Content from this blog has moved to www.michellerayburn.com.

9.30.2010

Life With Lord Byron- A Review

A little while ago, I ran a couple of guest blog posts by Peggy Nelson that were excerpts of her book, "Life With Lord Byron." I promised a review, and the book surprised me.

At first, I thought “Life with Lord Byron” would simply be a biography of Byron Nelson. Not knowing who he was, and not being anything of a golf fanatic, I figured I’d have some difficulty getting through the book. However, the book was different from my expectations. What it really is, is a picture of a true gentleman.

Written by Nelson’s widow Peggy, it’s the story of romance, respect, and generosity. It’s not so much about golf as it is about life and living it well. I enjoyed the story and the photos. Peggy Nelson is open about the age difference between her and Byron and she portrays an unlikely romance that blossomed despite the odds. The book also includes a CD recording of Byron re-living his record streak of 11 PGA Tournaments.

The book has a quality cover and binding for an independently published book. If there is a drawback to the book, it rambles just a little and could benefit from some organization. However, the charm of the story off-sets this well. Also, the retail cost is high because of the CD, the independent publisher, and the quality of the binding.

Readers will be inspired by Byron Nelson’s faith and his unbelievable generosity. Peggy wrote the book after he passed away, but his legacy lives on in the people he touched.

I received this book from Kathy Carlton Willis Communications, Peggy Nelson’s publicist, in exchange for my fair and honest review.

9.29.2010

Creative Recycling

I have a basement full, (okay, more of a storage room full) of the old windows that we removed from our house when we did some remodeling last year. I've been coming up with art projects for using them. Sometimes the best creative inspiration comes from stuff that you have right on hand. 

Silhouette SD Digital Craft Cutting Tool (QuicKutz)I used my Silhouette cutting machine to cut out sayings on adhesive vinyl and then I created mat board backs for them that are decorated with scrapbook papers. Now, I'll be looking for a market for my art. Shipping is a little to expensive to put them in my Etsy store, but I think I'll be able to find a local place to consign them.


I don't know what it is about artsy projects, but I'm so happy when I'm creating something. It's hard for the non-artsy people to understand the craziness of a need to create, but for those who share this same personality, I know you understand. And thank goodness the rest of the world appreciates our creations even if they don't understand the insane drive to have creative time. 

I'd like to do some of these with Bible verses, I think. Or I could do them with custom names or monograms. Oh, the possibilities for these recycled windows are endless!

9.28.2010

Your Money God's Way

Do you need help with your finances from a Biblical perspective?

When I began reading “Your Money God’s Way,” I thought it was about time that someone who had been through bad financial decisions and made it out of the pit wrote a book. It seems that so many financial books are written by people who haven’t really been through the experience of their clients. My one concern however, is that author Amie Streater hasn’t been free from her past spending habits for all that long and she’s only been in the financial counseling ministry for four years. Still, her advice makes sense and she isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. That’s refreshing. In addition to discussing poor spending habits, she also discusses enabling others to have bad habits. This too is refreshing and often ignored.

Streater doesn’t sugar coat. She’s willing to tell a client, “You’ve done some really dumb things with your money. Really, really, really dumb. We’re doing to spend some time figuring out why you’ve been doing dumb stuff and I will show you how to start doing smart stuff” (p. xx). Her advice is biblically based and filled with common sense. As a stay-at-home mother, I felt a little on the spot as the author talks many times about how living on one income works for few and she makes it seem lazy not to work outside of the home. I doubt that was her real intention, but it does come across that way.

I like how the author has a section at the end of every chapter where she summarizes the important points from the chapter and then offers practical solutions steps for the problems addressed. It’s organized well. Readers will like the many stories that she tells of clients with practical examples of problems. Most readers will be able to identify with one or many of the characters portrayed. I did have an issue with one statement at the end of the book though. “This book is based, in part, on true events, but certain liberties have been taken with names, places, and dates, and the characters have been invented. Therefore, the persons and characters portrayed bear absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the persons who were actually involved in the events described in this book” (p. 189). That put me off just a little as it seemed to take away from the credibility of the stories a little. I’d rather the author disclose up front that the characters are fictional depictions.

The subtitle to “Your Money God’s Way” summarizes the content well. “Overcoming the 7 Money Myths That Keep Christians Broke.” I think this book will be well received.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson publishers at no cost for my fair and honest review.

9.27.2010

Stations of the Cross- DVD Review

 
Stations of the Cross: An Artistic Portrayal of the Easter Story

I’d like to introduce you to a documentary that follows 15 professional Australian artists as they prepare their works for an Easter art exhibit. I was asked by the producer and director of “Stations of the Cross” to review the film and it’s an interesting film.

The film is a documentary narrated by the exhibition curator, Nadia Turner. Turner describes the stations, which are based on Catholic tradition, and she shows the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to put together such an event. Footage shows interviews with each artist as he or she creates the piece that will be on display. Art pieces are formed from a variety of media including paint, sculpture, 3D, and more. The fifteen stations depicted begin with Jesus’ conviction and follow through to the resurrection.

I enjoyed this film and the 45-minute length makes is perfect for educational purposes. I also enjoyed the artsy background music. The reactions from the artists to their commission of creating a depiction of a station varied. One artist describes the depiction as something that “could have happened,” referring to Jesus’ death and resurrection in a way that it could be a disputable historical event. However, another artists saw this as a worship experience and she danced and praised God as she painted.

I also found the actual depictions interesting. Some of them might be construed as sacrilegious, but they represented how the artist felt. There was an interesting contrast in the piece representing Jesus on the cross. The artist included a quote about a Happy Meal in the painting because he equates McDonalds with Satan.

One powerful aspect of the film is that it shows how some artists were moved by the process of studying the scripture verses describing their station. But one drawback to the film content is that the art show diminishes the depth of meaning in the story of the cross by minimizing the spiritual impact of Jesus’ death. This has little to do with the film and more to do with the particular artists that the curator selected. Those who are not Bible believers did not depict their stations with the same depth as those who do believe in the truth of the Easter story.

I think there is a market for this film in the US. Currently, the film is available in PAL format (which plays on a computer just fine) however, if there is enough demand in the US for a standard DVD version, the producer says it might become available in NTSC version.

I’d like to thank Matthew McNeil for sending me a complimentary copy of the film for review. I had the opportunity to interview him via e-mail regarding the film. I hope you enjoy the following Q & A.
 
*   *   *

Michelle:  What sparked your interest in making this film? Have you been to the exhibit before?


Matthew: I really like the idea that through art, people who would otherwise not spend time thinking deeply about the Easter story are thrown into contemplating just what it means for them today.

I am friends with the curator so I had a natural connection to the exhibition. This was actually my first year going along as I was briefly out of the country the year before, and living abroad before that.
 
Michelle: What your intent for this film? Is it purely for entertainment and education, or are you hoping that it has a spiritual impact on people?

Matthew: Before I set out to make this film I realized that it could be digested on a number of levels. The most obvious is perhaps on the visual art level, where it's fast paced, work after work, artist and studio - it's interesting and a little bit fun as Nadia attempt's to organize the Exhibition. The actual Easter story is gently told to the attentive viewer, where as to the unassuming perhaps it's a little subversive - not that anything is hidden, it's more a recognition of what Jesus often said, 'for those who have ears to hear, let them hear'.

So to answer your question, yes I do hope that it will have a spiritual impact on people, but I am realistic that many people will totally miss it (on a conscious level anyway).

Michelle:  How did filming Stations of the Cross affect you personally? Were you moved by the artists or their portrayals in any way?

Matthew: I am a New Zealander living in Sydney, which is an Australian city not really recognized for the arts and culture, so I was really encouraged to discover so much art going on here. So making this film changed my perception of this city for a start. Logistically it was a complicated project, a hundred emails, a hundred phone calls and in the end I was disappointed not to be able to film David Wiggs - but fortunately Nadia was able to help out on his Station. I think all the artists were really interesting and it would be hard to say which one inspired me the most - It may have been complicated in the making but I am really happy with the final outcome.

If you’re interested in getting your own copy of “Stations of the Cross” by FlashFilms, you will find it on the Stations of the Cross website. The website also contains more detailed information about the artists and their pieces.

9.23.2010

A Day to Reminisce

I found it fitting that the Merriam Webster word of the day today is reminisce. Today we celebrated the birthdays of both of my sons. Born two years apart, they share the same birthday and they turned 16 and 18 today. As if sharing the date wasn't alike enough, they were born within thirteen minutes of each other. 

The other day, they got out some home videos of when they were really little. It was fun to watch them play together, sing for the camera, and talk about what they would be when they grew up. As I reminisce, it's hard to believe one of them is officially an adult now and the other is days away from trying for his driver's license. Suddenly, "when they grow up" isn't some day in the distant future. It's upon us. 

Today, as I remember from a mother's perspective, I also delight in their sense of humor. From their gifts to each other to the crazy way they chose to decorate their cake with things found in the kitchen drawer, they make me laugh. In honor of their special day, I'm sharing the laughter with you. Here's a picture of their Dairy Queen mini cake. It came with the cookie dough pieces on top, which reminded them of rocks. So, they added the hunters, the deer, and the crazy little cow climbing up the side. 

The ugly, half melted candles are a family tradition. Every year, they dig through the drawer to try to make the numbers of their year. This time, plain candles had to stand in for the number one. 

It looks as if the hunter already took off one antler of the deer. But this was oh so much more fun than a plain old decorated cake.

9.22.2010

Creativity Tied to Inspiration

I had a wonderful time on Monday speaking to a group of women from northwestern Wisconsin at their annual retreat. I spoke for three 45-minute sessions on "Treasures of the Heart." It's one of my favorite subjects because I get to mix my love for trash to treasure decorating with my love for helping women see how much God loves them.

In the first session, I showed lots of trash to treasure decorating ideas (many of them from my trash to treasure website) on a power point presentation. Then in the next two sessions, I talked about how God can take our struggles, frustrations, and difficulties (our trash) and turn them into opportunities to bring him glory (treasure). It's part of helping women connect the dots by seeing how the delight we take from taking yard sale junk and turning it into beautiful art is just a tiny glimpse of the delight God takes in turning our emotional junk into something beautiful.

It might not happen overnight though. It involves a change in perspective. It means that we begin to see everything as an opportunity instead of wasted experience. I showed the women a plastic Wal-Mart bag that we'd normally consider as either junk, or a liner for our trash cans. But then I showed this flower.

I took several discarded store bags and cut them into strips. Then I wrapped the strips around a piece of cardboard, slipped the looped plastic off the cardboard, and tied a string around the middle of the loops. Then I cut the loops, just as I would if I was making a yarn pom pom. I attached the plastic puffball to a wire and wrapped the stem with floral tape to make it into a flower.

It's still plastic bag. But it's different. Now, the bag has become something that we can appreciate, something we might consider beautiful, even though it is made from the same material.

Our experiences might seem like junk. Abuse. Divorce. Depression. Losses. Teasing. Loneliness. It's all difficult. But when we begin to see that as the material that God uses to make something beautiful out of us, we begin to appreciate the role that our difficulties play in making us beautiful examples of the grace of God.

What "junk" do you wish you could see in a different way?

9.16.2010

Need a New Action Thriller to Read?

Davis Bunn has just released a new book and I had the opportunity to review it this week. 


About the Book - the Black Madonna
"Gentleman Adventurer" Davis Bunn delivers an international thriller of elusive treasure, desperate measures, and a race against death's clock with The Black Madonna. Capitalizing on the successful introduction of Storm Syrrell in Gold of Kings, Bunn brings Syrrell back for this epic tale.

Antiquarian Storm Syrrell is in desperate need of cash. When a nameless, faceless client calls her with a request to track down a non-existent antique rumored to bear miraculous healing in its being, Storm should say no. But the man's pockets are deep.

What desperation leads a man to pay millions for a glimpse of hope?

Storm hopes the answer won't be the death of her business...or her.
Michelle's Book Review of The Black Madonna

From the first chapter, this plot gripped me and never let go until the last page. In fact, I’m not sure I have quit looking over my shoulder yet. Just when the reader is sure a character is safe and the worst is over, there’s more. Long gone is the T. Davis Bunn, now just Davis Bunn, of the Jeanette Oake days. There is nothing cliché or fluffy here.

In The Black Madonna, antiques ex
pert Storm Syrrell and Homeland Security agent Emma Webb get caught in the middle of a scheme where a mystery bidder wants to purchase artifacts through Storm at exorbitant prices. At the same time, friend harry Bennett vanishes and is assumed dead after an explosion in the middle east.

The story takes Syrrell and several other main characters on a chase through dangerous trek around the world, through the mountains in Switzerland, the desert in Pakistan and much more. I know nothing about antiques auctions, bidding, or security agents, yet I found myself in the world of these people as though I lived it. The glamour of jetting off to this country and that will tickle the adventure bug and thrill the imagination of the reader. And the fast action of this thriller will keep the reader enthralled right to the end. With murderers on the tail of every lead character, no place is safe. Female readers will likely enjoy the thread of romance in the book as well.

I enjoyed this book very much. If there is a drawback it’s that the plot is complicated enough that I’m not sure I truly understood how it all ended. I got a little lost in my understanding of the motive of the mystery bidder. However, that was likely because I was rushing to get to the end to see how everything resolved. Perhaps I missed something.

One other drawback is that it seems the editors overlooked passive voice (use of “be” verbs) all over this book. I’m assuming it’s because of the extensive publishing record of this author that he can get away with it. What’s the big deal? Well, it made some of the description kind of flat. As if he were listing off facts rather than weaving a story. Here’s an example from page 42. “The ancient stone breakwater was rimmed by a road…The seafront promenade was as packed…Old women dressed in black were accompanied by…Their speech and soft footfalls were..” And here’s another from page 92. “The ceiling above Harry’s canvas bunk was rusted through…His side window was cracked…Harry was dressed in…The bandages were wound…A wheelchair was jammed into the space…” Thankfully, the dialogue and action made up for the passive description.

I give the book 4 stars and highly recommend it. I was given a complimentary copy of the book from Glass Road PR in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Davis Bunn Oxford smaller
Known by his fans as the, "Gentleman Adventurer" Davis Bunn is a multi-award winning best-selling author who consistently delivers engaging stories and thrilling adventures. He has served as the Novelist in Residence at Oxford University for the past ten years and was recently invited into BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts).

Davis Bunn is a lover of adventure in many forms, including his decades-long involvement in surfing (yes, he's been bitten by a shark). Fluent in three languages, Bunn's travels include Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He and his wife, Isabella, divide their time between homes in England and Florida's West Coast.

Learn more about the unique life and mind of Davis Bunn at www.DavisBunn.com.

9.15.2010

Getting Your Brain Warmed Up

Have you ever had streaks of creativity, but then other streaks of no inspiration at all? It happens to the best of us! As a writer, there are days where I can't think of a word to say, but I have some fun ways of stimulating creativity and keeping the pump primed. 

I like to play the word of the day on twitter. Actually, for a long time, I was a player, but now I'm the owner of the group (called Definethis). Each day, I tweet the word of the day from Merriam Webster and then people use that word in one of their tweets. I name a winner every day. Even though I can't name my self the winner, coming up with a sentence is a great brain challenge.

Another way that I get my brain warmed up sometimes is by playing scrabble on Facebook. However, I'm disciplined to play as little as possible, meaning one game at a time and one move per day. Any more than that and it becomes an obsession that steals creative time!

There are many other ways to increase creativity as a writer. Many writers do morning pages, which is a free flow of thoughts onto paper for a set amount of time. The thoughts don't have to make sense; they just flow. Julia Cameron explained these morning pages in her book, The Artist's Way. Author Janice Elsheimer presents something very similar but with a strong Christian flavor in The Creative Call.

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing LifeI'm reading another book by Julia Cameron right now that is packed full of creative inspiration for writers. Every chapter in The Right to Write has a writing prompt or assignment. For example, one day says, "Set the clock for fifteen minutes. Using two to three minutes per card, write out loving greetings to your friends. Stamp the cards and mail them."

On another day, the assignment says to take three sheets of paper and then write about how you are feeling emotionally, physically, and psychologically right now. The author says, "This is a free-form exercise. You cannot do it wrong...Keep your hand moving and simply hang out on the page. When you have finished writing three pages, stop."

What do you do to get your creative juices flowing or to keep your thoughts fluid and ready for creative work?

9.13.2010

Photo of the Week - Risk Takers

I shot these photos of several risk takers who weren't afraid to try a belly flop from the lifeguard chair. Of course, I think they're crazy, but are you a risk taker?


What kind of risk have you been thinking of taking? Is it related to your career, a new venture, or going back to school? Are you thinking of reaching out to a difficult neighbor or speaking up at a town meeting? Perhaps you're a writer, like me, and you're afraid to take the steps towards publication. 

Are you ready to take the plunge even if it stings? These belly-floppers had red welts on their bodies from their performance, but they also attained the cheers from many onlookers and personal success. What might you attain if you take a risk?

9.10.2010

What Do You Know About Mormonism?


Are Mormons Christians? Perhaps you've heard someone say Mormons are just like Christians. Perhaps you've been taught Mormonism is a cult. I imagine you may have researched the topic and formed some sort of personal opinion, but it's possible you've simply accepted whatever you've been taught without investigating for yourself. 

If you're unsure of what to think, there's nothing like the power of a story to show truth. I just finished reading a book that is part of a fiction series that's sure to be a tool in helping others understand the truth behind the Mormon culture, as controversial as it might be to tackle the topic.

Meet Allison Pittman

Allison Pittman is very familiar with the world of Mormonism. Her husband left it to become a Christian in high school and she grew up in Utah, the center of Mormonism in America. She now lives in San Antonio, the site of a new Mormon temple.

So when Allison writes an emotional story of a woman married to a member of the Mormon church--when she pens a story so gripping you don't even realize you're being shown the stark differences between Mormonism and Christianity, so deep are you within this woman's heart and mind--readers are about to lose a night of sleep.
Book Description- For Time and Eternity

When Camilla Deardon hears their songs coming on a breeze, they sound just like the songs in her own church. This is all she knows of the Mormons camping near her family's farm. Mama and Papa warned her to stay away, but she doesn't understand their fear, especially after meeting a young Mormon man named Nathan Fox. So handsome. So charming. His eyes hold the very image of this Zion he talks about, and his step seems a promise to take her there.

Though Camilla knows she should obey her parents, she can't refuse her heart. But Nathan's promises can never prepare her for what she will face in Utah. She's been willing to share her husband's faith, but can she share her marriage with another woman?

Michelle's Review of "For Time And Eternity"

I’m so disappointed in this book. That is, so disappointed that I have to wait for book two until Summer 2011. In “For Time and Eternity,” Allison Pittman draws the reader into the story, then leaves the reader hanging at the end wondering how there could possibly be any sort of resolution for the mess that Camilla Deardon is in. Estranged from her parents and her past, she’s torn between the children she loves with all her heart, a husband whom she loves despite many marital complications, and the reality that she simply cannot stay where she is.

This book is not only a good read as far as mechanics of writing go, but it is also does a great job educating the reader about the Mormon culture. Pittman was brave in tackling such a topic in fiction because there are sure to be some who will not like a frank look at a culture that stirs controversy. In this story, the author shows how easy it is for someone to go down a path that looks like truth until the real truth comes out. It’s a heavy story, not lighthearted fiction by any means.

I’ll be looking forward to seeing how the story ends. I love series, but in all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of books that leave the reader with no resolution at all. The whole plot of the book hangs on a “to be continued” that won’t be coming for a while. I much prefer stand-alone books that are joined by a common thread, each having its own plot.
 _____________________________________________________________________

Want to know more about Mormonism? Check out this article from Christianity.com.

9.09.2010

Do Others Call You a Diva? Why It Isn't So Bad...

This summer, I introduced you to a new Bible study that hadn't yet been released when I posted my review of Divas of the Divine. Now, I'd like to tell you more about the book and it's authors as it makes it's debut in print. And, don't forget to check below for how you can get entered into a grand prize drawing for a gift from the authors.

D•I•V•A•S of the Divine
How to Live as a Designer Original in a Knock-Off World
 
A strategic plan for improving your spiritual walk
gaining a confident outlook on achieving life aspirations
 •steps for discovering purpose 
•intimate prayer time
•goal accountability
•weekly devotions
•group challenges
 
About the Authors:
Donna McCrary
    From high top basketball shoes to high heels, each step of Donna’s life has equipped her for a Life Coaching career. She is a challenging facilitator whose “tell it like it is” approach always incorporates a call to action from her participants.
    Donna draws from her background as a recreational therapist to create dynamic outcome-oriented keynotes, retreats, and curriculums. Her greatest passion and deepest joy is to “coach” women in realizing God’s plan for their lives and in discovering for themselves the source of genuine joy.
    Donna is a wife, mother of two, and beloved friend. Donna’s hobbies include hiking, vacationing at the beach, and trying projects from popular HGTV home improvement shows... much to her husband’s dismay!

Sherri Holbert

Sherri invested many years with companies such a Biltmore Estate, Chick-fil-A, and Chimney Rock Park in developing new and creative programs to excel these corporations to higher levels of success.
    Sherri is founder and CEO of Power-Up!, a coaching company whose mission is to take individuals and corporations to the next level of success. She works as a coach, facilitator, and speaker for a variety of clients ranging from corporate executives to stay-at-home moms. Sherri’s passion is unlocking the untapped potential within others to help them gain fresh perspectives, develop clear vision, and establish action steps that will make their dreams reality.
    Sherri is a wife, aunt, and friend to many. She has a self-proclaimed addiction to shoes, purses, and Starbuck’s coffee. One of her life goals is to be on Survivor (her favorite TV reality show!).

ADVICE FOR ALL DIVAS!
 Sherri: If life for you is like driving 100 mph in a convertible, make sure you have a map to your dream destination and a friend to keep you focused on the plan so you don’t get sucked into the tourist traps along the way. Don’t be Thelma and Louise!  Allow your passion to drive you to the mountain top of success instead of driving you off the cliff with no purpose.

Donna: The shopping mall is full of new shoes but they can only be enjoyed if you take off the old,
try on the new, and then commit to pay the price.

For more information visit the DIVAS website: www.walkofpurpose.com
or view their information at Docstoc or Google Docs

_________________________________________________
 A Word from Sherri and Donna, just for you...

 TOP 10
 
DIVAS' Top 10 Necessities for a Fulfilled Life
  1. A Great Bra! (Prayer Foundation) – Even though many women don’t enjoy wearing this undergarment, it is the most critical aspect of any DIVA’S outfit! Why? It is the foundation—just like a relationship with God that offers support and is always uplifting.
  2. Mirror (Real Beauty) – A DIVA looks into the mirror to check hair and lipstick but more importantly to make sure what she sees is real—to make sure her beauty is reflected from within, transparent and authentic.
  3. Shoes (God’s Purpose) – The perfect designer shoes guide her daily walk with Christ. Must fit her style as an individual and accentuate the relationship that is uniquely hers in order to make every step count. Little steps help her go the distance.
  4. Sunglasses (Priorities) – Oh, how important to filter the harmful rays and the worldly view of the sunlight so she is only exposed to the pure Son and all of His benefits!
  5. Chocolate (Time Out) – Every DIVA’S little piece of heaven! It may be small but it’s sweetness, it’s creamy comfort, and its AHHHH factor, is enough to sustain her until she gets to experience the wonder of heaven. It’s the little pick-me-up that will remind her to sustain her eternal perspective no matter the circumstance.
  6. Wrinkle Cream (Forgiveness) – It is the hottest thing on the market for any DIVA who wants to remove lines and wrinkles. The Spirit-inspired ingredients are key to erasing the fine lines of stress, worry, and bitterness to help her let go of the past. This cream is full of the healing power of forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love.
  7. Watch (Commitment) – Every DIVA has a favorite watch. This piece of bling pulls every outfit together. She feels lost when she forgets to wear it. Time! Time requires commitment and every DIVA chooses wisely how she spends it.
  8. Girlfriend (Accountability) - The most important necessity for all true DIVAS. She’s caring and fun to be with. She is the “speak the truth in love” kind of friend that will hold the DIVA accountable to being the true Designer Original she was created to be.
  9. Purse (Balance) - Whether it’s top-of-the-line or a bargain-deal, the DIVA’S purse must be perfect to keep all her most important things close—flexible to bend when in tight spots but sturdy enough to withstand day-to day-use. Her purse contains the necessary items to stay balanced and “keep it all together.”
  10. Lipstick (Positive Words & Attitude) – Positive words and a polished tone flow from her lips in pretty colors and a high-gloss shine. Her words inspire others. 

A PRIZE FOR ONE DIVA!
• Turquoise purse/tote
• Silver flip-flops
• Purse and shoe picture frames
• Box of Godiva truffles

DIVAS of the Divine book & journal
 
How can you win?
Comment on this blog post in the comments section below and I'll draw the name of one reader to be entered into the grand prize drawing on September 17

Not sure what to say in your comments? Tell us which of the top ten necessities listed above you struggle with the most (not the literal ones, but what's listed in parentheses). Which do you think is missing from your DIVA "handbag"?

9.08.2010

Fall Window Cleaning Tips

It's Everyday Tuesday. Well, there are 10 minutes left in Tuesday, so if I type fast, today's post still counts for Tuesday. I've been assigned to do a fall cleaning on a section of windows at my church this week, and so I was researching the best way to clean a window. 

Now, you're probably saying, "Duh! Windex and a roll of paper towels!" 

But that seems to leave a lot of streaks and it goes through a lot of paper towels. I once worked for a cleaning service that used crumpled newspaper to dry the windows, so I thought I'd research if that had any merit. And guess what! It does. I found out on a window washing tutorial (yes, they have those online) that the newspaper polishes the window, but also leaves a film that makes the window resistant to dirt. 

The problem I discovered with the newspaper was that it turned my hands black, so be sure to wear disposable plastic gloves if you don't want dirty hands. 

Want to know how you can get the cleanest windows? Check out this tutorial on TLC.  Here is one great tip from the tutorial:
  • Wash one side of a window with horizontal strokes and the other side with vertical strokes so you can pinpoint which side of the window has a streak.
  Isn't that a great idea?

What's your favorite window cleaning method? Do you make your own cleaner, or use a spray bottle? Share your idea in the comments.  And then tell us how often you wash your windows. Twice a year? Frequently? Never?

9.02.2010

Book Feature Thursday

It's book review Thursday. Although, yes, I'm aware that I broke rank and posted a book review on Monday this week too. Thanks for allowing me to be a nonconformist. Today I have 2 books to share with  you. Both are serious, yet very different from one another. 

The first book is a little hardcover pocket-sized book from Cecil Murphey titled "Hope and Comfort for Every Season." At under 5 inches by 5 inches, it's short and to the point, the perfect gift book for someone who needs more than a greeting card but less than an encyclopedia of encouragement. Soothing photography on every other page makes this a book of beautiful words as well as beautiful pictures. With chapter titles such as "Crying and Laughing", "Scattering and Gathering", and "The Seasons of Life" it's a collection of anecdotes by the author, encouraging thoughts, and prayers. Each chapter begins with a quote from the Ecclesiastes 3, the chapter in the Bible that begins "to everything there is a season..."

When you don't know what to say, why not send a gift book? 
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
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The second book I'd like to share with you today is one that I purchased to add to my collection. I met James Pence when we were both on faculty at a writers conference and he's one of the kindest most down to earth people I've ever met. He's also a chalk artist and watching him perform was great! He told the true story which he has written in "Terror by Night" in which a page from Jim's novel "Blind Sight" played a role in turning around the life of Terry Caffey. The story of how Terry found a page from "Blind Sight" in his yard after fire destroyed his home and how that page changed his life direction after losing his family in the fire gave me chills. I just knew I had to read the book.

"Blind Sight" is a novel about a man who loses his family and how God uses a family he's never met to turn his life around while helping them to save theirs. It's an action packed drama that kept me up at night and kept me reading when I should have been cleaning house and prepping for a speaking engagement. Just when I thought everything was okay, a new twist wrenched its way into the plot. 

Terror by Night: The True Story of the Brutal Texas Murder That Destroyed a Family, Restored One Mans Faith, and Shocked a Nation
"Blind Sight" shows how lethal a cult society can be and demonstrates how easily a needy person can get sucked right in with no means of getting out. Does it seem implausible that a powerful cult can so invade American society that a corrupt cult leader can rise to the rank of president? It could happen. Could they use technology to make it impossible to escape? Easily. Could cult leaders kill off dissenters making it look like nothing more than a freak accident or natural cause? Certainly. Jim knows how to tell a story and make it believable and this book had me looking over my own shoulder. If you like action or adventure, I highly recommend this book. It's like Ted Dekker without all the surreal and bizarre happenings. 

In the back of the book, James Pence shares the story of how this novel touched the life of Terry Caffey. Now that I've read "Blind Sight" I'll be adding the true story of "Terror by Night" to my reading list.

9.01.2010

Creativity Wednesday

I just discovered that Women of Faith has a Bible study on creativity. I haven't checked it out yet, but it will be on my to read list for the future.

Title Discovering Joy in Your Creativity
Discovering Joy in Your Creativity: You Are Made in the Image of a Creative God (Women of Faith Study Guide Series) 
Product Description from CBD
God gave us all unique creative abilities that He wants us to tap into. Whether it's home projects, sewing, knitting, drawing, or scrapbooking, it's important for women to find ways to express their creative sides. Discovering Your Creativity encourages women to rediscover the joy God intended us to have by being creative.

Publisher's Description

Rediscover the joy God intended us to have by being creative. Do-it-yourself arts, crafts, and home projects are more popular than ever. Websites and TV shows are drawing people in as many of us, especially women, seek to express their creative sides and be more economical.


Too often the demands of life don’t encourage an expression of creativity. But that’s not how God intended us to live. He gave us each a unique, fulfilling, creative streak that He wants us to tap into.

Whether trying to save money by mastering DIY projects, seeking to start a small arts-and-crafts business on such sites as etsy.com, or simply looking for a way to express God-given creativity,  Discovering Your Creativity encourages women to rediscover the joy God intended us to have by being creative.

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