In a world where qualifications matter for nearly every aspect of life, it's hard to understand that what God really wants is a willing heart not a full resume. If you've found yourself struggling with your qualifications, then you should pick up
(UN)Qualified by Steven Furtick.
Have you seen a ministry opportunity and thought, "Oh, I'm not qualified for that"? So have I. Or have you shied away from doing something because you don't feel skilled or trained in that area. Me too.
But when we look in the Bible, we see a long line of unqualified, under-trained people who carry out big purposes for God's glory. And that is what reading (UN)Qualified helps us to understand and even embrace. That's a hard message and it can feel like an admonition, but not in Furtick's words. He is very approachable and almost friendly in his delivery and it is very non-threatening.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review. The opinions are mine.
From the Publisher:
Who You Think You Are is Not as Important as Who God Says You Are
Many of us wrestle with the gap between our weaknesses and our dreams, between who we are and who God says we are meant to be. We feel unqualified to do God’s work or to live out the calling we imagine. But God has a way of using our weaknesses for good. In fact, God loves unqualified people.
In (Un)Qualified, Pastor Steven Furtick helps you peel back the assumptions you’ve made about yourself and see yourself as God sees you. Because true peace and confidence come not from worldly perfection but from acceptance: God’s acceptance of you, your acceptance of yourself, and your acceptance of God’s process of change.
This is a book about understanding your identity in light of who God is. It’s a book about coming to terms with the good, the bad, and the unmentionable in your life and learning to let God use you. It’s about charging into the gap between your present and your hopes and meeting God there. After all, God can’t bless who you pretend to be. But he longs to bless who you really are; a flawed and broken person. Good thing for us that God is in the business of using broken people to do big things.
Pastor Steven Furtick is the lead pastor of Elevation Church. He and his wife, Holly, founded Elevation in 2006 with seven other families. The church has been listed by Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest growing and largest churches in America. Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the New York Times Best Selling author of Crash the Chatterbox, Greater, and Sun Stand Still.Pastor Steven and Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey. - See more at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/author-spotlight.php?authorid=117906#sthash.apYFKlS7.dpuf
This week I commemorated 12 years as an Avon lady and it got me thinking about all that I've learned on this journey. And I'm not talking about how to pick a lipstick or why it's important to use the right cleanser and moisturizer. No, I've learned much more than that and it might surprise you. Or maybe not.
1. Women worry about wrinkles.
Even my oldest customers, those in their 80s and 90s, are looking for the miracle cream, ointment, or serum that will smooth away their wrinkles, erase the fine lines, blur their pores and brighten their tired eyes. Some worry about it more than others like the few gals I know who would stand on their heads while applying their night cream if I promised them they'd look 20 years younger in the morning. It's funny, but really, it's sad. And it gets me to the next thing I've learned.
2. Women need to be told they're beautiful.
Want to watch a woman lose 10-pounds and shed 10-years in mere seconds? Tell her she's beautiful. Compliment her lipstick color. Point out how that shade of blue really makes her skin glow. Notice that she's changed her hair and tell her how nice that new, lighter shade looks on her. She'll instantly perk up like a flower getting rain after a dry spell. And yes, this applies to my 20-something customers and my 90-year-old customers. All of them crave compliments and none of us give them enough, nor receive them enough.
3. Everyone is lonely.
When a visit from your Avon lady or your Schwan man is the highlight of your day, you must realize you're lonely. My customers, and their husbands, average 70-years-old. That's not old, folks. But, so many of them are forgotten by their families. Some of them have friends and activities to keep them busy, but I see them in the quiet desolation of their homes and the loneliness hangs in the air. I've often wished I could call up their kids and say, "hey, call your mom." Or send a text message to their grandkids saying, "stop in and see your grandma." I heard about a commercial in Europe where an old man fakes his death so his family will all come home for the holidays. They've been too busy in previous years to see him and each other and I guess he's desperate. A lot of people are mad about this, saying it's manipulation and cruel. Well, after twelve years of visiting lonely, aging folks, here's what I think: it's the truth. We're all so busy with our kids and our lives that we've forgotten about the generations before us.
4. There is such a thing as a clean house.
The only customers I have whose homes aren't model-home perfect are the customers who still have kids at home. By the way, they may have kids at home, but they're still lonely. Anyhow, this little nugget is the one that brings me a lot of hope but tucked inside it is sadness. Why sadness? Because every one of those customers with the neat-as-a-pin home will tell you that they miss the mess of kids. I'm still not sure I completely believe that, but when they tell me this, I see the sincere sadness in their eyes, so it must be true. But man, I'm willing to give this one a go. I'd love to not step on Legos or trip over Barbies just for one day.
5. We all have burdens too heavy to carry alone.
Some days I'd come home from deliveries so worn out, so emotionally drained that I'd lay down on the floor and breathe deeply. Dying loved ones, debilitating illnesses, money stolen by crooked accountants, divorces, estranged children, lost jobs, and mental breakdowns. That's just one year of customer experiences. I could tell you stories about in-laws and bosses that would blow your mind. It's always amazed me how many deeply personal things people share with their Avon lady. Who needs the hair salon? I'll come to you and listen to your burdens all for the price of lipstick. Sure, it's funny when I say it that way, but it didn't take me long to realize my services were cheaper than seeing a counselor. In these cases, a listening ear and a warm hug go a long way. And just to be clear, there were plenty of times when a customer relieved my burden. Once, I was on my way to see a customer when I received an email from a high school buddy that his mom had just passed away. Marge had been a special person in my life and I was pretty sad. That customer saw my tears and took me in her arms and held me while I cried.
Oh I could tell you some hilarious stories, too. Like the time I went to the wrong house and rang the doorbell before I realized it. Or the time a customer hid on her porch and yelled "boo!" as I knocked on the front door. She's 82. Yes, I've laughed and I've cried my way through the last 12 years as an Avon lady.
I used to always say, "it's just lipstick" and remark at how nothing I do or sell actually saves a life. If the world ran out of lipstick tomorrow, it would still keep turning. Granted, it wouldn't be pretty, but it would be turning. Being an Avon lady is really a trifle in the grand scheme of life. But look at all I've learned. Look at all the people who have touched my life and the ones whose lives I hope I've touched, too. So, ya, 12 years is a long time but I guess that's how long it took to learn these things. Maybe you'll catch on quicker than I have.
2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas caught my eye because of its funny title. How could the Cat's Pajamas be a place? And what exactly happened there? Turns out The Cat's Pajamas is a jazz club and it's in jeopardy. But that's not the only interesting thing about this quirky Christmas read.
Instantly I was enchanted by Madeleine the cigarette-smoking, shoulder-shimmying, 9-year-old woman-child we meet on the first page of the book. If the author, Marie-Helene Bertino, hadn't told us her age, I would have thought Madeleine was a 20-something with swagger. She's an old soul trapped in a sassy girl's body. Love her!
I don't want to spoil the story for you, but this is definitely a fun read that will keep you interested, entertained and perhaps even entranced this Christmas. The story takes place on the eve of Christmas Eve, so let it whisk you away into its quirky world with its oddball characters and twisty plot. You'll love it!
From the Publisher:
ABOUT 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMASAn enchanting and staggeringly original debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, rebellious nine-year-old who also happens to be an aspiring jazz singer. Still mourning the recent death of her mother, and caring for her grief-stricken father, she doesn’t realize that on the eve of Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.
As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving debut, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas will capture your heart and have you laughing out loud.
Marie Helene-Bertino is the author of Safe as Houses, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Prize. An Emerging Writer Fellow at New York’s Center for Fiction, she has spent six years as an editor and writing instructor at One Story. A Philadelphia native, she currently lives in Brooklyn.
I received this book from "Blogging for Books" for the purpose of this review.
Scott loves chili and I think it's pretty good too. But I don't like the typical cumin-heavy, opaque gravy kind of chili. So, when the chance to review The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh came along, I said, "oh yeah!"
First, the book is beautiful. It's hardcover but not heavy or clunky. The images inside really show you the chili up close and make your mouth water. And there are lots of pictures!
I love the information on the different types of chili peppers and spices. And the recipes are straightforward with no complicated steps or confusing instructions. There are a lot of different chilis represented too, even a venison chili. Yum!
This book would make an excellent gift for the chef who has everything and it would also look smashing on your coffee table. Plus the warm and hearty chilis will keep you fed and happy all winter long!
I received this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review.
Your heart is such a precious thing. It has desires so deeply hidden inside it that no one knows they're there. What it wants, it wants, and what it needs, it needs. In your life, there will be times when your heart speaks so clearly, so honestly that it will pull on you with a force that no physicist has ever witnessed.
And my dear girl, I hope you follow your heart. Always. Listen to it. And follow it. No matter what. Even if I say that I know better. Even if I try and stop you. Follow it. And then tell me to read this post. I'll cry and argue, but that would be better than you living with regret inside your tender heart.
But there's something else I need to tell you. Your heart? That true thing inside your chest? It is more precious, more delicate than your doll. And just like your doll doesn't belong in the kitchen lest she break accidentally, your heart doesn't belong where it isn't protected.
Guard your tender heart. Hide it deep in God's own heart. Bury it deep in His truth.
People, especially boys, will try and take your heart. They will try and buy it with their words, their gifts, their affectionate embraces. But guard it. Don't give it away too easily. Don't sell it to anyone for any price.
Your heart is a priceless treasure.
Dear girl, I'm not just talking about sex. You don't even understand what that is yet. I'm talking about all those things we women try and fill our hearts with, the things we try and exchange for them. Don't give it to a boy just because you want a date on Friday night. Don't give it to a friend because you don't want to feel left out. Don't give it to a job just because you need a paycheck. Don't put it on a scale just to make it fit into a smaller size. Don't cover it up with too much make-up and don't flaunt it in too short skirts. Don't put it on a shelf and don't wear it on your sleeve.
God put your heart inside your chest because it's fragile and it needs a cage to protect it.
My sweet girl, we were able to pick up all the pieces and gingerly glue them back in place. But, her feet are not the same. Those cute shoes are cracked and glue squishes out of them. Then I covered them in lace, to protect the cracks and keep the pieces together. It's like a pretty band-aid. And you looked at those silly lace casts and said how beautiful they are. And this made mommy cry inside. Your gentle acceptance stirred something deep.
That you would see beauty where I only see brokenness made your mama weep.
And though you're not perfect -- nor am I -- that is how God sees us. As beautiful, priceless treasures. He doesn't see our imperfections. He chooses not to see our mistakes and our sins. But He always sees our beauty because He made us to reflect Him.
I know that as you walk through life, your heart is going to break. I know that you're going to have disappointments that hurt a little too much. I know that you're going to face choices that make you choose between your heart and someone else's wishes. I know that you're going to sometimes choose the wrong thing and break your own heart unknowingly.
And that's okay, sweet girl, because I'm always here for you. I'll help you pick up the pieces and look for the beauty. But, sweet one, do me a favor, guard that heart. Hold it close like you hug that doll to your chest. And I'll be standing by, cheering you on and holding the glue.
My own were misty as well.
It could have been worse. Her right foot broke, but into big pieces. And the heel of her left shoe snapped off. But all the pieces were there.
"She can be fixed," I said to your sister as we collected the pieces and put them on the counter. I turned to you and with my voice raised, asked "Why would you throw a doll to the floor? You should know better. Why would you do that?"
Again, you repeated "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." And I know that you meant it. I could feel it. It came from your heart.
As I glued those feet back together, I said to you, "You know how you feel when she throws down one of your Lego models, Adam." You nodded solemnly.
Lego models are resilient. They can be tossed to the floor, picked up and reassembled. Sure, it will take time. But once they are put back together, you can never tell they were once a heap of anger on the floor.
But son, the world is not made of Legos.
Dear son, I know you are a good, loving boy. I know your heart aches to know God more and this brings happy tears of pride to my eyes. Yes, I'm blubbering like a baby as I type right now. You are a good, smart young man and I have every bit of faith that you will grow up to be a kind, gentle, wise, strong man. A man who values a woman for who she is, not what she is. A man who handles her heart with kit gloves but leads her with a strong hand. A man like your father. And as the years ahead of us unfold, I know that the world is going to tell you different. I know that it will tell you that girls are to be used and thrown away. They're not. I know that the world will tell you that dating is for fun and marriage is about sex. They're not. I know the world is going to tell you that you're a sissy for being kind to women, and that women are liberated and don't need your good manners or your kindness. You're not and we do.
I've always told you to look at every girl as someone's sister and someone's mom. And I've always asked you to ask yourself, "would I want my sister or my mom treated this way?" If the answer is no, then, you know what needs to be done. But now I'm going to ask you to also look at every girl as your sister's porcelain doll. As a treasured gift to be held gently and loved wholly.
And I'm asking you to remember we girls aren't made of Legos. Once broken, our cracks remain, and while our Heavenly Father can heal us and make something beautiful come from our broken bits, you my dear son, can't.
I love you, Adam. And I am so proud of you. You will one day make one girl a very lucky princess.
"The Titanic was built by professionals. The ark was built by amateurs."
In the last week, I've seen this cutesy quote in two different places at two different times and that has caused me to turn it over in my head, investigating it from every angle, considering its truth and wondering about its supporting evidence. And I think I've maybe come up with a reason why we can stamp #truth on this little church billboard gem.
The Titanic was built for man's glory. The ark was built for God's glory.
The men who built the Titanic knew exactly what they were doing. Or, at least, they thought they did. They thought that they had considered every possibility, prepared for every emergency and wrongly assumed that she would remain afloat thanks to her bodacious over-the-top finery and their out-of-control ego.
They were wrong. It turns out that man's ego is not enough to keep 52,000 tons of steel afloat.
Then there's Noah. Faithfully building this thing he'd never seen before, made with wood and pitch, not knowing exactly what it was for or why he needed it. God told him to do it and that was good enough for him. He'd never built one before, in fact, no one had, and so there were no engineers or architects or boatswains to ask how to do this.
And he had faith that this behemoth boat God asked him to build would actually float.
Was the ark better constructed than the Titanic? I doubt it. It certainly didn't have technology on its side. Did it serve the same purpose as the Titanic? Of course not. But it's not really about the boat at all, is it? It's about what happens when we trust ourselves a little too much and God a little too little.
We guess that it took Noah up to 100 years to build the ark. He was 500 when we first 'met' him in Genesis 5 and 600 when he boarded the ark.Can you imagine the walk of faith he traversed in those 100 years? Can you imagine the talks he had with God? If he's like me, I'm certain he asked God regularly what the heck He was doing and probably even thought up other ways to do it better, bigger, faster than how he was told.
I'm certain there were blisters and splinters, stubbed toes and smashed thumbs. Noah probably tripped over a few logs and got pitch in his beard. He was probably the laughingstock, the village idiot. Yet he kept on building, slow and sure, one log at a time, doing what God put before him. Nothing more, nothing less.
Noah didn't forsake his calling for his ego.
Isn't that the point? He was righteous in a world that wasn't. He was a man of God in a world that was full of wickedness and evil. He wasn't a professional boat builder. But he was an obedient in his walk with God and that's why God chose him to build the ark.
God doesn't need professionals. He doesn't need egos. He doesn't even need finery. He just needs obedient, willing servants who walk with Him and give Him all of themselves.
We can build the biggest, finest boat and fill it with the fanciest furnishings and trim, but if we do it for our glory, it will surely sink when we push it out into the water. Likewise, a simple boat made by a righteous heart of obedience to God, won't just float. It will likely save a life.
A simple boat of logs and mud will be the finest we've ever seen when it reflects the glory of God and not the glory of man.
The kids and I made this silly decoration in 2011. I'm sure the idea was inspired by some seasonal article titled "30 Days to More Grateful Kids" or "How to Practice Thanksgiving this November" or something equally as kitschy. Certainly the article suggested a cute container and probably even leaf-shaped papers to drop inside. But, that was way more than I had to give to such an idea.
We'd just moved back into our home after a 3-month evacuation due to the Missouri River flood. Scott was working a new job that took him away from home at the drop of a hat and usually when it was most inconvenient. I was too busy to think straight, rockin' my Avon business,working for corporate from home and president of the Parent-Teacher League. Money was tight. Time was even tighter. Stress and exhaustion hung heavy in our home and heavier on my heart.
Yet, I was grateful. Every where I looked that fall, I saw a reason to be so thankful. And I didn't want that moment to pass. Not for me, not for my kids. It seemed the least we could do was be thankful once a day, every day for one month.
So we sat at the kitchen counter one night after supper and fashioned this thing -- this thing that no one has a name for -- with the intention of filling it with notes of thanks. The construction paper leaves are scribbled and not cut-out very well. I couldn't find markers, so I just used black crayon to write "Thanks" down the side. Gracey, a three-year-old with the attention span and energy level of a pinball, was bored almost as soon as we got started. But we did it. And every day after until Thanksgiving, we each wrote down one thing we were thankful for and slipped it into the canister.
On Thanksgiving, we read them aloud. Things like friends, a job, and no school came out of the tube. Then came the notes that told more about where our hearts were: "God is always faithful" wrote my husband. "Thank you for a long, dry fall so we can complete our flood repairs" said one note I'd written. And my favorite, "Just thanks." Because sometimes there's just too much to list.
Now, four years later, our little oatmeal canister still holds every year's thankful notes. I've stuffed them into a Ziploc bag and we'll toss in this year's notes on top of it. But as I read the notes of the last three years, some of them aloud to the kids, I couldn't help but smile. I couldn't help but be thankful. Because for this little oatmeal canister, tomorrow was never planned; it was only meant for that one season.
And isn't that just how it is? Tomorrow isn't promised to us. We only have today. And today, we will be grateful.
As You See...
...I have an opinion on pretty much everything. Life is filtered through my rose colored glasses. It's just the way I see it.