Book Review: The Vine-Ripened Life by Stanley Gale

A Vine-Ripened LifeRecently I received the book A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ by Stanley D. Gale for review and I have been enjoying slowing reading and absorbing each chapter this last week.

In this 13-chapter book, Gale uses relevant life stories and metaphors to bring to life the practical aspects of living a life for Christ and of exploring each aspect of what it means to embrace and embody the Biblical fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindnesss, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, based on the well-loved verses in Galatians 5:22-23 introducing this particular line-up. Each chapter ends in a page of reflective and thought-provoking questions both for the individual and scalable for a group discussion.

As I read the chapter “No Ordinary Love,” I was intrigued by the question, “What does such love look like?” which Gale poses after exhorting the reader to abide in God so that His love would be perfected in us and that loving others as God loved us is a symptom of abiding, a sign of our union with Christ as the Vine of life. This particular metaphor is pulled from Christ’s own words in John 15:5, “I am the Vine and you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Having been in various ministries over the years, I have seen people take what they thought was love to an extreme – to the point that it became an issue of pride, an issue of “look-at-me and what I can do,” and I can’t say I haven’t been caught in that trap myself. I found myself immediately skipping back to the self-control chapter to see what truths I found there as well. As Gale states on pg. 134, self-control “manages the operation center of the believer’s heart.” In all things, we have to have self-control, praying through next steps, trusting God’s lead, absorbing the truths of abiding in Christ through Bible study, asking wisdom from our fellow believers and taking the time to listen to the Holy Spirit’s gentle leading. It’s so easy for even the best intentions to guide us out of God’s will. Gale relates this process to keeping our hands on the wheel – not letting distractions keep us from critical prayer and focus that keep us from harm’s way.

You can’t read just one chapter of A Vine Ripened Life and walk away. While each chapter holds easy-to-read practical truths, God gave us a line-up in the fruits of the spirit that require each aspect to be thoroughly explored both individually and as a whole as Gale does in this book, each deepening and building on each other so that we can find maturity of thought and action and truly seek to bear fruit – a bouquet of fruit the regenerates and is refreshed as we seek to grow and to know the freedom of life in Christ.

In full disclosure, I do know and highly respect the author, Pastor Stan Gale, and have enjoyed his previous writing before sitting down with this recent publication. Stan is the senior minister of The Reformed Presbyterian Church in West Chester, PA and I worked with him as the liaison to the Philadelphia Area presbytery in my volunteer stint as president of WIC (Women In the Church), holding prayer retreats and other events for women throughout the area churches. Stan is also the founder of Community Houses of Prayer.

ABOUT A Vine-Ripened Life:

The grace that stimulates the fruit and maturity of a sanctified life comes to us through Jesus Christ. We bear much fruit only as we abide in Him. In A Vine-Ripened Life, author Stanley Gale points us to Jesus, the Vine of life of John 15, in whom we, as branches, must live and grow to bear the fruit of a grace-grown life. He explains, “Having begun in Christ we remain in Christ, continuing to draw our life from Him and maturing in grace.” With pastoral sensitivity and an engaging style, Gale teaches readers both about the fruit of Christian character and how to cultivate it. Questions at the end of each chapter make this an ideal study for individuals or groups.

Available both in print  and in Kindle edition.

 

Car Passenger Safety Week is NOW: September 14-20

Child Car SafetyImportant PSA coming to you from the Ad Council and SaferCar.gov:

Child Passenger Safety Week is September 14-20 and anyone with a child in a car seat is encouraged to visit SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat to determine if YOUR child is in the right seat for his or her age & size.

Because each seat has different installation instructions, you can also get resources and tips on having the right fit for your car seat.

Car seat check events are planned across the country if you are unsure about your car seat. You may also register your child’s car seat with the manufacturer to be informed in the event of a recall.

To locate a Certified Child Passenger Safety technician in your area, go to safercar.gov/therightseat or download the free SaferCar app from the iTunes App Store.

Here are a few tips from SaferCar.gov:

Car Seat Safety Tips:

  • Find a car seat that fits your child. As children grow, how they sit in your car will change. Make sure the car seat you purchase is designed to fit your child’s current size and age.
  • Not all car seats fit in all vehicles so test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits well in your vehicle.
  • Before putting your child in a car seat, read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how your car seat works.
  • All-in-One car seats offer you the advantage of using the same seat for the following positions: rear-facing, forward-facing with harness, then booster. These seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
  • Remember, the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly. The information here can help you choose the right seat for your child.

Keep in mind that:

o  Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.

o   Children ages 1-3 should be kept rear-facing as long as possible.

o   Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.

o   Be certain you’ve installed your car seat correctly by having it checked at an inspection station or by a certified child passenger safety technician. Bring the Car Seat Instructions AND the Vehicle Owner’s Manual with you to a seat check appointment!

For more information, head over to SaferCar.gov.

Win a car seat! #BuckleUpForLife

Head over to my other blog DIYFrugal to read more about this month’s car safety campaign through BuckleUpForLife and learn how you can win one of over 25 car seats being given away. I am giving away one on DIYFrugal but read through that post to see where more are being given away on Twitter and via Google Hangout this coming week and to read about the precious moments I’ve shared with my kids in the car over the years.

Buckle Up For Life

 

 

Are you ready for disaster? Get Prepared #NatlPrep

And, now we will depart from our normal programming for this public service announcement… 

Are you storm-ready? Do you have an evacuation plan in place for your family and supplies to last a few days? September is National Preparedness Month – just in time for several storms that have been brewing and creating some serious damage already including Dolly and Norbert.

Ready.gov has a number of resources that are extremely helpful in case of a natural disaster. Here are a couple for your reference.

o   Learn how to create evacuation and emergency communication plans

o   Download printable family communications plans for your children here

o   Resources for natural disasters in your area: Hurricanes, Floods, Earthquakes, Tornados, Wildfires and Winter Storms as well as tips about how to prepare.

preparedness  month

 

Below is a great PSA recently released by FEMA, created pro bono by Deutsch Inc. These PSA videos show the aftermath of a disaster through two families; one family who have all found each other safely at a shelter they earlier designated as their meeting place, and one set of parents who are frantically searching for their son.  The ads show the harsh reality of what can happen when you don’t have an emergency plan in place.

For more information or to get involved in September activities, check out Ready.gov/September.

Join the conversation on social media:

Like ReadyGov on Facebook &  Twitter

See everywhere you can follow FEMA on social media

“Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.”

Faithful Reflections: A Study in Pearls

I have three blogs at this point and my heart’s desire is to return this blog to my original intent – the pure pleasure of writing and sharing inspirations I find in daily life. This is easier said than done when this blog has been live the longest and I get daily offers for sponsored posts and other opportunities. If you are a potential sponsor, please go check out DIYFrugal and MamaLovesMedia to see if I can help you with a post on one of those sites but this is my writer’s blog, the creative pearl in my life.

And, so we get to the point of this particular blog post – pearls. Why pearls?

That’s what my husband asked me this last weekend when, in the quiet of our campground retreat, I told him I was looking up everywhere in the Bible that mentioned pearls.

Still receiving a quizzical look, I shared a little story about a pair of pearl drop earrings I had bought and tucked away never worn that just happened to fall from my jewelry case this last week on a particularly important day as I prepared for a critical meeting. More on that later.

My ESV Reformation Study Bible listed only a handful of references to pearl or pearls, none in the Old Testament other than a mention of a pavement in-laid with “Mother-of-Pearl” in the book of Esther which documents the life of one very special queen.

In the New Testament, Matthew 7:6 admonishes listeners to “not throw your pearls before pigs lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

Matthew 13:45-46 tells the reader that “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearl, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

1 Tim 2:9 encourages women to adorn themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control, not with costly attire, braided hair and gold or pearls but with what is proper, doing good works.

Finally, Revelations, the book that ends the New Testament, gives us John’s visions of Heaven with twelves gates made of a single pearl each and streets of transparent gold. What a beautiful vision.

The preciousness of pearls depends on their origin (natural versus man-made, fresh water versus saltwater,  from the South Seas versus anywhere else in the world) and are the source of much inspiration since the beginning of time. They are made from a small irritant that enters a mollusk and is coated over and over and over until a gorgeous shiny pearl is formed. Unlike precious stones that are cut to reveal brilliance, pearls grow in luster and brilliance over  time and come out of the shell as they are intended.

Pearl in Shell

In Evolution of Immune Reactions, Simon Petr stated “Pearls are commonly viewed by scientists as a by-product of an adaptive immune system-like function.” The metaphors I could draw to the Christian life are plentiful, from the difficult things in our life that God uses for good to the precious lessons and people God inserts into our lives in the most unusual of places.

To go back a minutes to the verses listed above, the verses in Matthew remind us to find that which is of great value and follow it whole-heartedly, using wise discretion in our communications and our lives. Great reminders on a daily basis. God’s word to us is something of great value and something to cherish in the midst of whatever path God directs our feet. How we weave the hope we receive from God’s word into our daily communications is a subject of daily prayer.

Timothy’s admonishment to women came at a time when there was a stark contrast between the women humbling following Jesus and those who decorated themselves in fancy clothes and jewelry. The way they dressed reflected a lifestyle choice which is not untrue today but the lines have blurred a bit.  When I read to my daughter the verses I had found, my daughter replied, “so are you telling me you went to an important meeting with a Christian ministry wearing pearls when the Bible tells you not to? That’s what I got out of that.” No, I don’t think the Bible is telling me to not wear an inexpensive pair of costume jewelry earrings but it does remind me to reflect on where I put my money and focus in life.

In terms of the imagery in Revelations, I am all that more grateful for the hope I have in Jesus – knowing that someday I will be walking through pearl gates down golden streets and rejoicing in the presence of the God I love.

Come follow my pearl board on Pinterest if you are so inclined to see a variety of beautiful pearl pictures and be inspired to create your own metaphors to life:

Follow Sarah’s board Pearls on Pinterest.

Building Moments: the Best Baby Toys for Development

tesco stuffed animal

When you’re expecting a baby, you want the best items for your child. You want to give them the most intellectually stimulating toys so that they have the best start in life, as well as equipment that can cope with their energy, and accessories that can keep them safe.

What toys are the best for your baby’s brain? There are lots of suggestions online but here’s just a selection of the classics.

Mirror

When your baby is really young, give them an unbreakable mirror so that he or she can learn more about their surroundings. Babies at this age don’t know they’re looking at their own reflection. You’ll be entertained by their antics as they learn about the world!

Blocks

This classic toy is a classic for a reason: your child will be honing their motor skills while eventually graduating into problem solving and simple math. At first, a toddler will pile them up and learn about weight, gravity and balance. The next stage is stacking and lining up, beginning to produce patterns and maybe even learning about fractions a little. Then building structures and experimenting with symmetry follows.

Rattles

When your child is very young, it’s important to give them toys that will stimulate all her senses. The rattle is an excellent choice: your baby will very quickly understand that the sounds being made are being produced by the rattle, and what shaking produces which different sounds.

Soft books

Even before your child can understand stories, you can play with a soft book: the sound of your voice is soothing, and the turning of the pages is a nice addition which your child will continue to associate with a peaceful and comforting time.

Stuffed animals

These toys play a huge role in the development of your child’s imagination. The games children play are preparation for the adult roles of their future, and help them understand the way the world works. Pretend play allows children to explore their feelings about real life while retaining control of imaginary situations. This is a hugely important part of growing up.

Children have amazing imaginations. You’ll find that your kids can make toys out of anything from an empty cardboard box to a blanket and an upturned table. But the classic toys are classics for a reason: they work!

(In partnership with Tesco. Picture from Tesco website)