4.30.2013

The Day That Got Away (Last Day of National Poetry Month)


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The Day That Got Away

There it was,
there it went.
Where has it gone?
I wish I knew
 but I suspect,
as I stifle back my yawn-
it slipped away, 
my today
never to return
 History,
a mystery 
for which 
now I yearn.
Too late, too short, 
without further adieu,
I bid you sweet farewell
Be gone now, finished,
shoo!
Procrastinated plans,
interruptions in my day,
set me on a treadmill
of multiple delays.

So now I see the clock has ticked it's final tock,
I will hope my tomorrow
wears a more productive frock.

For now I say, Ta-Ta
and I wave my hand goodbye
sweet dreams today,
Tomorrow's my ally.

©Dawn Paoletta-Beneath The Surface: Breath of Faith


Originally posted February 3, 2012 on the original day that got away, with a special song added! 

Linking with dVerse.
and Tracy, Amy, Ramona and MORE!!


4.29.2013

Mass Hope Home-School Convention Highlights and Multitudes 2013

Nothing holds back the sista-hood! We are His girls! 

I had planned on attending the Mass Hope Home-School conference ahead of time. I bought the tickets and anticipated going, but other than knowing it would be my first BIG Home - School conference I did nothing to prepare. These days are lived teetering at the edge of a cliff. I walk along this current path, veering straight into joy on some days and other days I wonder if jumping off the edge is a valid option. I listened to those who gave me tips and warned me in advance not to be overwhelmed by the volume of vendors. I anticipated blessings because I was repeatedly told I would be blessed and encouraged if I attended. I asked some sweet sisters to be sure and pray for me at the last minute when I had a rough couple of days. I prayed, and waited like a second string player sitting on the bench awaiting for a turn to play, not really quite sure what to expect once actually in the game.

The day arrived and I was off to the DCU Center in Worcester Massachusetts with my dear friend Natasha, her son and my daughter. We arrived at the hotel, and descended upon that conference center Friday later than planned, yet perfectly on time. You know it's all grace, friends.

How shall I describe it to you? 
Let me see, wall to wall books, books and more books. Needless to say, I was in my very, very happy place. I spent hours perusing the curriculum at the various vendors. I quizzed the reps and volunteers with a myriad of questions, sometimes returning after another question came to my mind. Yeah, I am that person.

I was impressed with a number of the curriculum choices and not overwhelmed. I knew I wanted to check out a few specific vendors based on my own prior experience and exploring. These were Sonlight and My Fathers World.  I had gone to the local Home School conference a month earlier and knew I wanted to check into Classical Conversations, based on a lengthy conversation with a couple of  moms who communicated their satisfaction with the program and patiently answered my multitudes of questions. Although I knew there would be good speakers and topics, a table full of books is tough competition, especially once they are within my reach.

A few notables were A Beka, which I had dismissed somewhat but since my daughter seems to like it - I may be considering implementing it. What appealed to my daughter I think was that it looked like enough work to her. She is quite traditional in her expectation of Home- School and feels secure with specific assignments and structure which A Beka clearly models. I did like the cohesiveness, yet I am not sure if it might be too rigid? I stumbled upon a Language Arts curriculum that completely intrigued me, called Total Language Plus. It utilizes classic literature with a focus on critical thinking and communication skills. Both my daughter and I were very interested in this program and probably will try it (at the least) regardless of what else we choose.

I checked out a couple of other sets of complete/semi-complete curriculum: BJU Press, Freedom Project Education, Tapestry of Grace. Each of those I mention had points or elements I really appreciated.

As I searched for the ever elusive perfect curriculum, God had graciously appointed a meeting to offer guidance, wisdom and perspective. I passed by the Summit Group Testing Preparation booth without much interest but somehow the lovely lady there caught my eye and before I knew it we were discussing everything from her homeschooling empty nest to my own one chick nest with all of it's challenges! The company she represents does both online tutoring as well as in home and in school test preparation for SAT, PSAT, SSAT, ACT tests and more. Linda, as I would come to know her was a wealth of information, grace and truth. Plus she gave me chocolate. Now you know that was a truly divine appointment!

I attended the keynote speaker Bill Jack's excellent presentation Saturday morning and loved it. Bill leads Worldview Academy a kind of leadership camp for youth. His take on "Whatever" and our worldview was eye opening and inspiring. I will never be able to watch Gilligan's Island without thinking of the 7 Deadly Sins. Thanks for that, Mr. Jack! Not that I um, er...watch that show. Ahem.
Also singing Amazing Grace to the tune of the sit com's theme song with an amazing correlating lesson was powerful. You had to be there. Or you can get that CD on the Mass Hope web site at some point if you really want to know. 

I also attended Christopher Perrin's talk on Revolutionary Logic. This was a little rough since it was the last session on Saturday afternoon but I have to admit once he started speaking Latin he had my attention. Fortunately he did not do the whole talk in that language but his comfortable use of it and his wit sealed the deal. He had me at Logos...

There were many more workshops but as I said, I was quite the book table tramp.
I had two of the complimentary bags from Sonlight. Yup, I am that person, too. Thanks, guys!


I treated myself to the book The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer  - who I actually am getting to be quite enamored with...she is pretty amazing to me. I am becoming quite a fan.




#436. Safe travel with a beautiful friend and fellowship on the road!
#437. smiling faces on two beautiful children, who are growing up so fast
#438. A hubby who works hard, and deserves a little bit of recliner time, occasionally
#439. Three beautiful gifts of friendship: Natasha, Lauree and Tina. Thank you, Lord for each precious one.
#440. Prayer and workout time in the morning.
#441. free coffee
#442. Meeting Home School parents in the Jacuzzi and talking about Home- Schooling...fellowship and shared wisdom, right there in the foamy, bubbly water!
#443. Singing How Great Thou Art Saturday Morning
#444. Coming home to a Sunday Morning Sermon which was faithfully served up by my very excellent Pastor
#445. Waking up to a crock pot meal made by hubs to come home from church to.



Question for You Home Schooling Friends:

What are your Home- Schooling Preferences?
Do you prefer mixing and matching your own or a complete (more or less) curriculum? 
Let me know what you think.
Don't be shy...please pipe up!



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4.22.2013

Achoo! (on Monday)

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Here comes Spring...NOT! You think it's here then WHAM- frost alert!
I am tapping away here between coughs, sniffles and sneezes- I think you're safe where you are.
I must say it's hard to miss all of the beauty that is popping out and fighting hard to make it;'s appearance  Forsythia, Magnolia, Daffodils, Tulips are blooming and buds are battling for their place in the sun, everywhere. But old Jack Frost is fighting for his own right to party. May the sunshine win. Even I have had enough of cold for one season.

 I made it through church and Sunday School yesterday but then bedded down for the day with a steady dose of CNN and Disney's Tangled between dozing. 

Well here is my round - up for Monday.
Share a link, or comment and I will pop by to visit between coughs and sniffles! 




Morning walk and a whole lot of yellow visiting, Narragansett! 




This week I wrote a lot. I mean per usual but I wrote in a very unlikely place. Not that I won't write anywhere. I keep a journal in my bag at all times. However this time I camped out in the Food Court at the Mall Friday, while my girl and her friend romped around for 5 hours. I wrote to my hearts' content and finished a short book on my Kindle about Self-Publishing.
Hoping to share more on the experience with you all later.
So my big tip for writers this week: Get out of your comfy zone and write in an unlikely place.
Go. 

I picked up this cute little book as a gift for my hubby but I perused the pages myself and it is a must read for locals as well as anyone who wants to come and visit our little state! Recipes, and insider looks at the back-stories of many great dining places and influences surrounding Rhode Island Cuisine. I give it a YUMS Up. 

Over at 5 Minutes for Faith this month there is a special series happening and I wrote about my own mom and my relationship there. Pop on over when you have a chance to read it as well as the many other encouraging posts through May. Also if you think God might want you to share at 5 Minutes for Faith, check with Barbie to see if there is a current opening. 


Beautiful Dogwood in bloom - I actually turned the car around and grabbed this beauty,because life is short and why not capture all the beauty you can in a day...or a moment!



The WINNER of the signed copy of Transformed By Tough Times is:
Pamela Manners! That is, as always random drawing of folded papers in bag picked by husband or daughter. Congrats, Pam!


Counting to 1000 #431. His faithfulness to meet me as I prepare for Sunday School lessons #432. flowers and friends, both uniquely beautiful #433. How He loves me... and how knowing this gives me everything I need to hang on in difficult times and rejoice in good. #434. it's all from Him. 
#435. trusting he will bring comfort and healing to those who have been impacted throughout the tragedies this week. 






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4.21.2013

On Learning To Honor My Mom at 5 Minutes for Faith Today...




I came into Christianity with baggage in hand.

Actually dragging a baggage cart is more like it, loaded with an assortment of luggage, full of issues, pains and beliefs that had to be gently unpacked, sorted and released.

One of those issues my God wanted to address, was my tumultuous relationship with my mother.

As I studied His word and sought His truth, it wasn't long before I started to realize this particular suitcase was full of complex memories, emotions and expectations.
It was the bag that was overstuffed, crammed and locked painfully tight...continue reading how I learned to honor my mother.


Please join me at 5 Minutes For Faith to read the rest of this special post in the series "Lessons I Learned From My Mother".

I've turned the comments off here, in hopes you'll join me there





4.20.2013

I Never Meant To Be A ...Blogger!

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I confess to the fact that I am a recovering social media ignoramus. Just four short years ago I could not define what the word blog meant. I had a vague idea that it was for computer people. Other than that, I would have to Google it to tell you. Not sure I was as enamored in those days with Google as I am today either. It wasn't until 2009 that I got onto Facebook, when a friend sent me pictures in an e-mail and the only way I could view them was to have an account. Thus began my service to the Dark Lord of Social Media. It was in 2011 when I pushed "publish" on my e-blogger account for the first time with no other expectation than the feeling of gleeful victory knowing I had just done something life-changing, if only to and for myself. I felt the God prompt and it was enough to find a way. I was content with the releasing of words, blissfully ignorant of the new world I would soon discover that was so much more than my initial push button perception. 

I remember walking into a library running into a friend from our former church, who looked at me as if I had snakes in my hair when I explained I wanted to attend a smaller, local church. He informed me that these were "global" times. Times of a global network, Internet access- a brave new world of connections and connecting. I blinked, doe-eyed, feeling stupid and small. We didn't even have cable.

I realize now he was actually right. It was shortly thereafter I realized how much truth there was in what he was trying to communicate to me. We moved at the end of 2008 and found ourselves plugged in, cabled up, screened out and and suddenly there were new opportunities and new challenges facing our family. Battling the giants of 24 Hour cable access, Internet surfing, and eventually Tweeter, Tumbler and Pinterest, we fought the good fight as all families do. Or intend to do. Eventually we succumbed and retreated into our individual realms of screendom. Every room seemed to have a screen vying for the attention of each family member. Anyway, I digress.


The fact is, I never really meant to be a ...blogger. I mean, I just kind of stumbled upon it. (No, not that kind!) But needless to say, here I am. A blogger. How in God's green acre did this happen? 
Seriously His ways are not our ways. 

How did you become a blogger?



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4.19.2013

As We Walk Each Other Home (A message of Encouragement for today)


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I wanted to share this uplifting video which came through my Facebook Newsfeeds. If I could hug you today, I would. But instead, I send this message and verse. 

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Romans 12:9

As we walk each other home, let us cling to the good.

Lord, have mercy. 


Into the Unknown {5 Minute Friday-Jump}



The word jump has me pondering this new year's expectant start. For the past two years on January first, I have jumped right into the Atlantic Ocean. Baptism by full immersion. Trust me, my dear friend Jen, will not let me out of that water until I have gone in all the way. Which to her means, I must dunk shoulder deep. Some people are so pushy. Really it's not enough I go in to my waist. No she wants the full monty! Anyway, I suppose that's what friends are for. This year to my surprise, my daughter joined us. Last year she came and watched. A handful of we, the brave, ran right into that frigid water, anticipating a year of new beginnings. I don't think any of us could have anticipated all of what was ahead, that was not on the resolution, intention or goal list. But God knew. Somehow I find comfort, strength and peace in the fact that my God is not surprised at the punches I think life is pulling. Better still, He will bring good out of the planned "hits" as well as the perceived "sucker punches" that have taken me by surprise. He fights fair. He fights for me. I'm pretty sure that if I jump, He'll catch me. No. I know that if I trust Him, He will not let me down. When I walk, jump or take the leap. He's right there.


Linking with those who dare to JUMP with Lisa Jo:
Five Minute Friday


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4.18.2013

On Those Days It's Hard To Hang On

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But Christ is faithful as the Son over God's house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
Hebrews 3:6

I'm surrounded by unpacked bags in my office. They sit, along with a good part of my to do list ignored, awaiting a bit of attention from me. In my free time, I sit and stare blankly, semi-paralyzed considering the lists that grow longer as my capacity to complete tasks grows more impossible...with every passing moment. I wonder why I return to this place, again and again.

 It's the place of Overwhelmed. It's not God's place for me any more than the desert was for a bunch of wandering Israelites...and yet it is His classroom as it was for my sweet, Jewish, faith forerunners. I learn much from them, I confess. I read and re-read the story and History of Israel and I see myself more clearly, through His eyes. Am humbled by His mercy and wonder at His wrath. Am sick with the beauty and pain of it. The pure unadulterated truth that is being muffled daily by those who call themselves intellectual, enlightened, knowledgeable. 

I can't watch a drop of news because my chest swells, and I can't breathe and I feel Jesus weep within me. Not to mention I am waging war with enemies within and without of my own small circle of love. The battle to hang on spiritually, emotionally, mentally...wages on. Hanging on and victoriously living are two different things. Don't you dare point a finger because suffering is promised my friend, along with victory. My stomach turns, and I hang on. Hope swells larger than my pride, and lingers long. It never leaves me...it never leaves you who cling to His hope.

I hang on to this hope.
Especially on those days it's hard to hang on.
Even today. 


And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5


What do you cling to on those days it's hard to hang on? 


4.17.2013

Roadblocks: Pathways to Discovery (Re-Post)

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How do you respond when the path you are on is suddenly blocked? What is your first response? Do you shake your fist and holler out "Get out of my way" or "Coming through" and push through anyway? Or are you the kind who stews quietly thinking the words you would never say. Maybe you respond with a diversion like checking your phone messages or the surrounding scenery. Chances are on your way anywhere in this life, whether literally on the road or just maneuvering along life's path, you are going to encounter unexpected road blocks, unplanned delays and various derailments for better or worse.Well I am here to share a few of my latest insights in light of recent road blocks and how I believe they are helping me redefine my definition of success.

Lesson 1: Look Up or "Are you talking to me? "
Personally, I have never REALLY had an animal speak to me, BUT if I did I, would like to think I might reconsider the direction I was travelling. When Baalam rides his donkey (Numbers 22) and is derailed, by an Angel no less, instead of contemplating the direction he is going he tries to plow on repeatedly until finally he realizes God himself is the creator of the road block standing between him and his gain. When we want to plow through obstacles, we really need to be clear that God isn't re-directing us for a reason, as in this case. Baalam's wrong motives, as well as choice, were completely out of the will of God. God deals mercifully with him despite it all. So lesson number one is all about looking up when something stands in your way. Check in and check yourself out before God. Maybe you are off track. He can get you back on the right path...or direct you to another.

Lesson 2: "Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option."
I am not sure who said this, but it is a lesson that resonates strongly within me this year in light of recent personal circumstances. It just makes good sense. One of the biggest challenges we face as believers, living in an unfair world, is balancing our faith with common sense and practically living it out wherever God has us, often before an unbelieving world. Wisdom is needed and Wisdom is promised. But, sometimes we forget and get sucker punched...so we pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and get on with it. Rose gardens are nice but begging your pardon, we are not promised a rose garden. (You know I have to include a random song that is triggered when I write).

Lesson 3: "Trust No-One"
Many years ago I was a fan of a TV program called The X-Files. The tag line of the show was "Trust No-One". Now this might seem extreme but I think we really have consider with whom we place our  trust. One of my first Bible Teachers reminded me that in this life I will be let down and I will let other's down. That is reality. We live in a fallen world and we ourselves are prone to sin. Once we are spiritually born into the family of God we desire to walk in victory. But truth be told (and that is what I am here to do) I have fallen on my face as a Jesus loving, God fearing Christian despite my desire to shine for my King. I also have had some really nasty things done to me by those who claim His name. I have learned that GRACE is how we get here and GRACE is how we stay here. It is never by anything we can do or not do or muster up on our own. Heaven is the place for perfection. In the meantime we have to be careful to keep our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith and trust Him alone. It all comes back to Him ...and he will lead us to a few who might be trustworthy. Thank Him, stay focused on Him and recognize that trust is a fragile thing. Think eggshell. Be careful with where you place it and be careful to treat other's trust gently.

Lesson 4:  Remember the Good
Sometimes, remembering the good isn't easy. But I promise you it can be done. Sometimes it takes time to heal or just time to allow more perspective. This is not about rose tinted glasses, but think of it as "Reality Training". Scripture tells us to bring every thought captive and under the authority of Christ. It exhorts us to dwell on that which is good and excellent. It reminds us that what we do not master will ultimately master us...past or present. We are not to be slaves to our past, but as God reveals truth to us we seek Him and bring our minds into full submission to Him. We train ourselves to remember the good. Focus on it in others and ourselves. Leave the rest to God. Leave behind that which is not useful to you. The fact is anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness can be traded for empowering emotions when brought into the light and transforming grace of God. We are not to repay evil for evil. We are to be excellent at what is good and innocent of evil. It takes training. It takes going to Jesus continually. It can be done. And when we feel we can't ...again we run to him in our need, failure, fear and doubt and He meets us there.

You never know where a road block might lead you ...it might just take you down a new path of discovery which brings you closer to God. I pray it does. So remember the next time you hit the ground running, ordering your life just so, heed the donkey, the angel or whatever God uses to block your way. You never know what catastrophe He may be keeping you from...or what blessing lies just around the bend, over the horizon, or beneath the surface!


                                             


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Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose

4.16.2013

Grace Without Words



An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
Henry David Thoreau


All my life through,
the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.
Marie Curie


The best remedy for those who are afraid,
lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
 somewhere where they can be quiet,
alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
and that God wishes to see people happy,
 amidst the simple beauty of nature.
Anne Frank


Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.
 Rabindranath Tagore

Today I walked. I actually walked in the morning and evening. 
Once with the dogs in the neighborhood and then tonight at the beach. 
This is what I saw.  

As usual nature, 
God's creation, ministers grace to me without words. 

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty you give to minister grace, 
truth and rest to our weary souls.
Lord, bring your new life to our hearts this moment.
As buds ready to burst forth beauty, do likewise in our hearts, minds,
souls. 



Linking:


When God Says Hush

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When God says, "Hush, what's your rush?"
interrupting my mental notes,
I push back my hair-
respond, "Are you there?"
turning back to my long list of quotes

When God pushes back the drapes of my day
allowing me a glimpse
of our walk today
gently I nudge my agenda His way
awaiting an approving nod.

When God tip toes into my morn,
I hardly know He's there-
but through the blinds
dust specked rays quietly reflect the dawn

When God slips quietly into my night
starlight shimmers
twinkling light
I stare heavenward
adoring the sight

When God says "Hush"
I submit to His pause
and sneak off to our secret place
behind closed doors
and let Him minister
again in awe
through tears, fears and so much more-
When God says "Hush",
I realize
there's more I need than meets the eyes
and in His sovereign grace,
I wait.

Upon His lowly estate I rest,
trusting at the end of the test
that as He is, I will be
strengthened by that which I cannot see
But all to Him is needful,
pain and beauty intermingle
through and through
bringing His glory
like morning dew.


©Dawn Paoletta


Linking with dVerse

It's National Poetry Month...I blogged about it right here

4.15.2013

Monday's Are For New Beginnings, Right?




If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.  ~Flavia Weedn 

What one is fated to have in life one will have; what one is not fated to have, there is no point in pressing for. ~unknown 



I am at an important crossroads. This word Release is wreaking havoc lately, in my life. How? Well it seems that since this has been my One Word for the year, I am clinging tightly to everything.
How's that, I bet you are wondering...well specifically I am afraid to release anything and becoming increasingly overwhelmed. I'm afraid of releasing the wrong thing. Have you ever felt this way or am I utterly alone in this mess?

So, this weekend has been especially important as I seek to accept the fact that I can't do it all. I mean I know this in my mind yet, my mouth forgets to say "no" to one. More. Thing. 
Something has to go. Something or a few things need to be released to make room for the best things.
It would be easy if a few of these "things" were bad in some way. They are not. They are all very good. Herein lies every single Believer's challenge. To discern the things that are the Ephesians 2:8-10 things that God wills for their lives. You and I need to tune out all of the competing voices demanding our time, talent and attention and seek to hear clearly above all else the still, small voice that matters most. His. Christ alone is the one to determine the details. 

Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.  ~Robert Schuller


Look carefully through all the claims pressing upon you in your complicated life, and decide once and for all what it is that is the one really important and overmastering duty in it, and should be the one dominating aim. Then remember that if you succeed in that, the others, so multifarious, are really no more than the fringe of the garment, and that you need not spend so much anxiety over them, provided that the one most important is faithfully attended to. ~Anna C. Brackett


424. Breathtaking beauty everywhere

425. Coastline days

426. He leads me beside still waters on busy days...


427. The skies declare His glory and faithfulness


428. This little book which brought me a smile in the Doctor's office waiting room.
I adore the detailed artwork of Jan Brett.
And sometimes a children's book is just what the Doctor ordered...and good therapy. 

429. Rejoicing in this Holy Union of God, and beautiful sister in Christ and friend being blessed with a wonderful  marriage and new start! He is the God of new beginnings! Amen?
430. Sweet Saturday with my hub. Wedding Ceremony, coffee and appetizer
in between. Then a wonderful night of fellowship and laughter.


And now one last important word from our sponsors:



May His amazing grace be evident in all you say and do this week!


Aiming to link at these places: 

4.14.2013

Transformed By Tough Times by Steve Reed (Interview and Giveaway!)






I jumped at the opportunity to read Transformed by Tough Times and join in with the book tour through Christian Speakers Services. Steve Reed has a message of encouragement that seeks to close the gap between suffering and the Christian experience in a way that has the power to transform lives, attitudes and beliefs... continue reading my book review HERE

Read on below for a brief interview with Steve Reed and how Transformed by Tough Times came into being.

I have been provided with a signed copy to give away. Please leave a comment on this post OR the book review post if you would like to be included in the drawing! 


***********************************

A book about tough times usually implies that the author has had some personal experiences that connect to that topic. Where did the book start for you? 

In college, I was a kicker and punter at Oklahoma State University under a demanding head coach, Jimmy Johnson. (Football fans might recognize him as the coach for two college national championships in the 80’s and a couple of Super Bowls in the 90’s for the Dallas Cowboys). Just playing for Coach Johnson was tough enough, but my sophomore year, I got my knee bent backwards in a Junior Varsity game in Lincoln, Nebraska. When surgery and rehab efforts didn’t get me back to playing football, I eventually had to hang up the cleats. Looking back now, that experience made me more aware of how other people dealt with adversity and caused me to pay more attention to how I could respond when faced with tough times.

Your book transitions pretty quickly from your football days to life as a church planter and how that actually prompted you to write this book. How did that all happen? 

When football didn’t work out, I found myself drawn to ministry in a great church near the OSU campus. Charlie Baker, the pastor of that church, invited me and other college students to partner with him in creating a weekly worship service for students. In doing that ministry I fell in love with the church and decided to go to seminary and be a pastor myself. After getting married and going through seminary training, we eventually moved to Kansas City to start churches. For nearly 20 years we were involved in the roller coaster rides of starting five different churches in our region. Most days, I absolutely loved it. But in one of those church starts we had a train wreck that knocked me for a loop and out of a church that I loved perhaps more than I loved my wife and family.

So after that you went on an even deeper quest for figuring out what was happening to you?  

Right. With a new intensity I began to systematically search the scriptures to find some help for my pain. And I collected information and stories from others wiser than me and from many who had suffered greatly and come through with amazing faith and character.

You write about a day in Costa Rica that changed your life. What happened?  

After the break up from the church, I wound up going to Costa Rica on a mission trip with my parents. My parents, by the way, were missionaries when I was a kid and 30 years prior we had actually lived in Costa Rica. For me, going back was a fun, blast to the past. But more than that, the people there were cathartic for me. I was an emotional mess much of the time. And one day I must have cried with three or four people who needed to know Christ, but who were in pain. God used my pain and my weeping with others to both minister to them and to me. That day I discovered something about God’s ministry of tears and how sometimes He does more through our weaknesses and frailties than He does with our strengths.

So this is where your international ministry began? 

Yes. While in Costa Rica, a Guatemalan man by the name of Cesar Gonzalez invited me to come to his country and dream about ministries and churches for people in Guatemala who don’t like church. To hear the whole story you’d have to pack a lunch! But let me briefly say that Cesar would have been a mafia hit man if God hadn’t gotten a hold of him! With a little encouragement from some pastor friends in Kansas City, I took him up on his invitation, and for two weeks Cesar and I drove around the country looking at dozens of different situations and groups of people. Little did I know then, that 13 years later we would be working in over 55 locations covering Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I mention this because I have learned a lot from believers from other cultures and have put much of that into the book. Many of us in North America aren’t aware that both Guatemala and El Salvador have been through recent civil wars. Many people there have shared first hand stories of unimaginable grief and heartache. As I have walked alongside them, my faith has been challenged and I have an increasing desire to not just mindlessly go through my tough times, but to actually think deeply and grow through my tough circumstances. As I’ve done a little bit of that, I think it’s time that I pass some of this on to others who can benefit like I have.

Where can people find your book?
For now it’s only available from the trunk of my car! Or, more conveniently, it can be ordered from the website www.TransformedbyToughTimes.com. By the way, before Christmas we finished taping the audio book and I can’t wait to unveil that in the next couple of months too.

 Please note: Transformed by Tough Times is now available on Kindle

You also have a companion Bible study available as well right? 

Yes! Thank you for mentioning that. I think I am about as excited about the study guide as I am the book. On the website, www.TransformedbyToughTimes.com is a 24-session small groups Bible study guide that can be downloaded for free. It matches up to chapters in the book and then goes deeper with pertinent Bible stories and information related to the topic. Incidentally, when someone wants me to coach them through their own tough times, this is essentially the material I use. In early tests, we are getting positive feedback from groups going through the book and the Bible study together. Do check it out!

Find out about more opportunities for a free copy of TRANSFORMED BY TOUGH TIMES, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/338690666247617.


ABOUT STEVE REED:

Steve Reed is the Chief Encouragement Officer and Cross Cultural Catalyst for Daybreak International, a missions organization he founded that is dedicated to planting churches for the marginalized and forgotten peoples of the world. Currently, his two major projects focus on cowboys in Central America, and Kekchi Indians in the jungles of Guatemala. Those who know Steve best speak of his relentless encouragement and undying loyalty to people who face tough times. When not traveling in Central America, Steve comes home to Kansas City. He is married to Nola, and they have three young adult sons, a beloved daughter-in-law, and a grand baby on the way!


This blog host was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on this blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).




Transformed by Tough Times (Book Review & Giveaway)





I jumped at the opportunity to read Transformed by Tough Times and join in with the book tour through Christian Speakers Services. Steve Reed has a message of encouragement that seeks to close the gap between suffering and the Christian experience in a way that has the power to transform lives, attitudes and beliefs for those experiencing difficult times. 

Initially Mr. Reed had released this book under a title aimed primarily at ministry leaders. After much feedback was received and considered, Steve realized that what was good for the leaders was also good for all Believers. The bottom line is we all will face adversity in our Christian walks. As Steve puts it it's not optional, and he spends a good portion of this book addressing the reality of what he calls "The Suffering Clause". It's like the fine print in your Christian contract...the one we want to avoid, but ultimately cannot. Learning to live in it, and through it and ultimately with the same attitude as Paul when he penned these words: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" is the prayer and goal. 

This book is one encouraging chapter after another. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of ways the subject was addressed. When one looks at a diamond, there are many facets, angles and layers to be seen and appreciated. I think Steve does this with the topics of suffering and adversity. He guides us into looking at the aspects from a variety of ways so that we may see more clearly how much we need what we want least of all. Through biblical and historical accounts, his own journey, and through the lessons of fellow "strugglers", the point is driven home that God does not waste our pain. "The greater the depths of your pain, the greater your potential for encouraging others-even if you are not delivered or healed or fixed yet." Wow. Isn't that the message we all need to hear? 

In one of my favorite Chapters (Chapter 17: Sheep Among Wolves), Steve reminds the church of it's primary purpose. But I don't think many want to hear it! I so loved the analogy of believers being "wolf bait". But you will have to read it for yourself as I don't want to spoil it. Worth the read for sure. Steve does not mince words. He speaks accurately into some of the challenges facing the Body of Christ today. 

The book is broken up into two sections. Book 1 is called the Suffering Clause and has four parts, including Steve's story, Jesus and the Suffering Clause, Further Implications of the Suffering Clause  and Heroes of the Suffering Clause. Book 2 is called Transformed by Tough Times and delivers a tool chest of helps for walking through adversity well. This section of the book is very practical, applicable and encouraging. 

I would recommend this book to those walking through difficult circumstances and anyone in ministry or leadership. Pretty much if you are a walking, breathing, being you will be uplifted by the straightforward approach. Steve coaches well and has honed this down to a timely message for God's own people right now. 

I'll leave you with one more quote, as I loved so much of what was communicated throughout the reading. 

"In God's eyes, there is one thing that distinguishes a man or woman for His Hall of Fame. What is it? It's faith. It's not intelligence or beauty or social status or talents or abilities in certain areas. It is faith."
(Chapter 19: The Suffering Clause Hall Of Fame).


Steve Reed has some specials going on during the book tour on his website at http://www.transformedbytoughtimes.com/store/

Christian Speakers Services and Steve Reed have provided me with a signed copy of this book to give away. Leave a comment to be included in this giveaway! 
If you need encouragement and hope to be transformed by tough times yourself, you will want to enter to win or go ahead and purchase this book. 

* I received a copy of this book through Christian Speaker Services in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Join me for an Interview with Steve Reed!

4.12.2013

End the Debate (5 Minute Friday: Here)




I'd like to say that I had clear answers
 to the prayers I've prayed as of late
I'd like to say I knew for sure the way you want me to go
I wish I could be sure of which one was the open door
I long to hear your say about this inner debate.

The words swim through my mind
As I fall more and more behind...

Yet, you promise your presence.
You say that the same power in this Jesus
lives in me

What am I missing?

There is still loathing in my bones
wrapped in love

There is still anger welling up
swirling in the blood
mixed with hope

There is still a question
hanging in the balance.

Lord, I need you
here
to be free
and hear
your word for me
today.

End the debate
here and now.
I trust you won't be late.


PS It's National Poetry Month and I wrote 5 little reasons Why I love it!
FYI, I tend to think about poetry and write in stanzas frequently. It's kinda like a cross between therapy and breathing form me. Happy Friday!


Five Minute Friday