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5.21.2012

Crafty Fun with Adhesive Vinyl

I was working on a project the other day making sign lettering for my church and got a little carried away with the adhesive vinyl. I've always wanted to decorated the top of my laptop (back side of the screen), so I took the plunge. I thought I'd show you the results and catch up a little on the "life" and "creativity" part of the blog.

Here's what it looked like before I messed with it:
And after...
I have a Silhouette SD machine. It's the older model and it was much cheaper than the new model, but I love it! The new model Silhouette is even better, so imagine the possibilities! Using the software, I can design any shape cutout on my laptop without needing cartridges like other machines need. I know it's difficult to tell in the photo, but I used a metallic silver vinyl, since it matched the other silver accents on my computer.

Since I had it out, I made some house numbers for the front door and put new letters and numbers on the mailbox. And then I forced myself to put it away so I could work on other things.

Can you see how addicting this hobby might be?

5.14.2012

Book Review: Culture Shift


Morality in America is changing, and I wanted ideas for what to do about it. When I had the opportunity to review Culture Shift: The Battle for the Moral Heart of America by R. Albert Mohler Jr., I saw it as an opportunity to explore solutions. In the book, Mohler covers the topics of morality and law, public schools, science, abortion, Islam, atheism, and much more.
My Review

R. Albert Mohler Jr. has clearly researched well and he includes footnoted documentation frequently. He's also clearly established his expertise as he's been on many news shows and in mainstream publications. He's president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'm confident that he knows what he's talking about. But, I had a difficult time getting into the book until I was about halfway though.

Part of it is because the style in some parts of the book is a little more academic rather than conversational. But I also think it's because so much of the content is focused on the problem, and only a paragraph in most chapters is devoted to any sort of a solution. I had hoped for a book of solutions, as the problem is quite evident just observing the culture around me. In some cases, the only solution the author offers is an "exit strategy." For example, this is his solution to the crisis in public education. He suggests all Christians have an exit strategy that includes Christian school or home education. I had hoped for another strategy that included how to make public schools better.

In the second half of the book, Mohler included some chapters on a Christian response, or a Christian challenge. Here he explored what a Christian ought to do in light of the culture shift. In these chapters, I really felt a connection with the content. The second half was also more conversational in style, so I encourage readers to keep reading, and don't quit in the beginning.

I felt as though the book had great content, but I had to mine for it. My biggest impression of the book is that it lacks organization. Some chapters cover the same topic as the previous ones, some cover the problem, and others cover the solution or the response to the problem. I wish it had been organized into sections of "the problem", "the Christian response" and "the challenge." This would have made some of the content make more sense. Is as though what I was looking for is all here, but it's just put on paper in a draft and it needs organizing.

In the introduction, Mohler refers to "these essays" when talking about how he hopes they will help the reader as a concerned and intelligent Christian. I wonder if these are a collection of other essays he has written and they have been gathered into the book? That might explain my difficulty in seeing the connection and organization?

Either way, the book is a good introduction for those seeking to explore what's happening in our current culture. It will at least spur the reader to think and possible to continue researching and seeking ways to take action.

I received a copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

5.03.2012

Book Review of Unleash the Writer Within



While there may be many books on the market about writing, few address the voice of the writer. This book is a tool for any writer wanting to discover more about himself or herself. It's a look at why you write more than at what you write.

What does your writing tell the reader about you? What motivates you to write? What is your "voice"? In Unleash the Writer Within, Cecil Murphey helps the reader, who is most likely also a writer, discover the inner writer. Murphey isn't afraid to put on paper what most people won't admit aloud. He's willing to admit that part of the motivation to write is his own conceit in thinking he has something to say that someone else is willing to read.

In this book, he also addresses silencing the inner critic, getting over fear, discovering your dreams, writing your passion, and much more. At 148 pages, it isn't terribly long and Murphey's conversational style engages readers. Just be sure to read it with pen in hand, ready to underline the parts that really speak to you. My copy is full of writing and notes. 

Want to order your own copy? 

5.02.2012

Practical Tips for Managing Your To-Do List

When I started this blog, I posted more regularly about items related to faith, creativity, and everyday life. That's still my goal. But over the past few months I've been bogged down with so many things to do, that I decided blogging had to take a back seat for a bit. Yep. That's me. Backseat blogger. I've been still posting the free Kindle downloads as I find them, but I've neglected the rest of my blog topics. 

If you're new to Faith, Creativity, Life, I want you to know that I DO post about more than just free Kindle books. Normally. Over the next few weeks, I hope to get back on track with regular posting, on topic. 

A few days ago, as I gathered my thoughts, I grabbed a note tablet to write up my to-do list for the week. At the top of the page, I wrote "To-Do List." Or that's what I planned to write. Instead, I wrote "To-Do Lost." Ironically, that's more realistically what my list feels like.
I feel like I get lost in that list of stuff that I have to get done every week. Every day. Are you to-do lost? Swamped in more than you'd like on a list? Here's one practical way I've tackled that list.

I have a day planner that includes planning pages for each week as well as a month at a glance calendar. I pretty much just use the calendar. It's easier. But I've figured out how the planning pages (you know, the ones with spots for appointments and reminders?) can be a great asset for me. 

At the beginning of the week, I make up a master list of what I need to accomplish. Then, I take those items and fill them in on the planner pages. I ignore the time slots and just use each day's spot as a place to write the tasks I plan to accomplish that day. By the end, I've taken my to-do list and sliced it up, writing tasks on all five days of the week, making sure that on the days I have a heap of stuff scheduled, I don't write down many tasks.

It's so great to see that to-do list in smaller pieces. Instead of a long list of 20 items. I have about 5 or so on each day of the week.

If you are to-do lost, I encourage you to try it for a week or two and see how it works for you.

Oh, and thanks for being a faithful Faith, Creativity, Life reader!

5.01.2012

Book Review of Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers


Book Review of Because You Care

Sometimes, a person needs to know that someone else has gone through the same experience. Felt the same way. Dealt with similar frustrations. Celebrated the little victories. In Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers, authors Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk encourage other caregivers with stories from their own experiences and those of others.

From diagnosis to dependence, caring for a loved one with chronic health needs is an uncertain road. This book provides insight as one would gain from a friend who has been there. Someone who has walked the road. Someone who is willing to be real about how he or she feels about it. With topics from guilt to grieving, this is the perfect little book to encourage a caregiver who needs it. This is an attractive, hardcover book of just 48 pages with beautiful photography accompanying each page. Practical suggestions in the back wrap up this heart-warming gift book.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.

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