Fall Is In Full Swing

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You can tell that school is back in session simply by looking around my home. Flip flops have been exchanged for tennis shoes. Backpacks, assignments and supplies can be seen throughout the living room.

The summer went entirely too fast, but I love the idea of starting fresh each school year. The blank notebooks and sharpened pencils eagerly awaiting the possibilities that this year holds.

You may not be going back to school or have children to get ready, but it is also a great time to be thinking about a new Bible study to dive into. We each are to be students of the Word. But, how to you determine what study to select?

It can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to begin. The endless lists on a google search or rows of titles on the shelf can leave you confused. I completely understand. However, there is a very simple solution.

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The Bible Study Expo is a fabulous time to not only see a selection of new studies, but also hear directly from the authors. Marnie Swedberg does an incredible job of compiling a group of studies that reach a variety of women. The authors graciously give of their time to talk about their particular study. This enables you to find out what study will work for you or your women’s group.

The Bible Study Expo will be Thursday, August 20th from 2 – 5 EST. There are also giveaways throughout the event, so be certain to go to the website today and register. Then, schedule some time tomorrow to return to hear more about these new studies.

Starting Fresh

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I don’t know about you, but I am wondering what happened to the summer.  It seems like only yesterday the kids were coming home from their last day of school and here they are back in school.  I have to admit, I love the kids being home and able to spend time with them.  However, there is just something about getting ready to go back to school that I love.  In fact, I have always enjoyed this time.  I love the new school supplies and the anticipation of what lies ahead in the coming year — the new experiences and lessons to learn.  Sometimes I think we lose that excitement and anticipation of what lies around the bend.  As adults, we seem to dread the unknown and fear change.  I have decided that although I don’t see any more schooling in my future, I am not going to stop learning.  God’s Word is chalked full of so much knowledge that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.  I have decided to be intentional about being a student of His Word.  Just as my kids are spending time learning and expanding their knowledge base, so will I with God’s Word.  I would highly recommend if you are not currently in some sort of Bible study, whether individual or group, online or in person, to become involved in one.  I would be more than happy to recommend a study to you.  Just let me know. God has so much in store for each one of us.  We simply need to find out what He wants for us.  The only way we can effectively do that is by meeting Him daily in His Word and through prayer and then listening for His still small voice to guide us each and every day.  Look at the start of a new school year as a fresh beginning, whether you are in school or not, and take the opportunity to start fresh with your relationship with God.

Identity Crisis

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For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:13 NIV

Everyday we are bombarded with images of what we are supposed to look like and how we are supposed to act. If we aren’t careful, we can be swept into the societal belief that our worth is based on our outward appearance. When we give into this notion, we are letting society construct our identity. The real question we need to ask ourselves is where does our identity come from?

Satan knows exactly how and where to attack each one of us. He knows where we are vulnerable. Even back in the garden of Eden, he used lies and doubt to tempt Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. And he is still using the same tactics today. As Christians, we need to learn to recognize the lies and replace them with God’s truth. Satan wants us to focus on our flaws and feelings of inadequacy, and then exhaust ourselves trying to hide them…

This is a portion of an article that I have featured on Encouragement Café  and Crosswalk today. I would love for you to read and then come back and share your thoughts and something you are holding on to in the comment section.

If you read my devotion on Encouragement Café or Crosswalk and are here for the first time, Welcome. Feel free to look at the “About Me” page to learn more about me and then share something about yourself in the comment section. I would love to get to know my readers better.

Healthier You – Book Review

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With the start of school right around the corner, it is the perfect time to start fresh – spiritually, mentally and physically. If you are like me and struggle with being healthy in any of those areas, then Katie Farrell’s book, Devotions for a Healthier You, is just what the doctor ordered.

It contains 71 days of devotions. Each day there is a key verse, short devotional and prayer. These are great for anyone whose schedule is maxed out. It doesn’t take any time at all, but you enter you day filled with scripture and inspiration. Peppered throughout the 71 days, there are also dashes of inspiration and some yummy recipes, complete with mouth-watering pictures.

Katie also includes four additional things to get you off on the right foot.

  • 10 Steps to a Healthier You: concise and practical
  • Prayers for Health: short prayers focused around a particular scripture
  • Identity Scriptures: directed at our true identity in Christ, these are essential for changing from the inside out
  • One Week Meal Plan: complete with grocery list and recipes

Healthier You is filled with wonderful tips and suggestions without being overwhelming. Beautiful photographs round out this book, which is certain to be a reference on my bookshelf. I encourage you to pick a copy for yourself or a friend.

Unpacking

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I wish that we could sit together at my kitchen table with some coffee and chat. Since, that is not possible, I thought this was the next best thing. I encourage you to take a few moments and watch the video.

If you happen to have attended the Speak Up Conference this last week, I would love to connect with you. Please leave your name and your take away from the conference in the comment section.

Conference Preparations: 5 Tips

Conference session is in full swing. Since I have attended and helped with several, I thought I would share a few tips with you today. Don’t leave just yet. I think you will find a tidbit or two that will be beneficial, even if you never plan on attending a conference.

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1. New hair cut or style

The whole idea of a new hair cut may seem a little silly to you, but stick with me. If you are more confident in your appearance, then it will shine through in your actions. You will be more willing to go up and introduce yourself or even ask questions during a session. Not to mention the impact it will have in your speaking critique groups or publisher/agent appointments.

photo 12. Notes/Schedule/Bible

These items may seem a little obvious, but I assure you when you are trying to not only get your stuff together, but everything for your family lined out something maybe forgotten. You want to be prepared. Therefore, keep your speaking or writing notes together in a folder or on a thumb drive along with your conference schedule and Bible. Go ahead and put them in a briefcase or shoulder bag that you will not leave the house without.

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 3. Conference Binder

I’m certain there must be at least one person reading this blog thinking, “you’ve have got to be kidding me. This lady is taking this a little too far.” Hear me out and then decide. After attending a few conferences, I found myself constantly flipping through my purse and bag to find a business card, one-sheet or my notes. It was embarrassing, especially when you factor in the importance of a good first impression. Therefore, I now utilize a small three ring binder for all my conferences. I use baseball card holders for my business cards, placing 3-5 in each slot on two sheets. The first row on the second sheet I leave open for the cards I will be receiving. I also use the 8 1/2 x 11 sheet protectors for holding my one-sheets for publisher appointments as well as placing one in the front sleeve of the binder to potentially peak someone’s interest in my book. An additional copy of the conference schedule is placed in this binder. Everything I need is all in one location, right at my fingertips.

photo 3photo 24. Packing

Obviously, you are going to need clothes, shoes and accessories, but how do you decide what to choose? I would suggest you have a friend or spouse give their input on your possible choices to help you determine what to bring. My suggestion would be an assortment of comfortable, yet professional shoes and clothes. It helps if you can mix and match pieces, to cut down on luggage space. A quick tip on keeping your accessories straight – Ziploc bags. After trying on and selecting, not only the outfit and shoes, but also the jewelry; I will hang the clothes together until they go in the suitcase with the accessories for that particular outfit in a zip bag hung on the pant/skirt hanger. You can use this same idea when packing for a vacation with the kids – putting their socks, hair ties and jewelry in one.

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5. Prayer

I saved the most important tip for the end – prayer. You need to be praying for the event before the first session even begins. I also encourage you to ask your family and friends to come beside you and pray with you. Dear friends, make no mistake there is power in prayer. Whether you are attending a writing/speaking conference with hundreds or a little league game, you need to bathe it in prayer. God longs to be actively a part of your life. Prayer is the best way to not only talk to Him, but also listen to His still small voice as He graciously guides your steps.

Your Turn: Do you have a conference/travel tip that you would like to share today? If so, please leave it in the comment section. Also, if there is something I can pray for with you, please leave that as well. I do ask that you would keep me in your prayers over the course of the next few days as I travel to Grand Rapids to attend the Speak Up Conference.

Are We There Yet?

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 NIV

When I was growing up, I recall numerous short trips that my family would take, both near and far. So many memories wrapped tightly around these vacations. One in particular that sticks in my mind was a trip to the Dunes State Park off Lake Michigan.

Like most of our adventures, my mom had lovingly packed a cooler filled with goodies. Instead of heading straight for the beach we decided to try our hand at one of the trails. After carefully examining the map, we determined to tackle Mount Baldy. It wasn’t like we were scaling Mount Everest or even Pikes Peak, just a sand dune in Michigan. How hard could it be?

This is a portion of an article that I have featured on Encouragement Café  and Crosswalk today. I would love for you to read and then come back and share your thoughts and something you are holding on to in the comment section.

If you read my devotion on Encouragement Café or Crosswalk and are here for the first time, Welcome. Feel free to look at the “About Me” page to learn more about me and then share something about yourself in the comment section. I would love to get to know my readers better.

Can you hear me now?

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It amazes my children that when I was their age I did not have a cell phone. The look on their face shows such disbelief. They begin to think I have to be as old as dirt. In the world they are growing up in it does seem foreign not to see people talking or texting on cell phones.

Although they have downsides, I must admit as a parent it is very comforting to be able to reach my daughter, who is away at school, at any time and she can in turn respond from anywhere on campus about anything that is going on in her life. It makes the distance almost melt away.

Do you realize that you have access to something even better than 4G coverage and service? It is prayer.

Dear friends you can come to God at any time of day or night – He doesn’t have select “office” hours. You can also pray anywhere. It doesn’t have to be at church on Sunday or at the dinner table before meals. In addition, we can bring anything to God in prayer. We must keep in mind that prayer doesn’t have to be long or complicate. It is simply a conversation between you and God. Therefore, just tell Him exactly what is on your heart – the victories as well as the struggles.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You with a thankful heart today. I know that no matter what circumstance I am facing in my life You promise to be right by my side. I have the confidence to know that I can come to You at any hour of the day and that You will not only hear my prayer, my cries for help, but You will answer. I long to draw closer to You this week. May I silence the shouts of the world around me to hear Your still small voice. In Your Precious Name, Amen.

Your Turn:

Today, spend some time connecting with God in prayer. I would appreciate it if you would pray for me as I make the final preparations for attending the Speak Up Conference later this week. I will be attending several sessions as well as meeting with agents and publishers to pitch my latest book. I don’t know what God has in store, but I am laying it all at His feet.

I will gladly pray for you as well. Please share your request in the comment section

 

Raising Little Kids with BIG Love – Review

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Have full blown tantrums and high-pitched whiny voices made their way into your home? Do you feel a little frustrated? Do you wonder what happened to your precious baby bundle and your patience? You must be the parent of a toddler to nine-year-old. When parenting little ones, big love is needed. Raising Little Kids with Big Love reveals fifteen qualities of love. These are demonstrated through anecdotes and the authors’ conversational style, bringing the characteristics of 1 Corinthians 13 love to life in your parenting and in your youngster. Discover how to: • increase your child’s self-worth by demonstrating patience. • act in kindness to build family unity. • foster sibling relationship rather than sibling rivalry. • control your anger and effectively deal with tantrums. • be your child’s advocate in the school setting. • support your gifted or special needs child. • build a relationship with your kids that will last a lifetime. The 1 Corinthians 13 Parent series is based on the famous Love Chapter. What does love look like when parenting little kids? Find out by delving into 1 Corinthians 13.

As a mother of five, I was immediately drawn to this book. By a show of hands, who out there wants to raise a child in love? That’s what I thought, you can put your hands down. Since that is the desire of your heart, I would invite you to check out Raising Little Kids with BIG Love by Lori Wildenberg and Becky Danielson. These two ladies break down over the course of this book how to be a 1 Corinthians 13 parent.

I must be honest, I never thought of applying this chapter of the Bible to parenting my children. This is not to say I am not loving with my kids, I just had never put the two together. I love how they break down this chapter of the Bible into manageable pieces and then go into detail of how to practically apply it to your children. Not only that, there are questions and tips at the end of each chapter. These are great to use as you work through the book, but also a wonderful resource later. They conclude each chapter with a prayer. Let’s face it, without prayer we can not navigate the treacherous waters of this world. We need God as our guide and source of strength.

I would definitely recommend you pick up this book for yourself or as a gift for a parent you know. It will be a fabulous resource for them and their kids will thank you for it.