For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

March Reading List

OK, I was inspired by this post recommended to me by my friend at Raising Sticky Hands to Heaven (arguably the coolest mom-blog title ever). I can't guarantee I'll get the regular books done this month, but I plan to make a dent. Most of these books I've already started so this is just a push for me to get them finished.

Education Sonya Shafer. This book is free at Simply Charlotte Mason.
Smooth and Easy Days by Sonya Shafer (also free at SCM)
The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter No, this isn't my normal type of book. I mean, I hate any discussion about clothes, but she has me hooked by acknowledgement that some of us raised in the church weren't really raised by Deacon material, iykwim. :D
The Pivot of Civilization by Margaret Sanger From the horses mouth. This has taken me a while to get through. She has such hatred and works hard to mask it in compassion. She was a really awesome politician. BTW, this is free at Amazon.
Multiply by Francis Chan

Bible Study & Devotional
Abounding Hope by Lara Williams & Katie Orr This is the quasi-official study for Hello Mornings this term. This "simple" study (only simple in that there are not a lot of words) has been so incredibly helpful. I have blogged on it a few times. I plan to next week as well. So I'll just leave it at that. :)
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young Oh. My. Goodness. I picked this up today at the Scholastic Book Fair at the Middles school, not on a whim as several friends have recommended it, and tonight Spock stayed home from AWANA due to stress so I told him we could read our new books. I opened mine to today's devotional and was pretty much blown away at how it described both our situations so perfectly. I might pick him up a copy tomorrow. :)

Well, come back in a month and see how I did. :D

Friday, February 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday: What Momma Did...

Preface: OK, I will be honest, I wasn't going to write this one today. The prompt prompted me to groan and sag my head. I wanted to write about something beautiful. Something that would make people feel good. Writing about this subject is just depressing. Then, I thought, maybe not, and maybe I wasn't the only one who clicked over to the FMF page this morning and felt exactly the same way, coz, even though abuse is more often than not left unspoken of in Christian circles, I can't be the only one.


What who did?!? You don't want to know. I've talked about it a little but I'm done. It's too depressing to think about. In fact, I've noticed the more I think about it, the more it impedes my spiritual growth. So I'm done.

Well, there is one thing I'd like to say, especially to all the moms out there who had moms like mine. It's not the end. You don't have to be like that. I used to think I was eternally doomed to repeat all of my mother's failures and sins. The more I tried not to be like her, the more I became like her. Then, last year, something changed. If you're not a Christian, you won't get this. But Christ came in, shook out the old, and began to rebuild the new. The imitation of Him, not the desperate plea not to be  her. His Spirit, not the anger of the past always present in my mind. Him, the God who sent His one and only Son to die for my sins, the sin of trying to not be her instead of turning from the past and walking toward God.

We are not bound by our past. Christ comes and sets us free. He is greater than anything we have to overcome. And when we stumble and take a step or two back HE IS THERE to pick us up, brush us off, and bring us back to where He wants us. When He chooses us, He is not content to leave us where He found us. He will move us to where we ought to be. We do not have to stay slaves to what we were raised to be, Christ has a better plan.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Job Study Week 4

When I finished my study (Abounding Hope) this morning I turned on the radio to K-LOVE (OK, it was the online radio) and the first song they played was Worn, by Tenth Avenue North. I thought of Job, and all his sufferings.  I thought of knowing what to say and when. His friends got a big FAIL in that department. Good ole Bildad even went so far to say, in Ch 8, that Job's kids basically got what they deserved (vs.4). Wow! I was pretty blown away when I read it. Now there's a guy who could have used a lesson in when to keep your mouth shut.

As always, my mind went to people I know who believe that every bad thing that happens to us is because of some sin, secret or otherwise, in our lives. That God is always looking for ways to punish us. I try hard not to think about these people, coz it just depresses me, but this time it was useful. I thought, you know, when bad stuff happens, I already know that I should never, ever tell those people. I then realized that when we are talking with people by the way, just in general conversation, nothing serious, we lay out for them whether or not they can trust us with the big stuff. By our reaction to others problems, to certain news reports, etc., people get a general idea of how we will react to them in their hour of need. If we verbalize condemnation of people at every turn, even for little things, others will know that, even if not openly to their face, somewhere we will condemn them.

I had never really thought of it that way before. When I was younger (like 41 or less) I trusted almost every I knew, carte blanche. But in the middle of my 41st year I learned a very hard lesson, namely, that not everyone, and especially not everyone bearing the name Christian, can be trusted. As what I thought was my world was pulled out from under me like a rug, I learned that there are people who care for those in pain, and people who hate you, even if you are in pain.

In hindsight, I probably already knew that. There were huge things in my life that I shared with no one, because I knew no one who could be trusted with them. I had apparently been listening to others enough that I just knew I could not tell them what was going on. Eventually there were a few I did trust, but not like I trusted with other things.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, how many friends we have is no judge of how godly we are, or even how nice we are, but how many friends we have whose first thought when their world crashes is "I can call <insert your name here>. She'll pray/help/not judge" says more about us than anything else in our lives.

Are we that kind of person? Are we watching our conversation with our friends? Do they think we can be there for them? Will they be comfortable sharing even their darkest moments with us? When they are "worn," and when they think, "I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I'm too weak..." will they know they can turn to us? That they can count on us to strengthen their faith and point them to Christ? Maybe that's what the lesson is in these past two years, (Or at least, it might be one of them.) to learn the importance of knowing what to say & when to say it *before* the hard times.

On Sunday the preacher was talking about something that I probably could remember if I thought hard enough, but he had these three steps: Pray, Prepare, Practice. I think I'll steal borrow it for my purposes. When we are regularly in prayer so we are in open communication with God; when we prepare by reading God's Word so we know what is good and what is bad, and how God wants us to treat others; when we practice by using the kinds of speech  God has commanded (Col 4:6; 1 Tim 4:12 eg) in our everyday conversations, then we will let people know that we are ready to truly be their friend.

Ironically, my day ended Worn as well...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thoughts on Job 1

(Studying Job with Abounding Hope for this term's HelloMornings Challenge).


This used to be my first response to anything bad that came along, from a red light when I was late to Spock's birth defect. But I cannot honestly now think of a more dangerous question to ask God, and this for several reasons. The first reason should be enough to keep us from asking it: namely, we might get an answer. I don't know about you, but the older I get, the less I really want to know about the inner workings of God's plan. I am perfectly happy to never be a prophet, to remain in truly blissful ignorance. Of course, there are several things I could ask and have asked "why" about over the years, but what if the answer is that it is merely preparation for something more difficult? Do I really want to know? No thanks. Sufficient for today is the evil thereof. (Matt 25:34)

The second reason is that when we start asking "why" we start coming to our own extra-biblical conclusions. Take Job's "friends." Please, he'd really like you to. :/ Entire false teachings have been built up around this idea that simply because something bad happened to someone, they are being punished. In Acts 28:4, Paul is bit by a snake and the Maltans immediately assume he is a murderer, because that is the conclusion they have drawn from asking "why." We Christians become a nasty bunch when we start judging others who are suffering, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. How cruel is it for a woman to lose a child and have people tell her that it is because of some secret sin in her life? Really? I'm fairly certain that, if this were true, Christians would all be the poorest of the poor, we'd all be eating out of garbage tins, that is if we lived longer than a few years after our conversion. The bible seems pretty plain that if we say we are without sin we are liars and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8) (emph mine)

Thirdly, and this is the lesson I've been learning only lately, is "why" our first response? If so, maybe we need to reexamine our faith. I was struck by what is written of Job, after he has, in only a matter of minutes, lost every single possession AND all ten of his children (take a moment and really try to fathom that)...Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. (Job 1:20) I have five sons, a couple of cars, a house, a nice chunk of property (by SoCal standards), a job I love, etc. I think I could stand to lose all the possessions. Shoot, in mid-life you start thinking of just chucking them and starting over. :D But my kids? If they all died, and all at the same time...I really don't know if I could even function, ever again. And, honestly, the idea of worshipping God at that moment, well, I just can't see myself doing it. :/

But Job was ready for it. He had prepared himself his entire life. Job 1:1 says Job was blameless & upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. His daily life was one of honoring God, of prayer, of me, it takes a lot of self-discipline to turn away from evil, especially these days when we are intentionally blurring the lines so much. He was one who prayed, even that God would forgive the sins of his children. "Thus Job did continually." (Job 1:5b) (emph mine)

I was  recently listening to a Francis Chan sermon where he started by talking about a funeral for his wife's grandmother, then talked about her life. He said he'd never known anyone more in love with Jesus than her. One thing that struck me was a story he told about how she went with them to a play. It was a nice play, no bad things, nothing offensive.  At intermission he asked her how she liked it and she told him she didn't want to be there. She was thinking that she would rather be doing something like serving others if Christ came back right then. He said he spent the second act in prayer for everyone he knew, just in case Grandma had the inside scoop on something. :) Grandma was like Job. She was ready, and she was always desiring to be ready.

In my life, the question "why" to God has never gotten me anywhere, except bitter and angry. The people I know who are constantly asking "why" are all bitter and angry. "Why" just simply doesn't prepare us for the evil of today, or tomorrow. We do not know when it will come. AW Pink, pretty much my fave author (just in case you're looking for something to get me), said that if the only growth a Christian knows occurs during trials, he should probably question his Christianity. I was confused the first time I read that, but now I see that we need to grow before the trials, then we will be strong during them Yes, we will grow in the trials also, but if we use all our so-called "down-time" in nothing but frivolity and worldliness, we should definitely question where our loyalties lay.

Judging from what I've seen growing up in the church, this isn't the popular way to live, but it looks far less painful to have that peace that passes all understanding when the trials come suddenly, like they did for Job.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Been thinking a lot about this issue since writing on my fear Friday. I don't know if I've written about trust before, or just thought about it a lot. It seems that it is an issue at the forefront of my mind this year. Maybe it's the shock that coming out of last year, the one thing I was surprised to lose was my trust. I really used to be pretty trusting. That probably has a lot to do with being a positive person, always trying to find the best in everything and everyone, and some to do with probably not being the brightest bulb in the box. :D

Now, I don't ask "why" really anymore. It is a pointless question, and I plan to write about that on Monday. But maybe there is an answer to the "why" of the past two years, as we come on to that anniversary next week. Maybe, no, definitely, my trust was always in man. Not intentionally, but naturally, I trusted people, I believed them. But they are just fallen creatures like me. They are going to mess up. Of course, if they are abusive I don't believe that we need to subject ourselves and our children to that continuous abuse (that is just my way of assuring those reading that I have no intention of returning to that from whence I have come ;)). Maybe that is where the saying "hold onto this world loosely" comes in handy. It's OK to like people, but our trust cannot really be in them coz they are going to mess up...sometimes they are going to do perfectly evil things. If our trust is in them, if their "goodness" is what we base our faith in God on, then we will fall far when they fail us, when they turn on us.

Our trust is to be in Christ only. I know, you're thinking, I've got this down, you're not telling me anything I don't know, but I think that this problem of putting our trust in things apart from Christ is more pernicious than we realize. It's kind of like pride. It's there, but we just can't see it coz it is too much a part of us. As I finished up The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment last week I was surprised to realize just how much even now my trust is in others, not necessarily in the same way, but still dependent on them for my feelings of peace or happiness. It's not an easy thing to break. And, like pride, the moment we think we have, we really haven't at all. It seems to be an ongoing process, slowly peeling the world off our skin so that we can fully and confidently, completely rest in Christ.

Somewhere there is a balance. There is a spot where we can trust people, but not "in" them. I'll let you know if I find it. ;)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Afraid

(It's Five Minute Friday time again. Click here for more.)

I am afraid of God. It's an irrational fear, or maybe not, if you consider how purposefully the enemy has worked to create this fear. The years of being told that God delighted in being cruel to "good" people. That He was forever making life difficult. That He was unkind, mean, uncaring. I learned all these early in life from the mouths of people whom others don't like me to speak poorly of so they will both go unnamed. But the damage is done. It was further done as I grew, still believing this, and fell into a situation where the Christian leadership was cruel as well. Where I was taught that it didn't matter how the pastor treated you, you stayed in the church as long as it espoused certain beliefs, even if it only paid lip-service to those beliefs. Ultimately, that cruelty would lead me to fear pastors, elders, etc. But lately, God has been working on me. Slowly healing old wounds both done to me and by me. Lately, as I've been deliberately studying His Word, one theme seems to be recurring...God can be trusted. He is faithful. He will never leave nor forsake. Though all around me fail, pastors, relatives  friends, God will never fail, He will be the same as His word promises, and His word promises great things. Maybe life here won't be perfect, there will be trials, that is also a promise, but He is with us through each one. He lifts us up. He alone truly cares for us and meets each of our needs.

Visual Aid: OK, so this doesn't exactly do it justice but making God's love for us contingent on how "perfect" our lives are is just unrealistic. (And it's the 40th anniversary year of this song...or so someone said in the comments. :D)