“A Million Little Ways” by Emily P. Freeman (CL/PG Series)

Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

Do you feel like your life has no meaning–no purpose? According to God’s Word, we are a masterpiece made for good things and God is the ultimate artist.

In “A Million Little Ways” by Emily P. Freeman, writer and speaker, she explains that each one of us “are art” no matter our personality, skill(s), or talent(s). Part of the problem is that many of us give up our desires to “create” because we give up “the art we were born to make” for various reasons.

Uncovering the art within us is to “uncover our deepest desires and our longing for God” because He is the ultimate “creator of art.”

The author suggests five areas in our lives to look in which to uncover the art within:

. Look Within:–What is your true desire(s)?

. Look Back:–At your childhood dreams and rescue them.

. Look Up:–God is our true hope.

. Look Around:–Don’t allow critics to discourage you from realizing your dreams.

. Look Beneath:–What really moves you–it’s time to listen more closely to that inner voice.

This is a book about self-discovery and realizing the true potential of our God-given gifts.

Happy reading and blessings,

Week 7: “The Lost Choice” by Andy Andrews (FI Series)

Life is full of choices…to choose good over evil, love over hate, forgiveness over bitterness.

Do you wish you could be given another chance, to choose differently, to gain wisdom and knowledge by the choices you make? Or do you regret the choices you have already made?

In “The Lost Choice” by Andy Andrews (best-selling novelist and speaker), he weaves both good and evil that happened throughout history using an ancient relic (artifact) that was found by one individual to portray a “parable of hidden potential of the human heart.” Lessons are imparted from men and women throughout time who have been profoundly affected by this relic.

The author gives profound wisdom (as expressed by a historical figure) that “the Lord God instructs us, leads us and inspires us, but He expects us to do something“–take action–with the gifts that He has given us and to take every opportunity as it arises in our lives. The choices we make, both past and present, will affect and change “everything for everyone.”

“The Lost Choice” is a thought-provoking book whose concepts assist us in evaluating our current choices, and encourages us to take risks that will ultimately affect not only ourselves but others as well in a positive way. This is a worth-while read.

Happy reading and blessings,

“Change Your Words, Change Your Life” by Joyce Meyer (CL/PG Series)

Do you often hear yourself saying things like, “I can’t do that”, “I won’t”, or “I shouldn’t” as part of your vocabulary, and end up frustrated at the results of negative thinking?

Using a wide variety of topics, “Change Your Words, Change Your Life” by Joyce Meyer (one of the world’s leading Bible teachers) from the impact of our words to how to have a smart mouth, the author clearly believes that our words can increase or decrease our joy, which affect the answers to our prayers.

Included at the end of the book is a “Dictionary of God’s Word” to arm ourselves with scriptures to read when we are faced with everyday life situations.

She explains that we must use our words wisely so that we can change our negative thoughts and talking into positive talk. As a result, our talk will be constructive and healthy.

Keeping a positive attitude will lead to a “positive outcome” in every adverse and challenging circumstances in our lives so that God can work things out for our good.

Happy reading and blessings,

Week 6: “The Noticer Returns” by Andy Andrews (FI Series)

Are you looking to create a “better life” for yourself and your family but have numerous questions before you totally understand what a “better life” means?

In “The Noticer Returns”, a sequel to “The Noticer”, by Andy Andrews, the character “Jones”–not mister–returns once again; but this time, he teaches a parenting class for a random group of people who embark on a life-changing journey that will, indeed, change their “perspective” for the rest of their lives.

Discussions arise on various topics with “Jones” and his adult students that include how to change the culture in which we live, teaching valuable lessons to our children as they become adults, and the end is only the beginning. It is a matter of “perspective” once again about every facet of your life.

This book is an incredible read and Andy Andrews writes it in a very believable way that it will leave you “wanting more” of this author’s talented writing.

Happy reading and blessings,

“When A Woman Finds Her Voice” by Jo Ann Fore (CL/PG Series)

Are you caught up in painful experiences from your past (and/or present) circumstances, believing false lies about yourself, and are in need of emotional healing?

In “When A Woman Finds Her Voice” by Jo Ann Fore, a certified life coach and popular blogger, she assists you in identifying unresolved painful hurts in your life from the past–or currently experiencing–so that you can heal and move beyond them.

To help you in responding to God’s call to develop your voice, she created “The Voice Studio” in the back of every chapter to use as a tool in self-discovery of your own voice and to connect with others who have–or who are–going through similar circumstances by connecting our passion with God’s plan.

Extensive scripture references and personal stories abound in this self-help, personal growth book for women of all ages.

Happy reading and blessings,

A Prayer For Valentine’s Day

This Friday many individuals will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special, gift-giving remembrance(s), such as a dinner and movie, flowers, candy, a coupon book filled with “love notes and promises”, special books, and so forth. When I think about Valentine’s Day, I immediately think of my spouse and wonder what I can buy him that would honor him on this special day, and/or wonder what he, in turn, will buy me. It seems that this is such a big part of our culture, but what if I don’t receive any gift except “I love you” from that special loved one? Would that be enough? Of course! That, in itself, is a “special” gift.

The Word of God is filled with many scriptures regarding love. Let us examine two wonderful passages that not only talk about God’s love, but which also gives us guidelines about how we should treat one another.

I Corinthians 13:1-8; 15 (NIV):

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

“Ephesians 3:14-23 (NIV):

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

This, indeed, is what love is all about–even on Valentine’s Day.

Give someone a hug and tell them that you love them for this is truly a special gift given to each and every one of us from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Blessings on you,

Week 5: “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews (FI Series)

Have you sought wisdom, knowledge, or hope for your current circumstances but can’t seem to find the answer(s)? Perhaps you need a change of heart and a different perspective.

In “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews, author of numerous books, including “The Traveler’s Gift” and “The Final Summit”, he introduces you to a mysterious man named “Jones” who offers wisdom and hope to many individuals who have none and who are caught up in their own demise. Jones is an old man–who appears and disappears throughout a period of time from the lives in one unsuspecting town–who has a gift for seeing people’s unfortunate situations with a “different perspective”–a broader view.

Filled with simple wisdom and hope, you can not help but examine your own heart and change your way of thinking about your own circumstances in life after reading this thought-provoking message.

Happy reading and blessings on you,

“Soul Unfinished” by Robert Atwell (CL/PG Series)

Have you been planning your retirement for years, or are you already there, but have been asking yourself the age-old question, “What next?”

In “Soul Unfinished” by Robert Atwell, a former chaplain, Benedictine monk, and vicar, he provides insights and encouragement to those who have entered the last “season” of their lives. He explains that in our younger years, we were focused on the “future”; in midlife, we evaluated our options; and in our older years, life hands us a series of challenges that we need to learn to overcome or we become just another “statistic” ending up “without any meaning or purpose” in our “golden” years.

The author encourages us to not only know the Word of God, but we should “live” the Bible daily. Changing our hearts and attitudes will make a tremendous difference in the choices we ultimately need to make in our latter years.

Filled with personal stories, the author also incorporates scriptures throughout the book and encourages everyone to seek God in a greater way in order to find happiness and fulfillment in Him throughout the “third season” of our lives.

A must-read book for anyone reaching the age of 60+ (or anyone who is preparing to retire in the near future), who desires to take risks by trusting God and using their God-given talents and experiences in a greater way during their retirement years.

Happy reading and blessings on you,

Ghost’s Trick Yields No Tricks (A Day in the Life of a Bipolar Disorder Patient)

(Editor’s Note: The following story is based on a true incident, but the names have been changed for privacy purposes.)

Awakened by the incessant barking from the dogs outside her bedroom window, Alicia squinted her red, swollen eyes as she strained to look at her alarm clock. Did it say 10 a.m. or was it 11? She noticed that she was fully clothed in the jeans and sweatshirt she had worn the day before when she met with Ms. Peterson, her therapist, to discuss changing her medication for manic depression. After arriving home, she vaguely remembered throwing herself across the bed during one of her crying episodes.

As she rolled over, she glimpsed a pile of papers lying in the corner next to her closet. Today, she thought, would be the day she would sort through that pile–a compilation of bills, receipts, newspaper fliers, and expired coupons. She half-smiled to herself as she tried to understand why she always saved everything. Perhaps it stemmed from her chaotic childhood. She could picture her mother, hands on her hip, with her finger pointed down at her saying,” Alicia, try not to waste anything. Keep everything. You never know when you will need it some day!” Or, perhaps it stemmed from being in and out of foster homes since she was 11 years old and always needing something familiar to hold on to. So, even at 31 years of age, she was still hoarding everything.

Alicia bounded out of bed. As she reached for the doorknob, she saw the outline of her body in the full-length mirror on the back of the bedroom door. She couldn’t help but notice that in the four weeks since she moved into her apartment, she managed to put on extra weight. It was evident by the bulges on her hips and thighs. She rationalized that the weight gain was from the new medication her therapist had prescribed, or from the loneliness she felt since she moved from her sister Janet’s home to her own apartment. She reminded herself that she had decided to be independent, she couldn’t live with Janet and her husband forever. It had been two weeks, however, since she had spoken with Janet, and she needed to call her soon.

As Alicia walked to the kitchen, she glanced at the calendar on the wall. Excitedly, she realized that today was October 31–Halloween–and the boys and girls at her apartment complex would be knocking on her door for treats. Hurriedly, she changed her clothes to get to the bank before 3 p.m. so she could get some money to buy candy.

Fondly, she recalled having gone trick-or-treating in her neighborhood as a young girl with her own brothers and sisters. Janet and her mother would diligently sew together sheets, seed bags, or whatever they could find lying around the house to make each of them a special costume. Janet would be responsible for taking all of them. What excitement! What squeals of delight at coming back home, opening up their bags of goodies, searching for their favorite candy bars, and eating as many as they could before mother would take them.

“Why couldn’t I dress up now too?”, she wondered. Remembering that the bank had a sign in the lobby that encouraged anyone to dress up on Halloween to get free candy, Alicia decided to wear a costume. Hurriedly, she searched through her closet and dresser drawers to find something suitable to wear. Nothing! Perhaps she should call Janet after all. Maybe she could give her some ideas. With that thought, Alicia glanced in the direction of the linen closet. As she began looking through its contents, she pulled out a white, king-sized sheet and began making a ghost costume–cutting out two eyes, a nose, and an opening for the mouth.

Within a few minutes, she pulled the sheet over her head, and took out a black belt to wrap around her waist. She placed a black hat on top of her head and looked into the mirror. Smiling, she felt pleased with the way she looked. She slipped on her tennis shoes and telephoned for a taxi. “He will be there in 10 minutes, ma,am,” the voice on the other end said. She hung up and wildly searched for her purse. She had it the night before because she had made out a list and threw it inside. Her thoughts were interrupted by a familiar honking sound outside her door. Frantically, she threw open the door and told the driver to wait just a moment. Trying desperately to remember where she had thrown her purse, she suddenly recalled throwing herself and her purse down the bed after yesterday’s meeting with her therapist. Reaching her hand underneath the bed, she touched a familiar object. She pulled on the handle knew she had found it. There was another honking sound. Jumping to her feet, and being careful not to catch the sheet in the heels of her shoes, she raced toward the door and locked it behind her.

“Where to?” asked the driver.
“I need to go the bank on Maple Street,” she replied.
“No problem,” said the cab driver.

Alicia sat quietly, looking through her purse for her checkbook and list. She broke the silence by asking, “Do you think you could recognize me in this ghost costume?”

Looking through his rear-view mirror, the driver smiled and said, “Since I have never met you before and have never seen your face, I doubt if I would recognize you.” Alicia sat back in her seat and smiled to herself.

As they pulled in front of the bank, the driver said, “Here you are, miss. That will be…” But before he could finish, Alicia asked if he could wait for her as it would only take a few minutes. He agreed to wait since he did not have another rider to pick up and noted that he would keep the meter running.

Inside the bank, Alicia noticed that only two tellers were on duty and no security guard. Two people were waiting in line and a woman was writing out her bank deposit slip at the table. Nervously pacing back and forth, she read the name plate in front of each teller, then headed toward Ms. Cochran’s window.

“What can I help you with today?” asked Ms. Cochran as she smiled at Alicia’s costume.

In a polite manner, Alicia whispered, “I need to ask some questions about withdrawing a large sum of money. Can you help me?”

“You will have to go to Ms. Applegate’s window since she handles large withdrawals,” replied Ms. Cochran. Alicia proceeded to Ms. Applegate’s window and stood in line.

Looking up from her previous transaction, Ms. Applegate asked, “May I help you?” Nervously fumbling through her purse, Alicia pulled out a crumbled piece of paper and handed it to the teller. Silently, Ms. Applegate began reading the note. It said, “I have a bomb. If you don’t hand over your money, I will blow up the bank!”

Hesitating and bewildered, Ms. Applegate looked up at Alicia but proceeded to hand her two stacks of bills with bands around them, while her left hand rested on the silent alarm underneath the table.

Alicia quickly stuffed the money into her purse and ran out the front door. Once inside the cab, Alicia told the driver to take her back to her apartment complex. Tearing off her costume, she stuffed the money into the shopping bag that she had also brought with her.

Curiously, the cab driver asked, “Is everything all right, miss?” Alicia smiled and said, “Everything is just fine now.”

After driving six blocks, the driver began hearing loud sirens. Perhaps there was a fire nearby or an ambulance on its way to a hospital, but his thoughts were interrupted when he saw the blue flashing lights behind his cab. He pulled over to the side of the road to let them pass, but they also stopped–one in front of and one behind his cab. Alicia started crying as the police officers, guns in hand, ran toward the cab. Dragging the stunned cab driver from the front seat, the first police officer began reciting, “You have the right to remain silent…” The second officer opened the back door of the cab where Alicia sat sobbing. Stumbling to her feet, the police officer began reciting, “You have the right to remain silent…” He picked up her purse and shopping bag, pulled out the two stacks of bills and the sheet, then proceeded to police headquarters.

In the meantime, Alicia’s sister, Janet and her husband, John, were just sitting down to dinner.

“John, do you know what tonight is?” asked Janet.
“Huh,” John grunted while continuing to read the evening edition of the newspaper.
“Tonight is Halloween and the children in the neighborhood will be going trick-or-treating,” Janet replied.
“You know, costumes, trick-or-treat, candy, popcorn,” she continued.

John, suddenly aware of what she was saying, peeked his head out from behind the comics. However, before they could continue their conversation, they were interrupted by the sound of the telephone. Startled, Janet jumped from her chair to answer it.

“Hello? Yes, this is Janet Gentry. Officer who?” she asked. “What?” Janet’s voice asked questioningly.

“Who is it?” John asked, looking up from the newspaper.

“I see,” Janet responded again, obviously listening intently to the voice on the other end of the line. “Are you sure this is not a Halloween trick?” she asked. At this remark, John leaped from his chair and hovered over Janet. In a sign language all of his own, he tried asking Janet who it was and what did they want.

Nodding her head up and down and repeating, “Yes, I understand” a number of times, Janet finally said goodbye and hung up the phone.

“What was that all about?” John asked.

As John sat with mouth and eyes opened wide, Janet relayed the details of Alicia’s escapade. That evening as they watched the late news, they saw the videotape of costumed Alicia pacing back and forth inside the bank before the robbery.

The next day, still stunned and in disbelief, Janet searched through the early morning edition of the local newspaper until her eyes finally saw the article entitled, “Ghost’s Trick Yields No Treats.” Sighing, Janet called to tell her mother about Alicia’s latest episode.

Three months after the robbery as Janet sat in the courtroom during her sister’s arraignment, she silently prayed that Alicia would receive a lenient sentence. Alicia pleaded guilty to the charges and was given a six-month prison sentence with ten years’ probation upon release.

Alicia continues to take medication for her bipolar condition, sees her psychologist on a weekly basis, and relies on family members for additional emotional support.

Symptoms and Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder affects millions of American adults each year. It is a mood disorder caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that can result in extreme mood swings from manic highs to manic lows.

Some common symptoms include:

1. Depressed mood most of the day, feeling sad or empty, fearful.
2. Significant loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable.
3. Significant weight loss or weight gain.
4. Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
5. Fatigue or loss of energy.
6. Feelings of worthlessness.
7. Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions.
8. Thinking about death or suicide.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder:

Many people manage their symptoms, and feeling better often involves a combination of education, medication, and therapy.

Additional information can be found on the SeroquelXR/bipolardisorder website.

Week 4: “The Final Summit” by Andy Andrews (FI Series)

What if you could “save the world” by just uttering two words? What would you do first? Who would you consult?

In “The Final Summit”, a follow-up novel to “The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews, David Ponder’s character returns and this time the fate of mankind rests in his hands. Ponder is informed through “divine channels” (Gabriel) that he is needed, and he must meet with the brilliant minds of past history in order to “save the world” before it is destroyed. They are only given five tries to guess “two words” that could save humanity.

Riveting and thought-provoking, the author again uses past history and facts to “show us the one thing” we must do when we don’t know what to do.

An excellent read, full of suspense and mystery, that will increase your faith in the One who knows all things.

Happy reading and blessings on you,