What I’m Learning

Kidnapped by the Taliban by Dr. Dilip Joseph

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Wow, what a book! I was seriously blown away by this one.

In late November 2012, Dilip Joseph traveled to Afghanistan as he had done many times before. Being a medical doctor, he was connected with an organization helping, and educating the people there. He didn’t realize how that trip would be different from all the others, and that he would be forever changed.

When Dr. Joseph and two of his colleagues were traveling between villages, they were held up and kidnapped. They were forced to hike for about 9 hours that first day, got little sleep, were forced to watch violent videos of other Taliban members being murdered or tortured, and hiked some more.

Ransom demands were made, and they were threatened with death. They got tired and hungry. But that is what I expected from a story such as this.

The surprising part came when the second day, one of the Taliban asked the doctor about his life at home. They exchanged stories of wives and children, extended family (family is almost sacred to those in the Middle East), and hope for the future. It went beyond just getting information. The Taliban member doing most of the talking, even asked Dilip if he could help him get into the U.S. It seemed he was interested in education, and a better future. The doctor felt that most of the men there felt trapped, and wanted something more for their lives, for their families, and for their country. Every time it was time to eat, the captor treated the captives well, wanting them to eat more than themselves, wanting them to be full.

Two parts really stood out to me and made me view them differently forever.

1. At one point, the doctor’s 2 colleagues were separated from them. They were going home. This was the lowest moment for him, fearing to be facing this alone. For the first time, he sat down and began to cry. What was going to happen to him?! There were 4 or 5 members of the Taliban left with him at that point. One of them took of his headscarf, and wiped his eyes with it. Each member took turns, drying the tears that fell from his eyes.

2. When Navy SEALS came in just after midnight on that last night, all of the Taliban were killed. The one he had “connected” with earlier, talking about family and future, did not die right away. The doctor said he wanted to go to him and somehow comfort him, but he feared being disrespectful of his rescuers, so he turned away. That was the decision most regretted.

The only thing negative I have to say, is that Dilip Joseph’s Christianity is very vague. I was left wondering if he is Catholic, non-denominational, or what? He mentions God and faith a lot, but it’s not clear, and there is no gospel.

I learned so much from this book. So, so much. I wish I could share it with everyone. The Taliban as a whole, have been guilty of so many violent, evil actions. But they are human. Some of them are trapped and want change, but they don’t know where to turn. It makes me feel so compassionate for them, and want to pray more for them.

I also learned how thankful we should be to live here in this safe nation. President Obama made Dilip’s rescue a top priority. There were generals, organizations, and of course, the Navy SEALS all putting time, effort and money into rescuing one man. The lead SEAL of the night, the first through the door, was shot and killed, along with the 5 Taliban. What a story!

Please read it!

I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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A Baby for Christmas

*Re-blogged from Living on PB&J.

I will never forget my first taste of motherhood. 7 years ago, I was just a few weeks away from delivering my first baby. It was Christmas. I had decorated, and gotten my new little boy’s clothes ready. I had packed my hospital bag. Everything was ready!

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I sat in my sparkling-clean, shimmery, glittery, all-decked-out-for-Christmas, pre-children house, and pondered the Christmas story. I had heard it all my life, but somehow in 2007, it had new meaning.

I would sit in my rocking chair with my hand on my tummy, feeling my little boy kick and squirm. And I thought of Mary.

Mary was told that Jesus would be the king, that He would deliver His people. Joseph was told that He would save His people from their sins. But what did they really understand? The Bible doesn’t tell us all that Mary understood.

When baby Jesus was born, the shepherds came straight out of the field to worship her Son. Oh, Mary knew He was special, but they worshiped Him? She pondered all these things. She wondered, and she was amazed!

I wondered, as I felt my little boy inside me, if Mary knew her Son would have to be a sacrifice. I could not imagine being in her sandals. I even thought of God in a whole new light… as a Father. I could not imagine giving up my precious Son, even for good people, let alone murderers, thieves, and those who will never accept the free gift of salvation.

That Christmas, days away from meeting my firstborn son, I drew closer to my precious heavenly Father. What love, that He should give His firstborn, even His “only begotten” Son just for me!

Jackson. Born December 28, 2007:

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It’s a Mean (FB) World

I have had several sad observations lately while scrolling through my newsfeed and thought I’d just share a few things to ponder. I LOVE facebook. I don’t think I’ll ever delete my account (though I’ve thought about it several times!) because it’s my main means of communication with college friends, childhood friends, and a much easier way to share (with those who care) how the kids are growing and how everyone is getting along. I am in a few Ministry and Home school groups that have helped me tremendously!

That being said, I cannot be silent on a few problems I see almost daily:

  1. Those who think they can tell everyone what to do. From health and beauty to raising kids, to how long a person should pray each day, to what kind of minivan they would NEVER buy, I’ve seen a lot of opinions. Of course, anyone can post whatever they want on their status! But anything can be said with kindness! And so much of it is unnecessary. Would you say that to someone’s face? Then don’t say it on facebook.
  2. Those who tell everyone when they are wrong. So many times I have gotten involved in an argument. And I’m pretty sure it’s never made much of a difference. Of course there may be those who are silently reading and my opinion may be helping them. But it does bad things to my stress level. 😉 And if someone doesn’t ask for an opinion, I really don’t think I should give it! And even if they ask, I can be kind, even if I disagree with them. If I wouldn’t give my opinion in person, then I probably shouldn’t give it on facebook.
  3. Those who constantly brag. We all have them on our news feed. I have been guilty of being one of them. It’s good to always ask myself why I am posting something. Am I wanting others to envy what I have an opportunity to do? Am I wanting to make others wish they had my clean house (which was only clean long enough for the picture!)? Do I hope people will be amazed at my profound wisdom in that statement I just made? Do I want others to wish they could go on the vacation I just took? There can be so much pride involved in what we post. I’m not saying we should never share, but consider how it may make someone feel. If I were in a group of (physical) friends, would I shout out “Look at my clean living room?” I doubt it.
  4. Those who unfriend or delete their account multiple times. If someone disagrees with us constantly, it can wear on our nerves, and there is probably a time to unfriend someone. In real life, it would be harder to do this, but there is this beautiful word called “ignore.” It means we don’t have to type back when someone gets on our nerves. The arguing will stop if we simply don’t argue. I personally think if you unfriend someone, it’s like a child screaming, “You’re not my friend anymore!”

Facebook is a different world than the physical world, so every part cannot be compared. This is all my opinion, so take it or leave it.  I just think we would all benefit from being more careful, and a little kinder when we post. 🙂

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Praying God’s Word for Your Life by Kathi Lipp

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This is a very eye-opening book. I have a few Scripture verses that I pray pretty often, but the concept of praying SO much Scripture is new to me! The opening chapter begins with Kathi being very real about how hard it is to spend time in prayer. She offers great encouragement to just pray… just for one minute. It will grow into time you cherish as you make the time, and be consistent. She offers practical advice, like setting a time, having a specific place, and having “stuff” to get you going (Bible, a good devotional book, a journal, pen, etc.)

The second part of the book is broken down into categories of our lives – different problems and issues we face. She begins a chapter with a very real experience from her life, or a story from someone else’s life. Then she gives many examples of Scriptures and example prayers to pray from those verses. Some example categories are : 1. When You’re Overwhelmed, 2. Your Marriage, and 3. When You’re Despairing. This will be a great resource in the years to come when I am needing strength in a certain area. She has done a lot of work, having several Scripture passages for each subject.

This is a great resource for anyone who wants to grow in the area of prayer!

I received the book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

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I was greatly helped and convicted by this book. It talks about the greatest sin, pride, and how it affects even the “best” Christians. The author warns Christians against comparing themselves to others, and “accidentally” believing they are somehow better.

A few points that really stood out to me:

“Most of our most heated disputes are not about matters that, when we get them wrong, will send us to hell. Granted, many are about important things – very important thing s- but it’s a stretch to call them eternal.And that’s why it’s also a stretch to think that God approves when we let our pursuit of theological uniformity escalate to the point that it tears apart his family or closes up the Bible.”

– It’s not up to us to make sure everyone else fits our definition of following Christ.

“‘Hate the sin, but love the sinner.’ It’s usually applied to our relationship with people outside the faith. But it also needs to be applied to our fellow believers…”

– We need to learn to be kind, and practice grace with our fellow believers, instead of judging every little mistake! Does God do that to us? No. He is so merciful, and we are so unworthy.

“Following Jesus is not a race to see who can be the most radical, sacrificial, knowledgeable, or quickest to burn out. It’s not a contest to see who’s willing to take the hardest road.”

– We are all made differently. On purpose. By our Creator. He has given us different gifts, abilities  and desires. He wants us to do different thing. We are all members of one body, but we are different parts. Just because a fellow church member doesn’t share my passion for one area of ministry, does not mean he is a lesser Christian.

I would greatly recommend this book. It’s a very powerful wake-up call to help us truly follow Christ, and not become a Pharisee, accidentally.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

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Jesus Is ___ by Judah Smith

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This book was incredible! Jesus is your Friend. Jesus is grace. Through each section and chapter, your eyes will be opened to how simple it really is to live for Jesus. Not that it’s easy, but it’s simple. He made it simple when He died for you. He took care of the payment for your sin, freeing you to live life to its fullest!

I was so convicted as Mr. Smith talked about the badness scale we keep in our Christian lives and even our churches. We label others as sinning, you know, the really bad sinners. And we label ourselves as just “messing up.” It’s so wrong! It’s prideful to think Christ’s blood covered us easily, but it would be so hard for it to cover “those really bad sinners.” Really eye-opening. We pride ourselves on being “separated” when Jesus clearly spent time with sinners. He loved the sinners without immediately trying to tell them how bad they are. They became changed because they met Jesus, not because they were separated from.

One of the things that really stuck with me was him talking about his marriage. The author said that his wife was so wonderful and that their marriage was so great because of her. He said he had never thought, “Hey, I could cheat on her and she would forgive me!” No! Her faithfulness and love for him had drawn him to want to be faithful to her, not take advantage of her goodness! He said he was not being faithful to marriage; he was being faithful to a person! And when you meet Jesus, you want to be faithful to Him! When some find out about grace, they think, “Oh, so I can do whatever I want and God has to forgive me.” God will always forgive. But once you really meet Jesus, and you meet grace, you will want to be faithful to Him. Mr. Smith said, “I’ve learned that unless its too good to be true, it’s probably not grace.”

Throughout this book, I was helped and challenged. The only thing I thought could have been presented differently was the gospel message. It seemed weak to me. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” was quoted in a different version, and that was basically all. There was no mention in this section about any of the famous Romans Road Scriptures. I just thought it could have been handled more thoroughly. Toward the back of the book, there was a little more about “falling short” of the glory of God. However, this book was basically written to Christians, and the weak gospel presentation doesn’t change the great thought of the book!

This was a completely fresh view of Christianity. The Bible never changes, and neither does the truth within its pages, but over time, men change what it means, and how it lived out. This book did away with some of the “rules” we Christians have come up with over the past several years, and gave me a truer view of who Jesus is!

I highly recommend this book! There are some things that I would not completely agree with, but those things don’t taint the message presented in Jesus Is___.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holley Gerth

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This book was very encouraging from the first page. Holley seemed like a friend sitting down to chat with you about your life! She helped you discover what it is that you believe God wants you to do, the desires of your heart, your motives behind your goals… and your true dreams.

To me, this seemed more like a commission to do what God wants you to do, how He wants you to do it, the way to serve God with all your heart. She dispelled the fears that we are not good enough to serve God. We are His, He has given us desires, and the talents to carry them out!

A few subjects she touches on:

  • Overcoming your fears
  • Stop sabotaging yourself
  • When your dreams go wrong

She finishes out the book with stories of ordinary women who followed God’s heart and the dreams He put in theirs. They did amazing things in God’s strength, and as Holley says, I can too! I really enjoyed reading that through Christ’s strength, I can serve Him and I can make a difference!

Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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“…whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Yesterday, my husband and I were out together. You know, that rare time alone.

We were Christmas shopping for our children. Later in the evening, we checked in to a hotel. We went to check out the fitness center. The tv was playing. That was the first I knew of the precious children and teachers who were killed. It’s so, so sad. I cannot imagine being one of those parents, looking at the presents wrapped for their 6-year-old daughter, already under the Christmas tree. I imagine them remembering the night before when she picked up that gift and shook it, trying to guess what was inside.

I don’t know the details of the shooting, and I don’t want to know. I didn’t read anything about it until just a few hours ago. I read the post that listed all their names and birthdates.

It broke my heart.

It made me feel like a shallow Christian. What am I doing for eternity? It is God that these people need. Not just the victims, but the shooter. He needed Christ. He needed the gospel.

So many are saying, “Teachers need guns!” No doubt it would’ve stopped today’s tragedy! I wish they had been armed!

But what about reaching the heart? What about reaching the lost and broken before they “snap?”

What can I do? How can I help do my part to see that the gospel reaches the hopeless?

I turned to the Psalms. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3).

I want everything I do in this life to be prospered by the Lord. I want Him to give it His blessing. I want Him to give it a little nudge that gives it more power! I want to raise my children to serve God with all their hearts!

How can I prosper like this? How can God use me? Verse 2 says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

As we read God’s Word, it transforms us. It gives us confidence when we are timid, words when we are speechless, boldness when we are afraid. If I live in His Word daily, He will make me just what He wants me to be!

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As I thought on this, I asked the Lord to show me where to apply this! Immediately He brought to my mind a new ministry I am going to head up this coming year. I am so excited about it! It is a great opportunity to reach people! It is for young mothers. What better place to work than with those who are raising the next generation? I am praying that souls will be saved, and that these young women will determine to raise their children as they cling to the Word of God. I pray their children will grow up to live for God and love others, not hurt them!

May God forgive me on those Saturday nights when I dread the next morning. May He forgive me when I complain about not having enough money for things I want. May He especially forgive me when I complain about my messy house… at least my children are safe in their beds.

May He use me and help all I do for Him to prosper!

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The Cry

I was in my room, catching up on facebook after a busy day. Checking my emails, getting sidetracked… you know.

The boys were still sleeping, my hubby was off to work, Eva was toddling around.

Then I heard it… the cry.

I went to check on Eva to see what was wrong. She loves to climb on the back of the couch and look out the picture window. But she is still so tipsy. So she had fallen over onto the end table beside the couch. It was actually quite funny! She wasn’t hurt, but she couldn’t move. 🙂 I laughed at her, but picked her up and kissed her.

Sometimes we cry to the Father because we are overwhelmed. We aren’t always hurt, but we are trapped. We can’t move. We don’t know what to do, or where to go. So we cry! He wants us to cry! He wants us to reach out to Him when we just have fallen on our faces and need help getting up.

When we cry, He will come. And that makes me feel so loved.

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Live Your Life With Joy!

“But none of these things move me,

neither count I my life dear unto myself,

so that I might finish my course with joy…”

Why do we need joy?

  • The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
  • When we cease to be joyful in the Lord, we aren’t very affective, are we? Can someone in a bad mood be a blessing to anyone? (the answer is “no”)
  • Does the world want what we have if we are miserable? (I doubt it.)
  • When I don’t have joy, even if I am quiet about it, it affects my family. When I’m grumpy, my family knows this, and my children’s moods often mirror mine!

What hinders our joy?

  • Things “moving us” like our verse speaks of. If something “moves me,” it will rob my joy. When we let life’s circumstances move us, it will take our joy away! Paul, in this passage, did not have much longer to live. And he knew it. His life as a Christian had SO many hardships as given in II Corinthians 11. But all these circumstances wouldn’t “move” him. He didn’t get off course! Life can be hard! If a loved one dies, or is diagnosed with cancer, or walks away from God, I’m not suggesting you walk around with a smile on your face. It’s okay to be sad and grieve . It’s okay to take time to rest. Just don’t let your course be altered!
  • If I “count I my life dear unto myself.” The work of the Lord is more important than myself! The apostle Paul was ready to die! We have to be ready to live a living death. A sacrificial life, where we are more concerned with others, and the Lord…more than ourselves. For me, taking care of my husband and my children is a more important job than anything I want to do. In my life’s course, this is the section of the race that I am in. It has hurdles! (called small children!) 🙂 Whatever season of life you are in, do that work for Christ! I recently read a book called The Stay at Home Mom. In that book, the author did a beautiful job of making me see that taking care of my children is great ministry for Christ! Doing a service for my children is doing it for Him! Remember in Matthew the passage where Jesus told the disciples that He was sick, and they cared for Him, in prison, and they visited Him? He said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” I am doing it for Him when I take care of my little people. In my life, I am Christ to my children. Until they can see Him for themselves, I am all Him they know. My relationship with them – how I love them, how I deal with them – gives them a picture of the Heavenly Father. My time with them is too short, too important not to live with joy! When I lose my joy, I am useless!

How do we get joy?

  • Jesus is your joy! If you have trusted Him as your personal Savior, He is your joy! You already have Him.
  • “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8) Spend time in His Word, and you will become more like Him, more joyful!
  • Keep your spirits up with practical things – surround yourself with happy people, play refreshing music, read encouraging books! Keep your head full of good things so there is no room for unhappy, discontented thoughts to take over.

Picture your course. How is it laid out? What sections have you gone through? Part of it has been smooth track, part of it has had hurdles, maybe part has gone through a lonely desert with heat and thirst. Now picture an Olympic athlete. Have you ever seen a track runner go through that finish line, the tape breaking across her chest, and NOT smile?! No way!

Let’s finish the course with joy!

 

Did you know????

Laughter is good for your health!

  • A good hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. It improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Mental health benefits:

  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and fear
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances resilience

{I googled, therefore it must be true}

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