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.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Brave

(click above for today's other FMF entries)

"I've never prized safety, Erich, either for myself or my children. I prized courage." Line from an obscure Jimmy Stewart movie.


Being brave is not something I ever really wanted for my kids. Oh, sure, I paid it lip-service. What kind of mom openly hopes her children will be cowards. But isn't this what I wanted? Children who lived lives of middle class comfort. Dressing primly and properly to attend church on Sunday, tithing the requisite 10%, then going on their happy way until next Sunday rolled around. Then, God set in my midst Mr. Great-heart, whom, upon hearing that there were countries where Christians were persecuted and didn't have access to bibles thought that he should just do something about that. He was 4 or 5. I verbally encouraged him, and, yes, I was proud that he'd do such a thing, but inwardly I was probably happy he was the only one of the five who did.

Lately, not so much. Lately I feel this desire to pray that all my boys will be that brave. That they will look at the injustice that the world perpetrates and feel called to do something, regardless the risk. If they do, I must do the thing I really don't want to brave myself. Coz that's what it comes down to for a mom. If her kids are brave, she has to be twice as brave. She has to support them in their battle, and wage her own in her heart and mind. I didn't really want to be brave. I wanted a life of comfort and ease, like everyone around me in our middle class America. I wanted to call what I was living brave, when it really wasn't.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Reading List

What's On Your Nightstand

(Click to go to What's on Your Nightstand for the link up)

What?!? You're kidding. It's May? Not possible. Well, I did spend most of April prepping for Braniac's big birthday party so the month went by very quickly. Let's take a look at how I did (I really haven't even had time to look at it yet. lol)

I finished Smooth & Easy Days & downloaded Masterly Inactivity but didn't start it. Maybe I'm getting smarter.

Still working on Smart Moves.

I am going to consider myself "done" with The Power of a Whisper. I don't think I'm "ready to give a thorough review" done, but it's good enough. I do recommend it though. Especially for people who wonder what other Christians are talking about when they say they "heard God." And maybe especially for Christians who think they can't. Hybels does a good job explaining what it is and isn't to hear God's "whisper" as he calls it. And if you don't like the way he's always talking about his church stop talking to me about sports all the time. I'd rather hear about a guy's church than all the ridiculous sports analogies men normally use. (And I like sports. :))

The Fitting Room. You know, every time I think I've made great progress with this book, I look down at the bottom and it doesn't even say 50% done. I think the format confuses me. I'll get use to e-books some day. It is going faster now that I've finished the difficult part. It's a long story, probably best for therapy. Suffice to say legalism wasn't my problem so I had to work through her words when I'd been beat over the head with similar words in defense of what I would consider antinomianism.

Somewhere in April I went from, "I'm going to read To Walk or Stay by Lara G Williams some day," to, "I'm going to read it now with the online book group." So now I've added that. Much more accountability as we post to the group weekly. It's really a very good book. I had put it in my "too read" list originally because my situation doesn't really mirror hers, then I read a quote I guess it was, wish I could remember exactly what the words were, and I realized it would be very beneficial to read it now. I like that it doesn't dwell on the specifics and thereby alienate readers who haven't been through her same experience. In short, we all need to grow in our faith. We all need to stop relying on ourselves and worshiping an ideal...oh, that was it. She said something about  believing Hollywood's lie about what love was and I thought, well, it wasn't Hollywood's lie I fell for (it was a bizarre religious upbringing that basically stated that a woman could not be whole if she was un-wed and without children) but I had a feeling that her book was going to be extremely helpful...and it has been.

I did finish some other books not on my list. One was Abounding Hope (also by Lara G Williams), which I wrote about yesterday. I really recommend this study. I look forward to the next one as well. Really like the NON-running commentary. :D Often it's good to be forced to dig for the truth yourself, makes it stick better. I've noticed, and I'm sure most people have, that I can read a few pages and get to the end and think "What the heck did I read?" When we are simply prompted to by specific Scripture & questions, I have found it sticks in my head better. I hope this one is seared. :)

I think I'll stick with those for now. When the new Hello Mornings session starts this month (Gads! Is it May already? Yes, I know I asked that earlier.) there will be a new study to start and I will want to give time to that daily. Now that my Sunday's are free again (post-AWANA quiz) and I don't have another birthday party until June, I'll have a bit more time to read...oh, yeah, and AWANA will be over which, while I'm sad, will free up more time since I won't have to help the kids with verses until I start a summer plan with them in June. :)

Well, that's my reading life. I know, you're jealous. That's OK. ;)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Abounding Hope

This last term of Hello Mornings we used a study on Job & Joseph created by Lara  G. Williams, called Abounding Hope. The study is simple enough: A collection of different verses to read each day with questions to prompt specific Scriptural thoughts about God, His Promises, Hope, etc. There is no running commentary, but the user is guided to glean truths from God's Word, not the author's mind.

I can't tell you how I felt about studying Job...again...when I saw the topic. I may have rolled my eyes and thought  something negative. I don't really remember, but that sounds like something I would have done way back in January. I hope the thought of studying Job...again...does not deter anyone, though. I found this particular study to be valuable. Lara doesn't get into the debate I grew up with about how Job was probably actually being punished by God for future sins (seriously, I've heard that one so many times it's rote memory now), she doesn't get sidetracked trying to figure out if the Laviathon is a whale or a dinosaur. The entire study seems stayed on one ever important, but, I've learned as I've grown & as I've watched others, difficult topic...You *can* trust God. He *is* faithful, always. He will *never* leave you, even if your outward circumstances look as if He has. He *always* loves you. He isn't a God out to punish you for some secret sin you might not even know about, He is a God out to serve His Great Eternal Purpose in your life for His Glory, which often requires difficulties that incur growth.

Looking back through my notes on this study I can see that it became apparent by the end of week one what God was trying to say: I can trust Him. This may seem like a no-brainer to some people. A lot of Christians sometimes think this sort of thing just comes natural. It doesn't. I won't get into the specifics of why I have spent a lifetime in the church without being able to trust God. It makes most people uncomfortable to hear about my childhood of growing up in the church but having an entirely un-biblical upbringing at home. Suffice to say that I was taught from an early age that God hated His people, that He was "out to get them," to use the vernacular & that the better Christian you were the more he was. That He was just waiting for you to mess up one bit, then He'd jump on the occasion to attack you with some sort of cruel punishment.

Two December's ago, when Christ lifted me out of the darkness of sin and unbelief, I began to see things differently. I made my first few timid steps in trusting God, but, honestly, I believe that in the back of my mind, those thoughts were still there. This study dragged them all out into the open where God & I could deal with them once and for all.

It was a long session this round of the Hello Mornings Challenge. One thing after another came to the members of our group. As most people around the country know, it was a winter filled with illness after illness, on top of that there were so many other things going on that I couldn't enumerate them all in this entry. In my own life things were pretty bad. So many things going on personally that threatened to drag me down into a deep depression. In fact, in the old days they would have. I won't say that I didn't get depressed, some of the stuff was so overwhelming that it was bound to make me sad. But through these terrible times, as I wrestled with God in my study, I was finally able to see that these things as they were, temporal problems (OK, most of them are very long, temporal problems) that God will use for His Glory...and I can be a part of bringing that Glory to Him IF I trust Him. Of course, it's all gonna bring Him Glory whether I do or not, but do I want it to bring Him Glory *in spite of* my faith, or as a result of it?

As I look back over the past few months, I don't really see that a single one of the problems has changed. Some of them have actually become worse. What *has* changed is my perspective. I no longer look up and wonder "why?" the moment something bad happens. I look ahead, to the end, whenever that end may be...even if it won't be until I'm long gone from this the Glory that God will bring Himself as a result of this trial.

Here is a thought from my notes way back in Week 5 of the study: Trust God. He is all powerful and all knowing. He is in control of your circumstances.

And, of course, if you know me at all, you know that this makes me think of a song. Unfortunately Blogger cannot communicate with YouTube while using Chrome (yes, that is an indictment of Google who owns all three) so here's the link: While I'm Waiting by John Waller.

And with that phobia overcome, I will now attempt to work on my other biggie...fear of all pastors and other Christian leaders. Anybody have a good study on that one? :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Is a Gift?

James 1:2-4 The Message Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

I was raised to think of hardship as a bad thing, or even more, as a punishment from a god who had it in for us, who was just waiting for us to cross that line, then he would strike us down. I use that as an example sometimes when talking to my kids on the importance of knowledge of Scripture. Pure Scripture, not just someone's interpretation of Scripture.

As we enter into possibly another trial, this one centered around Babycakes and whatever it is that is causing his delays and possibly even seizures, I have been comforted by these verses. I was led to them yesterday in my study on Joseph in Abounding Hope. I've been trying to read them in different translations. They all come out saying what it basically says here in The Message. God does not give us these things because he is out to knock us around for our sins. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. As a recent convert to true & living faith (I attended church my whole life) I find all these truths of Scripture to be a beacon to lead me to trust in God. Between His Word and His Spirit I have been able to realize that God really does love His children. That just because this is happening again (and I can say again coz all my kids have had something) it is not because of some vendetta God has against me. He doesn't hate me and have a terrible plan for my life. Unless that's what He had for Joseph.

These verses are major "stop whining" verses. It's hard to complain when you read that these trials are to help show your "true colors." I've been thinking about that a lot. What are my true colors? How strong is my faith, really? I know it's been getting stronger, but I still seem to trip over the simplest things.

And, of course, I want out of this. I don't want this. In fact, when we go to the specialist I think I will tell him or her, "I don't want you to find anything wrong with my "baby." I want you to tell me he's perfectly normal and I am over-reacting." :) But we are not to try to get out of anything prematurely. We are to allow these trials to work in us so we become mature and well-developed. As I read through Scripture this certainly seems to be a big theme: You can't gain maturity without trials. The bigger the trials, the more mature you become.

These things cause us to change. I know, my life has been one trial after another. Becoming a Christian hasn't changed that at all. But since coming to Christ I can see that the trials really do what these verses say. It's really been amazing. I can't see why it just isn't more popular. ;) Seriously, though, when you face trials with Christ, you don't have to be a complainer or a hater. You also don't have to be a stoic or a, well, whatever that type of person is that says, "que sera' sera'." With Christ you know that each of these trials holds a purpose and though you don't really want them, especially when they affect your children (come on, God, can't it just be something with me? why my little kids? please?), you can know that through it all something beautiful will come from it.

I don't know what's going on with BC. I don't know what the medical outcome will be. I don't know what any of this will mean for the long term, but I know that God has given it to me because He loves me enough to want me to grow in Him and closer to Him. And because He wants me to be His witness in this world. Who knows how many people I will meet as a result of this trial? How many of them might never have heard the Gospel? How many of them might be as miserable as I was before God saved me?

There is a reason for everything. God is working to bring all things together for the good of those who love Him. And I pray that through all this I will be faithful, like Joseph, and that I will bring Him glory and honor.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

April Reading List

What's On Your Nightstand

(It's April so I thought pink was appropriate. :))

So, I learned a lot about my reading habits last month as a result of writing down the books I meant to read.

1) I am far more scattered these days than I thought. I'm more focused than I have been in the past, but I still need to work on it.

2) I should probably write down the books I'm reading on a piece of paper or some place I will be reminded. Unlike the old days when you could put a stack of books next to your bed, e-books are far more easily forgotten. I was almost through the month before I remembered that I was reading one or two of the books. :/

I finished Education Sonya Shafer. It was a nice, brief encouragement that encouraged creating an environment of learning for your child.  So far Smooth and Easy Days has been similar, but with more specific information on forming habits.

So the list will stay essentially the same. But there were some add-ons so I'm going to list it in order I would like to finish...

Smart Moves by Carla Hannaford. The violin teacher loaned this (and a few others) to me so I would like to finish and return it at least. This book has a lot of good things to say about child development that I think will be helpful for BC, and is making me reconsider some things I thought I'd do regarding his education.

The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels. This book came along after I made my list and did cut into my list quite a bit. But our church was doing a series on it so I started. Now I find that I really do want to finish it. Been very eye opening, maybe even therapeutic.

Smooth and Easy Days by Sonya Shafer. I'm almost done so it will be a boost to my mood to have one (hopefully) finished so soon. :)

The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter. I'm struggling through this. It's a good book but the part I'm in now really dredges up some negative , to put it lightly, feelings about something that I can't really explain here both because I'm not ready to discuss it in public and because I just don't know how to write it down in a way that will make sense. Anyway, I will attempt to push through this slough of reader's despond. ;)

I'm going to put the Sanger book "on the shelf" for this month. That will probably encourage me to read it more. :D Yes, I rebel against myself.

The other three are the same studies/devotionals.

Well, here's to actually finishing two this month. :)

PS Does it bug you that I cut off the top of the book in this picture? Coz it's annoying the heck out of me. :)

PPS Linking up with What's on Your Nightstand? at

PPPS I forgot to say that I *did* finish a few more books, but they were not on this list. I really do have a hard time staying on task. :D