Book Review The Merchant’s Daughter

The Merchant's DaughterThe Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! The Merchant’s Daughter is a new take on an old story, Beauty and the Beast. However it’s set in the 1300s. Annabel is the daughter of a wealthy merchant, but due to unthinkable circumstances she becomes an indentured servant to Lord Ranulf. He’s been injured in an accident and carries his scarred left hand against his body; his scarred face wears an eye patch. His manner is gruff and frightening to those beneath him.
Yet Annabel sees only the good in him….
I won’t give away the rest, but this was a pleasurable read. The best part is, although this is a Christianity-based story, the faith was skillfully woven in. It never feels forced or pushed upon the reader the way many Christian novels do. Part of that is the setting, a time when faith and life went hand-in-hand; much of it, though, is the skill of the author.
I will be looking for more books from Melanie Dickerson. 🙂

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Christian Mind Management

Psalm 3418 copy

 

Day 10 of Faith Dare #FaithDare really spoke to me. It’s titled “Mind Management,” and I suspect it’s relevant to the majority of American Christian women. We bought into the women’s lib, do-it-all have-it-all lie and then we believed that we all had to emulate that annoying Proverbs 31 woman, and what we ended up with was a message: We have to do it all and we have to be perfect.

As a result, we talk unkindly to ourselves. We speak to Self in a way we would never, ever speak to our family or our best friend. We use an ugly tone of voice — try saying out loud sometime what you say to yourself in your head! Doesn’t it sound awful?

So, Day 10 likens our negative self-talk to flies: They are “disgusting, annoying, and downright frustrating,” author Debbie Alsdorf says. She mentions how they return again and again, and even become an overwhelming swarm. Has this woman been inside my head, or what?

If you have this sort of problem, what’s the answer? Focus, says Alsdorf. Handing over these thoughts to God, interrupting the lie with a Truth will stop it in its tracks. I never thought of this as a spiritual practice. I never thought of managing my mind just like I manage my household, spiritual life, relationships, and, errmm, my desk. Please don’t look at my desk.

It’s simple, but I’ve already put it to work and it is successful. Whenever you have a bad thought, look for the good of the situation. If your husband is driving you crazy, stop and think about the positive: He is a good provider, he is great with the kids, he helps with housework. He loves you. Or whatever you can find that’s good about your hubby. 🙂
Once you’ve replaced the bad thoughts, focus on the new, positive thoughts. This is mind management.

If the thought is too stubborn to leave, take it up a notch: Use Scripture. Yes, take out God’s Word and read it silently or aloud to shoo away those lie-flies. Better yet if you have memorized Scripture, you can quote it.

This works because you are able to take charge, you are able to stop the negativism and call on the Lord to help straighten out the oft-blurred line between truth and fiction. Only 4% of women in the US consider themselves beautiful, according to Dove, the “Real Women” proponents. We spend our days thinking, my thighs are fat, I need more makeup, don’t take my picture… Whew! We wear ourselves out just thinking.

As soon as I tried replacing the negative with positive and realized I could push these thoughts aside and make them never return—I felt more in control. I felt like I had found a special key and unlocked a secret door. Because I tend toward depression (part of the fun of having fibromyalgia) I find this especially helpful. I called my daughter, another fibro sufferer, and she was excited over it, too. “It’s not one of those just-get-over-it things, is it?” she asked.

No it’s not. This is reach up to God to reach the tools we need to get through this life. This is how to live on earth happily, how to simplify our own minds. Beautiful!

Philippians 4:8 ~ Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. [NASB]

What’s Heaven Like, and Who Will Be There?

My latest video, based on a thought from yesterday’s church service: what is heaven like?
Please let me know what YOU think it’s like!

Very short, and no verses to look up. 😀

I’m Not Behind, I Promise!

So I started the new Bible study two days ago, and I didn’t post yesterday. Here’s why: I went to the beach all day, and the group meeting wasn’t until 8 p.m. So I knew I’d prolly be too tired to blog afterward. It was a planned absence.
The group meeting went *so well* and it’s a group of people just like me— people who are passionate about the Lord, about following Him, about doing what we should and not what we could.
At the end of the group meeting, somebody said “can we partner up?” and suddenly we just were. I went to a new friend’s Facebook page to see if she would partner with me, and before I could type it she popped up on chat: “So nice to get to know you! Want to partner?”
Then we found out we had so much in common….and more…and finally she said “are you left handed?” and I burst out laughing, typing back YES. God has such a sense of humor. He put us together, and we fit like 2 peas in the proverbial (pun intended) pod.
Between the excitement of my new, much-like-me partner and the joy of my renewed faith that God will let me know what my ministry is–SOON– I thought I would never go to sleep.
I did find out that I was supposed to read the first 2 chapters first, and start with Day 1 on Aug. 1. So there will be a small delay here as I catch up. Maybe I will make a new video. 🙂
Be blessed!

Living from a New Heart Perspective

Something as simple as whether to blog about a book you’re reading can put you into a sort of tailspin. I read recently that if I’m blogging, as a Christian author, my posts should only be about: 1. me in relation to my book 2. the book itself 3. Christianity as it relates to my book. After giving this some serious thought, I decided that I’m a lot more dimensional than that, and my readers (ok. My one reader?) might appreciate some insight into the thought process. Besides, if I found a blog like that, it would be boring!

So this is my  first day reading a 30 Day book called The Faith Dare, by Debbi Alsdorf.  My online Bible Study group — a lifeline, now that I am without a church home (until we find one here in FL)–is doing it together. I’ll be journaling about it here on Hooked On Jesus throughout the entire month, though possibly not daily. 🙂

So. Today we’re talking about the heart: having an undivided heart, giving God access to all of your heart, becoming a woman of purpose (a single purpose!), and living out of your new heart. This truth is speaking to me strongly, as I know I need a single, focused purpose. Actually I have one–I just keep letting myself get blown around in the tide. I need to sail straighter. Living out of that heart…that’s a difficult thing; if you’ve had pain or trials in your life, sometimes you live out of the past instead of out of the glory in which God has made you.

Today, God asked me whether I was putting other things in front of my Bible reading. Not Bible studies — the actual  study of The Word. Obviously I’m guilty, or He would not have gently presented the question. So I think I’ll start the day with Bible reading, before I even get out of bed.

I also have some awesome CDs of the Bible narrated by some name actors, I love listening to it. It’s just since we moved there is no way to listen privately. I have to play it on my computer in the (shared) office, or in the living room. Blaring out through the entire house, as it’s an open floor plan. lol I’ll have to give that some more thought, as I really enjoy listening to the Bible on Cd. Sometimes I try to follow along in my Bible at the same time; other times I just sit back and enjoy the Word washing over me.

Goals:
Live from my new heart
Find a way to listen to Bible on CD
Read my Bible more
Stick with Faith Dare the whole 30 days

Sans Dieu Rien

This is a picture I made to hang in front of my desk….I was thinking it in French (Sans Dieu, Rien) but it came out in English, didn’t it? Never mind….it conveys the same message. Without God, I am nothing.

WIthout God, Nothing photo
Sans Dieu Rien

14 Ways To Handle A Christian Introvert

Wow! This was written by…. some guy who is my other self? He totally put into words the way most introverts feel, MOST OF THE TIME. And, like the author, I am often in a leadership or speaking position (and no, I can’t explain how I can handle that but become exhausted after 3 hours with a group of friends).

originally posted here: http://jsparkblog.com/2012/12/13/14-ways-to-handle-a-christian-introvert/
Read on:
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If you ever met me, you would think I was an extrovert — I preach, I lead praise, I talk to everyone, I talk too much, and you can hear me laughing from across the street — but I am a full-blooded introvert.

If it were up to me, I’d rather be in my boxers all day eating Godiva while browsing food photo blogs and bothering my dog and cracking up at YouTube videos of Whose Line Is It Anyway and leaving dry ironic comments all over Facebook while reading the latest theory on how Sherlock survived the second season finale.

I intensely guard my personal space and my private life. It takes a herculean effort to step outside my comfort zone and interact with messy, fleshy, real live human beings.

Here’s how you handle us.

1) In a small group or Bible study or cell meeting, do NOT make us talk.

Introverts are much more methodical and tend to process things. In a group discussion, our silence doesn’t mean we’re not listening. We’re just trying to fit the pieces together in our own head. We aim to be thoughtful and deliberate. Please be sensitive to our secret mind palace. We’ll talk when we dang well feel like it.

2) We just don’t sing like the front row.

It’s great that extroverts can freely express themselves during worship time. But introverts sometimes just read the lyrics, connect inwardly, and keep their hands inside the vehicle. If you see us raising even one hand and singing a few words, we are seriously pushing the gas pedal all the way to the floor.

3) Do not ever rebuke us in public.

Or you and I are done. Forever. You should never do this anyway.

4) Extroverts: be patient in conversation and don’t treat my every word like your personal victory.

Extroverts, it’s okay if you monopolize the conversation. We do like to listen. But please don’t treat us like your personal project with a precious pearl inside. And don’t try to squeeze out my life story as if you’re trying to save us. Earn trust by being a friend first. Unlike extroverts, we’re not good at being best friends on the first day.

5) Fellow introverts: find us quickly.

See me standing awkwardly on the side of the sanctuary watching everyone else have fun? Hurry up and find me so we can make amusing sarcastic comments about life and possibly grow a lifelong spiritual bond that these extroverts can’t understand.

6) We can do anything an extrovert can do.

I’ve seen an entire spectrum of personalities take the “front stage” of church. Not every introvert is meant for “behind the scenes.” Just coach us with extra grace.

7) We get super-tired around a lot of people.

My limit is about four hours, and then I actually get a headache from just hanging around human beings. My Sabbath rest is leave-me-alone-time with my non-judgmental dog. Give us that time without trying to counsel us about it.

8) Don’t be offended if we don’t reply right away.

Sometimes when we see a Facebook invite to that next big church event, we just let it sit there and think about it periodically throughout the week and then come back to it before committing. We do the same thing with text messages, emails, phone calls, and you showing up at the door.

9) Don’t be offended if you see me being extra talkative or friendly with someone else.

Sometimes introverts just interact with people in different ways. It doesn’t mean we don’t like you: it just means we choose to reveal that specific part of us to another pastor, another church buddy, or that cool introvert I just met five minutes ago. You should be cheering us for even opening up at all.

10) Please do NOT bring a lot of attention to us.

Not in the church bulletin, not the church site, not for my birthdays, not for that nice thing I did for the homeless — just please, no spotlight.

11) Sometimes we’re just moody. It’s not depression or a “spiritual attack” or “unconfessed sin.”

One word: space. Lots of it.

12) We don’t always know what to say, but we still care about you.

We use less words and we don’t always use them well, but if we chose to spend this time with you, that means we care.

13) When life gets hard, you don’t have to say anything. Just be there.

Sometimes we just get totally flustered and want to give up: but that’s not the time for lectures or theology or super-awesome advice. Bring a movie or something; bake a cake; bring cookies. Be there for the meltdown and we’ll eventually ask for the wisdom. We very much treasure your scalpel-like gentleness with us.

14) When we get hyper, we are weird and corny and loud and awkward — so be ready for that and embrace it.

On the third day of a church retreat or when it’s five in the morning at a lock-in, the inner-beast might be unleashed. But it’s not very cool and calculated and witty like an extrovert. It’s all kinds of nerdy and neurotic with a shaky voice and twitchy flailing, as if we’re learning to use our bodies for the first time: and in a sense, we are.

When that happens, please don’t humiliate us. Roll with it, laugh with us, and endure our horrible dance moves and bad impressions.

If you do, we are loyal to you for life.

What Happens when Christians become Divisive

….and what we can do about it. Please watch the video for a couple of my thoughts on this topic. Based on Galatians 5.

I’ll post a link here shortly with the “love” verses I promised. 🙂

God’s Name is Father

Does anyone have trouble referring to God as “father”? I did a little survey recently based on this question. I mostly found that people who are close with their own father, the earthly father, are able to relate to a heavenly father in a good way. They pray with a feeling of familiarity, a closeness.

But those who are less close to their earthly father have a hard time referring to God as father.They pray to someone distant.

And then there are those who take it way too far, calling him “the Man upstairs” or other familiar names. To me, this lacks completely and reverence and isn’t how we are supposed to address him.

So here’s my question to you. How do you personally make sense of the awesomeness of God when there is the ability to have such intimacy with him at the same time? How do you strike the balance without being irreverent?

Hint: This is part of my next book!

And thinking of “Our Father” reminded me of the Don Moen song, so here it is for you to enjoy. Don’t forget to leave a comment below!


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