger, writing and talking to the baby Jesus.  It was a cathartic experience, one that would continue to resonate with him years later.
He was rescued off the train by an aunt and uncle.

After spending much of the past two decades raising their daughters while working at home, Sullivan returned to his notes in 2007 and began writing Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness. It was published by Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books imprint in April 2010. The Library Journal named Necessary Heartbreak as one of the year's best in Christian fiction for 2010. He recently finished the sequel, Everybody's Daughter, featuring more memories from his young adult life, including the day he walked to Forest Park as he contemplated taking his own life. Only the strains of a song prevented him from doing the unthinkable.

Sullivan lives with his family in New York. He is a board member for the Long Island Coalition of the Homeless. 


Priceless Treasures | Cindy K. Stiverson


Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

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And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother's Day!

Priceless Treasure by Cindy K. Stiverson

We've heard it said and often find it true:
You don't know the value of a treasure until you're without it. 

We take for granted the things in life that seem so readily available.
   A paperclip or rubber band, to hold things together.
   A tissue or napkin, to wipe our nose to clean our face, to absorb our tears.
   A Bible to speak words of wisdom and instruction and life and love.

And a Mother, who is all these things and more.
   She is readily available.
   She holds things together.
   She wipes our nose, cleans our face (and our fingers, and, well…everything else!)
   She absorbs our tears and calms our fears.
  "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26)
   She loves.

Within hours after my mother passed into the gates of our heavenly home, I was missing her. Her quick wit…humor…charm. Her warm smile and melodious laughter, which served her well to the very end, as did our Lord Jesus Christ, who so graciously allowed her to slip quietly and peacefully into His arms.

She simply stopped breathing.

As I stood at her bedside in those priceless moments after her passing, I wanted to touch her skin as much as possible while there was still warmth in her body; to nuzzle my nose against her head and breathe in the scent of her hair while she was still there. Priceless treasures I was guilty of taking for granted, clouded by unmet needs. I was so consumed with what she was not, that I never fully appreciated who she was. It’s like I was blind, but now I see!

I see her strength, her commitment. Her perseverance…sacrifice…her unspoken love. I see how much she meant to me, how much she did for me, how much she taught me, and how much of the good in me was modeled by her.

She was a virtuous woman, as described in Proverbs 31 of the Bible.
“Her children stand and bless her… a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise (vs. 31).”

This last verse of the poem serves as an epitaph for the woman of virtue. It speaks of the legacy she leaves in her passing. It spurred me to write a personal epitaph for my mother, which I read at her funeral.

We publicly declare your praise today, 
and in the days to come,
for you deserve to be praised and blessed,
"We honor you, Mom, for all you have done!"

In my earliest of memories, 
You worked so hard, striving for the rest.
You persevered through great trials
and did your very best.

I know you are being rewarded
in ways far beyond our reach.
We honor you now by practicing what you've taught,
and even what you preached!

You've stood for us for all these years,
Today, we stand for you!
I pray that our applause on earth
will reach your heavenly ears.

With the reading of this poem, I asked everyone to stand. We clapped our hands in celebration and praise of the life of my mother, Margaret Alice Stiltner.

Imagine our surprise to discover that she had left a poetic epitaph for us! She had clipped it from an old magazine and framed it. I found it when I was cleaning her home, on a nightstand by her bed. My mother was never versed at expressing emotion. This was her sweet way of kissing us good-bye: a priceless treasure to remember her by.


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Cynthia (Cindy) Stiverson is a speaker, writer, and artist.  In 1998, she founded Woven: Women of Virtue Network, a spiritual formation and friendship ministry. She pastors the women at Newark Church of the Nazarene in Ohio. She is currently working on her fourth Woven Workbook, and also a book for mothers and daughters on the subject of sexual abuse. Cindy considers raising her daughter, speaker/author Nicole Braddock Bromley, to be her greatest achievement. She loves the men in her life, hubby Mark, grandbabes Jude and Isaac, and son-in-law Matthew. You can find more of Cindy at www.WovenWomen.blogspot.com and www.CynthiaStiverson.com





Exciting News – the latest Pearl Girls book, Mother of Pearl: Luminous Legacies and Iridescent Faith will be released this month! Please visit the Pearl Girls Facebook Page (and LIKE us!) for more information! Thanks so much for your support!