Thursday, June 30, 2016

Love is Committed

For those of you who read my blog reviews, you know that I was impressed with the last book I read on love. Dave Willis had some good things to say and some hard things for me to hear. I want to write people off if they don't conform after a certain period of time, but that isn't how it works.

I want God to release me from the pressure of loving the people around me because it's hard. I want to curl up in a corner on the edge of my sofa and read a light thrilling novel. I want to hide out in my house and do my grocery shopping at midnight when nobody else is out and about in town. I went to Walmart yesterday morning (this was written on Tuesday) at 9 AM and it was full of Mennonites!!  I mean, I thought all good Mennonites stayed at home and did laundry and organized the house after the weekend. Wait, good Mennonites probably never let their house get disorganized over the weekend. I wanted to hide. I didn't want to smile or even be nice. I can go to town for weeks and not see anybody I know and then five groups of people in one day in one half-hour segment? Really!!!! And to those of you I met there, I have no thing against you, I just like to get into shopping mode and do my thing and move on and I'm not a big fan of the possibility that someone might actually see what I was buying. Horrors!!  I mean what if I would have had a pregnancy test in my cart? Think of the rumors that could have started from that!!

Okay, moving on from my little tangent. Why did it bother me that I saw people I knew in Walmart? I'm not embarrassed to be in Walmart, I leave the embarrassment to my husband who does NOT like Walmart. I wasn't buying anything I shouldn't have been. I think the thing was it felt like an inconvenience. I was supposed to smile and say something or at the very least acknowledge their presence and I didn't feel like it.

Maybe this is a bad analogy when talking about love, but if love is committed, then I need to be willing to pause at the end of the aisle, say "Hello, how's it going?" rather than making a quick, sneaky move down a different aisle hoping that the other person didn't see you. Yes, I have been guilty of this and while I'm writing this, it's not something I recommend emulating.

Jesus said that the proof of being His disciple was the love we had for those around us. If that is the case, I should be willing to crawl through Walmart, (not literally) and stop and smile and be willing to chat with anyone and everyone I meet. What do people think when they see this harried looking lady with a black thing on her head and long skirt who is rushing madly through the store? I'm guessing they don't think of a loving person, a kind person, a compassionate person. They think of someone who might border on rude or pushy or just plain unkind and uncaring. OUCH!!! That's not the kind of testimony I want to leave in my wake.

So what is the moral? The next time I see you in Walmart, I will attempt not to avoid you. I will try to at least smile and say "Hello".

I think when we think of commitment we often equate it to marriage and it is an absolute necessity in marriage. I just think of the huge advantage I have in my relationship with my husband because I know that divorce is not an option for either of us. I can be secure in my marriage because I know he's not going to give up when the going gets rough.

But I think commitment needs to be more than that. I will stay committed to my kids because they are flesh of my flesh and I love them, but what about my siblings or my friends or even my neighbors? Do I write them off if they do something I think is weird or if they are unloving to me? Am I committed to having a relationship regardless? Granted, we don't have a close relationship with every person we meet, but commitment requires keeping our promises even when we don't feel like it.

Before I wrap this thing up, just a few things from Dave Willis on this. He says commitment requires patience and we live in an instant gratification world so we don't want to wait. He says, "We've traded true intimacy for porn. we've traded committed marriages for commitment-free cohabitation. We've traded having children for having pets. We've traded meaningful conversations for text messages. We've traded 'til death do us part' for divorce. We've traded the pursuit of holiness for the pursuit of happiness. We've traded love for lust." "Once we become willing to choose the patient path of love, we'll be poised to take our relationships to a new level of healing and health. Love isn't a quick fix. Love is a lifelong pursuit." A commitment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Seven Laws of Love by Dave Willis

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I was looking through the Book Look Bloggers for a book that looked interesting and something I would enjoy and agree with. I saw this book, but I just had this feeling like, "Really, what can this book tell me? Is it just a do-good, God is love kind of book? I don't know the author." I read a few comments on it and decided, why not try it?

Guess what? That was a good decision. I've been reading this book and I keep toying with the idea of doing some extended blog posts on the principles that he gives in the book. I'm worried that I would just end up copying the book though and that would run me into some problems with the author, though it would also give him an excellent opportunity to practice his seven laws of love. I might do a few more posts on this book, I'm not sure yet.

It was really good. Dave started by saying what he considers the seven laws of love to be:
Conquering Fear
Offering Grace
Living Forever.

Then he talks about love in action to:
Your spouse
Your Family
Your Neighbor
Your Friends
Your Enemies
Your Creator.

He's practical and says the hard stuff. Love is a matter of both the heart and the mind. Feelings are fleeting, but to have a lasting, committed love it must endure long after the feelings have dissipated.

"The strength of your commitment will always determine the strength of your relationship." I could quote sentence after sentence after sentence that stuck out to me when I was reading it. I was challenged to be honest, to be truthful but to be kind while doing it, to love those around me even if it pushes me outside of my comfort zone.

"You don't have to trust someone in order to forgive, but you do have to forgive someone in order to make trust possible again." This is the thing of offering grace. If love is a commitment we don't run when the other person in the relationship messes up, we listen, we offer truth, we extend grace and we invite healing to occur in that person's life. It will be messy, but it is the way that Jesus exemplified. He looked for the least likely people and poured out His love on them.

So I'm not sure if there will some more blog posts on this book or not, but it's worth the read. If you are struggling in a relationship, ask God to help you and pick up a book like this. It's not a seven step process and then you're done, but it will give you some tools to equip you for the rest of your life.

This book was given me by Book Look Bloggers for the purpose of reading and writing a review on. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Of Silently, Of Babies Gone too Soon,

I've been reading in the Psalms lately in my journey through the Bible and there is so much in there. This morning one word grabbed my attention, "Truly my soul silently waits for my God." Psalm 62:1. The word silently is what struck me. How often do I do that? I'll wait all right, but you can guarantee I will be telling people about it and complaining and asking the age old question, "Are we there yet? or done yet?"

What does it mean to silently wait? I think of this word as a quiet, a calm, a trust, a dependence on God. I don't think it means to do nothing, but I do think it means to be quiet and not complain about the wait. This is hard. I have this idea that if I have to wait, others should know about it, they should know that I'm not just sitting around doing nothing, but I am still waiting. Why is this so hard? Why do I worry about what people will say about the journey God has called me to? It's my journey and it's going to look different from the next person's. It has to, we are each unique.

The rest of the verse says, "From Him comes my salvation."  Ah, that's what we are waiting for. I didn't do a word study or anything, but I would take this to mean more than just the saving from sin and death. In the context of the Psalms, I would take this to mean a saving from enemies, a saving from a hardship, etc.  God is there to save me, but it's not always on my time table and what am I going to do while I'm sitting in the waiting room? I want to ponder this word silently.

In the past week, I have heard of two babies who have left this earth too soon. One was carried to heaven as a 15 week miscarriage, a precious little boy. The other was a 14 month old little girl who spend the entirety of her life in a hospital and just as her parents were ready to take her home, God called her to her eternal home. I can't understand the why's of all of this. I have lost a baby to miscarriage and I have known the pain of burying my little girl who was born too soon to live on this earth, but I cannot imagine this grief of having lived life completely devoted to your little girl for over a year and then having her taken from you. The grief, the pain, the loss, the emptiness--I cannot fathom. Pray for both of these parents. Grief is such an individual journey and often is done silently because people don't always understand. I know grief, but I won't pretend to know what these families are facing because it is different.

So to Paula O. and Emma, if you read this, from one mom's heart to another. I care. I pray for you and I ask Jesus to hold you tight in His arms as you walk this roller coaster ride of grief. May you find his strength and comfort surrounding you and giving your strength to take each step forward knowing you are loved and cared for and lifted up to the throne of grace.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

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I have become a huge fan of Chris Fabry's books and this one did not disappoint. When you read one of his books, you never know how the end will turn out and often it is not at all like you expected it to and this one is no exception there.

It's the story of two boys and a girl who spend a summer roaming the hills of Dogwood, West Virginia. It's an unlikely trio, a half African-American, half white boy who is unaccepted because of his color, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who has an alcoholic father and a mother who dies young, and a preacher's boy. The theme of the book, in part at least, is keeping promises. The preacher's boy, Matt, falls in love with Jesse, the girl and tries to help her take care of her little sister, but makes her promise to marry him.

Matt's parents don't like the two spending time together so... I can't tell you more or it will ruin the suspense of the book.  Matt comes back to "rescue" Jesse from making a bad decision, but in reality Matt needs rescued. He needs to figure out that Christianity isn't determined by rescuer status but by letting God do the rescuing. After walking away from God, Matt realizes at the end of the book, that he needs to let God be his Savior and stop trying to do it all on his own.

It's a really good book, but I'm finding it hard to sum it up well. You just need to read it. Read it and let it soak in. Realize that sometimes love does the hard thing, and in doing so, finds a new freedom.

This book was given me by Tyndale House for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed were my own.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Things I'm Loving Right Now

When this post goes public, I will be gone on a trip. A trip with my mom, my daughter, my niece for half the time and my aunt for half the time. Doesn't this sound brave? If this is the last post you ever see from me, you know the trip just simply did me in and I am now traumatized beyond cognition.

No really, I'm looking forward to this trip, minus the fact that Amber has not proved herself to be very good about sleeping in strange places and we will be staying in a lot of different places in the 8 days we are gone.

But this is supposed to be about the things I'm loving right now. Well, obviously my little girl, but I've posted recent pics of her, so no pics this time.

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This came in the mail the other day. It is a Pilot Parallel pen. I realized there is a whole world and language of calligraphy style pens out there and I am a novice. I thought I understood that these pens were really cool because they had ink cartridges that you could pop in and out at will and change the color whenever you want. Ha Ha!! It's not that simple. For one, I'm not sure you can pop the cartridge out before it is gone and save it for another use. I intend to try, but.... And then before you pop a new cartridge in, you have to clean and scrub the pen. And then there's the language of converters and saving the environment by buying ink in bulk and refilling your cartridges or using the converters. And words like eye droppers, etc were passed around and it made me want to go buy a whole bunch of ink and experiment, but I will try to constrain myself and only buy a few different things to go with this pen. I have loved using it and trying to style up my writing and hopefully the writing on my homemade cards can look a little more professional.

My flowers are another thing that make me happy these days. I should go and take a picture and post it of my outside flowers, but I'm lazy and so I am consoling myself with the fact that we just had a wind and rain storm and I am sure that the flowers are not looking their best right now and so the pics shall wait.  My inside flowers are also blossoming ( no put intended for some of them at least) since I transplanted a lot of them and offered them better and ritzier accommodations. My rose plant actually has a rose with two more buds coming along. My cactus style plant that I hacked off the main one seems to be struggling to root, but that might be hindered in part by coming downstairs one day and seeing Amber playing the plant outside of its pot and then the other day a little tyke also appeared to be fondling the plant, but it doesn't turn brown, so I have hope.
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These make me happy as well. A birthday gift from the man and they are the most comfortable and expensive pair of flip flops I have ever owned and I intend to get many years of walking pleasure out of them. Yes, I picked them out. I was given instructions that I was not to come out of the store without a pair of flip flops in my hand. He does shopping for so long, but there comes a point where the law must be laid down !!!!

Okay, A is sleeping and I really need to get some computer work done to make up for being gone a week.

Good bye all.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Some projects

So I like to sew quilts and had a goal for 2016 to sew one a month. In April, I was already a month behind and got this crazy idea to sew four log cabins at once, thinking that I could iron when Amber was sleeping and it would be more efficient. It turns out ironing was easier to do while she was awake than sewing and while it scared me a little to do it (my hand kept a pretty strong grasp on the iron handle), it worked and I know am caught up on my quilt a month and I think I might be one ahead even. It's a shame if you can't remember if you sewed one or two quilts already. I think I will say I am caught up until the end of June. I have 4 more here to finish, 

And in the middle, we celebrated 8 years since our first date. I thought we should celebrate and in the midst of quilts and calorie counting, we should go out for pie!!!  There is no place to get a good piece of pie in Hayward after 7 in the evening!! 7, I mean who closes before 7? Yes, Norske Nook, the place of the really good pies. So we settled for Perkins, which we had boycotted for the last year and a half after rather awful service the last time we were there. Well, let's just say they are back on our boycott list. If I want my coffee lukewarm and 12 hours old, I can get that at home, thank you very much. Anyway, I'm not out to diss the local eating establishments, but I am thinking someone should start a pie and ice cream joint in the local region that is open at least until 10 PM. And yes, I also realize that I just complained about local eating establishments, but I'm just gonna let it. 

Not a log cabin; affectionately called "Kiss me Kate" Don't ask me. If we were looking for symbolism, it seems it would be more properly called "Hug me Kate". I didn't name it, but I do enjoy sewing these.

And this is a good mixture of the leftover blocks. 

She surrenders!! I'm not sure what, but she is all in. I took these to mom Tuesday evening pretty directly after I finished them and all Amber wanted to do was sit on them when I was showing them to Mom. I think she had the idea they were on a couch, but they weren't, she would go to sit and plop herself down on the floor. I know why babies wear pampers. Otherwise their little tooshies would be solid black and blue from all their falling and it would be highly suspicious for child abuse. I do realize there are other reasons for wearing pampers as well. 

And so there you have those projects. One of my other goals for 2016 was to do a Pinteresty-type project a month as well and that is also a little behind. I still have May's to do, though sometime in the last while I did do a grocery bag holder which would qualify for May. I also want to make a strap for holding cords in place, like when I wrap up the iron cord. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Come With Me by Suzanne Eller

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This was the first book I've read by Suzanne and it was worth reading.

The book is calling the readers to walk more closely with Jesus, to say yes when He says come even if it feels scary and uncomfortable.
"Where you are going is not as important as who you go with." says the back cover.

On a frame on my kitchen table are these words, "What can I do?" Those words are written there because I was reading this book and the challenge is to find the task that God wants me to accomplish. "It's not about the size of the serve. It's the willingness to do what He asks", says Suzanne. And I believe her. Right now, I do feel my calling is to be a mom and a wife, but I also think that calling is so much greater than I often make it. God wants me to be the best wife and mom I know how to be and this can call greater things from me than I want to willingly give. It requires sacrifice and a giving up of my lazy tendencies or selfish ambitions for the good of my family. It's ultimately putting God first and letting Him show me the areas that He wants me to change in or grow in or surrender to Him.

Another quote from Suzanne that I really like is "Standing strong doesn't mean you step on others." Ouch!! Sometimes, we think we are practicing tough love or or or when in reality we are just stomping people into the ground. I know I am way too guilty of this. Sometimes, it is necessary to speak the strong words, but sometimes it is necessary to just wrap people in mercy and love and show them the way rather than giving them a list of 101 ways to do it.

Suzanne talks about "Believing Big when You Feel Small". It's a surrender of our not-enough faith to God and letting Him fill us with the faith that we desperately want to have. It's trusting Him to fill the not-enough areas in our lives because we know He is enough.

The book was challenging for me to truly step out and go with God, trusting Him completely for the journey ahead. This is something I so want to do and I try, but I needed the push once again to make more of an effort and to make God the most important Person ever.

And ARC copy was given to me by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reading and writing a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Memorial Day Picnic

I'll let the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. We went on a Memorial Day picnic and A was delighted to wonder around, getting dirty and helping where ever she could. She liked sitting beside D and "holding" the fishing pole. 

It was fun to go on a picnic together. I always think we should do these things, you know make memories, etc. but we never get around to is, so apparently spur of the moment is the better option. 

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together, Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

A dozer, a digger, a crane and a dump truck work together to get the job done. Written in rhyme, it reminds me a bit of the book "L...