Monday, December 5, 2016

Day 4 and 5

Day 4: Book You are Reading

I am actually done with this book now, but it was worth reading. All those little tags you can just faintly see sticking out of the sides of the book? Those were to mark those quotes that stuck out to me. There were just a few of them.

Day 5: A Hug

Polar Bear Mother Hugging Her Baby clipart

So I'm not that much into taking pics of hugs and posting them on the world wide web, so I substituted with these cute little guys.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Falling Free by Shannan Martin

Product Details

Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted

This book was a fast quick read. Why? Because Shannan's way of writing kept you coming back for more. She will challenge your thinking, make you wonder if you should be moving to the inner city, whether you should empty your savings account, or how to create community with the most unlikely people.

I really enjoyed this book. I want the thoughts to stick with me and challenge me and cause me to rethink how I do life. No, maybe I won't move to town, but I do go to  town, generally at least once a week or more, so how can I reach out to the people I see?

I'm not going to say a lot more. I will let a few quotes from the book speak for itself. Tomorrow, I will probably post a picture of my book and you will be able to see all my sticky notes sticking out from between the pages.

"In a world where we possess the power to distract or buy our way out of most discomfort, can we ever really mean it when say God is all we need?....
"Faithful and capable folk, we parrot familiar phrases from a place of theory rather than practice and warm ourselves by their feel-good, holy glow. But please don't press us. We don't really know if we actually believe them."

"Afflicted with relentless humanity, we view the world with person-eyes, then project what we see onto the flawless creator of the universe, assuming he operates as we do. We trick ourselves into thinking God is just a holier version of us--our brain, our worldview, none of the sinfulness. We forget that while we bear his image and harbor all his love, we can't comprehend the scope of eternal reality from our anthill vantage point."

"It should go without saying that, often, letting go is not our idea. We're conditioned to receive, not to relinquish. God wants dominion over every area in my life. Even worse, he has made it clear he already has it. It is his. Always has been. Basically, I can lay it down willingly, or he'll wrestle me for it. But he wants what is his--namely me."

Okay, that was only three sticky notes. I still have seven more to go, so I think I will just stop and recommend that you go buy the book or if you live close to me, ask me and I will loan you my copy.  It's worth it.

I was given this book by Book Look Bloggers and am not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day 3: A smile

I'm not very likely to post videos of Amber on social media, though I enjoy seeing videos of other people's kids, but I've been wanting to get a video of her excitement when her dad comes home. The other night I heard him before she did and so I was able to capture her in her finest moments, better than some nights.  It makes me smile to see her so excited about seeing her Dad.

And I suppose I could wax all eloquent and make a spiritual application, but I'll let each of you ponder and draw your own conclusions.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Day 2: Favorite Slippers

Well-Worn and Well-Loved

Ah, what comfort slippers seem to embody. To me, they seem to tell of warmth and home and even a bit of cheer on a dark dreary day.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Day 1 of the Photo Challenge

So today's photo is to be of a favorite holiday movie. Well, about the only holiday movie I can remember seeing is Elf. I am hoping to change that this year and so I decided I would go with my favorite song.

Now I did cheat for today's picture and I'm going to post it off the web, but beings that will require me taking a little time to do it, I am going to consider it an intentional picture. And when Amber gets up, we will take some time to watch the YouTube clip of it again.

Christmas Shoes

Welcome to Our World

And then for a fun Christmas Song The Drummer Boy

So yup, that's three songs instead of one. Christmas shoes makes me cry about every time I hear it and really listen to the words, especially if I watch the music video with it. It's so much what Christmas should be about, thinking of others and giving to them. Children can be such a good example of this.

So what are your favorite movies or songs?

Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

Product Details
Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World

For those who are feeling overwhelmed and burdened by life, who feel like they go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and never have a break, this book is for you. Shelly is big on finding a rhythm of rest that is a part of your life. It doesn't matter how busy you are, take a day or start with an hour or two, plan it into your schedule, prep your meals in advance and take the time to rest.

Rest can be different for all of us. For some crafting is rest, for others it's a drudgery. For some cooking is restful, for some it's a necessary evil. For some reading would be rejuvenating, for other it would be a job to plod through. Take the time, be still, let your mind rest and just soak up Sabbath and God and what He is telling you.

I'm not sure if I agree with everything she shared in the book, but I find the theme and the various components of it so necessary. Our bodies need rejuvenation, our souls need rest and worship and if we don't take the time to make those things a regular part of our lives, too often illness will make us take a forced Sabbath and that can be doubly hard. This is not to say that if you rest, you will never be sick.

So when I read books like this, I have started to put sticky notes throughout the book at places I want to quote in my book review. The problem is now to find the sticky note and then to remember what stood out to me at the time. I need to decide that reusing the sticky note (when I literally have a drawer full of them) is unnecessary and so I should write my thoughts out on the sticky note so I have them. Anyway, let's see which ones I can find.

"When we abide in Jesus, all our questions about how we Sabbath are answered in who we worship....What begins as a sacrifice of time becomes a willing surrender the more we choose it. We long for rest, and the Lord of the Sabbath longs for communion with us.

"God is less interested in how we spend our Sabbath than that he has our undivided attention."

"Sabbath is a time to transition from human doings to human beings." Matthew Sleeth, 24/6

"I'm learning that when we say yes to God and let go of the need for certainty, that doesn't mean he'll grant our every wish or provide rescue with instant security. God cares more about our transformation into his image than immediate relief."  Ouch, this is not a popular thought in today's culture. We want to be like Christ, yes we do, but we want it right now without anything bad happening to us, thank you very much.

I did enjoy this book. I think for me, Sunday has always been a day of rest for me, so the concept was not new, but the taking time to be quiet and think and reflect is definitely something I could do better on. Sunday is often the day that I spend the least time in quiet and reflection. And I don't think both have to be done on the same day either.

This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers. There is no requirement that I write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happy Heavenly Birthday

Happy Birthday Cheryl and Dad.

I started this post a few weeks ago now. It was one I had thought about writing, but wasn't sure if I should or not. It's one of those not-so-pretty posts, one that delves into sadness and tears and such like.

I was prompted to start it after reading my friend Jennie's post on Cheryl's upcoming birthday. I had forgotten Cheryl's birthday was coming and that in itself made me sad. But just reading her post and then reading the comments, I was struck all over again with the reality that Cheryl is really, really gone and there is nothing I can do to change that fact. In my heart I know she is so much better off, the grief is still there. I still want to go back to those days of stopping off at J and Cheryl's house to hang out. Having another couple that both you and your husband relate to is not something to be taken for granted. It's more rare than you would think.

It just feels like there are so many special people in heaven that I would like to be enjoying life with down here. Just yesterday, for one brief moment, I heard Dad's footsteps on the basement stairs. It was plain to me, just like they sounded when he would come down the steps to see what Mom and I were doing downstairs. I thought, "there's Dad" and in the next second, I knew it wasn't. But it was a solid reminder again that he is gone too.

And my own little family, December 21 marks 4 years since our first baby went home and now half of our family is in heaven. I want to ask God why? Why me? But I do know that's not right question. Why not me? I'm not any more special than the next person. I don't deserve preferential treatment. People have suffered much worse than I have.

And this is where I can stall out. Where to from here? I can wallow in my grief and despair and have it turn me into a whiny, self-pitying person. Or I can follow Jennie's example and do something for others. Don't get your hopes up, I don't have a giveaway planned, though that would be a lot of fun. I spent my time wallowing. It isn't pretty for me or the people around me. I'd like to say I have overcome and am now the most giving, cheerful person you could meet. That's not even close to true either. I hope I have grown through these storms of grief, but even that feels like a wish some days.

I think it is good to feel and to grieve. This is my own philosophy now, but in order to grieve you have to first lose something precious to you. If you have never grieved, then you have never lost something precious and that is sad. Now if you truly have cherished relationships and they are all still intact, Praise the LORD!!! But that seems a little unlikely. So maybe I should be looking at grief as a blessing. Because I miss Cheryl, because I miss my Dad, because I miss my babies, it means I had something there to miss. I had a relationship with Cheryl, a friendship that meant something to me, so of course I miss her. If I had only viewed her as a surface friend or refused to allow myself to enjoy our friendship or to let it mean anything to me, than her death would be an event, not a process. I would have gone to her funeral and then been done with grief. What a sad, sad way to live.

Now, it's not that grieving is fun, but I am realizing it is a result of having had something really good. Cheryl was a good friend, my dad was the solid fixture in my life from the very beginning, my babies were my heart and soul and dream.

I don't know if I am explaining myself very good or not. Let me just say that for those people who do not really live and truly treasure relationships and live intentionally with the people around them, my heart goes out to them. Yes, maybe they are sheltering themselves from grief, but they are also keeping themselves from a treasure trove of memories and moments that make the grief bearable. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't distance myself, I would plunge even more headlong into these relationships knowing they were only going to last for a too short of season.

Then the question for me becomes, why am I not doing that for the relationships that are still in front of me? Ah, yes, my goal for 2017. To live intentionally and with purpose and to make the most of every moment with every person.

So I wrote the above part last week. This morning in my devotions, I was reading from Romans 8 and the triumph of the verses caught my attention. So often in Romans, we get hung up on Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good...." I am not doubting the validity of that verse, but sometimes in grief it can feel a little trite and cliched and you wonder if the people quoting it have ever really gone through what you are going through. Sometimes when you find it on your own and read it, it makes more sense and you can see it for what it is. But that's not the verse I want to point out.

Listen, just stop and breathe deep and let these words soak into your soul. I hope they will provide an anchor for you like they did for me this morning when I read them. It's coming from Romans 8:26-39

"For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

God is on our side, He's praying for us when we don't even know how to utter words, when our souls feel barren and our words unutterable, He is there and He is interceding on our behalf.

"If God is for us, who can be against us?.....It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress,.....? yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I don't know if this brings salve to your hurting heart like it did for mine this morning. God is really for us, He loves me, nothing that happens is going to change that. He will pray for me even when words fail. That is such a huge comfort to me and I pray it does for you as well.