Walking Over Rocks

Books That Are Changing My Life

It’s been quite a while since I have read anything that I could honestly say was “life changing,” with the exception of my Bible. Recently, I picked up two books that are doing just that. One was a Kindle special, and the other is a book that I refused to read for years.

wlw coverWomen Living Well, by Courtney Joseph. I snagged this book a few months back when it was only $2.99. This is one book that is well worth the full price! I had fallen away from reading anything but sci-fi and fiction for some time, and I challenged myself to read at least ONE book of a spiritual nature per month in 2015. This one is a goldmine.

Courtney runs the Women Living Well website. That alone is chock full of wonderful and Biblically sound advice. She also has a great ministry, the Good Morning Girls. Her book is about living well as you fulfill the many roles God has given to you. Wife, mother, ministry leader, she has them all in there.

One thing I especially enjoy about the book is her non-condemning attitude. Many books like this will tell you just how awful you are if you cannot juggle everything with a smile. Courtney’s approach is different. Using her own life as an example, she goes through Biblical principals and allows you to make the call in your own circumstance.

I especially loved her insight on using your time wisely. Regarding social media and the internet, Courtney points out that in and of themselves, they have no inherent morality. It’s how you use them that shows your morality. How much time you spend, and at who’s expense, is between you and the Lord.

The chapter on living well in your marriage was thought provoking, a bit convicting, and excellent. I’d say this is a must have on any woman’s bookshelf, real or virtual.

My other read is Trim Healthy Mama, by sisters Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. My crazy food journey is documented on my personal blog, and I’ll leave it to you to hop over there if you’d like to hear all about my adult struggles.TrimHealthyMamacover

When this book came out in 2012 and immediately caused an internet sensation, I listened briefly (VERY briefly) to the descriptions and concluded that it was just another way to be shackled to food. And, what was all this crazy alphabetical meal naming? A system, that’s all it was.

Yet, as I struggled through more “freedom” from diets, systems, and labels, I kept an eye on those I knew who were using the book and getting results. Some were getting dramatic and fabulous results. Meanwhile, I went down a vegetarian road when my health numbers continued rising into the danger zone. I even procured a copy of Serene’s previous cookbook all about raw eating.

I finally took a real, honest look at Trim Healthy Mama when I watched a video by the sisters where Serene is quite frank about the detrimental effects her raw vegan diet had not only on her health, but that of her infants. Nothing like eye opening conviction, right from the source! I began stalking THM’ers online, Pinterest pages and the Trim Healthy Facebook pages and forum. I requested the book from my library, and once it was in my hands, I knew I needed my very own copy.

It’s much more than a “diet book.” Serene and Pearl have done an astounding amount of research and experimented on themselves searching for the right balance of great foods and healthy choices. They have so much good and documented information packed into the book. Not to mention the recipes. The back chapters on spiritual and emotional health are frank and thought provoking. All of this places your total body health right in the hands it’s supposed to rest in. The One Who created you.

If you would have asked me right around the holidays how I was doing, I wouldn’t have been honest. I was falling apart. Worried about my spiritual and physical health, how was I going to get everything together for ministry, my kids, my hubby, my grandkids? I was heading for a crash, and I am so very grateful that the Lord placed these two books into my hands right when I needed them. My only regret is that I don’t have a copy of each to give away.

Till next time, let your dreams soar high, and your prayers even higher!

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Walking Over Rocks

Writing Lessons From The Front, Angela Hunt

Last week I finally had some time to myself while my boys were at swim lessons. I brought the Kindle with me and low and behold…I READ! Yes, don’t fall over, but I read…three books, actually.

Let me backtrack a moment, if you will. I do enjoy my Kindle. I do REALLY enjoy getting freebie and bargain books. It’s like a drug. Gotta grab that book, it’s ONLY $0.99!!! Even better, it’s FREEEEEE. It’s a great tool to use for marketing.

The drawback is that I have approximately 20 bazillion books that I need to read! FIVE of those are by Angela Hunt on the subject of writing. The pool we’ve been frequenting doesn’t have wifi; thankfully I had the first three books of the ongoing series downloaded already and not up in the Kindle Cloud. I decided that I need these in real live book form because I need to underline, write notes in the margins, etc.

Book one is The Plot Skeleton. It’s a wonderful illustration on outlining a novel. Something I have yet to accomplish. As I was reading through the brief chapter, cleverly titled “The One and Only Chapter,” I could see my latest WIP through the Skeleton. Seeing “the bones” of my story in this way was a good exercise. Starting with the head and working down, you fill in your main plot, seeing where it needs another rib or maybe a better segue. Angela explains all the connections, and how your plot works together to bring that story to life. I think I will pop open One Note and draw me up a skelly-bones.

Book two is Creating Extraordinary Characters. I confess to thinking that all my characters are extraordinary. At least, that’s what they tell me. In this volume Angela sets forth the steps to making your characters real. Instilling Admirable Qualities, Personality Type as a Tool, using notecards, Revealing Characters in different scenarios, the difference between a villain and an anti-hero and more. I enjoyed this one as it made creating a character sketch (another writing practice I’ve avoided) less daunting. I found it especially interesting to use the Meyers-Briggs personality tests to get to know your characters better.

The third is Point of View. With just one simple sentence (When Mary woke up, it was raining.) Angela takes us through the different storytelling points of view and shows how each one has it’s own merits and drawbacks. The section on head hopping )switching from one character’s POV to another in rapid succession) made me chuckle. I tend to “head hop” at times, largely, I think, due to my preferred reading tastes. It’s something I have worked on, and this book helped me see how and where to continue to hone that particular discipline.

angela huntMany of Angela’s books are on Kindle, and she does run specials and freebies. The best way to keep up is by her newsletter and blog. She has practically a whole shelf in our library. I loved her novel Doesn’t She Look Natural? (The Fairlwan Series) and her book about the Roanoake colony was interesting. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of her offerings. If you write, or would like to write, her series is a must. *DISCLAIMER: The links to Angela’s site are not up right now (6/3/2014) I will update ASAP. Thanks, Donna!*

 

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Walking Over Rocks

Book Review: The Story Jar by Robin Lee Hatcher and Deborah Bedford

Brag warning: I am friends with RLH on Facebook and Goodreads. So there. 😉 Yes, I can get all fan girl about it, but I won’t (anymore).

Robin posted last week about Authorgraph (hence, the nifty widget to the right, where you can request a personalized signature from me for your Kindle versions of my books. Way cool, right?) I decided that I must have one from Robin, so I made a quickie purchase. The title intrigued me, and I always like to read stories that have co-authors to see the way they mesh styles.

In the forward, Robin tells how this book came to be written. I’m hoping to present the idea of a story jar to my Bible study group. What a wonderful way to remember all that Jesus has done, and continues to work, in our hearts.

I read this book in a total of 5 hours. It would have been 5 straight hours but I did need to sleep a bit in between. The main plot takes place in a small church where Beth Williams is hired to clean the sanctuary. She’s care worn, discouraged. In the course of her duties, a woman comes in to sit. Beth discovers she is the former pastor’s wife. As she’s cleaning, Beth discovers a jar hidden underneath a chair on the platform. Mrs. Halley opens the jar and by that opens Beth’s heart to the wonderful ways Jesus touches the hearts of others when it seems that there is no hope.

This is the beauty of this book; it’s three stories! As Mrs. Halley takes treasures from the jar, she tells Beth about two special people. The first, written by Deborah Bedford, involves a pastor’s family dealing with the wife’s battle with breast cancer. The second, by RLH, touches on the fears of every mother: a wayward child and the hard road of reconciliation.

In the end, Beth is able to release her own fears, and her two sons, into God’s loving hands. It’s a wonderful celebration of mothers, their love for their families and the way the family loves them. As a special bonus, several other well known Christian authors pay tribute to their mothers, including Francine Rivers, Jerry B. Jenkins, Karen Ball and others.

You can find Robin’s books in print and Kindle on Amazon, and at her website (which is in the midst of a makeover).

Deborah Bedford’s books, print and Kindle, can also be found on Amazon. Her website is found here.