Pathways to Purpose

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I do not stand where I would like in my life right now. My job does not progress my career path, my city leaves a lot desired, and I hold back on pursuing most my goals due to my own self doubt. Yet I can take small steps to guide me back to my purposeful path.

These days I spend a lot of my free time volunteer tutoring at a couple places in town. Those classroom hours boost my confidence that I do belong in such a setting and that I do in fact help others. It also gives me more experience in my field. Not having a job there at the moment need not stop me from getting that face time with students.

Neither this town nor this state fulfill what I imagine for where I would live long term. However, it has surprisingly offered places that fulfill some of my needs. Not only have I found several classrooms to assist, I have found ministries to aid in my own life. A local church offers free counseling, a service that helps me stay on track healing without putting me further in debt, and that same church has started a support group where I’ll meet other women in similar situations as me for the first time. Hope exists everywhere, and I can heal in this town as I plan and conquer my next step.

I have a long way to go in conquering my own self sabotage and doubt. This involves undoing walls I have put up nearly my whole life to keep others and myself out. Clearly it will take a long time to undo and rebuild. Yet it can happen. I can make the most of my situation, continue lifelong healing and progress as I grow.

My situation right now may not exist as I want or as it should. Yet each opportunity I have can get me there slowly. I must keep my eyes open for those chances and make the most of them. The majority of a situation may not fulfill needs or progress a path, but what we do with the parts within our control can make a difference in steering and following the right path.

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Book Review: Keep It Shut

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Recently, I started buddying reading Christian living books with a fellow Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club member so we could encourage each other to have regular reading time devoted to God. Our first book was Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All by Karen Ehman.

I really enjoyed Keep It Shut as Ehman gave it an authentic, humble voice, practical application and knowledge rooted in scripture. The book flowed smoothly, and every bit of advice and accompanying scripture applies to everyday life. I found myself considering my interactions and how I could adjust the words that left my mouth and the ones that floated in my mind in response to people or situations. Ehman made it a reminder to everyone and even humbly shared her own flaws and experiences. She struggled with this concept herself, and that made her a prime candidate to share what she had learned (and still needed to learn). Her examples resembled ones anyone might have; even though I didn’t have children trying out for sports, I could understand how the other gossipy or pushy parents could trigger frustration. As Ehman described, everyone’s days fill with opportunities to use words.

This book applies to everyone, and I recommend it for everyone. It has a message I will continue to reflect upon. I wrote down her prayer to say daily requesting God to guide out words on a notecard to use as a bookmark while reading this book and continued to use it in the subsequent books we read. We would all do well to reflect upon our words to make sure we use them wisely.

Book Review: Becoming Resilient

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I received a copy of Becoming Resilient: How to Move through Suffering and Come Back Stronger by Donna Gibbs from Revell in exchange for a review.

This book covers a lot of necessary content for my life. Walking through numerous topics related to suffering, Gibbs offers explanations, examples and sound biblical advice. The format follows the same flow each chapter, making it easier to know what to anticipate. Various phases of feeling stuck feel less cumbersome when explanations and hope exist. It also makes the sufferer feel less alone to know these problems have persisted since biblical times. Then the chapter endings with their Victory Verses and reflection questions, provide support to the reader as starting points for healing and recovery. Overall, the book offers hope and a platform for transformation.

I have read this book slowly to fully soak up all the information, and I have saved the reflection questions to continue to evaluate my healing process. The background gives me confidence of its biblical foundation, and the information is accessible. Now I just need to adopt one of Gibbs’s Victory Verses as a mantra as  I continue moving forward with this as a tool for transformation.

Book Review: The Whole Bible Story

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I received The Whole Bible Story, Illustrated Edition by Dr. William H. Marty from Baker Books in exchange for a review.

Overall, I enjoyed the concept of this book. The writing upheld an accessible, plain language that made the bible story easy to understand. Complex stories had a new simplicity to them. They even had accompanying pictures of the real sites mentioned to provide a more realistic picture. I particularly enjoyed getting that extra context and accuracy. However, I sometimes found myself wanting to cross check with my bibles to see if they included some of the situations found here. I wondered how accurately the Word transferred to this particular edition. Overall, it made a nice starting point for making the stories and information easier to understand, but I cautioned myself against using this as an ultimate true source.

Book Review: Mrs. Oswald Chambers

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I received a copy of Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional by Michelle Ule from Baker Books in exchange for a review.

This book provided great insight into the life of a well-respected Christian writer, his marriage and the fruit of following the path God sets. Oswald Chambers’ work would not have gone as far as it has without the dedication of his wife Biddy. She attended Oswald’s lectures and took meticulous notes, which she ultimately used to produce the popular devotionals. While that aspect might have seemed fairly straight forward, I didn’t expect the time the family spent immersed in the military culture and Egyptian culture while stationed in Egypt. The book also gave context to other literary figures of the time. Surprisingly, I related to hearing mentions of Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis and more, and I loved to see she adored her daily trip to the mailbox as much as I do. Biddy Chambers had a unique strength, and she demonstrated the power of what God can do through someone who devotes her time and effort to following the path He has set before her. Without her dedication, those books would not have been printed, and they would not have changed so many people’s lives.

I enjoyed this book and its insight into a person, a marriage and family, a writing process and life in general. Though Biddy lived many years ago, a lot of these situations exist for people now. She served as a model for how to interact with those around us and how to follow God’s will and discern His purpose.

Book Review: By the Book

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I received an ARC of By the Book by Julia Sonneborn from BookishFirst in exchange for a review.

This book holds appeal for its college setting as well as its Jane Austen inspiration. However, it does not hold the same depth as you would wish a university experience or Austen reading to have. It does provide some light hearted fun though.
Overall, I enjoy Anne Corey as a character. I admire her devotion and her ambition to her career and to those in her inner circle. She has pushed herself through school to teach on a university campus, a long term and highly involved endeavor. Her background encourages me to push forward in my education as well, though the reminder of her school loans looming over her intimidated me. Anne also has the relatability of someone who yearns for love yet doesn’t quite know how to find it or maintain it. The love triangle makes her look like her intelligence isn’t balanced in terms of life and books.

The book flows quickly and serves as a light, fun read. Its surface stays shiny, but it doesn’t go much deeper than that.

Book Review: Women Who Move Mountains

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I received a copy of Women Who Move Mountains: Praying with Confidence, Boldness, and Grace by Sue Detweiler from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.

This book serves as a reminder and guide through any season of life. Detweiler encompasses the depth and range of prayer, describing its effects, approach and connections. She outlines how prayer can heal us from hurt we experience or hurt we have caused others. Through a description of how it reaches us and how we can ask for it, she shows us we can have peace. She also reminds us how Jesus came to save us and connect with us. As God’s chosen people, we can go to God in prayer. We have His presence open to us.

As practical and accessible as it is deep, Detweiler writes a book rooted in biblical truth and life application. I recommend this for as a boost of confidence in your prayer life.

Book Review: Reading People by Anne Bogel

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I received a copy of Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel from Baker Books in exchange for a review.

I love this book and , even more, I love that this book has led me to Anne and the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. Reading People appeals to my interest in understanding personality and people on a deeper level. While it covers a lot of information I have already read (I’ve read numerous books about the Myers-Briggs personality typing), it gives a wonderful overview of various approaches. I recommend it as a place to start and as a resource for books to continue research. I agree with Anne that understanding these can help you understand yourself better and therefore know your strengths and tendencies and how to cater to those as you structure your life for success. Anne makes this information accessible and interesting for anyone, an accomplished feat considering the complexity of the subject. Her voice welcomes readers into this informative world in an enlightening way that truly highlights the wonderful aspects of understanding personalities and ourselves. I love how she does this.

Again, I love this book. From here, I plan to continue reading more in-depth books on each approach as I make my way through her resource list to add to my current collection of similar books. I recommend it as a refresher and as a place to start whether you want to explore all the approaches or just certain ones.

 

As a side note, this book led me to Anne’s Modern Mrs. Darcy website, What Should I Read Next podcast and Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. My book arrived the day I moved from Houston, Texas to Bowling Green, Kentucky. I read the author bio on the back and noticed she lived in Kentucky too. Then I saw the pages in the back that led to her websites. I ended up joining the book club and meeting some wonderful people and books as I got settled in my new city. Last night I even had the pleasure of meeting Anne and some of the book club members in the Nashville area, and we had great bookish conversation and a book swap. In short, I recommend checking out Anne’s resources and recommendations. She has a gifted eye for those.

Two Movies and a Book: Fairy Tale Love

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This weekend marks the middle of prime wedding season. All sorts of friends, families and acquaintances will gather and mingle to honor love. As greetings and vows get exchanged, expectations of all involved parties mount. Everyone wants the fairy tale love, or they at least want to witness it. If you don’t have a wedding to attend this week, you can soak in the weirdness of love throughout history by dappling in stories and characters from Arabian Nights, Shrek 2 and Enchanted. 

Arabian Nights has an overarching story of a newlywed bride telling a series of intertwined vignettes to her king husband to ensure she survives another day since the wives before her lasted one day before he executed them due to his mistrust of women. Her tales involve travelers, jinn and other creatures and men of various occupancies. Throughout them all, the characters expect something from the others and retaliate when disappointed. Read some or all to see how the queen keeps herself and the other women in the kingdom alive through story.

When you need a break from the long Arabian Nights, you can enjoy a lighter side of ancient fairy tale creatures by watching Shrek 2. The second installment of the series picks up after Shrek and Princess Fiona’s honeymoon and follows them to Far Far Away, where meet Fiona’s king and queen parents. Their expectations of what they dreamed for their daughter clash with reality, and they all struggle to accept the new family dynamics. Though an animated family movie, it reminds those joining families this wedding season of the true difficulty, and oftentimes tension, of interacting with in-laws and extended family. Of course in this story we get the added comedy brought from classic characters from Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

To add to the fairy tale dream, watch Enchanted as your next movie feature. This live action film follows a storybook princess as she finds herself in New York City. Clearly, her expectations of love vary a bit from most of the people she meets in NYC, including the man who helps her survive the big city. The fairy tale world and real world clash to show the contrast and balance between dreams, expectations, hope, reality. Since it’s a Disney film and pays homage to its classic predecessors, you can rest assured they all find happy endings.

As we continue through prime wedding season, we can renew our hope in fairy tale love and also balance it out with reality. Summer time works great for a light story, and we all enjoy a happy ending sometimes. When we want to give ourselves a reality check we can revisit the roots of these fairy tale stories and be thankful the tensions with in-laws in our world typically don’t result in people getting changed into animals or run ins with jinn. Here’s to a weekend of real life happily ever afters.

Book Review: Living the Spirit-Formed Life

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I received a copy of Living the Spirit-Formed Life: Growing in the 10 Principles of Spirit-Filled Discipleship by Jack Hayford from Baker Publishing in exchange for a review.

Jack Hayford’s book offers a practical and sound way to approach habits to lead a spirit-filled life. Each chapter focuses on a specific discipline, outlining ways to follow it and providing evidence of its importance. I find it flows well and contains easily accessible information. Almost anyone can benefit from this as a way to tweak their habits or to develop new ones. Personally, I find a confidence boost in the reminder that some of my habits do serve a greater purpose and truly keep me closer to God and His way of life. Then I get encouragement to add greater depth to my disciplines, including adding more to continue on the proper path.

Overall, this book provides important insight and advice that we all need. It reminds me of Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline except maybe a little more accessible. This can serve as a starting point for younger Christians or as a refresher and enhancer to all Christians.