It's Called Grace

 It’s moving relationally toward a person when they have wronged you. 
It’s opening the door of your heart when every part of you wants to close it. 
It’s engaging when you have every right to disengage.
It’s offering help when someone’s actions have violated everything you believe in, hope for, and want for that person. 
It’s staying involved in the relationship when someone has violated your rules, ignored your advice, or hurt you through lies, deceit, and manipulation.
To love someone when you have been wronged is tough, but it’s essential in communicating a love that is beyond your capability. 
It’s a love that will win out if you don’t quit.  Even if you don’t feel like it.
When you feel good about giving grace, it probably isn’t grace.
(excerpted from Tough Guys and Drama Queens , by Mark Gregston, page 170).

50 Days of Hope - Book Review

Cancer – the word that can knock the breath out of you and leave you wondering which way is up.  Surviving it is not forcing optimism or positive thinking that isn’t realistic; we were created with emotions and life is best lived when we acknowledge and express them.  After acknowledging and expressing emotion, not getting stuck there but moving on to hope is essential, a hope that is not based on the odds.  While the quantity of life cannot be guaranteed, having a positive attitude will definitely give you a better quality of life.  A positive attitude helps you heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but may or may not cure you.  Optimism says “I’m going to be cured.” Pessimism says “I’m going to die”.  Positive realism says “I have a life-threatening illness and may or may not get better, so I will plan for both.”

Lynn Eib is both a cancer survivor and patient advocate, so she has tons of stories to share in her book 50 Days of Hope: Daily Inspiration for Your Journey through Cancer.  Her stories of hope will make you laugh and feel encouraged while keeping you turned toward God and pouring your heart out to Him who hears, understands, and has the power to respond. She relates how to combat worry and how to refuse to let cancer control your life.  Plus, she provides insights into the ways you can enlarge your picture of what it means to beat cancer.

If you want a book that will help you stay realistically positive and hopeful, not living in cancer’s shadow but the Heavenly Father’s shadow which is secure and protective, then you will want to spend 50 days this little devotional book.  Lynn Eib will help point you and/or the one living with cancer in the direction of positive realism and surround you with hope. 

This little purse-sized book would be a perfect gift for someone battling cancer or their loved ones. It truly is a gift of real hope that can be reached for and easily read in a waiting room or a hospital or by your nightstand.

Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House in exchange for my honest review.

Confronting Jezebel - Book Review

Do you worry or feel anxious when things are out of your control? You may be a control freak.  Do you get angry when you aren’t in control? Are you ambitious, independent, critical, boastful, self-centered, volunteer for everything, manipulate to get your way, play the drama queen, love to vent, and use self pity to gain sympathy?  Or does this describe someone in your life? Then you, or they, might be operating under the influence of  a Jezebel spirit, according to Steve Sampson in his book Confronting Jezebel: Discerning and Defeating the Spirit of Control.

Steve Sampson shares chapter after chapter of stories of people who possess a Jezebel spirit to the extreme and the havoc they reap in people’s lives in business, in culture, and especially the church. While the illustrations seem extreme and leave you feeling disturbed that people could act like this, it is not hard to perhaps find some aspect of the characteristics in yourself or a key person in your life.  Each chapter ends in a prayer that points you inward to repent of any Jezebel-like tendencies. 

By the last chapter, I was desperate for the answer - how do I free myself from the cycle of manipulation at the hands of others?  The final chapter was way too short, truncated, and lacking in illustrations.  Throughout most of the book, Steve Sampson details the characteristics of a Jezebel and the destruction it causes with proliferous illustrations, but he ended abruptly with simplified solutions in the last few pages.  By attributing it to a demonic spirit, the author seems to excuse the person from their behavior and doesn’t offer much hope for change in his examples, but his answers in the last few pages did offer hope, though illustrations were lacking.

Whether or not you believe controlling people are ruled by an actual demonic spirit, this book is at least interesting and opens up the eyes to the deceit in your own heart and more understanding of the behaviors of others. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Chosen in exchange for my honest review.

Loving a Brother Who Is Hard to Love

If I have to walk on egg shells to keep from upsetting him,
If I often wonder if he treats me rudely because of past offenses,
If I do things his way so as not to aggravate him,
If I avoid him because his pride is disconcerting,
If I find him impossible to talk to because he doesn’t hold a conversation,
If he expresses no interest in me and puts up walls –
        I continue to wonder, does he really love me?
If love is patient, kind, not rude, keeps no record of wrongs, is not easily angered, and is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:4-5), then I could conclude that no, he does not love me.


If I treat him with respect even when he is callous,
If I show interest by asking questions even if he does not reciprocate,
If I am patient and do not mirror his emotions when he gets flustered,
If I do not judge what I cannot understand,
If I gently speak the difficult words that need to be said (even while cracking the eggshells),
If I forgive him for not loving me back,
        Then I love him not just with words but actions too.

Jesus said it is easy to love someone who is loveable. Anyone can do that.  But if you love someone who is hard to love through the love of Christ, then you honor Him even more.

It hurts to love someone who doesn’t love you back, a feeling that God must be well acquainted with. He calls us to do the hard things and then infuses us with His power so that we can do them. 

I love you, brother. If I don’t say it, I hope you can someday see it.

Ridding Our Homes of Youth Entitlement

Do we love our kids enough to let them fail? To make them work? To step aside rather than step in? Kay Wyma, blogger turned published author, can certainly relate to the desire to jump in the driver’s seat and take control for her kids, even when she knows her meddling isn’t helping in the long run. When she observed that her children felt they were entitled to be served rather than to serve, she decided to embark on “The Experiment”, a 12-month journey to teach her children how to be productive at home while instructing on basic life skills, and she tells her accounts in her book Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.

Kay Wyma describes herself as a wife, organizationally-impaired mother of 5 (ages 3-14), a controller, procrastinator, manipulator, and recovering enabler. But as she weaves her way through each of the twelve months, it’s obvious she is clever, witty, and down-to-earth.

In the year-long experiment, she designates a theme for each month in which she assigns specific tasks that teach life skills such as how to: cook and clean a kitchen, do yard work, run errands, do laundry, host a party, perform handyman jobs, etc. Each chapter tells of her humorous journey of giving charge to her kids on the new task for the month and what was accomplished (or not accomplished) both externally in the home and internally in their character.

She doesn’t sugar-coat her stories by proclaiming sickening success; in fact, some aspects are big flops with lessons we can learn from. With hilarious detail, she conveys how she dealt with attitudes of apathy and entitlement as well as mood swings. At the end of each chapter, she summarizes the month’s successes and failures and what both she and the kids learned.

In my last post (
"Should Kids Do Chores?"), I quoted some practical insights from this book. She gave me the idea of the “stock market” method for allowances, and I have not had to remind my teenagers to do their chores or help around the house ever since!

This book is fun and full of ideas that parents can implement in order to equip children with life skills and defeat the attitude that the world is there to serve them. I highly recommend this book to every mom who has kids of any age living at home.
Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by WaterbookMultnomah Publishing in exchange for my unbiased review.

Should Our Kids Do Chores?

“We don’t have chores because school is our job,” announced my 10-year-old niece as my son cinched the overflowing trash bag in the kitchen to take it outside.  Never mind that it was summer and school was not in session during the season my nieces and nephews came to live with us. At first my nieces gloated and waited to be served while my kids poured their own drinks, washed their own dishes, made their own beds, cleaned up their messes, did their own laundry, took care of the dogs, and mowed the lawn. To compound the difficulty, their sweet mom said she didn’t believe in chores because “serving them is the way I show love”.   

Maybe I appeared as selfish and unloving, but I didn’t give my kids chores out of selfishness.   Most of the time, it would be easier to do it myself than to teach, remind, and follow up.  As a working mom, I need my kids to help, but even if I did not work outside the home, I would still have them doing the same chores. It’s just a part of being in a family and learning to take care of your space.  Work is not a curse; it's a gift. Besides, play is more relished after working hard.

In Kay Wills Wyma’s book Cleaning House, (see my book review), she says that when we do everything for our kids, they receive “a big fat load of free time, reinforced expectations of being served, and confirmation that they belong on the sidelines of life. We made it easy for them to assume that many doable tasks fall outside their realm of competency or responsibility.” (p.168)

Could you hear me cheering as I read that?  I have felt much in need of reinforcement that I was doing the right thing by assigning chores to my children, especially when they perform their tasks grudgingly, while recently my nieces and nephew actually get excited about pitching in and helping out joyfully for no compensation.

“We should view daily household chores as a necessity because the kids themselves need to work. Our kids need to know how to persevere. They need to know that no job is beneath them. They need to know what it takes to operate a home. They need to know that sometimes you have to get dirty to get things clean. They need to know how to serve. They need to know that a family operates as a unit, everyone pitching in. They need to know that they belong, that they are a part of the group, that they are needed.” (page 169)

The best part – my kids actually have started to feel a little good about the fact that they have chores. I think maybe deep down they like being entrusted with responsibility, and they are becoming aware that it is building their character and preparing them for adulthood. Yes, our kids should do chores. 

Linking up with A Pause on the Path and Finding Heaven