Book Review: Simple Habits For Marital Happiness by Randall Schroeder

I’m very excited to introduce the first Book of the Month for 2020: Simple Habits For Marital Happiness: Practical Skills And Tools That Build A Strong And Satisfying Relationship. I sincerely enjoyed the book, and I plan to implement several of the lessons within my own marriage.

Whether you are engaged and planning your life together, newly-weds, or have been married for thirty years, the lessons in Randall Schroeder’s Simple Habits For Marital Happiness (ISBN: 978-1633571754) can help you have a strong, satisfying relationship. Schroeder teaches 90 lessons that span seven chapters. The seven chapters deal with the following themes: forgiveness, strengthening the martial bond through commitment and closeness, the importance of enhancing emotional and spiritual oneness, communication, protecting and “guarding” your relationship, respectful disagreement discussions and keeping the “bond of peace,” and financial harmony.

Each lesson can be read in roughly 5 minutes, so they can easily be woven into daily reading for couples to grow together. Even after reading through one time, readers will want to revisit the lessons again and again to develop healthy habits within their marriage. The lessons in chapter three, Habits That Promote Spiritual And Emotional Closeness, provide important foundational lessons. For example, it is important to pour into each on a daily basis. Each day, spouses should fill each other’s cups through respectful dialogue. Through pouring into one another’s cups, or pumping water into their water towers, it decreases tension and increases emotional closeness.

Emotional closeness is a large theme within the book. Emotional closeness is achieved through various words and actions including appreciation and public praise, “quick connects,” “date your mates,” laughing together (but never at each other’s expense), politeness, and healthy habits for communication, guarding your relationship, and financial harmony.

Despite the vast wisdom in the book, Schroeder acknowledges that several of his lessons may be hard to digest by couples or indiviudal spouses. One of such lessons, is that spouses should never have opposite-sex friends outside of other couples. The rationale behind it is that closeness with an opposite-sex friend may lead to unfaithful actions and adultery. What is your opinion on this topic?

Overall, Schroeder’s Simple Habits For Marital Happiness is a fantastic guidebook for couples and individuals looking to grow in their relationships. The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Check out the link below to order yourself a copy.

Link to purchase your own copy of Simple Habits for Marital Happiness: Practical Skills And Tools That Build A Strong Satisfying Relationship 

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Happy New Year From The Unicorn Writer

Happy New Year! I thought I would take some time to introduce you to the writer behind the page 💗

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My name is Kayla E. Green, but feel free to call me The Unicorn Writer. I am a Christian author, and I am currently working with Wipf and Stock to publish a collection of my poetry entitled Metamorphosis.

I have also completed a young adult fantasy novel entitled The Goodness of Unicorns that I hope to have published this year or next. 💗

I am currently working on an adult fiction novel with the working title, Saved by the Grace of a Dog🐕💗

Some facts about me:

  1.  I have an identical twin sister.
  2. I have 4 dogs (2 were adopted through the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina).
  3. One of my all time favorite books is Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede.
  4. I’m currently obsessed with The Witcher on Netflix.
  5. By day, I teach English Language Arts to 6th graders.
  6. I love unicorns!

Tell me a fun fact about you in the comments! 😊

Be Still And Listen

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Be still and listen.
Be patient and wait.
For in the silence is a lesson
That will serve you in a manner great.
Cut out the noise and clamor
Lend the Lord your ear
Put on your holy armor
And let faith dissolve your fears.
Let your Father speak
To your heart and soul
Let strength fill your weakness
Let His word make you whole.
Be still and listen
To His word on high
For it is time to begin again
And start your new life.

Identity in Christ

A video by Priscilla Shirer of Going Beyond Ministries was recently shared with me, and it could not have been shared at a more perfect time.

Link to video Identity in Christ by Going Beyond Ministries with Priscilla Shirer

There were several things she said that struck a spiritual cord within my heart inclduing:

  • We must first go to God so that our path may be illuminated.
  • It is when we are outnumbered and the odds are against us that miracles happen.
  • “His strength is perfected in our weakness.”
  • When a woman is inspired by God, that is a powerful thing.
  • Confidence is gained through difficulties and difficult circumstances.
  • We are in a process unfolding – we will be at a different starting point in the new year than we were in the past.
  • When we encounter God’s word, we are changed.
  • We are marked by the identity of Christ.

My identitiy is within Jesus Christ. I want to embrace the change that is occuring because of God’s work within me. I want to embrace my metamorphosis. I want to trust in Him more. I want to pray more and go to Him first so my path may be illuminated. I want to go where He needs me and when.

I am changed. I am changing. I am transformed. I am transforming. All in His name. 

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Book Review: How Happiness Happens by Max Lucado

Do you feel happy? How long has it been since you felt geniuine happiness? How can we find happiness in a world with so many unhappy circumstances? Max Lucado explores these questions from a religious perspective in his recent 2019 book How Happiness Happens (ISBN: 978-1404112261). This book is perfect for anyone searching for ways to add geniune, contagious, infectious, and unstoppable happiness to their lives.

Lucado’s secret to a happy life? It is more beneficial to give rather than to get. To be happy, you need to focus on others. He frames his lessons on happiness around “one another” statements:

  1. Encourage one another.
  2. Bear with one another.
  3. Regard one another as more important.
  4. Greet one another.
  5. Pray for one another.
  6. Serve one another.
  7. Accept one another.
  8. Admonish one another.
  9. Forgive one another.
  10. Love one another.

Each “one another” statement is centered in scripture and accompanied by engaging anecdotes that encourage the reader to keep reading more

One of the biggest takeaways from this book is that people find happiness by making others happy. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35

Another lesson that is beautifully depicted is loving others as God first loved us is vital to happiness. When we let the love of God fill our hearts and souls, we see people differently and we can appreciate the beauty of the stories they have to tell. By loving and serving others as God first loved us, we can find happiness. “Happiness happens when you offer to others the grace you’ve been given” (p. 145).

A third lesson that Lucado teaches is that prayer is necessary. We are ambassadors of God. It is our duty to represent His love and His light. When we embrace our roles, we can speak to God and He will speak to us. He will lay concerns and passion on our hearts, and we in turn must pray. One of the lines in the book that spoke to me most was “God burdens you with a concern for orphans, distant lands, or needy people. Respond to these promptings by prayer” (p. 83). When God places something on your heart, pray. “We can do much after we pray, but we can do nothing until we pray” (p. 85). Pray and then act. Keep God at the center of your life, while serving, loving, admonishing, and encouraging others, and you will find happiness. Find a way to serve others that ignites your soul, and you will find happiness.*

Happiness is not material. It cannot be purchased. BUT it can be achieved. Anyone who wants a greater understanding of How Happiness Happens should read Lucado’s book in full. In addition to the main text, the book includes “The Happiness Challenge” (a 40 day challenge meant to increase your happiness level), questions for reflection, Lucado’s 10 personal thoughts on happiness, and 10 scriptures to find encouragement.

Link to purchase your own copy of How Happiness Happens

 

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*I have found myself in the last month, the happiest I have been in years. What have I changed? I have started attending church regularly and have been working on my relationship with God. I have tried to remain optimistic, even when stressed. I have greeted people, even people I don’t know. I have prayed more and I have spent time praying for others. I have taken more time to spend with my husband and for us to grow as a couple. I have taken more time to do things that makes my heart happy (writing, blogging, reading). I have started volunteering again. I have continued to go to therapy and do my “homework” (many of the things I have listed above) to improve my emotional health. Things are not perfect, but I am so blessed I am happier and in a better state than I was a year ago or even a few months ago. Lucado’s book helped me understand that happiness can be achieved, but to get happiness we must give to others. I am trying to start my days with, “How can I be of service to others?” Be it my students, co-workers, family, friends, or strangers — I want to be ready to serve.

 

 

What Defines You?

“What defines you?” It wasn’t the main message of today’s sermon at church, but as soon as the pastor said it, it resonated with me. What defines me? What do I want to be defined as?

I have spent the entire afternoon reflecting and comtemplating on this. I want to be defined as someone who is happy, confident, and fulfilled. I want to be defined as a strong woman of Christ and someone who shares the light of Jesus with everyone she meets based on her demeanor and actions. I want to be the woman of Proverbs 31.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:25-30

I want to be like my great-grandmother, Edna, who is a strong woman of Christ who has a servant’s heart. When I read Proverbs 31, I immediately think of Grandma. Thinking of both together, I was inspired to write the poem “Edna.”

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I am far from the woman of Proverbs 31. I am far from being my Grandma. I am far from being the woman of Christ I yearn to be. But I’m going to try my best each day to be better than the day before. I am going to work in growing my faith and becoming more of a servant to others rather than focusing on my own selfish wants and desires. Through this, I think I can become happier, more confident, and fulfilled. I want to be defined by these things, but, most of all, I want to be defined by my faith.

What defines you? How do you want to be defined? What goals do you have to shape your identity and how others see you? Comment below!

Give Thanks, Even In The Drought

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

— 1 Kings 17:8-16

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At church, the pastor has been doing a series on the prophet Elijah. Israel experienced a drought for three years, but Elijah was faithful that God would provide for his needs. The widow he encountered was faithful as well. As Thanksgiving approaches in the coming week, it is important to be thankful. But it is important to be thankful at all times — even when we are experiencing personal drought. Lately, I feel that I am in a drought, but I can’t let that overshadow my many blessings. In the season of THANKGS and GIVING, I am creating a list of 100 things I am thankful for — I challenge you to make your own list and take some time to thank God for your many blessings.

  1. I am thankful for my family; my mama, dad, brother, sister, and extended family. I am also thankful for the close bond that we all share.
  2. I am thankful for being a twin, and for being born with my best friend.
  3. I am thankful for my husband, Matthew; he is my rock and biggest supporter.
  4. I am thankful for my friends, Rafael and Jessica, and their support.
  5. I am thankful for my grandparents and are adventures together.
  6. I am thankful for my in-laws.
  7. I am thankful for the University of Maine and my brother’s graduate program.
  8. I am thankful for First Presbyterian Church of Dunn and the welcome I have received since attending services.
  9. I am thankful for books.
  10. I am thankful for my car.
  11. I am thankful for my house, and that my husband and I are blessed enough to be homeowners.
  12. I am thankful for Disney Pixar movies, especially Zootopia (highly recommend it!).
  13. I am thankful for East Carolina University and the three degrees I have.
  14. I am thankful for my mistakes.
  15. I am thankful for my students.
  16. I am thankful for the pictures and drawings my students have given me over the years.
  17. I am thankful for the relationships teaching has fostered.
  18. I am thankful for the American Red Cross and the ability to donate blood.
  19. I am thankful for my talents of writing and poetry.
  20. I am thankful for art.
  21. I am thankful I took art lessons growing up.
  22. I am thankful that Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera’s work is in Raleigh, NC (I hope that my husband and I will go in the month of December!).
  23. I am thankful for Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.
  24. I a thankful for sunflowers.
  25. I am thankful for calla lilies.
  26. I am thankful for pink Titanic roses.
  27. I am thankful for modern healthcare.
  28. I am thankful for mental healthcare.
  29. I am thankful for my therapist.
  30. I am thankful for my psychiatrist.
  31. I am thankful for warm clothes in the cold.
  32. I am thankful for snow.
  33. I am thankful for tennis shoes.
  34. I am thankful for comfortable work shoes.
  35. I am thankful for my phone.
  36. I am thankful for Harry Potter and how it brings so many people together (I am a proud member of the Ravenclaw House).
  37. I am thankful for my sweet furbabies.
  38. I am thankful we can provide for our animals.
  39. I am thankful for the time I had with my dog, Jon Snow, before he passed.
  40. I am thankful for memories.
  41. I am thankful for dogs.
  42. I am thankful for cats.
  43. I am thankful for animals in general. Their existence brings me joy.
  44. I am thankful for my Instagram and connection with other animal lovers through my account @peace_love_and_paws.
  45. I am thankful for our Instagram connections with https://www.mugginandco.com/ & https://brittanyfarina.com/ (check them out!)
  46. I am thankful for the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina and all they do to rescue animals.
  47. I am thankful for having a job and a steady paycheck.
  48. I am thankful for my coworkers, past and present.
  49. I am thankful for the gym.
  50. I am thankful for yoga and the ability to practice.
  51. I am thankful for understanding the importance of self-care.
  52. I am thankful for the body positivity movement.
  53. I am thankful for my health coach, Jennifer Chalker.
  54. I am thankful for Beachbody.
  55. I am thankful for my time in Journalism Newspaper in high school.
  56. I am thankful for Ms. Brenda Peregoy.
  57. I am thankful for the beach.
  58. I am thankful for swimming.
  59. I am thankful for quiet reflection time.
  60. I am thankful for sunshine.
  61. I am thankful for laughter.
  62. I am thankful for Thanksgiving.
  63. I am thankful for old and new traditions.
  64. I am thankful for Christmas.
  65. I am thankful for the movie “Elf.”
  66. I am thankful for the movie “Matilda.”
  67. I am thankful for the release crying provides.
  68. I am thankful for being able to capture moments and memories through photographs.
  69. I am thankful for my former thesis committee and all the support Drs. T, D, and Z gave to me.
  70. I am thankful I am a lifelong learner.
  71. I am thankful for my laptop.
  72. I am thankful for WordPress.
  73. I am thankful for my blog.
  74. I am thankful for my blog followers.
  75. I am thankful for my passion and drive to become an author.
  76. I am thankful for second chances.
  77. I am thankful for new opportunities.
  78. I am thankful for both open and closed doors.
  79. I am thankful for India and my memories there.
  80. I am thankful for central heating and air conditioning.
  81. I am thankful for sweatshirts.
  82. I am thankful for glasses.
  83. I am thankful for pedicures.
  84. I am thankful for wine.
  85. I am thankful for my first book (a young adult fantasy novel), The Goodness of Unicorns. 
  86. I am thankful for unicorns.
  87. I am thankful for plays, musicals, and symphonies.
  88. I am thankful for my collection of poetry.
  89. I am thankful for my thesis research.
  90. I am thankful for my drafting of a historical fiction novel based on my thesis research.
  91. I am thankful for libraries.
  92. I am thankful for fellowship with other Christians.
  93. I am thankful for my religion.
  94. I am thankful for my salvation through Jesus Christ.
  95. I am thankful for forgiveness.
  96. I am thankful for the meaning of the cross.
  97. I am thankful for the prophet Elijah.
  98. I am thankful for times of bounty.
  99. I am thankful for times of drought.
  100. I am thankful for the power of faith.

The Lord’s Purpose Prevails

Today at church, the pastor spoke about the prophet Elijah. During his sermon, he referenced the Rolling Stones and their song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” That’s the truth isn’t? “You can’t always get what you want . . . but if you try sometimes, well, you might find [God gives you] what you need.”

This has lead me to mull over wants, needs, and goals. As Christians, we can’t sit around just waiting to take action. We have to set goals, BUT we have to hold the steering wheel loosley so the Captain can change course when necessary.  Proverbs 16:9 reads “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” We need God. We need God to help provide for our needs. We need God to show us that what we want isn’t always what we need.

What are some things that I want?

  • I want to be a published author. I want to share my poetry, my YA fantasy novel, my historical fiction novel, and everything else I write with the world. But I don’t need this. It is a desire of mine. All I can do is put forth the work and be still and wait.
  • I want to go to church regularly. This is really a need. My soul needs to worship God, and my soul needs fellowship with other Christians.

How can I turn my wants into goals?

  • By Decemeber 2020, I will have my poetry collection published.
  • In the next 2 years, I will have my YA fantasy novel published.
  • In the next 6 months, I will have finished writing my historical fiction novel. Within the next 3 years, I will have the novel published.
  • I will go to church at least every 3/4 Sundays of the month.

Goals are based on wants, desires. A lot of my goals include factors outside of my control, especially with getting published. It all comes down to the Lord’s plan. I have to let go and be okay with that. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” – Proverbs 19:21.

Book Review: Ripples by Diana LeGere

Every decision we make in life has a ripple effect. This ripple effect impacts ourselves and others. The ripples of life is the center of Diana LeGere’s book Ripples: A Memoir of Reflection (ISBN:978-0997912623). With each story, LeGere explores moments of her life and the ripples they created. This memoir is a perfect read for anyone who questions their own life journey, as LeGere gives advice on how to accept life as a journey.

Each chapter is a reflective story from LeGere’s life. She explores the themes of sharing your gifts and talents, discovering your authentic self, stepping outside of your comfort zone, relaxing and just letting go, trusting God, forgiveness, accepting God’s timing, learning from your experiences, giving up control, and seizing new opportunities. At the close of each story, LeGere includes a Bible verse, prayer, reflective questions, and journaling space. The reflective questions and journaling space truly allows the reader to reflect on their own life and get to know herself.

There were three sections that spoke to me on a spiritual level: “Be authentic,” “There is nothing God would put into your heart He would not bring to pass,” and “What we have is today.” For someone who has been yearning for self-reflection and self-discovery, LeGere’s words and lessons were inspirational. I am in a period of transition, but I need to be true to myself as I relinquish control and let God guide me. With that being said, I need to seize new opportunities as my heart leads me by God’s direction. I gained a greater connection with myself and with God through working my way through LeGere’s memoir, and I believe that anyone striving to better understand themselves and/or striving to better understand life’s journey will enjoy this book.

Link to purchase your own copy of Ripples: A Memoir of Reflection

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Interview With Myself

My therapist suggested that I interview myself to deepen my own self-reflection on projects I am working on. I have decided to share my interview with myself here.

 

  • What inspires you to write poetry?

 

    1. I have dabbled with writing with poetry for years, but nothing as extensive as my Metamorphosis: Bible Verse Poetry project. I have been doing a lot of soul searching and self-reflection, as well as trying to build a closer relationship with God over the last several months. God has ignited a passion in me to write, and He put the Bible verse Isaiah 40:31 in my path. I was inspired to write the poem “Promises,” realizing that He has promised me all. I do not have to spend my days anxious or afraid because He will direct my path and set my soul ablaze. He will renew my strength, and I will soar like an eagle. I felt a surge of energy as I completed this poem, and had the idea to complete an entire poetry project inspired by Bible verses. I asked friends and family what Bible verses were important to them. In only a few weeks time, I completed 51 poems. 

 

  • Your poems are inspired by Bible verses, but what topics do your poems explore?

 

    1. In Metamorphosis: Bible Verse Poetry, I begin with topics of depression, anxiety, and searching for something more. I discuss my own transformation, or metamorphosis, through faith and God’s love. I then transition to embracing God’s promises and the strength He provides. My last poem is titled, “I Am A Butterfly.” I have some poems that discuss what it means to be a warrior of God, what it means to be a strong, Christian woman, and how to find hope when you feel broken. The project is very much a personal testimony of what Christianity has done to help me, mentally and emotionally. These are verses and poems I can turn to when my depression and anxiety rear their ugliness. I hope my poetry project can give light to others in times of personal darkness. 

 

  • Do you have a favorite poem from your project?

 

    1. The title poem, “Metamorphosis” as well as the final poem “I Am A Butterfly” are very near to my heart. They are both foundational to the project and my testimony of my own transformation through Christ. I have two other poems, both named after two of my great-grandmothers, Evelynn and Edna, that I am especially proud of. Evelynn was and Edna is a strong Christian woman, clothed in dignity. 

 

  • Have you written any other books aside from your poetry project?

 

    1. Yes, I have written a young adult fantasy novel entitled The Goodness of Unicorns. In the book, fifteen year-old Rowan has little faith in herself, as she is a magicless witch. The only witch in all of Wisteria known to be unable to use magic. Rowan has a hard enough time navigating high school wherein she is ostracized for being different, but now an upcoming election has the Wisterian Empire on a dangerous path. In addition, she struggles with Odi, a demon tormenting her inner mind. Rowan faces her own inner darkness while trying to navigate a world where she doesn’t fit in and wherein outer demons threaten all non-witches and those who fail to conform to the growing Empire. Yet, there is a beacon of light in the darkness. Rowan meets a dire wolf who helps her discover the power within her, helps her deal with the demons around her, and prepares her to defeat them. Rowan must believe in her own magic in order to face her own demons and to save the Empire from impending darkness.

 

  • Is there a religious undertone to your fantasy novel?

 

    1. Indirectly, yes. My character Rowan discovers her own power through the power of the light. Similarly, I have garnered strength through embracing Jesus’s light within me. I want readers of my fantasy novel to know that they can defeat darkness and demons. They can be overcomers, chain breakers, and mountain movers. They must embrace scripture such as James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” 

 

  • What are your plans for your writing?

 

    1. I am currently in search of a literary agent for my fantasy novel. I have gotten several rejections, but I am staying hopeful. If I cannot secure a literary agent, I plan to submit directly to publishers that take non-agented submissions. For my poetry, I plan to submit the completed manuscript to an upcoming competition in December for a chance to be published. If I do not win, I plan to pursue self-publication. I am determined to be a published writer, and I will explore all avenues to make my dream a reality. 

 

  • What advice do you have for other writers?

 

    1. If you are passionate about writing, write to your heart’s content. Don’t stop writing. Write for yourself. Keep working to share your writing with the world. When you hear no, keep pushing forward. There will be a yes to your work eventually. I’m still waiting for my yes, but I am confident it is out there. I refuse to give up. Refuse to give up.
    2. Also, consider interviewing yourself to put your goals and aspirations in concrete form.