Hearing God in Conversation

I am convinced that one of the key roles of the church in our time is helping people to see that there is no separation between the sacred and the secular.  That every moment of every day has the potential to be holy and God-filled.  Thus, I was intrigued by the title of the new book "Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere".  

Overall, I found this book very accessible, written in a style that made the pages go quickly.  The author used every day examples that were relatable to my life. As I read through the chapters, the book increased my desire to seek God's voice in my life.

There were a few issues for me with this book, however. The book is written with exclusively male language for God which I find troublesome.  I believe the author could have made his point while reaching a broader audience had he used inclusive language.  Also, in several chapters the author is discussing ways of encountering God that are long held traditions within the Christian faith such as Lectio Divina and spiritual direction.  He writes as if these were new concepts not ancient ones.

I am glad I read this book and feel like it helped spur me to seek a deeper conversation with God.  Despite my critiques, I would recommend this book to those searching for a more intimate relationship with God.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.

Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea

When my copy of Steeped arrived in the mail, I sat and turned through the pages, salivating at all the delicious foods pictured there.  The pictures and layouts had me dreaming of hosting tea parties and warm summer soirees.

 

Life happened and I only ended up having time to make three of the recipes in the book.  They were each from a different section of the book and each called for a different kind of tea.  I live in a small, rural town so I decided to make recipes with ingredients I knew I could find here.  I ended up choosing Mint Pea Soup, Smoky Tomato Soup with Parmesan Thyme Crisps, and Blueberry Scones with Rooibos Honey Butter.

 

Overall, the recipes were easy to follow.  I really liked the creamy tomato soup and the crisps added crunch and flavor that paired wonderfully with the soup.  The blueberry scones were easy to make and the honey butter made them extra decadent.  The mint pea soup ended up tasting mostly just of blended peas and wasn’t a favorite at my house.

 

While each of the recipes called for a different tea, none of the teas ended up being a dominant flavor in the end.  I kept searching for their flavor in each of the dishes but never found I could distinguish them.  I was hoping for more distinct tea flavors in the dishes.

 

I am looking forward to trying more and more of the dishes in Steeped.  Maybe one day I’ll actually get to host a tea party and serve one of the whole menus found in the book.  Until then, I have a beautiful book full of gorgeous food pictures and great recipes to add to my recipe book collection.

You can learn more about the book here: http://anneliesz.com/steeped-book/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.

Review of Pray like a Gourmet

Prayer is like learning styles. Every person has their own and what works for one person doesn't work for another. Pray like a Gourmet offers up suggestions for prayer that are varied and appeal to lots of different personalities and styles. David Brazzeal's writing style is relaxed and conversational. The way he offers up the different prayer practices invites the reader to try them without pressure of “getting it right”. He makes it less intimidating to try new types of prayer. With the title of Pray like a Gourmet, I was hoping for more prayer practices that incorporated food but the title is simply a metaphor for prayer used throughout the book and doesn't translate to actual food prayer. Also, the layout of the book and style of the pages sometimes makes the print hard to read because there are dark and light colored type.

Overall, I am glad to have this book as a resource for my own prayer life and for helping to teach my children about prayer and also to use some of the prayer practices in the church that I lead. If you are looking for a nice entry into prayer that is easy to understand and simple to read, this book would be a great choice.

Learn more about the book and author here:  http://davidbrazzeal.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network.  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.

Diary of a Dad- Being a Daddy (October 3, 2014)

c1e69-123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City NewsPress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called "Being a Daddy". I love being a dad.

Since I graduated college I’ve wanted to be a dad. I couldn’t wait to find a partner, create a life with them, and share it with a child. I have a great dad; he showed me what it means to be a role model, teacher, protector, provider, and disciplinarian, what it means to be a father. I was so excited to hold that little child and watch them grow into a little person with their own desires and dreams. I always saw myself as helping them to guide them, being with them through thick and thin, through laughter and tears, through smiles and screams.

It took me a while, but I finally found someone to share my life with and we have been blessed with two amazing kids. They aren’t perfect but they are amazing. As we were preparing for our first child, going to doctor’s appointments, reading parenting books, scouring the Internet for information, I was reminded of a cross-stitched sign that hung in my parent’s bathroom when I was growing up. It said,

"Any one can be a father, it takes someone special to be a ‘Daddy’!"

Which got me to thinking, was I going to be a father or a daddy?

I had always dreamed of little kids running into my arms shouting, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” So I decided I want to try to be the best Daddy, I could be. I’m certainly not perfect but I wanted to do my best.

For me, that means being there, always. I missed a total of two doctor’s appointments during my wife’s pregnancies; I’ve been at almost all of the doctor’s appointments since they were born. I’ve taken my kids to library reading times; I’ve picked them up from school, taken them to school; I’ve turned off my beloved West Virginia University games to play with them (that only happens when I can record the games, if I’m being honest); the other day I took my daughter out to lunch. I also, change diapers, wipe noses, cook dinner, give baths, wipe tears, wrestle with them on the floor, play trucks, play dolls, and put them in timeout. I try to be there for everything because I think it’s an important way for me to be the best daddy I can be.

Here’s the thing, I’m not alone, I’m not special.

I know dads who are stay at home dads while their wife or partner work. I know dads who are single dads doing the work of both parents. I know a ton of dads who are just as or more involved with their child’s everyday life than I am. There are certainly fathers out there that in my opinion are living up to the title daddy, but by and large we, dads, are doing the best we can. Trying to be there for our kids, trying to provide, trying to model what it means to make a positive impact on society, and hopefully passing on love and devotion to their kids.

946483_10154677188165444_2439208614738857045_nLast week, I was gone for a week on a business trip. When I flew back into Omaha I was expecting to get my bags, get my car, and drive home, but instead I came around the corner and heard my daughter screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” Then I saw her. Her brother was right behind me. I squatted down and gave her a hug, while my son ran full speed into me knocking us all over in the middle of the airport. It was the best dog pile I’ve ever been a part of. It reminded me that I must be doing something right, and how thankful I am to have had a good model in my dad.

If you are a father, and don’t feel like a daddy I encourage you to find other dads and talk to them about how they do what they do, I’ve found talking to others about my frustrations and my joys about being a parent helps me to be the best dad I can be. Someone once said, “It takes a village.” I believe it; we need to stick together so we can help our kids become the people that God has called them to be.

If you want to talk to me connect with me on social media or call First Presbyterian Church.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: Getting surprised by my wife and kids at the airport.

Not Favorite: This was a pretty good week. I don’t have a not favorite.

Diary of a Dad- Take a Safe Ride (September 26, 2014)

c1e69-123I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City NewsPress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called "Safe Ride".Last Friday night I had the opportunity to participate in one of the great things that is happening in our small town, I got to drive the Safe Ride Shuttle. It was great.

If you are unaware of the Safe Ride Shuttle let me tell you about it. It’s a free service that will ensure you have a safe ride to and from the nightlife in Nebraska City. All you have to do is call, or text, (there’s even an android app) and if you are within about 3 miles of downtown, one of the volunteer drivers will come pick you up, dropping you off at the destination of your choice. They’ll even take you to your friend’s house.

This was the brain child of Frank Trombino and Travis Gillespie. After some fits and starts they finally have all the permits and insurance they need to make sure every Friday and Saturday night from 8 PM-2 AM someone can fire up that old Chevy van (with the flashing light on top and all the logos) and make our streets are safer.

You’re probably thinking, why would a pastor and a father of two want to associate himself with the kind of people that wouldn’t be able to drive themselves home from a night out? I would remind you of that old adage about what happens when you assume.

Loading

I'm driving tonight. #saferideshuttle #innecity #whatpastorsdo

View on Instagram

All of the people that have taken the shuttle, when I’ve been on it, have made the smart choice to be safe. I can relate to being out too late, having a little too much fun, and I’m thankful that in Nebraska City no matter what your choices look like at the bar, you can make the right choice to get home safe. With companies and advocacy groups spending millions and millions of dollars to encourage safe choices and designated drivers, it only makes sense that we encourage and support things like this project.

One of the things I love about it, is Frank and Travis saw a problem, the streets weren't safe, and people were going to jail. They saw a way to help people not end their night in tragedy or a jail cell and jumped at the chance to help out. They have received support from individuals, restaurants, and local businesses. It’s us, once again, coming together to make life safer.

I’ve taken one training ride, shadowing a driver, and I’ve been the driver once and what I can tell you of the folks that take the shuttle is that they are just like you and me. Some were celebrating birthdays, some were enjoying the Apple Jack festivities, some just were curious about what the shuttle was all about. All were appreciative, courteous, and kind.

In our short rides, I’ve had conversations gushing over kids, praising parents, excited about new opportunities, the Huskers, and just about anything else you can imagine. We even had one customer who wanted to ride around and offered to let us take everyone else home first even though he was first in line. I’m getting a little old to stay up that late but my experiences have been more than worth it.

One other obvious benefit, to me and to our town is that there are fewer people trying to drive home after a night out. It makes the roads that much safer, and according to reports DUIs are down about 30% since the Safe Ride Shuttle’s inception. Especially during events like Apple Jack where there are great events downtown and there are a lot of people here, it’s a wonderful option to keep cars off the streets and people safer.

It’s another way, that we, in Nebraska City, can look out for one another making sure we all get home safe, so we can continue to work together to make our town the best it can be. So next time you plan to go out on a Friday or Saturday night give the Safe Ride Shuttle a call (402) 873-7113 and see what it’s all about.

One more thing…don’t forget to tip your driver.

At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here’s my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.

Favorite: All the people descending on our town to celebrate Apple Jack, the parade, and apple doughnuts.

Not Favorite: Traffic associated with all those people.