On The Book Shelf

When I was around eleven years old I discovered the public library. It coincided with my family’s move in the middle of the school year to a new neighborhood where there were not a lot of kids on my street. I became a voracious reader. However, there wasn’t a lot of direction or guidelines and at that age I had zero discernment on what was good literature. Needless to say, I didn’t develop a love for the classics. One of the first books I ever checked out was called In Times Like These by Emilie Loring and thus began my journey into the world of romance novels. I wouldn’t call her work the sort of twinkie fiction you find on most shelves today, her stories are more along the lines of Grandma’s pound cake. The occasional slice is a treat but a steady diet will probably make you fat.(Through the years I have read all of her books and collected, gotten rid of, recollected, and lost almost all of her stories. Usually set anywhere from the 1920’s to the 1960’s her heroines were unfailingly cheerful in disposition, the girl always gets the guy, the bad guy always looses, some sort of mystery gets solved and to this day I find them to be endearing and would reread them. I am fascinated by her in general in that she didn’t write her first novel until she was fifty years old.)

Unfortunately, my book reading never really matured or grew. I read what was on the shelves at the store or I what I could easily get my hands on. I read for enjoyment, pure and simple. I wasn’t looking to learn or grow, just to be entertained in the way that most people enjoy movies. I became a fast reader and I always score high on vocabulary and comprehension tests so there’s that 🙂

Fast forward to life with a husband who was also voracious reader but a thinking one who read to be informed and enriched. He’d roll his eyes at ‘my stories’ but gave up trying to encourage me to broaden my reading horizons after meeting, much to my shame, resistance. We were in the early years of the child raising life phase and I read to relax and to a certain extent, escape the world of diapers. I didn’t want to work at reading. I didn’t want to engage my brain. I wanted respite.

Fast forward some more years and now those diaper clad children are in a classical christian school where reading good literature is encouraged and a regular part of life. They track how many minutes a month they read, they have a list of books full of things I have either never read or haven’t looked at since high school English Comp class, and they talk regularly about what they’re reading. The books are shaping and forming their thinking and, at times, entertaining them.

So I’m trying. I made a goal this year of reading a certain number of books. I’m expanding fiction to include more than the contemporary off the Walmart shelf repertoire (I do have a favored author coming out with a new book next month and I plan to read it) and I have discovered some fiction by old guys that I really enjoy. I’ve never been a huge Mark Twain fan but read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and it is in my top five all time favorite books ever.*

IMG_0299I just finished reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury and oh, my goodness, what a delightful and charming book! It was a nostalgic read. The kind that made you sigh when you finished it because you were so happy to have read it and sad that it was done.

 

I’m also trying to read more non fiction. The ladies in my church read The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosario Butterfield and it was challenging in all the right ways and sparked a lot of conversation.

IMG-7373 (1)

Right now I am reading Learning Contentment by Nancy Wilson and it is hitting closer to home more than I expected. One of the most startling things that came out of it was realizing that Jesus was not just obedient in going to the cross but that He was content in the Father’s will to do so. Not just take-a-deep-breath-gotta-do-what-He-says submissive but a satisfied contented determination to do His Father’s will. That kind of contentment seems next level, doesn’t it?

I want to read more biographies and I would like to learn how to read poetry. I still enjoy a good whodunit and other mysteries. Next on my list is Wind in The Willows which I long considered a children’s book that I missed out on but I’m learning that I need to go back and read some of those stories, fables, and fairy tales. They’re rich and deeper than one might expect. I feel a little old coming to these stories and basically in trying to learn how to read correctly (not just consuming and forgetting) but if Emilie Loring can wait until she is fifty before penning her first novel, and since I am surrounded by a community of readers all giving robust support to my endeavor, here I am.

So what are you reading these days? Anything you’d recommend?

*Technically I didn’t read A Connecticut Yankee, I listened to it being read by Nick Offerman and honestly I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. But the great debate surrounds the idea of what exactly do you call it when you listen to a book as opposed to reading a book? Some people believe you can say either one and others are adamantly against using the two words interchangeably. What say ye?

Being Quiet Where I Am

A Scripture verse that has always fascinated me is I Peter 3:4, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  (The emphasis is mine.)

5793463558_807a481bb7_o

Truth be told I do not really have a very good picture in mind for what a gentle and quiet spirit looks like, not in real life. I usually conjure up old movies of bygone days with women in flowy dresses and strong broad shouldered men who handled everything. Of course her spirit was gentle and quiet…Cary Grant or John Wayne took care of everything that needed to be taken care of. She could continue her sewing or whatever because her life itself was gentle and quiet.

Obviously that Hollywood version is not what God was setting forth in Scripture, anymore than it was an actual reality of life.

All that is to say that the summer rhythm I mentioned a few weeks back has not made itself clear. I feel like we are sorting of lurching from one activity to another day to day. The activities aren’t bad or a waste of time either. It’s all things we want us to do be doing…helpful to others, stuff that is growing and enriching us. There are just a lot of us and a lot of them and only seven days in a week and right now and I feel like this week is full and done before it’s really even gotten started. It feels exactly like it used to when my children were little and I woke up after them instead of before them. Like I was playing catch up for the rest of the day instead of leading.

So maybe next week I need to be better at managing and tracking activities. But I have also figured out something more important than developing impressive organizing skills and better time management.

I must develop the skill and discipline of having a gentle and quiet spirit. Because let’s face it, the rhythm of life is always, without fail, going to occasionally rise to a crescendo when I’m still in the downbeat.  Or there will be the erratic drumbeat of some urgent something or other that adds a discordant distraction.

I cannot control all the variables that come and go in day to day living no matter how hard I try to act as the metronome for us. But I can make sure that my attitude, that hidden person of the heart, doesn’t start tapping out a panic tempo or worse, begins to play a cranky grumpy symphony that drowns out the melody of joy we should be tuned in to hear.

No matter the upset or upheaval, I do not want to add to the noise in a way that is neither helpful nor beautiful. I want to be quiet on the inside so that I can sort out the sounds and know which ones I should amplify. I want the song of my heart to be one that is fit to be heard by the King and encourages his people to sing along.

 

Think On These Things

cropped-302650_363435700406707_2090500355_n.jpg

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 

Romans 12: 9-18

Think On These Things Tuesday

Alliteration is a thing in the blogging world. Melt In Your Mouth Mondays, Titus Two Tuesdays, Wordless Wednesday, etc. Catchy phrases, easily remembered and usually connected to a blog link up party…a place to link up a personal blog post on someone else’s blog. I do a few of them and it is a great way to find resources, be inspired, and expand your audience.

I’m not looking to host a blog party or trying to expand my audience but the alliteration of think about these things Tuesday was too good to pass up 🙂

Here’s how it will work.

Every Tuesday, okay maybe most Tuesdays (since the blog was made for man and not man for the blog) I hope to post some section of Scripture that will be good to just noodle on. Just to read and have simmering in my brain through out the day. I won’t share my thoughts or what someone else has said about it, just the verse(s). Hopefully, if you happen by on a Tuesday you will be encouraged by God’s word.

With that idea in mind what else would the first Scripture shared be other than Philippians 4:8?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

IMG_1087

 

Disappoint My Fears

That’s a beautiful line isn’t it?

Disappoint my fears.

A friend shared that with me. It’s actually part of a prayer from Thomas Chalmers. The full quote is this, “Disappoint my fears, O God, and let the remainder of my days be consecrated to Thy service, and to a busy preparation for Heaven.”

CandleSmoke

 

Fear is such a delusive thing. It’s vague like the smoke wisp after a flame is blown out or maybe more like the first curing tendrils of mist that creep across the earth, pale and barely there until your eyesight is murky and almost completely obstructed.

 

We can be afraid of just about anything and everything.

We can be afraid of being happy just as easily as being unhappy.

Afraid of being seen and known just as much as being unseen and unknown.

We can be afraid of solid real things but just as easily afraid of the shadows we conjure up in our own minds.

The what ifs and maybes.

I’m afraid to trust…

You fill in the blank with whomever it is.

What if they…

Again fill in the blank with whatever it is.

Fear paralyzes you. It keeps you from being able to move past a situation or circumstance and roots you in place. It hinders you from being able to do the things you ought and prevents you from doing the things you should.

I get it. Really I do. Bad things happen to all of us. Suffering, real hard suffering, will come to all of us at some point in time.

But our hope is not that our worst fears will not come to be. Our hope is in the fact that when it does come, when real suffering enters our lives, Christ is faithful to never leave us. Our hope is that he is faithful to bind up our wounds and to heal our brokenness.

We trust that if it does come we do not face it alone.

May our fears be disappointed because we are trusting our Father.

Sharing at Thoughtful Thursday and

 

Protect Them From Me

Have you ever read I Chronicles?  There are parts of it, the so and so’s son and his son and his son, that are easy to tune out if you aren’t careful. I remind myself that it’s in the Bible so it must be important and Rob says that the genealogies are meant to be studied. There is important information in there about, among other things, the lineage of Christ.  And I am always amazed at the sheer number of people who made up the children of Israel. Thousands upon thousands.

Toward the end of this book of history we find where those numbers got David into a wee bit of trouble with God. He (David) wanted to count the people and there are a couple of schools of thought as to why. Some think it was to assess his military might, in which case he was looking to rely on human strength for victory. Or it was pride pure and simple and he was counting as if what belonged to God was actually his. Either way we know God was not happy about this little accounting project of David’s.

God’s displeasure is made known and David agrees that, no matter the reason, he has sinned greatly and has acted foolishly. We aren’t told exactly how God communicated this displeasure but what we are told is that God struck Israel, not just David, but Israel. And then after he confesses his sin God tells David he basically could choose between three forms of discipline. A three years long famine, three months of defeat by his enemies, or three days of “…the sword of the LORD, pestilence on the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.”

Those are some serious consequences! And not just for David but for his people. Scripture goes on to tell us that seventy thousand men died and the pestilence came over the land and that was surely felt by all.

As I was reading this I noticed something about myself. I do not take my sin, and it’s possible consequences, serious enough. Not nearly serious enough. I may think I sin in a bubble and that it affects only myself but that really isn’t true. I may not have the Angel of the Lord poised over my house with a sword in His hand but my sin, the seed of my hidden nobody knows sin, will find soil in the minds and hearts of my children. It will be sown into the relationships I have with everyone. Selfishness, greed, ingratitude, pride…these are pestilence that we so easily pass along and share within our families and communities.

I really want to grab hold of this. I want it to be a road block to my sinfulness. And when I manage to scoot around it and do what I want anyway and then seek forgiveness when God prods me I want to be like David and fall on my face asking for mercy for the ones around me affected by my sin.

May God be gracious to answer and protect my people from me.

 

Just Tending Business

I’ve been asked recently if I am going to go back to using facebook to promote the blog and I don’t think I will. When I first started blogging social platforms like FB and Twitter where daydreams still and I sent out an email to family and friends to notify them when I had a new post up. Then, after joining Facebook, that did become the primary means for sharing a new post. But I do not really have any desire to be back on FB again so I will probably occasionally share a new post through Instagram.

I was asked to link up my blog to a type of search engine, hence this really awkward and ugly post of code. There may be a prettier way (somehow doing it incognito) to do it but following the how to literally landed me here. I kinda feel like I invited friends over to watch me mop my floors or something 🙂

To at least make it interesting you can pop over to She Feeds Her Family and check out the recipe for Egg and Mango Chutney Flatbreads or visit Just a Glimpse to look at the lovely African Violet gifted to me from some Texan friends. The mother plant is 45 years old!

So happy Tuesday, friends! Hope your week is going well.

 

 

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/19972685/?claim=jurkrr2nna4″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Weak Desires Weak Prayers

I wrote the bulk of this post Saturday morning. That evening we went to dinner with some friends and the subject of prayer came up and man, it was like God went from a gentle nudge to a solid thump on my back. It was a conversation that brought about some startling awareness and conviction that I am still sorting out.  I hope you will be encouraged and challenged to consider your own prayer life.  Prayer is a deep and mysterious fountain of intimacy between God and his people but also a source of intimacy within our human relationships. I may not know exactly what God is doing right now with all the various parts and pieces of things in my life but I know he is doing something. Somehow, prayer is a big part of that.

In his book The Weight of Glory CS Lewis says, “It would seem, that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

That quote came to mind this week as I was reading the book of John as part of the Summer Bible Reading Challenge, specifically chapters fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. In each chapter he specifically tells his disciples that whatever they ask for in his name he will do it. Three of the four times it is mentioned in the context of working, abiding, and bearing fruit. The fourth time he tells them that the Father will grant what they ask in his name so that their joy might be full.

It’s clear that Jesus isn’t giving them, or us, a blank check to ask for materials things necessarily, although those things aren’t out of the realm of possibility.  Rather we are to ask for anything that will bring honor and glory to the Father through us. We also know from James that often we don’t get what we ask for because we ask for the wrong things or for the wrong reasons.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I don’t think I know what I ought to pray for, not for myself or others. I read about people like George Mueller and Amy Carmichael and marvel at the faith they displayed in their prayer life.

I mean, I know what to pray for sometimes for myself and others. Sometimes it is just generic basic stuff. Other times there are specific needs so it’s easy to know what and how to pray.

But this week I am wondering if I am too easily satisfied with the quick prayer, with the first words, even Bible verses, that come to mind so readily. What do I really want to pray for in the lives of my husband and my children? My extended family and my friends? My church? Myself?

I guess I am wondering if my prayers have been half-hearted in a sense because I have failed to imagine what God can do, what he would do, beyond just the practical. I think that kind of prayer life, the one that is full and robust and hopeful, must also be one rooted in the Word. The prayer life that flourishes is one born out of abiding in Christ. It comes from a life that is bearing the fruit of righteousness that comes from him. It is a life that feeds on the Word and dares to pray big things because it is a life that knows God is infinitely bigger than whatever it can imagine.

May we not be too easily pleased, to easily satisfied, with basic prayers. May our prayers find us stepping into the vast ocean of promises God gives to his people, swimming in every spiritual blessing in heavenly places that he has given us.

IMG-6839

Summer Break

The first week of our summer break wraps up today and if it is any indication the next fifteen weeks or so will fly by. When I was a kid the summers seemed to last forever. Who am I kidding? When I was a kid time seemed to last forever! Now it just zips right along whether I am having trouble keeping up or not and the saying ‘the days are long and the years are short’ has taken on a deeper truth than ever before.

I always want our summers to have some substance to them. I don’t want our kiddos just vegging in front of the television because in my experience their brains turn to mush and it makes them cranky. It takes planning and preparing for that to not be the default though. And balance. We want them to be busy but not for the sake of just being busy. We want it to have purpose and hopefully be helpful to someone. But we also want to remember it is summer break. It needs to be fun and relaxing.

The other day a friend posted something about wanting less of a schedule and more of a rhythm to their summer and I thought, “Yes! That is it exactly.” The first week we usually keep pretty low key and let the girls sleep in. They’ve done pretty well on that front in the way that only teenagers can. We took the new ferry service around Pensacola Bay on Tuesday and that was a lot of fun. Sarah will move into her first apartment this month and Emily started a new job. Rob and Sam took a road trip to Texas and next week Rob and I will be heading to the ACCS conference. Abby and Claire both made the volleyball teams and practice will be starting up.

I’m excited about blogging again and after the conference next week I am sure I will have lots of thoughts to work through. I know it is a conference for classical schools and teachers but the overlap with parenting is always there. Plus, after hearing former Trinitas teacher and long time friend Josh Gibbs speak at our graduation last weekend I am already asking myself some pretty big questions. Mainly, if it’s not enough to just send your kid to a classical Christian school what does a classical family look like? How can we bring more harmony and connectedness between church, family and school life?

If you used to keep up with my former blogs you might remember something I liked to call Friday Funny. I think it will make the occasional appearance here and today is it inaugural debut.

IMG-7023We have two cats, Tom and Milo, that we dearly love. But Milo can be a bit, shall we say, needy? He loves to be in the back bedroom of the two oldest girls and will whiiiiiine until he is allowed in. Well Sarah is a nurse working nights so some days he just cannot be in there. But does he understand that? Of course not, so he drives the rest of us crazy carrying on trying to convince us to let him in. The other day Samuel had had enough and remembering that the cats hate the vacuum cleaner he went and parked it in the hallway by the girls’ room. Worked perfectly! That was some smart thinking.

Have a good weekend, y’all!

An Invitation

I started my first blog about fifteen years ago when the kids were little, the funny stories were plenty, and friends were overseas and it was a good way to keep up with us. The years passed, the kids got bigger, and the stories (albeit still funny) were fewer and the need to protect dignity became stronger and I still had things to say and talk about so a new blog was born.

Over the years it waxed and waned as taking pictures became a bigger part of my life. Then a few years ago, for various reasons, I stopped it all…the blogging, the picture taking and I just stepped back.  It’s been a season of winter in some ways. Roots have stretched down but the branches have stayed bare, its been a time of rest I guess you could say. Then this past school year I had the opportunity to help out a few days a week in our jr kindergarten class and it was so fun! But it also kept me busy. (Man, how do women work outside the home full time and still keep their sanity?)

For a while though I have been feeling the tug to come back to the blog world. The discipline of writing, the working out of my thoughts, and in some sense, the risk of it. Laying it out, putting myself out there, inviting others to share their thoughts to encourage and to grow. I’ve missed the conversations that can be born out of ideas that are shared and challenged and pushed to go further or to pull back and simplify.

I shared a devotion at a baby shower for one of our teachers last month and a few people asked for a copy and the idea took root to just put it here, to begin where I was in that moment instead of trying to finagle a start. And why only do one blog when you can do three so I added a recipe blog, She Feeds Her Family , and  Just a Glimpse since I still take the occasional picture.

They’re not the fanciest blogs because I am slooow in the technological department. Posts won’t always be funny or deep and meaningful but I hope some of them will be. I hope new conversations can be started as you share your thoughts via comments here or texts or emails, and even around your kitchen table and we will be better people for having spent the time together.

cropped-18340848342_951f54a474_o-1.jpg

The easiest way to know when a new post is up is to have them sent to your email or you can also just pop in anytime to see what I’m up. I hope you do. I’m looking forward to it.