November 2015 in Review

What I Focused on in November


1. National Novel Writing Month
2. Family time, especially during the holidays
3. The beginning of a couple of busy weeks with my non-writing job

Birthday Challenge and Dream List Update 

2. Pray the “prayer of Jebez” every day for three months {2 Months}
3. Read the whole Bible { 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job} 
4. Go to Wednesday night church 24 times
7. Read the Proverb of the day every day for six months {2 Months – I might have missed one day}
11. Get up at 6:15 or before 24 days in a row (not counting weekends) {Completed on November 17th}
12. Go to bed at 10:30 or before 24 nights (not in a row) {2 Nights}
13. Write a monthly review on my blog within 5 days of the end of the month whenever internet is available {1 Months}

14. Blog my 3 (or more) top goals for each month within 5 days of the beginning of each month whenever internet is available {2 Months
22. Write 50,000 words in a month on my WIP (preferably for nanowrimo) {Completed NaNo on 11/6/15, wrote 68,000 during the month}

Side Note:
I completed 18 out of the 24 days on this challenge, then had to stop due to my wrists: Write a 1,000 words a day on my WIP every day for 24 days in a row (not counting Sundays)

Do (and complete) NaNoWriMo again

Reading Update

Fiction: 2
Non-Fiction: 0
Reviews: 0 
I decided to take a semi-break from reading during November and throughly enjoyed it. I did read some of other books that I didn’t finish, though. 
Traveling

1 Night Gone
New countries or states: None 

November Goal Updates 
1. If the Lord wills and I live I will Complete NaNoWriMo {Yes, and exceeded it}
2. If the Lord wills and I live I will read one nonfiction book and review it {No. Haha, as simple as it was and I didn’t do it. Crazy.}
3. If the Lord wills and I live I will reach Lamentations in my Bible reading. {No. November totally did not go according to plan.}

What I’ve Been Learning
Life does not always go according to plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Sometimes I need to let go and set aside goals and expectations and embrace life as it flies at me. Just because something does not go my way does not mean that I’m allowed to complain or get upset about it. I need to be flexible and relax instead of getting stressed out. 
I’ve been learning that there are lasting effects to having Lyme disease that I had never imagined. I’ve also discovered that I am so sick and tired of even thinking about Lyme disease and taking a break from working on When Life Hands You Lymes was wonderful. Even though I’ve been over Lyme disease for a couple of years, there are still parts of my daily life that are affected by it and I’m trying to work though those and remembering to rejoice in everything, even when it’s hard. Plus, celebrating small victories helps a lot. 
Wrists/arms/the body… Yeah, they’re all important and I need to treat them with care and make sure I glorify God with my body so that I can do the work that He has put me on earth for. That sometimes means laying aside expectations. And remembering to rejoice. And acknowledging that God is in control of my life and that I will be content even if life doesn’t follow the path I’ve planned for. 
It hit me again in November how important books are. They really have played a huge part in my life. It was quite rewarding to think of the fact that my words will some day be able to touch other people’s lives like some of the books I’ve read have touched mine. It’s an honor and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. 
First Aid. A group of us at work went through a six and a half hour first aid class. Yikes, I’m still planning on blogging about that some day, but I learned a lot. Including the fact that some things that look like huge mountains can be climbed with laughter (that’s a metaphor, not something to do with the actual material we learned). I learned (in theory, anyway), how to do CPR, bandage someone up, check to see what the problem is when someone is hurt, apply a splint, apply a tourniquet, etc… 
I went with a bunch of my family and co-workers to hear John Maxwell speak and that was delightful and insightful as always. Mr. Maxwell talked about living life with intentionality and even though I’ve heard him speak on the subject before, I still scribbled notes most of the time. One thing that he said that made a lot of sense was Growth is not an automatic process. You naturally grow older, but you don’t automatically grow in other ways. You have to be intentional.” For some reason I have to be reminded of that every few months. He also said Everything good in your life is uphill. You have to be intentional because you do not coast uphill.” There is so much truth in that. I am working on living an intentional life and pleasing God with all I do. 

For the last half of the month I studied different positions, stretches, practices, etc… to help with keeping a healthy body while working on a computer for so many hours at a time. I learned a lot and I’m thankful for the changes I’ve been able to implement into my life. 

This is an on-going lesson, but in November I had a lot of great chances to work on turning to Jesus and focusing on Him and what I have to be thankful for when I get stressed out. I didn’t ace this subject, but I did learn and grow in it. 

Other 
This month was a collage of so many different things that I can hardly kick my mind into focus to remember exactly what happened in the 30 days that composed November. 
One of the best parts was getting to go to a Michael Card concert (I’m hoping to blog about that, too). I grew up on his music and have continued to enjoy it immensely and meeting him and listening to him in person was way more amazing that I would have imagined. 
This probably seems silly to include in my month review, but during the last part of the month I got to play a lot of games with various family members. Games are one of my favorite things to do and I had so much fun. I seriously don’t know if I’ve met anyone who enjoys card and board games as much as I do, so pretty much the games were one of the highlights of my month. 
Eating white chocolate was also a fantastic way to spend the month. I had so much fun having a white chocolate month. It made the whole month and all the writing that went along with the first two weeks of November feel like a celebration. (Plus, I had six people give me white chocolate, can you imagine?!?) One morning my sister, her best friend and I sat around on a blanket on my office floor eating white chocolate and talking. That definitely made it into my Happy November Memories memory bank. 
November was also a month of change as far as my writing set up goes. I am working on making changes now that will help with my long-term health as a writer. That means instead of sitting on an easy chair I’m sitting at a table with my computer at eye level and I’m using a keyboard and mouse that are designed to help reduce stress to the body. It’s been a challenge to make all the changes I’ve needed, but it’s going to pay back many times over. 
Of course we had Thanksgiving as well. We spent a lot of time with family during that week and it was good. I have a new niece and nephew since last November, so it was a treat getting to see them. 

What about you? How did your November go? 

Whatever the Cost – Book Review

Whatever the Cost 
By David and Jason Benham 

Find it on: 

First person
Two point of views
Non-fiction
 202 pages


About the Book
From the backcover Blurb 

“Two nationally-acclaimed real estate entrepreneurs share biblical principles to revolutionize your work and family life, and give you the courage to stand up for what is right.”

This book follows the story of highly motivated and entrepreneurial twin brothers, David and Jason Benham, from their formative years and ventures into professional baseball to their rise as owners of a multi-million dollar business empire and securing an HGTV reality series. It’s a journey where the brothers learned how they must die to their dreams not just once, but twice as they walked away from baseball before being called up to the Big Show and later as their TV series was stripped away from them just before airing when the network succumbed to media pressures surrounding their faith. 
These experiences only helped them realize that the key to powerful living is found when you die to your dreams and face your fears, and choose to live powerfully through it all. The biblical principles they implemented to guide their work and families are revealed in practical terms to apply to our daily lives and give us courage to stand for what is right.
Why I Choose this Book

This spring when our family made it’s annual trip to hear John Maxwell talk at Ohio Christian University we also had the privilege of hearing the Benham brothers speak. They had the whole crowd in all out laughter basically the whole time they were on stage and yet spoke to us in such a deep way that left a very lasting impression. I came away from that night wishing I could have listened to them a lot longer. 

They were selling books after the event and since I didn’t have any money with me I borrowed some from my cousin and then ran out in the pouring down rain to get two of my books to give to the Benham brothers for their kids. Their book was well-worth the money I spent on it. (And just so you know, the brothers are pretty nice, too.) 


What I Thought About the Book 

The book is amazing. Not only is it very practical, uplifting, challenging and interesting, it’s also peppered with their competitive twin-ish humor. (As they put it “We’re a couple of guys who take our faith very seriously and ourselves not-so-seriously…)

The book starts out when the twins were little kids and continues on devoting a chapter to each period of their lives. It’s not about the guys though, it’s more about how they’ve seen God work in their lives and the lessons they have learned over time. I loved how honest the guys were and how they talked about the ups and the downs they’ve gone through. They even talk about a million-dollar mistake they made in their business when they ran ahead of where God was leading them. 

I found it really interesting when they talked about how playing professional baseball taught them how they needed to put their identity in God instead of in what they were able to accomplish because that’s been something I’ve been working on. (I’m planning on re-reading that chapter soon.) The book had so many amazing bits of wisdom that I know I’ll have to read it at least once or twice more before I’ve given it full justice. 

I also really enjoyed where they talked about growing their business because I am in the process of trying to grow my business (my books) right now and sometimes (most of the time) I feel like I’m in so far over my head that I’m lost. This book reminded me to trust God with the results and not to lean on my own powers. 

Conclusion 

It’s a good book. You should read it. Yes, you. 

Rating 

I’m giving Whatever the Cost Five stars and recommend it to anyone old enough to read. I especially recommend it to people who are interested in honoring God with their lives and want to be encouraged by some amazing twins who made me laugh out loud. 

About the Authors

David and Jason are former professional baseball players and also nationally acclaimed entrepreneurs. They happily married, and their families live on the same street in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their wives, Lori and Tori, homeschool their combined nine children and are passionate about serving in their community.


Follow David and Jason on Twitter:

@DavidDBenham

@JasonBBenham

Visit their website: BenhamBrothers.com

Big Picture People – Book Review

Big Picture People 
By Doug Carter
Find it on:
First person
One point of view 
Non-Fiction
118 pages 

About the Book
The job is too big. The resources are too small. It’s just too easy. It’s just too difficult. 
Naysayers are never in short supply! Tackle a job seemingly behind your abilities, and you’ll find them in every direction. But God’s people learn to disregard negativism and see beyond the obvious. They focus their vision on God Himself, His higher purposes, His never failing strength. In short, they’ve learned to see the big picture. 
Why I Choose this Book
I’ve actually already read this book at least once, probably several times, over the past few years. Our family has become friends with the author and his life, and his book, are inspiring. Big Picture People is a quick and easy read (probably three hours at the most) and it’s encouraging and uplifting. 
What I Thought

I really wish more people would read books like this. It talks about how many people go through life with a ‘knothole view’ instead of stepping back and seeing the big picture. Learning to see the big picture is truly a life changing experience. 
God has a huge plan for each of His children’s lives. When we give our lives over to Him and really start to seek Him and follow Him then our lives become so much more than they could ever be on our own. 
This book helps us see better who God is and who we are and how God can use us. 
Conclusion 

This book has a bunch of quotes, Bible verses, personal stories and practical insight and is put together in such a way that it’s really easy to read and enjoyable and inspiring all at the same time. I would happily give this book to a ten-year-old and thirty-year-old and ninety-year-old and expect them to all learn and grow from it. 

Rating

I’m giving Big Picture People five stars and I would recommend it to anyone. 
Praise for Big Picture People: 

“In [Big Picture People] Doug shares vital keys to experiencing intimacy with Christ and making a maximum difference in His kingdom. Filled with wit and wisdom, this book is an easy read, but will profoundly change your life.” -John Maxwell, founder of INJOY Group

“With refreshing style, Doug Carter has written a wonderful book for Christians who want to press beyond mediocrity and rise to excellence in their faith. [It is] full of practical insights for those who are eager to grow as disciples of Christ.” -Bill McCartney, founder and president of Promise Keepers

What I’ve Been Reading

Since we left home on Friday I’ve been enjoying reading. I think the writing side of my brain called a time out and the reading side of my brain called a free-for-all. 
I’ve focused a good amount of time on my non-fiction reading list: 
I read the last half or so of Love Does by Bob Goff and could barely contain my enthusiasm as I shared story after story with my family and quickly passed the book along to my cousin and sister who are both gobbling the book up. Someday I’ll be reviewing it on here. A total Five Star book. Y’all should go buy it and read it ASAP. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sufficiently rave about this guy. 
I also finished the last third of Getting Things Done by David Allen. I had to read this book for work and unfortunately it’s not really one of those books that meshed well with me. (Translation: I had to crawl my way through it and y’all aren’t going to be seeing a review.) 
I also began Home Run by Kevin Myers and John C. Maxwell. Y’all! It’s amazing. I’m only on page 86 of 217 pages, but I’m really enjoying it. I received this book back in February when I was at the Salt and Light Conference. Mr. Myers gave a talk with the principles that are in the book and then at the end of the session each person got a book. I completely recommend this book and hope to review it for y’all after I’ve finished reading it. 
I also started reading Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks. I’ve read this book (or at least part of it) before, but that was several years ago. I’m currently on page 106 out of 174 pages. It has a lot of really helpful information and I’m trying to immerse myself in books about writing, so I’m very thankful for this book. 

I’ve also read four fiction books (one of them that I’ll be reviewing on here soon) that add up to 1,215 pages of reading. Combine that with the 376 pages of fiction (It really felt like more! I’m always shocked at how much easier it is for me to fly through fiction compared to non-fiction, even though I really do like non-fiction). That adds up to 1,591 pages which is kinda a lot of reading for five days. (About 318 pages a day.)

One reason I took this reading blitz is because I’m still mind-tired from finishing When Life Hands You Lymes. I have been working on plotting my next book though (which is the second book in the Creation Quest series) and I’m hoping to begin writing it today. Thankfully I have a good grasp on what’s going to happen with this story and it should be really easy to turn out. A couple weeks from now I think I’ll be ready to move on to my next project. Excitement.

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What about you? What are some of the books you’ve been reading recently? I’d be delighted to hear!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Non-Fiction Books On Your To-Be-Read-List

This morning I’m linking up with The Broke and Bookish for their Top Ten Tuesday weekly feature. This week’s prompt is: Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List. My problem is my list hasn’t changed much since this post. Therefore I thought I’d change the prompt to: Ten Non-Fiction Books On Your To-Be-Read-List because even though I read a lot this month I didn’t finish any non-fiction books so I need to ramp up my non-fiction reading during April. 
**I don’t have links for most of these books because I’m running on tight Internet usage**
1. Go Teen Writers by Stephanie Morrill and Jill Willamson 
I’ve already read this book, a lot of it more than once. But me oh my, it’s so helpful! Totally worth re-reading several times.

2. Finding the Core of Your Story by Jordan Smith 
Same with this book. Amazingly helpful when you’re trying to really tack down just what your story’s about.
3. The Plot Skeleton by Angela Hunt 
I have a hard time with plots and it’s been a while since I read this book, so I thought it was time for a re-read. 
4. Evoking Emotion by Angela Hunt  
Can you tell that I’m pretty focused on writing at this time? Yep. 
5. Leadership 101 by John Maxwell
To all you people who might be new to Noveltea, I’m a big John Maxwell fan and almost always have at least one of his books part-way eaten. 
6. Be a People Person: Effective Communication by John C. Maxwell 
I’m part way through this book and figured it was time to finish it off. 
7. Getting Things Done by David Allen 
Ahem. This book isn’t exactly my cup of tea. I’m reading it for work and eagerly await the last chapter. 
8. Love Does Bob Goff 
I started this book and OH MY WORD. Yeah, you should read it. Mr. Goff has such a unique outlook on life and it’s so inspiring. 

9. Pushing People Up by Art Willams 
This is a book that was recommended to me and I have it waiting in my office, all ready to gobble up. I really like Mr. William’s writing style, so I’m excited about diving into Pushing People Up
10. Hand of Providence by Mary Beth Brown 
This book was recommended (and given) to me by my mom and since that doesn’t happen extremely often (and since Mom’s amazing), I’m eager to read it for myself. 
* * * 
What about you? Do you have any books on your non-fiction reading list? Do any of these books look interesting to you? 

Salt and Light Conference – Some of my Notes

Day two of the Salt and Light conference left me with about twelve pages filled with amazing notes. I wanted to be able to share this extraordinary experience with y’all, so I thought I’d post some of the thought provoking quotes I wrote down. It’s a mis-mash of ideas from various speakers; I hope you enjoy!

* God wants us to succeed in every aspect of our life. Work hard and diligently then turn it over to God and let Him multiply it
* If you don’t value people, you will use people
* God strips us of the things we would use in our own strength so we have to rely on Him
* The greatest battles are the ones within us
* Sometimes we say we value people when really we just use them to validate ourselves
* Success means nothing until it’s attached to a God-sized significance 


* I must value every person the same as Christ values them
* I must be intentional in reaching out to people
* I must give up my rights for the higher order of unity
* I must learn to seek to understand rather than be understood
* I must learn to love people in spite of how they treat me


* Mass movements don’t start with the masses, they start with a small group moving in the right direction
* It doesn’t take much light to dispel darkness
* Be careful, not fearful
* Don’t have a good day, make it a good day!
* I need to think and live with intentionality

***
I’m so excited about everything I’ve been learning and the people I’ve been able to talk to. What about you? Which of these quotes seem to jump out at you the most? I’d be delighted to hear. 🙂

My Sister Rocks // Equip World Relay

My sister Helena is doing some really amazingly cool!

Have you ever heard of Equip? Well, if not, why don’t you check it out? I’m not going to take the time to explain everything here, but here’s the synopsis: A large group of people are doing a walking relay from Atlanta, Georgia all the way down to Guatemala City, Guatemala to raise prayer support. Yes people, you read that right. It’s a couple thousand miles of walking.

Helena with John Hall, the man who organized the walk

My sister is doing the first nine or ten days of walking. Since they’re averaging 22 miles a day, that’s quite a bit of tread they’re burning!

Anyway, I thought I’d show you a snippet of the texts and pictures she’s sent us:

We’re way ahead of time. Finished our 15th mile taking a break. 
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We’re headed to the embassy now, there will be a couple TV stations and some other media there. 
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Thanks everyone!! I’m so happy to be (finally) at the hotel. We were delayed about an hour because of two different interviews. We’ll be on two tv channels tonight and in two or three papers tomorrow and Wednesday. I’m really enjoying chilling with ice on my knee. We treked over some crazy places without sidewalks. When we got to the end of the 22 miles they had blaring music and people holding signs and dancing – it was awesome!! (From the first day)
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So after getting chased by dogs yesterday while walking solo they gave me my very own case of mace. Not sure how I’d forgotten that item. 

***


You can see a movie of when they reach a hundred miles here. My sister is the one in the middle. As you can probably tell, they were rather excited about their milestone, and with good reason, too!

You can see more pics here.

You can track their progress here.

And you can find out how to join them, either by walking or by praying, here