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Showing posts from 2015

Reading Well in 2016

I've long struggled with the place reading has in my life. I've decided to control my reading this year, instead of letting it control me. You can take a peek at my reading list by joining me at Out of the Ordinary.

Advent Pondering #1

God's promised Messiah was a merciful gift of love to a people who needed both mercy and love. He could come to them in all their pain, brokenness, and struggle, and make everything new. They were desperate for this, and the proof of their desperation was perhaps most evident in the fact that they couldn't bring themselves to live as though this promise was real.
~Russ Ramsey, Behold the Lamb of God
The gift of the Messiah is no less merciful today. Right here, right now. In the midst of my sinfulness - my stubborn pride, my harsh words, my critical spirit - God's mercy through Christ pours over me. I am in need of mercy and love. Oh! how great is that need! He meets it, without fail.

He comes into my pain, brokeness, and struggle every day. Every day. Yet I am so wrapped up in my flesh that I forget God became flesh and dwelt among men in order to redeem me from this broken world. From suffering and sorrow. From sin and guilt. Like the children of Israel, I am desperate. …

My favorite Advent Books

I'm sharing them at Out of the Ordinary this week. Click on over and join me.

The Women's Ministry I Pray For

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I'm your mama now.

Coming from anyone else, it would have been presumptuous. Only a few days had passed since I held Mama's hands and whispered goodbye. Yet there she was, the beautiful lady holding my hands and looking at me with eyes full of motherly love. In reality she had already been mothering me for a long time, but on that day the Lord knit our hearts together even more tightly.

Lately I've been leaning on her more than usual. She understands my need for Christmas. She listens. She prays for me. She loves me well.

I am the daughter she didn't have. She is the mother I now have. I know Mama would understand. She would approve.

Several of my friends have written thought-provoking articles about women's ministry recently (Persis' post here links to all the others). Although I'm late to the discussion, I've spent a great deal of time pondering where I fit into women's ministry. I still don't have the answers, but I do know that I have bee…

Around the House: November

I'm not sure when I've been so happy to turn the calendar page. October was suddenly and unexpectedly difficult this year.

Grieving with friends through tragedy.

Marking my girl's final birthday at home.

Senior year expenses that I'm quite sure will never end.

Walking with my girl through the stress of college essays and applications.

A painful truth that I didn't want to acknowledge, but can no longer ignore.

Though even in these trials the Lord has been good, knowing that hasn't erased the hard of it all. There were days when I wanted nothing more than to crawl under my covers and weep. October is gone and I am relieved. I am thankful.

In this month of gratitude, I am:

~Just finished with a book that was so beautifully written, it took my breath away at times

~Thrilled that the college applications have nearly all been submitted

~Anxiously awaiting to see where the Lord will place my girl next year

~Planning ways to make this holiday special for my girl and f…

Feeding the Frenzy

Today I'm at Out of the Ordinary, sharing my thoughts on the latest round of Christian disputes.  Join me, won't you?

Around the House: October

Darkness falls earlier while temperatures fall lower. The air is filled with sounds of tractors humming and smells of earth turned over. A few brave leaves sever their ties and waft to the ground. The farmers market is ablaze in deep greens and oranges. Autumn is upon us.

In these early days of the new season, I am:

Reading more books.

Using the tea kettle more frequently.

Savoring my girl's final year of high school.

Celebrating her birthday.

Cleaning out cabinets and closets.

Enjoying clean spaces.

Anticipating bonfires.

Thanking God for the gift of this quiet life.

Harmony in the Church

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Paul describes four factions within the church at Corinth.  He sees that the church is fracturing over non-gospel issues. He urges them to agree, to be united in the same mind and the same judgment. David Prior points out that Paul was keen
...on harmony - not unison. He believed that it was not merely possible for Christians of many different kinds to live together in harmony, but that this was their calling from God. Such mutual recognition, giving each person the freedom to express his convictions and insights, would lead to a restoration of true unity... (source)  This group of believers had come together in a largely immoral city. There was enough opposition to Christianity outside of the church; they certainly didn't need to be fighting against each other. Yet they found themselves divided into cliques.

The "Paul" Followers. Perhaps they were devoted to Paul because he planted the church and he was the first one to lead them in the gospel. I…
I was at Out of the Ordinary this week, so my blogging time doesn't allow for much of a post. Here's  a quote from the commentary I'm reading on 1 Corinthians.

Whenever Christians give their allegiance to any human personality, such as a gifted preacher or pastor, they have taken their eyes off Jesus Christ and there will inevitably be disunity.
- David Prior
More to come on this next week...

Two versus Too

Last week I wrote about my need to declutter physical stuff. As I've been doing that, I've come up with the Rule of Two.

First of all, the Rule of Two implies that I have no more than two of anything. Of course there are obvious exceptions such as clothing, books, shoes, etc. And while I need more than two dinner plates, do I really need more than two Christmas platters? Yes I need more than two coffee mugs, but what about two water pitchers? Asking myself these questions has given me the freedom to let some things go, and enough cabinet space to clean off the kitchen counters.

Sometimes two is the perfect number. Sets of sheets, for example. Usually laundered sheets go back on the beds, but there are days when it's so much easier to make a bed with the second set and do the laundry later. My need for the occasional convenience outweighs the need for the storage space occupied by the extra sets.

Sometimes two is too many. Why have two small baskets on a counter, holding a …

Convicted

Today I'm at Out of the Ordinary sharing about the most convicting and challenging words I read this summer.  Join me, won't you?

He is Faithful Indeed

...so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  -1 Corinthians 1:7-9 (ESV) 
"God's faithfulness extends to that day, and beyond it into the fullness of eternity. He will keep his people guiltless in that day: i.e. when the secrets of men's hearts are disclosed and we might have had legitimate fear of being finally found guilty before him. God will ensure that absolutely no charge or accusation is laid against his people, whether by human beings or by Satan, the great 'accuser of the brethren' (Rev. 12:10)."
- David Prior (source) Guiltless. As a believer in Christ, I have no reason to fear the Day of Judgment. Any time I'm tempted by Satan to start quaking in my boots at the thought, I must remind myself that I will be fo…

A Plan

Last time I mentioned that I had an inkling of what this space will be. I've been giving it quite a bit of thought - much more than I've given this blog in quite some time. I do have a plan, one that I hope will inspire me to write and create this spot of peace and rest.

The changes here are being wrought from changes at home. I've been overwhelmed for far too long. I need space to stretch out, to breathe - spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I'm learning once again to simplify.

Spiritually. I've been back and forth about Bible reading plans. Every time I try to start one, I fail. Yes, I believe that reading the Bible in its entirety is important, but putting a time frame on it is overwhelming to me because I also like deep study. However, deep study itself can also be overwhelming. There have been times I've spent a week studying 2 verses. I need to simplify. I'm blessed to have a pastor who preaches expositionally (which means we just spent 18 months…

A Shift

Turning the calendar to September makes me happy. I know that Autumn is near. I long for its crisp mornings, cool evenings, and bright colors. My heart sings with the rhythm of routine. This year I'm slowly untangling from burdens that have been weighing heavy for far too long. I'm feeling hopeful, renewed. I may have even stumbled upon my desire to write.

Interesting, that. The more I shift my focus away from social media - its harangues, frenetic pace, and mind-numbing silliness - the more picking up my figurative pen and returning to this space appeals to me. I'm tired of issues and rants, being told what to care about and to whom I should listen (usually, to whom I should not listen). Even in Christian circles, there's vitriol and venom that poisons whatever it touches.  It's enough to make me want to crawl inside a Wendell Berry novel and hide deep in the luxuriousness of his words. Better still, it has propelled me to the Word. There I contemplate wisdom and …

Overwhelmed.

We can put down our tools. We can close our computers. We can forbid those thoughts about that next meeting or those emails waiting for a reply or how the numbers aren’t as high as we’d like. We can stop and trust him who justifies the ungodly. We can trust that when Jesus died in our place on the cross, he died to destroy all the anxieties of our lack, to still our ceaseless striving, to hush the winds of our self-justifying labor, to irrevocably connect us to the abundance of his grace we possess by his work, not ours.

We can trust the Lord of Rest who came to give us rest, and say, because of who he is: Stop making bricks — you can stop.

Jonathan Parnell's words strike a chord in my heart. For some time now blogging has seemed like work. Not that it's a work I've been good at. 10 posts in 2015 hardly qualifies as blogging. I haven't done much more at Out of the Ordinary. I'm not sure where my interest in writing has gone, but it has most definitely vanishe…

Outside of the Box

My husband and my daughter both are unassuming and modest. They rarely speak of their accomplishments and they have a difficult time accepting praise. He takes no part in social media. She uses her accounts to keep up with her friends instead of posting things herself.

I could learn much from them.

Instead, I wrestle with the overwhelming temptation to post everything I'm doing - the music I'm listening to, the books I'm reading, the places I'm going. I find myself drawn to the idea that people I'm acquainted with are actually interested in the minutiae of my life, the pithy things I post. When I first began blogging nine years ago, I was often preoccupied with the question of whether an event or conversation was blog-worthy. Today, social media platforms have no room for that question. Everything is worthy of social media, thereby diminishing any true value it may have.

I've been struggling with this irony moreso than usual lately. Or maybe it's just that …

On Suffering and Summer Reading

I tell you again, if there be any pathway in which there be not fire, tremble, but if your lot be hard, thank God for it. If your sufferings be great, bless the Lord for them, and if the difficulties in your pathway be many, surmount them by faith, but let them not cast you down. - Charles Spurgeon

It seems that I can't get away from suffering. Lately it's been a recurring theme in my reading and listening, and not by my own design. Which makes me wonder if the Lord is preparing me for something. Or maybe He's preparing me to minister to others. Either way, I haven't been able to ignore this providence.

Join me at Out of the Ordinary to read the rest...

Thankful Thursday

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This week, I am particularly thankful for:

Twenty-two years of marriage, thanks to the love of a godly man & the Lord's abundant grace. We're closing in on knowing each other longer than not knowing each other. We are in a sweet spot right now and I don't want to take that for granted.

A quiet neighborhood that allows me to hear the birds singing.

These words from my niece. Her daughter has been diagnosed with a rare disease, but she's not taking it lying down. My heart breaks for the road she walks every day, but I remember God's sovereignty and goodness even in this hard thing.



Support near and far for my niece's family. The Lord is pouring out His goodness upon them. If you'd like to join us in prayer, please visit http://www.talynnsjourney.com/ for more information.

The opportunities the Lord is giving my girl to grow this summer.

God's mercy and grace. I'm so thankful He chose me because I never, never would have chosen Him. I don't hav…

Crawling Out From Under My Rock

This space has remained quiet for a long time. Perhaps too long. Sometimes I wonder if I should brush away the cobwebs, start writing here again. I look at the list of half-written draft posts and ask myself if I'll ever finish them. Then there's the question of who's still reading, and if I'm writing for you few or for myself.

Every time I think of blogging again, I inevitably ask myself what I want this blog to be.  It seems paradoxical to talk too much, given my blog title. I live a quiet life, filled with ordinary days. Nothing particularly noteworthy to share. The things that mean the most to me are the simple moments that make up my days.

Long conversations with my daughter about today, tomorrow, and the dreams of her life.

Sitting on the front porch with my husband, talking about subjects both serious and not-so-serious and watching blue birds dart through the evening sky.

Getting lost in a good book.

Nurturing relationships outside of a computer or phone screen.

Tim…

Thoughts on Common Grace

Today I'm over at Out of the Ordinary, rambling on with my thoughts on common grace.  You can read it by clicking here.

Life...Interrupted

Three years ago today, my Mama slipped the earthly bonds of this life. Today, I remember...


Nearly three weeks ago, my husband dropped our daughter off at my parents. Several hours later, she called in tears. She'd found Mama unresponsive in the bedroom.

And so began the longest two weeks of my life.

Even in those first hours, I could see His grace upon grace.  Living only 10 minutes from my parents, and reaching the house before the EMTs whisked Mama away. A dear friend coming in to the ER, although she wasn't scheduled to work. Strength to stay awake all night with my Dad and my sister, as we waited for test results. Clarity of mind to make decisions.

Mama was transported to a large hospital over an hour away. During the days that followed, I was blessed with friends nearby who opened their home, friends who prayed, friends who provided meals for my family.  A boss who understood I needed to be with Mama. Traveling mercies on those journeys. An amazing staff of d…

The Gospel According to Pinterest

It seems I’m always one step away from being completely overwhelmed by social media. I’ve purged my Twitter and Instagram feeds and I’ve radically altered my Facebook settings. These changes have made social media more enjoyable for me. I can better process what I see. I don’t feel as if I’m dodging a barrage of words and images being hurled at me at lightning speed.

Pinterest is another story.


Click here to read the rest.

The Ordinary Life

Aimee's review of Michael Horton's Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World piqued my interest. I knew this was a book I needed to read, particularly since thoughts of the ordinary life had been swirling around in my brain for quite some time. I knew I needed to step off the merry-go-round of my own self-importance, to give in to the lure of a quiet and ordinary life. I reached out to a couple of friends and asked them to join me. Together, the three of us have begun reading and contemplating Horton's book and exhorting each other to run the race of the ordinary Christian life. We will spend all of 2015 doing so.

I'm still considering if I will blog through the book. At first, I thought I'd only be sharing quotes; however, I've quickly realized that even if I only posted the quotes I've found most significant, you wouldn't need to purchase the book! I've thought that once a week I'll share something I'm learning from the chap…

Aging Gracefully

After a longer-than-intended blogging break, I'm back today at Out of the Ordinary to discuss aging gracefully. You can read the article here.