Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

One would think that a book about porn addiction would only appeal to a niche market, but that's not the case with "PURE EYES, CLEAN HEART - A Couple's Journey to Freedom from Pornography." This book has something for everyone, and that's great news because I have a copy to give away!

Jen and Craig Ferguson not only speak honestly and courageously about Craig's porn addiction; they share, step by step, how they've navigated these murky waters to a place of healing. 

While I did not expect to see myself or my husband in this book, the truth is that I saw us both. The message "PURE EYES, CLEAN HEART" delivers will resonate not only with anyone dealing with any type of addiction, but with all married couples as well. That is because this book is not only about addiction but about relationships in general as well. 

See if you recognize yourself or your spouse in these words from Jen:

"I don't know about your situation, but my husband has a bit of a rebellious streak in him...He saw the rules as something designed to constrain him, thus, he would look for ways to break free from what he viewed as my tight grasp of his behavior. As such, he would engage in behaviors he knew would hurt me deeply. He would spend hours playing video games. He would neglect to help me around the house. He wouldn't talk to me about anything of real substance...

The rules we had set up to create a pathway to freedom ended up becoming a locked-down prison. The padlock was fear; the key was surrender... Everything I had done to try to save my husband only seemed to make matters worse. When I look back at myself...I can see clearly that every single one of the rules we had implemented was rooted in fear. My sneaking and scheming to try to catch him in the act was motivated by fear. My threatening and chastising was instigated by fear. I had been like a military dictator that wanted precise order and regulation because, like most dictators, I was afraid that something or someone more powerful than me would take over."

Still not sure this book has something for you? The book is divided into 6 segments and each of these consists of 3 chapters - one written from Jen's perspective, one written from Craig's perspective and a third chapter to help you work through the topic they've just presented. If you love God's Word then you will love these third chapters. They go beyond sharing relevant Scriptures and give in-depth explanations of the verses that allow you to see Scripture in an entirely new light.

If you'd like to enter to win a copy of "PURE EYES, CLEAN HEART" please leave a comment below this post. Receive an extra entry for sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter (let me know if you've done this in the comments.) Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Monday December 1, 2014 when a winner will be chosen by random draw. U.S. and Canadian residents only, please. 

*I was given a copy of this book to read and critique, plus a second copy to give away but this in no way influenced my review. All opinions are strictly my own.


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

I recently listened to a sermon by Mark Batterson, and in it he told of a study conducted to see how long individuals would work to solve a series of puzzles before giving up. What these people didn't know was that the puzzles were unsolvable. (Did I mention that I hate puzzles?)

They were also unaware that the "taste" study they participated in prior to this was not an independent study but actually directly related to the puzzle study. In the "taste" study, the subjects were led into a room containing a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and a plate of radishes. (You're already salivating, aren't you?) Half the individuals were told to go ahead and eat whatever they wanted (read, "Have at the cookies!") while the unfortunate remainder were asked to consume only the radishes (as they smelled the freshly baked cookies.)

So what was the connection between the two studies? The researchers discovered the people who were allowed to eat the cookies spent twice as much time trying to solve the puzzle as those who resisted the cookies. Why? Because cookies are good for your patience! Eat more cookies and have more patience! The end.

Ah, if only it were that easy.

Actually, the researchers determined we have self-control in limited amounts. In other words, we can use it up. I realize this is not a newsflash, but now you can be assured that your waning patience is not your imagination. In the studies, the "radish" group had already spent a measure of their self-control on avoiding the cookies, which left them with lower supply of patience when it came to working the puzzles.

This is how we store our toilet paper after
the "pirate" has removed his "spyglass!"
Dude and Bubba, my 3- and 2-year-old grandsons, have been living with me a month now, and I can tell you from experience that the results of this study were spot-on. Caring for them two days a week, I had plenty of patience to deal with the exploits of two active and curious toddlers. Living with them 24/7 I find my patience is tried on a regular basis.

The fact that patience and self-control are expendable explains why even the time of day is a factor. It's much easier to deal with issues like a "pirate" in need of a "spyglass" early on in the day (with a full supply of patience) than it is at the end of the day (when much of it has been spent.)

It also explains why that cookie that you've resisted all day ends up in your hand at the end of the day. Or why that one minor offence sets you off when you've successfully dealt with issues of greater magnitude.

It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to have self-control than to conquer a city. ~ Proverbs 16:32

So, does the fact that we possess these fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in limited quantities mean that its okay to "loose it" once our supply has been depleted? Obviously that isn't the case, because that's what we humans tend to do when relying on ourselves and it never is to our benefit. So then, what are we supposed to do when we need more patience than we have?

1. Be Rooted in God's Word. I find I have much more patience and self-control if I've spent some time with Jesus at the beginning of my day. Sometimes it means letting the boys sleep in longer than they should and sometimes it means my husband watching them for a while in the morning so I can start the day off on the right foot.  (During this season, getting up early is not an option - these boys exhaust me!) When this isn't possible, I plant my Bible on the kitchen counter and read a verse or two every time I pass. Put the phone down and rather than looking at it, look at the Bible instead. Trust me, you'll be much better off in the long run.

2. Eliminate stressors.  When the boys moved in, the first thing I did was shelve all my plans (which is the primary reason my posts have been so few and far between.) There's no way I'd be nearly patient as I have been if I was trying to meet deadlines, keep a perfect house (is there such a thing?), making time for the gym (I think hefting 40 pound toddlers up and down the stairs should count for something!), etc. We're in survival mode here. I make sure we eat and have clean clothes. Anything else I get done is a bonus. (I'm only writing this because their Mama was able to come home for a day, giving me a break.) Look at your schedule and determine what you can remove from your load, even if only temporarily?

3. Remove yourself from the situation (or away from the cookie). My husband is great about giving me a break when he can, but most of the time it's just the boys and I. In addition to accepting help when it's offered, I take advantage of things like story time at the library where I can take a back seat and let someone else be in charge, even if only for a short while. Worst-case scenario: I give myself a time-out. If time out for the boys isn't working (i.e. they're not I tell them grandma needs a time-out. They're not sure how to respond to that, and are actually much better at behaving themselves during my time-out than they are for their own. 

4. Pray! James (1:5) tells us that if we're lacking wisdom we should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. There are certain things God wants to give us, and the fruits of the Spirit definitely fall into that category. One thing that I'm doing with my grandsons (that I wish I knew back when my own kids were growing up) is to stop and pray with them - out loud - in the middle of a situation. I'll ask God to give me what I need (usually patience) and then suggest to the boys that they should ask God for what they need (to be kind, cooperative, etc.)

The first time we did this, Dude prayed, "Dear God, we thank you for this food," just like he does at dinner time. But over time, with encouragement, he's learning that he's not going to find what he needs within himself but God has an abundant supply of it all. Oh, how I wish I learned that when I was three!


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 4 comments

In my recent posts I've mentioned that I've been overwhelmed lately and life has been crazy here in my neck of the woods. That has everything to do with 3-year-old Dude and 2-year-old Bubba moving in with this old grandma a few weeks ago. 

Their mama went back to work when school started, which meant I went back to watching the boys two days a week. Just a few weeks into the school year, my 29-year-old son-in-law got the call he had been waiting for - a heart and kidney were available and he would be getting a transplant later that day! I was already watching the boys, so rather than getting some much-anticipated relief when Momma came home instead received the news that I would be keeping the boys for the near future.

I thought I was ready.

I wasn't.

The first thing the boys did was to share their sickness with me. Runny noses for them morphed into a debilitating illness for me while, of course, they were as active as ever. My house looked like a cyclone hit, and most of our time was spent watching videos. (Many times the same one over and over and over.) 

This world is full of uncertainty, isn't it? We make our plans, we think we know how things will go and how we'll act or react, but everything can change in an instant. 

I didn't know my grandsons wouldn't be going home that day.

My son-in-law didn't know that day would bring a new lease on life.

The donor didn't know that day would be his last.

But God knew.

He determined the times set for [men], and the exact places where they should live. ~ Acts 17:26

Nothing is a surprise to God. Either He planned it, or He allows it. Thankfully, I've learned a few things as I've experienced unexpected changes in my life.

1. Let go of what was and live in the season you are in. 

If I tried to do everything I originally planned on doing in addition to caring for two toddlers, I would be one frustrated mess. Just about everything on my agenda has been shelved, which is why you haven't heard from me for two weeks. (I actually started this post on our weekend away; it's just taken me this long to finish it.) I know this season with the boys will be short, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. Plus, between missing their parents and having their lives upended, Dude and Bubba need all the attention and patience I can muster, and that wouldn't be much if I tried to do it all. Which leads me to the second point:

2. Accept the help God sends.

I don't know what I would have done without the support from the body of believers. Not only has my daughter received an outpouring of support, but it has overflowed to me as well. That first week, when I was so sick, several people brought meals and lent us kids DVD's. My single son came over on his day off to watch the boys (and changed his first-ever messy diaper in the process) while I got some much needed sleep, and the other set of grandparents have been great about taking over on occasion to give us a break. My girlfriend's daughter even came over to play with the boys for a few hours so I could catch up on a few things around the house.

3. Embrace it!

I haven't been writing, but I've had lots of adventures with Dude and Bubba these past few weeks. Here's just a sampling:

They were stinkin' cute and the talk of my niece's wedding.

We made cupcakes for Mama's birthday. First they snuck a bite off the top, then licked off all the frosting rather than spreading it.

Bubba modeled the "Halloween hair."

We have a fabulous kid's room at the local library that we've taken advantage of in addition to going to story time every week. They make great crafts and I don't have to clean up the mess!

The boys have been missing home so I try to get there once a week and let Dude nap in his dump truck bed. They said they were missing Tucker, their neighbor's dog, so last week we visited him too. 

It may be a while before I get to the computer again, but God's giving me plenty to write about as He teaches me through these little ones.


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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

Life has been really crazy around here lately, which made me appreciate our anniversary getaway all the more. My wonderful son works at a hotel in downtown Grand Rapids and this is the second year he has given me a night at the hotel (on the concierge level, no less) for both my birthday and Mother's Day. With our anniversary coinciding with the opening weekend of ArtPrize, I thought that was the ideal time to redeem my gift.

Our room was near the top of the building facing the river, so this is the view we woke up to every morning. Nice, yes?

We put on almost 7 miles walking around on Saturday, but as you can see we were none the worse for wear. Our hotel is the tallest one behind us.

Even if you're not an art aficionado, ArtPrize is still a great reason to visit Grand Rapids. Anyone can enter to compete, so there's a little bit of everything out there. What I think makes it fun is that anyone can vote (either online or with an app).  For the first round, which runs through October 4, you can vote for everything you like. The top twenty will be announced October 5, and for the remaining week of the competition you can vote for the one entry in each division you would like to see win the prize. 

As you will see, I tend to like the more traditional art. Here's a peek at some of the pieces that got my vote:

I'm especially drawn to works that look realistic, such as the watercolor, "Brothers in Arms,"

and this oil painting, "West Michigan Winter." Anything that looks like a photograph, but isn't, gets my vote.

"Take Note" was another painting I thought was particularly well done.

Mosaics are also very impressive to me, such as "Into the Autumn Woods."

Unfortunately, most of my photographs don't do justice to the art, but as you can see from the photo of the largest venue, DeVos Place Convention Center, the viewing areas (in this location on the second level) were sometimes narrow and the crowds last weekend were large.

I found "Run Wild," which is actually a 3-piece installation, to be interesting because it was constructed of bits of shoe leather.

"Gold Fever" was one of the sculptures made of found objects, 

as was "Dawn of Chimes." This photo was for Dude and Bubba, since Bubba loves dinosaurs and Dude is a fan of the minions.

Since we were having gorgeous weather, we grabbed lunch outside where we could enjoy some of the great architecture Grand Rapids has to offer.

This is only a portion of "Engulfed in Glass," which represents four seasons on the shoreline.

"The Wind" was on the river opposite from our hotel.

"The Moment, Nails Endured" is made almost entirely of nails. Surprisingly, this is the only one of the works I've shown you that hasn't shown up in the current "Top 25" list, probably because it was outside one of the smaller venues. If you go to ArtPrize you'll have to visit St. Mark's Episcopal Church and check it out.

Scattered throughout town are musicians of every stripe. The most unique we encountered was this one-man-band outside of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

Of course, our favorite stop was to visit our newest grandson Karl, who made his grand entrance on Saturday morning. That makes 5 grandchildren for us, ages 3 and under! And for those of your familiar with Grand Rapids, yes, we walked there, uphill (both ways!)


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