Book Review: Business Boutique

christy

Today’s post is a review of a hot new bestseller – Business Boutique by my friend Christy Wright.

Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide to Doing What She Loves takes readers through the path of turning a side hobby into a fulfilling day job, speaking wisdom and experience into every detail, including:

  • Finding Your Motivation
  • Overcoming Doubt and Eliminating Excusesd
  • Building “Tiers” or the Foundations of Your Business
  • Operational 101s
  • Marketing advice and more!

A certified business coach and Dave Ramsey personality, Christy encourages mightily while communicating tips and advice designed to strengthen the morale of even the most faint-hearted.

Highly recommended for anyone considering their own side business, you can check out Business Boutique and learn more about Christy here!

Continue reading…

Article of the Week: How to be the kind of people the world needs right now

Great blog post by Ann Voskamp: how we could get to be the kind of people the world needs right now

Thought-provoking article on an interesting current topic – and a heartwarming story to boot:

“Sometimes the places where we are stretched thin are the thin places where we catch a greater glimpse of God.

And sometimes a kind of miraculous happens when instead of thinking nothing can be done —  you believe there’s always a way one thing can be done.

There’s always find a way to take one step toward someone on the other side of a fence, there’s always a way to take one brick out of a wall that’s divisive, there’s always a way find a way to find Christ’s way to love.”

As Voskamp so eloquently writes:

In a world where we look around and feel like we’ve all already lost— lost a sense of hope, lost a sense of decency, lost a sense of humanity — stretching our hands in grace and kindness makes everyone win.

Be sure and check it out! You can read more of her writing at AnnVoskamp.com

#TBT: Overachiever’s Resolution List

Today’s post is #TBT to 2013:

I’ve always secretly hated New Year’s resolutions. Why? Well, for starters, asking an overachiever to come up with a New Year’s resolution list is sort of like asking a NASA scientist to build a go-cart.

Lose weight.

Eat right.

Spend less.

Study the Bible more.

Read more.

Pray more.

Talk to family members more.

Send more notecards.

Remember birthdays.

Watch less TV.

Listen more. Talk less.

Get more sleep.

Drink less coffee.

Be more available.

(And now that my personality has totally changed…welcome, New Year.) Continue reading…

Movie Review: The Christmas Candle

christmas-candle2

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

I rarely write movie reviews, but if you’re looking for a great Christmas movie this holiday season, I highly recommend The Christmas Candle, by Max Lucado – which may be one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last two years, period.

Set in 1890 in the English town of Gladbury, the movie follows a disheartened reverend, David Richmond , who reluctantly agrees to serve as reverend to the Gladbury parish. Richmond arrives in Gladbury around Advent, where the town is buzzing with the local legend of the “Christmas Candle.” Rumor has it once every 25 years, an angel visits Gladbury and blesses a single candle in the town candleshop. The candle is good for one answered prayer – a miracle – for the candle’s recipient.

Rev. Richmond doesn’t believe in the legend, and chides the congregation for their belief in superstition. The town candlemakers, Mr. and Mrs. Haddington, are determined to see “The Candle” go to a worthy recipient…until the candle is lost. Or mixed in, to be precise, with all the other candles.

Unsure of who is in possession of the candle, the Haddingtons decide to tell the villagers one-by-one the same words that have surrounded the legend since it’s birth.

“Have faith. Light this candle…and pray.”

I won’t spoil the ending, but this movie will have even skeptics and cynics believing in the power of prayer, and Christmas miracles.

 

Happy Holidays,
Mandy

America the Thankful

America’s strength comes from it’s thankfulness. Some may say it comes from being brave, having courage or respecting the “freedom” and civil rights of all men. Some may say it comes from being a democracy, from being a classless society where the pursuit  of happiness is possible. All these things are true (and if you needed reasons to be thankful this year, I just gave you five). Traditionally, Americans are not a country of ungrateful ingrates — and if we’re raising a younger generation who are, it’s our own fault.

At it’s root, nothing is more American than  being thankful for what we have an wanting to protect it. On the very first year the pilgrims survived after the new land (1621), they proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving — gratitude for being alive. Our first president George Washington declared a national day of thanks, although a reoccuring Thanksgiving as a national holiday was founded by Abraham Lincoln, during the worst year our country had ever seen — 1863. It isn’t as flashy as some of the other virtues, but being thankful is almost as inherent a part of our country as being free. (Don’t believe me? Name 10 other countries in the world who celebrate Thanksgiving. Off the top of your head, can  you even name three?)

This year, shortly after Election 2016, there will be cries of how the country is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s true that politics can be dividing, but the fabric of America is stronger than that. You don’t have to be thankful for Trump, but you should thankful for free press, the right to vote (including women and minorities), a non-violent election, peaceful transition of power and two houses of Congress to keep a new president in check.

Today’s post is a #TBT to a post from 2014 (Pilgrims, Presidents and Soldiers) with Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving address, which is just a good today as it was remembered two years ago:

“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

… Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States…to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that…they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.”

America sits on a legacy of toughness, of resilience. Of a nation of imperfect people united by shared a belief in freedom, and thankfulness for that freedom that is recognized on July 4.

And in part, on the 4th Thursday in November.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be blessed,

Mandy

Series: The Screwtape Letters (6 of 6)

screwtape-3

And now to close the series, a taste of the real thing – an excerpt from one of my favorite Screwtape letters (12).

With regard to temptation, Screwtape urges Wormwood to use subtlety and slowness: “My only fear is lest in attempting to hurry the patient, you awaken him to a sense of his real position,” he writes.

He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading right away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space…

 As long as he retains externally the habits of a Christian, he can still be made to think of himself as one who has adopted a few new friends and amusements but whose spiritual state is much the same as it was six weeks ago. And while he things that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognized sin, but only with his vague though uneasy feeling that he hasn’t been doing well lately.

 …A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart.

 …You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him.

 …And nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiousities so feeble that the mind is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

 You will say these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectactular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is not better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

 And that, folks, is enough to chew on all day.

For excellent reading, be sure to check out this classic: The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. HarperOne, 2015.

 

Series: The Screwtape Letters (5 of 6)

screwtape-3

In honor of The Screwtape Letters, with apologies to C.S. Lewis:

Nubbins,

If you want to strike at the heart of our Rival’s camp, attack his #1 admonition of “Love Thy Neighbor.” In other words, treat other humans the way you would want to be treated. This is disgusting – and fortunately for us, easily assaulted on several fronts.

While it sounds simplistic, you’ll find it quite a hard standard for them to achieve. First, the amount of damage that can be done en masse – in previous centuries humans were limited to face-to-face encounters with their neighbors, meaning, in certain rural areas, it may be possible to work an entire day on the farm without encountering another person. Urban areas soon made this isolationism scarce. Technology has now made it impossible. You can now inflict as much damage from your living room as you can from an errand to the store. The internet is a source of constant sarcasm, criticism and complaining, allowing humans the anonymous luxury of bashing those they’ve never met and breeding jealousy towards those with whom they are acquainted.

Second, because of this constant universe of citizens from which they cannot escape, it is easy to deplete their inhibitions. In that way the relentless stimuli is better than alcohol – things they never would have said to a co-worker had they not been cut off in traffic or already ridiculed in a friend’s post comes flying out of their mouth with little encouragement. Like water dripping on a rock, these fortifications soon give way to fatigue. And fatigue can be powerful in its own right. It can turn a mother on her children, sibling on sibling, husband to wife. Loving one’s neighbor certainly won’t happen on the streets if it doesn’t happen at home. You can rest assured the victory is well in hand.

Continue reading…

Series: The Screwtape Letters (4 of 6)

screwtape-3

In honor of The Screwtape Letters, with apologies to C.S. Lewis:

Nubbins,

I am disturbed to hear your recent news – so your charge has joined a small community group, has he? What possessed you to let that happen? You should have used any means available – a flat tire, Thursday night football, a bowling league, even a promotion at work with overtime would have been preferable to this.

I perhaps neglected to impart the crucial admonition of making your man an island. Fortunately today this is a very easy thing to do – it has never been easier in fact. With a steady stream of emails, texts, snapchats and Facebook friends, not to mention 600 cable channels and unlimited internet (a handy bait indeed), your man will actually pride himself on being plugged in while he is, in fact, spending all of his time alone.

Attacks on a post with able reinforcements, with an adequate supply line are usually much less successful than attacks on an isolated human. Do not underestimate creation of the proper environment. Humans are relational creatures – they need a good deal of support to survive. To destroy the man (and consequently undo his relationship with our Rival), you must attack his relationships.

Well, not much can be done about it now.

On this note, you say your charge also has strong beliefs and you are finding it difficult to dissuade him. Here I am inclined to agree – the stronger the beliefs, the less likely an outright assault is to work.

Continue reading…

Series: The Screwtape Letters (3 of 6)

screwtape-3

In honor of The Screwtape Letters, with apologies to C.S. Lewis:

Dear Nubbins,

Now that we’ve discussed old vs. new believers, it’s time to talk tactics. Remember Rules 2 & 4 —  you must be relentless in your quest and invisible in form. Do not make the mistake of Slimfang, who let himself be glimpsed by his charge alone in his bedroom at night. Fool! The man was scared straight into church, and attended “religiously” for two years. Humans must not think there is anything amiss,  that there is no spirit world and that they alone are the masters of their fate.

Our fathers were trained on a steady diet of immorality, theft, substance abuse, violence and greed. Many of these are still popular, depending on the human – immorality certainly hasn’t gone out of fashion. But the new millennium lends itself to newer, better schemes.

Why use sin when leisure is so much easier? And you will find that distraction brings all the benefits of depravity, and with half the effort – or detection on the human’s behalf.

Busyness and accomplishment are two of my favored tools – it has never been so easy to exhaust a charge as in the modern day. And exhaustion leads to frustration, and frustration to despair. With any luck you can leave your human completely unaware of the transition between the three. At the least, you can render him or her tired and distractedly useless at their post in our Rival’s infantry. Continue reading…

Series: The Screwtape Letters (2 of 6)

screwtape-3

In honor of The Screwtape Letters, with apologies to C.S. Lewis:

Dear Nubbins,

To begin, we must first outline some of the differences between old converts and new believers. You would think new believers would be the easiest to tempt, but this is not always the case. Often times old Christians are much easier than new ones.

 New believers may be unaccustomed to the language and behaviors of Christians, but that is of little use to us. They may have some old bad habits – and you can certainly exploit those, but what they do have is a recent fire in the belly – a fresh realization of our Rival’s holiness and their own sin. Many older believers have gone years without those thoughts. Even better, their religious habits have produced a self-satisfied version of devoutness you will find cocoons them completely.

 As for the new convert, try attacking those old habits and while it may succeed in the moment, the counter-effect is that it reminds them of their sinfulness and their recent decision and drives them wholly to our Rival’s camp. You may win the battle, but lose the war, and we are taking the long-term view here.

 What you can try to do, is make the young disciple question their previous conversion. Was it real, or some imaginary excitability of the moment? Have the initial feelings lingered? Is he really “changed?” Where is the proof of this? Feel free to employ feelings, legends and fairy tales – anything to make the conversion seem fanciful and completely unscientific.

Continue reading…