Thursday, October 25, 2012

I (don't) Want Candy

Yikes! Halloween is just a few days away and it's time for my annual "what are we going to give out this year" dilemma.  I seem to remember (back in the old days--my old days at least) that we used to get 1 piece of candy at each house. If you received 2 pieces--that was a "good house" that we remembered to return to the next year.  We had to cover a lot of ground to fill up the plastic pumpkins (and later pillowcases) that we toted around our neighborhood.

Where I live now, folks can afford the hefty bag of fun size candies and they seem to be extravagantly generous. My kids have been known to return home to dump their stash after only completing half of our street.

I suspect the problem lies in the in the easy purchase of megasize bags of candy (thank you, Target) coupled with the fear that one will be stuck with all this candy on November 1st.  Hence the practice of handing out not 1 or 2, but 3 or 4 treats per tot.

My kids can't wait.

My problem is that, having thus dispensed with my chosen crate o'treats at my doorstep (and feeling pretty good about myself), my kids return home with approximately 3 times as much candy as I've just given out.

It's the devil's math!

After lifting and stowing the mountain of candy from last year's haul, I decided something had to be done.  I let my kids keep a portion and bought the rest off of them to donate to Treats for Troops at my church.  Cash for candy--how's that for a treat?

Each day I'd let my kids eat some, but all evening the remaining candy would whisper my name from the cupboard.  It became a battle of will and when it comes to Twizzlers, Tootsie Rolls, and anything with chocolate and coconut I cave like a sandcastle at high tide.

This year I waited until the final week to make my purchase. What could I buy that won't tempt me over the next few days? Was there something substantial that I could give out 1 at a time (and not seem cheap)? Something that I can put in my kids' lunchboxes in the event that I have leftovers? 

Halloween themed fruit snacks. Hooray!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: 40 Days to a Joy Filled Life

What a great title. Who wouldn’t want a joy-filled life?  And in 40 days?  Sign me up!

I’ve been carrying this book around with me to read in waiting rooms, car line, spare bits of time during the month of October.  The giant smiley face is an attention getter and I have had one conversation (at the veterinarian’s office) about this book and what it promises to do:  cause you to change your thinking and find more joy, even in the midst of difficulty.

This 40-day workbook is based on Tommy Newberry’s book The 4:8 Principle which draws inspiration from Philippians 4:8--”...whatever is true, whatever is noble....”  I actually wasn’t too crazy about the self-help tone of The 4:8 Principle, especially the somewhat New Age idea that if I put good thoughts out there, blessings will come.  That’s only mentioned once, but it soured me a bit on his message.  I also felt that Newberry didn’t do enough for people who cannot get away from negative people (coworkers, relatives).  Perhaps that’s another book?

However,  I loved the book 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life.  The message is the same (there’s even that New Age bit), but the tone is slightly different.  It felt less “do this to get blessed” and more “don’t miss out on the joy of Christian life.”   I learned that I have much work to do on capturing each thought and focusing on praiseworthy things in the midst of a painfully difficult year.

40 Days gives you one thing to think about each day and leads you from where you are to a closer relationship to God.  It’s not a devotional--there’s no daily Scripture verse-- but it draws from Scripture, and encourages Scripture memorization as a way of transforming your mind.  Each day has a reflection, an application, a prayer, and a reminder to write on a post-it or email/text yourself so that you carry the thought throughout the day.

Though I read this through rather quickly in order to write a review, I liked it well enough that now I’m going to read it again as a 40-day exercise.  Who couldn’t use a little more joy in her life?

40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life by Tommy Newberry, Tyndale House, 2012.
The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry, Tyndale House, 2007.

As part of the Tyndale Blog Network I received a complimentary copy of 40 Days as well as a copy of The 4:8 Principle in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Book Review: Grace by Max Lucado

Do we really understand what grace is?  Max Lucado doesn’t claim to know everything about grace, but he does know that grace is something we should stop and consider.  Instead of settling for sentiments about grace, we should be asking if grace has made a difference in our lives. 

This book contains the classic Lucado formula: conversational style, touching real life stories, lessons from scripture, and thoughts to take away.  This is not an academic study of grace, but a book about grace found in everyday life examined from different angles.

Lucado introduces us to a God who embraces us and purchases our souls at a price. He writes of the rest God offers to the weary. He examines what it means to offer forgiveness to our enemies.  He shares a personal account of grace experienced after confession of sin. We meet people who experienced God’s provision, generosity, and adoption into a family.  Finally, Max offers assurance that we can trust God’s grace.

While this book is enlightening and enjoyable, it would be most useful to read it along with completing the Reader’s Guide questions in the back.  Lucado’s friendly style makes this book easy to put down and walk away from, but the questions bring the reader back to Max’s point: Have you been changed, shaped, strengthened, emboldened, and softened by grace?

Recommended for self study, but would make an excellent group study.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in return for an honest review.