Book Review: Out Live Your Life

Last night I finished one of Max Lucado's most recent books: Out Live Your Life. This book's purpose is to call believers to an authentic Christian faith by challenging us to make a difference in the lives of others. 

He often mentions that 'someone cannot do everything, but everyone can do something' which I think is a great reminder. Sometimes I feel like I have to do a grand gesture for it to make a difference and the reminder that even small acts if kindness can be very influential was a breath of fresh air.

This book is a quick read that walks through the book of Acts while engaging readers with real-world examples. It's simple enough that you won't get lost in the theology speak, but provoking enough to offer great topics of conversation and thought. One of my favorite parts are the beautiful prayers provided at the end of each chapter, asking God to help me understand and apply the topic just covered. 

Some of the topics/ideas covered include: how God uses ordinary people, encouraging us to engage with our culture and those different from us, reminding us that there is no person on this Earth Jesus doesn't care for and that when we provide for those in need, we are caring for Jesus as well as the importance of frequent and genuine hospitality.

I think this is a 4 star read. It's an easy read that covers some not-so-easy topics. It was great encouragement for me to be more authentic with my faith and just start loving other people. I didn't know until the end, but there is a questions section in the back to make this into more of a study. I wouldn't say that there was any earth-shattering news here, but it was beautifully put together and the delivery of the message is great.


Hitting Our Stride

hit (one's) stride
1. To achieve a steady, effective pace.
On our fourth wedding anniversary last month, Sean wrote me a note. He acknowledged my lack of excitement for the past year -- there were no major changes ahead. Sean was still to be in school for another year, I was sticking with the same job, we weren't moving homes, no family additions planned. He was right. I wasn't particularly excited and felt more like I was just going through the motions at times. Something really cool did happen this past year, though, that we realized through our reflections on our anniversary.
We hit our stride.
Guys and girls, it's a wonderful feeling! Our marriage is certainly not perfect (it does involve two sinners, after all) and we don't have all of the answers. Heck, we probably don't have half of the answers. What we do have, though, is a deep rooted love of Jesus who is the ultimate picture of grace and forgiveness. Through His grace, our communication patterns have been strengthened, our weaknesses improved upon and our strengths reinforced. We can rest in the confidence of knowing that we were handpicked for one another and are both complementary and supplementary to each other when needed. 

When I say we hit our stride I mean that we just 'get' one another -- so much so that we are prepared to offer grace in certain situations before they even play out. We have been together a long time considering our ages (10 years this summer), so I have known for a long time that he doesn't like applesauce because of its texture, that he drops his clothes where he removes them and he hates using his windshield wipers in the rain. Those little quirks have been apparent for a long time, but we're still learning. This year I learned that Sean doesn't like cornbread (what?!) and that he prefers to eat with the large forks, not the regular size ones. 
Marriage is super fun. It's challenging and requires active participation. It is not always easy, often requiring us to swallow our pride. Marriage brings forth laughter, tears and wonderful joy. What a beautiful, sacred gift God has given to His people!

Lord, thank you for creating the institution of marriage. You knew we would need the mirror of a spouse to identify sin and help refine our character. Thank you for picking Sean to be my husband. Lord, I pray that you will use me in mighty ways as a wife. I fail often, but am thankful for your grace and forgiveness. Please place a burning desire in my heart to continually serve Sean and to be his helpmeet. Protect our marriage and our hearts against the many temptations of this world and help us to keep our hearts and mind pure for one another. Father, we love you dearly. Amen.


I'm not good with secrets

Secrets just aren't my thing. I never want to tell the person the secret it about, but I would rather tell a complete stranger my secret than hold it in. This weekend Sean's cousin Kaitlyn got engaged and I've known about it for a few weeks. I'm pretty sure I told everyone I could without spilling the beans to the soon-to-be bride (whom we see multiple times a week)! Sean and I are thrilled for Kaitlyn and Jacob -- God brought them together at just right time and they will be great partners for life. They have been good friends to us in Fayetteville and we are so excited for this new chapter of their lives!
Jacob asked us to hang a lot of mason jars from the big tree and line a path down to the arbor. The mason jars were hung with twine and filled with yellow flowers and babys breath.
We refer to this picture as 'the money shot.'
She was very surprised to see all of her family there! There was definitely some ugly crying going on, but it was super special to see her parents and siblings love on the couple!

I made these cupcake toppers to look like their initials carved into a tree.
I also made this burlap banner. I just cut the triangles out, hot glues them to twine, then painted the letters on. The hearts are made out of moss sheeting, leftover from my monogram door wreath.

Here's her ring! He did a great job picking it out -- it looks perfect on her dainty fingers!
 Let the wedding planning begin!