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Friday, March 29, 2013

What I Wish I Knew at 18--Book Review

Over the past few weeks, my son and I have had the chance to review a book by Dennis Trittin called What I Wish I Knew at 18.


Here's what the back of the book has to say:

You're about to embark on a personal life journey that is uniquely yours.  You have your whole life ahead of you--the thrill of the open road--of life!  What will you make of it?  What I Wish I Knew at 18 can serve as your personal life coach as you navigate the road ahead by helping you answer some key questions:


  • How will I define success in my life?
  • How can I make a successful transition to college?
  • How will I select and thrive in my career? 
  • How will I build new relationships and achieve a lasting marriage?
  • What are my financial goals and how will I achieve them?
What I Wish I Knew at 18 offers 109 life lessons, or success pointers, to guide teens into adulthood.  They are divided under the chapter headings Life Perspective, Character, Relationships and Communication, Spiritual Life, Handling Adversity, Miscellaneous, College Academics, Career Selection and Advancement, Love and Marriage, and Managing Your Finances.  The 109 life lessons are then divided topically between the chapters.  Each is about a page or two long and ends with a "Take Five" that challenges students to examine themselves concerning whatever the lesson was about.  Sometimes, that introspection comes in the form of questions, but sometimes it calls for action.  For example, in "Steer Clear of Destructive People," the Take Five asks them, "Have you ever met anyone whose behavior made you feel uncomfortable?  Did you trust your instinct and keep your distance?  What happened when you didn't?"  But in "Fully Explore Your Compatibility Before Committing," the Take Five challenges them to "Review the above list of compatibility factors and consider ahead of time what your preferences and requirements are.  Make a wish list of your priorities for choosing a mate.  Them make a commitment to go into potential relationships with your eyes open."

Although my son still has a few years before he's an adult, I feel like this book offers some solid advice that he can begin working on even now.  He's really enjoying it, and so he's been doing one "lesson" a day, although sometimes he sneaks in more ;-).

To learn more about What I Wish I Knew at 18, you can go to Dennis Trittin's website.  While you are there, you can sign up for Dennis' eNewsletter.  Dennis also posts daily inspiration and challenges on his Facebook page, Dennis Trittin Fan.  You can buy What I Wish I Knew at 18 for $18.95 in paperback or $9.99 as an e-book.  There are also student guides and Christian student guides available for using the book in a group setting.  Or, one lucky reader can WIN a free copy by entering below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”
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What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and a national speaker who helps women live an adventure of faith. She is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and an author of 15 books, including Unglued, Made to Crave, and What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. Her daily online devotional encourages more than 600,000 women, and her remarkable life story has captivated national audiences on Oprah and Good Morning America. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and five children.

Hope TerKeurst finds fulfillment in serving through missions trips to
places like Ethiopia and Nicaragua. During a trip to Nicaragua, Hope led a team that provided shoes for children to enable them to go to school. When she is at home, Hope spends time with her family and friends. She has a passion for building relationships with others and loves to travel. She is currently a college student in North Carolina.

Visit the authors' website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst invites young women on the unforgettable adventure of saying yes to God as she shares real-life illustrations, biblical guidance, humor, and inspiring special sections: “Living Y.E.S.” (Your Extraordinary Story); “YES in Action” stories from Lysa’s teen daughter, Hope, about faith in motion; chapter Bible study questions.




Product Details:
List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736954554
ISBN-13: 978-0736954556



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


As You Set Out on Your
Yes Journey

We are about to discover how God’s love shapes our hearts and our individual paths of purpose. It’s an amazing journey. We won’t want to miss any of the messages He has for us. In this book you will discover the following features. Each is created to make the truths and wonders of faith more three-dimensional in your life.



Yes Factor

The gifts of the yes journey are plentiful. The Yes Factors highlight some of the most amazing treasures you’ll discover along the way. They are ready to tweet so you can share with your friends, classmates, and online communities to encourage them.



You’re Invited

Each chapter has a special invitation to say yes to God in a new way. Take time with these and pray about how you’ll respond to the call to embrace God’s best.



God’s Word for You

God speaks to us through the Bible. Scripture is not a gathering of material meant for people ages ago. It was written for you. This feature includes questions for group or personal study, reflection points, and verse explorations to get God’s Word from the page to your heart.

Living Y.E.S. (Your Extraordinary Story)

Only you can live your extraordinary story. No one else is designed by God to live this moment and all of your tomorrows. These insights and journal questions will help you understand the uniqueness, incredible value, and power of having a yes heart for God.



Yes in Action: A Note from Hope’s Yes Journey

My teenage daughter Hope shares four personal accounts of listening to God and following His lead. My prayer is that these glimpses of another young woman facing the difficulties and delights of obedience will encourage you to put your yes into action daily.



My Yes Journey Notes

At the back of this book are several note pages so you have a convenient place to write down the ideas, challenges, special verses, prayer needs, and discoveries you experience while starting your yes journey.







Ready for Something Better

Most of us long for something better. Different. Special.

Extraordinary.

We desire something more meaningful than day-to-day survival.

And the amazing thing is that even before we can name this desire, God has placed it within us and is drawing us closer to Him through that desire. Our hunger to be special and to do special things is our spiritual hunger to have an extraordinary relationship with God.

But how do we leave normal behind and head toward extraordinary?

We start a journey! It’s the amazing, transforming, anything-but-normal journey you’ll begin the day you say yes to God and to the amazing faith life He has planned for you.



Let’s begin at the starting place—right here, right now. Imagine with me that this is your day.

Beep. Beep. The notification of a text message wakes you up before your alarm. It’s a friend reminding you to bring money for the school fund-raiser and asking if you will make signs during lunch. As you sneak into the kitchen hoping to grab a bagel and glass of cranberry juice without being spoken to, your parents greet you with good-mornings and then insist you walk the dog before school.

You get to school with only a second to wave to friends. You settle into the assigned seat of the first class and do a mental happy dance because you finished your project early. The celebration is squelched because the teacher asks you to help a student who doesn’t understand yesterday’s assignment.

During lunch you finally get a chance to catch up with your best friend, but she still wants to talk through every event leading to her breakup with her boyfriend—five months ago. You listen for a while and pat her on the back for consolation, but you’re thinking, At least you had a boyfriend. My parents won’t even let me date.

The list goes on, right? A regular, ordinary day includes a lot of requests from a lot of people in your life. There are expectations. And even when you know the right thing to do, you don’t have much joy when you follow through. What’s the point? you think. It’s all so ordinary and leading nowhere.

Even if people want good things from you and of you, it’s tempting to say no. Nope. Uh-uh. No, thank you. I helped yesterday. Ask so-and-so. The dog ate my homework and my backpack and my computer.

There are lots of ways to say no.



When God asks you to do something, it can spark the desire to act as if you didn’t hear Him. It’s tempting to rattle off your memorized top five excuses for getting out of something that might be challenging, humbling, or out of your comfort zone.

In fact, sometimes God asks us to do things that seem a bit crazy at the time. We can’t see the big picture the way He does. We can’t imagine how our one yes during an ordinary day can become something extraordinary when He uses it for His purposes.

But, you see, this is where we get confused. When we say yes to God, our days are no longer ordinary or normal. In fact, there is no such thing as a typical day. Once you make the leap of faith to say yes to God, you will discover the power that answer holds in your relationship with Him, others, and yourself. There’s nothing ordinary about what’s ahead for you. Are you nervous? Are you looking around you and thinking, Maybe normal is okay? What is God going to ask of me when I say yes?

Believe me, I understand this as well as anyone. I can be stubborn. I can be resistant to being told what to do. And I’ve had plenty of times when I wanted to do anything but what God was asking me to do. In fact, I was someone who never left home without having my top five excuses list handy. This was me…that is, until God opened my eyes to the incredible, blow-my-socks-off power of saying yes to Him.

It all started the day He told me to give away my Bible.



My ministry as a writer and a speaker gives me the chance to visit churches, women’s groups, and conferences. On this particular day, I was heading home after a long schedule of speaking and I was wiped out. All I wanted was to get to my assigned seat on the plane and settle in for a nap. Imagine my absolute delight at being the only person seated in my row. I was just about to close my eyes when two last-minute passengers made their way to my row and took their seats.

Reluctantly, I decided to skip my nap. The last thing I wanted was to fall asleep and snore, drool, or, worse yet, wake up with my head resting on the guy’s shoulder beside me. I did not need another most embarrassing moment, so I pulled a manuscript out of my bag and started reading.

“What are you working on?” the guy asked. I told him I was a Christian writer. He smiled and said he thought God was a very interesting topic. I agreed and asked him a few questions about his beliefs. Before long I found myself reaching into my bag and pulling out my Bible, walking him through some key verses that dealt with the issues he was facing. He kept asking questions, and I kept praying God would give me answers.

All of a sudden I felt God tugging at my heart to give this man my Bible. Now, this was not just any Bible. This was my everyday, highlighted, underlined, written in, and tearstained Bible. I hesitated, but God’s message was clear. I was to give away my Bible.

I pulled out old church bulletins and other papers I had tucked inside the covers, took a deep breath, sighed, and placed it in the man’s hands. “I’d like for you to have my Bible,” I said.

Astonished, he started to hand it back to me, saying he couldn’t possibly accept such a gift. “God told me to give it to you,” I insisted. “Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person. Today, He paused for you.”

The man took my Bible and made two promises. First, he said he would read it, and, second, someday he would pass it on, doing for someone else what I’d done for him.

Before I knew it, the plane landed and we were saying our goodbyes. As I stepped into the aisle preparing to disembark, the women on the other side of the businessman reached out and grabbed my arm. She’d been staring out the window the entire time we were flying, and I thought she’d been ignoring us. But her tearstained face told a different story. In a tone so hushed I could barely hear her, she whispered, “Thank you. What you shared today has changed my life.” I put my hand on hers and whispered back, “You’re welcome.” Then a knot caught in my throat as tears welled up in my eyes. I didn’t have another Bible to give away, so I gave her one of my books and hugged her goodbye. It has been said that we are to tell the whole world about Jesus, using words only if necessary. I saw this powerful truth come to life. Though I never spoke to this lady about Jesus, she saw Him through my obedience. How humbling. How profound.

As I got off the plane that day, I could barely hold back my tears. Three people’s hearts were radically changed. I believe the businessman came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior. I believe the same is true for the lady. But my heart was changed in a dramatic way as well. I was overjoyed at what God had done, but I was also brokenhearted by the flood of thoughts that came to mind recounting times I’d told God no. How tragic to miss His divine appointments.





Yes Factor

Open your heart to God’s love. Open your life to His calling. Open your mouth to praise Him.







I kept wondering, How many times have I told You no, God? How many times have I walked right past an extraordinary moment You had shaped for me because I was too tired, too insecure, too caught up in drama, or too selfish? How often do I miss out on experiencing You? I lifted up my heart to the Lord and whispered, “Please forgive me for all those noes. Right now I say yes, Lord. I say yes to You before I even know what You might ask me to do. I simply want You to see a yes-heart in me.”

Several minutes after exiting the plane, I was heading toward my connecting gate when I spotted the businessman again. He stopped me to tell me he’d been praying and thanking God for what happened on the plane. We swapped business cards, and, though we lived several states apart, I knew we’d stay in touch.

About a month later he called to tell me his life had totally changed. He’d taken a week off from work to read the Bible, and he’d already shared his testimony with numerous people. God was definitely pursuing this man in a serious way! When I asked him what his favorite verse was, he said it was Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” I thought to myself, Wow! Look at how God has already answered that for my new friend.

He also told me that after reading the Bible he knew he needed to get involved in a church, so he’d decided to visit a large church in his town. On his way there he passed another church, and a strong feeling came over him to turn his car around and go back. So he did. When he got to his seat in the sanctuary, he opened up his bulletin and gasped. Inside the bulletin he saw an announcement that I was to be the speaker at an upcoming women’s conference. He said he felt as though, once again, God was confirming His active presence.

That day on the plane, when God impressed on my heart to give this man my Bible, I did not know what would happen. This man might have thrown my Bible into the nearest airport trash can for all I knew. Normally, I would’ve come up with a hundred reasons not to give my Bible away, but that day something changed in me. That day, for the first time, I truly heard the call of a woman who says yes to God: “Live your extraordinary story of faith.”

This journey we are taking together is life changing.

1

An Extraordinary Life Awaits

The amazing adventure of living your life and faith in extraordinary ways is up ahead. Here is the most wonderful truth: God designed it for you. And this journey cannot be lived out by anyone else. God made you as a special, nobody-else-like-you young woman, and He has a plan for your life. Do you feel it? Do you believe it? When you get up in the morning, do you think about how your day can only be lived out by the incredible you? Your family knows you and your quirky habits, and your friends share common interests, but nobody else is taking your steps through your day.

The extraordinary faith journey begins the moment you say yes to God and yes to the story He is creating through your heart, abilities, dreams, and faithfulness. It’s not just a special story—it’s an extraordinary one you and God experience together.

When we feel a tug on our heart and a stirring in our soul for more, we are often afraid to venture past our comfort zone. Outside our comfort zone, however, is where we experience the true awesomeness of God. But you have to take the plunge. How ready are you?

Notice that I didn’t ask “How perfect are you?” Perfection is highly overrated. I think at this point it is important for me to paint an accurate picture of what my life looks like before you imagine me as this super calm, amazingly organized and disciplined person who spends hours on her knees in prayer. Truth? My to-do list rarely gets accomplished. My emotions have been known to run wild, and my patience can run thin. I get pushed to the limit by everyday aggravations, such as a summer’s worth of pictures getting erased from my digital camera. Or a dog who runs away at the most inconvenient times. And I’ve had times when I step outside my comfort zone and fear causes me to second-guess myself and God’s plan.

Can you relate? Great! No matter what your life is like, you’re a young woman made to say yes to God. Even if you’re juggling all the craziness life can throw your way, when you simply whisper yes, you are equipped to start your extraordinary story of following God. “Yes, Lord. I want Your patience to override my desire to fly off the handle.” “Yes, Lord. I want Your strength to keep my emotions in check when my family and friends drive me nuts.” “Yes, Lord. I want Your courage to accept challenges that intimidate me.” “Yes, Lord. I want to see my great value as Your daughter so I don’t worry about what other people think.”

You don’t need perfect circumstances to say yes to God. You don’t need the perfect religious attitude or all the answers to religious questions. You simply have to give to God all of the thoughts, worries, people, drama, and struggles that occupy your attention and your heart. You simply have to speak the answer God is longing to hear spill from your lips. “Yes, God.”

The Daily Yes Prayer
Each day when I wake up, I pray a very simple prayer before my feet even hit the floor. I encourage you to write your own or use this prayer so you can experience your extraordinary God in extraordinary ways.

God, I want to see You.

God, I want to hear You.

God, I want to know You.

God, I want to follow hard after You.

And even before I know what I will face today, I say yes to You.

This simple act of surrender each morning will prepare your eyes to see Him, your ears to hear Him, your mind to perceive Him, and your heart to receive Him. This is how to live expecting to experience God.

You see, we have become so familiar with God and yet still so unaware of Him. We turn the mysterious into something ordinary, even boring. We construct careful reasons for our rules and sensible whys for our behavior. All the while our soul is longing for a richer experience—one that allows us to escape the limits of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell and journey to a place of wild, wonder, and passion.

Young women who say yes to God will see life like few others.

And you will be drawn in and embraced by a love like no other. You don’t have to wait until the next time you’re in church to experience God because you can sense God’s presence all around you, all through your day. Instead of going through the motions of life, you’ll pursue the adventure of the moment-by-moment divine story and lessons God is unfolding.

When you say yes, you can expect to see God, to hear from Him, and to be absolutely filled by His peace and joy.

The Holy and the Ordinary
Embracing a holy God in the middle of life’s everyday activities will change your life. God’s surprises of good and wondrous experiences will take your breath away, but you might not always feel happy about the changes. I can’t let you think that being a young woman who says yes to God means everything is always easy. There will be times when you experience the sting of heartache, frustration, uncertainty, failure, and loss, but now there will be new ways of dealing with those hard times. A holy way.

I had one of those experiences recently. I simply wanted to throw my hands in the air, throw my computer out the window, and cry out to God, “You have hurt my feelings, and I’m just a little unnerved and upset!”

I was at a friend’s lake house to devote three days to a writing project. After the first night of working hard, I had gone to bed excited about all I’d accomplished. I awakened the next morning ready to have the same kind of success. But as I opened up my docu-ment folder with great anticipation, I saw…nothing. Nothing! The project was nowhere to be found.

Refusing to panic, I asked for my friends’ help. After two hours of searching, one of my friends gently looked at me and verbalized the truth we’d all come to know. “It’s gone, Lysa. You are going to have to start over.”

What!

Wait a minute, I thought. I have said yes to God today and had a great quiet time. I just know He can and will help me find this. But for whatever reason, my document was gone and God had chosen not to bring it back. Tears filled my eyes as bitterness started to creep in my heart. Why would He allow this? My friend could sense my despair and gently replied, “Lysa, recently when something like this happened to me, someone told me to look at my loss as a sacrifice of praise to God. It is so hard in today’s abundance to give God a true sacrifice, but losing two thousand words and a whole day’s work would qualify. Give this to Him without feeling bitter.”

I resisted slapping my well-meaning friend as she then broke into singing praise songs. By the second stanza, I actually found myself joining in with a lighter heart and a resilient spirit.

Have you ever lost something that had required great effort and care on your part? Sometimes it isn’t a school project or a writing assignment we’ve invested in; rather, it’s a relationship. If you’ve ever said goodbye to a friend because of a move or because you find yourself taking a different path, you’ve experienced what felt like an unfair loss of time, effort, and heart. The loss of “what could’ve been” can be very disappointing. When you care about anything, it makes you more vulnerable. The risk is higher because more of your heart and soul is vested in the outcome. This is exactly why these times can be lifted up as a praise offering.



Yes Factor

Saying yes to God isn’t about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to Him.



Being a young woman who says yes to God is about trusting Him even when you can’t understand why He requires some of the things He does. It also means that once you’ve said yes to God, you refuse to turn back, even when things get hard.

This kind of obedience invites you to embrace a bigger vision for your life. When you look at your everyday circumstances with God’s perspective, everything changes. You realize that He uses each circumstance, each person who crosses your path, and each encounter you have with Him as a divine appointment. Each day counts, and every action and reaction matters. God absolutely loves to take ordinary people and do extraordinary things in them, through them, and with them.

It’s a Party
Imagine that you’ve planned a wonderful surprise party for your best friend. The guests have all arrived. You’ve loaded the deco--rated dining room table with her favorite junk food and healthy preferences. Everything is ready for the guest of honor. You can barely wait for the big moment of “Surprise!” because you know your friend will feel so loved and celebrated.

Finally, the time has come. And gone. Your friend is late. Your other friends are whispering in the darkened living room and trying unsuccessfully to hold back waves of laughter. Suddenly, your cell phone rings. Your friend’s image appears on the screen. “Shhh!” you say to the others just before answering the call.

“Hey, where are you?” you ask casually.

Instead of saying she’s on her way, your friend says she’s too tired to come over and has decided to watch the last two episodes of her favorite show online. She’s already in her pajamas and will check out whatever you wanted to show her tomorrow. You try to convince her that tonight is so much better and you really want to share something with her. But with a friendly “See you tomorrow, I promise,” she hangs up.

But by tomorrow the guests will be gone, the leftover food will be stored away, and the party that never started will be over.

How sad for the guest of honor, who missed her own surprise party! And how disappointing for you, the party planner who orchestrated the event with the hope of showing a friend how much she is loved.

God must feel the same way when we miss the “surprise parties” that await us each day. These are the divine appointments sprinkled throughout our day for us to experience when we pay attention to God’s leading. He must be so disappointed when we don’t hear or don’t listen to Him redirecting us to hang up the phone and show up at the event He has planned with great care. It must break His heart when we brush aside something that not only would make us feel special and noticed by God, but also would allow us to join Him in making life a little sweeter for others.

Which Invitation Will You Accept?
How many times have you missed your own surprise party?

God reveals Himself and His activity to all of us, but it takes a desire for the extraordinary to embrace these encounters because they can cause extreme changes in our plans, our perspectives, and our passions. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of change.

Yet, when we protect ourselves from change, we’re saying no to God and yes to a life that leaves us unmotivated and directionless. Let’s pause for a second and give that another look. You are accepting an invitation at any given moment, but are you saying yes to whims, desires, and random paths? Or are you accepting God’s invitation to your purposed, powerful faith story?

I can think of several times when I let fear override my faith. I said yes to my insecurities and worries instead of God’s strength and certainty. Has this happened to you? Maybe you felt God leading you to say yes to Him, yet you didn’t go out for a play, you held back from introducing yourself to a new girl at school, or you resisted telling a guy you like about your faith. Every day has chances like these to step forward in God’s leading, but we have to be prepared and ready to notice these opportunities from Him. When we are prepared and we do step out in faith, He will bless our yes!

You’re Invited…
to Attend God’s Surprise Party for You

WHAT:

The party you don’t want to miss! This is a gathering of God’s best for you…love, grace, hope, promises, and the joy of His wonder and will. All the great surprises of faith.

WHEN:

This moment. Forget the excuses. Get ready for something extraordinary.

WHERE:

On the other side of the door. Don’t hesitate. Open the door. God and the incredible surprises of the yes journey are waiting for you.

WHAT TO BRING:

Everything is provided…so leave behind all that is ordinary. You’ll want to be able to receive the extraordinary gifts God has chosen just for you.



How to Make HIStory
I love the word “history” because when we break it down we see that it means “His story.” Your personal history might have times of pain or trouble. There might be moments of sadness or loneliness. And your past might be littered with some mistakes, but God is a God of transformation. He uses each and every part of your history and present to make an extraordinary new story.

As I’ve spoken to a lot of young women from around the country, I’ve been saddened to discover how many miss out on the most exciting part of being a Christian—experiencing God and experiencing their extraordinary story through Him. This is the great gift of being a Christian. The gift isn’t about perfection or becoming the most popular person in school because you are blessed. The gift is being able to live out your extraordinary story with and through God’s amazing love. It’s incredible.

Those who say they want more in their Christian life are often looking outside of their personal relationship with God for the secret. They want their church, their pastor, or someone or something else to be the missing piece. These supports can make your faith stronger, but it is your one-on-one experience with God that changes everything.

You and I are on our way to recognizing and experiencing what that “more” can look like. It’s a relationship with God that allows us to

know His voice
live in expectation of His activity
embrace a life totally sold out for Him

I suspect you desire such closeness with God. This fulfillment of this desire is real and amazing. And this incredible adventure starts with the wild willingness to say yes.

In today’s world, it is radical to obey God’s commands, listen to the Holy Spirit’s convictions, and walk in Jesus’ character. And we’ll experience the amazing blessings God has in store for us when we speak that big, freeing “Yes, Lord.” This response to God’s call, His requests, and His hope for us will lead to a great, unforgettable faith story.

Don’t stumble over the fear you won’t be perfect and you’ll likely mess up. Saying yes to God isn’t about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to the Lord day by day. It’s about experiencing the full blessing of God by giving your full attention to God when He asks you to trust Him. It’s having the overwhelming desire to walk in the center of His will at every moment. The life of yes happens when you hear God, feel His nudges, participate in His activity, and experience His blessings in ways few people ever do.

The God of the universe wants to use you in great ways. Are you ready?

There is only one requirement for this adventure. We have to set our rules and agendas aside—our dos and don’ts—and follow God’s command. His one requirement is so simple and yet so profound: Say yes to Me. That’s it. That is the entire Bible, Old Testament and New, hundreds of pages, thousands of verses, all wrapped up in those four words.

God’s Word for You

Psalm 19:7-10 says,

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree. God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries (msg).

What does this passage tell you about God’s nature?

Which of these promises are ones you really needed to hear right now? Why?

Read Deuteronomy 6:5. What might loving God with your heart, soul, and strength look like in your daily life?



Psalm 16:7-9 says,

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.

Describe how these verses ease your worries or concerns.

Living Y.E.S. (Your Extraordinary Story)

Have you ever felt God leading you to do something? How did you respond?

What holds you back from going deeper in your relationship with God? Time? Intimidation? Doubt about the Bible’s relevance to life? Worry about what others will say? Fear that God will let you down like people have? Write down which of these or other barriers come between you and an extraordinary faith right now.

How might God’s love counter these obstacles?

Why are you ready now to experience God’s great surprises for you?

In this chapter we read, “Being a young woman who says yes to God is about trusting Him even when you can’t understand why He requires some of the things He does. It also means that once you’ve said yes to God, you refuse to turn back, even when things get hard.”

List two ways you want to trust God by saying yes to Him this week.

1.

2.

What title would you give your extraordinary story?

Yes Prayer

Your extraordinary story unfolds each time you listen to God and follow His leading. Here is a prayer to lead you to each of God’s sweet surprises for you.

Dear God, I am putting away all my excuses so I can fully celebrate who You are and who I am in You. Thank You for adopting me as Your child and loving me unconditionally. I want to grow closer to You as I trust You more completely. I know You will ask me to grow and to move outside of my comfort zone, but with Your strength and help, I’m ready to experience my extraordinary story. I say yes to You with great joy. In Jesus’ name, amen.


OBM says:  Our local radio station plays Lysa TerKeurst's one minute inspirational thoughts, so I was familiar with her and Proverbs 31 Ministries.  What appealed to me about this book is that Lysa's daughter co-authors it, and it speaks to the heart of young women.  My daughter, in particular, very much enjoys devotionals that are filled with personal stories of people living out their faith.  This devotional not only has that, but encourages these girls in how they can live out their faith in all circumstances. I'd definitely recommend it to young women who are looking to draw closer to God.
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Monday, March 25, 2013

B is for Beach


It might sound kind of cliche to use beach as my "B" word.  After all, I do live in Florida--a peninsula with beaches all around.  But here's the thing...I just am not a beach person.  Actually, I love to walk on the beach at sunrise and sunset.  And I like collecting shells.  But I hate sand...and salt.  I mean, I really hate salt.  I hardly salt my food.  And I certainly don't want to get a mouthful of sandy, salty water.  I could go on and on, but really, the worst part to me about the beach is all the prep work to get there and all the clean-up afterward, especially with 4 kids.

I've get to the beach maybe twice a year normally.

I've been twice in the past week.

Yeppers, it goes back to that whole "playing tourist with out of town family" thing that I spoke of in my "A is for Atlas V Rocket" post.  It's a good thing though.  I need a reason to make me go to the beach, because I really don't want to be the type of mom whose kids grow up in Florida but hardly go to the beach.  That was my husband's lot in life, and he grew up about a mile and a half (not an hour and a half) from the beach.

But my dad's cousin and his family has been in town, and they were staying at the coast, so we drove over twice to see them.  Andrew is only 5 years older than me, even though he's my dad's cousin.  And his kids are younger than mine are.  He and his wife lived in Hawaii for 10 years, and their kids were born there.  They moved back about a year and a half ago, but they miss the beach, so they came for a visit :-).

The first day we met them, I just had my two youngest.  It was NOT a warm day.  High in the very low 70's with quite a wind blowing on the beach.  We went to Playalinda and had the beach practically to ourselves.  The kids spent about 2 hours in the (not very warm at all) water.

Sari and TJ in the surf

Sari buried in sand with Athena digging her out.

Cousin Andrew excavating one small girl.

Freddy and Athena

Sari and Athena

TJ and Freddy (excuse all the spots in the picture...this lens needs to be sent away for cleaning!)
The kids really hit it off.  And they are so alike in appearance.  Especially Freddy and TJ.  Playalinda closes at 6, so we all went to dinner at a local pizza place and then headed home.

Our next day at the beach was Tuesday the 19th for the rocket launch.  This time, all my kiddos were there. It was a beautiful day.  Highs in the mid 80's.  Plenty warm in the sun.  The water was still in the 60s though.


The trip to the beach was worth it for this moment alone.  All four of my kids working together on a sand castle project.

Almost everyone...Leslie and I were enjoying the shade of our canopy.


I <3 always="" and="" do="" finally="" nbsp="" p="" remembered="" this.="" this="" to="" trip...="" ve="" wanted="">

Check out what others chose for their "B" words at Ben and Me.
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A is for Atlas V Rocket

My friend Marcy hosts a Blogging Through the Alphabet meme.  Since we've seen how terrible I have done at the blogging every day thing, I thought maybe I can do a weekly thing.  Of course, I'm starting a week late, so I'd say I'm pretty much on par for my usual, LOL.



A is for Atlas V Rocket.  I've lived in Florida for 24 years, and until last week I had never seek a rocket launch!  Somehow, it took family coming to town from out of state to get me to play tourist in my own home state and go see a launch.  We met them at Jetty Park just across from Cape Canaveral, and spent the day playing at the beach.  The launch window was from roughly 5:20-6:00, which is pretty long.  The weather though was supposed to be yucky, with thunderstorms predicted in the afternoon...

It was beautiful!  The launch went up right on time.  Rockets aren't quite as exciting as the shuttle was, but it was fun to see it up close, and the kids really enjoyed it.




 Look to the far right and you can actually still see the rocket.  

Pretty contrail.
 

Apparently, this type of Atlas Launch, without the solid rocket boosters, is very clean, environmentally speaking.  This I learned from my family...you know, the ones who don't live here, LOL.

 Here are two of my kiddos watching the launch.  Sari managed to video the whole thing, although I imagine all but the most seasoned sailor might toss their cookies trying to watch it--it's a little bumpy ;-).

A is also for Athena.  She's my second cousin.  She is 3 1/2 and cute as a button.  She and Sari really hit it off.  Athena reminds me SOOO much of her grandmother (my great aunt).  She was one of my favorite people, and I miss her a lot.


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Sunday, March 24, 2013

FamilyMint Review Revisited


As many of my readers know, I have four children.  And it seems like every time we are out, someone is begging me to buy them something, usually followed by the words, "I'll pay you back."  The thing is, my memory is horrible, and most of those "loans" become "gifts".  So much so, that I have really put my foot down.  When they ask for something, my normal response now is, "Do you have your money with you?  I am NOT the First National Bank of Mommy."  But now, FamilyMint offers another option.  

FamilyMint began as a free, online money management system that allows you to teach children how to make deposits, withdrawals, and most importantly, save their money so that they can achieve their financial goals.  I reviewed the Alpha version of FamilyMint in the past.  They still offer that free service.  But now, FamilyMint has expanded their offerings and gotten even better.




Now, in addition to the online component, FamilyMint also offers a Money Management Certification Program.  It's "a complete step-by-step program for learning money management."  This workbook offers detailed instruction for the parents as to how to use this program.  It tells you exactly what to do.  Then it has 4 chapters for the students to work through (you are allowed to copy the pages for children within your immediate family should you have multiple kids like I do).  The chapters focus on Tracking Your Money, Goal Setting, Budgeting, and Interest.  Each one has some basic financial vocabulary, and then wonderfully simple but effective instruction about the financial topic the chapter addresses.  There are a few activities for the students to do in each chapter--things like filling out fake deposit slips and checks, choosing goals to save toward, or figuring out interest.  The back of the book contains more checks, deposit slips, and goal tracking forms, as well as a code that gives you access to FamilyMint Premium online.  

 


Before I tell you what the Premium version offers, let me tell you a little more about FamilyMint's money management program.  Essentially, it does involve you becoming the First National Bank of Mommy (or Daddy), but unlike what always happened to us in the past, in this case you actually have their money in YOUR possession.  Your child makes a deposit of their funds to you, and then, just like a real bank, they must give you deposit slips to deposit more money or write checks to make withdrawals.  They learn to allocate funds toward things they want to buy using the popular "envelope system".  Your students can learn to do all this without even going online at all, or they can track it all online via FamilyMint's website.  As a parent, you approve their deposits and withdrawals, so you control the money, but they get to learn how to really be responsible for their spending and saving.  Above, you can see my family's actual account.  Each child has their own avatar or picture, and their own login.  They can basically do "online banking" via their login, which allows them to make and see their transactions as well as how much they have saved toward each goal (see picture below).  


Now that you know how the program works, here are my thoughts.

The pros:  I balked in the past at being the bank because I didn't have their actual money in my possession, and never seemed to get paid back.  This way, I have their money in advance of them seeking to spend it on anything.  Setting goals helps them to learn delayed gratification--putting off that impulse buy in order to be able to get to their goal faster.  I like that I can actually just deposit their money in our general account, because FamilyMint keeps track of how much each one has, and if I'm "cashing a check" for them, the most convenient way of doing that may well be via my debit card, especially at the local theme parks where I would worry about their money getting lost.  We also have a perhaps unique situation in that one of my children has a total lack of impulse control when they find money around the house that doesn't belong to them, so this keeps the kids' money safe from their sibling too, which is a win-win for all of us.

The cons:  The only con has nothing to do with FamilyMint's program--it is just developing the habit of using the program.  I think it works brilliantly, but it's a different way of doing things from what we had been doing, and we are having to train ourselves to use it.  I'm very visual, so once my children completed the Money Management Certification Program, I still kept FamilyMint on their school schedule, just for them to check whether they needed to make any deposits or withdrawals.  

The bottom line:  I think FamilyMint was good before, and it has definitely improved for the better.  Adding the physical workbook component is a perfect way to allow students to work through the ideas of money management and learn the "hows" and "whys" behind it.   We are definitely sticking with FamilyMint for the long haul.  And, given that you can check it out online for free, there's no reason not to give it a try.  But I'd definitely recommend the bundle with the workbook.  It's well worth the money, to be sure.

So how much does it cost?  You can purchase the bundle with the Money Management Certification Course and the Premium online version for LIFE for a special introductory price of $29.99.  If you want to purchase additional workbooks, they are half off.  Or, if you decide just to use the online component (which I wouldn't recommend--the workbook is worth it!), you can use the free version or the premium version.  What's the difference?  Check out the chart below:

 The premium version is $24.99 a year or $4.95 a month.  But if you buy the workbook, you get the premium version for LIFE for just $29.99.  It's a great deal.

Click to visit FamiyMint's website to read more about it.  And be sure to visit the Mosaic Review Blog to see what my fellow reviewers had to say.


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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Veggie Tales: The Little House that Stood Review and Giveaway

If you like to talk to tomatoes.  If a squash can make you smile...



You just might love the newest Veggie Tales video entitled  The Little House That Stood:  A Lesson in Making Good Choices.  The Little House That Stood blends the three little pigs with the parable of the wise man who builds his house upon the rock.  It's a great illustration of what can go wrong when you build on a less than firm foundation no matter how great the building materials are.

Here's how the back of the box describes it:
When the Three Little Pigs roll into Cabbageville looking to build some new houses, they meet one builder with a plan and two without a clue!  Larry builds with hay, Mr. Lunt with bricks, but only Bob builds his house on a firm foundation--following the wise plans from the "Master Builder's Handbook!"  Will the Little Piggies make the right choices when it comes to building their houses--and their lives--on solid ground?  Find out in this parable that shows kids that when they follow God's blueprints, they can stand strong when the storms come!

The Little House That Stood DVD also features a retelling of the Humpty Dumpty story in "The Good Egg of Gooseville".  Humpty Dumpty gets a little stressed out at trying to do it all himself, and ends up getting all cracked up.  But he learns the lesson that a friend will "Lend a Little Hand", and though he can't undo the cracks, he can keep them from getting worse.  There are also bonus features on the disk that Veggie Tales fans have come to love, like a new Silly Song called Happy Tooth Day.

My 8 year old daughter loved this video.  Well, to be fair, all my kids did, but the older ones have a little more trouble "owning up" to it.  They had no trouble sitting and watching the movie 4-5 times though.  And they've been singing, "a friend will lend a little, a friend will lend a little, a friend will lend a little hand" over and over again.  I think this is a great movie with a strong message presented in a fun and entertaining way, and I'm thrilled we had the chance to review it.



You know, "there's never, ever, ever, ever, ever been a show like Veggie Tales," and now you can own it too.  In fact, one lucky person can win a copy by entering below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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31 Day Blog Challenge- Day 10



Day 10's question is, "What is your daily routine?"  Man, I wish I had one.  Not that there isn't routine to my days...just that I wish I had ONLY one, and not a different one for everyday of the week.  If I strip the day to its most generic form, then it's something like this:

  • up between 6:30-7:30
  • quiet time with my Bible and my Lord
  • facilitate Sari's breakfast (I'm really trying to take myself out of that equation)
  • wake my oldest two and encourage TJ to leave his room and start his day
  • hound my eldest until he takes his pills
  • eat breakfast myself somewhere around 8:45ish
  • begin our day (school during the week, neglected household tasks on weekends)
  • lunch around 12:30-1ish
  • a little more work and then a 25 minute quiet time for mommy (a.k.a. a nap)
  • begin dinner prep around 4-4:30ish (frequently we have evening activities that start around 6-6:30 and go for hours, so we have to eat early)
  • evening activities/catch up on undone work
  • kids to bed around 8 and prayer time with them
  • 9ish- TV time with the Hubs and work on the computer (editing photos or blogging)
  • bed after everyone else is asleep...frequently that's midnight, although they are in their rooms WAY before that.  I just can't go to bed until I know they are all asleep.  I'm one of those 10 hours of sleep a night people, and if you notice, I get 6:30 most nights, so that's where that 25 minute catnap makes the difference between awake and functional and dragging and cranky ;-).
That's a generic day, and most days aren't, but there's a rough idea of my daily schedule.
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Final Redesign...for NOW ;-)

SO what do you think?  I tweaked the header a bit, and changed the background...better still, I actually edited the html code and did the background myself.  Don't be too impressed, it failed WAY more than it worked.  I'm happy with this for now though I think.  Now to design a blog button...
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Saturday, March 9, 2013

31 Day Blog Challenge- Day 9


Day 9-- What's on your "bucket list"?


  • learn to play guitar
  • go on a mission trip
  • go to the Holy Land
  • go on a cruise (can you sense a theme, LOL)
  • get (back) in shape
  • learn HDR and get really, really good at it
  • finally take that trip to Hawaii
I'm sure there are other things I can't think of right now, but that's off the top of my head.  What's on YOUR bucket list?
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday to my Baby Girl

Someday, I'll be organized enough to post these first thing in the morning, instead of just before midnight on their birthdays, LOL.


Today, my baby girl tuned 8.  This has been a fun year, and she's at such a great age now!  In this past year, she's lost her first teeth, and become quite the daredevil on thrill rides.  She remains a bit behind in reading and math, but excels in all things artistic.  She's still a little too quick to tears, and that's something I hope she outgrows this year, but she's also SO funny, and is developing an amazing sense of comedic timing and has the ability to pull one liners out of context and apply them perfectly to other situations.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the past few months.

Beach bum and wave rider

Don't mess with this Renaissance girl

She loves Plum!

And Aunt Sheila

Her favorite Disney hairstyle..."Princess hair" (okay, really messy  princess hair-it was a windy, wet day)

Funny

Sweet

Funny

Mischievous

Skirt lovin'

Artistic

Thrill seeking
The first to call me "Mamma" and still a Mamma's girl

Beautiful inside and out
Happy Birthday Sari!!!
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New background

Living with this for a day or two to see what I think...still have to redo the header.  I just want to change the picture frame area.
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31 Day Blog Challenge- Day 8



Today's question is, "What's your biggest pet peeve?"   At first, I was thinking I don't really have any.  And then I uploaded pictures from my phone to my computer and found this:

This was us at the Shamu show recently, and this guy was sitting in front of poor Sari.  SO here's my pet peeve...your ipad is NOT a camera.  I know it has a camera, but it's NOT a camera.  And every time you raise it up to take a picture or video, the people behind you can't see the show AT ALL.  Pretty much every cool thing Shamu did was lost on Sari because the view above was all she saw :-(.  More and more, I am seeing people walking around the theme parks with their ipads and using them as cameras, completely oblivious to how much they are ruining things for the people stuck behind them.
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Thursday, March 7, 2013

31 Day Blog Challenge- Day 7


Today's question is, "What's your dream job?"  You would think that would have a simple answer, but of course, nothing is simple for me. 

 The first answer is,  "I'm doing it" because I always, always wanted to be a mom.  I'm thrilled to be a mom, and it really is a dream come true.  

The second answer is, "Getting to travel the world as a photographer."  But while I would truly love that, it's really a much more solitary life than is practical for a married mother of four ;-).

The last answer is, "What I used to do--giving tours at Disney".  I worked doing corporate and educational programs, as well as just behind the scenes tours.  I loved that job, and I'm be quite happy to go back to it.  It never seemed like work.  Imagine getting paid to take people to see the things they've always wanted to see at Disney.  It was great.  And we are definitely a Disney family...that's where we are today, celebrating my youngest daughter's birthday a day early ;-).


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