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Book Review - Rhythms of Renewal

This week, I'll be reviewing several books that I've recently read as well as introducing you to several authors. Remember that you have just 2 more days to comment on a September blog entry to have your name entered into the monthly drawing.

Book Review: Rhythms of Renewal
Author, Letitia Suk

Review by Michelle Rayburn

Have you ever felt like you could use a makeover? Not a beauty makeover, but a life makeover—an inside out radical change? In Rhythms of Renewal, author Leditia Suk offers a plan for renewing and an opportunity to make lasting changes in your life. She focuses on cleaning out soul clutter and repentance, finding a peaceful place of restoration,
establishing a plan for reflecting on life goals and dreaming about the future, as well as creating rituals that increase life enjoyment. Suk also offers tips for reordering the home in ways that inspire and she teaches the reader how to rest and enjoy recreation.

Suk’s ideas aren’t random. She draws from personal experience as well as from the input of seven women in different seasons of life. At the end of each chapter, a section titled “The Small Group Speaks” offers a glimpse into the lives of these women and provides a can-do motivation for the reader. The author has put this book together thoughtfully, allowing the reader to respond with questions for refle
ction at the end of each chapter as well as a “Rituals of Renewal” section that prompts an action from the reader in journaling, prayer, and other suggested actions for applying the material to life.

Rhythms of Renewal would be just another self-help book were it not for the thread that sews all of the areas of focus together. Suk has woven each idea with a spiritual thread that provides the framework for change and renewal. Through scripture inspiration, glimpses into the character of God, and rock solid lessons on repentance and spiritual restoration, the reader clearly sees th
at without restoration within the soul, there is no renewal at all.

With fewer than 100 pages, even busy women will be able to fit reading this book into their schedules and get on their way towards discovering how to slow down and renew. In addition to writing many articles, the author is a personal life coach helping women find balance in every season of life, as well as a retreat speaker and a part-time chaplain at a local hospital.

To find out more about the author, see her website at


New Trash to Treasure Web Page

I've started a new website dedicated to trash to treasure decorating. Each week, I'll feature decorating ideas and pictures and sometimes I'll post links to resources on the web. I'm also looking for reader ideas. See the site for how to submit your ideas.
Reminder- Comment on any September blog entry and qualify to enter the drawing for a free book. Winner announced September 30, 2009.


Tips for Advanced Blogging

Importing and Labeling on Your Blog

I've discovered some valuable Blogger features that you may want to try out on your own blog, so periodically, I'm posting a few blog tutorials. I'm showcasing two easy features this week. First, I found out how easy it is to import older posts from other blogs. Let's say you started a free Blogger blog but later you changed the name and layout and you started a brand new blog. You can easily export the old blog to your computer and then import that same file. Options are flexible as you can publish all old entries at once, or choose one at a time for publishing. I've now merged an older blog with Faith, Creativity, Life and I can delete the old one. Here's how I did it:
  1. Log into the dashboard of your old blog.
  2. Click "settings" and then click on "export blog"
  3. Click on "download blog" and save it to a location on your computer.
  4. Now, log into the dashboard of your new blog.
  5. Click "settings" and then click on "import blog"
  6. Click on "browse" and then locate the file that you saved on your computer.
  7. If you'd like all the posts automatically posted right away. Otherwise leave that box unchecked and click "import blog".
  8. Once the blog is imported, you can select which posts you'd like to publish if you didn't do them all automatically upon importing.
You've now merged 2 blogs.

The second feature I discovered is labeling of posts. At the bottom of each new entry, you can enter labels for a post. Why is this helpful? Let's imagine you want your readers to find your posts based on topic, not on date or month. By choosing a consistent system of labeling each post and by adding a labeling gadget to your layout, your readers will quickly navigate through your topics. Here's a quick labeling tutorial:
  1. Log into your Blogger dashboard.
  2. Click on "layout"
  3. Click on "add a gadget" and then scroll down to the "labels" gadget.
  4. Click the plus sign next to the gadget.
  5. Now you can edit the gadget before you add it. It will say "labels" by default in the title, but you can name it anything you'd like. Try "Topical Index" or "Browse by Subject" or another name you prefer.
  6. Now, save the gadget and the program takes you back to the layout part of the dashboard. You can drag elements or gadgets around on the layout to reorder and put them wherever you'd like. By default, it adds the newest one to the top.
That's all there is to it! Next time you post an entry, you can add a label, or even add a couple of labels to the post to increase cross-referencing on your blog. For an example of how the labeling works, see my brand new site. I'm also going back and adding some labels to old posts on Faith Creativity Life very soon!

Happy blogging!


Finding Your Way as a Blog Reader

I've been thinking about some things that I take for granted. One is how to click my way through a blog page or website. It's something that is as comfortable for me as switching on a light or opening the fridge to get a glass of milk. But for some, this foreign world of cyberspace is overwhelming. So today, I decided to give a little tutorial on how to leave comments on a blog. Many use this same process, but some might have a few different steps. Here's a step by step for you to print and save near your computer if needed.
  1. Click on the word “comments” below a post. Sometimes it says “0 Comments” or it will say “2 Comments”. Then a box opens for typing your comments. Go ahead and type away!
  2. The next step is identifying your post as yours. You can post as anonymous, but many bloggers have drawings and contests, so you'll want some name that identifies you. It doesn't have to be your full name if you don't want to share it. In Blogger, there is a drop-down menu by the words “Comment as:” and a box that says “select profile”. The menu gives options if you already have an account with Google, LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad, AIM, etc. But you’ll notice another option: “Name/URL.” Selecting this will give you a box to simply type your name, no account needed! For example, I might type Michelle R, or M Rayburn, or Michelle Rayburn in the box. You may leave the URL box blank if you don’t have a website. Then click “continue”.
  3. Now, when you click “Preview” you’ll see how your comments will look. It might look like this: “Michelle R. said…” followed by your comments. Good! You're almost there.
  4. Lastly, you need to type the word verification in the box before you click to post or publish your comment. What’s this box for? The word verification is to prove that an actual person is sitting at a keyboard typing as opposed to a computer hacking into a system and leaving random comments. It’s a security measure.
  5. Now click "Publish".
  6. There! You did it! It seems like a lot of steps but once you do it a few times, it will be easy for you.
  7. In some cases, your comment doesn't show up immediately. Sometimes the blog owner moderates all comments which means he or she has to approve them before they post. That's another security measure for some bloggers.
Now that you know how to post, why not comment on something right here on FaithCreativityLife. You'll be entered in the drawing this month if you do. It's the only way to get your name in there for a free book.


Labor Day Blues

I'm catching up on e-mail, facebook, and blog posts from the weekend, and there's such variety in the way we spent our weekend. So many labored on Labor Day while others rested. Some lamented the last days before school begins and still others camped, boated, grilled out, and celebrated family and friends. Despite the holiday, I have a sense that many of us enter this fall season with heavy hearts.

Perhaps it's the sadness of seeing another summer race past. Or maybe it is the stress of adjusting back to the school routine. I'm feeling a little blue about both of those. Some of you carry unexpressed burdens from health problems, economic crisis, and family discord. However you spent your weekend, and however you feel on this Tuesday after Labor Day, be encouraged. God knows what is on your heart. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 124:8).


Two new favorite authors...

I just finished reading my first Maureen Lang book, Pieces of Silver. It was fabulous. I lost some sleep as I read by flashlight late into the night. The book is set just before the United States entered World War I, and from the first page to the last, Lang keeps the reader engaged in the romance, the mystery, and the reality of the trials of life. She's on my list of new favorite authors.
Another author, whose work I've recently added to my list of faves, is Melody Carlson. I read A Mile in My Flip-Flops, about a woman who tries house-flipping. For those who aren't into home improvement shows, that's taking a rundown house, doing some cost-effective renovations, and reselling for a profit. I also read These Boots Weren't Made for Walking, the story of a young women who has a streak of mishaps and moves home with her mother. Many readers can relate to her weight struggles and worries about growing old without meeting Mr. Right.

These are light-hearted chick-lit reads that I foud refreshing after some recent heavier reading. Don't expect any deep theology, but at least the books have a Christian slant as characters discover their need for faith. Carlson does a much better job with chick-lit than some other authors. She's witty and knows how to develop a plot, and doesn't sneak in anything bordering on immorality to gain popularity as some authors have. Another one for my favorite authors list.

Don't forget - You're entered in the free book drawing each time you comment on a blog post in September.


Book Review: Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today

Have you ever wondered if there was a manual straight from scripture for moms of today? In “Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today,” Kathi Macias has given the reader a lead-by-example style manual with profiles of seventeen women who lived with some of the same struggles that women face today. It doesn’t matter that most of them lived over two thousand years ago. The lessons they teach us are still relevant today. Macias has selected some of the greats from Bible history such as Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, and Mary. But she has also chosen some the reader may not have studied much in Sunday school as a child: Rizpah, Salome, Eunice and Lois, and the Widow of Zarephath.

The book is well-researched and thorough. Scattered throughout the text are questions that make the reader stop and process the information. The writing stimulates the intellect with a bounty of information about each woman, yet it stimulates the emotions with reflective questions and stories of women from today whose experiences parallel those of the biblical women. Each chapter ends with a section titled “Something to Think About/ Enter in Your Journal.” This offers the reader yet another opportunity to personalize the information and process thoughts.

I can see Kathi's writing gifts in this work and many people will deepen their faith as a result of reading what Kathi has spent so much time putting onto the page. This book can be used in many ways. In addition to use for personal study, it would make an excellent book for a Bible study group. It’s also a fantastic research tool for anyone who seeks to study one of the biblical women in depth. Whether for a gift or for personal enrichment, I give the book my wholehearted recommendation.

Review by Michelle Rayburn

Getting Back in the Groove

It's time to get back into my blogging mode after taking a little break for the past two months. After a heavy speaking schedule, I needed to experience a little summer I guess. I'm back in the book reviewing mode and book-giveaway mode again this fall, so pass the word around to your friends and send them a link to the Faith Creativity Life blog.

When I give away books, I'll be drawing from names of those who have left comments on the blog, so be sure to leave a comment, a question, or opinion on the blog to be eligible for drawings. If you're reading via e-mail or facebook, just click on an article title to link to the home blog page to leave your comments.

Enjoy the last weekend of summer!


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