Book Report: Own Your Life

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson

A mentor at heart, Sally warmly invites women along on a journey of basic discipleship, covering everything from the theoretical (the purpose of beauty, cultural imagination, God’s transcendence, etc.) to the practical (like the spiritual disciplines, handling past hurts, and marriage advice). Her work dismantles mediocrity and stirs up a desire for excellence in every aspect of life. She peppers the text with personal stories, quotes, questions, and prayers with her typical tone of gracious hospitality. Reading Sally’s words feels like an afternoon of sharing sweet tea and great conversation on a porch swing with a trusted friend. 

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Dream Big

I always get excited about switching over to a new calendar, but there’s an extra special feeling about it this year: things are getting real around my house. Back in October, I hatched an idea to begin strategically building family culture in 2021. Values were chosen. Books were purchased. And then I waited.

The waiting is now over, and we’re off to the races! January’s focus has our planners out and our eyes up.

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Three Books to Hack Your 2021

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on December 31, 2020. You can find it here.)

hack: a strategy or technique for managing one’s time or activities more efficiently*

“Auld Lang Syne” swells in the background as you sweep the last bits of Christmas into storage, making way for countdowns and confetti. It’s time to break out your fancy glasses and talk about the dreams you plan to turn into goals, pandemic or no pandemic.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a handful of resources tailored to multiply every ounce of energy you put into meeting those goals? A way to get the biggest bang for your buck?

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Prepping for the End Times, Part 2

“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world … Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred in 1945)

If you spend a few minutes searching YouTube for doomsday preppers, you’ll find everything from the sensible to the bizarre—or frankly frightening. Tips on gardening, first aid, canning, storage, and survival skills abound, along with weaponry training, hiding tactics, and bunker tours (but WHY WOULD YOU NEED A BODY CHUTE, KEVIN?). No, we are not living in the dystopian world of The Hunger Games; this is how real people around the country are readying themselves.

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Prepping for the End Times, Part 1

I originally intended for this to be a stand-alone post, but once the words started flowing, I discovered how much I wanted to cover… so prepare yourself for a cliff-hanger at the end and a continuation next week.

“Rayford Steele’s mind was on a woman he had never touched.” Thus begins the Left Behind series that debuted (can you believe it?) 25 years ago.

The saga created plenty of buzz in Christian circles when it first hit bookstores. People who had previously shied away from prophetic passages in Scripture now gobbled them up (with just as much confusion as before, but with heightened appetite). Many found themselves pondering terms like rapture, tribulation, and millennial reign for the first time. We might not have known we were taking a course in eschatology, but our basic framework for the unfolding of final events was being built page by page.

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Seasonal Living

In the middle of a pandemic, little excitements take on a larger-than-life quality. One thing I’m inordinately giddy about right now is an idea for a new creative undertaking: seasonal family notebooks. I scooped up four sturdy art journals on sale last week and haven’t stopped dreaming of the beautiful resources I’ll turn them into over the next few years. They’ll essentially be a repository for our family culture, curated collections of goodness specific to spring, summer, fall, and winter. While each notebook will feature unique entries based on its season, all four will include the following:

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A Thanksgiving Word Feast

The end of November has come, and festoon-feathered fowls everywhere run for cover. In light of the difficult year we’ve survived, I have gathered a smorgasbord of lyrics, verses, and quotes to help usher in a festive mood. Here’s hoping this feast of words will be to your soul what a really great pumpkin pie is to your tastebuds. Light the candles, put on some jazz, and dig in!

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The High Calling of Self-Improvement

“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

(Eleanor Powell)

I’m a big fan of tweaking *or overhauling* my home so it can work best for my family. Could we use more storage space in a particular corner? Is it time to replace some furniture? How about a good old-fashioned deep clean in that closet? Making changes to suit our current needs has proved a fun way to boost functionality. Home is a tool, and the same principle holds for all tools—efficiency is worth the cost of upkeep. This explains why we get our teeth cleaned, vehicles realigned, and septic tanks pumped. Neglect could lead to disaster.

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John 7 Wrap-Up

Who’s ready to party? The next stop on our global tour is the “biggest show on earth,” Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival! Prepare yourself for crazy costumes, amazing floats, and revelry like you can’t even imagine. And the best part is the massive person of Jesus with His arms outstretched over the entire scene. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, get off the bus; we’re here!

John 7 is set in Jerusalem at the Feast of Booths, the most popular Jewish holiday all year, and the jubilation is so thick you can almost taste it. At the height of the festivities, Jesus seizes His moment and causes quite a stir. Family drama, an old friend, political intrigue, bamboozled bouncers—this chapter has it all.

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