Sunday, March 25, 2012

Common English Bible - Fifth Sunday of Lent Readings + Bible Giveaway!

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Please enjoy these Lenten readings for this fifth Sunday of Lent from the Common English Bible, a wonderful, user-friend new translation.

In partnership with the Common English Bible Committee, I am able to offer for giveaway a paperback copy of the Common English Bible. In order to enter, please leave a comment telling me who you'd give this copy to (if you don't keep it yourself!). Please make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

The deadline for entry is Saturday, March 31, 2012, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. The winner, as chosen by the Random Number Generator, will be announced here on Sunday, April 1, 2012. Thanks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

‘Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace’ by Deanna Nowadnick – Book Review and Giveaway

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I enjoy the opportunity to learn about a person by reading his or her autobiography. That is the case with my latest ‘read,’ ‘Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace’ by Deanna Nowadnick.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

Is there really a place in God’s heart for a defiant child? In His divine plans for a self-centered teenager? In His family for an adult who gets tired and impatient?
In a memoir of missteps and misdeeds, Deanna Nowadnick writes of the hugeness of God’s love and faithfulness. Reframing life in God’s grace, she discovers an indescribable, indefinable, inexplicable love that has encircled her without fail through joyous, sad, cringe-worthy, heartwarming, forgettable, memorable moments in life.
Fruit of My Spirit is for anyone who’s ever questioned God’s ability to love and forgive, who’s ever wondered about their place in God’s family or God’s place in theirs. Nowadnick offers hope for those who dare to question, who secretly wonder, and who fear to ask. Through stories of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, you will experience the enormity of God, too.

Here is the author’s biography:

This is Deanna Nowadnick’s first book. What started as short story for her sons quickly became a larger story. When not writing, she serves as the Client Service Coordinator for a financial advisor. She’s active in her church, playing the violin and editing the monthly newsletter. She loves to knit, adores chocolate, and most important, enjoys a blessed marriage to Kurt. Deanna and Kurt have two sons, Kevin and Kyle, and live in Monroe, WA.

Deanna is a terrifically gifted writer. Here is an example from her Preface:

….I know the important stuff’s on the inside, but honestly, I’m not so sure that the inside stuff’s any prettier. Perhaps I’ve been expecting God to act as my own fairy godmother, ready to pop into the scene any moment now with a twinkle in His eye and a wand in His hand. I’ve been waiting to be tapped ever so gently on the forehead and magically transformed into a loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled delight in His life, adorned in a nice white ensemble, cute shoes, and fresh nail polish. In thinking that, I’ve not only trivialized God’s love and forgiveness, but I’ve missed the magnitude of His mercy that’s been shared with me over and over again. I’ve overlooked the fruit of His Holy Spirit that’s already a part of my own spirit in all that I do and all that I am. (p. xiii)

I loved reading about Deanna’s wonderful marriage to her husband of 37 years, Kurt. Here she is sharing about what a wonderful man God blessed her with:

Despite the perceived failings of our premarital instruction, Kurt and I left with simple, yet profound advice: “Try every day to do something unexpected, something special, something unspoken, and unselfish for the other person.” Thanks to the pastor, not a day goes by that I haven’t been the benefactor of an act of kindness, as I enjoy life with a man who continues to shower me with his grace. Some days it’s a kind word; other days it’s a clean car with a full tank of gas. Some days it’s the patience to listen as I rant about the insignificant; other days, it’s a calm, sincere reassurance of my skills and abilities. Every day it’s something – just for me. (p. 41)

How sweet!

She shares the one constant through the trials of life:

Through it all, God has been the only constant. As life changed, as people came and went, as a small community quietly closed its doors, God’s love and grace were unwavering, caring for all humankind while never losing sight of a young woman and her family. In a world of disposables, in a time when something’s obsolete, if not new and improved, God remained faithful. To a girl who questioned and strayed and struggled and failed, God remained faithful. (p. 81)   

WOW – this book really spoke to me! Deanna has gone through some of the same things I did as a younger person, including obstinacy against a parent (my mother, in my case), plus an eating disorder. Also like Deanna, I have learned of the love and grace of God toward me! And God has blessed me with a wonderful husband (Fred), also. For those things, I am thankful for both of us!

You can order this book here.

You can download a sample from the book here.

This book was published by Rhododendron Books and generously provided by the author for review and giveaway purposes.


Deanna has graciously offered a copy of ‘Fruit of My Spirit’ to one blessed reader of my blog; thanks, Deanna! There are several ways to enter:

1) ‘Like’ Deanna’s book page on Facebook.  Please leave a comment to that effect, and make sure you leave your email address in this format – name at domain dot com.

2) Follow my blog as either a Google Follower or a NetWorkedBlogs Follower. If you already ‘follow,’ that counts, too! Please leave a comment to that effect with your email address in this format – name at domain dot com.

3) Follow Deanna on TwitterPlease leave a comment to that effect with your email address in this format – name at domain dot com.

4) Follow me on Twitter. Please leave a comment to that effect with your email address in this format – name at domain dot com.

5) Tweet this tweet:

Enter to win 'Fruit of My Spirit' by @DeannaNowadnick from @andrealschultz. Please RT. Thx!

You can tweet once per day. Please leave a comment to that effect with your email address in the above referenced format - name at domain dot com.

The deadline to enter is Friday, April 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm. The winner will be chosen on Saturday, April 7, 2012 by the Random Number Generator. The next to all of you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

AND THIS IS WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE: We need to tell our stories! by Deanna Nowadnick - Guest Blog Post

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Periodically, I like to share a guest blog post here; today is one of those days! Please welcome Deanna Nowadnick, author of 'Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God's Grace.'

AND THIS IS WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE: We need to tell our stories!
Deanna Nowadnick, Author

Holding my first book Fruitof My Spirit, I love that I got to tell my story. The experience reaffirmed for me the importance of telling our stories. As Oprah used to say, “Here’s what I know for sure…” I know that telling our stories is important for each one of us, for our friends and family, and even for our entire community.

·       Do it for yourself.

I have to admit that divine gratitude gave way to sheer joy and excitement when I held the first copy of Fruit of My Spirit. I carried the book with me from room to room. I thumbed the pages. As I held the book, I was reminded that there is nothing as cathartic as sharing our experiences in writing. Words, sentences, paragraphs give order and meaning to so many things thrown into our mental box of memories. Writing gives us the opportunity to share joy and heartache, success and challenges in our own words, in our own style, from our own special vantage point.  

·       Do it for your friends and family.

Shared experiences and the retelling of our shared experiences give life depth and meaning. Reminding my sons of their grandfather’s love of all things Chrysler put his gift of their first cars in context. We don’t want to bore those listening. We don’t want to monopolize dinner conversations. We just want to find opportunities—make opportunities—to share life’s experiences. And then we want to be ready to listen when they’re shared with us.
    Do it for your community.

Sounds a little grandiose, doesn’t it? I don’t care how you vote. I don’t care whether you belong in a red state or a blue state. I don’t care whether you’re part of the 99% or the 1%. I don’t care about the size of your 401(k). I don’t care about those last 10 pounds.
We’re not just huddled masses. We are individual creations. We are wonderfully unique in our likes and dislikes. We are delightfully passionate about the widest variety of things in this life. And unless we share that uniqueness with each other, others will define us, definitions that ultimately divide us.  
Because life is not about whether you live in a red or blue state. It’s about living a colorful life.
Because life is not about being part of the 1% or the 99%. It’s about being part of something meaningful.
Because life is not about sound bites. It’s about each one of us, our life and our own experiences, those unique to us and those we’ve had the joy and honor of sharing with others.

Fruit of My Spirit is a memoir of short stories. More important, it’s a book about God’s love and faithfulness. And this is what I know for sure: your story is no different.

You don’t have to write a book. Just resolve to share your own story when and where you can. It might be as simple as thanking someone for a gift: “You know--my grandmother loved petunias, too.”  If you’re not a writer, take pictures. Post them to Facebook and tag each and every face. For Christmas, my aunt sent me a wonderful cookbook of favorite family recipes. I don’t cook. I’ll probably never use a single recipe, but upon opening the package, I sat down and read the book cover-to-cover. You see each page had a paragraph or two about Lorraine, most of the stories unbeknownst to me. Did you write a Christmas letter? Did you save the Christmas letter? Consider compiling them in a book for your children and grandchildren. What a delightful gift for that day when they long to know more.

It’s what I know for sure. Share your story.


Thanks so much, Deanna, for sharing your story and your insights with us today! I will be posting a review of 'Fruit of My Spirit' here on my blog later this week; Deanna has also graciously provided a giveaway copy. So come back soon to enter to win!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This Week's Winner of the Common English Bible is.....

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The Random Number Generator has chosen the winner of this week's paperback copy of the Common English Bible. That blessed person is....


Congrats, Emily; I just sent you an email. 

Thanks to those of you who entered to win! There is another opportunity to win this week, and in the weeks to come, so please try again!

Special thanks to the Common English Bible Committee for sponsoring the giveaway of this wonderful new translation! 

Common English Bible - Fourth Sunday of Lent Readings + Bible Giveaway!

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Here are the Lenten Readings for this fourth Sunday of Lent. Please savor these wonderful words (and lovely photos) from this wonderful new translation, the Common English Bible!

In partnership with the Common English Bible Committee, I am able to offer for giveaway a paperback copy of the Common English Bible. In order to enter, please leave a comment telling me who you'd give this copy to (if you don't keep it yourself!). Please make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

The deadline for entry is Saturday, March 24, 2012, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. The winner, as chosen by the Random Number Generator, will be announced here on Sunday, March 25, 2012. Thanks!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Winner of This Week's Common English Bible Is....

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We have a winner of the Common English Bible for this week's giveaway. That blessed person is....

Sweet Pea!

Congrats, Sweet Pea! I will be in touch to get your mailing address.

Please note that there is a giveaway of a paperback Common English Bible every week. It is a wonderful translation; you will love it! My thanks to the Common English Bible Committee for this opportunity!

Common English Bible - Third Sunday of Lent Readings + Bible Giveaway!

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Here is the slideshow featuring scripture readings for this third Sunday of Lent; please enjoy the wonderful Word and beautiful photos!

In partnership with the Common English Bible Committee, I am able to offer for giveaway a paperback copy of the Common English Bible. In order to enter, please leave a comment telling me who you'd give this copy to (if you don't keep it yourself!). Please make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

The deadline for entry is Saturday, March 17, 2012, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. The winner, as chosen by the Random Number Generator, will be announced here on Sunday, March 18, 2012. Thanks!

Friday, March 9, 2012

‘More Beauty Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre’ by Debora M. Coty – Book Review

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One of the most intriguing book titles that I have run into of late is the latest book on my review list, ‘More Beauty Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre’ by Debora M. Coty. Being that I, like the rest of the human race, allow my beast to emerge more often than I’d like, I knew I wanted to take a gander at this one!

Here is the synopsis of this book:

Is your self-esteem “souled”-ed out? Are you tempted by the Dark Side? (Talkin’ chocolate here, girlfriend!) Maybe it’s time for a healthy dose of truth gift-wrapped in humor.
With her own brand of off-beat with and near-wisdom, inspirational humorist Debora M. Coty addresses heart needs of women struggling to tame that out-of-control inner ogre that threatens to destroy the beautiful princess hidden within. Whether jaded by emotional wounds, unrealistic standards, or lack of confidence, these laugh-out-loud, girlfriend-to-girlfriend tips will help women transform their destructive inner beast into the exquisite beauty they were always meant to be.

Here is the biography of the author:

Debora M. Coty is a popular speaker, columnist, internationally published writer, and award-winning author or coauthor of dozens of books. Mother of two grown children, Debora wrestles her inner ogre in central Florida with her husband, Chuck, and desperately wicked pooch, Fenway.

This video shows Debora sharing her thoughts on ‘Calendar Constipation’! Although this video was produced for her previous book, ‘Too Blessed to be Stressed’ (another Barbour title), I think it shows you a couple things about Debora: 1) her sense of humor and 2) her love of hats (which she mentions in ‘More Beauty Less Beast.’ Please enjoy these funny words of wisdom!:

Mrs. Coty shares Godly wisdom on many topics of interest (usually to women in particular). The first two sections cover Outer Beauty and Inner Beauty, including Keeping Fit, Image, Discernment, Conquering Guilt, and Overcoming Adversity. She also devotes a chapter to each of the Fruits of the Spirit (not the Loom!) – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. The final section focuses on ‘Beautifying My World’ – through topics such as Friendship, Forgiveness, Marriage, Encouraging Others, Preparing for Heaven and Living Beautifully.

I was enchanted with this book by the first chapter, entitled ‘Beauty Can Be Such a Crock (Judging by Appearance).’ Here’s a great paragraph:

Yes, when we’re preoccupied with ourselves, we’re distracted from our one true focus: our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the people He has into our lives to be our special ministry. Our passion is directed inward rather than outward. Our bodies become like a god to us. But our Creator had something very important to say about that: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3 NKJV), the very first of the Ten Commandments. (p. 14)

Although that paragraph is not one of the laugh-out-loud funny ones, there are plenty of those. Here’s one, where she describes her body at her weight loss:

My weight loss occurred during the winter while I was swathed in sweaters. So when spring sprang, I didn’t recognize the pruney alien appendages extending from my armpits. Without sufficient meat to fill out their casings, my plump arms had shriveled like overgrilled sausages. And Dumbo ears had sprouted out their backsides! Sagging skin flaps undulated and rippled where triceps used to be. It made me seasick to watch them in a mirror. My daughter laughed herself silly the first time I reached into the cupboard and my jumbo Dumbos whacked me upside the head. I could imagine my ER diagnosis: flab-induced concussion. (p. 29)

Does she not have a way with words?! Mrs. Coty kept me laughing throughout this book!

I loved her description of what happened to her on a long-overdue spiritual retreat that she took all by herself; I just love the descriptive language:

By the second day, my inner deep freeze began to thaw through the healing magic of solitude; my sluggish senses were awakened on long prayer walks: I marveled at every shade of green imaginable in the thick forests, sunbeams warmed my skin through leafy boughs, I tasted the tangy sweetness of blueberries and blackberries popped right from wild bushes into my mouth. A pony nuzzling my neck and the bass baa of a wooly ram at the farm across the creek made me smile. I drank in the scent of a bouquet of wildflowers picked from a sun-drenched meadow: cheerful daisies, purple asters, hearty yarrow, black-eyed Susans, delicate Queen Anne’s lace. (p. 70)

She ends the book with this prayer for her readers:

My prayer for you, dear sister, is that you will realize how enthralling your unique inner beauty truly is to the only One who counts: your Father, the King! Allow Him to transform that ugly inner beast into the beautiful princess you were meant to be! May your life be filled with joy, love, and fulfillment. (And barrels of Godiva!). (p. 215)

This book is hilarious! Prior to being contacted by Barbour Publishing to review thisbook, I was not familiar with Ms. Coty. Now I will be keeping an eye out for her titles! If you’re looking for a fun read or a gift for a favorite girlfriend, look no further! I am quite sure both of you will love it!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Barbour Publishing and provided by them for review purposes. Thanks to Kelsey for this copy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

‘How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Centered Reading of Scripture’ by Michael Williams – Book Review

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This semester, the Lord opened up the door for me to return to Moody Theological Seminary to continue working on my Graduate Certificate in Bible after a lengthy hiatus. One of the important things I have learned while I have been in seminary is that Jesus can be found in every book of the Bible. That was a revelation to me. So when the blog tour for ‘How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Centered Reading of Scripture,’ I knew I wanted to join the tour!

Here is the synopsis of this book:

Discover how each book of the Bible points readers to Christ. If you sometimes feel as if the Bible teaching you receive comes as a small puzzle piece you do not know how to fit together, this book is for you. All these pieces connect in Christ to form a coherent picture, and author Michael Williams shows you how in this tour of each book of the Bible.
In addition to showing you how relevant each biblical book remains today, Williams enlivens other Christian disciplines such as Bible reading, Scripture memory, and evangelism. An excellent tool for Bible teachers, ministry leaders, and students, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens is an invaluable guide for reading, studying, and understanding the entire Bible.

Here is the biography of this author:

Michael Williams (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is Professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary and a member of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation. He is the author of Deception in Genesis  and The Prophet and His Message, and editor and contributor of Mishneh Today. His passion is to equip students with knowledge of the Old Testament and its languages so that they may grow in their comprehension and appreciation of redemptive history and be adequately prepared to promote and defend the faith through word and action. Michael resides in Grand Rapids, MI, with his wife, Dawn.       

Here is Dr. Williams discussing the purpose of his book:

And here is Dr. Williams in an online webcast talking about this great book; he is so down-to-earth and funny!:

Dr. Williams makes this important point in the Introduction, ‘The Beginning Matters:’

The simple truth is that all of the Scriptures – Old Testament and New Testament – testify about Jesus seems to be often overlooked. For modern readers, the picture of Christ in the Old Testament can be obscured by veritable whiteout conditions of chronological, sacrificial, architectural, geographical details, so that all that can be made out after spending some time in the snowstorm is a mound of white where the car used to be. To an admittedly lesser degree, the problem exists for the New Testament as well. Names of apostles and disciples, travelogues, letters to forgotten churches in obscure locales regarding confusing theological issues – all of this can seem like so many differently shaped jigsaw pieces without a picture on the box to help us to put it all together. This book is intended to help believers make out the picture on the box. And it is a picture of Jesus. (p. 9)

The book takes all of the 66 books in the Bible, and in four pages per book, provides the theme of the book, a memory passage, shows Jesus in each, and shows its contemporary implications. Each chapter ends with several hook questions.

One of my favorite books in the Bible is Ecclesiastes (I’m weird, I know!). I had never really thought about what the ‘Jesus Lens’ view would be for that Old Testament book. Dr. Williams explains it very well in this paragraph:

In Christ alone is found meaning, purpose, and direction in life. When we, like the Teacher, try to find meaning for our lives in anything else, we also will be forced to conclude, “Meaningless! Meaningless!... Everything is meaningless!” (1:2; 12:8). Only by being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (“the way”) can we finally find what it is we’ve been looking for (“the life”). (p. 84)

I really love the chart at the end of the book, in which Dr. Williams gives us a handy reference showing how Jesus is in each book; it has the following columns: Biblical Book; Theme; Christ-Focus; Implications; and Hook. It brings some sense to the book of Leviticus, for instance!

I was also interested in how Dr. Williams interpret the only book in the Bible in which God is not mentioned by name – Esther. Here is his ‘take’ on that book:

The Father provides Christ to deliver his people “when the set time had fully come.” Jesus accomplishes this salvation in a way similar to what we find in the book of Esther. The threat of death is removed, we are given the means to defend ourselves (by the power of his Spirit), and the chief architect of our planned destruction has himself been sentenced to the same fate he desired for God’s people. The Jews initiated a new feast day, called Purim, to commemorate their deliverance. It was a time of celebration and joy. Christians have such a day as well. We call it Sunday. (p. 67)

This is a wonderful book to complement Bible reading. I think it will be invaluable for people to read the particular chapter on the book of the Bible which one is reading, then go on to read the chapter; it will illuminate and enlighten with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In one of my seminary classes, one of our textbooks was ‘How to Read the Bible for AllIts Worth, which is also a Zondervan title and in the 'How To' series. It is in the same series as this book, so I knew I would appreciate this book. And I definitely did! I think this is the perfect book for anyone who needs to see Jesus’ story woven throughout the Bible –and that would be every human on this planet! I thank Dr. Williams for making the point - that the Bible is Jesus’ story - even more clearly to me by writing this important and worthwhile book. It is written in easy-to-read language; it is refreshing when I read a book by an academic when he doesn’t feel the need to show how intelligent he is by using ten dollar words when a smaller word will do!

One of Dr. Williams’ goals is for believers to share his book with non-believers, and that they will come to faith in Christ using any of the books in the Bible! That’s a worthy goal! I think it will be especially impactful to our Jewish friends, who may not otherwise see Jesus in their Scriptures. I am glad this tool is finally available!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Zondervan Publishers and provided by them for review purposes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Guest Blog Post - 'Close To God' by Dr. Charles W. Page

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This week, March 5-11, 2012, is National Sleep Awareness Week. Please enjoy this guest blog post from Dr. Charles W. Page.

Close To God
by Dr. Charles. W. Page

What do you do when you feel that gentle nudge from your child in the middle of the night asking to cuddle up with you in your bed? This probably goes against the opinions of most sleep gurus but my wife and I allow them to climb in and rest with us. We want our children to feel free to come to us day or night—waking or sleeping—for comfort, reassurance and guidance. Nurturing a relationship of trust and openness with our children is worth the loss of a little shut-eye.
Whoever said, “those who sleep like a baby usually doesn’t have one,” spoke from experience. It’s sometimes scary to see how our dozing toddler practices his midnight tackling drills right in the middle of my back. Tebow beware—linebacker Charlie Page is coming through the ranks. Charlie always seems to glue himself to us instead of spreading out in our king-sized bed. When I move to get a little freedom, Charlie follows—almost like a magnet. My own sleep-shadow! It seems as though children have an innate need to have someone close in the wee hours of the morning.
Has it ever occurred to you that the worries, regrets and fears that you may experience as you fall asleep may be a reminder to curl up to your Heavenly Father? As God’s children, we can take refuge in a heavenly Father that invites us to be close to Him as we lie down to rest. Your “Daddy” is not inconvenienced or bothered by your midnight crisis of faith. The Lord who watches over you never slumbers—He awaits you with open arms. Remember that you are as close to God as you chose to be. “Come near to God and He will come near to you” James 4:8.
What are the barriers that separate you from intimacy with God tonight? Wherever you are, whatever your need—it all begins with worship. David gives us some pointers in the Sixty-Third Psalm as he runs for his life from his son Absalom.
“On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night, because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 63:6-7.
  • Remember Godthink of some times in your past that God has showed up in a big way for you.
  • Think of GodRecall His attributes and His character—His unfailing love towards you—how it is even better than life itself (Psalms 63:3).
  • Understand that God is your helpsurrender control and allow God to do for you in the nighttime hours what you cannot do for yourself. Appreciate the truth that God has your back covered as you rest.
  • Sing. Yes sing to the One who gives songs in the night (Job 35:10). Maybe it’s the rawness of a song of sorrow and pain. Or perhaps it’s one of joy and gladness. One rendering would suggest that we sing “for’ (or to obtain) joy. Have you ever considered that making a melody? Nevertheless, sing in the solitude of the night watches.
  • Experience His presence—Being under the shadow of God’s wings reminds us of shekinah glory that one could experience only by being in the most holy place in the temple. Being so close to the ark that the actual wings of the cherubim would cast a shadow over you would require some major life adjustments! This reminds us that God is holy and must be approached with a humble and contrite attitude. But also this picture of the “shadow of your wings” reminds us of how a baby bird seeks shelter, security and comfort under the wings of its mother. We’re encouraged to crawl into the Father’s open arms. As you lay down to sleep, remember that your Heavenly Father desires you to snuggle up close. Surrender your sleep into His arms.

Dr. Charles W. Page is a sleep-deprived surgeon who completed medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He and his wife Joanna live in Texas with their five children. He is the author of Surrendered Sleep: A Biblical Perspective. Learn more at

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Blog Post - 'Don't Die With the Story Still In You' by Florence Littauer and Gerry Wakeland

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Yesterday, I shared with you that this month is International Idea Month. This week also happens to be Share a Story - Shape a Future Week. I have another guest blog post from Florence Littauer and Gerry Wakeland. 

Don't Die With the Story Still In You

 by Florence Littauer and Gerry Wakeland

I had just settled into my seat when I heard the pastor say, “I see that Florence Littauer is with us this morning.” I was scheduled to speak for the women of the church later that evening and had slipped into the sanctuary for the Sunday morning service. As I started to stand acknowledging the introduction I heard him continue, “Let’s have her share our children’s sermon.” I was stunned. I had never given a children’s sermon before.
As I made my way to the front of the church I asked the Lord for a scripture and Ephesians 4:29 popped into my mind. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (KJV)  I was running out of time. This would have to do.
I gathered the children around me and began to teach. I spoke to the children about how our words needed to be kind and loving, building up those around us. As I finished one little girl stood up, turned to the congregation and said, “What she means is, our words should be like a little silver box with a bow on top.” I knew this message was a keeper.
I have shared the story of this message of “Silver Boxes” hundreds of times with thousands of people reminding them of the weight of our words. Often following my presentation someone will come to me and remark, “The words I say to my husband, to my children, to others, are not very nice. I need to do some things differently.” This message has changed lives, saved marriages and encouraged many a wayward young person.
We all have a story to share, a message to impart. Often it is a story that can reach deep into a broken heart to offer hope. Sometimes a story will point a person in the right direction or redirect their thinking.
Writers and speakers need encouragement as well. They need to hear that they are on the right path and that their words matter. My “Silver Box” story ends with a quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Don’t die with the music still in you.” We can change it slightly, and encourage you, “Don’t die with the story still in you.” Our stories can shape the future if we have the courage to share them.

Florence Littauer is the bestselling author of Silver Boxes, The Gift of Encouragement  and over 30 other books. An internationally recognized speaker, she is the founder of the CLASSEMINARS and resides in Henderson, NV.

Gerry Wakeland is the President of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., a ministry that trains Christian communicators. She loves encouraging men and women to share the message God has given them. The mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three active boys, Gerry lives in Albuquerque, NM.
Visit the CLASS website to learn more information about the 2012 Christian Writers Conference.

You can meet Gerry and the rest of the CLASS faculty there!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Blog Post - 'Idea Starters' by Kathy Carlton Willis

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Did you know that March is International Ideas Month? If not, well - you learn something new every day! Please enjoy this guest blog post from Kathy Carlton Willis. 

'Idea Starters' by Kathy Carlton Willis

Have you ever wondered where ideas originate? I love cooking up ideas, so it’s a natural fit for me to celebrate International Ideas Month in March.
I recently joined Pinterest—a social networking site for members to share virtual bulletin boards. You can pin images and ideas on your board to share a variety of interests. How brilliant! And it all started with an idea to save, share, and swap more ideas.
Have you ever asked God to give you an idea? As a writer, I designate time for brainstorming. During some of these think tanks, my thoughts surge so fast and furious, I call them brain tsunamis. Other times an idea hits when we least expect it—and we have to be ready to jot it down. I’ve had ideas strike at red lights, the bank drive-thru, waiting rooms, and during church. I’ve learned to capture the gist of the idea in my idea notebook because just as quickly as ideas appear in my mind, they can disappear. I hate it when that happens!
The best evidence of ideas is when I’m speaking to a group and I see faces light up. I can be fairly certain they’ve just experienced an “aha moment.” See why I celebrate ideas?
We can miss two important steps with ideas though. First, we have to make sure it’s a God idea if we want to be operating in His purpose and for His glory. How can you be certain it’s a God idea, not merely a good idea? I ask Him to show me a green light in the form of peace if my brainstorm is from Him and give me a red light in the form of doubt if it doesn’t fit with His direction for my life.
The final step to ideas that often gets overlooked is fulfillment. Some people have fun conceiving ideas, but have a harder time working the idea through—taking action steps to bring to completion what started as a brilliant concept. Ideas are only wishes until we act on them and see them accomplished. Can you think of those uncompleted projects that seem to hang out forever on your To Do List?
Ask God to lead the way. May He:
  • Inspire the idea.
  • Endorse it so you know it’s from Him.
  • Give you the resources to complete the idea.
  • Give you the discipline to stick to it when you’re tempted to quit.
Then praise God when you experience the reward of checking off the idea from your list and you can say, “It is finished!”
Never forget, God will complete us as one of His good ideas, too. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV).

Kathy Carlton Willis serves as publicist, author and coach at KCW Communications. She shines, whether she's shining the light on her clients, or reflecting God's light during her speaking engagements.
Visit the CLASS website to learn more information about the 2012 Christian Writers Conference.
You can meet Kathy and the rest of the CLASS faculty there!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

This week's winner of the Common English Bible is......

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The Random Number Generator has done its thing and has chosen the winner of this week's paperback copy of the Common English Bible. That blessed person is.....


Congratulations, LaVerne; I just sent you an email.

For those of you who would like to purchase this wonderful, user-friendly translation, you can do so here

Thanks to those of you who entered! I will be giving away one paperback copy per week, thanks to the Common English Bible Committee. So please come back often! 

Common English Bible - Second Sunday of Lent Readings + Bible Giveaway!

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Please enjoy these scripture readings for this second Sunday of Lent!

In partnership with the Common English Bible Committee, I am able to offer for giveaway a paperback copy of the Common English Bible. In order to enter, please leave a comment telling me why you'd like a copy. Please make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.

The deadline for entry is Saturday, March 10, 2012, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. The winner, as chosen by the Random Number Generator, will be announced here on Sunday, March 11, 2012. Hope you are the chosen one! :  )

Saturday, March 3, 2012

'Who Told You You Were Naked?' Winner is!

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We have a winner of 'Who Told You You Were Naked?: The Counterfeit Compassion of Culture.' That blessed person is....


Congrats, Linda! I will be in touch for your mailing address.

For those of you who would like to purchase this intriguingly titled book, you can do so here.

Thanks to the author, Thom Hunter, for making this giveaway possible!

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