12 Sundays (A 5P Journey Through the Psalms)|Week 4

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12 SundaysWeek 4

 

Position: Psalm 139:17-24

Pore Over/Paraphrase: The thoughts, plans and purposes of the Most High are endless and entire. It is humbling to witness and to be aware of this. How dare the wicked stand against my God! It is a vile and offensive thing that they would even attempt to do this. I am greatly bothered by the irreverent disrespect. It should not be so! Know my heart, LORD; see my love and devotion for You. That which is unholy, rid me of it. Direct me toward Your everlasting holiness.

Pull Out (the spiritual principles): 

– There is a divine intent in all things which God ultimately uses to reveal and announce His glory.

– Awe of God and His wondrous works should be the norm. Not a day should go by when we are not astonished. 

– Loving God is a very personal intimacy that should not be taken for granted. 

– When anyone spouts disgusting, repulsive, evil language about God or act cruelly against Him, you should be offended on His behalf. 

– Know that God knows the trueness of the heart. 

– Allow God to purge you of any and all uncleanness. 

– Pray (without ceasing) to stay, to follow, and to live in the total presence and being of God. 

Pose (the questions):

– Do I trust God enough to be God and to know what He is doing? 

– How many ways does God reveal His glory in a day?

– Where the most intimate and sacred of my thoughts toward God reside, what is my real truth regarding my feelings about Him and His influence on my life?

– Do I stand up for God? Why or why not?

– How are unclean and/or unholy things represented in my life at present?

– Is there really power in prayer? (Spiritual Life Fitness Challenge: Study the prayer life of Jesus.)

Plan:

Proceed to Psalm 148:1-7. Read the verses and make your 5p notations.

photo courtesy of rccbonsecours 

The Art of Losing Yourself – A Book Club Chat and Reflective Discussion (3/4)

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The Art of Losing Yourself – A Weekly Online Book Club Chat and Reflective Discussion
April 2015

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The Art of Q & A: Week 3, Chapter 45

Power to the Faint…

So much spoke to my heart from chapter 45. Isaiah 40:28-31, along with Carmen’s shared thoughts, touched me so deeply that I quickly found myself reflecting on the truth of God’s words in a whole new way. 

Q: Do you ever find yourself asking God why you have to endure certain challenges?

Q: Is there a rhyme or reason for obstacles to come into our lives? Discuss.

Q: When someone asks if you are okay, does what you say match the truth of how you feel?

Q: Do you believe that you are worth saving? (Spiritual Life Fitness Challenge: Journal-pray to God about what it means to be saved. After you have completed this task, spend some time thanking God for all the ways He saves you daily.)

Q: What does Isaiah 40:28-31 mean to you and what encouraging lesson can you find there?

Q: In what ways do you find yourself “locked in the past,” and how can Jesus Christ help you deal with this?

Q: Where do whispers of doubt originate? Why are they so debilitating?

Q: How can one who is faint or weary find wholeness?

Q: Who or what do you need God to rescue you from? (Spiritual Life Fitness Challenge: Conduct a word study on the word Savior.)

“Behold, I make all things new.” – Revelation 21:5

Next week’s Book Club Chat and Reflective Discussion will highlight some of my favorite quotes and lessons from the book.
To learn more about this book: Behind the scenes with The Art of Losing Yourself
To get this book: The Art of Losing Yourself

12 Sundays (A 5P Journey Through the Psalms)|Week 3

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12 SundaysWeek 3

  

Position: Psalm 139:9-16

Pore Over/Paraphrase: No matter where I attempt to carry myself or what time I seek to lose myself in, You, LORD, are in a place to be found. Your hand is always outstretched to me. You are forever ready to guide me and hold me. You are forever ready to protect me from myself. You know of me and my whereabouts at my lowest moments, just as in my highest moments. You know me so intimately and perfectly. I praise and celebrate You for the miracle of who You are and who You have made me to be. You saw me before my genesis and You see me as travel toward my revelation. Bless You, Father! Bless You, LORD.

Pull Out (the spiritual principles): 

– The LORD exists all around us.

– It is impossible to run from the LORD’s presence. 

– Turning to the place of darkness will not hinder God from reaching out to you. 

– There is rest and truth in the safety of the LORD; He is THE ark of protection we need and long for.

– Your mountain, valley and desert moments will not and cannot stop God from extending His love toward You. 

– There is no one who will ever know you or love you more than God. 

– An outpouring of praise for the God who was and is your I AM in all moments is your reasonable service. Worship Him magnificently and without conditions or limitations. HE IS WORTHY!

Pose (the questions):

– If the LORD lives all around us, can He see us from all sides? (Delve into this one deeply.)

– Is there a greater meaning or lesson in knowing that God exists both outside as well as inside of us (by way of His Spirit for those who have chosen to follow the Christ)?

– How does Jonah’s story relate to my own story? 

– What is the attraction felt toward the “darkness” or toward dark things in our lives really about?

– Does God ever turn away from His children? Is His hand always going to be reaching out to us?

– What is the significance of an ark? How is God like an ark?

– Will God ever be stopped from what He wants to accomplish? 

– How is God the definition of love? (Use the Bible to answer this one.)

– When you offer God praise, is it your best praise? 

Plan:

1) This week, complete a word study. Research the word ark. Upon completing your research, study the scriptures where references to an ark are made. Make note of what you learn and pay close attention to how what you learn relates to God. 

2) Proceed to Psalm 139:17-24. Read the verses and make your 5p notations.

photo courtesy of sonomachristianhome

The Art of Losing Yourself – A Book Club Chat and Reflective Discussion (2/4)

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The Art of Losing Yourself – A Weekly Online Book Club Chat and Reflective Discussion
April 2015

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The Art of Q & A: Week 2, Chapters 22-26

God help me…
Four people – Gracie, Elias, Carmen and Ben – lived on his or her own side of “God help me.” They each faced their particular situations with a unique perspective. Shaped by their circumstances, they each sought understanding and answers. They each sought to make a change or to have a more meaningful impact in some way. Although this may have been the case, I could not help but be aware of some of the obstacles that existed for them.

FEAR > INSECURITY > LOW SELF WORTH > RACISM > PREJUDICE > BROKENNESS > UNBELIEF

Q: Have you ever found yourself in the “God help me” position? Discuss.
Q: How is fear manifesting itself in your life at present?
Q: What does the Bible say about fear, and what is God’s unique perspective on it?
Q: Can your insecurities ever hold you back from pursuing or realizing a dream? Should this be so?
Q: What does being fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God mean to you?
Q: Are you aware of your value in God’s eyes? Discuss.
Q: How does it make you feel when you are judged by others?
Q: How do you deal with untruths that are directed toward you and/or toward those you care about?
Q: What are some biblical examples of brokenness?
Q: How does the LORD tend to deal with brokenness or with the many ways that brokenness may reveal itself?
Q: Can unbelief be overcome?
Q: Are you or have you ever been afraid to surrender to God or to be transformed by God?
Q: Does God have you at a turning point in your journey?

“Behold, I make all things new.”Revelation 21:5

Next week’s Book Club Chat and Reflective Discussion will highlight chapter 45.
To learn more about this book: Behind the scenes with The Art of Losing Yourself
To get this book: The Art of Losing Yourself

12 Sundays (A 5P Journey Through the Psalms)|Week 2

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12 SundaysWeek 2

Position: Psalm 139:1-8

Pore Over/Paraphrase: There is no place where I am that You, God, are not. You exist on every plane and in every circumstance. You know of and knew of my thoughts even before they were formed or ever even completed. You are near, far, here and there. I am surrounded by Your essence and Your presence.

Pull Out (the spiritual principles): 

– God is present at all times.

– God is all knowing.

– The reach and magnitude of God are beyond anything that is known.

– God knows of my past, my present, and my future and still He remains.

– There is never a moment when I am truly alone.

Pose (the questions):

– Do I really believe that God is present and aware at all times? (Translation: Do I live in such a way that demonstrates my awareness and acknowledgement of His presence?)

– Do I seek God’s counsel and leadership regarding the decisions I have made or need to make regarding my life? Why or why not?

– What does it say about the big-ness and the vastness of God that He exists in an omni state? (Further, how does that relate to the non-bigness or vastness of everything else?)

– Why do so many people forget that God always provides a ready answer by way of His presence, His words, and His loving heart?

– Is there or can there ever be a time when we are in isolation?

– What does it say about me and my relationship with God when I desire to be “alone” or when I feel disconnected from the Most High?

Plan:

1) Schedule a spiritual respite for yourself. Block a certain amount of time for a particular day this week and have a meaningful conversation with God about your week 1 thoughts and discoveries. Try to get out of the house and go…perhaps to the backyard at night under the stars or to your favorite park. Connect with God without the distractions of life.

2) Proceed to Psalm 139:9-16. Read the verses and make your 5p notations.

photo courtesy of sarahsideways.com

A Faith and Family Book Recommendation|Drive Me Crazy by Terra Élan McVoy

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Parents of tweens and middle graders are always on the lookout for quality reading material to share with their kids. They want a book with a good message and a book that speaks to the issues that are important or rather relevant to their youngsters. Drive Me Crazy by Terra Élan McVoy is a sensational book with a great message that both parents and tweens/middle graders will adore. It deals with so much and yet it is not preachy or pushy. This story would be an excellent faith and family read aloud or faith and family discussion facilitator.

Title: Drive Me Crazy
Author: Terra Élan McVoy

About the Book:Buckle up…

Lana and Cassie have met only once before, at the wedding of Lana’s Grandpa Howe and Cassie’s Grandma Tess two months ago. They didn’t exactly hit it off—in fact, depending on who you ask, that first meeting was either an embarrassment or a disaster—but they’re about to spend an entire week together, just the two of them and their honeymooning grandparents, road-tripping in Cassie’s grandmother’s Subaru.

Lana thinks a summer road trip sounds like fun, but the backseat is a crowded place for two tween girls with two huge secrets to hide, and this bumpy road to friendship is full of unexpected twists and turns. Like it or not, they’re in this together, full speed ahead on the adventure of a lifetime.”

A Phone Tree Review: What an incredible book for middle graders and tweens! Targeted toward those ages 8-12 (grades 3-7), Drive Me Crazy was filled with the up and down emotions and the back and forth thought processes of two very different girls who were brought together for a super special adventure. I loved it!

My Thoughts…

Initial Meeting ->
Lana: From the start, I adored this character. Lana came across as a brave and wise old soul. She was bright, optimistic, intuitive, and compassionate. I loved the fact that she was so family-oriented. She seemed to care a lot about making memories and cherishing what she had been given. She had a great relationship with her parents and her grandparents. She had integrity and strived to do the right thing, even in difficult situations. I felt very protective of this character.

Cassie: Almost immediately upon meeting Cassie, I have to say that I did not necessarily like her. She was almost the exact opposite of Lana. She seemed superficial and shallow. She lacked substance and tended to care more about the opinions of others. She complained a lot. She subscribed to the social clique mentality. She came across as selfish and competitive.

As the Story Moved Forward ->
Lana: Boy, oh boy! Who knew Lana was dealing with all of that? Her strength was noteworthy, especially for one so young. I found it interesting how aware she was of the circumstances at home, but I also found it interesting how she held back a part of her truth regarding what was going on at home. For one so courageous and expressive (of sorts), it was hard not to notice that she did not take the direct path. That was interesting. I could not help but think how peculiar. Dealing with what she had to deal with on top of dealing with Cassie on top attempting to make this trip the best trip ever was…whew. This young girl was on the cusp of maturity, while still trying to navigate that delicate place of in between, where you are still considered to be a little girl and yet you are not.

Cassie: The pressures and emotions that go along with being young while growing older, this was Cassie’s story. Already at her tender age, she has had to deal with loss, betrayal, social tension, academic rivalry, sibling angst, and more. Not to excuse her behavior, but as the story progressed, I can say that I definitely understood her more. Wow! She too, much like Lana, was at a major point of transition in her life. Not a girl, but not yet a woman (:-), she had a lot coming at her. She did not want to sink under it all. Yes, she tended to be more concerned about herself than others at times, but she was, in my opinion, still trying to figure out who she was and what she wanted while attempting to gain ground in the popularity dance that goes with growing up.

By the End of the Story ->
Lana: From the cupcakes on, I was totally crying.
Cassie: Who knew Maine could be so magical? (in more ways than one)

Supporting Characters: I loved Grandpa Howe and Grandma Tess so much! They were three different kinds of a hoot and a holler. Lana’s parents were dealing with a lot and my heart went out to them. Lana’s friends seemed genuine and comfortable in their own skin. (Although they were not mentioned much, they still had a presence that helped to shape Lana’s story.) Cassie’s parents were a hard read, but her brother was…a typical brother. Cassie’s “friends,” on the other hand, were so NOT! I was extremely curious about Fiona though. (Good or bad, this character had something that captured my attention in a big way.)

There is so much more that I want to say and that I could say about this story, but I don’t want to ruin it for the readers. This book has substance and depth. It speaks a language that middle graders and tweens will be able to relate to. It also presents itself in such a way that parents can be assured that there kids are not being exposed to tainted fluff.

I am elated that such a clean and meaty book is available for this age group. I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5
Recommend: Yes
Audience: Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
Status: Clean
Conflict/Drama: Yes
Family/Life Lessons: Yes
Relevant for Targeted Age Group: Yes
Other: Family Read Aloud, Tween Talk Group, School Library, Middle Grade Book Club, Gift
Series Worthy: Yes

A Healthy Living Book Review|Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci

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A Phone Tree Healthy Living Book Review

Title: Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals

Author: Ali Maffucci

About the Book:The definitive cookbook for using a spiralizer: the kitchen gadget that turns vegetables and fruits into imaginative, low-carb dishes.

On her wildly popular blog, Inspiralized, Ali Maffucci is revolutionizing healthy eating. Whether you’re low-carb, gluten-free, Paleo, or raw, you don’t have to give up the foods you love. Inspiralized shows you how to transform more than 20 vegetables and fruits into delicious meals that look and taste just like your favorite indulgent originals. Zucchini turns into pesto spaghetti; jicama becomes shoestring fries; sweet potatoes lay the foundation for fried rice; plantains transform into “tortillas” for huevos rancheros.

Ali’s recipes for breakfast, snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, casseroles, rices, pastas, and even desserts are easy to follow, hard to mess up, healthful, and completely fresh and flavorful. Best of all, she tells you how to customize them for whatever vegetables you have on hand and whatever your personal goal may be—losing weight, following a healthier lifestyle, or simply making easy meals at home.”

24543734Phone Tree Review: Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci is a super fun, super informative, and

super friendly resource book for foodies everywhere. I absolutely loved it!

What made this book so incredible, in my opinion, was the fact that it was immediately appealing in the visual sense, it provided such a vast repertoire of food choices, and it gave a treasure trove of information related to health benefits and nutritional value in regard to the specified foods.

The author did a magnificent job of keeping the content relevant and fun. Additionally, I loved her voice and her conversational tone. I felt like I wanted to go on a food adventure with her.

Rating: 5/5
Recommend: Yes
Audience: All
Status: Food, Health and Fitness, Family Fun/Meal Preparation

A complimentary copy of this title was provided by Clarkson Potter/Publishers (Random House) via the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. The words I have expressed are my own. I was not expected to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”