Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: 200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One

200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One: Creating a Life of Meaning and Influence 200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One: Creating a Life of Meaning and Influence by Shawn Wood
My rating:
5 of 5 stars 

"Here is what I know about you: Right now there is a work in you that God has not given up on. You may have; but God has not."  

In 200 Pomegranates, Shawn Wood looks at 10 verses from 1 Kings 7 that tell the story of Huram - a skilled craftsman from Tyre who is called upon by King Solomon to do some work in the Temple. His work? To create 2 columns 18 cubits high (~35 feet) on which he carved 200 pomegranates each. And all this beautiful craftsmanship was located at the top of the columns - in a place where no one would notice or see - in a place where only his "audience of one" would appreciate.  

From this vantage point, Wood launches into a portfolio of "artists" - people who have lived and are living their lives full of purpose and meaning, despite facing difficult and distracting circumstances. He writes, "God's gallery is filled with broken-down people with great upswing potential. We are a group of people who now have the opportunity to grow and expand the investment God made in us by following the model of Christ and investing in others and things that will last."  

I loved Wood's honest and humorous writing style and am so encouraged to do whatever I do (even if it's carving 200 out-of-sight pomegranates) as if I'm doing it only for my "audience of one." I highly recommend this little book with a powerful message.  

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

2 Great Resources

I stumbled upon 2 wonderful online resources for spiritual growth today while researching the author (Shawn Wood) of the book I am reading ("200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One").  More on the book later... but Shawn Wood is a member of Seacoast Church and when he referenced his church in the book, it inspired me to look into it further.

When I visited Seacoast's website, I found a wealth of wisdom there and a very neat tool in their NEXT STEPS area, so I took their Spiritual Health Assessment and have identified a few areas in which I need improvement and would like to grow.  When you have identified a "purpose area" and a "LifeTopic" in which you want to grow, you can find recommended articles, books, podcasts, and action steps to help you in that goal.  I figure, why not? it's not too late to set some New Year's Resolutions!  :-)

My next discovery is so cool (I think) that although I have only used it for 1 day, I couldn't keep it to myself, but rather than try to describe it, I'm going to let you read what they say on their website:

Reading the Bible and praying is not just for the spiritually elite; it is vital for every believer. You do not need to understand Greek and the sequence of Paul’s missionary journeys for the Holy Spirit to speak through the Word.
We created to provide followers of Christ with a tool to help them focus during their personal worship times.  Each Scripture Examen is a simple-guided experience to help you reflect on the Scripture as the Holy Spirit speaks to you.  Prayer Examens offer guidance to help you stay focused in your prayer life. We also provide a journal for you to keep a history of what God is teaching and doing in your life.
Whether you use or not, make sure the Scripture and prayer are priorities in your life.  These disciplines are the bedrock of following and having the mind of Christ.

I think that pretty much sums it up - so, - check it out with me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review: The Sweet By and By

The Sweet By and By The Sweet By and By by Rachel Hauck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

This delightful novel by country singer and songwriter, Sara Evans, is a story about love, forgiveness, redemption, faith, and relationships. As she approaches her wedding day, the main character, Jade, has to deal with a lot of past pain and regret bubbling up to the surface – or rather, dragged to the surface by her estranged free-spirited mom and the rest of her rag-tag broken family and by her seemingly perfect, polished family-to-be. Through it all, Jade grows and learns that you do not have to cut off your past in order to have a future, but it is quite a wonderful journey that gets her to that point.  

I really enjoyed this book. Evan's descriptions put you right there: “The Indian summer day was perfumed with the sun-browned, dying fall leaves.” And her rich characters make you feel like that's your family she's talking about (or perhaps it makes you thankful for the one you've got!). Personally, I related to Jade in so many ways, and really loved experiencing her doubts and fears, and then her joy and fresh belief in herself, in others, and in Jesus right alongside her.  

I certainly hope to see more from Sara Evans in the future!  

-Katie Casey 
Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger  
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Best of 2009


There's been quite a few (thank you, Netflix and redbox!), but I think the most enjoyable, most edifying, and most impressive movie that I watched this year was FIREPROOF.  Honestly, I went into this with kind of low expectations (I'm ashamed to admit) and the idea that it would a cheesy moralistic Christian movie, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was really a wonderful movie that was encouraging and motivating.

This one is fairly easy, since I've only seen a handful in the theaters this year, but the prize easily goes to UP.  Of course, I am a huge Disney and Pixar fan - so it's probably no surprise to you - but this movie also had a great message about marriage and love and it had dogs with voice machines.  Who can forget the doberman with the squeaky voice or the lovable golden retriever - "Master???"  Also, my mom and Steve were inspired to include the balloon theme from UP in their wedding decor to signify the adventures they are going to embark on together.  Pretty cool.

I was thinking this category might go to a concert or play or even a hockey game (definitely not a Chiefs game or even a Royals game), but I think I am going to have to reward it to Ron Ruth.  He was the DJ at our wedding 4 years ago, he was the DJ at Mom's wedding in October, and then he was the DJ and the Crown Christmas party.  I use the word DJ so you understand, but really he is an "Entertainment Director" and that does suit what he does much better.  Truly, he makes you want to party.

I had to go to my goodreads profile to review what I've read this year for this category, and I realized it was going to be impossible to nominate just one.  So, I'm cheating a little and doing 2 (well, sort of 4, but they are series books, so that doesn't count, right?!?).  Anyway, both of these are parts of trilogies and I have read the first 2 books in each so far.  The first is Hunger Games & Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.  Excellent YA literature reminiscent of one of my childhood favorites, The Giver.  The second is a series being published posthumously by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, The Girl with athe Dragon Tattoo & The Girl Who Played With Fire.  The 3rd will be The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest out this spring.  They are wonderful intellectual mysteries, but really you read them for the colorful & rich characters.

Hands down, Mark Batterson's "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day," if the title doesn't intrigue you, perhaps my review of it will...

2009 Favorites

Catching Fire
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars
The Hunger Games

Katie Casey's favorite books »

On one of our last evenings in St. Louis, Eli and I went to our favorite place on the Hill, Cunetto's House of Pasta and ordered our favorite dish (pasta d'alba) and although we've had it many times before, it was especially good that night - making us promise we would be back.

Our first camping trip (besides at the ranch) together was to Branson, MO this spring.  We arrived late at night in the middle of a downpour that didn't stop all day.  We set up tent in the rain and woke up to a leaky tent.  We went to Wal-Mart, bought rain-gear and still managed to enjoy Silver Dollar City, and then (best of all!) checked into a jacuzzi suite hotel room.  It was wonderful...

The Amazon Kindle.

Who would have thought I would have ever included a category like this?!?!?  Well, since I've been at Mom's house for the last couple months (along with my brother, Nick), I have to add it... and it goes to Little Big Planet.  It's so much fun and even I can play it!

and, last but not least...
I'll never forget the half-marathon I ran this spring.  Not because it was my first or my best, but because despite the fact that it was freezing and raining, my wonderful husband drove me downtown for it and waited a VERY LONG time for me to finish and met me at the finish line with an umbrella and hug.  I really think knowing he was there at the end made me run a little bit faster than I would have managed otherwise.  So THANK YOU, ELI!  The site of you soaked and smiling at the finish line is burnt in my mind forever.  Here's to many more "best memories" in 2010!