Joining Goodreads

Well, I have always been a huge fan of books, I never seem to have enough. I will admit though, I have shelves of books I have yet to read. It is fun to see in a list form what has been read, what I want to read, and how I rate them.
Hardly ever can I enter a bookstore and not come out with at least two books in tow. Although, like many book addicted people, my shelves are running out of room.
Anyway, check out the new section on the sidebar to see some of the books I have read, or want to read.

I will say, currently, my favorite author is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I particularly love “Crime and Punishment” and would recommend it to anyone who would love to read more about the grapple of man with crime, guilt, forgiveness, humanity, and laws of right and wrong. It is an excellent read, and unlike “The Brother’s Karamazov” (another favorite of mine) is a little shorter with less long winded dialogue.
I have many favorite books, and will share more of them as I remember to do so.

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,

The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Advertisements

Life lessons are not often without clean up required.

IMG_4415

So, I was doing something nice, making tea, getting a tray ready. A croissant toasting, and the pot of tea brewing. I reached up into my cabinet and took out my newest teacup that I acquired at a flea market. Turned around and a little dude had snuck behind me silently, I was startled and the cup dropped. Well, china and ceramic tile don’t mix, and it shattered.

Unintentional accident. I dropped my cup, my toast burnt while cleaning it up. I shouted, then cried, then I apologized. Sounds like words to a country song. I initially placed prize value on my now broken cup, instead of the not-so-little one who had snuck up behind me. Of course it was accidental, and partially rule-breaking, as I have told them before not to come in the kitchen.

The thing is, life is more fragile than a teacup, and of much greater value than a rare find. Kindness was required and care in cleaning up both the shattered pieces and also in the relationship being brought to tension.

Proverbs 3:3-4 “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.”

The human heart is so fragile, when an incident occurs, if even a thought or word is shared harshly, it can cause damage in so many ways. Broken relationships are a bane of our lives, and occur all too often. Perhaps sometimes it is because we are all valuing the wrong thing and not responding in the right way to life.

In my small incident this morning, I did not make myself known for my soft response initially. I was the harsh person who forgot what kindness is. That was quickly remedied when I paused and looked at my son and remembered a material thing is not so important. I picked up the pieces of the cup, placed them on the counter and asked God to put that gentleness in me. We all have those moments, when we want to lash out, and then feel that prodding of the heart, to be kind.

When I chose the kindness, there was restored favor. My son was able to ask and inquire if I could fix the cup. I told him no, but I could still do something with it perhaps. He needed to know that the favor was there and that it was not the end of the world. I think that despite my initial reaction, the circumstance was valuable and able to show me a lesson of life. I now, with a different teacup, am able to sit and contemplate and enjoy favor. The boys are back to their happy play and it is nice and calm.

This verse in Proverbs was what I had planned on writing about today, I suppose I required this reminder first: That kindness goes a lot further and the result that comes when kindness is shown is favor. This verse is speaking of having integrity, having kindness and truth as your name tag. While many might think of integrity for large things only, it is a lifestyle of integrity even in the small stuff, even in the daily tasks of interacting with others in your home. Having integrity bound to us is living a godly wise life. We are to wear our integrity as a beautiful adornment both inside and outside. When we are known by integrity, kindness, and truth, we have both favor and a good reputation before God and before those around us.

The beauty is that, even if we mess up at first, there is often a second chance with God. He will gives us the opportunity to practice kindness and to walk in integrity. I am so glad there is forgiveness and glad I too get a second chance at living in kindness and picking up the pieces.

IMG_4417

A Simple Plea to Women

There is something I’ve been noticing as a trend, with multiple articles, blogs, and people commenting on the subject. I have seen a few writings resurfacing (one was actually about 3 years old) about the dislike and distaste for women’s ministry. I did not agree with what I was reading.

Here is where I was initially quite frustrated: the idea that women’s ministry is lacking in scripture, and second that it is focused on womanhood and not the “gospel”. 

Well, last I saw, we are to study the full counsel of God; all of Scripture. Scripture talks about Jesus Christ and His work, but there is also a great deal of instruction for how a follower of Christ ought to act. Including women as their own distinct group. God did not make gender neutral people, He did make us different, male and female. So, if God sees us each as individuals, as He made us, then we should see what His word has to say about our roles. Titus 2:3-5, 1 Peter 3, and many other passages in scripture give examples of women. (Try a quick Bible search for “women” and you’ll find God has a lot to say about them specifically. Blue Letter Bible search on “women” here.)

Many say, “We need doctrine, bible, theology.” Well, guess what, you can have that, all the time, every day, just read it. Thankfully, the Bible is available for all people, so there should be nothing stopping any of us from picking it up. How about the issue of good teaching? Well, ladies and Christians, be selective. Kay Arthur, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Elise Fitzpartick, Elizabeth George, Lenya Heitzig, are some examples I know of, and there are many others teaching the Bible. So why aren’t you studying it? You can find solid biblical teaching if you look for it, even within your local churches. If your church does a study through a book or dvd instead of their own in-house teacher, make sure you speak up and ask for material that is actually teaching the Bible. 

How about the teas, the “fluff”, the lace, and pink? Well, here is a news flash: if you are a women, you know deep down you are concerned with pretty (I am speaking generally, our definitions of “pretty” may differ, but we still like it). That’s part of the way God made us. So, what’s wrong with enjoying the beautiful while among other women? I have met a good share of ladies who will go for tea, have a ladies night out, go to concerts together, and dress up to hang out with friends; just for fun. Why not join a group of fellow believers for a few hours to fellowship, worship God, and learn together? So, If we are willing to take time with co-workers, friends, and relatives, why not our own family of God?

Hebrews 10:25 warns a believer not to forsake the assembling together: 

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging

one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25

Lastly, the point that has me the most concerned with these types of complaints about women’s ministries, is that those making the noise are not always the ones willing to dive in, join, participate, and be the catalyst to encourage women to study the Word. By not being wiling to be the change they hope for, they are doing a disservice to themselves and to anyone who listens to them. While I had once been one of those on the fence about women’s studies, I personally decided that I would not just sit, but rather investigate and be involved myself. By doing that, I realized there are women who are amazing; who love God more than anything, who cannot wait to pray for one another, to sing songs of worship, who are ready to weep with the brokenhearted, and laugh with the joys in life. The difference wasn’t the so-called fluff going away, but rather emptying myself. I realized my own pride, conceit, and indifference were in the way, and by that attitude I am afraid I discouraged some around me from jumping into women’s ministry whole hearted. Once I realized my wrong, I found that a women’s ministry does have so much to offer and was a place where God drew me to deepen my faith and strengthen my walk with Him. 

So please stop discouraging others from attending, from making the view cloudy, and muddying the waters. Do not be the one to influence someone away from what might be God’s way that He wants to work in their lives. If you are on the edge, and have been influenced by negative ideas about women’s ministry, please, go and try it yourself; drop the expectations, look through the lens of the Word of God, and then dive in. You don’t have to love glitter, just love the Lord and let His love spill out of you for your other sisters in Christ.

Listen and Learn

IMG_3999

Proverbs 1:8-9

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching;

Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.

The first teacher most of us have are our parents. They are the ones who form the early years of life, and often continue on until one becomes an adult. It seems as though the principle of a father and a mother instructing their child was a point that Solomon took as fact. Later within the book of Proverbs, we will see methods and other guidelines of being the instructor. In this verse though, it is emphasized that the child be the one to take action. 

“Hear” and “Do not forsake”. These are the responsibilities of the son. Hearing, initially shows a readiness to listen, a willingness to listen. It is not a passive listening to the instruction given by the father. The other interesting word to note is “instruction.” It seems to be used interchangeably with discipline in the Bible. 

I remember from a young age being told ‘no,’ and the response I was to give was obedience. Sometimes this occurred because I had broken the rules and I was receiving correction for my behavior. Other times the instruction I was given was proactive, it was cautionary and guiding my life. Some were basics, like don’t touch a hot stove, others more moral, like not telling lies. In any circumstance, those things are valuable lessons and worth listening to. The ‘teaching’ one is to not forsake or turn away from is instruction, the law, the rules. All valuable and in many cases are given to bring a child to safety, security, and better behavior as a whole. 

As a mother myself, it is crucial for me to instruct, discipline, correct, and guide my own children. Sometimes it is basic, like look both ways before crossing a street. Often I find myself guiding my own children within the bounds of the moral guides given by Scripture. Do not steal, do not lie, do not cheat, do not murder, do not covet…these instructions are of great value.

Verse 9 describes those instructions as a ‘graceful wreath and ornaments to ones neck.’ These are descriptive of fine jewels. Matthew Henry wrote, “Those are truly valuable, and shall be valued, who value themselves more by their virtue and piety than by their worldly wealth and dignity.” (Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Pro/Pro_001.cfm?a=629009)

There is so much value when a person holds character above other things. Even within our entertainment, movies, and books there is a great appreciation of the person with right character. The heroes are often the most just, honorable, right, giving, kind, and loving person within a story. We prize the character of the man who lives rightly. God Himself values the person who follows instruction. 

I love when my children obey. I am sure every other parent has at some point felt the joy when their child follows instruction by themselves without having to reinforce the laws of the house. I myself had a blessed moment today when this occurred. Today was our first day of the school year. It was one I half longed for but also was slightly dreading. Getting the children back into routine, on schedule, with very distinct instructions to follow. It was in this that I had my moment of real calm and such happiness when they all willingly went to their desks, opened their books, and listened to the words to teach them. While not every day will be like this; I have been homeschooling long enough to know of the October slump, the spring fever and all the bad days that ensue, I know that the heading of instruction truly is a beautiful thing. I couldn’t help but take a few pictures while they were unaware, just to capture the graceful moment. My boys knew it was a good day, and the enjoyment was seen even on their faces.

I think of God being my Heavenly Father and the instruction He has given; and I am both gladdened and convicted. How often do I follow and take head of the instructions in the Bible? Do I follow those things closely, or do I go my own way? The wonderful thing about parents, is that Love often brings forgiveness and grace. It is the same with God our Father. He is willing to forgive, and so desirous of us to follow His Instructions. To listen and learn is graceful, beautiful, and a wonderful adornment to person who does those things. 

Oh, I do hope to wear the adornments of obedience; And to  have a crown of grace about me as I obey the instructions of God. Is this your desire too?

Seeking the Black and White

Black and White

A Study in Proverbs; Seeking Wisdom

I am no scholar, I often end up with my foot in my mouth, I don’t always think everything through, although I try. So, I am often looking for the secret to doing, saying, and thinking through things wisely. I find that when I read Proverbs, it makes so much practical sense. Of course there is Spiritual Wisdom, as it is the God given Word of Scripture; yet there are moments as I delve into the Proverbs, I think, “Wow, this is so amazingly useful for everything!” Of course, while certain aspects do seem cultural to the time period in which they were written, the principles found in the book of Proverbs have application for each person.

[Proverbs 1:1-7 NASB]

“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding,

To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity;

To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion,

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

So who wrote it all? Short answer: King Solomon.

Solomon was born into royalty. In 2 Samuel 12:24, we find out something interesting about this prince. It says “The Lord loved him.” That’s our first introduction to this person. He was the son of David, who was also given a nickname, “A man after God’s own heart.” Those are some impressive distinctions. While I would love to go into a history of David and Solomon, there are many good scholars and theologians who have already done this and I would encourage you to find that out.

I would like to mention one thing about Solomon though. He had an encounter with the true God at a young age. It was in a dream that God spoke to him and told him to ask for anything from God Himself. Solomon could have asked for anything it seems, but what he requested was wisdom. Here were his words, “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” [1Kings 3:9 NASB] God was pleased with this request, and on top of it gave Solomon riches and might…Under the condition that Solomon was to walk in the ways of God and His commandments. Sweet deal, right? (You can read the rest of this story in 1 Kings 3.)

So keep in mind, as you look at the book of Proverbs, the wisdom shared is not just wisdom coming from man; it is the wisdom of God. With that comes weight; if a scraggly looking person, with no known abilities, connections to you, or authority, told you, “Don’t cross the street.” You might look at them strangely and cross anyway. On the other hand, if you saw a person of reputation, with a uniform on, having authority, who said the same thing, you would more likely listen. These words in the book of Proverbs, don’t come from a man, they don’t come from a nobody, they are breathed by God Himself. The all knowing, all powerful, never failing God. So, while some things may seem simple, do not take the words of proverbs lightly.

Why Proverbs? Well, because they are words that will increase learning, give instruction, direction, knowledge, and understanding. I love the verse above that says, “To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, Justice, and equity.” I believe there are absolutes, and we all seek a sense of justice, holding everything to an absolute standard. Proverbs makes life a lot less complex, it is black and white, right and wrong. I like that. Of course I may face situations that are a little more grey; like what to wear, eat, or drink; yet the truth is, Proverbs bring wisdom to many circumstances in life.

So, this is the first post on Proverbs. I hope to go through the whole book, all 31 chapters, bit by bit. (Although no doubt it will take me some time…if I am able to complete it at all.)

Thanks for reading.

Trouble: Will It Refine You? (Part 3)

Trouble: Will you let it refine you?

1 Peter 1:6-9 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

According to Scripture, pain has a purpose in our lives. Three years ago, while in the throng of a trial, it all made very little made sense. As I have now grown as a result of that pain, I see how it has benefitted myself in ways I could never have imagined. Continue reading

Trouble: Be Prepared (Part 2)

Red Alert! Red Alert! A warning goes out, your heart skips a beat, and you hold your loved ones closer. You’ve rushed about doing what you can, now you just hold on, waiting for whatever turmoil it may be to pass. Trouble Strikes.

When the weather forecast issues and alert for a storm, hurricane, tornado, or even extreme fire danger, we take heed. Things are tied down, shutters are closed up, emergency preparedness is in effect and we brace ourselves for the outcome. Unfortunately there are some who ignore the warnings and are caught off guard, often facing the tragedy unprepared. In some cases, even the prepared face devastating loss. When I was a young girl, I remember a hurricane warning and the scramble to get everything taken came of before the brunt of the storm hit. After the things in the yard were tied down, the windows covered, I recall being inside the living room and looking outside. I think the power went out because I remember the darkness. Then watching the strength of the wind blowing the trees outside, the pounding of the rain on the roof, and the sound of thunder amidst the howls of the storm. Yet, I remember going to sleep, or at least waking up the next day. We made it through that storm with minor damage, and things went back to normal. We were prepared.

Some say the only two certain things in life are death and taxes. While this may be so, death is the only thing certain. For a Christian, we do not live without hope, we know that death has been overcome already. For those who believe that Jesus Christ died to take your punishment and give you life, death is not the most dreaded thing. But what about the other trials in our lives? If you knew they were coming, how would you prepare for it?Rainbow in the Mountains Continue reading

Trouble: It Is Coming (Part 1)

Storm in the DesertHave you ever recalled a dream so vividly that it was like you were remembering an actual event? Every now and then I will have a dream that will stick in my mind and I write it down. One such dream was over 3 years ago. The gist of it was that my husband, kids, and myself, went through an overwhelming struggle but had come to a resting place after defeating a creature. Then we had come to a brief pause, and a  place of calm and quiet. It was there, in the dream, I foresaw something worse. It was a foreshadowing of a fierce rhino with red eyes. I knew (as one often does in dreams) that it was coming, along our journey, we were going to deal with a difficult struggle, something absurd, something we would have to battle, and it was terrifying. I wrote down the dream, pondered it for days, but then closed my journal and didn’t think of it again until I reread it recently on a bored whim, and was astonished.

I looked at the date of the dream and thought of the months that had followed. I can say, it was the hardest months of trial that came in unexpected. Pain, emotional loss, troubles, and grieving; then recovering, that is what happened over the months and even years that came. So, what was that dream? Was is a vision, a foretelling, a warning of reality? I couldn’t say, and if so, I didn’t pay much attention at the time. Perhaps it was divine warning of the trial ahead, I don’t know.

Here is the shocker though, we are all foretold of pains, trials, and suffering in this life.  Continue reading

Do you ask for Help?

Bosque

In my 4 years of adventuring through homeschool, I have had the notion that I must and should do it all. There are articles explaining how one can accomplish everything. Magazines that show the ideal homeschool day. Granted there are also quite a number of people who post about how they struggle, how difficult it is, or how they have days when they want to give up.

The response to most of those difficult times is usually, “Take a day off”. I’ve wondered, ‘How about the rest of the year?’ Yet, in all of my conversations with people, I express how great homeschooling is, how terrific it is to make your own choices for your child’s education. I rave about the curriculum, the freeing schedule, the time spent at home. To be honest, I love homeschooling. Despite the difficulties, I do enjoy it. Now this post is not just about homeschooling though. There is an underlying lesson I have learned, and am still learning, that I would like to share.

Many of us desire to portray our lives as complete. No one wants to look like the dishevelled mess we might actually be. I blame part of my own actions to time living among people who culturally practice “saving-face” so to speak. But when I dig deeper, to the heart of the issue, is this not a form of pride and self-righteousness that I am propagating? Although in some ways, people label specific cultures as “saving-face” cultures, don’t we all have that desire to show off our best sides? When I scroll through my social media and see what my friends post, it’s usually the best side, and so is mine. Now, I am not saying that in itself is bad. But it also may not be accurate, and in doing so, we might be trying to convince ourselves that things are rosy.

So, what if it isn’t all roses and sunshine? What if in actuality you are drowning? Overwhelmed, Broken, and depressed? Or just ready to throw in the towel?

I had a moment that hit me hard when I realized I was incapable of continuing on. It wasn’t nice, I was broken and felt desperate. I realized in particular that my current method of homeschooling was not working and we were getting behind, along with other frustrations arising. Now this took a turn that actually was a moment of peace and resolution. My problem here was that I was professing that I was entirely good yet inside I was drowning. Well, I eventually gave up and did the unthinkable, I cried out, “HELP!” Guess what? It wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t all over when I fatally admitted that I was inadequate. In fact, it was just the needed words to break the cycle of defeat I was struggling in. Continue reading

Who are you?

20140412-133004.jpg

Identity…

Show of hands for those who have done at least one personality quiz? One search to see if you are a Lily or Daisy, what your color is, which bird you are, what food you are, or if you are chaotic good, bad or the ugly? I am sure we have all seen them. Now I think to myself, ‘I have done more than I would like to admit of these quizzes; I am a flower, grape, unicorn, who likes autumn, so…what does that mean I should eat for lunch?’ Okay I am not really taking these quizzes that seriously, but it does say something when millions of people have taken quizzes to try and find out who they are.

Of course, the purpose is for fun, right? Now the day might come when these quiz results will become an area on your resume, but that really isn’t the point is it? Is it to impress, or to find out who you really are? I am sure many 10 question multiple choices have been very effective in your life decisions, no? Now I freely admit, I like quizzes, I think it is fun to see who is the apple, orange, or exotic fruit. We all are unique individuals, each with different likes and dislikes. Things we feel and think about, our enjoyed activities and dreams for the future, we all have them and perhaps occasionally a quiz has help identify them.

What is our identity? Who am I? Perhaps those questions are why we spend the minutes (or hours) checking out the quizzes and filling out a personalty test, or find a quiz to tell us what career we should have picked. Maybe we aren’t satisfied with what we’ve been told so far, so we keep trying for a more desirable answer. Continue reading