This time of year, people are posting like crazy on social media the number of books they read in 2018. There are even some pretty cute videos and memes that you can use to illustrate what a productive reader you were last year.

While it’s perfectly fine to tally up your reading year, I don’t happen to keep track, nor do I want to know how many books I read. On the one hand, the number would be interesting. On the other, I will more than likely be depressed at the low number of actual books.

I read…a lot…like the newspaper every morning (yes, in print—my husband and I both trained as journalists and print’s in our blood!), weekly and monthly magazines, and fiction and nonfiction books, as well as all the reading I do in my crit group and blog writing.

Rather than focus on a number, this year I challenge you to focus on the ideas and thoughts of the books you read. I like to reflect on ideas that challenged me, that inspired me to change, and that moved me to look at the world differently. Both fiction and nonfiction books can give us much food for thought.

As we ease into 2019, by all means, keep your tallies of books read. But also, jot down what reached down into your heart and gave you a different perspective, an outlook, or a calling.

Sarah Hamaker is a writer, editor, and parent coach in Fairfax, Virginia. Connect with her at www.sarahhamaker.com.

(Illustration courtesy Pixabay)

 

 

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One woman who had sat in a Bible-teaching church Sunday after Sunday for over 10 years told me something one day that took my breath away. She had been having an affair with her best friend’s husband! Those in her world had counseled her, confronted her in love, shown her care and compassion – everything possible to help her see the trauma she was causing two families – then one day she eloped with this man! When she arrived back in town, I saw her at one of our children’s sporting events. She was so excited. She was flitting from person to person showing her ring and wedding pictures. When she arrived in front of Bill and I, we were shocked by her flippancy, “Oh, aren’t you excited for me? I just knew it was God’s will that we marry because after the ceremony, I looked up and there was a ring around the moon!”

“A ring around the moon!” my heart screamed with sadness. Her heart had drifted so far from God’s Word that her decision-making ability had become irrational. That day has stayed with me – primarily because it wasn’t an isolated incident.

A best friend, married to a minister, told me God had led her to an Internet chat room where she encountered a man who met her emotional and sexual needs. Another woman, who had been a committed women’s leader for years, told me at a retreat, “I was praying about whether to leave my current ministry, and I saw a butterfly and thought, “Butterflies are free; I am free from this ministry calling now. I am released to fly on to something else. Something for me.”

Our world has become so feelings-based and experiential, women are hopping from one emotional high to another. Sadly, this thinking is also creeping into the church, and into church leadership.

 

Seeing this, I feel compelled to be in the Word daily because every day that I might  lean on an experience or emotion rather than on God and His Word is one more day my heart drifts further from truth, and further from God. If I don’t gird up my mind with the truth, I will drift from the truth.

One way to protect your heart is to learn the strength and wisdom found when you dig deeper into God’s Word. In Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, you will learn the skills and the joys of being in the Word of God on a daily journey to find hope and help through God’s Word.

 

 

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, and bestselling author of 46 books including her newest, Discovering Hope in thePsalms and

7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success In Keeping It All Together. She and her husband, Bill co-direct Love-Wise. When they are not traveling for speaking, they love long walks on the beach.

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Most cats hate water, right? Nope. Colonel Brandon, my kitty, loved it when he was little. He would smack the water in his dish and watch it fly in the air, landing all over the floor. Who knows? Maybe he could see a rainbow of colors while he splashed.

His joyful game usually ended when he knocked over the bowl, saturating the floor underneath. He’d walk away with droplets of water all over his face.

When he got older, he used to sit with his water dish between his paws, as if he feared it might get away.

His actions remind me of Psalm 42:1. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.”

How wonderful if I sought God as diligently as my cat sought water.

Sometimes I try to find satisfaction other places. Reading or watching a movie can help me escape for the moment.

However, the days I spend time in God’s Word and prayer, I always find the refreshment I need, and I have the courage to face life’s challenges.

Just like my kitty sought water, I encourage you to get in the Word and delight in God’s love.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

 

 

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On one of our trips overseas we were able to take a day and spend it in London, England. The highlight for me were the guards of Buckingham Palace. Those guards were so self disciplined, vigilant and stalwart—nothing could shake them from their duty! It reminded me of 1 Cor 15:58, “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (CSB) I have always pondered, just “HOW can I be steadfast and immovable in a world that always seems to shake us to the core?”

In Becoming a Brave New Woman, I share an example: It was one of those days. It must have been a Monday. I had been away speaking all weekend. I picked up the phone to gather voice-mail messages. “You have 31 messages.” I put down the receiver, discouraged. A stack of correspondence, a half-finished manuscript, and my email screen all stared back at me demanding a response. I was officially overwhelmed.

I had made a commitment to God, that I would spend time with Him before I would start my workday, but this day I hadn’t had my quiet time yet. I reached across the desk and picked up my dog-eared copy of Daily Light for the Daily Path, a book that gathers verses of the Bible together by topic, and has a Bible reading for each morning and evening. I opened to January 8th and read: “I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able. Able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work . . . Able to guard what I have entrusted . . . Who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control . . . Do you believe I am able to do this? . . . According to your faith it will be done to you.”

ABLE! ABLE! ABLE! I felt free to be me and let God be God. I thought of several friends in ministry who might also be encouraged by receiving this same devotional page. I turned to January 8th to copy it. It wasn’t there. I turned to February 8th – not there either. I turned to March 8th. It was the March 8th reading, but I had read it on January 8th! I’d been so preoccupied, I’d read the wrong page – but God had me read the right day for me! He is Able!

 

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 46 books and bestselling author of Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authored with Jean E Jones and artist Karla Dornacher) Pam and her husband Bill have now celebrated their 39th anniversary, and are the Co-Directors of Love-Wise. Their home is a live aboard boat docked in Southern California. The Farrels invite all their friends, readers and CAN community to join the Living Love-Wise Community. 

 

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Linda Goldfarb
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Happy New Year from Sarah Sundin in California! Today we usher in 2019 by chatting with relationship and personality expert Linda Goldfarb. As a novelist who loves using exploring personality types to craft my characters, I’m fascinated by what Linda has to share with us today! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.

Linda, tell us about your latest book.

LINKED for Educators helps busy teachers understand how to accept and celebrate different personalities in the classroom instead of being overwhelmed by them.

Linda Goldfarb

Linda Goldfarb

This super succinct guide equips educators with practical and readily applicable communication and interaction strategies to recognize, respond, and capitalize on the strength of each student. Personality assessment included in each guide. Read More →

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