Thursday, August 21, 2014

Love Skip Jump By Shalene Bryan

I have an amazing book to share with you!  I just finished reading Love Skip Jump: Start Living The Adventure of Yes by Shalene Bryan and I want to recommend that you read it too!  I am trying to be more intentional about the books I review for publishers...there's nothing worse than trying to get through a book you don't like just so you can post a review about it!  And I'm a busy gal so I just don't have time for that!  This book caught my eye because I am boring.  I am not an adventure-lover or risk-taker.  I like playing it safe and playing by the rules.  But it's boring.  In an attempt to want to be more adventurous, I decided to read and review this book!  I am so glad I did!  It really was a remarkable one that I want to keep on my bookshelf for a long time. 

The author, Shalene Bryan, lives in California.  I could tell from the stories in the book that her family is well-off financially.  Her life dramatically changed when a lady at a dinner party she was throwing, saw the picture of the Ugandan girl her family was sponsoring and asked Shalene if she really believed she was helping this little girl and it wasn't some scam.  Shalene had never really thought of it before, but the more this comment got to her, the more the urge to find out for herself grew.  Next thing she knew she was on a plane to Uganda to meet both kids that her family sponsored.  She not only got to meet them in person, but she was able to see firsthand what living conditions they endured and how the money she sent each month really did make a difference in those kids' lives.  This trip changed her life.  And out of it her organization Skip1 was born.  The organization is centered around the idea of us skipping one thing....buying a new shirt, passing on a Starbuck Latte, not getting take out one night...and using that money to donate to needy people.  Even though the amounts seem small, they really do make a difference. 

Each chapter in the book tells a story of loving others, skipping to help others, and jumping in with both feet when God tells us to jump, and the effect it has for God's kingdom.  God has come through for her time and time again simply because she chose to say yes.  She urges us to ask God to show us what we need to jump for/in so that we can experience those same great miraculous stories in our own lives! 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for this honest review. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

GOOD Morning!

I cannot believe that summer is almost over and the kiddos go back to school next week!  I have enjoyed my time with them but it will be nice to get back on a daily routine. And I will admit that it will be nice to have the house to myself again on my days off!  I have a million zillion things I want to get done around here and it will be nice to have 6 or so hours of uninterrupted time to attack that list! 

With that being said, I decided it was time to start getting myself on a routine.  I am a lover of free ebooks and as I was scrolling through the many I have on my Kindle I cam across one called The Ultimate Morning Routine.  How to use the Hour of Power to set yourself up for a productive and successful day by Brian Ledger.  That pretty much hit the nail on the head, so I dove in.  It's a short book so it didn't take me long to read it and I was able to finish it last night while I sat in the freezing weather (where IS summer, by the way?) during my daughter's cheer practice. 

The main idea of the book is to get up an hour earlier in the morning and spend an hour doing some set things.  You list the things you are thankful for.  You make a list of insights and things that you want to accomplish that day.  You pray for strength and guidance to get through the day and be productive.  Then you exercise for 20-30 mins.  The book urges you to do that every morning for 21 days so that a habit forms and you will be more likely to continue it for the rest of your life. 

So today was Day 1 for me.  I will admit the thought of writing down the things I am thankful for seemed pretty silly and pointless to me.  I set a stop watch on my cell phone and sat down with my notebook and pen and started writing.  I was done in 2 mins...and I was planning to do 10 mins!  I am thinking I was too vague and should be more specific instead of just writing "my husband and kids".  But it got me to thinking that maybe I am not as thankful as I should or could be and that I should start being more intentional about looking for things that I am thankful for.  To be honest, after that 2 mins, my perspective started to change and I started to feel lighter emotionally. 

Next step was listing my insights.  So I started with the heading of "Today I will" and followed up with things like "show respect and kindness to my husband" and "wash down the kitchen cabinets".  This took me 7 mins.  At the end of the 7 mins, I felt even lighter.  Sometimes my head is swirling like a tornado with all the things I need want to accomplish and expectations I set for myself.  And I will be honest and say that many of them blow away and are forgotten...and never reach my to-do list.  Then a day or two later I will have that "Oh shoot!  I forgot to..." moment that could have been alleviated if I had just written it down.  This 7 mins was a time of quiet and no distractions where I could just empty my brain and get it all out. 

The third step was prayer.  I had decided that I would incorporate my devotions into this time too and take longer than 10 mins.  Usually I read my devotion and then journal my prayers.  But I decided to journal first and follow up with my devotion.  I think I liked it!  The things I was thankful for and the things I wanted to accomplish were fresh in my mind so it made for a time of prayer concentrated on those things.  I read my devotion and at the end of it was a little prayer that really hit home ( Click Here to read the full devo) and 14 mins later I was done.  The prayer at the end was just what I needed so I decided to post it to my Facebook status so that others could benefit from it too, so I did that next.  The book warns against looking at Facebook or reading emails until your hour is finished so that you don't burden yourself with what you read or see, but I was really good at only being on there a few mins so as not to clutter up my just-emptied mind.  I was glad to see (after my hour was up) that a couple of friends posted that it was just what they needed, so I am glad I posted it.  Facebook is full of not-so-uplifting statuses and drama and world news that I am trying to post more God-centered things and not go with the normal flow.  I still post about my life, but if I gain new insight that I think will help others spiritually I post it and hope that it does just that. 

The last step was exercise.  I have been wanting to get up and exercise each morning to get it out of the way in case I don't get the chance to exercise in the evenings.  And if I do, then I get a double-workout in!  Today is sort of gloomy/rainy looking so I didn't really want to head out on a run/walk.  I popped in a Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 video and did a Week 2 workout.  I wanted to die.  Not that it was that difficult.  I just wasn't in the mood to work out I guess.  And I wanted to punch Jillian in the face because of all of her comments.  Some days are like that.  But I persevered and finished the 24 mins workout sweaty and breathless.  Go me! 

In that one hour I felt like I accomplished those things that really matter in life.  I took care of my emotional, spiritual, and physical self.  And now I feel like I can take the rest of my day and run with it.  I feel focused, which is hard for me most days.  I didn't get up an hour earlier because today is my day off, but I plan to start getting up at 5 in order to get my hour in before hubby and the kiddos wake. I work the next 3 days so I will plan to set my alarm for 5am tomorrow (ouch).  Luckily I am a morning person and my internal alarm clock adjusts fairly quickly!

So all in all, so far, I can honestly say it's been a GOOD morning!  If you try this, let me know how it works for you!  And I will try to keep you posted on how my progress is going over the next 21 days.