Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Echo Within

In th emonth of March we will be looking at ways to understand God's calling and His will for your life. We'll start a little early with

The Echo Within -- Finding Your True Calling
Robert Benson


The Echo Within is a profoundly affecting, honest look at the myriad ways we are drawn into our life’s best work.
Written out of his own lifelong search for and response to the calling voice of God, Robert Benson recounts his discovery of the meaning of vocation, work, and purpose through the ups and downs inherent in family life, professional choice, and spiritual experience. With clarity and insight, and in the elegant prose for which he is known, he gently invites and encourages readers to find such deep truths for their lives as well. In particular, he illuminates the way for readers to explore:

· ways to sense the Holy in our pursuits, both in the pursuits themselves and within ourselves.
· how to fall into our vocation and chart a course toward it at the same time.
· how to love the work we do, and the process of doing it.

For anyone beginning a new career or sensing a needed change in their life or wrestling with a transition suddenly thrust upon them, Robert Benson delivers wisdom, humor, and heart in what he’s learned about listening for The Echo Within—and how it can help us discover our calling.


Robert Benson has written more than a dozen books about the discovery of the sacred in the midst of our ordinary lives, including Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, Home By Another Way, and Digging In. His work has been critically acclaimed in a wide range of publications from The New York Times and USA Today to Spirituality & Health and The Benedictine Review. He is an alumnus of The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation and was recently named a Living Spiritual Teacher by He lives in Nashville , Tennessee .
The chapters in this book are short, but there is a lot of material to comprehend. It's not a studious book, so don't be frightened off! Robert Benson includes stories and unanswerable questions he's received from others, then he provides his experiences and impressions on how to find the answers to those questions.
The pictures Benson paints with his words are beautiful (as is the cover!). He provides a lot to ponder in his opinions, and he is transparent about the struggles he's had to find his true direction.
You can purchase the book at:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love is in the Air!

Over the next week or so there are three fabulous books I want to share with you:

Love as a Way of Life Devotional
Author: Dr. Gary Chapman
Summary: In his book Love As a Way of Life, best-selling author Gary Chapman shows readers how to cultivate a new lifestyle built around the seven characteristics of authentic love. Now in a companion devotional, he provides ninety inspirational readings to help Christians consistently live out the characteristics of love in every relationship.
Each devotional entry showcases biblical truths that guide a life of love, offering fresh insight and practical guidance in how to make love a lasting habit. Over the course of three months, readers will learn to follow God’s lead as they practice the characteristics of a loving person: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity, and honesty.
The Love As a Way of Life Devotional makes an ideal gift for the holidays or for any special occasion. Couples, parents, new graduates, and anyone celebrating a milestone in life will welcome this inspiring daily guide to richer, more satisfying relationships.

I Do Again
Author: Cheryl and Jeff Scruggs
Summary: With their professional success and adorable twin daughters, Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs looked like the perfect couple. But their polished facade concealed a widening chasm between two people unable to connect on an intimate, soul-deep level.
After years of frustration, Cheryl’s desire for emotional fulfillment led to an affair and, finally, divorce. Yet, incredibly, seven years later, Jeff and Cheryl once again stood at the altar, promising to “love, honor, and cherish” one another. A new and vibrant love had risen out of the ashes of this family’s pain.
I Do Again details the fascinating real-life story of a couple whose relationship seemed shattered beyond all hope until a spiritual awakening led them to reconsider their definitions of “happily ever after.” A riveting account of the power of prayer and redemption, this remarkable book offers renewed hope for even the most troubled marriages—and reveals why the rewards of restoration are well worth the wait.

For Couples Only Box Set
Author: Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn
Summary: Since their debut, these revolutionary guides have sold well over a million copies, been translated into fifteen languages, and sparked much fascinating water-cooler conversation around the country. Now together in the For Couples Only boxed set, these books provide the perfect resource to help you understand what you never knew about the woman or man in your life.
Each volume is based on input from more than a thousand members of the opposite sex—including an unprecedented nationwide survey and hundreds of personal interviews. This innovative approach yields candid and surprising answers about everything you don’t “get” about your significant other—even what that person deeply wishes you knew. It also produces simple but groundbreaking awareness of how you can best love and support the one who is most important to you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Journey of a Strong-Willed Child

For the month of February, we are going to focus on books that deal with relationships. Relationships with your spouse, children, parents, and friends. There are several really fun books lined up, so keep checking back!

First, we will book at a book by Kendra Smiley, Journey of a Strong-Willed Child. If you happen to have a child like this (we have a couple), you know that it not only impacts your relationship with your child, but also with your husband and the other children in your family. In addition, it can impact relationships with friends who either don't want your strong-willed child around or decide that, because their docile children would NEVER behave this way, they can give you valuable parenting advice!

Kendra's strong-willed son, Dr. Aaron Smiley, co-wrote the book with her, and her husband, John, helped too.

The number one take away from this book -- it IS possible for strong-willed children to turn into responsible adults! And if you are lucky, they may have their OWN strong-willed children to deal with (egged on by grandma, of course!).

My first real experience with our strong-willed daughter #2, Becca, was her fight at bedtime. She did not want to go to bed, and everyone in the neighborhood knew it. Our babysitter once gave me a photo album full of photos of places where Becca finally fell asleep -- in the middle of the floor, in her food, even in the middle of the stairs. She would scream so hard once we put her in her bed that she'd consistently throw up. We'd quickly change her bed and her clothes and leave the room again. Eventually she'd cry herself to sleep.

She's in college now, and she's turned out to be a fabulous young woman. But we still have our occasional disagreements. Instead of throwing tantrums, though, she's become quite adept at the fine art of debate!

Here's an interview with Kendra about the book:

Where did you get the idea for the book? Our strong-willed child became a responsible adult, but it was not without great effort on our part. We witnessed so many kids who were not only strong-willed, but misunderstood. God had placed a song inside of them, but they seemed incapable of singing that song. Many times it was because of the confusion and lack of confidence of their parents.

What are the major themes of the book? We answer questions like: how do you identify a strong-willed child? What are the incorrect assumptions made about a strong-willed child? How do you discipline a strong-willed child? How can you encourage and appreciate a strong-willed child?

What kind of research did you have to do for the book? Much of our research was experiential. Aaron traveled the bumpy road of a strong-willed child, and we were with him every step of the way - believing he was a gift from God. We also read books from leading psychologists with their thoughts on strong-willed children and interviewed parents who had identified their kids as strong-willed. Hearing Aaron’s thoughts and reflections on each stage of the journey was incredible.

How do you know if you have a “strong-willed” child? Dr. Dobson, noted expert on the strong-willed child, wrote that a strong-willed child “seems to be born with a clear idea of how he (or she) wants the world to be operated and an intolerance for those who disagree.” But wait…there’s more! A strong-willed child does not necessarily want to control everyone else; he simply wants to control his world. And mom and dad, you are in the way! A strong-willed child has a strategy, so as the parent, you must have a strategy too. A strong-willed child is often defiant, but can also be charming or amusing in order to gain control. The strong-willed child is “gifted” in manipulation. He or she is willing to take punishment in order to “win,” especially if the consequence is deemed inadequate or insignificant by the child. These children are often misunderstood. They are NOT bad, or mean or stupid.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book? We hope that readers will learn to love, encourage, discipline, and appreciate their strong-willed child. We believe that these kids are a wonderful gift from God and that he can give their parents wisdom to help each strong-willed child sing his or her song to God.

Two-year-old Aaron Smiley and his father are eyeball-to-eyeball, sitting on
the stairs.
“Aaron, you will not win,” says his father. “I will be with you
every step of the way and you will not win.”

Why did Aaron want to win and control his world?Because he was a strong-willed child.
When parents are raising a strong-willed child, they need to know that they don’t have to take the journey alone. In their updated book, Journey of a Strong-Willed Child, authors and speakers Kendra and John Smiley share the story of their second son’s development, offering advice and encouragement for parents blessed with a strong-willed child of their own. And in a particularly delightful twist, Aaron - now a responsible adult and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - adds his own comments to his parents’ wisdom.

“What is difficult for most people to understand is the motivation of a strong-willed child,” writes Aaron, reflecting on the scene on the stairs. “The strong-willed child may choose the stated punishment in order to be in control, especially if the child considers the punishment moderate.”

Is it possible that a child’s behavior can actually be predictable? That others have gone before and lived to tell about it? That a strong-willed child can one day mature into a contributing member of society? The answer to those questions, according to Kendra, John, and Aaron Smiley is a resounding “Yes!”

Journey of a Strong-Willed Child will arm parents with the encouragement and wisdom they need to meet the challenges of raising a strong-willed child. From pre-kindergarten to college, Journey of a Strong-Willed Child addresses each stage of a child’s development and offers proven advice, accompanied by a myriad of delightful anecdotes. Along the way, you’ll gain a new understanding of your child’s heart and a renewed sense of gratitude for the special person God created him to be. Engaging, insightful, and irresistible, it is a book that will touch your family for years to come.

Kendra SmileyKendra Smiley is an author, speaker, and radio show host. She married John over 35 years ago and with him raised three sons.
A natural-born entrepreneur, Kendra kept the home fires burning, while growing a home-based business, serving as a youth leader in her church for over 20 years, and staying active in her community. Her work as a mother, entrepreneur, church and community leader did not go unnoticed. In 2001, she was chosen as the Illinois Mother of the Year.
She has written more than half a dozen books, spoken to thousands around the country (and abroad), founded and distributed a daily radio program — today heard on more than 40 stations. Kendra connects with people wherever she is — teaching individuals to make the next right choice.
Learn more about Kendra at

Buy a copy of Journey of a Strong-Willed Child at Amazon.