Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moisturize Your Lips! Carmex Beach Bag Tote and Goodies Giveaway!


I have to tell you, Carmex is probably one of my favorite brands to work with. Not only do they have awesome products, but they have great opportunities for their bloggers! Guess what I received recently to try out? A Carmex beach bag tote and several of their lip balms! WooHoo!! And the greatest thing of it all, is that I was offered a to host a giveaway for one of my blog readers!! You heard it right:) One of you will be winning the same package I received. So check it out and get your entries in at the bottom. You don't want to miss this giveaway if you like nice lips.

The big product in this package was the new Pomegranate lip balm. This is their newest product that I was able to review. There were several other lip balms, well, to be exact there was 6 lip balms in all:) Needless to say, I have passed a couple on to my friends and family already. No way I was going to use them all. But I have kept several of them to use as I love Carmex products. The new Pomegranate Lip Balm is the same quality as the rest of them. The scent is really sweet and I felt like I was drinking my pomegranate juice.

My favorite one of them though is the vanilla. I personally love the scent of vanilla and on my lips I know it smells good. The great thing with the Carmex lip balms is that they are an SPF 15. That way I know I can put on the lip balm and my lips are protected throughout the day, whatever I am doing. Most people don't even think about their lips when they put on sun screen but this is a big area for me. My lips get dry pretty fast and this is a way to moisturize and protect at the same time.

The other nice thing with these lip balms is that they are the new click stick type. This means you turn one click and it comes up enough to use. I enjoy that I don't have to worry about a lot of product coming out the top. Pretty nifty way to do it, especially in the dark:) Just turn until you hear the click!

I also received this big, bright yellow beach bag. This is well made and you can't miss it. Whether you are going to the beach, the mountains, or just a trip around town, you can carry it all in here! This thing is huge! And it has the small zippered pouch for your lip balms:) Nice and handy if you ask me.

So, any of you interested in winning one of these for yourself? Well, one of you will win one of these nifty Carmex packs:) You must enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

Disclosure:I received no monetary compensation for this post. I did receive a Carmex kit for review purposes. All quotes in red are taken from the Carmex website. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The 3 Minute Difference FIRST WildCard Blog Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!









Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:





Mission Books; New Edition edition (July 1, 2012)




***Special thanks to Rick Roberson of The B&B Media Group, Inc for sending me a review copy.***





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Wayne E. Nance, better known as the "Real Life Attitude Guy", is the well-known developer of the ABCs of getting your life under control. He is founder and CEO of Real Life Management, Inc. With his help, more than 50,000 struggling people have successfully improved their lives and given Wayne credit for helping them do so. Top corporations, the U. S. Army, organizations, and churches throughout the United States also use the Life Management system for the benefit of their employees and leaders. Wayne has been called Dr. Phil Foxworthy, a funny guy with a serious message.



Today, Wayne is a highly respected speaker, trainer and author of The 3-Minute Difference, Mind Over Money and Liten Up for Life. He previously hosted "The Real Life Attitude Guy" simulcast on Dallas radio 570 (Fox Network) and is currently working to launch that programming on the Web. As president and CEO of Real Life Management, Inc., Wayne's life focus is to provide the education that he feels has been insufficient in matters pertaining to health, finance, relationship building and how they are related.



Wayne lives in Texas with Shannon and their three daughters, Christel, Melissa, and Kara.



Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





Are you overweight, broke, or headed for divorce? Even one of these problems can be personally devastating. But what if you're facing all three at once? Years ago, Wayne Nance's life was out of control. An incessant smoker, he weighed 315 pounds. His marriage was disintegrating and his finances were bottoming out. He finally realized that his obesity, debt and relationship meltdown were surface problems resulting from his core attitudes and beliefs. In The 3-Minute Difference, Nance describes his journey back from the ragged edge of reality to a healthy, productive life. His personal journey uncovered a proven solution-a solution that can alter your health, money, and relationships in only three minutes.



The 3-Minute Difference is about more than just weight, money, and marriage. With the five insightful steps Nance offers for ALTERing your attitude, you can apply these principles to any area of your life that is out of control. Nance thoroughly explores each step, defining and explaining them in detail. Readers will come away with surprising, perhaps first-time ever insight into their own core attitudes and how they impact their beliefs and choices. The 3 Minute Survey is a valuable tool to use in improving life in the areas of finances, relationships and health. The 3-Minute Difference shows you where to start and then gives you a plan on how to get there."









Product Details:

List Price: $16.98

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Mission Books; New Edition edition (July 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1618431188

ISBN-13: 978-1618431189








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:









INTRODUCTION A Crisis in America





I want you to let your mind indulge in a little bit of fantasy for a moment. Imagine yourself in a very successful career. You’re making quite a bit of money—well into six figures. You’ve got a gorgeous 6,000-square-foot home with a fancy pool and a water- fall in the backyard. Parked in your three-car garage is an imposing Mercedes-Benz sedan. On your wrist is an enormous Rolex watch, the one with all the diamonds on it that dazzles everyone who sees it. Sound like a life you’d care to have?

It did to me. It’s the American Dream, after all. And in 1984, I had that dream and more. I was the kid from the poor side of the tracks who had raised himself up by his bootstraps, got a good education, went to the big city, worked hard, and eventually met with success.

And you know what? There’s not a thing wrong with that. If that picture is similar to a dream you’ve always had, or a dream you’ve actually attained, I say, “Great! Don’t give up on that dream. Keep that dream alive.”

But know this: if you had seen me living that dream in 1984, you’d have said, “Wayne Nance has the perfect life.” But you’d have been dead wrong! Because the truth is, my life was out of control. Meaning that I was making bad decisions that created serious long- term consequences for my happiness, health, wealth, and family.

Do you ever feel as if your world is spinning out of control? A lot of us do in the post-9/11 world, with the economic downturn that followed, the disaster of the stock market and the loss of many people’s retirement funds, the ever-present threat of terrorist at- tacks, the downsizing of companies and the offshoring of American jobs, the erosion of values as corporate scandals have come to light, and so many other things that make us worry about the future.

Those are serious matters, for sure. But did you know that there’s a crisis in America that actually affects more people on a practical, daily basis than any of those “world-class” headline-grabbers? It’s a crisis that shows up all over the place but can be seen most graphically in three areas that all of us deal with every day: the lifestyle issues of food, money, and relationships. To put it bluntly, way too many Americans are fat, broke, and unhappy at home and at work.





Consider:

• 67 percent of Americans are estimated to be overweight or obese by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) standards.

• 85 percent of Americans will retire with Social Security benefits as their only means of support. In other words, they’re broke.

• 51 percent of Americans are divorced. Many others remain in marriages that might be called “psychological divorce.”

Clearly, something’s wrong in America! Especially if you overlay those numbers on top of each other. Just imagine three pie charts showing the 67 percent of Americans who are overweight, the 85 percent who will retire virtually broke, and the 51 percent who are divorced. Stack them on top of one another, and what do you see? That a lot of Americans are all three—fat, broke, and unhappy in their relationships. But that’s not the worst of it. The saddest thing is that many people struggling with one, two, or even all three of these problems don’t even think they have a problem! Take obesity, for example. A 2004 Associated Press poll found that six people out of ten who qualified as overweight by government standards said their weight was just fine—healthy, even.

Or consider this observation from the national sales manager of a company that helps small businesses and individuals facing bankruptcy work out settlements with their creditors: “From personal experience, I see that as people get further into debt . . . they start making short-term decisions and don’t prioritize their debt correctly. Eventually, they start feeling overwhelmed, give up and go into denial.”1

What happens when someone goes into denial about their debt? They go deeper in debt. They may also start eating. Indeed, The Toque, a satirical Canadian website, imagines a VISA card issued by McDonald’s called (you guessed it) the McVISA. The idea is that people will be more likely to eat at McDonald’s if they can charge their Big Macs.

With that premise, the site invents twenty-two-year-old Josie Amblin, a student who uses her McVISA card at least ten times a week! “I can’t stop,” she confesses to a fictitious reporter. “It’s just so easy to purchase a burger and fries with credit. I know I can’t afford to eat at McDonald’s this often, but I can’t help myself!”

Amblin racks up $2,100 on her McVISA card, even though it only has a $1,500 credit limit.

The whole story is a spoof, of course. But it hits the nail on the head. “I can’t stop! I can’t help myself!” That’s the cry of someone whose lifestyle is out of control. Someone who is making bad choices that will create serious long-term consequences for their happiness, health, wealth, and family.

In 1978, I was a poster child for being out of control in all three of the lifestyle areas I’ve mentioned. I weighed 315 pounds (that’s fat, by the way, even if you’re six feet, one inch tall). I was a financial advisor, but I had five credit cards maxed out. And at home, my wife, Shannon, wasn’t exactly happy with me because she and my daughter never saw me because I was too busy making money for the family. At least that’s what I always told them (and myself): “I have to work this hard to provide for our family.” Yeah, right!

I was in total denial. I was caught up in a crisis that I didn’t even see. I was succeeding and making lots of money, and by society’s standards I was doing just fine. Only I wasn’t doing fine. You’re not doing fine when you can’t bend over and tie your shoes without being out of breath. You’re not doing fine if you’re giving great financial advice to other people, but your own financial condition is a house of cards just waiting to collapse. You’re not doing fine if you never spend time with your family because you’ve got to keep one step ahead of the hounds that are chasing you.

Because I didn’t have any boundaries, I let other people’s opinions determine my opinion of myself. I looked fine to them, so I thought everything about me was fine, too. But it wasn’t. My life was out of control.

Some people hit bottom and then finally wake up. I had to hit bottom three times before I woke up! (I’ve always known I was a slow learner.) The first wake-up call came in 1978, when I was twenty-eight years old, with a beautiful wife, a one-year-old daughter, and another baby on the way. I was just at the point when a young man should be enjoying life to the fullest. Instead, my doctor was warning me that if I didn’t stop eating, I’d never see my fortieth birthday. Was that what caused me to change my ways? No! Guess what I did when I left his office? I headed straight across the street to a pancake house. I’m not kidding! And I charged the meal on a credit card. (You see, I do understand someone like Amblin!) So what was my first wake-up call? It happened during my annual visit to the “Big Men’s” store. I was packing on so much weight that every year I needed new clothes—in the next larger size. You can imagine how embarrassing it was to make that trip. So it became my style to shift attention (and blame) away from myself by complaining about the clothing manufacturers in Asia and how they were cutting their styles too small, or to joke that my wife was shrinking my clothes in the washer.

But on one trip, when I started mouthing off, the old tailor spoke up. For ten years he had listened to my bull and said nothing. This time around he had had enough. He was getting ready to retire, so what did he care? Right there in front of my wife, he turned to me and said, “It’s not your wife or the Taiwanese, pal. If you weren’t such a fat slob, you wouldn’t have a problem!”

I was stunned. I’d never been so insulted in my life. How dare him! Boy, was I ever mad! So I showed him. Why, I walked right out of that store without buying so much as a dime of new clothing!

But in truth, that guy did me a favor. Because what he said was true. And it hit home. I was fat. Overweight. Obese. Whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I finally faced up to a cold, hard reality: my weight was out of control.

At some level I’d known that for years. But I had been in denial about it for years, too, really since I was a boy. You see, I come from a dysfunctional family on the outskirts of Houston, Texas (“dysfunctional” means you can get away with anything if you’ll just deny reality). Our family was the kind where Momma cooked everything in bacon grease. And if somebody didn’t have a third helping of pie for dessert, she’d feel totally offended. But guess what? In spite of Momma’s cooking there wasn’t a single “fat” person in the family. No, sir! We weren’t fat, we were just “big- boned.” That extra 50 or 60 or 90 or 100 pounds everyone was carrying was just the result of a “slow metabolism.” Just a “large thyroid.” And so Momma always told me that being fat just runs in our family. We had that “fat gene” going, don’t you know? (You see how denial starts early?)

With a background like that, it’s no surprise that early on I became the fat kid. Eventually, the fat kid grew up to be the fat man. Only I wouldn’t admit that I was a fat man. I had all kinds of excuses to say I wasn’t. I was in total denial. “Justifiable denialism” is what I call it. I lied to myself to justify my poor decisions. But the scales don’t lie, and your waist doesn’t lie, and your health doesn’t lie. And by the time I was twenty-eight I was getting sick and feeling tired. And to be honest, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So I did what almost everyone does when they finally accept the truth that they’re carrying too much weight: I went on a diet. In fact, I went on lots of diets. The grapefruit diet. The water diet. The low-carb diet. The six-meals-a-day diet. You name it, I tried it.

Sure enough, I lost weight. And gained it back. So I’d go on another diet, and lose weight. And then after I’d lost the weight, I’d quit the diet and I’d gain the weight back. Plus a little bit more. So I’d go on another diet, and lose the weight again. And then . . . well, you get the picture.

One diet I followed was Dr. Atkins’s first diet. He had two of them over the years. I tried the first one. He said if you ate about as much cheese and eggs and red meat as there are in the state of Texas, you’ll lose weight. I tried that and I did lose weight. I lost about forty or fifty pounds, and pretty quickly. But then I was diagnosed with a fissure tear in my colon, because I wasn’t eating any fiber or carbohydrates.

Surgery laid me up for a month. And while I lay in that bed, I said to myself, “If I ever stop bleeding and get out of this bed, I’m going to learn something about nutrition,” because I had never learned anything about it in school. I had been an athlete, but in my day the people in charge just said, “Eat chicken-fried steak, Wayne. You need something that’ll stick to your ribs. Don’t worry about the gravy. You’ll run it off.” I knew nothing about nutrition, food supplements, or how to balance my diet.

So when I got well, a friend told me about a book by Covert Bailey titled, Fit or Fat? Boy, was that a lucky break! Bailey had a great concept: fat makes you fat. That was in 1979. Amazing, isn’t it? Fat makes you fat. When I read that, I realized that about 98 percent of what I was eating contained fat. I also discovered that when I wasn’t eating fatty foods, I was eating Oreos and chocolate milk and stuff that was loaded with sugar.

Bailey opened my eyes to a lot, and I was shocked to learn how much I didn’t know about nutrition. After that, I couldn’t learn enough about it. I got really serious about what I ate, and I lost more than a hundred pounds over a two-and-a-half-year period. All of a sudden I was the new thin guy. The 205-pound guy instead of the 315-pound guy.

So I’d gotten my life under control, right? Not exactly. I was only focusing on my weight. My spending was still out of control. Which means my work habits were out of control. At 205 pounds I wasn’t spending any more time with my family than when I’d weighed 315. I’d gone from being a big, fat, broke man with a lot of stress and an unhappy family to a thinner broke man with a lot of stress and an unhappy family.

Fast forward to 1984. By then, as I’ve said, I was making quite a bit of money. I had the house, the car, the watch, the American Dream. I sincerely thought I had it made. And I was thinner, too.

And yet . . . what difference does it make if you live to be one hundred if you’re miserable? I was miserable. I went through tremendous mood swings and depression. I thought, “How can I be depressed when I’ve got it all?”

About that time I went on a trip to Philadelphia. I was now in insurance, and a very large insurance company wanted to honor me as one of its top ten salespeople in the country. Quite an honor! As I was riding on the bus from the airport to the hotel, we stopped at a red light downtown. I looked over and saw a big Catholic church. Suddenly tears started coming down my cheeks. I felt terribly sad. “I really don’t want to go to that hotel,” I was thinking. “I just don’t want to go. I don’t want to be honored. I don’t want anybody giving me an award for being a guy that’s a workaholic who never sees his family, who just focuses on his money, his Mercedes, and himself. I feel very fake. I don’t feel good about this at all.”

But soon I was dropped off at the hotel. Sure enough, I had my big private suite, all decked out with a complimentary fruit basket and a bottle of champagne. That was kind of cruel in a way, because I didn’t have Shannon there to enjoy it with me. The fact is, she had declined to come to the convention. She didn’t like being with me at that point in my life, because I was pretty much a jerk.

So there I was, the big shot in his big fancy room—all by his lonesome for a whole week. And boy, was I lonesome! So one day, right in the middle of the convention, I walked out of that hotel and went and found that Catholic church. I’m not Catholic, but I went inside and ducked into a pew and got down on my knees, and I cried out to God: “Help me understand why I’m so miserable!”

I didn’t really know what to expect. Nothing happened right away. I finished the convention, collected my award, and went home. About a week later, Shannon told me that our girls’ elementary school was having an open house, and she wanted me to go and meet their teachers. I was still feeling kind of depressed, so I said I didn’t want to meet any teachers. But for some reason I relented and went anyway.

My older daughter’s fourth-grade teacher had asked the students to make posters in answer to the question, “If you could have three things in your life, what would you want?” I looked carefully at the artwork arrayed on the bulletin board. Of the thirty-two kids in that class, twenty-six of them had drawn as the top three things they wanted out of life: more money, a sports car, and a big house.

Suddenly a light went off in my head. It was my second wake- up call. I thought about those posters all the way home—driving in our Mercedes-Benz to our six-thousand-square-foot home, driving past the other six-thousand-square-foot homes in our subdivision, each with a Mercedes-Benz or sports car in its three-car garage. By the time we arrived I had clarified my thinking. “You know what?” I told Shannon. “I’m miserable. I’m miserable because I’m trying to keep up with the Joneses, and I never wanted to be a Jones to start with. The worst of it is that we’re sending that message to our kids, and it’s the wrong message.”

Within a year of that night, we sold the house, got a smaller house in a different neighborhood, I traded in the Mercedes for a pickup, started wearing cutoffs, and got a Mickey Mouse watch made of plastic. I said to myself, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I’m going to refocus.” And in that way I came to grips with the fact that my financial lifestyle was out of control, and I needed to start dealing with the money issue, just as I’d worked on the weight issue.

But I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Far from it. In 1992 Shannon and I hit rock bottom in our marriage. Remember, I’d been in denial for years thinking that if I just provided a nice lifestyle for my family, they’d think I was great. Sure, we’d downscaled to a more modest home and all, but I was still providing well for my family.

But one day Shannon finally decided to cut to the truth. “Wayne, you’re basically a jerk,” she said. You can see that people sometimes have to shoot pretty straight in order for me to “get” what they’re saying.

At first I felt terribly defensive. “Look at all I’ve done for you!” I thought to myself. “Look at all I’ve provided for us! Just look at all I’ve managed to accomplish in my life! Why, don’t you realize you’re talking to Wayne Nance here?”

But she was firm and clear: “I hate to tell you, Wayne, but you’re just a jerk. I don’t like you. And I hate to tell you the truth, but your kids don’t like you very much, either.”

That was yet a third wake-up call. Somehow the thought that the four people I cared about most in this world didn’t like me very much got my attention. “This isn’t working well,” I thought. “I started out fat, and I fixed some of that. Then I started chasing money, and I fixed some of that. Yet now my family doesn’t like me very much. I think I better take a long, hard look at myself.”

So I did. I went for counseling and had a lot of discussions over a long period of time. I came to grips with the fact that life is complicated. You can fix one thing about yourself, but that may only lead to problems with other things. The real question is, what’s driving your behavior? What’s the underlying thing that’s creating all the surface problems you’re trying to fix? That core thing is what you’ve got to go after.

It was at that point that I encountered a powerful truth: there is more to managing one’s lifestyle than merely making “right” choices. You see, almost all the diets, budgets, relationship books, and other lifestyle advice I had gotten said that if I just made the “right” choices, everything would work out. Just eat less fat. Just stay within a budget. Just tell your wife you love her more. Just show up at your kid’s soccer game. Just count to five when the annoying person at the office pushes your buttons. Those were all the “right” choices. Do those and you’ll get your life under control.

Problem is, I’d made a lot of those “right” choices. But my life still was not working. Worse yet, I was having to put enormous energy into making “right” choices. So much energy, in fact, that if I let my guard down for an instant, or if I felt tired or down or angry or whatever, I’d just blow off my resolve and do it the old way— order that extra meat patty and the double fries, buy that tie that cost twice what I intended to pay, take on that extra speaking engagement even though I’d promised Shannon I’d be home that weekend. Clearly, something else was contributing to my behavior besides making “right” choices, important as those were.

That’s when I encountered this breakthrough truth, the truth that allowed me to start getting my life under control: most of what causes us to make the lifestyle decisions we make is not our choices, but our attitude and our beliefs. By attitude I mean the inborn “wiring” that we brought with us into the world. Our attitude has to do with our basic outlook or orientation toward life, what we focus on, what matters to us, what we put our energy into. Attitude makes the biggest difference in our behavior. Later in the book I’ll take you through a simple 3-Minute Survey that will show you your attitude, and I’ll tell you where you can get more information about your “hardwiring.”

When I learned that the core of my lifestyle problems was my attitude, I started on a journey that continues to this day. I wondered, “Am I the only person in America who is struggling with food, money, and relationships?” What I discovered shocked me.

I began going to health spas and fitness centers, where I traded speaking and training for the opportunity to interview spa participants. That gave me lots of firsthand data about the issues people really struggle with.

I found that millions of Americans are in crisis in those three areas. In addition, I discovered that there is a link among those three issues—obesity, debt, and divorce. The link is people’s underlying attitudes. I discovered that certain attitudes are especially at- risk for obesity, debt, and divorce. In other words, many of the same people who struggle with their weight and other health issues struggle with their money and related financial issues, and also struggle with their relationships, both at home and at work. They struggle because of their attitudes. And sadly, they don’t even realize that their attitudes are leading to self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors!

Would you like to know whether you (or someone you care about) are one of those people? Better yet, would you like to know how you can regain control over your lifestyle, no matter what your wiring may be? This book will help you do that.

First it will help you understand your attitude and how it affects everything you do and every decision you make. Then it will take you through the same five-step plan that helped me lose more than a hundred pounds and keep the weight off for more than fifteen years. The same plan that helped me pay off my five credit cards, so that today Shannon and I live debt-free. The same plan that has allowed Shannon and me to stay married—and increasingly happy—for thirty-one years.

Now let me point out that I have not written this book on my own. This is a joint venture between me and my co-authors, Bill Hendricks and Keet Lewis. We decided that we would write the book from my perspective, using the first-person singular (“I,” “me,” “my”). But rest assured that this book expresses a common understanding among three partners. Indeed, Bill and Keet will tell you that they, too, have felt out of control at various times in their lives. They use this program daily to better manage their lives and businesses.

Bill understands the challenge of keeping life in balance, having lost his wife to breast cancer several years ago, and single- parenting his three daughters in their adolescent and teen years. Meanwhile he has headed a consulting practice that uses the phenomenon of giftedness to work with businesses, nonprofits, and churches to manage their strategic “people issues,” and with individuals seeking career guidance.

Keet has an extensive background in managing companies spanning several industries. Today he is a busy entrepreneur with a variety of business and charitable activities. He teaches the concepts in this book in his consulting work with companies, schools, and religious organizations. Like me, he has struggled at times with his weight and finances, and he has personally witnessed the success of our program.

Others have also contributed to the ideas presented in this book. I’ve mentioned Covert Bailey’s influence on me. Keet first learned about attitudes from his friend, Zig Ziglar, who taught him that attitude is everything. As Zig so aptly puts it in his foundational work, See You At the Top “Your attitude determines your altitude,” and that “we can Alter our lives by Altering our Attitudes.”

Keet began his personal dedication to understanding behavioral science when, as the CEO of a manufacturing company, he studied and applied the principles relating to temperament as explained by bestselling author Dr. Tim LaHaye in his classic work, Why You Act the Way You Do. Dr. LaHaye wrote many other books on temperament, and they are a must read for any serious student of the subject. Additionally, Dr. James Dobson, Dr. John C. Maxwell, Dr. Steve Farrar, Dr. Howard Hendricks, Dr. Bill Bright, Josh McDowell, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Dr. Tony Evans, Rich DeVos, Dr. Ron Jenson, Dr. Jack Graham, Judge Paul Pressler, and Bill Hawkins have all contributed much to our understanding of life- style issues like parenting, personal responsibility, and leadership through their very insightful writings. All of them have helped to lay a foundation for our work at Real Life Management.

Keet, Bill, and I hope that this book will be a helpful complement to the work of people like Bailey, Ziglar, LaHaye, Dobson, Maxwell, Rainey, Jenson, and others who have pioneered in the field of attitude and lifestyle management. Above all, we want this book to offer hope.

If I was able to regain some control of my life, you can do the same, no matter how desperate you feel your life has become. I’ve helped countless people just like you over the years through my training workshops and seminars at corporations, health spas, financial planning firms, universities, churches, and many other settings. Almost all of the folks I’ve met have tried way too many of the quick-fix diet, budget, and relationship gimmicks on the market. Most of them were discouraged. A lot of them were desperate. Some had even given up. “I’ll never change!” They said. If that’s how you feel, I implore you to keep reading. Because I’m not going to ask you to change.

You read that right. I’m not going to ask you to change. The word “change” implies that you need to make a 180-degree turn- around and basically become someone other than who you are. I’ll never ask you to do that. God wired you the way you are, and I’m fine with that. I want you to be fine with that, too. You are just fine the way you are! But I know you’re not happy with the way you live. So come on inside this book with me, because I’ve developed a proven strategy to help you turn your life around.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend!

How many times have you heard that statement? That diamonds are a girls best friend? Well, I have definitely heard it often enough. I don't have any diamonds but I would like to think in the future I might:) I also like to go online shopping when I have nothing better to do. So when I found this website called DiamondWave, I was really excited!!

DiamondWave carries so many rings and different fun jewelry I could spend hours on there, or possible even days, browsing their store. Every girl loves jewelry no matter how old she is and I am no exception to the rule. I anjoy looking at jewelry and diamond rings are the highest wish, especially for when that special someone happens along in the future:) I know I sure want a diamond engagement ring!

Whether you are a guy looking for a beautiful engagement ring for that special lady in your life, or maybe you are a woman who is looking for in the future, DiamondWave has a lot to search through. You can take your pick from diamond rings, stud earrings, pearl jewelry and gemstone jewelry, just to name a few. I browsed and found quite a few things that caught my eye and a few that went on my favorites list.

This website has some of the Top 10 Diamond Engagement Rings that can be found. These are the most popular on their site and they are beauties for sure. Funny thing is I am more of a quiet type of girl and these are flashy ones that are not my type. I much mre prefer just a small band with a petite diamond:) Check this site out if you are looking for jewelry that will make others look!

I have not purchased from this site. All thoughts are 100% mine.

The Crimson Thread of the Bible by Joshua McClure

The Crimson Thread of the Bible by Joshua McClure is an excellent book. This is one I recently received for review from Deep River Books and I have to say, I am loving it! Haven't read anything like it before.

Finally you can unlock the mystery of the Bible!

The Bible is meant to be understood as a whole and not in parts. It can be frustrating to pursue answers for life unless you understand how the entire Word of God and life are strongly bound together by an intricate thread.

Written by award-winning author Joshua A. McClure, this book reveals the story of God's faithfulness and determination to carry out His plan to redeem His fallen people. It brings to light the constant, redemptive thread throughout the Bible that tells how God's Divine plan is fashioned in eternity and how the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ were always central to His plan.

With straight talk on kingdom living, this groundbreaking book speaks to those who long for the God who invites us to reach for Him.

MY REVIEW-This is a very thought provoking book. For anyone who has ever wondered if they are reading the Bible right, or getting from it what they should, this is the book to pick up. The author starts from the beginning and puts down a foundation to take off of. Great way to start! This author also understands dispensationalism, which is something that a lot of people do but I have read books by authors that don't and it can get confusing.

One thing that stuck with me is how people read the Bible with preconceived ideas of what it says or what they think it says. Joshua urges readers to pick up the Bible with an open mind, or as he puts it, with child-like faith. If only we would do this more often. I have been slowl reading this with my Bible in the morning and let me tell you, I have been getting more out of my Bible. It really helps to understand what the Bible is written for and how much His love is there for us.

So, if you want to get more out of your Bible reading, I would urge you to pick up this book. Not that you have to, but it has done wonders for me in my reading. Excellent book!!

I received a copy of this book for my review purposes from Deep River Books. I did not receive any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chevy's Fresh Mex Kid's Meal Special & Giveaway!

How many of my readers enjoy a good mexican meal? What about fresh mex? I for one love a good, spicy mexican meal. Whether it is chile rellenos, steak quesadillas, fajitas, or a cheese enchilada, I love them all! That is why I was overjoyed to hear about a great new special from Chevy's Fresh Mex. I personally have never eaten there, but with this deal going on, it sounds like a good plan.

Chevy's is having a special deal for their updated kids menu. Check out the detailed info below:)

Chevys Fresh Mex, a national border cantina-style Mexican restaurant chain, announced today the rollout of new kids menus featuring healthy, seasonal items that parents can feel good about and kids will crave. The menus, which debut on July 17, are compliant with the National Restaurant Association’s highly celebrated Kids LiveWellSM program.
The restaurant also announced that its popular Two Kids Eat Free promotion will return through the end of this month. Guests can receive two free under-12 kids meals with the purchase of one regular adult entrée.
“These exciting new menu and promotional offerings underscore our ongoing pledge to making dining out a healthy, fun activity for kids and their families,” said Carlos Franco, executive chef of Chevys Fresh Mex. “And in keeping with all Chevys fare, our entrees for kids incorporate exciting flavor profiles and only the freshest local ingredients.”
The National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program launched one year ago in collaboration with HealthyDining to help parents and children select healthful menu options when dining out. Restaurants like Chevys that participate in the voluntary program commit to offering healthful meal items for children, with a particular focus on increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and limiting unhealthy fats, sugars and sodium. Chevys has created several kids menu items that align with Kids LiveWell guidelines, including:
Chicken Fajita with carrots, celery sticks and apple wedges (water for beverage)
Soft Beef Taco (without cheese) with grilled veggies, and carrots and celery sticks ( apple juice for beverage)
Soft Chicken Taco (with 1 tablespoon cheese), sweet corn tamalito, grilled veggies (pineapple juice for beverage)
In addition to making dining out healthier, Chevys also recently instituted new elements that make the restaurant experience more fun for kids, adding games like the Burrito Maze, Sabroso Mad Lib and Be the Artista; menu items such as Build Your Own Taco; and special dough balls for children to mold during the meal for the “dough ball wall of fame.”
Chevys Fresh Mex’s new kids menus and Two Kids Eat Free promotions are available in all 42 company locations.
For more information on Chevys Fresh Mex and its commitment to fresh, visit www.chevys.com.

Now, I don't know about you, but this sounds like a better meal for the kids and like a lot of fun things will be going on:) I think it is a good step for Chevy's to take and I wish other restaurants would do this as well. We need to be feeding the children better food and it would help greatly if more restaurants stepped up to the plate. I know in the end it is the choice of the parent or guardian, but it helps when the choices are good for them.

Did you see some of those choices? It is a good thing I did this after having a snack, because I was getting hungry just looking at these pictures. I am sure your kids will dive right in after they get a look at this food!

But, the biggest thing for me is the deal they are running until the end of the month. I know this is somewhat of a late announcement, but there is still plenty of time to head over to Chevy's. When you purchase one adult entree, you can then get 2 free kids meals for any child under 12!! That sounds like a great deal and you can't beat paying for one meal and then getting two free. This is for children only, but it is a great buy expecially in these times of everyone saving.

So, who wants to win a gift card to Chevy's? How about two of them? That's right! I have been offered to giveaway two Be My Guest gift cards. These will both be going to one winner. They are good for one entree and a non-alcoholic beverage. Get your entries in through the Rafflecopter form.

Giveaway will end 8/6. Winner will be chosen through Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Upended Blog Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!









Today's Wild Card authors are:







and the book:





Passio (May 1, 2012)




***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


MY REVIEW-This is an excellent book that really makes you think. I loved how the authors brought up people from history and used these as lessons for now a days. I realized how often we don't upend the world the way we should. Several good reasons brought up and they do this in an interesting way that makes you want to finish the book. I read it in two days:) Great book to get you thinking!!


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:





Jedd Medefind serves as president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Prior to this role, he led the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives as a special assistant to President George W. Bush. He and his wife, Rachel, love the great outdoors and have four children. Hometown: Los Angeles, CA





Visit the author's website.






Erik Lokkesmoe is the founder and principal of Different Drummer, a LA/NYC-based audience and fan mobilization agency for top entertainment brands. Erik has a MA in public communications and a BA in political science. Erik and his wife, Monica, have three children. Hometown: New York, NY



Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:







Christians follow a Man who upends our most basic assumptions and expectations at every turn. Yet for many of us who claim to follow Him, our lives are not peculiar at all. If anything, we are a rather predictable people. We follow an upside-down God yet live right-side-up lives.



Yes, we often hear calls to more radical living. Sometimes we yearn for it. But often “radical” ends up being just an idea. But apprenticeship to Jesus is often far more costly. That’s why this book isn’t about big choices that make us radical. It’s mostly about small choices that begin to mirror the life of One who was radical indeed.









Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: Passio (May 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616386053

ISBN-13: 978-1616386054








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:








C h ap t e r 1







Eternal Truth and the Daily Grind



Most of the genocides of the twentieth century—from Communist Russia to China to Cambodia—were led by avowedly atheist gov- ernments. Often, pastors and priests were among the first killed. But the story of Rwanda’s genocide is more complex. Yes, many faithful Christian leaders were targeted for immediate death. But in 1994, when the horrific events of one hundred days took an estimated eight hundred thousand

lives, roughly 90 percent of Rwandans claimed to be Christians.

Experiencing the pictures and stories of the genocide in the Kigali Memorial Centre today, a thoughtful Christian cannot help but question in anguish, “How is this possible in any nation, let alone one that was sup- posedly so Christian?”

Rwandan pastor Antoine Rutayisire has grappled with this question himself. He experienced the searing pain of the genocide firsthand. In both anger and grief he explored what enabled such a profound gulf between professed religion and what played out in practice.

At the heart of the matter Rutayisire has concluded that the Christianity of most Rwandans was totally divorced from their ordinary lives. It had to do with heaven, but not earth; abstract doctrines, but not daily choices. Rutayisire explains how traditional African religions always carried implications for virtually every task and interaction, from animal husbandry to cooking. The imported Christianity that took root in much of Rwanda, in contrast, was “a kind of catechism based on memory but not touching issues of daily life.”

The issue was not simply that many Rwandans did not take religion seriously or didn’t carry sincere religious beliefs. Most all Africans do. The issue was that their Christianity carried almost no consequence for the small choices they made every day. The missionaries had taught cate- chisms and rituals, but not how Jesus would want them to manage a busi-

ness or interact with their neighbors.



| 11 |







Rutayisire explains, “The consequence was that many people got bap- tized and integrated into churches, but every time when they ran into prob- lems, they fell back into traditional religion. . . . And in terms of conflict, they relied on what they had been taught by their fathers.”1

It is easy to view the savagery of Rwanda’s genocide and imagine it has nothing to do with us. But the simple truth is that the Christianity prac- ticed by many self-described Christians worldwide is not all that different from the religion practiced by the many Rwandans who failed to stop, or who even participated in, the genocide. It is a religion of great truths and noble ideas that remain largely disconnected from daily choices.

Even those of us who take our faith seriously can fall into the same trap, allowing gaps to form between Christian conviction and the activities of daily life. We study and explore doctrinal truths, but we often feel at a loss to explain how they affect the way we converse with friends, serve our boss, or invest retirement funds. We lack practical connection points between Christianity’s big ideas and what we do each day.

Like that of many Rwandans at the time of the genocide, our religion may feel real enough in the life of the mind. As Rutayisire would say, we have been baptized and integrated into churches. But we have not learned what it looks like to “walk as Jesus did.”2 So when practical decisions must be made, we fall back on habits and learning that really have little to do with the ways of Jesus. When tested, such religion disconnected from daily life is found profoundly lacking, whether in school or work, marriage or wider social engagement—just as it was in Rwanda.



the fataL spLit



Disconnecting Christian faith from daily experiences is not just unfortu- nate. It is deadly. We see its effects on a grand scale in the breathtaking evil of genocide, but just as surely in the withering of once-rich friendships, marriages grown cold, or children estranged.

Over a lifetime the disconnect becomes a trail of opportunities squan- dered. It is the possibility of living vibrantly, loving well, and leading in ways that leave lasting impact . . . lost forever.

At times even Christian teachers have encouraged this fatal split. They have elevated a higher realm of religious knowledge and activity above the lower realm of everyday life. But this view has no basis in Jesus or the apos- tles, nor the Old Testament either.3 Rather it was Greek philosophers and Gnostics who tried to divorce the spiritual from the physical. For them







abstract ideas were superior to the world around us. So spiritual progress required moving away from physical things. Their goal was to transcend the mess and muck of the ordinary.

In contrast, Christianity—like Judaism before it—affirmed that all God made was “very good.”4 Paul summed it up well to Timothy: “For every- thing God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”5 This includes work and recreation, food and wine, sex and friendship.

Yes, sin has marred these things profoundly. But God’s response is not to abandon or transcend ordinary, physical things. Rather, His plan from the start was to enter His creation in order to repair, renew, and restore.6

That same pattern is God’s call to His people as well. We are to take His truth and vitality into each day’s activities and interactions, just as Jesus did. Learning how to do so from Jesus is the lifelong adventure of the apprentice.

Though exceptional, there were many in Rwanda in 1994 who’d embraced this vision too. One was Celestin Musekura. As a pastor he’d sought both to teach and to live a practical, daily apprenticeship to Jesus. When the 1994 genocide began in his home country, he was completing his graduate studies in Kenya. While most everyone who could was rushing pell-mell out of Rwanda, Celestin headed in, risking his life to try to turn his fellow Hutu tribesmen from murder and to exhort Tutsis to resist the urge for revenge.

There were others too. As evil surged around them, they refused to par- ticipate or look the other way. Some hid neighbors in their homes. Others stared down machete-wielding mobs. Many died for their efforts to pro- tect innocent life. But they’d learned long before how to weld together eternal truth and their daily choices—and they continued to do so, even at immense cost.

Today, with anguish from the genocide yet pungent in Rwanda, Celestin and others like him continue to live as apprentices to Jesus. Though still mourning profound loss, they forgive those who killed their dear friends, family members, and neighbors. Risking the hatred of their own tribes members, they build reconciliation in their communities and churches. Slowly they are reweaving the fabric of Rwanda.

Explains Celestin, “Amidst the bloody history of tribal hatred, Africa’s only hope lies in a Christianity that pervades our lives down to the smallest







things, when our identity in Christ supersedes our tribal identity. It is costly. But the alternative costs even more.”7



Can We reaLLy do it today?



Living two thousand years away from Jesus’s time on earth, it may seem overblown to speak of actually becoming an apprentice to Him. Looking closer, however, we realize that the experience of Jesus’s first apprentices is not as different from ours as we might think.

Paul, like us, never walked with Jesus. Yes, the twelve disciples did have the privilege of observing Jesus in person. But it was only for three short years. And truth be told, they didn’t do particularly well as apprentices while Jesus was still with them. It was only after Jesus’s departure, when they were in much the same situation we are now, that they really began to look like His apprentices in their attitudes and actions.

For them and all who’ve followed since, the core of apprenticeship has always been the same. Responding to God’s grace and empowered by His Spirit, the apprentice marks the words and ways of the Master—and then puts them into practice.

Follow Me, Jesus offers to us too. It is a summons to learn not just about

Him but also from Him.



Person a l Note s: Jedd

With college graduation nearing, law school seemed the next logical step for a guy who didn’t have the prerequisites for any other graduate studies. But talking with many who’d walked that road gave me pause. So few loved what they did. The grinding hours at big firms brought fat paychecks but seemed to snuff out enthusiasm and purpose.

Three close friends of mine were grappling with similar thoughts. We each wanted badly to engage the world fully and experience Christ’s life to the full. Just as much, we feared that the ladder of success might lead to far less than we hoped for out of life.

So, with a blend of hope and desperation, we put grad school and pay- checks on hold. Instead, we’d spend the year living with and learning from committed Christians around the globe—people who served God and neighbor faithfully in their own native lands. Most of all, we hoped to taste life at its fullest . . . and learn how to keep that going for five or six decades. The months ahead were indeed the adventure of a lifetime: from the Guatemalan highlands to Russia’s frozen north, Africa’s mountain kingdom

to the endless rice fields of Bangladesh.

But there was a sobering element too. No matter how thrilling a place was when we first arrived, we were struck by how quickly exciting wears off. Adrenaline ebbs. Exotic becomes commonplace. We saw with dismal







clarity that the life to the full we sought wouldn’t be found in relentless adventure alone.

Yet alongside this realization, hope glimmered. It wasn’t in the buzz of novelty or grand exploits but in a number of the local Christians we served alongside. Their work and relationships weren’t exotic to them. Many had done what they were doing for years. They delivered medical care to Guatemalan peasants; taught wrestling and Jesus in Russian orphanages; created simple business opportunities for the poor in Thailand; led secret house churches in Communist Vietnam. Their work and daily choices were mostly quiet, steady. Some weren’t in full-time ministry at all. Yet their days blazed with the kind of purpose and humble joy we hoped would fill ours to our last breath. With countless small choices to follow Jesus, they infused daily life with eternal life.

That journey taught us more than we could recount. But what I most pray will shape my choices is still that simple realization. Life to the full isn’t found out there —in far-off adventure, or a much-anticipated change, or the next stage in life. Rather, it’s found in ordinary places and daily choices to love and give and serve with abandon for Christ’s sake.





not MereLy a huMan pursuit



We must know from the start that apprenticeship is not merely a human pursuit. Its wellspring is always response to God’s grace. It is surrounded by faithful witnesses from every generation. It is engaged as part of a com- munity, both local and global, called the church. It is nourished continu- ally by God’s living Word. It is undertaken with a continual sense of gift, never earning or merit.

Perhaps most importantly, Jesus promised His apprentices a mighty Helper. The Holy Spirit works continually, both within and alongside the true apprentice. He encourages, convicts, provokes, guides, enlightens. Apart from the Spirit, our labors become wearisome toil. But as we wel- come His labor inside and around us, beauty and good fruit spring from even our most feeble efforts.

The fact that apprenticeship to Jesus is not merely a human pursuit, however, does not mean that it happens apart from the human choices that go into most any other form of apprenticeship. We would not imagine we could become an excellent chef or doctor or painter simply by waiting for it to happen to us. Nor can we if we desire to become like Jesus.

We must learn from Him how to do so via practical, daily, real-world decisions. Choice by choice we participate with the Holy Spirit in bringing our understanding, character, and daily actions into alignment with those of the Master.8







This book explores just one facet of this apprenticeship: how we commu- nicate. Yet there may be no better place to begin. For we are all communi- cators, and how we do so shapes both the quality and outcomes of virtually everything we do. If we can become a true apprentice of Jesus in this, it will touch every relationship and undertaking.

The approach we will take together is straightforward. Like Jesus’s apprentices in every age, we study the words and ways of the Master recorded in the Gospels and amplified in all of Scripture. We take special note of how He spoke and served through speech, how He listened and led, how He connected and conveyed. We consider carefully how what we see can be reflected in our daily choices. We learn from others too who have done the same before us.

All of this we offer frequently to God in prayer. We ask from Him more- than-human insight and perseverance. We invite the vivifying, guiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Then, ideally as part of a community that shares our commitment, we put what we see into practice.

If we are ever to connect the lofty convictions we claim with what we do day in and day out, this is where we must begin. Here we start to knit together eternal truth with our jobs and parenting, marriage and friendships. Over time every interaction increasingly reflects the heart

the Master.



graCe and effort



Person a l Note s: Jedd

My dad was twenty-one when he first donned the flat-brimmed hat of a Yosemite ranger. Never had he wanted anything more. But learning the ropes in 1969 was nothing like the myriad classes and certifications that novice rangers undergo today. Instead, Dad was paired with a veteran ranger and sent out to learn in action.

He hadn’t been on the force long when the old-timer he’d been paired

with, Ranger Utterback, slid from their parked patrol car into the night. “We’re seeing a lot of drugs used and sold in this camping area,” explained Utterback. He held up his hand as Dad began to follow. “Leave the hat in the car. Too obvious.”

Raucous laughter drew them through the darkness to a group gathered around a fire on the edge of camp. Dad followed as Utterback moved into a space shadowed by a large pine. Marijuana smoke hung dense in night air. In those days even possession of the drug was a felony.

As Utterback prepared to step into the firelight, Dad stopped him. “I’ve never made an arrest,” he warned.







“Just watch what I do and do what I do,” whispered Utterback.

That phrase became the theme of the summer, from serving arrest war- rants to chasing break-in bears out of cabins. Dad watched, then replicated. Looking back, he describes, “Rangers joining the force today have some advantages in all the formal training.” However, he observes, “when you learned by putting on the uniform and following a veteran, you saw how to do it. The things you can’t get from a book or a class. How to convince a hostile crowd to cooperate, calm down a hurt child, or scare off a bear with- out hurting it. If you have the desire, you absorb all of this from the veteran

in the field in a way you just can’t fully learn in a classroom.”

Riding horse patrol one morning with another veteran ranger, Don Pimontel, Dad encountered one of the most beautiful scenes he’d ever laid eyes on. As the two men crested a mountain pass, the snow-laden peaks of Yosemite’s vast north country rose ahead of them. Overhead, thunder- heads billowed heavenward, painted with every shade of dark and light. Immediately below opened a meadow, fragrant and glowing purple in a sea of lupine flowers.

Dad sat on his horse, awash in wonder. Unexpectedly, tears began to fill his eyes. He pushed them back and set his jaw as he imagined a ranger ought. But when he glanced over at Ranger Pimontel, that illusion was ban- ished forever. Pimontel’s leathered face glistened, wet with tears.

“I didn’t just learn from him there; I felt with him,” Dad shared with me decades later, “I knew it was OK to feel the beauty. God’s beauty.”

Dad learned that summer not just as a student but as an apprentice. Facts and information were certainly part of the training. But the most important elements went deeper. The veteran rangers like Utterback and Pimontel provided what no classroom teacher could. This included habits and skills Dad had not possessed before, which increasingly became second nature. Perhaps even more significant, they conveyed new perspectives, commit- ments, and even intuition. The veterans’ time-tested ways of protecting and serving could hardly be put into words; yet they were passed from one gen- eration of rangers to another as Dad carefully observed and then put them into practice.





The intentionality and effort suggested by the term apprentice may make some Christians uncomfortable. Sometimes this discomfort is little more than a slumbering spirit; we may not like the idea of putting serious disci- pline into changing behavior and beliefs that we feel are good enough. Or there may also be another, more legitimate discomfort. Does an emphasis on our role and our disciplines of apprenticeship undercut His grace? Might it lead toward pride and “work-your-way-to-heaven” righteousness? Could desire to grow more like Jesus in action change our focus from gratitude at what God has done into a self-consumed bravado in what we are doing?

History reveals that there is, in fact, danger in that direction. Whole movements have grown up around efforts to earn the favor of both God







and man by straining for spiritual attainment. Such quests can feed arro-

gance and self-centeredness as gasoline feeds a fire.





Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.

—Dallas Willard





So we would do well to proceed with care. To imagine we could somehow earn God’s favor is utter vanity. As Jesus portrays in story, it’d be like a household servant imagining he could pay off a debt equivalent to two hundred thousand years of wages.9 God’s grace alone is the wellspring of His favor and heaven’s only door. We must never forget that.

Yet . . .

Despite the hazards, Jesus never watered down His call to apprenticeship. Rather, He urges us to hold two counter-weighted truths at the same time. On one side, joyous gratitude at God’s unmerited forgiveness and love. On the other, a robust response to that gift expressed in obedient action.

As Dallas Willard puts it, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort.”10

Jesus depicts this truth in story at the end of His Sermon on the Mount. Two builders are constructing homes. As the old Sunday school song describes, the wise man built his house upon the rock. The foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rains came down and the floods came up, and the house on the sand went splat.

What distinguished the two builders? Not abstract belief. Not iden- tity as a Christian. As Jesus bluntly explains, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. . . . But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”11

This down-to-earth, put-it-into-practice vision was especially vivid on Jesus’s last night with His disciples. Although unequivocally the Master, He strips Himself of His status both literally and figuratively. Wearing little but a towel, He kneels and scrubs dirt from between their toes. Then, rising and redressing, He puts the Master-apprentice relationship into words: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done.”12







a ChaMpion of gift and diLigenCe



Perhaps no living person has ever more fully celebrated the wonder of God’s unmerited favor than that great apprentice to Jesus, the apostle Paul. Paul viewed everything as a gift, including the very inclination to follow as Jesus’s apprentice. As he put it simply in 1 Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?”13

Yet this same Paul described his own apprenticeship to Christ not only as receiving a gift but also as serious exertion. He knew better than any that grace saves us. Yet intense effort defined his pursuit of Christlikeness. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . . . Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.”14

Every part of the Christian faith requires gripping two seemingly oppo- site realities at once.



> Justice and mercy

> Contrition and confidence

> Gentleness and bold truth

> A Savior who was fully God and fully man



In apprenticeship, we must do the same. We cling unyieldingly to the lavish, unmerited gift of grace. And we hold with equal passion to a vision for pursuing apprenticeship with abandon.

The outcome of holding this apparent contradiction together is a result worth longing for. Paul described himself as “the worst” of sin- ners.15 Nevertheless, as an apprentice to Jesus, he could declare without flinching, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”16

How could Paul claim that God’s peace would rest on those who prac- ticed not just what he taught, but what they saw him do? Not simply because he’d become a “good man.” Rather, Paul had come to mirror both the char- acter and behavior of the Master. So he could say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”17

What a breathtaking thing it would be to meet a person today who could, in humility, say the same. Imagine it being said of you, “Follow the way she speaks and listens, for she mirrors the example of Jesus.” “Follow







the way he leads and loves, for he reflects the words and ways of Jesus.” Impossible? Not if we believe the Scriptures.

Yes, we will always struggle against sin. But we can have every reason for confidence that in five or ten years from now (even one!) we will look more like Jesus than we do today.

As we grow as Jesus’s apprentices, our small choices and daily habits increasingly reflect the Master’s. As explored in the chapters ahead, we become more fully present before others; the ideas we convey become more tangible; our manner is recognized as more authentic; our questions guide and inspire; we present not just facts, but set them in stories that give facts meaning; our words carry greater vision and weight.

Choice by choice, small act by small act, we “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”18 Not just in theory, but also in the visible, tangible actions that meld eternal truth with daily life. Praise be to God that He never leaves us where we are.



Person a l Note s: Erik

Apprenticeship demands humility. The very act of apprenticing to a master is acknowledging your own inabilities. You know less. You need to learn. You don’t have what it takes yet. Maybe that is why so many of us are reluctant to be an apprentice: it’s hard to submit to others. That is my chal- lenge, at least.

Early on in my career I served as a deputy for a senior speechwriter. He would pass me the ceremonial events—the award ceremony for a top employee, a ribbon cutting at the factory—and on a good week, he might let me take a swing at a first draft of a major speech.

“Good start,” he would say, and then inevitably hack away until only a few of my original lines remained—and even then, he would take credit for everything.

It was not humbling—it was humiliating.

“I’m better than him,” I would think, especially after lunch when he would kick up his feet on the desk, lean back in his chair, and sleep for two hours. I had no interest in being his apprentice. Maybe that showed. Eventually, my job became nothing more than printing speeches on 4 x 6 cards for

delivery to our boss.

It was a difficult season, but an important one. Looking back, I wasn’t ready. I needed to study great speeches, listen to the tone and cadence of leaders, and perfect my craft.

I thought I had it all figured out, just as Simon did until Jesus approached his boat.

The fifth chapter of Luke tells the story of Jesus teaching on the shoreline of a lake. A crowd is pressing in, and Jesus pushes back in a boat to cre- ate space and to amplify His voice off the water. Professional fisherman are nearby, cleaning nets after a dismal day of fishing.







“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (v. 4). Simon questions the Master, as all of us surely would and certainly do. I am the professional. I know what I am doing. This is not a good spot or time to fish. He relents, drops his nets. And the abundance of fish almost topples the boats and tears the nets. “They came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink” (v. 7).

Then Simon repents, Jesus calls him to a new life, and he leaves everything—even his boats and nets and crew—to follow the Master.

The simplicity of the story is beautiful. Jesus comes to you with an absurd request—Erik, leave the professional stuff to Me— and yet He is faithful and fulfilling, which leads to a humble repentance and a life renewed. Apprenticing Jesus isn’t a hollow echo of Jesus’s life and words. It’s not a self-awareness or self-preserving. Its about a real submission to living under the audacious authority of Jesus, the Master who will ask for everything we have so He can give us everything we need. We come empty. Ready. Humble. Only then can He begin.




Monday, July 23, 2012

The Company Blog Tour with Review

Below is a book tour for The Company. This includes my review along with a bit about the book and the author. Check out the other stops for the blog tour. And, if you are interested in the book, here is the link to purchase The Company by Chuck Graham.

About the Book:
A meteor strike plunges the world into darkness. A stranger to the village of Brigos Glen restores power and light, supplied by three businesses, known as “The Company,” located beyond the forbidden mountains. The stranger reveals a plan so the Brigons can maintain the power and share the light with outlying territories, which remain shrouded in darkness.

Now, seventy years later, The Company summons six Brigons, including the young engineer Sam Mitchell, to attend a conference in the mountains of the forbidden Outlands.

Responsible for compiling a report about Brigos Glen from his five companions, Sam learns how managers and villagers largely ignored the plan or compromised it to self-interest, forsaking their duty to share the light. They also took for granted The Company responsible for generating and transmitting the power.

In an ordeal fraught with failure, revelations, and judgment, Sam discovers the true identity behind The Company and learns the fate that may befall Brigos Glen . . . that is, unless he can stop it.

About Chuck:
Chuck Graham's legal career as an attorney in private practice spanned more than thirty-one years. He represented many local, national, and international clients, acquiring intricate knowledge about the often-overlapping structures of the corporate world. He also worked against those seeking to create racial division, including the Ku Klux Klan. He has served as a member of the state bar of Georgia since 1979 and an instructor to attorneys and judges through the Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE). He received the Medallion of Appreciation from ICLE.

Chuck is also a speaker and the author of Take the Stand (Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996) and the compilations, A Year of Encouragement (Xulon Press).

In 1997 he founded Ciloa (Christ Is Lord Of All), a ministry devoted to sharing God’s encouragement with the world and teaching those who follow Him how to encourage others. Today Chuck serves as executive director and principal author of A Note of Encouragement, a weekly e-zine reaching 175 countries.

He and Beverly, his wife of thirty-four years, have lived in Lawrenceville, a suburb of Atlanta, for fourteen years. God has blessed them with three children. In his free time, Chuck enjoys backpacking and hiking (especially on the Appalachian Trail), playing the guitar, dabbling in photography, and reading extensively about the Christian faith.


MY THOUGHTS-This book was a little bit different. Okay, it was a lot different:) But I understand what the author was trying to do. When I first started reading I didn't understand that is was an allegory. Then after finding out the allegory part, I guess I expected more of a Pilgrim's Progress type story. Tell you what most of my reading is? LOL:) But once I gave it a chance, I really enjoyed the book.

It takes a little bit of getitng used to and it is probably more of what I would class as a fantasy type novel but it was well written and the plot was interesting. It kept me turning pages and I finished it in one day. And for someone who doesn't often read or even like fantasy type novels, you know it has to be good! The author has a good way with words and I liked the characters. Sam was a very compassionate guy who I liked from the beginning.

If you like an allegory with a lot involved, pick up this novel. Will keep you interested until you are finished. Great writing!

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All thoughts are 100% mine. I did not receive any monetary compensation.

Friday, July 20, 2012

CFBA Tour for Rare Earth by Davis Bunn

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rare Earth
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
by
Davis Bunn




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.



Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.



Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.



Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt.



A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Marc Royce stares out of the helicopter, a sense of foreboding rising with the volcanic cloud. Below, the Rift Valley slashes across Africa like a scar. Decades of conflicts, droughts, and natural disasters have left their mark.



Dispatched to audit a relief organization, Royce is thrust into the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps. But his true mission focuses on the area's reserves of once-obscure minerals now indispensable to high-tech industries. These strategic elements--called rare earth--have inflamed tensions on the world's stage and stoked tribal rivalries. As Royce prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes on a bold and risky venture for restoring justice to this troubled land.



But this time, Royce may have gone too far.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Rare Earth, go HERE.

MY REVIEW-Somehow I got signed up for two of these tours for the same book. I didn't realize it at the time but it worked out that way. Needless to say, the book for this one never arrived so it is a good thing I got my other book:)

This is an excellent suspense and adventure story. It is the second in the Marc Royce series but it can definitely be read as a stand alone novel. The whole Rare Earth thing was new to me as I had never heard of these components before. A neat aspect in this book was the Jews who had accapted Christ as the Messiah and had made a whole community. They had been shunned from their families and friends but had clung together and wanted to make the Jewish community need them and their talents. I enjoyed reading about this and thought it was a good add to the book. If you like a good fast read, this is one you will want. It is jam packed with adventure, a good fight or two, or maybe even three, spiritual values and insights and a little bit of romance as well. Great book!

I received a copy of this book for my review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wholly Guacamole Sampler Review and Giveaway!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love salsa. I have it with pretty much everything! Forget just plain ole chips and salsa, not that those aren't good too:) But eggs, breakfast burritos, chicken, etc. I love it all! So when Wholly Guacamole sent me a sampler I was overjoyed. And then they said they would host a giveaway if I wanted to review mine and post about it! Talk about some good stuff! Wholly Guacamole is so much more than guacamole, even though I like their green stuff too.

My cooler arrived with a big load of products. I couldn't believe how big the box was! I opened it right away to put things in the fridge and snapped some pictures straight out of the cooler. Check out what I was sent in my package!

Now first off, I am the only one in my family who likes guacamole. The rest of them think it is some gross looking green gunk. I on the other hand enjoy the taste and flavor of it. So I had no trouble keeping their hands off my guacamole. But the salsa was another thing! They wanted to dive into it for a snack when it came in:) Needless to say, they had to wait a bit. I had scrambled eggs for breakfast the morning after these came in and I pulled out the Roasted Tomato Salsa to try out with this. The flavor of this one is very good. The tomato comes out pretty strong and it is more liquid than the other salsas I tried. But I liked it a lot. It really complimented the eggs in my opinion. I also liked the spicy kick to it. I like my salsa spicy but not too hot. I did not try the hot salsa, but my Dad did:)

For lunch I pulled out some chips and salsa. This time I tried the Guacamole Spicy Pico. Yum!! Talk about delicious! I was the only one to eat this because of the guacamole but I loved it! The spicy flavor of the pico with the guac was great. I had a hard time choosing a favorite but I think it was between this one and the medium salsa. I can't get past the great flavors and fullness of fresh taste! There were several other flavors that I have yet to taste and some I was able to pass on to friends. There was no way I was going to finish them all or keep them to myself.

If you have never tasted Wholly Guacamole, you don't have a clue what you are missing. I am a big fan of their fresh flavor. You take a bite and it bursts in your mouth. You think I am joking, but I am dead serious. I can't even explain the taste. But, one of you will be a winner so make sure to get your entries in below. Make sure to check out Wholly Guacamole on Facebook. And the Wholly Guacamole Twitter page has lots of fun stuff too:)

Readers, one of you will win a cooler similar to the one I received. You will love this if you are a fan of salsa and guacamole! Please follow directions and enter through the Rafflecopter form.

Giveaway will end 8/2. Winner will be chosen through Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
I received product for review. I did not recieve any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.

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