life beyond the well…

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Book Review- The Miracle in the Middle

I first heard Charlotte Gambill preach at Celebration Church in the Fall of 2014.  She was one of the guest speakers for their annual women’s conference, and both Preacherman and I really liked her message.  We left the service and stocked up on some of her materials, and on a road trip I found myself going through message after message.  To say that she is a phenomenal teacher of the word of God and biblical principles would be an understatement.

All that said, I was overly excited to get my hands on a copy of the book “The Miracle in the Middle”.  I’ve found myself “in the middle” of quite a few circumstances and situations, and wondering when/where/how the Lord was going to move me from the middle to the other side.  Gambill provides great insight for enjoying that uncomfortable middle spot, and recognizing it for the miracle that it is- as well as encouragement for us to press through to get to the other side.

I must admit that prior to reading the book, I had already heard her preach a sermon by the same name.  Despite that fact, I still found the book to be insightful, well-written, and a blessing to me.  My approach to my “middles” is much different, as I’m learning to look at it as an opportunity for growth as just a place where I’m stuck until something changes.  I’m also realizing that as I change my perspective, things around me change- regardless of if there’s an actual shift in position.

I would encourage you to check out this book, as well as some of Gambill’s other messages!  The practicality with which she delivers her messages makes it easy to understand and apply to your life.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are mine

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Book Review: Living Well Spending Less

I saw this book floating around on Facebook for a while, and I can admit that I was intrigued.  And then, when I had the opportunity to review it, I was excited.

I consider myself to be a reformed shopaholic.  Or maybe, a reformed saleaholic.  I’ve never met a sale that I didn’t like.  It’s how I go to Target with a list that only has 3 things on it, and leave with 7 items.  I know that I’m not alone there.  So, I snagged this book hoping to acquire a few more strategies to deal with my “saleaholism”.

Living Well Spending Less is not just about budgeting and money saving strategies.  It helps to deal with issues of the heart that contribute to spending.  The author, Ruth Soukup describes living well as being more about who we are than what we have.  I appreciate the candidness and transparency with which she shared her own struggles with spending and how it affected her family and marriage.  But more than that, I appreciated the thoughtful words of wisdom and applicable advice (i.e.: she doesn’t just tell you to budget, but provides different suggestions on how to do so).

This book reads well and I would definitely recommend it to anyone- especially those of you who are interested in improving your finances.  You’ll enjoy it!

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

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Book Review: Make It Happen

Y’all. This. Book. Is. Everything.

Okay, but for real.  I had a feeling that I might like Lara Casey’s book “Make it Happen”– because I really like Lara Casey.  I love her work, I admire her humility and transparency, and I think that she’s just an all-around awesome lady.  Plus, she lives in Chapel Hill, and anyone who has sense enough to live in the Southern Part of Heaven is alright with me.

But when I tell you this book took me all the way in…

This book is everything that an excellent book SHOULD be.  It’s well-written. It’s captivating and compelling. It’s inspiring.  It makes you think, and then challenges you to act.  And while ALL of that is great, what I really love about this book is the level of transparency shared by the author.

She kept it all the way real.  And as a result, I felt that I could trust the suggestions that she makes in the book for how we, as readers, can “make it happen”.

This book has been on my radar for a while, and I am so happy I read it.  I’ve already recommended it to quite a few people that I know, and I told Preacherman that I would use it for a book club at our church.  This book can (and will) change lives.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Lara Casey’s book– read it and gift it.  There are a couple of people I know who will be receiving this book in the mail very soon!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.

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Book Review: What’s Best Next

I don’t know that there are enough words to explain how excited I was to read Matt Perman’s book “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done“.  I can definitely be a busybody, involved with a lot of activities both at work and at home; and I know that it’s important that I begin to prioritize things in an appropriate way.  The truth is that there will always be things that “need” to get done and that NEED to get done.  I’m all too guilty of letting the urgent crowd out the important.  I’ve been determined to be better, and this book was a huge help for me!

There were so many things that I appreciated about this book; however, his thoughts on email and how to handle it helped me the most.  I get SO. MANY. EMAILS. between my work and personal accounts it’s overwhelming to me- as I prefer that my inbox number be as low as possible.  His approach to email helped me to pare it down and manage it much more efficiently.

This book really resonated with my thought that “good things aren’t always God things”.  As a result, I need to rely more on the gospel as a measure of what I’m pursuing and how things (and what things) are getting done.

This would be an EXCELLENT book to check out for the new year.  Start the year off strong, doing things in a gospel centered way.  You won’t be disappointed!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.

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2015 Book List

I love to read.  Since I was a kid, reading has been one of my favorite ways to pass time.  Preacherman and I have a ridiculous number of books in our home, and we can’t seem to stop adding to the collection.  Unfortunately, other than reading the Bible, blogs, and news articles, I haven’t had time for much book reading.  It’s something that makes me sad, and that I’ve committed to fixing for 2015.

I took some time during the latter part of 2014 to create my 2015 book list.  I’m pledging to read all of the books listed below, and if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to squeeze in a few more.  Here’s what we’re looking at (in no particular order):

  1. Instinct by T.D. Jakes
  2. Make it Happen by Lara Casey
  3. Purpose Awakening by Touré Roberts
  4. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
  5. Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo
  6. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  7. The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel
  8. Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado
  9. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKerst
  10. Rhythms of Grace by Kerri Weems 

I’ll also be reading The Bible again, and I plan to re-read Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.  While I’m excited about reading all of the books listed above, I’m probably most excited to dig into The Best Yes by Lysa TerKerst.  I’ll be reading it with one of my college best friends, and I’m looking forward to the growth that comes through sharing and accountability.

So, there you have it- my plan to get back in the act of reading for enjoyment.  I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going!

What are you reading this year?

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!

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Book Review: NIV Life Journey Bible

I love reading the Bible. It’s hard. It challenges me. It changes me. It pushes me to grow in my relationship with God and with others.  While I have a small NIV Thinline Bible that I carry with me to church (and I also use the Youversion app on my phone quite frequently), I love having a bigger reference bible that can provide greater help in navigating life and growing my faith.

Enter the NIV Life Journey Bible.  It’s already in my favorite translation (NIV), but what I really love about this bible are the practical inserts spread throughout–inserts on family, relationships, grief; with an overall theme of being emotionally healthy.  I think that this is hugely important, and in my own experience with church, I think that sometimes things can be so overly spiritual that there is not much attention paid to some of the real issues that people have.  Being emotionally healthy and learning how to be in healthy relationship is hugely important, and having a bible that highlights those principles as you go through it, is awesome.

I think this bible is excellent and I would recommend it to others. However, I would especially recommend it to new believers, people who enjoy devotionals, and people who value emotional and relationship health in conjunction with their spiritual health.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine

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Summer Reading 2014

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love to read.  It’s been one of my favorite pastimes for as long as I can remember.  I’m excited to have some time to read this summer, and I plan on tackling the following books:

  1. The Fault in Our Stars
  2. Lost at School
  3. Simple Church
  4. What’s Best Next
  5. Handle With Care

I heard many good things about The Fault in Our Stars from my students, and some of them have it has their summer reading book for high school.  With the moving just being released, I figured that now was as good a time as ever to read the book.  I’m about 4 chapters in and I’m enjoying it so far.

For professional development, we’ve been asked to read Lost at School.  I have yet to start it (hey, I still have a month or so before it needs to be finished), but I’m looking forward to it.  I’m very interested in understanding how we can improve school discipline for our students AND our schools.  I hope that it will be a refreshing perspective.

Preacherman has read Simple Church and he loves it.  As we continue in our church-planting process, he asked me to read it to gain a new understanding and perspective on how church is done, and how we can disciple others.  His excitement about the book has me excited to read it as well.

It is a personal goal for me to be better about managing my time.  My hope is to develop strong systems this summer that can carry me into the next school year in a good way.  I just started What’s Best Next, and I’m already getting some good wisdom.  I’ll be sure to share what I’ve learned when I finish!

Preacherman and I believe that it’s important to keep growing our marriage, and that we can do that by reading and learning together.  To that end, we are reading Handle With Care together, so that we can take the time to reflect, share, and process the book at the same time.  The book is written by our pastor, and we look forward to seeing what other nuggets of wisdom he has to share through this book.

So, that’s what’s on my bookshelf for the summer!  What are you reading?

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Book Review: The God-First Life

Every now and then, I read a book and it’s just like “Wow”.  That’s the feeling I had after completing Stovall Weems’ latest book “The God-First Life.”

I have been all too guilty of putting things, desires, and aspirations in a higher place than God, hoping that because God loves me, He will bless those things, desires, and aspirations.  In his book, Weems breaks down that logic with biblical truths, focusing on this verse:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

The book addresses important concepts that are sometimes overlooked as well, such as the value of having a strong community around you, understanding your place in God’s family, and how to gain freedom from your past so that you can move forward.

I loved that this book was not overly complicated or heavily weighted with theological ideas.  Not to say that those are bad, but sometimes what I need most is a simple reminder of what is most important.  As I transition into a new season, and become even more busy with church-planting activities, my job, and my dissertation, I can see myself referring back to the simple truths that Weems presents in this book.

I would recommend this for those who are looking to deepen their relationship with Christ in a simple, non-complicated way.  Though I received this book for free, I have already purchased two additional copies to gift to others because I believe that the message is important and timely.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.


More About Me

I’ve been writing in this space for almost 10 years now, and while there are some things you might be able to guess about me just from reading, there are others that may surprise you.  I decided to share some of those things that you:

  1. Ketchup is my favorite condiment.  It’s been this way for as long as I can remember.  My mom says that I used to put ketchup on my eggs when I was little, but I have no recollection of that.
  2. Though I don’t have as much time for it as I’d like, reading is something that I love (which is why you see all the book reviews).  There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book.  
  3. I’ve had 3 favorite colors over the course of my life: purple, blue, and now pink.  I’m slowly starting to like green, but I think it’s because I find myself often thinking of my grandmother, and green was her favorite color.
  4. Speaking of my grandmother, she was my first reading teacher and forced fostered my love for reading by making my read everything to her aloud.  The newspaper, signs, random sheets of paper- nothing was off limits.  I wish I could thank her for that today.
  5. I attended a high school focused on science and math- and while there I had AMAZING humanities teachers and a FABULOUS counselor that inspired me to work in education.  
  6. I never planned to attend UNC, but going there changed my life. I found Jesus, met my husband (though we didn’t connect on that level until years later), and became friends with some of the most amazing people in the world. 
  7. I hope to author several books over the course of my life.
  8. I am ridiculously southern, and have an unapologetic love for mason jars, monograms, and pearls.
  9. Before dating Preacherman, I rarely ate salmon. Now I have it for dinner once or twice a week.
  10. My work love language is “wearing jeans”.  I love jeans, but I don’t have the opportunity to wear them as much. When we’re allowed to wear jeans at work on days OTHER than Friday, I get so excited!


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Book Review: The People Factor

Relationships are a huge part of life, and something in which I want to be very good.  I desire to have healthy relationships in all of the roles that I assume- as a wife, a steppie, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a coworker, etc.  I was excited to review Van Moody’s book “The People Factor” because I’m finding myself in a new phase of life where I actually have to seek relationships, build them, and maintain them.  Since we have moved to Jacksonville, we’ve been trying to figure out ways to not only meet people, but to develop authentic, healthy relationships with them.  And since that was a goal, I hoped this book could offer some good insight.

Let me just say- this book is awesome!  I found myself wanting to read it faster to get through (because it’s so much GOOD, RELEVANT TEACHING), but also wanting to slow down and take many, many notes.  This is also the first book that I’ve read for review that I’ve had the opportunity to recommend to someone in person (at the hair salon, someone had recently heard about the book and wanted to know if it was good).

Here’s the thing- we can ALL be better at relationships.  Moody’s book provides us with not just an understanding of how and why relationships matter, but tangible tips on how to identify which relationships to stay in (or enter in).  Not only that, at the end of each chapter, he provides excellent relationship reminders and great questions to help you raise your relational IQ.

This book provided a great foundation to help in my approach to relationships in this new phase of life.  This is definitely a book that I will be using as a resource, and that I will recommend to others.  Check it out!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are mine.