Summer speeds by….. a review of a good book

Every year seems to be a little faster than the year before. I look at the calendar and am amazed that it is almost the end of August, it seemed like I was wishing winter away and now fall is quickly approaching. I have not written nearly as much as I had anticipated in the beginning of the year, but I am learning that life often does not go as we would like or expect, but choosing joy and working to enjoy the process of walking through life with  Jesus.

I love to read and one series of books I read over this winter and spring is Joel Rosenberg’s J.B. Collins series. If you have never read one of Joel’s book, I highly recommend them. They are excellently written and I was quickly engrossed into the story line.

I initially set out to read the newest book in the series: Without Warning and decided to full understand the story line I needed to read the first two books before I read it.

Without Warning is the third and last in the JB Collins series. Joel Rosenberg quickly recaps but does not spend a lot of time before the story quickly picks up and moves forward. While the book is a fictional book, it connects with the reader of our current geopolitical world. With each page turn, I was wondering how will this end, will it end with a happy ending, with the good guys winning? Without spoiling the ending I will say this, it didn’t end quite the way I thought it would, but the ending shows how God works in ways we would not imagine nor quite the way we would write our own story. Through out the book it is evident that Joel has done his research and is very knowledgeable in understanding the countries and players within the Middle East. I finished the book with a different perspective and understanding of the times we live in, the various tensions and the various players in the complex issues we are facing today. I didn’t want the story to end and yet the story comes to a close in a way that fits the story line well. This was a delightful book to read and one that I enjoyed immensely. I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good political mystery thriller. Thanks Tyndale Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

March 2017 Update on Stitchery and Reading

Two of my favorite ways to use my Fringe Hours, those extra minutes in my day that allow me to recharge and fill my cup before I continue pouring out, are reading and counted thread needlework.

Around Christmas 2016 I have finished Rocky Mountain Christmas by Marty Bell.
My current project I work on during appointments, is The Drawn Thread’s Alpine Garden…. It is slowly coming – here is the most current view of it.

I am working on a Puzzle Ball. This project has stretched my knowledge of specialty stitches.
Component One:
Component 2:

Over the past few months I have read a couple of books: The Great Divorce by CS Lewis. Living Forward. Twighlights Last Gleaming. I also had the pleasure of receiving a copy of From the Grave, a 40 Day Lent Devotional by A.W. Tozer from Moody Publishers in exchange for my review of the book. I want to take a few minutes and share my thoughts with you.

From the Grave is smaller than the your average size book, it is also hard back versus paper. I like the layout of the book. Each day is devotional in style, a verse followed by Tozer’s writing related to the daily scripture. I am a Tozer fan, I like his matter of fact writing style and that he simply addresses the topic at hand. In this Lent Devotional, what Tozer shares is timeless, it applies as much when he wrote it as it does to now. The progression of material presented each day is building towards the celebration of Easter. While this devotional is geared towards Lent and preparing us for Easter, I would go through this devotional any time during the year.

Devotionals can easily become check boxes on the list of daily to dos but when given time in one’s day it has the potential for impacting what one thinks about and applies during the course of the day.

I highly recommend this devotional book for next year’s season of Lent or if you are looking for a 40 day challenge. Thanks again Moody for an opportunity to read this book and review it.

Embracing Life with Jesus…….

Embracing life. The past Friday’s Five Minute Friday prompt was “Embrace.” I initially had an idea I wanted to write about which was on embracing that following Jesus is simple, the concept of a simple life. I am reading a book by Richard Foster that is on the topic and talks about how it is paradoxical. Simple yet complex. That the disciplines of the Christian faith are simple, yet they are hard. The practicality of that paradox came out with the bump in the road of life happening before I even set down to write the prompt and I realized how the call to embrace life is one of those choices that has to be made. What life am I embracing? A life of ease? A life without the Lord Jesus at the center? A life with the Lord Jesus at the center? A life where I have embraced that I was redeemed from a judgment of death to a life of freedom and eternity with God Almighty. A life saved to live for Him.

Life will always have ups and downs, potholes, waves, curve balls – our society has a lot of different ways to describe when life doesn’t go according to “our plan”. I am challenged to look at myself how do I choose to embrace life? When life gets hard what is my default. Is it to bury my head in the sand? Is it to fill my time with distractions? Or will I pause and pray. The word embrace implies the holding onto, the grasping of. What do I want to grasp on to? As I process all of this more, I want to embrace the life of following Jesus.

The world sees the outward. The outer shell. It sees how we act. How we look. How we talk. How we respond. The world does not see the heart. The inner man’s dialog. The inner man’s true thoughts. Scripture tells us “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (NKJV)

I am challenged to make the connection more and more between the heart (inner man) and what occurs for the world to see. There is a connection, the more I allow the light of Jesus, the Holy Spirit to work in me the more the inside should be looking like the outside and look more like Jesus. There is a tension between when life is smooth and life is rough to follow Jesus. Is this easy when life is going smooth? What about when life is rough? I don’t think its easier one way or the other, when the walk of life is bumpy our need for the Lord God Almighty often we see our need to stay embraced but not always. Sometimes we don’t want to face the struggle that is on the path but rather avoid it, go around it, ignore it, anything but lean into the tension of the bump and the unknown and the uncomfortable and allow God to use it to perfect us and show His glory to the world around us. On the same token when the path of life is smooth often we think we can handle this thing we call life rather than be thankful for the reprieve of the difficult and maintain a humble stance.

One of the definitions of embrace is to “put on” (Webster 1828). The definition brings to mind Colossians 3, where Paul talks about putting off the ways of the world and putting on the things of Christ, to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Col. 3:12-14 (NKJV)

Embracing Jesus.

“If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on things on the earth.” Col. 3:1-2 (NKJV)

Simple. But not easy.

Follow. Obey. Be in the Word.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Col. 3:17 (NKJV)

Embrace Life

Embrace: Five Minute Friday Prompt (joining Kate Motaung on her Link Up today)

Embracing life. Life is not easy to embrace sometimes. Sometimes it would be easier to be like the ostrich and bury my head in the sand. Usually because I don’t have a good answer for the curve ball thrown at me. Or that the wave that has suddenly hit me is one that I don’t have an answer for except that it has hit. But embracing life thru the lens of Jesus, that makes life’s waves, those curve balls not wreak the havoc that our emotions might otherwise experience. I wonder how much simpler, quieter, peaceful my life would be if my first response to all of life was to embrace the opportunity to pray. Drop to my knees and connect with the Father, the good Father. The God who Hears. The Great I Am. Embracing who God is brings forth peace, power, and strength that is only explained in terms of simple faith. Jesus shows up. The power in the name of Jesus. Embracing the truth laid out in Scripture. Embracing its truth. Embracing the simple fact that Jesus loves Me. He sees. He understand. He is God, I can embrace, believe, and allow the truth that He is God Almighty sink in deep and transform the way I look at each of life’s steps.~ Its been a while since I have written on the blog, let alone linked up with Five Minute Friday…… thanks for reading.

Thanksgiving Weekend 2016

Snow. White. Fluffy. Beautiful. Accents the green pine trees in a very beautiful way.

The only downside to snow is that when one is driving across the mountain passes in the winter it makes driving interesting AND sometimes detours well made plans for the holidays. Thanksgiving 2016 is one of those years. A truth God is really teaching me and I am working to accept is the thought that when He says no there is a reason why and I need to look for how I see Him show up in the no of what I wanted. We saw an abundance of rain and the passes got an abundance of snow!

Thanksgiving weekend starts the Christmas Holiday season for us. Holiday meal on Thursday. Shopping on Thursday evening and Friday. Sunday evening is filled with a preview of the musical I have been practicing for since August (and opens this next weekend) and the Christmas tree Lighting at church. Followed by each evening practice to get ready for opening night of the musical. Christmas music playing in the background everywhere I walk. Finishing up Christmas shopping for family. Besides all the “fun” pieces of the season, its also a season of reflecting, adjusting, and preparing for the new year. Reflection is not always an easy or pleasant thing to do but it is worth it if I don’t short step the process.

Our Thanksgiving plans did not go as planned, we had beef pot roast, a paleo sausage apple stuffing (yum!), the pumpkin pie my eldest son made, and scalloped potatoes BUT we were safe, and thank to technology we were able to video chat with family this weekend.

The past few months have been busy practicing (I am the rehearsal accompanist) for the musical (Christmas Dessert Theater) at church, reading, homeschooling my youngest, managing the house and spending time with the family. Below are some links to what I have been reading and the latest on embroidery projects.

Finished Books: us-flag
Vision and Beyond by Bruce Wilkerson
Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview by Jason B. Ladd: click here for the review
She Believes by Debbie Lindell: click here for the review

 
Embroidery Project Updates:
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The Rubik Cube: Finished with glow in the dark paint on the frame – Here are the pictures

 

 

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Update on the Rocky Mountain Christmas Project – I am almost finished, less than half a page left

 

 

Books to Read:
Twilight’s Last Gleaming by Robert Jeffress
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
Listen. Love. Repeat. By Karen Ehman
What in the World is Going on? and Is this the End? Both by Dr. David Jeremiah
Living Forward by Michael Hyatt

For Advent This Year:
Because of Bethlehem by Max Lucado
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
Book of Luke Study with the Time Warp Wife

Links:
Christmas Dessert Theater @ GracePoint Church
Paleo Apple Sausage Stuffing
Time Warp Wife’s Blog

*Snow Photo was taken early 2012…….found snow when we were on a family vacation*

Ocean Waves, A Teacup, and Shrimp Tacos

The roar of the ocean wave. Birds hovering over the water. Another crash as the wave breaks. The sunshine breaking through the clouds just right creating an ambiance of color as the evening threatens with its darkness.

Coffee. With a friend. In silence. In that seat in the corner watching the people walking by.

Maybe its that sports event with lots of people screaming and cheering for their team. (Honestly – that would not be me, but I do know others that this brings a smile to their face).

sunsetwaves
Each of these are examples of what might bring a smile to a person’s face. Something that they enjoy. This past Friday I participated in a five minute free write on the word enjoy and was struck with how the word looks similar to “In Joy”. I want to get pleasure out of life but I want to be living my life in such a way that I am “in joy” and life’s bumps and bruises don’t shatter or debilitate but rather end up bringing out a richer color to the landscape or intensifying the flavor of the coffee. Living like that takes a shift of my mindset.

I have two books in my to read pile – one is Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way” and the other is “Listen Love Repeat” by Karen Ehman, both of these books approach the idea of loving the people around us in practical ways. I have been hearing a lot as both of these ladies have been promoting the books and I have been challenged (even before I read them!) to be more intentional in loving people. Strangers. Friends.  Families alike. One of the thing, a sad thing I have realized as I have reflected is that in the name of busyness and “ministry” and life I have allowed myself to not be as intentional as I could be with loving others. When we practically love others we are being encouragers. We have the opportunity to say thru our actions and words that we see them. In the process of showing love, something happens in me – I live more and more “in joy” and life is enjoyable.

Two examples from the past few weeks come to mind…..the teacup and the shrimp tacos.

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My niece turned four this year. She is a bundle of energy and full of smiles, independent and very sweet. I don’t see her very often because we don’t live close by but we do chat. In one of her messages to me she mentioned she wanted a teacup birthday party. One of the things I like to collect is tea cups, in fact its to the point I have started to let go of some of them. As God has been working these thoughts of loving others practically, to hear and act, an idea formulated.  I thought it would be fun to give her one my teacups for her birthday. I have no idea what her reaction to this will be, but I know what working on this project has done for my heart. The time invested in making the keepsake box and picking out the cup helped me to step outside the practical strings of life. What do I mean by that? The practical strings of life – the bills, the cooking of meals. Keeping the house clean. Homeschooling. Appointments. Situations outside of my control yet directly impacting my life. As I stepped out of the practical strings of life – the creativity and the joy in me bubbled more. I was giving. Jesus has richly blessed me and I have an abundance I can give from. Living in joy, and being able to enjoy life, that cup is getting fuller and starting to bubble out more.

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haddyteacup

 

 

 

 

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy trying new things. One of my favorite ways to have shrimp is bang bang shrimp – its an Asian flare to the shrimp that has a great mix of sweet and spicy. Our family for the most part is on the Paleo diet (no grains and no refined sugar. This past weekend I made bang bang shrimp tacos, paleo style; yes it took time but the time equated to showering my family with love.

shrimptacosAs we go through life I think its easy to forget in the every day tasks that we can speak love through our actions and through those tasks.

This week of Thanksgiving – what can you do (small or big) to bring a smile to someone’s face, while you walk through life. To share encouragement. That they matter.  Loving them. Maybe its a gift, like the teacup. Or maybe its practical made with love, like the bang bang shrimp tacos. Maybe its sharing the ocean and whale pictures from vacation with your preteen son who calls them “brain farts” and simply laughing. Enjoying the beauty of God’s creation that He allowed you to capture on the camera. Whatever it might be don’t ignore the opportunity because of an excuse. We have so many things to be thankful for often times we simply miss them because we are trying to live life and not living in joy.

pelicansandwhalebrainfarts

Resources:
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman
Paleo Bang Bang Shrimp Taco Recipe

What I have learned through Reading Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Rejection. It is a word that evokes many reactions inside me. It messes with my ability to have joy.  I recently finished “Uninvited” by Lysa TerKeurst with my bible study group. A book that is now pen marked full of quotes and personal notes throughout.  It messed with my thinking. God grabbed my attention and answered a question I have often struggled with – what triggers my anxiety and fear. What is the root??  The fear of being rejected. Unwanted. Unseen.  From the very little to the very big, what response will I receive.  As I read this book, my Bible, listened to sermons at church and lived life – God revealed some big rejections that have impacted all areas of my life.  Lysa said it eloquently “Messy realities in the midst of the miracles.” (pg 161)…it sums up well what God has been doing. Those messy life moments are pivotal moments in which there have been miracles that have emerged. Some of those miracles are still emerging. The odd thing is my anxiety and fears have subsided as I have named the fear, as I have faced what I have allowed for a long time to be un-named, unacknowledged. The last few chapters of her book remind me of truths I have learned walking through those pivotal dark moments, facing the pain and not running away is part of the key to emerging on the other side.

When I am rejected what is my default reaction? I tend to shut down. To be very quick to accept that it must mean I am not “called” to do that thing. Or that I am not fit enough, qualified enough, good enough for whatever I was rejected with. But I have been challenged to change my perspective. “Today’s disappointment is making room for tomorrow’s appointment.” (p.131). Oh, how I want that perspective, that response allows me to live in joy. Smile through the pain. Smile through the triumphs. Smile through the tears. A smile that begins in the heart and oozes out – not from a place that is fleeting but from a place where I am so secure in the Father’s love that I see even this painful moment as the loving gesture that it is. The Father does not want me to not be perfected. He does not want me to be just like everyone else – He wants me to be a polished jewel. The unique created design that He has created me to be.

When I live from a place of security in the Father’s arms, a fully abandoned abundant life of following Jesus – what would that look like? It looks like a woman whose heart is humble, who is on her knees before the Father allowing her heart to stay soft. Pain tends to harden us not soften us.  “The pain isn’t the enemy. Pain is the indicator that brokenness exists. Pain is the reminder that the real enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stuck in broken places. Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination knowing there’s healing on the other side.” (pg. 173) Over the years, as a mom to a beautiful young man with autism, through a painful divorce, too being laid off from a job that I loved (just a few of the big moments) – pain has shown up. Its not always as rejection, but I cannot avoid pain. Yet don’t we often see pain on some level as rejection – even us believing the lie that somehow we have not measured up to God and therefore He has rejected us and the pain is a punishment. If I never experience pain I would be unable to relate to my fellow human beings. All humanity has experienced pain of some kind. I love that Jesus experienced pain and understands what it is like to live life here on earth. Its easy for me to forget that HE understands.

I must say that my heart was messed with reading this book. Encouraged and challenged to see rejection from a different view point, widen what rejection looks like  – face how it is effecting how I am living my life. I am reminded of the power of God’s word, it is a powerful weapon. The Word encourages, challenges, equips, heals and disciplines me. As I walk forward I want to remember to not flee the pain but to stay, to not believe the lies of the enemy, to believe that God has a purpose, to move to my knees and pray – embracing the Word and allowing myself to let God fill me so that I am able to be a blessing to others. The Father continues to challenge me to live from a place where I am full with His presence, overflowing with His love. A different view of the life I am walking – blessed to be a blessing to the world around vs needy and looking to be needed and filled by the world.

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” Psalm 91: 14-16 (NKJV)

Books Cited: Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
New King James Version of the Bible

FMF: My Thoughts on Enjoy

Five Minute Friday: Enjoy……starting the timer now

I enjoy reading a good book. Sitting on the couch and cross stitching. Curled up in front of the fire with a book and a beverage. I enjoy taking my camera and capturing moments in nature. There are a lot of things I enjoy. I enjoy hanging out with my family. A good conversation with a friend. A walk and talk with my husband. Laughs with my kids. I enjoy music, playing the piano and listening. I enjoy spending time with God, journal-ling and reading my Bible.

Everything I just named are blessings I have the pleasure of “enjoying” but what about the things that are not “enjoyful”? Such as pain. Heartache. Rejection. The walks through the wilderness. The unknowns of life? Those are not things I would put on my list of things I “enjoy” doing. Yet they are things that enrich my life.

When I look at the word “enjoy” I also see two words – in joy. Perhaps when I look at life and the events of my day through the lens of “in joy” I would see things a bit different. I wouldn’t be quick to separate out the things that I like to do, the blessings that are good, but perhaps my filter of life would switch to being in joy all the time. I would have an attitude of the heart of joy, joy comes from God. The book of John tells us about this when Jesus was talking. Joy is an attitude of the heart.

~
So the timer stopped but not my thought….so here is the rest of the thought 🙂

The verses in John I am referring to are: John 15: 9-13, specifically verse 11 (NKJV) where Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” The verses prior talk about abiding in Jesus love when we obey His commandments.  So often in life we are quick to separate out our activities and thoughts into categories, such as the have to’s, want to’s, the need to’s, the like to do’s. What would happen if I were to walk thru life with an attitude of having Jesus’ joy in me, obeying him, and my joy being full? I want to live in a way that each piece of my life is in joy even if it is not bringing me pleasure. To enjoy each precious minute that God has given me and to abide in His love and to share His love with the world.

Linking Up today with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday:

Book Review: All But Normal by Shawn Thornton with Joel Kilpatrick

allbutnormaljpgA review of: All But Normal: life on victory road, a memoir by Shawn Thornton with Joel Kilpatrick

When I saw the subtitle for this book – “Life on victory road” I expected something different than what I discovered on the pages of this book. The subtitle refers to a physical location in Shawn’s life. Shawn’s story is intriguing and once I began reading I did not want to put the book down. The book reads easily, the reader is brought into Shawn’s life story and experiences the highs and the lows. Weaved through out his story is God’s grace, love and redemption. You are brought into the family life and the dynamics associated with the struggle of a disability.

The entire book was powerful, one of the most powerful moments for me though was at the end of the book. Shawn shares about moving to a new church, as a pastor, in California and the connection to Joni Eareckson Tada’s ministry that happened. It was a very powerful reminder to me of how GOD will not waste a hurt, GOD wants to use all that we have experienced to impact the world around us and show his love. It is easy to walk the road of difficulty in silence, yet I don’t think that is always or even most of the time what God has in mind for those difficulties. HE has allowed those times, whether it is short or long, so that we can connect with others. Our unique stories are the opportunities for connection, for loving, and for pointing to Jesus. I was challenged in my own story, the story of our family – autism and divorce and being a prodigal, that GOD wants to use it. Not only does it shape us into who we are but is a tool for compassion. “All but Normal” is a memoir that will impact you if you allow yourself, you might be surprised how it helps propel you in your next steps of life. All But Normal is a great book and I would recommend it for reading.

Check out Pastor Shawn Thornton’s blog to learn more about what his ministry!

 

Disclosure: A big thank you to the publisher, Tyndale Publishing, for sending me a copy so that I could read and share my thoughts.

Five Minute Friday ~ August 5th….. Happy because of Joy

Friday’s over at Katy Motaung’s blog is a Five Minute Free Write to a specific prompt, today that prompt is “Happy”.  Its been a while since I did one, and decided to join the link up today. Here is my Free Write with no edits.

My first five minute timer resulted in this:

Happy is one of those words I struggle with because it comes and goes. It has emotional ups and downs. What is the root drive behind whether I am happy or not? To me it has to do with my joy level and my gratitude. The two go hand in hand. The more grateful I am, the more joy I have and the happy is there. But happy seems to be just when life is good and not when it gets hard, and we know that life gets hard sometimes. You hear people ask – are you happy? For me its the wrong question to ask, instead the question of am I filled with joy. Being filled with joy and gratitude can be there even when the outside circumstances are hard. It is a heart attitude and not just an emotional feeling. The word happy and joy tend to be used interchangeably, but I don’t think they can be. When people say, if I had this I would be “truly happy” or if this would happen, then I would be happy. It tends to be connected with whether someone is content with their life or not. What is the filter I am looking at life thru? Is it the lens of gratitude and conentement or want and discontent.

I see my kids struggle with this concept, this truth. You give them somehting that they were not expecting and then they want more. Not content. Not happy. Happiness seems to be a fleeting emotion that

~ I chose to continue and do another 5 minutes and this is what I wrote…. ~

Can I have a piece of candy mom? What about a soda? When the answer is no, the look of dejection is obvious. When the answer is yes, that moment of elation and then brace yourself for the next question – the next want. At one time happy and joy were used interchangeably in my life. I would associate the emotion of being happy with whether or not I had joy. If I wasn’t happy it was a problem. What I learned was the need for gratitude. The need to be thankful. I find it interesting that you don’t really hear the bible talk about being happy but you do read about joy. I think that is because Joy is an attitude of the heart and being happy, happy is an outpouring of emotion from that heart attitude. I say that because we can be sad and still have joy. Its a heart attitude of knowing that God is in control and we are loved. I know that I get frustrated when my kids don’t seem to appreciate, don’t express appreciation for the gifts that they are given. I am guilty of doing the same thing though. Not being content with what I have. Its easy to get in the trap of wanting more. Of focusing on the wrong thing and not on the gratitude of what we have.

~ this was a difficult free write for me, God has been working on me and showing me how much I have to be grateful for and as I choose to be grateful, thankful, the joy bubbles out more and more. The connection between feeling happy and gratitude / joy is an interesting one. As I was writing this, I realized how my thinking has shifted more and more towards joy and haven’t really used the word happy in a very long time ~

To view other Five Minute Friday posts head over to Katy’s blog by clicking HERE

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