Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The First Hostage by Joel C. Rosenberg


I am a book reviewer for a couple of publishing companies, but I'm reviewing this book just because it's THAT good and I hope you'll go get it and read it for yourself!!

First, you need to know it's the second book in a series.  The first book of the series is The Third Target and it's a very good book.  But I'm going to say this is probably my favorite book I've read in about 10 years! And I think it's Joel C. Rosenberg's best book ever!  (I've read them all!)  The 2nd thing you need to know is that Joel C. Rosenberg has a political background.  He's worked in the U.S. government and the Israeli government.  He's a Messianic Jew and has his finger on the pulse of the geopolitical world and senses what is coming down the pike.  You would think he's a prophet if you read his books because so many of the situations in his books have actually come to pass after his book went to print, but he disclaims that theory.

Even though this book is a work of fiction, you feel like it's a report coming out of the Middle East.  J.B. Collins, a reporter for the New York Times is involved with world leaders who are meeting in Jordan for the signing of a peace treaty.  But it's at that very moment ISIS attacks and kills hundreds of world leaders and captures the president of the United States!  The rest of the book is J.B.'s search for the president, the story of the century, and an awareness that his brother's and mother's prayers are protecting him.

I won't lie.  It's an intense story.  And I could have read it in one evening...but I wanted to savor it and make it last as long as I could.  So I made it last two days.  ;)  But I'm about to pick it up and read it again...tonight.

It's that good.


Monday, January 11, 2016

A Hop, Skip & A Jump!

I've always told you I'd prepare you for things to come.  But let me just say this at the outset:  "Purpose in your minds and hearts to enjoy each moment God has for you!"  

I read a meme this morning which said, "I thought growing old would take longer."  Seriously.

  • One day you're sitting in school looking out the window wondering if you'll ever be out of school and get to make your own decisions.  
  • The next minute you're married with babies.  This season seems like it will never end!
  • And then your children start school.  It's a moment for celebration--you have your life back--for a moment--only a moment!
  • But then your children enter middle school and with all of their activities, you blink and they've graduated.
  • Your children consecutively leave home, go to college, get married, and start having babies.
  • You get to relive all of those baby and little kid moments--savoring them this time--because you're not responsible for the hard things.  You get to enjoy and encourage.  


  • You watch them grow and want it all to stop.  If only you could keep them little.



  • You realize you can't slow the process down and soon you'll be starting the process all over again.
Savor each moment.  Invest in this time.  


Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Tooth Fairy Story


In honor of Zach's 31st birthday, I'm telling this story....

This is about the age Zach was when David lost his first tooth.  David & Zach shared a bedroom at the time. Actually, the two of them shared a bedroom with their big sister because we lived in a 2-bedroom apartment...but that's another story.  David was so excited over losing his first tooth!!  It was a big deal.  When our kids lost their first tooth, the Tooth Fairy brought them $5.  David couldn't wait to put his tooth under his pillow and go to sleep to find that $5 the next morning.  Zach, on the other hand, became hysterical!  He didn't want that Tooth Fairy coming into his room!!!  I tried to explain how nice she was and that he had nothing to be afraid of, but he couldn't be consoled.  So...I did the only thing a good mother could do.

I took Zach into my bedroom and told him I was going to tell him a secret--something he couldn't tell his brothers or sister.  I was whispering for good effect.  I said, "Zach, I'm the Tooth Fairy!"  A look of unbelief crossed his face and he said, "Uh-uh."  I shook my head 'yes' and assured him I was the Tooth Fairy.  "In fact," I told him, "I'll put a dime under your pillow tonight so you'll know I'm the Tooth Fairy."  I was pretty sure I had him convinced but he just kept staring at me.  Finally, he looked at me in wonder and asked, "How do you get to all those houses every night??"

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZACHARY!!  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Creative Grandkids

I've spent the morning looking at my old YouTube videos of my grandkids and I am just wildly crazy about them and their creativity!!  Some of them will want me to delete these, but all I can say to that is, "It could have been so much more embarrassing!"  As you will see--I have some gifted and talented grandkids--and some who have yet to develop beautiful skills and talents.  Most of these videos are at least two years old--so their skills are even more perfected now.  And of course, each of them have talents which exceed one post.  ;)


Matt's daughter, Caitlin, has a beautiful voice!  She lived with us a couple of months and scheduled voice lessons with Pops every day....or almost.  

Matt's daughter, Alexis, has been a gifted dancer for years.
She now performs in Nutcracker.

These are Amy's kids--Isaac (drums), Josiah (piano) 
and Olivia & Dassie dancing.  Each gifted!

This is Addie & Ryan, David's kids, playing a piano duet they wrote.

This is Zach's oldest son, Dax, singing.

video
Gus, Zach's youngest son, doing a magic trick!

video
And, of course, this is where all those mad skills come from!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Guilt


You would not believe how often I am motivated by guilt.
  • I should take a meal to that family.
  • I should go visit that sick person.
  • I should invite those people over.
  • I should help in the nursery.
  • I should give money to that ministry.
Are any of those things wrong?  Absolutely not!  But to do anything out of guilt is the wrong motivation.  The sad thing is...I didn't even realize I was being motivated by guilt.  Thoughts go through our minds every.single.day that are not our own thoughts.  Satan speaks to us in first person singular ("I should") so that we think those thoughts are our own.  He knows if he said, "You should" we'd be tipped off that he was telling us those things.  So that tricky devil tries to make us think what he's saying to us originates in our own minds.  That I was aware of!  So it's even more puzzling that I didn't realize the enemy was trying to motivate me out of guilt.  But I guess it had been going on so long that I wasn't even aware.

Guilt is a poor motivator.  Who wants someone doing something for you when they're doing it out of guilt?  Do you want your children coming to visit you because they feel guilty?  Do you want a gift given to you out of guilt?  Will you do some things you don't particularly want to do--even without guilt?  Sure!!  But the difference is you can do it because you LOVE that person, that church, that ministry.  

How do you stop the guilt?  When a thought comes into your mind of "I should"....STOP!  Stop and examine that thought.  Why do you think you should?  Is it because you're feeling guilty?  Then don't do anything until you ask God if you should do that thing.  And then don't do it until you can do it out of love.  Sometimes that will come quickly and other times it may take a bit.  But the more you practice this, the freer you will become until one day you'll realize you're motivated purely by love.  

I know the way...now I need to practice it.

"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
Romans 12:2 NLT


Monday, January 4, 2016

I Do It Myself!


It was so cute that Christmas morning when Matthew opened his first pair of cowboy boots.  He was so excited!  You see, my mom had taken him shopping just a couple of weeks before at the local western wear store and they had tried on those cowboy boots.  Matt cried when they left the store--he wanted those boots!  He certainly didn't understand delayed gratification at 17-months-old.  And honestly, I thought cowboy boots were the answer to all my little-boy-shoe-wearing-problems.  Easy to slip on and ready to go!  I couldn't have been more wrong.


You see that proud little face right there?  He had helped put on his own cowboy boots.  And this was one determined little dude.  It would have been an easy thing to put those cowboy boots on every morning--if he had let me help.  But Matt came out of the womb strong willed.  Those boots became a source of contention in our lives.


Matt & Amy were only 1 year and 1 day apart.  So I'd spend a good deal of time each morning just getting them ready.  And if I had somewhere to go?  I'd get Matt ready first and give him his boots so he'd have a head start while I got Amy ready.  I remember one morning when I was in a hurry to get somewhere and he was determinedly trying to get his boots on.  I told him I was going to have to help him so we could go and his famous reply was, "I do it myself!"  Oh the battles!! I'm pretty sure that was the last pair of cowboy boots Matt ever owned.

How many times have I done that with God?  He's handed me a task that is meant to bless me and to demonstrate His great power and I'm screaming, "I do it myself!"  I miss the whole blessing God intended it to be because of my strong will.  God never intended for us to do this life alone.  Anything He's asked us to do, He stands ready to help.  He doesn't want to see what we can do--He wants the world to see what He can do through us.


And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever—  John 14:16

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Manipulating God


I recently had an experience I'd like to share.  A person invited me to their home...but it wasn't an ordinary invitation.  There was guilt involved.  Now I've learned what manipulation and control look like and I try not to respond to it.  But after a couple of days (and feeling guilty that I hadn't responded yet), I went to visit them.  They were so anxious to have me there!  But it wasn't a friendly interaction.  It was almost as if this person was panicked that I would leave--fearful of being left alone.  So they kept suggesting things to do.  I had no desire to do the things they were suggesting, but I tried to remain friendly and made a couple of suggestions of my own.  We did some of those things and then they turned on the TV--so loudly we couldn't carry on a conversation.  I thought it strange when they'd been so anxious for me to come and visit!  When I was about to leave (after what I considered a lengthy stay), they were very vocal about their needs, what they needed me to do for them, and how often I should come and visit them.  They even told me I wasn't dressing correctly as a pastor's wife.  There was nothing in me wanting to stay in their presence!  I was anxious to leave.

After I got home, I began thinking on that experience.  And because I've learned that when I'm critical of someone else, it's as if God has put a mirror in front of me.  He's wanting me to examine and see if those same things are true of me.  So I took a step back and asked, "God...do I do that to You?"  And I knew immediately that I did.

There are times I use scripture to try and manipulate God.  I remind Him of things He's done in the past to try and make Him do those things for me.  I'm fearful He's not going to do them.  I'm fearful He's not going to answer my prayers and spend time with me.  I ask Him to come and visit with me and then I get distracted--with TV or Facebook and end up leaving Him sitting there not being able to communicate with me at all.  I keep trying to tell Him what I think we should go do and don't even listen to His suggestions.  I become very vocal about my needs--but the way I've interacted with Him can't be appealing to Him at all.  I've even been critical of God and what He does or doesn't do for me.

What an amazing way God has given me to see myself and my actions.  I don't want to quench the Spirit of God!!  I don't want to be a bad host of His presence.  I don't want to be a manipulator or use guilt.  I want true relationship, friendship, and enjoyment of one another.  And to have that, I have to change my ways.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Building an igloo


Zach & his boys made the beginnings of an igloo while they were here after the Blizzard of 2015.  As I thought about New Year's Day, new beginnings, and what I desired for the coming year, this photo came to mind.

My life is a series of events which God has used to shape me.  There's not one thing that has been wasted in my life.  In fact, if I believe God's Word (and I do!), He tells me that "He works all things for my good."  I picture Him taking a handful of my "stuff" and fashioning it into a building block--which He is using to create the completion of ME!  He takes the works, obedience, love and good things I do and uses them.  He also takes my mistakes, my sin, my flesh and uses them.  And in fact, if I believe this...I can't fail if I'm His child.  He uses everything that happens in my life for His purposes and His glory!  This morning, I read the story of Paul becoming irritated with the demon possessed girl who was following him around and he cast the demon out of her.  He ended up in prison because of it...but because of being in prison, he led the jailer to Jesus.  We have the advantage of looking at Paul's life and seeing how each event built onto another to create this man God used mightily!

My prayer for 2016 is that God will let my building blocks take form.  I know He's done some incredible things in me and used mistakes and events to change me.  He's created me with design and purpose.  I want to fulfill that purpose for which He has created me.  I want to see Him do great and mighty things through me--because of His power at work within me.

I want to be a beautiful, useful creation of His hands...for His glory and for His kingdom.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016--The Year of Release!



I spent New Year's Day creating a photo book of 2015.  As I looked back over the past year, I was amazed that God could cram so much into one year!  I'm even more amazed that I'm still standing.  I laughed over a lot of the photos, was sad over a few because of the changes they brought, and even grieved as I thought back on all of the losses I faced.  Needless to say, 2015 was a tough, action-packed year.

What do I desire for 2016?   Well...God & I talked about that this morning.  Here's what I told Him:
"God, I want to live in the deep place of Your affection and Your passion.  I want to delight in You!!  I rejoice in You.  I take pleasure in You!!  I want a new intimacy with You.  I want to live in the place of Your indulgence, Your pleasure.
I also want to be intentional this year.  I want to be intentional in pouring myself into other people.  But first, I want this year to be a year of intentionally spending time with You, hearing You, being sourced by You--and then doing the same with others.  I know I need to become unplugged to do that.  Please hear my heart...I want to do that."

And then He spoke to my heart:
"Becky, I release you into your purpose.  I release you to have some FUN and relaxation.  I release you to ENJOY life!!  I release you to love deeply and to bless others.  I release you to care.  I release you from the hold of social media.  I release you to focus on Me and hear Me.  I release you to know the way to go.  I release you to belly-laugh with Me & others.  I release you to deep relationship with your family.  I release you to be real and honest.  I release you from frustration, doubt, negativity, fear, critical thinking, judgment.  I release you to love, truth, a positive spirit, acceptance.  I drop you into place--the place I designed just for you--and have prepared you for.  I release you to My very best this year, Becky--look for it, expect it!  Let's do some amazing things together!  I want you released, Becky.  I want your purpose for My kingdom released.  I want your laughter released.  I want your future released.  I release you from struggle.  I release you to flow.  You have all of heaven available to you.  Now--go for it!"

I believe He wants to release you, too.