“To Be Perfectly Honest” a Book Review

A couple of years ago I got really excited when I realized I could get books for free if I wrote reviews of them on my blog. Well, I read two books and had a baby and never wrote the reviews. So, to fulfill my original promise, here’s one.

CallawayThe title and premise of Phil Callaway’s book, To Be Perfectly Honest, grabbed my attention. Callaway decided to live an entire year only telling the truth, never telling a lie. I value honesty, and since he was a comedian, I thought, hey, why not read it. And it was a compelling read.

Sure, there were dilemas you might expect in a book like this (or the movie “Liar Liar”). Like, what do you say when someone asks if they look fat in that? But there were also some real difficulties that Callaway went through. Such as a death in the family. We really struggle with telling the truth about our pain, our mourning in this society. It’s so much easier (and much more accepted) to lie our way through it. But at what cost?

My constructive critique of the book has not much to do with the way it was written, but more of Callaway’s understanding of what it means to tell the truth. It seemed he thinks that means you must share your opinion whenever you have one. I don’t think that’s always necessary or good. My opinion is not the truth, it is my opinion. If someone asks for it, yes, I should give it. But just to offer it because I have it? That can reap destruction.

Proverbs 17:28 “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

In the end I would give this book 3 stars out of 5. It raises some interesting questions about life, about truth, about speech. And Callaway tells his story in an entertaining way. But, to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t my absolute favorite.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of “To Be Perfectly Honest” from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

3 Ways To Swallow When You’ve Bitten Off More Than You Can Chew

While sitting at the smorgasbord of opportunity, my eyes glimmered in the candlelight of my dreams as I loaded my plate high with events, commitments, opportunities. Each one looked better than the rest. Each was an easy yes.

And last week they happened all at once.

Beginning October 1st, I joined #write31days and committed to writing at least 5 minutes a day through the month of October.

31 days big

October 27-29, I studied, listened, learned what it takes to make it as a published writer in this reinvented market under Margaret Feinberg and Jonathan Merritt at Writer’s Boot Camp. As part of my continued education from Writer’s Boot Camp, I signed up for feedback on a book proposal for Restoring Mama’s Soul. Little did I realize it will take me the entire month of November to finish it.

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October 31, of course, was Halloween which included finishing my son’s Olaf costume and two parties.

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And on Sunday I will be preaching at Scum of the Earth Church.

As I continue to shovel the food into my mouth, I appreciate the nourishment of each bite, but my mouth is dry, my stomach is full, and my pausing more between bites.

Yet, I don’t want to stop.

So, how do we keep going we’ve bitten off more than we can chew? Here are 3 things I’m doing to keep myself going:

  1. Take a drink. I just woke up from a nap. Over the weekend, even though I was promised an hour more of sleep, I got an hour less. I am tired. Sleep is the lubricant I need in order to keep praying, keep reading, keep thinking my way through my days. It keeps me from spitting out the dry crumbs and creates space in my life for fresh inspiration.
  2. Put on your stretchy pants. With all of my yeses, I need to say a few nos. I should have said no to the elementary school’s Math Night last Thursday. I will say no to any social activity until at least after my sermon on Sunday. I am not going on the women’s retreat with our church this weekend <tear>. But each of these nos allow me to say the yeses I value the most.
  3. Finish well. Bite by bite. The next week is mapped out. The next month is scheduled. I will finish my sermon on time, with room to spare. I will take the book proposal one section at a time, day by day. (My favorite app, Wunderlist, is making sure of that.) And Write 31 Days? I will finish. Just not when I thought I would.
  4. Bonus: I will not try this alone, believe I’m alone, or ever be alone.

I will not

When I remember I am studying, writing, and speaking in His power (1 Peter 4:10-11), the pressure to perform vanishes. I no longer feel like I will choke on my servings, but I know that in Him, all of these good things are possible.

What overwhelms you, today? Do you feel any of these steps will help you chew and swallow?

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

How God Cared for Me

Day 20 of 31 Days of Connecting

The other day, in a fit of exhaustion, I posted a link to my sermon on trusting God. I promised that part of my story (which starts here) is part of the sermon… and it is.

But since I know most people do not have 30+minutes to listen to a sermon, I will try to tell the next part of my story here. Now. For those of you who did listen, thank you! What an honor.

Now where was I…?

Oh yes, God taught me that He wanted a deeper relationship with me.

About a month after that conversation with God in my car, I was still grieving. I was still uncovering the hurt I had buried, the distrust I felt, and the fear I had. I was starting to see other misunderstandings of God, like:

I believed God was grading me.

I believed God expected me to be perfect.

I believed God was punishing us financially because of something I must have done.

Yeah… that last one sucked. It was incredibly painful. After all, I had given up everything to follow his call, Tim had taken a huge risk in starting his own business, and there we were, barely making ends meet. But the alternative to my understanding was that God wasn’t providing for us financially because He wanted us to suffer for Him. Or He just wouldn’t provide because He doesn’t.

All bad ideas. All gross misunderstandings of the God who gave himself for us.

But I didn’t see that then. I just saw our grocery lists, our small pay checks, and our unpaid bills.

In April I went to a conference for pastors in our denomination and through the keynote speaker, God broke through the lies I embraced.

Together we read 1 Peter 3:7 which states Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I know this verse by heart. I’ve sung it at summer camp, memorized it for youth group and heard it preached before.

But the preacher restated it: The God of the Universe has unlimited resources at his disposal, will you let him care for you?

Day 18

I felt my heart pounding in my chest as God called out to me. I realized how abandoned I felt by Him. How I thought He left us, financially. And the question rang out, “Will you let him care for you?” Followed by the fear in my heart: Would He care for me?

I went to my host home that evening praying and over the next several days I felt Love prompting me to trust Him. To ask Him for what I felt we needed and the promise that He would provide. I told my husband what God was prodding me to do and He said, “Good. Do it.”

How much do you need?

I thought… I hesitated…

$5,000?

Ok.

Really? Ok?! … $7,000?

Don’t push it.

I have never felt so sure in my life that God would answer my request. $5,000 sounded like a ton of money. I saw us catching up on our electrical and hospital bills. I saw the credit card being partially paid off. I saw myself breathing easily.

The next month came and went. I wasn’t sure how we did, financially. It felt good, but I didn’t take the time to check. I was too nervous! But then my husband texted me.

In May of 2013, our income added up to $5,000.84.

I couldn’t believe it. Numb with distrust, I thought surely that was a coincidence. But the more I considered the amount – the exactness of it – the almost to the penny answer to the prayer I had prayed – the more I was convinced it was God showing me He provides.

I can scrape and worry and count and stress and do all I can do to try to control things, but in the end He cares for me.

He cares for me.

We have not continued to receive $5,000.84 each month. In fact, many months we have been back at the bottom of the barrel, again being creative to get by. But you know what? I’m not afraid any more. God cares for me. He provides for me. He loves me.

I know that now.

I struggle trusting God with money, what do you struggle with entrusting to God? A relationship? Children? Career? An Illness? The God of the Universe desires to care for YOU. Will you let Him?

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)

31 days of connecting

You Did Not Kill Jesus

Day 2 of 31 Days of Connecting

We are in church, worshiping, in awe and adoration of the Love God has for us when suddenly that line is there. There on the screen. And the condemnation and shame I felt as a Christian child, teenager, and young adult squeezes my throat, condemns my heart.

“Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held him there…

I was brought up with this theology. I’ve even preached it once. This idea that Christ had to die, because of me. That I put Christ on the cross. That I held the nail. That with each sin I commit Christ dies again.

For years I lived in the oppression of shame and humiliation. For years I was stained by my sin, not cleansed, because I was told it was my fault Jesus died.

So I tried to live my best so he would not have to die. I tried to be good enough so that He would not have to go to the cross.

But every year on Good Friday I was horrified by the guilt of placing Jesus on the cross.

Except… except the Bible never says that.

The Bible never says that we put Him there. The Bible never says that Jesus had to die. Sin did not hold him there. In fact, it is exactly the opposite.

Yes, it is true that sin condemns, but it does not condemn Jesus. It condemns us. The wages of sin is death – and we should die.

But God, in His great love for us, and desire to be connected to us, decided to intervene, to save us.

Jesus, in His love for us, took our sin on Himself[1] and gave himself for us.[2]

day 2

These words make me weep. I am finally free.

Yes. He chose to die. Because He loved us. And He wanted to rescue us. To heal us. To redeem us. To be with us. So that we might live a life of freedom in Christ, filled with the love of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and completely connected to Him.

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! –Romans 7:25

[1] 1 Peter 2:24

[2] Six times Paul writes that Christ “gave himself” for us. SIX! Gal 1:4, 2:20; Eph 5:2, 25; 1 Tim 2:6; Titus 2:14.

Restoring Mama’s Soul

Restoring Mama's SoulYou guys. As of right now 34 mamas have responded to my survey. Amazing.

That may seem small to some, but I had a privategoal of 50 people and we are almost there!

I realize my subscribers might not know what I’m talking about. Turns out, when I created the page for my book (yes, my book!), it didn’t wind up in my feed like a normal post. Oh, blogging. I’m always learning something new.

So, if you want to click here and learn more, go for it. OR, you can just fill out the super short survey below! If you comment on the blog letting me know you completed the survey, I’ll enter you in a drawing to win one of my favorite books: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. Share the survey on Facebook and let me know and that can be another entry! (yup, that’s a new thing; just write a comment below if you already did!)

Thanks mamas (and a couple of dads!) who have already completed the survey! I’m so excited to learn from you.

Leah

I Kissed His Hand Goodbye

I loved school as a kid. The line from You’ve Got Mail about a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils gets me every time. I am taken back to the excitement of a new classroom, new teacher, new friends… new beginnings. I suppose that is the best part. The chance to start something new and to move ahead in life. 

Like some friends of mine, I was not crying on Jack’s first day of kindergarten, but was filled with anticipation for what the day would bring him. Would he like his teacher? Would it be overwhelming? Would he eat anything all day? Would he meet his best friend? Would he fall in love with learning? … Would he like it at all?

We took the obligatory first day of school photos before all four of us piled into the car to drive to school.

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20140813_080048When we arrived, we found his teacher and where he would line up. I liked her immediately. Warm. Energetic. Smiling. She knew how to interact with a kindergartner, that was clear. She was also swarmed by students, parents, grandparents and siblings. Any real relationship would have to wait. But I was put at ease as we stood in line with Jack.

He was quiet. Thinking. Observing. Happy. I pulled out my camera to ask him some questions about his first day and his expression changed from excitement to tears as he cried out, “But I’m going to miss you!!”

I put the camera down and quickly wrapped him in a hug, trying my best to reassure him that it wouldn’t be that long before I’d return. But I knew that I could not really take away his fear. Not in one that feels things so deeply. While I love new things, they also completely overwhelm me and I too cry out for the familiar. Jack is so much like me.

I stood up, turned to my husband and when I turned back to my son, Jack’s teacher was there, whispering to him kindly. She had his complete attention. I bent over to listen.

20140813_080118 The concept was brilliantly simple. I would kiss his hand and he would have my kiss with him all day long. And when he listened to it carefully, he would hear the kiss say, “Mommy always loves you.”

I planted a wet one in that little palm and Jack held on tight. He then got curious, uncurled his fingers and turned his palm over to see what would happen. His face crumpled up, “I dropped it!”

“Well I need to make this one stick then!” I think it’s safe to say it did…

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I kissed his hand goodbye. And he walked tall and strong into that place of learning, ready to start the next phase of his precious life. I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.

p.s. When I picked him up that afternoon and we drove past the school to go home, Jack said, “There’s my favorite school!” I think we can say the first day was a success!

Begin (again)

This post is a Five Minute Friday Post – again, written on Monday. Someday, maybe I’ll remember on Friday. Until then, enjoy. At Five Minute Friday we write to write. Not to edit like crazy, just to write for five minutes, stop, and share.

Roy Lake

This Week’s Writing Prompt: BEGIN

It’s hard to get started. It’s hard to sit down and commit yourself to something new, something that takes a risk and is scary. Some people start easily. The reward part of their brain gets fired up and they just go.

I’m not quite like that.

I’m grateful that I can start slow. 

But I must start. And it is a new beginning.

A new beginning of words and prayers. A new beginning of opening my heart to the dreams that have been growing inside for years at a time. A new beginning to try. Yes, to try. It’s scary to try. It’s scary to begin. Because what if the goal doesn’t come to completion?

But the alternative? To not try? Well, I would hate to think of what would happen if I did not try. Regret. Sadness. A missed calling?

No. I won’t do that. I will begin.

I have begun. I have begun by letting a little bit of the present go. I have stopped. 

Beginning for me required me to stop.

The ironic thing is, that at the beginning of all things, even God stopped. He made it all, said it was good, then He sat down and stopped. Not that he didn’t continue on, but he rested. He took a sabbath.

I have been practicing Sabbath every day for the past two weeks in an attempt to reorient myself to begin again. It has been strange to let go of previous responsibilities. It has felt odd to sit in silence by myself for hours at a time. I am tempted to fill the time with frivolous things, but no, I have stopped in order to begin. 

And so I will… stay tuned.