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Showing posts from September, 2014

Guest Post: Thunder Dog by Kramer James Madding

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Allen has been really busy lately with a new job, working with an editor to get his first book ready for publishing, and his infernal need to leave me and Sadie to fend for ourselves while he and mama go traipsing off to the beach. So I got my paws on his login and managed to reach the laptop and figured this was as good a chance as any to try my paws at a little writing. I have laid in that pillowy thing next to his chair and watched him do it for long enough. I figure how hard can it be. I lie around here on the back of the love seat all day looking out the window at the squirrels eating seed out of the bird feeder thinking about all the great stories I have to tell, so why not?

I thought I would write about my biggest fear. Nope, its not the possum that was in the backyard Friday night when I went out to relieve myself before crawling up the big ramp to the big bed and snuggling down between the pillows. Nope. I was not scared of that thing a bit. It looked like a hairless cat to …

Review: Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World? – Eugene Cho

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"We do what we do because we love God and we love the people whom God loves. We love the things that God loves and what reflects the character of God. We do justice not because it is sexy, glamorous, or trendy, but because God loves justice. Justice isn’t a clothing accessory we wear when it becomes fashionable, but rather it is something we live into because it reflects the character of God."
- Eugene Cho

Eugene Cho challenges us to truly pursue justice, and to be willing to make the personal sacrifices that the pursuit will ultimately force us to make. In an age of short-term mission trips and numerous opportunities to change the world, many people love the idea of justice and doing good until it begins to require some sacrifice, and it always will. Pursuing justice will come with a cost, and it will change us. Change is painful, but if we stick with it, the changes are good. Instead of pursuing justice because the world is broken, we need to recognize we are also broken. B…

Review: How Sweet the Sound: A Novel by Amy K. Sorrells

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In her debut novel, Amy Sorrells has established herself as a story teller and poet. How Sweet the Sound is a story of an Alabama family, the Harlans, and their generational struggle to bury the ugly pain that haunts them. All of their lives come crashing in around them when two brothers kill each other. The tension between the two had been brewing for years from dark family secrets of rape and abuse. Anniston, who lost her father in the double murder, struggles with all of the upheaval in her young life and her cold and hard-hearted grandmother.

I highly encourage you to read this well written book in a place where you feel safe to weep and have an ample supply of Kleenex at hand. It is a story of redemption and hope for those dealing with the brokenness in their lives - a stirring story of amazing grace and encouragement.

Book Review: Identity Crisis - 21 Days of Discovering Who God Says You Are by Michael D. Perkins

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For years many of us have struggled with trying to measure up to others standards for us and for our own. We walk around calling ourselves failures. We tell ourselves we are not smart enough, good enough, nice enough, and on and on. After spending years telling himself similar things, Michael Perkins discovered that none of those things were what God had to say about him. In his book, Identity Crisis, he provides 21 short devotionals that each highlight something God has said about who we are. At the end of each of the 21 devotionals, he provides a suggested prayer emphasis for asking God to affirm His words about us in our hearts and he provides a challenge to share what God is doing in our lives.

Identity Crisis is an excellent tool to assist us in moving away from the lies we have been listening to for years and towards the truth that God is speaking about us. This is an awesome piece of encouragement in a world where we are bombarded with criticism.

Review: Building a Life Out of Words by Shawn Smucker

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Often times when life throws us a curve ball, out natural tendency is to find some corner somewhere, cry in cup of coffee, and sing our favorite verse of poor, poor me. But what if we drew a deep breath, stepped back, and considered for a minute how we could use this opportunity to make a positive change of direction in our lives?
Shawn Smucker was faced with such a situation. After returning from four years of managing a large business in England, he felt lost working 10 hour days painting houses and living in his parent’s basement with his wife and two children. When his aunt called out of the blue and asked him to write her life story, he had no idea how his life would be impacted. He approached the project tentatively lacking the confidence of a career writer. But when a publisher reviewed the initial two chapters that he had written, the publisher contacted him wanting him to write the book. Had he pursued other unrelated temporary opportunities, his writing career would have ne…

The Beach

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(photo credit: the author)
One of my earliest childhood memories is a Christmas in the early 1960s. My family made a road trip to visit my grandparents who were spending the winter in Ft. Myers, Florida. When we arrived, their Airstream trailer was parked on the beach with colorful patio lights draped through the neighboring palm tree. Believe it or not, the Red Coconut RV Resort actually still has RV spots on the beach beneath the palm trees all these years later as it has since 1920. I have pressed my memory as hard as possible several time trying to remember more details, but that is as much as comes back into focus.



Growing up, we made several more trips down to visit them when they made the traditional migration of the blue hair. Eventually, they began settling on a spot across the road inside the Red Coconut RV Resort's main campground. I can still remember being in complete awe watching the manager, moving patron's travel trailers with his antique tractor to their spot…

Finding My Place

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One of the most painful processes associated with a new move is finding a the place where you "fit" in the new community. And in our case, after volunteering with Habitat for Humanity for many years and spending the last three years serving with Feed Forsyth, we knew a big struggle would be finding a nonprofit to serve. I mean you cannot just work furiously for three years addressing struggling families and then go to nothing, right? So once I could access my own deodorant and there was a clear path through the living room to the front door, we began the search for a new church home and a nonprofit that aligned with my passion.

The second church we visited was Pinellas Community Church. We parked in the parking spots labelled "First Time Guests" and started walking down the sidewalk following the signs to the auditorium when I was stopped dead in my tracks. I casually glanced to my right and was speechless. There was a building with a huge sign on the front of it, …