Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ever Wonder If You Can Have MORE Joy in Your Life?

Can everyone experience joy?

Is there a formula for joy in life?

Are some people just naturally more happy and joyful?

These are a few of the issues contemplated in This Is Your Brain On Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin. Henslin takes his personal experience as a therapist coupled with the research and work of Dr. Daniel J. Amen, a psychiatrist who has spent his career studying the brain, and shares the functions and dysfunctions present in the brain. In addition to covering healthy brain function in the five "Mood Centers" of the brain, Henslin also discusses several common medical diagnoses including ADD and Depression. A holistic approach to a healthy brain, this interesting and thoughtful book shares medicinal and herbal recommendations as well as suggesting various exercise, nutrition and even musical and cinematic therapies for increasing joy.

Admittedly, this book took me a few tries before I got interested. The beginning seemed bogged down in details and medical terminology. But, once I got through the first couple of chapters, I was hooked! I took the "Amen Brain System Checklist" and was amazed at how accurately it described me. And, I immediately read the chapters that related to me specifically.

The most compelling aspect of this book was that it combined our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves ... something that many "self-help" books miss. By recognizing how integral good nutrition, proper rest and exercise, healthy relationships, and a sense of spiritual well-being are to a healthy brain function - and healthy living on the whole - Dr. Henslin, offers the reader a great deal to consider and implement to improve his or her "joy quotient."

Overall, I feel this book is well worth the read but you should realize there are some places that are a little slow. I received this book as a part of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program.

Rating: 4 stars

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Amazing Book ... The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Walking through life, we often fail to notice the people around us. And, due to our own self-focus, we miss the opportunity to see the richness of our own lives. Andy Andrews captures the importance of being intentionally aware of those around us in his latest work, The Noticer.

Andrews shares his relationship with Jones, a sage drifter who he first meets under a pier in Orange Beach, AL. Andrews, at the time homeless, is intrigued by Jones and listens carefully to Jones’ instructions on perspective.

Throughout the book, a quick and pleasurable read, Jones interacts with many different people - each at a point of despair and in need of refocus. Through Jones’ conversations with various characters, Andrews shares with the reader how important relationships and perspective are in life’s great journey. And, as he notices more, so do we.

By the end of Andrews’ story, I found myself wishing for my own conversation with this man who touched lives and never seemed to allow life’s difficulties to touch him. The Noticer is, like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a timeless tale of how little we understand the impact each of us can have on the world around us.

This is a book I will certainly read many times for a reminder of the significance of relationships. I highly recommend The Noticer. A poignant story with a purpose … the type of book we need more of!

Rating: 5 stars

Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger …

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending April 25, 2009

It has been a wonderful week! I continue to be amazed at how amazing my life is ... I am married to the most loving, considerate, caring, generous & godly man I've ever met, my daughter is proving to be one of the most fun people ever, I have a fantastic family (and great in-laws), and my friends are true blessings. I have found myself in a bit of a funk the past couple of weeks and have been stressed out (more on that in the list to come) ~ but always there has been a reminder from the Lord of His great love and provision for me. What more could anyone ask for than a life filled with love, grace, and lots of fun!

And, so, without further adieu, my Fab Five for this past week ....

1. SCOTT IS HOME!!! Without a doubt the very best thing that happened this week was when I was talking to Scott on Sunday afternoon and I asked him what he was doing and he said, "Driving home." He had originally planned to come home Monday but instead drove home Sunday and I have never been so happy to see anyone as I was to see that man Sunday night!! He still takes my breath away and, as I wrote on my FB status, "My heart was finally whole again" when he walked in the door.

2. Antibiotics ... I've had my first encounter with Shingles and must say that I am so very thankful for antibiotics to help deal with that. What a blessing modern medicine is!! (And special thanks to Patti for working so hard to get the best price for these meds!! And for taking such good care of me!! You are a godsend!!) Apparently shingles is not something that just happens to "old people" as I had thought ... and so, the stress of the past few weeks found its outlet in a very nasty and painful rash on my neck & shoulders. It was not fun at all. I am hoping that I'll be one of those people who has one outbreak and never has another.

3. Mrs. Warren ... Casiday has the sweetest, most fun teacher this year. (I <3 you, Sally!!) This week has been CRCT testing and I have so appreciated how Mrs. Warren has worked with the children to get them ready without stresssing them out. And, on Friday she had Spa Day for them! Such fun!!

4. Cleaning my house ... I know, a crazy thing to be thankful for, but really I am just thankful to have a home to clean. So many people are facing enormous difficulties during these trying times and I am enormously grateful for what I have and, moreso, for the faithfulness of God to me in all times - trying and not-so-trying.

5. Encouragement ... This week has been filled with people who have just taken time to encourage me. From little notes to stronger words of challenge, I have been blessed this week by so many who have spoken to my heart and, in so many different ways, lightened my load. Again, I just feel overwhelmed by the vastness of God's provision for me. And so humbled by the people who love me and accept me. What a precious gift!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending April 18, 2009

Okay, a little late ... but, here goes.

1. Suprises! I got to give Scott a GREAT surprise last week for Easter ... a 32-gig iPod Touch! He was shocked ... and I never get to give him that kind of great surprise. So it was awesome to be able to do that. He has a big iPod classic already but had been wanting a Touch for a while so ... now he has one!!

2. Barbara Jean's ... my favorite restaurant on St. Simon's Island. Our dear friends Jay & Valerie took Casiday & I there to eat on Friday night while Scott was gone. They had never been ... I think it is now one of their favorite places too.

3. Starbucks skinny vanilla lattes with a shot of raspberry ... YUMMY!!

4. Text messaging ... my favorite way to take a moment to quickly remind people I love them and am thinking of them.

5. Making things! This week I made several gifts for some very special people and put them in the mail. Now I'm waiting to hear when they arrive. Such fun to try to create something that will be just perfect for a friend I love!!

Scott came home Sunday ... so that doesn't make the list for last week ... but rest assured that will be on next week's list! He surprised me by coming home a day early. I love that man!!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

What are you becoming?

Philippians 3:9 ~ And become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Yesterday our pastor preached on justification - that process by which we are made right with God through the blood of Christ. It was a great sermon. One of the concepts Pastor Tim made very clear is how thoroughly Christ has paid the ransom for our sin. "Justification is not the same as a pardon which merely eliminates the punishment but does not make someone not guilty. Christ not only takes our sin -giving us our salvation - He also gives us His righteousnes - giving us justification before the Holy God." Wow ... that is just huge!! I grew up in church. I've heard sermons on justification before ... got the pithy sayings like, "Justification is just as if I'd never sinned." For some reason, though, right now, I'm overwhelmed by the depth of God's love for me and Christ's willingness to ransom me. Isaiah 43 speaks to the idea of God ransoming other nations for His beloved Israel ... and so, we too have had a ransom paid on our behalf.

Below is the reading about justification that was done in our services yesterday. Amazing how many verses speak to the gift of justification ... a gift received by faith.

To do justice, vindicate, aquit, to prove right
“In the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified” (Is.45:25)
“The Righteous One, my Servant, will justify the many” (Is. 53:11)
Right, righteous, righteousness, justify
“Justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24)
“A man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28)
“Having been justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9)
“Through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Rom. 5:18)
“God is the One who justifies” (Rom. 8:33)
“We may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law” (Gal. 2:16)
“Being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of life” (Titus 3:17)
Through Christ
His righteousness becomes our righteousness
Through Him we are declared “Not Guilty!”
Through Him we are reconciled to God.
Through His blood we are redeemed.
Through His love we are adopted.
Through His grace we are justified.

Justified ... declared "Not guilty!" And what, then, should be our response to this profound gift? Paul articulated his response in Philippians 3:9 ... "and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith" (NLT, emphasis added).

"Become one with him" ... becoming. I believe it was Kieerkegaard who said that our goal should always be "becoming" not "being" ... for as long as we recognize we are becoming we will never grow satisfied or complacent in our walk with Christ. The best response to Christ's ransom paid for us is to become one with Him. Understanding how this works can be helped by recognizing three truths about "becoming."

1. "Becoming" is the reality! No matter how mature we are in Christ, no matter how close to Him we are ... there is always more to learn, more to understand, more to experience. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6 that we will be perfected "the day of Christ Jesus" ~ when we see Him face to face. We must understand that we are always becoming ... either we are becoming more like Christ or we are becoming less like Him. There is no way NOT to become.

2. "Becoming" is the process! There is no standing still our Christian walk. We need to realize, though, that becoming like Christ is a process. It requires discipline, dedication, and desire. We must focus ourselves on being faithful to do those things that lead to intimacy with Him. Spending time in the Word, prayer and meditation, making choices to focus on Him instead of ourselves. These are a few of the steps in the process of becoming like Christ. And we must embrace the simple truth that the relationship is built over time ... time spent together.

3. Finally, "becoming" is the journey! So often I have been waiting for the "Big Event" in my Christian life. I get consumed with expecting something huge to happen and then I miss so much of what God has for me. I am finally beginning to understand that becoming like Christ IS the big event ... and that happens on every path along my life's journey. Even when I have strayed from God's plan for me, He has taught me and protected me and loved me. My life has had many twists and turns ~ some as a result of my own poor choices and sinful behavior and others, merely the result of a fallen world. There have been great mountain moments when I have felt and experienced the vastness of God's love for me in a powerful way. And there have been valleys, dark valleys ~ valleys where I have walked in the shadow of death, faced loss that seemed overwhelming, and asked questions that have no earthly answer ~ and, yet, in those darkest times, I have found God's light still shines and offers me hope. I hope I never am guilty again of waiting on that "Big Event' ... but that my life's journey is marked by daily, momentary little events of seeking God, trusting God, and resting in Him.

"Becoming" is such a precious thing. It is our sacrificial response to the gift of justification. And Paul gives us three milestones along the way ...

"I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law" ~ realizing that I cannot do it!

"I trust Christ to save me" ~ accepting that His sacrifice is sufficient in all ways, at all times, for all people, including me!

"Depends on faith" ~ the hard part! Becoming requires believing. As Pastor Tim demonstrated yesterday, we can KNOW all about a chair ... it's design and description ... but until we SIT in the chair, we don't BELIEVE it can hold us. Faith requires acting on what we say we know. And it is only through faith that we can "become one with Him."

So, I'm wondering ... .what am I becoming? A person who daily is more like Christ ... more "one with Him"? What about you? What areyou becoming?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fab Five ... Week ending April 11, 2009

It's been a great week! Spring Break ... gotta love that!!

1. Having a daughter! I love being the mom of a girl ... so much fun. We went to a sleepover Sunday night and had the best time. And I think about my relationship with my mom and I look forward to the future relationship with my sweet Casiday Hope.

2. Sales ... the really good kind. Where you get basically half - price on everything you buy!! I really like that and I hit the jackpot (finally!) when I bought my Easter outfit this year.

3. Ice cream. 'Nough said.

4. Free long distance! I get to talk to my sistah (sister-in-law) Beth whenever I want thanks to this great thing.

5. Laughter ... so much of this in my life. Another great thing!

Amazed ...

And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from faith in God and is by faith. Philippians 3:9 NIV

And become one with Him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's Law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. Philippians 3:9 NLT

And be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ - the righteousness from God based on faith. Philippians 3:9 HCSB

What a great verse for this Saturday before Easter! Just considering the profoundness of His great sacrifice and the amazing grace I do not deserve is overwhelming at all times ~ but more so as we pause to reflect deeply on the reality of what He endured physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and socially. That my righteousness can ONLY come through faith in Christ is one of those truths that I often let slip right by.

I love the NLT on this verse ... "I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's Law, but I trust Christ to save me." Isn't that the crux of our "Sinner's Prayer" .. that most simple declaration of understanding. I am sinful but You, O God, are holy. And I need You. So I trust Your plan for reconciliation even though I don't understand HOW or WHY ... I take you, God of Truth, at Your eternal, unchanging Word. Most simply said by Pastor Rick Warren, "It's not about me." And once we realize that ... oh, the freedom that follows.

Paul understood this. He had tried to be right through the Law, through his lineage, and through legalism. Not one of those met that need deep within ... and then he met the Light of the World. He was transformed and was able to write, "For if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation! The old is gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

And so, we find him, late in life, writing to his beloved church in Philippi. Once again sharing that simple truth ... the sufficiency of grace and the necessity of faith. Having shared that all the things he once valued are now trash to him and that the only pursuit of value is knowing Christ, Paul offers to them the simple message of the Gospel ... righteousness, rightness with God, comes not through what we do but entirely through Christ's provision. A gift we are freely offered, a gift accepted through faith in Jesus Christ. Is there a better message for Easter? Is there a better message for any day?

Today, I pray that I grasp the reality of Christ's great love. I am listening to Pandora right now ... "Amazed" is playing. And it so captures my heart right now.

Artist: Lincoln Brewster
Album: All to You... Live
Date: 2005

(verse 1)
You dance over me while I am unaware
You sing all around but I never hear the sound

Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
And how You love me

(verse 2)
You paint the morning sky with miracles in mind
My hope will always stand
For You hold me in Your hand

How deep how wide
How great is Your love for me
May I never cease to be amazed at the vast love of God ... how deep, how wide, how great utterly unbelievable and undeserved. May my declaration be the same as Paul's ~ My righteousness is not of me but only, ever, always, entirely of Christ through my faith in Him to the great glory of God Almighty who loved me and sent His Son for my ransom, to pay my price. To Him and Him alone be all glory, honor and praise for now and forever. Amen.

Fab Five ... Week ending April 4, 2009

Posted a week late on Blogger ... but was actually posted last week on FB. Oops!! :)

We've had a great week! Scott continues to do well which is, of course, the biggest item on my list of thanks!! But, here is a few other things I am loving from last week ....

1. MAIL ... Real mail. Handwritten cards and letters, placed in envelopes with stamps. You know the kind people take time to put in the mailbox and it arrives a few days later. I love getting mail. And this week I got some sweet cards from some great people who I love so much. And even got a package in the mail from me wonderful friend Christina! I love mail!!

2. J. Jill ... I love this store/catalog/website! Great clothes that are incredibly comfy. I highly recommend anything from J. Jill ~ plus they have a great clearance section on their website.

3. Family Dinner ... a lost art during these busy days and in this crazy world we live in. But I am really committed to making sure we eat together as much as possible throughout the week. And there is just something so great about eating at home with my family.

4. HGTV ... So the past few weeks we have sorta gotten into this habit of watching HGTV when Scott comes home for lunch. It's nice to watch the transformations and dream about some of the things we would like to do in our house someday.

5. Michael's $1 bins ... I love Michael's!! And I especially love pilfering through the $1 bins ... and this week I got to do that with Karen which just made it even more fun!