Book Review: Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller

Searching For God Knows What
by Donald Miller
Thomas Nelson Publishers 2004/2010
$14.99
249pp

True to form, Donald Miller, in his unmistakable story-telling style, tackles important subjects like faith and theology. Seriously, yet humorously, shedding light on them so that you will never read the Bible the same way again.

As the title suggests, this is a personal journey of faith. Faith renounced then found; but not just found, rediscovered with a clearer understanding of God’s Word and what it means for mankind.

Having read only two of his books, I am a huge fan of Donald Miller’s writing. I especially like the way he includes the reader in his personal struggles with life, God and faith.

I highly recommend this book. It’s an easy, entertaining read, but at the same time will make you think long and hard about what you really believe about God and Scripture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their www.BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Where Have You Come From?

While reading a devotional recently God reminded me not to forget where I’ve come from; to remember all He has graciously brought me through.
I’m not talking about the horrible life of sin and self-destruction from years past, although that’s definitely something I never want to forget. I’m talking about the fresh, even seemingly small victories.   
I believe it’s critical not only to our future successes, but the successes we are currently walking in, that we remember what God brought us out of and remain grateful at all times.
Today I’m struggling with, what may seem like a silly problem, but I’m grateful even for the struggle because it is visible evidence of God’s blessing on our lives…
After living in a hotel room for the last year and a half with basically nothing to maintain, I’m having trouble transitioning back to the real world and the daily routines of running a home. Our new house is easily 10 times bigger than our little hotel room, and honestly a bit overwhelming.
I pushed through October’s move in, buried with boxes to unpack. Then came the holiday hustle… shopping, decorating, entertaining and house guests. I was running a marathon and literally lost 15 lbs!
Now that all the celebrating is over and the new year brings normality of life, I find myself hibernating in my bedroom, not living in this beautiful house God has given us.
In fact, when my best girlfriend from New Orleans was visiting in December, I told her I wanted to decorate our master bedroom like a hotel suite; with a beautiful TV console/dresser, a love seat sofa and a small table with chairs next to the fireplace. Laughingly, Whitney said, You can take the girl out of the hotel but you can’t take the hotel out of the girl. So true.
Some friends in one of my small groups prayed for me last week, so today I am doing better. 
I’m determined:
When I start to feel like everything is too much to handle…
I will stop and praise God for all He has done for me and my family.
When I beat myself up for not having the projects planned 2 years ago completed right away…
I will thank God for the resources to do them and trust His perfect timing for each project.
When overwhelmed with organizing drawers and cabinets…
I will thank God for the opportunity to give items away that can be a blessing to others.
I will take everything one day at a time.
He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for all his wonderful deeds to them. -Psalm 107:7-8

Dream On!

The holidays are behind us and we’re finally getting settled in our new home in McKinney, TX.

It’s been quite a transition experience after living in a hotel in California for 16 months with all our worldly possessions in storage.

While unpacking I’ve found all kinds of things I’d forgotten about…

Recently I discovered Our Family Dream Board; a bulletin board I’d put together when we lived in Colleyville,TX in 2008 just before we moved to California. The board had cut out magazine photos of things we wanted along with a Bible scripture to cement our belief:

A spacious backyard swimming pool/spa, white wicker patio furniture, a beautiful garden and frog pond, a work space with built in shelves and desks, an outdoor grill, and a media room.

Now you must remember this board has been boxed up and in storage for almost 2 years. So I’d completely forgotten about the board and the things we were dreaming for. While looking at the photos, I began to realize almost everything on the board was here in our new house. Not only that, but the things in our home look almost exactly like the photos on the board!

I was stunned, amazed and humbled at the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Even though I’d forgotten the things I had dared to dream for over 2 years ago, God has been at work, behind the scenes, bringing them to pass for our family! Another thing that’s interesting about this situation… The previous family moved out 2 years ago and the house has been vacant this whole time as if waiting for us to return from California. 

Now that’s God!
  
Do you have something you’re dreaming for?

Gather some pictures and with God’s help… Create your dreams!

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4

Measuring Up

Starting our new company has required many formal dinners with investors and friends with their significant others. Last Friday afternoon was no exception with last minute dinner reservations made for 9:15 pm near downtown Dallas…

I’d been up since 4 am, after not sleeping well in the hotel bed. Spent the day running errands with Linda and Anna preparing for the grand baby due any day… a doctor appointment, hospital registration and, of course, shopping.

With the sun quickly setting, I found a few minutes to power nap, showered and began the beautification process to make a good first impression with Bill’s business associate.

Because most of our belongings are still in storage, I have only a few dress items with me for these dinner occasions.

Not too stressed out, but still on schedule, I suddenly discovered my black bra and only pair of evening shoes were missing… apparently lost somewhere between recent hotel moves.

At 8:30 I made a mad dash around the corner to Target. With no time to spare for fitting rooms, I quickly found two bras and the only pair of black evening shoes left on the shelves. The shoes were tied together so I couldn’t walk in them to be sure of the fit, but took them anyway hoping they’d make do.

Back at the hotel I finished my make-up and dressed.

Aghast! My black pant suit, after traveling and eating out all summer, is now a size too tight, the bras I just bought too small and the shoes too big.

Our dinner reservations are pushed back to ten o’clock, so Bill suggests we run by Wal-Mart on the way to find me another pair of shoes.

By now I’m frazzled and nearly in tears with the hungry headache creeping in.

Hobbling to the Wal-Mart shoe department in my tight pants with newly purchased Target shoes flopping on my feet, I searched frantically to find evening shoes. I settled for the only ones that fit – conservative black pumps with 1 inch heels.

Bill and I sped down the tollway and made our way to the restaurant.

The couple was waiting for us at the restaurant bar just as we entered…  a normal middle aged man and at his side a tall, drop dead gorgeous, busty brunette with waist length auburn hair, wearing the perfect aqua blue, strapless cocktail dress with 6 inch heels to match. Did I mention she owns a modeling agency?!

Outside I was cordial and polite but inside I felt old, fat, short and mortified.

Why are we always trying to measure up to others? 

…when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely. — II Corinthians 10:12

Stretched to the Limit

I don’t know how many of you have had to move very often, but transition stress is serious business. I’ve been handling everything pretty well for the last couple of weeks, but today I feel like I’m about to snap!

Two weeks ago we started the packing process, then came the long drive from California to Texas. Bill flew in early for business meetings, while the rest of us traveled the same highways, separately and on different schedules…

William took the lead driving the U-haul, Mimi with my daughter-in-law, Linda (9 mo pregnant), 3 year old grand daughter, Anna and my Lady dog; then our youngest son John in his car with Abby dog. We all made it to Plano, TX safely in 4 days; the other company execs in California will follow soon with their families.

After only one week in an Extended Stay Hotel, Will and Linda have already secured a rent house. Bill, John and I haven’t had that same success. We decided today to get a furnished apartment while we look for a home to purchase. It’s a buyer’s market now and we want to take advantage of the low interest rates and foreclosures. Hopefully, we can get our stuff out of storage in California before Christmas!

My challenges today are no different than what I’ve dealt with during our many moves over the years. But today fatigue, waiting and the ongoing uncertainty are taking their toll. With each move comes a new community… learning your way around, finding a home, church, doctors, your favorite grocery and trying to make new friends.

I sit here remembering all the precious friends I’ve made along the way…  from Odessa, to Dallas, to Houston, to New Orleans, back to Houston, back to Dallas, to Sacramento, to San Jose and now back to Dallas again. God has been faithful to lead us to fine churches, always providing for our needs.

Rereading my devotional for today reminds me to honor God, obey Him and as I walk with Him to expect favor from God and man everywhere I go.

In times like these, it helps me to look back and see the favor, to see God’s grace and mercy following me.

It strengthens me for the journey ahead.

Changes in the Air

As the earth tilts on its axis and the lighting changes angles, we can see and feel Fall gently strolling in.

I don’t know if it’s fond memories of starting a new school year or the cooler air, but this is my favorite time of the year.

Somehow life today seems fresher.

With this new season, God is bringing about some big changes for us and our family. As He often does, it has come suddenly but without surprise.

While spending most of our summer in Dallas raising investor funds, an incredible chain of events began. After much prayer and council from respected advisers, Bill, as CEO, and the Board of Directors have decided to move our new company’s corporate headquarters from San Jose to Dallas.

We now begin the process of leaving one hotel for another to quickly find us all homes.

Starting Sunday I’ll be driving my daughter-in-law, Linda (8 mo. pregnant) along with 3 year old, Anna, and my dog, Lady, to Texas.  Bill, Will, Johnny, Abby dog and Lategra (the snake) will follow shortly after. We hope to all be settled in a real home before William Ernest Mapp V makes his debut in October.

As many of you know, this will be our 7th move in four years. Needless to say, we should have the process down by now!

When we arrived nearly two years ago, I was so homesick for Texas, my heart ached for months. Though not really home, because we’ve spent the bulk of our time in a hotel; I’ve fallen in love with the West Coast and will leave a piece of my heart in California.

With each move there’s a grieving process… first anger and confusion followed by a deep sadness which turns to excitement for what’s to come.

When our moving adventures began in 2006 this process took me weeks and sometimes months to get through. With each move it got a little easier to say good bye to the comfortable present and embrace the unknown future.

The decision to leave California was just made over the Labor Day holiday, but today I can happily say I’ve worked my way through all the emotions and am truly excited to see what God has in store for our family and the incredible business opportunity He has given us! 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19

Life Without Parole!

This last Sunday morning, Bill and I were privileged to worship with some dear friends at Christ Church in Plano, TX; an Anglican church, it was a sweet reminder of my childhood, growing up in the Episcopal Church.

Worship was beautiful with the huge pipe organ and the choir’s soprano voices resounding through the sunlit sanctuary. Because this week is the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing, I wept through most of the service missing my momma and daddy.

Father David Roseberry’s sermon titled, Living Without Parole struck a deep cord with me. Having spent some time in jail; more importantly having lived a great portion of my life imprisoned by addictions, this message was very close to my heart.

The Scripture text Fr. David chose was:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

Stating that this verse is the backbone of the entire Bible, the purpose of all Scripture and the reason God came to earth as Christ, Fr. David asks… 

Do you have a now moment in your life?

A moment when your past is put behind you? 

A time when your BC (Before Christ) became AD (Anno Domini- The Year of The Lord)? 

I quickly jotted in my notes: Yes! December 26, 2004!

Father David went on to remind us that after we’ve had that now moment, God isn’t watching and waiting like a parole officer for us to make a mistake so He can punish us or lock us up for good.

Because He loved us so much God Himself allowed Christ, the Father’s only son, to die, to pay our debt, to take all our punishment; so that we can live our life without having to be on parole.

We haven’t been released based on a condition of our own behavior or merit. There’s no fear of being returned to our prisons, whatever they may be.

Praise God! We’ve been set free!

But are we walking in the full freedom that has been given to us?

The most important statement I heard in Sunday’s message: To the extent that you continue to carry burdens from your past, it is to that same extent that you are not free in Christ.

Take another look at the photo I chose for today’s column.
What do you see? 
Is the woman behind the prison bars or in front of them?

Do you know there are people behind bars who are more free than some of us who are allowed to walk on the street today? 

Where are you standing? 

Did you put yourself back in the prison God has set you free from?

Are you looking at the outside world through prison bars you’ve created for yourself?

Do you, like me, tend to pick up an old set of baggage and start dragging it along with you?

Let’s give up our burdens.

Let’s walk together in the freedom Christ has provided for us!

So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free. -John 8:36 AMP

Summer Update…

A quick note about what’s going on this summer…
 
My husband, Bill’s been on the road for the last month gathering investors for our new company’s second round of funding. 

Needless to say, it’s been tough on us with him going back and forth between Texas and California every 2-3 days.

So…
 
For these next few weeks, I’m traveling along to help support him and be available for dinner meetings with board members, advisers and investors.
 
It’s a bit grueling and I sure miss our kids and dogs back in San Jose; but I’m thankful for this incredible business opportunity, the investors that are coming on board and that we’re able to do this together!

I hope to get an actual blog column written in the next day or so.

Blessings… T

What Are You Creating With Your Words?

Considering all the problems in the world today it’s easy to get caught in a negative attitude with a complaining mouth.

One thing God continues to show me over and over again…

WE have the power to create reality with the words that come out of our mouths!

Back in 2004 when I was bound by my addictions; my husband, for my own safety, put strict limitations on my access to money, car, cell phone, etc…

I thought he was trying to control me and continually said, “I’m being treated like a prisoner.”

It wasn’t long until I actually was a prisoner in the County Jail.

My words had become my reality.

Proverbs 18:21 says: 

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

If we insist on allowing negative words to flow out of our mouths, we will continue to have negative consequences.

God has given us dominion over the earth and with that our words have the power to create or destroy our lives. 

Rather than swim around in our emotions, dwelling only on what we feel and see around us; we can choose instead to see with our eyes of faith and use faith-filled words to create the life we know God wants us to have.

As long as we continue to speak what we see; we will continue to see those things.

What do you see today?

What do you want to see tomorrow?

Make a decision to speak what you see with your eyes of faith and watch it come to pass!


Who’s Protecting You?

In response to last week’s question:  
What hurt would you like to see discussed?

My longtime friend and school mate, Ren, suggested: 
“What about relapse? It’s going around.”

Before getting Ren’s suggestion, I had already been led to write about the recovery principle ~Self-Protection.  I was excited to get her suggestion because Relapse and Self-Protection go hand in hand… If we aren’t protecting our self, we will definitely be on the road to a quick relapse!

Long gone are the days when people had the same physician for their entire life. Someone you could trust, who knew your history, had a personal relationship with you and your family, who actually watched out for your health concerns. Gone are the days when we felt safe in our community and country. When we could trust our neighbors; leaving our homes and cars unlocked. 
The principles of Self-Protection can be applied across the board to all areas of our life:
  • Physical-nutrition & exercise
  • Relationships-marriage, friends & family
  • Lifestyle-work & recreation

Today if we are to be protected, we pretty much have to do it our self. We must read and research to be aware of potential risks and know what boundaries to put in place for our own protection.

For myself, as a recovering sex addict, it has been critical for the last 5 years to have clearly defined boundaries on the influences in my life: TV, Internet, music, movies, magazines, friends, environment, etc…

With my new health concerns, Insulin Resistance; I must be just as diligent with boundaries to avoid possible temptations.

Let’s look at some specific guidelines that can help us stay protected:

  1. Be Steadfast in Convictions: Know and understand why.
  2. Seek Good Counsel: Bible, minister, counselor, doctor.
  3. Share with a Friend: Get accountability partner.
  4. Create New Habits: Remove old patterns.
  5. Do The Next Right Thing: Be wise; stay on track.
  6. Stay Rested: Be good to your body.

There’s a familiar recovery acronym: H.A.L.T. that reminds us times of temptation come when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I’ve taken the liberty to build on this and add a spiritual aspect to further our protection.

H. A. L. T. E. D. 
When:
Hungry — physical desires of any kind take over. 
Angry — annoyed with life’s frustrations 
Lonely — lonesome and fearful 
Tired — troubled and depressed 
I will:  
Exercise — calming prayer. 
Do — good and expect a reward.

In order to become everything God has created us to be; we must have a deep resolve. We must look for God’s escape out of each temptation and run for it. We serve a faithful God who is always beside us, working for our good and leading us in paths of victory and strength.

We can overcome any obstacle, any challenge, any temptation in Jesus’ name!

If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall… remember the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 
                               ~1 Corinthians 10:12-13 New Living Translation