A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

I just finished reading an incredible book called A Million Little Ways by a previously reviewed author, Emily P. Freeman. Emily is one of those rare authors; the kind of author who writes as if they know you personally. It’s almost as if she’s been sitting on the edge of my brain, taking notes of my thoughts, feelings, ideas, passions, and concerns. Though she’s a good twenty years older than me, I feel that if I knew her, we’d be best friends. I could easily sit in a coffee shop with her, discussing the abstracts of life over decaf tea and a plate of donuts.

That being said, A Million Little Ways is the kind of book that stays with you. I found so many wise statements that I drained two poor highlighters, fiercely coloring impactful statements They may have recuperated by now, but they were in bad condition when I was using them. Anyways, the theme of the book, is how every good thing that we do in this life is art. We are all image bearers, called to create for the glory of God.

Being that I’m somewhat of a creative type, I love how she views our dreams and personalities as art, as unique ways that God expresses Himself to humanity. The way she describes God’s creation of each one of us as art reminds me of a belief that I held as a child. I didn’t have any church background as a kid, but I did believe in God’s existence and that He created the world. I often imagined that God created the world through painting. I believed that he painted a portrait of the earth, and it sprang out of the canvas and came into existence. This view was probably more cartoon based than theologically based, but I did get one thing right: God is an artist.

Furthermore, as Emily Freeman states, because we’re made in the image of God, we’re also artists, and the unique aspects of our personalities, as well as the things that make us come alive, are forms of art. This could mean more obvious forms of art such as painting and drawing, but it could also mean any hobby or talent that God has given you. When I think about all of my friends unique interests, it’s pretty incredible how different they all are. I have friends who are into acting, sports, math, science, politics, psychology, singing, cooking, computers, photography, etc.

All unique forms of art.

Throughout the book, Emily also gives helpful advice that could be applied to various forms of art, and challenges the reader to do some deep soul-searching to find their desires and passions in life. One thing that I found particularly interesting, is how she points out that our passions can often be traced back to our childhood. I personally related to this, as I’ve always had an intense obsession with stories. I asked to learn how  to read when I was about three years old, and have read books compulsively ever since. Throughout grade school, I read books the way I ate food. During middle school, I obsessed over The Left Behind Young Trib Series, feeling as if I knew each of the characters, and mourning when a character died. I’ve also told stories from a young age, driving my whole family crazy with the way I made every inanimate object talk. It didn’t matter if it was a doll or a hairbrush; It became a character with a unique personality. Not to mention that from the moment I knew how to write, I didn’t stop. I wrote and illustrated stories with pencils and crayons in elementary school, graduated to short stories and two nonfiction published works in middle school, and now the current series that I’m working on (As well as a stand alone book). I suppose looking back, storytelling and writing was always in my DNA. I’m sure that you have your own memories of dreams growing deep inside of you from your childhood as well, if you look hard enough.

In addition to our passions, she goes on to teach that our personalities and the things that move us are forms of art. Each of us were knit together in a way that is completely different than any other person throughout history. Each of of us have unique quirks, traits, and temperaments that shape us. Each of us are moved by something, just waiting to emerge in a way that makes the world a better place.

To summarize the point of the book A Million Little Ways, and paraphrase some of the information, you were created by a Divine Artist, and because you were created in His image, you are an artist as well.

Not as an equal to God, but as a reflection of Him.

God created you the way you are for a reason, and you have something to contribute to this world. The things that God has gifted you in were placed inside of you for a reason, to come out as a form of worship in a million little ways.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

To conclude, I found this book incredibly informative and would highly recommend it to anyone who desires to learn more about how they can live their life as art offered up in worship to God.

Note: I got much of my information here from the book A Million Little Ways, so I owe credit to the author, Emily P. Freeman. 

Max the movie and a call to pray for our military

Good afternoon to all of you reading this. I just saw the movie Max, a military and dog focused drama that has recently come to theaters. It was an incredible movie, and I urge you all to see it. The movie has powerful messages about honesty, loyalty, and bravery, while reminding us how much people in the military sacrifice for our freedom. Sometimes we can take our freedoms for granted, forgetting that there are people out there every day, paying the price for the life that we often take for granted in America. Thus, I urge you to pray for the people fighting for our country and their families, because as I was reminded after seeing the movie Max, freedom is not always free. I’d like to give a shout out to all of those serving in the military who live in constant danger, often without being thanked.

Thank you to all of those bravely paying the

price for our freedom.

Bailey Flanigan: Leaving by Karen Kingsbury

Recently, I finished an incredible book that I mentioned in a previous entry, called Leaving, by the popular Christian fiction author, Karen Kingsbury. Thus, as I promised, I’m going to write a review of the book, doing my best to avoid spoiler alerting it for you.

The book Leaving follows the lives of four different characters, and contains a host of interesting side characters as well. The cast of characters includes

1. Bailey- An optimistic twenty-one year old girl, who’s skilled in singing, dancing, and acting, and dreams of being on Broadway.

2. Cody-Bailey’s ex-boyfriend. He has fought in the Iraq War and has been suffering from PTSD as a result. Currently, he is working as a football coach at a school in another town, whose team is currently failing.

3. Brandon Paul- A famous young actor who has recently become a Christian and who starred with Bailey in the blockbuster hit Unlocked. He has been friends with Bailey since they filmed that movie together and is beginning to have feelings for her.

4. Tara-Cody’s deceased friend Art’s Mom. She’s a very nice older lady, and very intent on setting up Cody with Cheyenne, Art’s fiancee before he died.

5. Cheyenne-A girl trying to move past the loss of her fiancee Art, and who has been spending much of her time visiting a young cancer patient. She becomes good friends with Cody throughout the course of this book.

6. Ashly-A wife and mom of three children. She is married to Landon, who has begun having lung problems.

7. Landon-Ashly’s husband. He is a firefighter whose lungs were injured on the scene of the 9/11 plane crash, as smoke engulfed the area.

There are more characters whom I could go into detail about, such as DeMetri and Ashly’s father, but that would make this post way too lengthy, as there are a lot of minor characters mentioned throughout the book.

The book opens with the Flanigan family sitting in church, as the pastor preaches about how things change, and how nothing stays the same except for Jesus, foreshadowing the changes that take place in this book. Throughout the book, Bailey reflects on some of these changes. Auditioning for a broadway show. How Cody left without an explanation. Her growing feelings for her old friend Brandon Paul. As Bailey reflects on these changes, Cody does his best to recover from things that have changed and wrecked havoc on his life. The way he still remembers the fear that he felt in Iraq. How he was forced away from Bailey by his mom’s psychopathic drug dealer, who threatened to kill any girl that he fell in love with. Meanwhile, the Baxter family members are dealing with changes and complications of their own, as Landon’s lungs seem to be getting weaker and weaker.

This book is a very enticing read. Kingsbury pulls you in with her story lines, making you care about the characters as if they were real people. She often cuts you off at the climax of the chapter, which keeps you reading to find out what happens next. There were points in this book where I was mentally shouting at the characters, hoping they’d make the choice that I was rooting for (Namely with the character ships).

This book is a Christian, realistic fiction novel with elements of drama, suspense, and romance. It follows multiple characters lives and it’s written in third person omniscient (A format that I particularly enjoy). If this sounds like your type of book, than I would highly recommend reading it. All in all, I give Leaving by Karen Kingsbury five stars. 🙂

Must Reads For The Summer

1. The Left Behind Young Trib Force Series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (I loved this series so much in Jr. High School. I really want to read the adult version, but have never gotten the chance to. Hopefully I’ll get to read it sometime in the future)-This series takes place in a dystopian, semi-futuristic setting. It’s based on the book Revelations and follows the lives of teenagers trying to survive during the tribulation.

2. There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones (Hmm, weird. She has the same initials as Jerry B. Jenkins. I’ve never noticed that before)-This book is about a girl named Finley Sinclair who goes to Ireland to study abroad and compose a song that she wrote for a music conservatory. She hopes to find the God that her recently deceased brother wrote about in his travel diaries.

3. SouledOut Sisters: One and Two by Neta Jackson (I really hope Neta Jackson will continue this series, as I really love this series and the characters in it)-This book follows the life of Kat Davies, along with her friends Olivia, Nick, and Bree, as they go to New York City for the summer. The all end up sharing an apartment above an older couple whom they wind up attending church with. In this book, there is a heavy focus on different generations finding common ground and understanding each other, as well as reaching out to the less fortunate.

4. The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom– A powerful book about how intrinsically people’s lives are intertwined. I reviewed this book in a previous post, if you want to know more about this novel.

5. The Bailey Flanigan Series: Leaving by Karen Kingsbury– Ok, I’ve got to be honest here. I’m still reading this book. Nonetheless, I love it so much, that I had to add it to the list. This book follows the lives of four different characters.

a. Bailey, a young college graduate who is transitioning from a small town in Indiana called Bloomington, to New York City; to be in a broadway musical.

b. Cody, a guy about the same age as Bailey who recently got a job as a coach and who’s suffering PTSD from fighting in the war following 9/11.

c. Ashley and Landon-A couple coming to terms with Landon’s recently diagnosed illness.

I’m not going to say anymore about this one, as I want to write a individual review once I finish it. It will be hard to refrain from spoiler alerts, but I’m going to try, as I don’t want to ruin this book for you if you decide to read it.

That’s all for right now, but I’m looking forward to giving Leaving its own separate review. I’d also like to read the book Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom. Nonetheless, whether I’ll actually get to that book is up in the air, as I still have a book to read for school over the summer, called The House of Seven Gables. I hope to write some more tomorrow. As for right now, I hope that all of you readers out there have a good night. 🙂

Very sadly, this isn’t a movie trailer, nonetheless, it is a cool trailer for the book itself. Karen Kingsbury even uses a Britt Nicole song (My favorite singer!), thus she gets double points for this book trailer!

My review and thoughts on Grace For The Good Girl

Hello to all of you out there reading this. Sorry about my two day hiatus from blogging. I’ve been working insanely hard on composing a song that I wrote. I’m going to be in an upcoming talent show and I want to sing a song that I wrote two years ago called On The Line. I’ve been working on this song for a while, but I think I’m finally getting it to a place where it sounds good (Yay!).

Anyways, my blog post today is going to be on the book Grace For The Good Girl: Letting Go of The Try Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman. I read this book towards the end of last school year and it was amazing. It’s a non-fiction book that I found to be very relatable and thought-provoking. Basically, the target audience for this book is all of the Christian perfectionists and “good girls” of the world. In this book, she refers to herself as a “recovering good girl”. Now this might sound weird, after all, isn’t it good to be good, and to try hard in life?

Absolutely, but sometimes, we can cross a line from trying to do the right things and doing our best at things to becoming paranoid of failure. Sometimes, perfection can even become an idol. I can think of countless examples of perfectionism throughout my own life. A good example of this is my younger, elementary school self. There were times that I’d take a spelling test and get the all of the words correct except for one or two. I should have felt proud of myself for getting an A, but instead, I was disappointed in myself. In the back of my mind, I felt that it could have been a 100% instead of a 95%.

If only I had tried a little harder.

That mentality didn’t just plague elementary school self. It’s a mindset that I carried with me for years (And still struggle with at times). I’d get paranoid when playing a sports game, wanting so badly to win. I’d obsess over grades, trying to get an A in everything. I avoided asking difficult questions about the Bible that I felt I was supposed to know. I started to view devotional books as sort of a checklist. Do this, and don’t do this. It even got to a point where life seemed like a checklist.

Emily Freeman describes this mentality as a mask, trying so hard to conceal weakness, and vulnerability. Though I never thought of it that way, I did realize a couple of years ago that while I still want to strive for my best in everything that I do, I need to let go of some of this stress, and embrace authenticity. I wanted to stop defining myself by things that I strived for and just be myself. Little by little, I’ve gotten better about that, but admittedly, still sometimes fall back into old patterns. Nonetheless, I’ve gotten up the courage to ask hard questions that don’t have simple answers. I’ve gotten better about not defining myself by academic achievement. And while I’m still competitive, I don’t define myself my how many basketball or checker games I win.

If any of this resonates with you, then I encourage you to open up about your questions and your weaknesses. To take off the mask, realize that you’re a work in progress, and realize that only Jesus is perfect. To stop defining yourself by achievement but instead realize that your worth was embedded in you at birth by God. While you should always strive for your best and work hard, don’t let your weaknesses define you. Sometimes, as the apostle Paul says

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me,“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV)

Sometimes, it’s in the areas that we’re the weakest in that we need to rely on God the most. This isn’t always taken well by the good girl (Or guy). We want to be strong, independent, and in control. But sometimes, we can’t control life. It’s in the areas that we’re weak that we’re often the most humbled. This is still a lesson that I’m learning myself. Nonetheless, I urge you to not feel discouraged by this. We’re all strong in some ways, and we’re all weak in others. You’re not any less because of those weakness, you’re just human. Sometimes, when we trust God and we’re honest with others, we end up doing a lot of growing. When you look at it this way, life becomes a journey. A storyline. Not a checklist. Not one giant report card, grading you in how well you’re doing at this thing called life.

Life becomes real, and we begin living it. We come out of our places of hiding and our masks of perfection and achievement and become authentic. In the end, I’d rather be honest about my life as it really is than just have awards of achievement handed to me, because the growth is achievement in itself.

If you want to read more on this topic, than I highly recommend reading the book Grace For The Good Girl: Letting Go of The Try Hard Life for yourself.

A song at the end seems to be the usual way that I end blog posts, so I’m going to conclude this one with the song Perfect People by Natalie Grant. I think that many of you out there who have struggled with the self imposed pressure to be perfect will relate to the lyrics of this song.

Note: Many of the points made in this blog post were from the book Grace For The Good Girl: Letting Go of The Try Hard Life, so I owe credit to the author Emily P. Freeman.

A Fuller House

If you’re a fan of the 80s-90s television show Full House, then I have big news…there’s going to be a sequel! If you’ve never heard of Full House before, than I’ll give you the basic premise of the show.

In the TV show Full House, Danny Tanner is a widower, raising three daughters. Thus, he asks his lifelong best friend Joey and his brother in law Jessie to move in with him and help him raise his kids. The title Full House is not an exaggeration, as you have Danny (Dad and talk show host), Joey (Stand up comedian), Jessie (Rebellious young rocker), DJ (Oldest child), Stephanie (Middle child), and Michelle (Youngest child) all living under one roof as they learn how to become one big family (Not to mention the later added Rebecca, Nicky, Alex, Comet.)

This show contains many of the themes and tropes in 80s and 90s television such as the best friend/neighbor (The crazy and unforgettable Kimmy Gibbler), the boyfriend (Steve who always seems to be eating something), a dog (Comet), an iconic couple (Jessie and Becky), and a lesson within nearly every episode.

Full House is the first sit-com that I ever watched. I started watching it at age nine and I still sometimes watch it to this day. It’s one of those shows that (In my humble opinion) people of any age demographic can enjoy. I think I appreciate this show even more in retrospect, being that I can’t usually find too many modern shows that I enjoy.

One thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that Full House had some tremendous character growth. The most extreme example of character growth would have to be Jessie Katsopolis. He starts off as a wild, rebellious rocker. Nonetheless, when Stephanie cuts off his long hair, he realizes that it might be time for him to grow up. The growth process is really shown after he meets Rebecca Donaldson, a career-driven woman from Nebraska. As the show goes on, you see him become a family man with two children of his own, Nicky and Alex. You also see DJ grow quite a bit, as you see her go from young preteen girl trying to figure life out, to an older teenager, with a lot of maturity and wisdom for her age. She than goes on to give advice to her younger siblings as they face the challenges of growing up. Plus, you literally see Michelle go from practically a baby to a girl about eight years old.

A Fuller House is going to follow a similar plot to it’s parent series. DJ becomes a widow, raising two kids with a third on the way, and asks her sister Stephanie and her best friend Kimmy to move in with her and help her raise her kids.

To celebrate the arrival of A Fuller House, I decided to post the Full House theme song

Get ready for some nostalgia

Random fun fact: Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond), Jaleel White (Family Matters), Daniel Fishel (Boy Meets World), and the Beach Boys all guest starred on Full House.

What we can learn from Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven

A couple of months back, I read the the book by New York Times Bestselling Author Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I heard about this book and the idea behind it intrigued me, so I decided to try it. Little did I know, is that once I started it, I wouldn’t be able to put it down. I liked this book so much that I wrote an essay on it for an english class assignment and I wouldn’t stop talking about it. I’m pretty sure I was starting to drive my friends and family crazy. If you are unaware of the plot-line of this book, it’s about a man named Eddie, a veteran in World War 2 and current employee at a local amusement park, who dies trying to save a young girl’s life. Once he’s dead, he meets five different people who helped him better understand his life on earth. I’m not going to tell any more than that, as I don’t want to spoiler alert this book, but I would like to talk about what we can glean from this novel. In this book, the author writes

“There are no random acts…We are all connected…You can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind…”

I find this quote fascinating, and when you think about it, it’s really true. What would your life be like if you never encountered the people who have come into your life? What new experiences, ways of thinking, and wisdom would you have missed out on? I do not believe that people are a blank slate, as John Locke taught, but I do believe that people impact one and other. I know that I have friends who have affected my life, and I’m sure that you do too. I’m going to end this blog post with two questions to get you thinking.

1. Who are some people who have impacted your life?

2. What can you do to have a positive impact on the lives of others?