Category Archives: Books

Bookshelf | Pray Big: The Power of Pinpoint Prayers, by Will Davis, Jr.

It’s Sunday morning and the house is still quiet. It’s just Dugan (my 8 year-old terrier mutt) and me on the couch, trying not to wake the others up. In a couple of hours we’ll be running around, finishing breakfast and heading out to church, so I wanted to take some time now and tell you about the book I’ve just finished…literally. Like five minutes ago.

Courtesy Guideposts.com

I bought a copy of Pray Big¬†for myself after buying several copies for Christmas gifts last year. I’ve never really been interested in books about prayer, because I’ve always wondered what makes someone else an authority on prayer and why I should listen to them. After all, prayer is a personal thing between my God and me, right? I’ve never seen the need for any involvement from someone else there. Who says there is a right way or a wrong way to pray? Anyway, you get the idea.

I almost feel like this book knew who I was and that I needed to read it. It was determined to put itself in my path at some point. Why? Because I’ve been praying for years, but I’ve never allowed myself to pray for anything really specific. I always thought, I’m lucky enough to be talking to God as it is. I’m not going to push it. He knows what’s best, so I’ll just pray those generic thoughts like “Lord, please be with my Dad today,” or “Lord, let your will be done,” or “God, please bless Laura today.” That’s all fine, but looking back, I know that God is already doing those things, whether I ask Him or not. He is always with my Dad. His will is always supreme, and He is already blessing Laura, long before I think to ask. I always worried that praying for specific things was selfish, that it meant I thought I knew better than God does. What I learned is that Jesus Himself taught us how to pray, and when He prayed, He didn’t use those vague phrases we all know. He just opened up and had a good heart to heart with his Father. He talked to God as if He were sitting right next to Him, and He said what was on His mind. If He wanted God to do something, He simply asked for it.

I love what Will says here: “If you were really sure that God hears and answers your prayers, would it change the way you pray? What are you praying for today that will require a miraculous answer from God? What are you asking for that only God can do? You chose worry over prayer, stress over hope, and defeat over victory because you believed God simply wouldn’t respond to something so trivial.” Hello, Ashley!

I could go on and on, but I really suggest getting a copy for yourself and seeing what God has to teach you from it. My communion with Him, the way I spend my time with the Creator of the universe, is forever changed. The way I pray for my friends and family and for the world will never be the same. I just can’t wait to see what God will do!

Happy Sunday to you all! Here’s hoping for lots of rest and replenishment; what Sundays are made for.

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Bookshelf: Uncovered, by Susie Davis

I first came across a column by Susie Davis¬†about a year-and-a-half ago, in an issue of Austin Woman Magazine. At the end I read that she and her husband, Will, had built a church on the northwest side of town. I was interested because Marlin and I had just moved and were looking to get connected in a church and had yet to find one we felt comfortable with. Fast forward to today, and not only have we found a new church home that we’re pretty excited about, but I’ve also found a new author to tell you about.

It’s an easy read. Uncovered: Revealing the Secrets of a Sexy Marriage. It’s one that you could read while sipping an iced (insert your beverage of choice here), lying on a nice beach towel watching the waves go back and forth. It’s also one you could curl up with by the bedside lamp with a cup of hot tea and stay up all night to finish without even realizing it. It’s funny, real, and inspiring.

But what I love most about it is the lesson I never knew I had never realized, even two years after the wedding (I know, we’re practically seasoned vets, don’t you think?). In the chapter titled “Materialism and the Man,” Susie warns about the threats of being obsessed with things, with what we have, and how we appear to be doing to everyone on the outside. Yes, we’ve all heard this before. But she goes on to write that lowering our standards or crushing our cravings for stuff is not going to be a long-term solution; rather, we should really think about raising our expectations. Not the expectations of what we have, but raising the expectations of what our marriage should be and stand for. Her answer? Giving your marriage a mission.

I’m going to stop here for a second because I’m a little embarrassed to say that she ended up going in an entirely different direction than I was expecting. She asks why you got married in the first place and I went down my list: Build a life with my best friend…check. Provide a stable home and family for the future children I hope to have…check. Irresistible smile and dimples…triple check. Okay, there was a little more to my decision than that, but you get the idea. What I never considered about getting married was this:

“While Will and I love each other immensely, we are also out there loving God and others…while doing so, we are fulfilling our mission to love and serve…and it’s in this comprehensive context that we find meaning in our marriage. A marriage mission is about understanding that the union you share is not just about the two of you. Your marriage has a higher calling and a bigger vision–and that can change everything.”

Whoa. Do you see why I was embarrassed to admit that I’d never realized this before? It seems so common sense, but honestly I was just always concerned about how our marriage served my husband. Now I realize that as a couple, God can use our marriage to serve others.

Thanks for bringing this life-changing revelation to my universe, Susie. I was a major fan of marriage before, but this takes it to a whole other level. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a mission.

Amazon.com

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It aint all about the cookin’

I held a book in each hand, walked up to him and said, “Pick one.”

“I don’t know what you want to read.”

“Just pick one; I’d like either of them. This one looks really good, but this one I’ve almost picked up many times before.”

This is what happens when my husband lets me loose in a bookstore. Hey, he’s just lucky that I don’t come back with all 37 titles that I really want to read; at least I have enough sense to only buy one at a time (most days).

He picked the one I was secretly hoping for; this is how I know we’re meant to be. And turns out, he was right. I finished it in two days.

I can’t remember exactly when my obsession with food writing books started, but I’ve read some great ones. I should put up a list here (adding note to my clutter list now), but if you ever want any recommendations, just shoot me an e-mail. Anyway, this is by far one of my favorites.

Like anyone you will meet in the world, there is so much more to the lady from Savannah with the big smile, the big laugh, and the big love of butter than we ever knew. She’s not afraid to tell it like it is, warts and all, and she’s got so much of that southern charm that I think it makes America fall even more in love with her.

“I plan to tell some hard secrets in these pages,” she writes. “I’m prayin’ that if even one of you out there gets some inspiration from the way my own American dream turned into reality, it’ll be worth playing true confessions here.”

Alright, Miss Dean, it was worth it.

It Aint All About the Cookin', Simon & Schuster 2007

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Accidentally in love

For the second time this year, I’m reading Fast Track Photographer, by Dane Sanders. I love this book for several reasons and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning the business of photography, as opposed to the technical aspects of photography.

One reason I love this book is because the author is a self-proclaimed “late bloomer” in the photography business. Like me, Sanders found himself coming back to photography after years of making other plans and chasing what he thought should be his dreams. He writes honestly about how daunting it is to face starting over in a business where everyone who’s anyone seems to have known their destiny long before they could even start working. They’ve put in a decade or two of chasing this dream before you even realized where the starting line was. How can you possibly take yourself seriously? If you were serious about this dream, you would have done something about it years ago, before you had responsibilities and an appreciation of PTO and medical benefits. No, those are the serious photographers. They came straight out of high school knowing exactly where they were going, and they’ve got years of experience on you. You’ll never make it. It’s too late.

So it seems I know how he feels. If this is really something I want to do, wouldn’t I have majored in photojournalism rather than education or government? Wouldn’t I have spent my time practicing my craft rather than worrying about a boyfriend? Wouldn’t I have taken any job I could get taking pictures rather than looking for something with a steady paycheck and cozy office?

Another reason I love this book is because Sanders knows he started late, but instead of feeling defeated and forgetting about his dream, he got real with who he was as a photographer and used it to his advantage.

“I needed to embrace who I really was, not who I wished I could be or thought I should be. My success began the day I became clear on who I was as a photographer and started sharing it with the world” (p. 18-19).

This was the inspiration for my blog, my way of sharing what I have to offer and what I still need to learn in hopes that I will create opportunities and also speak to those who feel like it may be too late to jump in. I hope that I’ve been clear on who I am as a photographer–I am most certainly an amateur and a beginner, but I have big goals in mind and I want to learn from the very best.

What’s more, I believe that photographer is part skill, part talent and a whole lot of luck. Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place, at the right time, with a camera in your face and it works out. Sometimes you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you click the shutter button and it creates exactly what you never knew you were going for. Below is my perfect example. If you asked me how I got this shot, I won’t be able to tell you. I don’t know anything about the shutter speed, aperture setting…I don’t even know the specs on the lens I used because I was playing with a friend’s. But my husband was feeling goofy, made a fist and well, it turned out to be one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken, purely by accident.

And I’m perfectly okay with that…In fact, I think it’s half the fun.

 

Copyright Ashley Terry 2010

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