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Friday, November 15, 2013

Who Are You Thankful To?

~~ Romans1:21 (NIV) ~~  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.


by Carley Cooper


In my small group we’re currently doing a study about being “fishers of men.”  One of our homework assignments was to write a thank you letter to the person we feel is responsible for leading us to Jesus.  Have you ever thought about it before, who you would write such a letter to, and what you would say?  It really made me stop think.  I mean, I grew up believing in Jesus.  I don’t know a life without that belief.  Yet at the same time, I didn’t know that there was such a thing as having a relationship with Him.  I was lead to the truth about God and Jesus during a series of counseling sessions with one of my pastors.  I had several big “light bulb” moments during this time.  The end result was I began a relationship with God, I forgave those in my past that needed forgiving, I repented, and I was put in a position to move ahead toward a path leading to God.  Here’s the letter that I wrote to Pastor:  

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Salvaged: A Love Story

Title 
Salvaged: A Love Story 

Based on a Book by 
Stefne Miller 

My Review 

Based on the book Salvaged by Stefne Miller, this series of web-episodes, about 5 minutes each, is a teenage love story.  

Click here to read the whole review and an author interview!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Purpose of Jealousy

In one of my regular bible study groups we are studying the life of David.  After he killed Goliath there was a celebration in the streets.  People were so happy with David’s success in everything he did they chanted a song saying “Saul has slain his thousands, and David tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7).   After this incident Saul’s love for David changed to jealousy.  Instead of being happy that his successes were included, Saul became envious of David for having, what he saw, as more success.  As part of our study we watched a movie about David’s life.  The question came up during our discussion time afterward “How often are we jealous in a situation where there is no need for jealousy?”

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How Do You Know if Inspiration is from God?

I had a conversation with someone one day about the bible.  This person believes in Jesus, but she doesn’t read the bible.  Her reasoning was that it was written by man, therefore you can’t trust it.  I assured her that though it was written by people every word is inspired by God.  She wasn't convinced.  

Click here to read the whole post....

Monday, July 8, 2013

Writers Block or Spiritual Block

I've been having trouble writing lately.  What's the real issue?

Click this link to read my full post....
http://www.worshipmelodies.com/2013/07/writers-block-or-spiritual-block.html

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Transformed by Tough Times

Title
Transformed by Tough Times

Author
Steve Reed

Publisher
Reed Group Publishing, 2012, 215 pages

My Review

I loved this book.  If you are going through something difficult, this book will help.   Steve Reed shares not only advice and direction through the scriptures to get through your tough times, but also his own story.  I think that’s what makes this book so great.  He’s been there.  But he’s come through it to the other side seeing what God is doing in his life through those hardships. He can see how his suffering is being used for Christ – something he’s called ‘The Suffering Clause.’  Reed says 
“...getting in touch with my suffering clause has become one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.  It didn’t happen overnight, and I had to live through some tough times for many years before I understood the positive ramifications of what God was doing in my life.”   
We’re shown how Jesus got through His tough times, by looking through the cross to the other side.  Then the author shows us how to just that.  Steve Reed has helped me let go of something that I have been struggling with for a long time.  I highly recommend this book to not only help you get through your tough times, but to come out the other side transformed and thankful.  
My Overall Rating

About the Author
Steve Reed is the Chief Encouragement Officer and Cross Cultural Catalyst for Daybreak International, a missions organization he founded that is dedicated to planting churches for the marginalized and forgotten peoples of the world. Currently, his two major projects focus on cowboys in Central America, and Kekchi Indians in the jungles of Guatemala. Those who know Steve best speak of his relentless encouragement and undying loyalty to people who face tough times. When not traveling in Central America, Steve comes home to Kansas City. He is married to Nola, and they have three young adult sons, a beloved daughter-in-law, and a grand baby on the way!  


Author Interview
A book about tough times usually implies that the author has had some personal experiences that connect to that topic. Where did the book start for you?  In college, I was a kicker and punter at Oklahoma State University under a demanding head coach, Jimmy Johnson. (Football fans might recognize him as the coach for two college national championships in the 80’s and a couple of Super Bowls in the 90’s for the Dallas Cowboys). Just playing for Coach Johnson was tough enough, but my sophomore year, I got my knee bent backwards in a Junior Varsity game in Lincoln, Nebraska. When surgery and rehab efforts didn’t get me back to playing football, I eventually had to hang up the cleats. Looking back now, that experience made me more aware of how other people dealt with adversity and caused me to pay more attention to how I could respond when faced with tough times.

Your book transitions pretty quickly from your football days to life as a church planter and how that actually prompted you to write this book. How did that all happen?  When football didn’t work out, I found myself drawn to ministry in a great church near the OSU campus. Charlie Baker, the pastor of that church, invited me and other college students to partner with him in creating a weekly worship service for students. In doing that ministry I fell in love with the church and decided to go to seminary and be a pastor myself. After getting married and going through seminary training, we eventually moved to Kansas City to start churches. For nearly 20 years we were involved in the roller coaster rides of starting five different churches in our region. Most days, I absolutely loved it. But in one of those church starts we had a train wreck that knocked me for a loop and out of a church that I loved perhaps more than I loved my wife and family. 

So after that you went on an even deeper quest for figuring out what was happening to you?   Right. With a new intensity I began to systematically search the scriptures to find some help for my pain. And I collected information and stories from others wiser than me and from many who had suffered greatly and come through with amazing faith and character.

You write about a day in Costa Rica that changed your life. What happened?   After the break up from the church, I wound up going to Costa Rica on a mission trip with my parents. My parents, by the way, were missionaries when I was a kid and 30 years prior we had actually lived in Costa Rica. For me, going back was a fun, blast to the past. But more than that, the people there were cathartic for me. I was an emotional mess much of the time. And one day I must have cried with three or four people who needed to know Christ, but who were in pain. God used my pain and my weeping with others to both minister to them and to me. That day I discovered something about God’s ministry of tears and how sometimes He does more through our weaknesses and frailties than He does with our strengths.  

So this is where your international ministry began?  Yes. While in Costa Rica, a Guatemalan man by the name of Cesar Gonzalez invited me to come to his country and dream about ministries and churches for people in Guatemala who don’t like church. To hear the whole story you’d have to pack a lunch! But let me briefly say that Cesar would have been a mafia hit man if God hadn’t gotten a hold of him! With a little encouragement from some pastor friends in Kansas City, I took him up on his invitation, and for two weeks Cesar and I drove around the country looking at dozens of different situations and groups of people. Little did I know then, that 13 years later we would be working in over 55 locations covering Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. I mention this because I have learned a lot from believers from other cultures and have put much of that into the book. Many of us in North America aren’t aware that both Guatemala and El Salvador have been through recent civil wars. Many people there have shared first hand stories of unimaginable grief and heartache. As I have walked alongside them, my faith has been challenged and I have an increasing desire to not just mindlessly go through my tough times, but to actually think deeply and grow through my tough circumstances. As I’ve done a little bit of that, I think it’s time that I pass some of this on to others who can benefit like I have. 

Where can people find your book? For now it’s only available from the trunk of my car! Or, more conveniently, it can be ordered from the website www.TransformedbyToughTimes.com. Soon it should become available on Amazon and we hope to have a Kindle version available in the near future as well. By the way, before Christmas we finished taping the audio book and I can’t wait to unveil that in the next couple of months too.  

You also have a companion Bible study available as well right?  Yes! Thank you for mentioning that. I think I am about as excited about the study guide as I am the book. On the website, www.TransformedbyToughTimes.com is a 24-session small groups Bible study guide that can be downloaded for free. It matches up to chapters in the book and then goes deeper with pertinent Bible stories and information related to the topic. Incidentally, when someone wants me to coach them through their own tough times, this is essentially the material I use. In early tests, we are getting positive feedback from groups going through the book and the Bible study together. Do check it out! 




Find out about more opportunities for a free copy of TRANSFORMED BY TOUGH TIMES, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/338690666247617.

This blog host was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on this blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).




Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review: The Pregnant Pause of Grief

Title
The Pregnant Pause of Grief: The First Trimester of Widowhood

Author(s)

Publisher
WordAlive Press, 2013, 194 pages

My Review

by Carley Cooper 

In Brenda J Wood’s The Pregnant Pause of Grief: The First Trimester of Widowhood; I cried with her and I laughed with her.  This book touched my heart like no other I’ve ever read.  Brenda writes her way through her grief of the loss of her husband of almost 50 years.  I have no doubt that losing a husband of so many years is probably the worst type of grief there is, next to losing a child.  However, the process can be applied to any type of grief. 

All while reading about her pain and troubles adjusting to a new life, I feel as though I’m reading a romance.  She explains their love so eloquently it fills my heart.  They had such a great love, and it began from such a young and tender age.  I can only dream that one day I will have something half as great as Brenda and her beloved Ron.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have loved the same person all your life; or more to the point, to have another person love me that much.  She’s given me hope.

I’ve learned through this book that it’s OK for me to grieve for my lost loves.  What’s not OK is for me to keep on holding on to it like I have been.  Staying stuck in the grief is not healthy for me or my relationship with God.  Brenda says “If we let our minds dwell on the past, the pain, and the loneliness, we get stuck there.  But by moving ourselves into today and refusing to panic over either past or future, we do better”. 

She compares losing her beloved husband of nearly 50 years to the phantom limb feeling that happens when one has a limb amputated.  Like Brenda, I feel that phantom limb every time I cook a meal, every time I go shopping, every night when I go to bed, every time I see others being happy with a partner or their families.  The pain is excruciating.  One of the most surprising things there is to learn about grief is that we can survive it.  Brenda said “I feared missing Ron, yet now I stand in the midst of that and survive.”  I remember feeling much the same when I got divorced.  Wow.  It didn’t kill me.  Who knew?  I could have sworn I was dying when I was in the midst of it. 

Despite her pain there is always a glimmer of hope shining through.  She gives us all hope.  We can survive this grief and loneliness by looking to Jesus.  He is the only way to get through it and He is the best comfort we will find. 
My overall rating


From Word Alive Press Author Spotlight:

About the Author

Former TV personality Brenda J. Wood has been an author and motivational speaker for more years than she cares to admit! Her trademarks include common sense wisdom, humour, and a quirky personality. She is a recovered bulimic and loser of thousands of pounds, so she understands the pain of being overweight and the agony of living with an eating disorder.

She calls herself the “ABC girl,” because she’s survived the ABCs of abuse, bulimia, and cancer. The D poses a challenge now, as she recovers from the death of her beloved husband, Ronald.

Since she’s written books on each of these topics, she hopes the E word will stand for something in her next book, like eternal, entertainment, or endurance—but definitely not epilogue or Epsom salts!

Brenda lives near Toronto, Canada. A few of her favourite things include her grandchildren, guest speaking, writing, sewing, a warm fire, a good book, and pounding the pavement on her early morning walks. 

Her books include:
  • The Pregnant Pause of Grief: The First Trimester of Widowhood
  • Meeting Myself: Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind
  • The Big Red Chair: A Storybook (with CD) for Grieving Children
  • Heartfelt: 366 Devotions for Common Sense Living
  • God, Gluttony, and You: The Bible Study.
  • 2 Years North of 53 Degrees
  • Letters from North of 53 Degrees
  • Several health-related cookbooks

Some of her current speaking topics are:

  • Overcoming What Is Overcoming You
  • How to Live Like a Princess When Your Life Is the Pits
  • What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
  • The Healing Power of Laughter
  • Suddenly Single, When We Becomes Me.
  • Overcoming Fear
  • Choose Life
  • Living Above Your Circumstances
  • The Ins and Outs of Self-Publishing
  • Writing with Heart

Brenda also writes devotionals for several websites, including Everyday Christian and Heartfelt Devotionals 

Author Interview 

How can you write about so many painfully honest topics, yet still turn them into funny reads?
Life isn’t always wonderful, but we can decide how to handle it. It took me a while to learn that laughter really is the best medicine.

Writing Meeting Myself must have dredged up memories best forgotten. Why did you decide to write about your abuse after all these years?
I needed to turn a spotlight on those awful experiences so that they no longer had power over me.

Your husband died a short time ago, but here you are writing about it in The Pregnant Pause of Grief: The First Trimester of Widowhood. How can you stand it?
I read dozens of books about grief, but none of them really spoke to my situation. I had to get my grief out where I could examine it. My readers tell me that the book closely chronicles their own pain.

Do you have a motto for life, and if so, what is it?
Yes. I believe that Jesus is the answer to every question.

Which book is your favourite?
My favourite book is always the one I’m writing. I’m not ready to tell you about that one yet!

What advice do you have for wannabe writers?
I’ll share what I say to myself every single day. If you never, ever write, you will never, ever be read. Write something everyday, even if it’s in your personal journal. 

The Pregnant Pause of Grief as well as Meeting Myself are available through Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, www.greatcanadianauthors.com, and wherever fine Christian books are sold.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Living in the Dead Zone (Part 2)

In my research for my upcoming book “Cocoa with Jesus” I watched a documentary called The Stephen Fry Story – The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (Click here for Part 1 (1 hr) and Part 2 (1 hr)).  It’s a fascinating portrait of Bipolar Disorder (BPD).  It can help those of us who have it not feel so alone, and the people who love us understand us more. 
 

Living in the Norm
The greater general population travel down a standard ‘road’ in terms of...

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Living in The Dead Zone (Part 1)



Do you really feel alive in your life?  Jesus came to give us life and so that we can live it to the fullest. 

But Sometimes Life Just Doesn’t Seem So Full
Something that I think is rather funny happened recently to make me wonder if I’m living my life to the max. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Kill: You’re Guilty!

~~ Exodus20:13 (NIV84) ~~  You shall not murder.
The sixth commandment is “Thou shalt not kill” (KJV), but whether you realize it or not; or like it or not, you’re guilty of it!  Yes, YOU!

I Know; It Was a Shocker to Me Too!
I know what you’re thinking.  “But I never hurt anyone, let alone kill someone.” 


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: The Moses Quilt

Title
The Moses Quilt (The Quilt Series, Book 1)

Author(s)
Kathi Macias

Publisher
New Hope Publishers, 2013, 235 pages

My Review

This is another wonderful work by Kathi Macias.  In this heart-warming story, Mazie Hartford is in love with the handsome Edward.  He’s everything she ever wanted in a man, and he’s asked her to marry him.  However, she’s having a hard time saying yes.  She asks herself ‘Why?’ but doesn’t have an answer. Something’s holding her back but she can’t quite put her finger on it.  Is it because he’s black and she isn’t?  They both certainly hope this is not the case.  

That’s when Mimi (Mazie’s great grandmother) starts telling her a story; one about The Moses Quilt.  Patch by patch the dying Mimi tells Mazie and Edward the history of Harriet Tubman.  Is this the answer to what’s holding her back from saying yes to Edward’s proposal?  One patch at time, Mazie realizes that her future could be changed forever.  By learning about someone else’s life and history, she gets in touch with her own.  By doing so, she finds the answer she’s been looking for.

The Moses Quilt is a wonderful combination of history and fiction that can touch reality and your heart like no other.  I was fascinated with the quilt and the characters.  I was challenged to look at my own prejudices, and yet given hope for my own life.  I highly recommend The Moses Quilt, and I’m very much looking forward to books 2 and 3 of The Quilt Series.  

My Overall Rating

About the Author: Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.



Author Interview

The Quilt Series sounds interesting, but what makes it unique or sets it apart from the many other quilt books that are so popular right now?
First, I must confess to NOT being a quilter. I’ve never even considered taking it up! Second, I love quilts and have always been fascinated by the stories behind them. I combined that fascination with my passion for writing issues-related fiction, and I ended up with a three-book series that is, for the most part, contemporary but told against historical backdrops.

Sounds interesting! Can you tell us a bit about each of the three books in the series? Sure! Book one, The Moses Quilt, involves an interracial romance, where the couple works through their concerns and apprehensions as they learn the story of Harriet Tubman’s faith and courage as told through the patches of the Moses quilt that represents her life. Book two, The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt, deals with the topic of abortion told against the backdrop of the life of America’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, who was strongly pro-life. Book three, The Singing Quilt, deals with a young woman overcoming a physical disability; the background for that story is based on the “Queen of Gospel,” Fannie Crosby.

Was it difficult to do the research on these women, particularly Harriet Tubman? What did you learn about her in the process? I knew more about Harriet Tubman than I did about Elizabeth Blackwell or Fannie Crosby, but I expanded my knowledge of each as I did the research. Harriet Tubman’s amazing faith and courage is what stood out most to me about her life. Here was a woman born a slave, penniless for the majority of her life, and illiterate except for the scripture verses she had memorized (even if she couldn’t read them). Her prayer life was powerful, even as a child. After she escaped to the North and began making forays back into the South to help bring others out of slavery, friends would caution her against it. “Harriet, there’s a reward on your head—dead or alive. Aren’t you afraid?” She brushed off their fear and explained that she believed God had called her to help rescue her people; therefore, He would protect her. When her job was done, He would take her home to heaven, so what was there to fear? Wow, what a dynamic woman of God! I also learned that her achievements went far beyond rescuing slaves, though that’s what she’s best known for. She also served as a spy for the Union Army, worked as a nurse, and opened a home for indigent elderly former slaves. She died there herself in her mid-nineties, and the entire town flew their flags at half-mast in her honor.

Tell us a little more about the contemporary story in The Moses Quilt. The majority of the contemporary story is set just outside San Francisco. Mazie is white and deeply in love with Edward, an African-American lawyer who adores her and wants to marry her but tries to be respectful of her hesitation to make a commitment. What he doesn’t know is that Mazie is disturbed by what she considers secrets in her family’s past, secrets that begin to be unraveled as her great-grandmother, Mimi, tells her and Edward the story behind her Moses quilt, which she bought years earlier in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a little town famous for its quilts. Edward thought he knew everything there was to know about Harriet Tubman, who had always been somewhat of a hero to him, but Mimi’s story opens up new avenues of discovery for both the young people in this relationship—and takes them straight back to the quilt’s origin in Gee’s Bend.

This sounds like more than just a “feel-good” story. Can it be used as a study book in some way? Absolutely! As with nearly all my books we have free downloadable discussion questions at www.newhopedigital.com that will enable The Moses Quilt to be read as a study book for individuals or used as a discussion/study book for groups.




For more opportunities for free copies of THE MOSES QUILT by Kathi Macias, please follow this book tour on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/CSSVBT.KathiMacias. This blog host was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on this blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).

Friday, February 15, 2013

What Makes a Happy Disciple?

~~ Matthew5:1-12 (NIV84) ~~  The Beatitudes.  (Click the scripture link to read the full passage.)


The word ‘Beatitude’ comes from the Latin word ‘beatitudo’ meaning ‘blessedness’. The dictionary defines it as ‘supreme blessedness or happiness’.

Oh Happy Day! 
A couple of years ago God used my biggest trauma to give me a wonderful blessing. When I was in the midst of these terrible times, I certainly didn’t feel blessed. I felt far from God. When I want to feel close to Jesus, I picture myself sitting by a cozy fire laughing and drinking cocoa with Him. How awesome it must have been for the disciples to be able to sit with Him and learn.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

God’s Promises: What to Do When You Feel Lonely

~~ Hebrews13:5 (NIV) ~~  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”


Microsoft Office Copyright Free Images

It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, married or single, or somewhere in between; just about everyone knows the feeling of being alone.  At one point or another in our lives we know what it is to feel lonely, if even only for a short time or among a crowd.  But don’t fear because God has made some promises that can relieve you of this.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What to Do About High Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) - "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
 __________________________
You know those times when you're so excited about something you can hardly think straight?!  Maybe your Great Aunt Maggie is coming to visit for the first time in several years.  Maybe you're sister is having a baby.  Maybe you're just going out for ice cream on a hot summer's day.  Your anxiety level is so high you feel like you're about to burst.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Tested by Fire

Title
Tested by Fire

Author(s)
Pat Patterson

Publisher
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2011, 42 pages (Kindle 544 KB)

My Review

Pat Patterson has done an amazing work in Tested by Fire.  Paramedic Jim Stockbridge loses his best friend and partner to murder.  He sets out for revenge, and finds himself in one mess of trouble after another, only to come out the other end finding the love of Christ.  The author has done a wonderful job of keeping the reader’s attention with nonstop action, suspense, and drama through the whole story.  I couldn’t put it down.  I fell asleep reading it at 1:00 am, and woke up the next morning anxious to finish.  I felt a whole range of emotions.  There were parts that literally made my heart race, others that made me sad, and more that made me giggle.  I was blessed to have gotten a kindle copy when it was being offered for free; but it is worth the regular purchase price and more.  I highly recommend Tested by Fire if you love a good suspense thriller and a Christian message. 

My Over all Rating

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Can You Recognize a Blessing in Disguise?

~~ Hebrews 11:1 (NIV84) ~~  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.



God often talks to me through the things I read.  Today it was devotional messages in my email.  I bet you didn’t know that God has email, did you?  I got two emails this morning that spoke to me about something that’s been bothering me for a long time.  I realized that I’m stuck on this and God wants me to move on.


Click here to read the whole article...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Am Your Addiction

Microsoft Office Copyright Free Images
Author Unknown
 

I hate meetings. I hate your higher powers. I hate anyone who has a "program." To all who come into contact with me, I wish you suffering and I wish you death. 

Allow me to introduce myself. I am the disease of addiction. I am cunning, baffling, and powerful. I have killed millions and I am pleased.
 

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Do I Want to Crave?

~~ 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV84) ~~  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own


by Carley Cooper


Photo by Carley Cooper.  All rights reserved
We started Lisa Terkeurst's Made to Crave study at the ladies bible study group at church this week.  I had a couple of realizations that resulted.  First, that emotional eating is beginning to be a problem for me for the first time.  The other half of the issue is that I've noticed myself feeling a little disconnected from God; or maybe it's that I'm craving Him more.  I just know that my prayer life isn't as up to snuff as it used to be.

Ah-Ha!  A Light Bulb Moment

My big insight was to wonder if these two things are connected.