Saturday, August 29, 2009

Prayer Power

I was sent a copy of Peter Lundell's new book, Prayer Power, and asked to join the blog tour - I must say - IT IS A PRIVILEGE!! I was totally challenged by this book and am excited to share it with others. Lundell has set up his book so that you can read a portion everyday for a month - I like that - everyone has time for that! And it is packed with meat - I love some of the whole new twists Lundell puts on prayer. This book came at a good time for me - I want to grow my prayer life - and he has some great suggestions on how to do that. For me, it wasn't all information I had heard before - it was new, fresh, and full of practicality.

Here is what the publisher says:
Prayer. It's one of the most talked about subjects in religious circles. We have books, blogs and organizations focused on teaching Christ followers the correct way to communicate with God. In Prayer Power, author Peter Lundell shares his own personal struggle with communicating with God and provides insight from examples in Psalms and the gospels for Christians to examine to bulk up their prayer life. Lundell ends each chapter with growth gauges and suggested prayer activities to encourage and establish routine prayer time. You'll find his honest approach to prayer refreshing, his transparency encouraging and his instruction helpful and practical.
Here is an interview with the author - Peter Lundell:

Interview Questions

1. Many Christians don't talk about hardships with prayer. Why do you open up about the struggles you have had drawing close to God in prayer?

My first draft of the book read like an instruction manual of all the things you ought to do to be spiritual like me. I realized that the more spiritual I tried to sound, the less honest I was being. I was hiding behind my words. No reader should have to put up with all that. And besides, it was boring.

So I determined to be totally honest. I rewrote the book and openly shared my doubts, struggles, and failures, because everybody goes through the same things. And if I’m not honest with readers, how can I expect readers to be honest with others or even themselves?

I take sort of an “I mess up and you mess up, but God loves us anyway, so let’s connect with him” approach. Readers often tell me how much they identify with that. And when they read about how God still worked amazing things in my life and in others’, it gives them hope.

I’ve discovered two things: First, honesty is liberating, and I don’t want to live any other way. Second, when we stick with prayer and don’t give up, answers and victories rise from our struggles. Answers and victory never rise from pretending.

I hope to connect with readers so that they’ll in turn connect with me and the victories I’ve experienced—so that they will experience their own victories.

2. What are some of the things God has taught you about prayer over the years - especially from the perspective of your leadership roles?

It’s good to listen before I talk. If I always dive into prayer and never spend time listening, I only dump my own “give-me list” on God. But his word says in 1 John 5:14–15 that when I seek and pray according to his will, my prayer will be answered. So the key is to first get in sync with God.

We’ve got to have a hunger, or thirst, for God. Without hunger, no program or technique or anything we learn will go anywhere. But with hunger for God, we could know almost nothing and still have a great prayer life. Hunger is singularly important—which is why it’s the first chapter.

When I pray with faith and don’t get what I ask for, God will soon show me why. There is always something to learn in unanswered prayer.

3. What do you mean by "praying boldly" and how can Christians learn to do that?

Praying boldly is the opposite of excessively polite prayer and of—I’ll just say it—wimpy prayer. Praying boldly is praying without intimidation, not caring what other people think, expressing ourselves to God without concern for being appropriate or religiously correct but rather with a passion from our guts that pours out, unashamedly. Bold prayer is not arrogant. It’s humble and faithful, because of its self-abandoned focus on God and expectation of what God will do.

People often assume they must be polite or solemn before God. Nowhere does the Bible teach this. Two thirds of the Psalms are complaints, and they are not polite. Most prayers in both Old and New Testaments are bold, expectant, and to the point. When Jesus teaches on prayer in Luke 11:5–10, he talks about an obnoxious guy who bangs on his friend’s door at midnight. Then he says we should bug him the same way by continually asking, seeking, and knocking. I often wonder if God gets tired of diplomatic prayers. Why else would he actually tell us to be bold and persistent—and use examples that, if we were on the receiving end, most of us would say are obnoxious.

There’s no real method to doing this. It’s a mindset that chooses to free itself from previous assumptions and uses the Bible as a model of how to pray.

4. How can we practice the presence of God and include him in everyday tasks?

Practicing the presence of God primarily has to do with developing an attitude, a continual awareness that God is always with us, and that in turn, we always incline our attention toward him.

The first thing most of us need to do is to slow down or cut unnecessary activities from our calendar. Busyness is an enemy to practicing the presence of God. Jesus repeatedly blew off other people’s agendas for him and continually focused on his purpose for being here. Pastors who do the same are always happier, closer to God, and more effective. And when we practice the presence of God, we increase our ability to be intimate with him when times do get busy.

Here are some practices that may help develop that attitude: My last thought before I sleep and my first thought when I wake up is centered on God. When I get mad or stressed, I try to see things from God’s perspective. When I am waiting for someone, I use that time to pray. I do menial tasks with an awareness and love of God. I often have a praise song on my mind as I go through the day.

5. You're a proponent for creating a place of prayer and establishing a time of prayer. Why are these important elements for prayer?

These two disciplines are the most important external helps for maintaining a strong prayer life. Without them, our good intentions eventually drown under the assaults of busyness and distractions.

A place of prayer helps us concentrate in the face of distractions. That place could be the church sanctuary, an empty room in the house, a spot in the back yard, or even a rug laid out on the floor, on which the only thing we do is pray. The physical surroundings of a location devoted to prayer tell our brains, “Focus on God.” And if we ever feel bored or in a rut of over-familiarity with a place, a change of location can be stimulating.

Establishing a set prayer time engrains a habit of prayer into our minds, such that if we miss it, we feel anxious because something is missing or wrong—and it is! A set prayer time is not to force ourselves to pray as much as to create a boundary of protection from busyness. That boundary of time is like a protective fence around a garden, where we give ourselves freedom from intrusions to spend unhindered time with God. Preferably we’ll do this as early as possible in the morning, so we can lay the whole day before the Lord. And unlike a prayer place, I have never found benefit in changing my prayer time, so I highly recommend keeping it sacred, especially if we’re travelling or really busy. Whether short or long, this protective fence of a set time must be intentional, because no one else can do it for us.

6. What advice would you give to people who struggle with God when they pray?

True men and women of prayer will sometimes struggle in prayer, as did many figures in the Bible, like Jacob’s symbolic wrestling with the angel and Jesus’ wrestling over his fate in Gethsemane.

Like anyone else, I struggle with unanswered prayer or major decisions to do something by faith, when tragedy strikes, problems of injustice, and healings that take a lot longer than I’d like. The key is to keep struggling—don’t give up and too quickly assume something is God’s will before you know for sure. The angel commended Jacob for not giving up until he got a blessing. God the Father actually sent an angel to help Jesus wrestle in Gethsemane. Sometimes wrestling in prayer is God’s will for us.

Wrestling in prayer is actually a good thing. It draws us closer to God. And it changes us in the process. And that’s what most of us hope for!

Another awesome part of this blog tour is the GREAT giveaway package!!
Just leave a comment to be eligible to win! I will turn in all names for the big grand prize drawing!! I will send in names for the drawing on Sept. 7 - so enter before then!!


(leave a comment for an opportunity to win this great package)

Prayer Power by Peter Lundell

When God Turned off the Lights by Cecil Murphey (Cec is one of Peter's mentors)

Committed but Flawed by Cecil Murphey

Also includes: Prayer Journal, Pen, and Candle

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Katie Woo

I stumbled across the new series, Katie Woo by Fran Manushkin, published by Picture Window Books/Capstone Books. It has me pumped!!! Kids already love Junie B. Jones for her fun and enthusiasm - I think Katie Woo has all that AND will appeal to younger kids. And here is what I love MOST about Katie Woo - she's Asian-American - that thrills me - I so appreciate books that focus on other cultures. I think kids are going to LOVE her - and her reading level is a bonus too - I am reading it with my Kindergartner - she can't read all of the words, but she can sure read a lot of them! It's a great parent/child shared reading book! Junie appeals to those higher level readers, but this series can go all the way down to your younger readers. Check out all six in this series - I am excited about them!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Still Looking...

Yep - STILL enjoying my Lerner box!!
A new series - Manga Math Mysteries - is intriguing me. I am not a Manga fan myself, but we have many readers that enjoy this genre so I like the tie-in. Manga and Math - clever!
The Hundred -Dollar Robber by Melinda Thielbar is a Manga mystery about money and The Lost Key by Thielbar focuses on Whole Numbers - I think these will be great. I need to let my math teachers know they are here!!

I was sent a few books that are part of a series -
Let's Look at Prairie Dogs by Christine Zuchora-Walske - fabulous photography, fun style, and easy to read - I like the style of these Lightning Bolt Books.
The Hoover Dam by Jeffrey Zuehlke and The Gateway Arch by Lisa Bullard - both excellent looks at famous places in America. Again - I just think kids will find these fascinating - the layout and style are very catchy to read.
My personal favorite - It's Snowy Today (I only wish!!!) by Kristin Sterling. This is a fun look at the seasons for younger children.
Do you Know About Amphibians by Buffy Silverman is another book incredibly engaging photography - these real photos of amphibians are SURE to please! This is one that I will be passing along to all of my boy animal readers!!
What is Sight? by Jennifer Boothroyd is an excellent beginning look at our senses. Again, another very interesting book - it makes you WANT to read it - the way it is laid out and presented.
German Shepherds are the Best! by Elaine Landau is a new dog breed series they are publishing - I like it - gives some great background on specific dog breeds.
A Coral Reef Food Chain by Rebecca Hogue Wojahn and Donald Wojahn. This is on a little older level - but still engaging and fun - I think kids will find this fascinating.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lerner Box

When a Lerner Box arrives on my desk - I stop what I am doing and peruse for quite some time!
Once again, I am very impressed with the new titles I was given.

The Steel Pan Man of Harlem by Colin Bootman caught my attention right away - what a wonderful retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin - set in the Harlem Renaissance. I love it - the illustrations are marvelous and add authenticity to the story.

We received three drawing books in the Ready, Set, Draw! Series that are SURE to be hits!Cool Girl Stuff You Can Draw by Nicole Brecke
Horses You Can Draw by Nicole Brecke
Cool Boy Stuff You Can Draw by Nicole Brecke
Not only have they found great topics for this series -they have easy-to-follow instructions and are engaging to read. I KNOW these won't stay on our shelves!

Brian Cleary is an author that you can just NEVER go wrong with. The new titles in this box are no exception!!
Super-Hungry Mice Eat Onions is another in Cleary's Adventures in Memory Series - which I think is TERRIFIC!!! These books give clever tricks to help you remember different facts - this book focuses on Geography Facts - it is one that kids enjoy for the hilarity but I'm thinking I'll take it home - I have yet to memorize all the Great Lakes!!
Skin Like Milk, Hair of Silk is another in Cleary's Words are Categorical Series. This one focuses on Similes and Metaphors - I applaud Cleary - there is no FUN way to learn these grammar/word lessons but he has brought the "fun" into it!!
Windows, Rings and Grapes - a Look at Different Shapes is a further book in Cleary's Math is Categorical Series. The man is a genius - teachers will LOVE these books, I use them often in homeschooling, but the kids just pull them out to look at them too! TO me, that's huge!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CSN Office Furniture and Baggallini

I was asked awhile back to review a website, CSN Office Furniture, which I did, and then I would receive a product which I was also to review. I was thrilled to do this - I have been happy all the way around with CSN - their website is WONDERFUL - easy to navigate, great variety, etc. The shipping was fast, my product was in great shape - and I AM THRILLED with my Baggallini Rolling Tote. I have been a fan of Baggallini for some time - their products are well-thought out and VERY worthwhile. Stewardesses design most of their bags, so they know what's needed when you travel - I like that. My Rolling Tote hasn't been a trip yet, but just playing with it around home - I have been impressed. The wheels will go any direction - this is SO nice when traveling. It has the retractable handle which is wonderful for travel as well. It is made of great Baggallini material - easily washable and yet breathable. Really, the only thing I noticed that might be a drawback for some - is that there is not one compartment that you can "safely" put your laptop in unless you have a laptop sleeve. None are padded - but then, for me, I am going to use this as a carry-on, so I don't really need to worry about that as I am the only one carrying it around and I can be as careful as I'd like. Otherwise - great product and great website! Thanks, CSN for the opportunity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

If You Give a Mouse....

What else will this little guy want!?!?!?
LA GRANDE, Ore. (Aug. 8) - A mouse found inside an automatic teller machine — along with a nest it had built with chewed-up $20 bills — gave an Oregon gas station employee the surprise of her life.

The mouse, discovered Thursday, had thoroughly torn up two bills and damaged another 14 to line his nest. Employee Millie Taylor said she screamed and slammed the machine's door shut.

The bank replaced all the money that wasn't extensively damaged, and the ATM has continued to work just fine. The mouse also got a reprieve: He was evicted from his nest but set free outside the station.

Other workers at the Gem Stop Chevron in La Grande in eastern Oregon say they're mystified about how the mouse got inside the machine.
Taken from AOL NEWS and Bottom Shelf Books ( it was just too good not to re-post!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Rope Walk

The All Iowa Reads book for this year is The Rope Walk - so, seeing that it has that honor AND that we are reading it for an adult book discussion next week, I thought I better read it! I had heard such mixed reviews that I was honestly scared to start it, but after I waded through the first few chapters - I was glad I kept reading. It does have quite a slow start - it is very descriptive and I felt, sometimes the story got lost behind all of the description, but once I made my way into the story, I was pleasantly surprised.

It is a sad story - it is the story of Alice, a ten year old girl, with five older brothers. She has lost her mom and has a dad that, most often, seems hands-off. Well - the summer she turns 10 a whole new boy enters the picture - Theo - a mixed-race boy from New York - the same age as Alice - that turns her world upside down. He is truly one of the few bright spots in her life. They become fast friends and even befriend a dying man, Kenneth - who teaches them both even more about the world.

It is a book with lots of relational interaction. I liked that - so many different kinds of people. Near the end of the book, the real climax happens - and that was hard for me - I didn't see it coming and it really broadsided me. It was sad - but again, a growing point for Alice. I think that's what the whole book is - a time to watch Alice leave childhood and enter into all the changes that the teen years will bring. I enjoyed the book, and am glad I read it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Little Passports

I was sent a sample of a brand new idea out on the web. It is called Little Passports - and is a company run by two moms. What a wonderful idea - you sign up with them and each month you receive a packet of information on a different country. Our first kit included a map, passport, stickers, miniature suitcase, letter to your child and more! I LOVE the idea - you explore geography by taking your child on these virtual trips - complete with some photos, pages to explore together and a code to take you to a virtual site where you can take even more adventures. I love the whole concept and it's reasonably priced. As a homeschool mom, I think it's great, but I can see so many other uses as well - go check it out!! And thanks, Little Passports, for the chance to explore!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sylvan's EBooks

I mention Sylvan Dell Publishers on here often - they are a great resource of books and materials for science and other subjects - their books are quality and they have LOADS of resources for teachers/parents on their website. Well, they have ebooks now - you MUST go check them out!!
Click HERE.

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