Thursday, January 26, 2017

Standing

I’ve been reading Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch with my Facebook reading group over the last few weeks. He defines “flourishing” differently that I would have initially, but after his explanation, I agree with him. My paraphrase of his definition is doing the thing that requires risk and all of you- and doing it with abandon. It doesn’t really matter if you succeed from the perspective of the onlookers, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best at it, it doesn’t matter if you entirely fulfill your goal. It’s the heart behind what you do, it’s the motivator for why you do what you do. 

I kept comparing his definition of flourishing to parenting initially, as did some of my friends who are also reading the book. Parenting is tough. It is a daily sacrifice and servanthood to little people who may or may not ever know. It’s a stretching past limits I previously thought I couldn’t reach. It’s relying on Jesus in a way I never knew...because I simply want to do it better than I’ve seen it done before....or just better than I did it yesterday. 

But then I started to apply this expression of flourishing to ministry, campus ministry in a dark and empty place. What does it look like to flourish at this, here in this place? 

If I use Crouch’s definition, it really has nothing to do with huge numbers, crazy growth, big names or respect from fellow ministers or missionaries. It has to do with challenging the one to grow, with pushing the few farther than they’ve been pushed before, it has to do with being obedient even when it seems to not make sense, it has to do with being brave and creative and willing. And at the core of it all, flourishing can sometime be just standing and not swaying. 


Serving in our ministry capacity, as far as flourishing is concerned, is simple to say and hard to do. It’s being vulnerable and leading. Vulnerable to extend yourself beyond your limits. Vulnerable to share your life with people that may or may not ever know or care. It’s vulnerably giving up your assumed right of a “successful looking from the outside” ministry. It’s leading because it requires speaking about something that isn’t yet visible. It’s leading because it telling people what it could and will look like. It’s being there for the seemingly unimportant things. It’s training and teaching. It’s having a broader perspective of things than others, yet leading from a place where others sit. Again and again and again. 


And ultimately, at it’s most basic job description, flourishing in our context- whether others agree or believe it- is just standing. It’s having the honor of the one to declare that where you stand is Holy Ground. It’s representing Christ in a place where He is ignored. It’s putting the time in even when it feels pointless. It’s doing what God has asked you to do whether anyone ever sees it or values it or high-fives you for it. It’s praying for miracles and being ok with not getting the chance to see them happen. It’s throwing the seed on the ground that isn’t ready, or acts like it isn’t ready, or just doesn’t want it. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

A little story about a little book for little ladies

I’m always on the lookout for books for my girls with good storylines. Things that spur them on to be better kids and to see that there are other kids in the world like them. When I find something good, I like to share it with others...and I’ve found the best way to share it is to get the local library to purchase their own copy! So, when Natalie Grant published two books, I asked our public library to order them and they did. Sweet! Now any kid can find these while they browse the juvenile fiction section of our library. The story gets sweeter when I saw Grant had written a third volume, so I downloaded a copy onto my phone. 

Miracle in Music City is about a set of sisters and their mom in Nashville and the funny things they find themselves doing. They love solving mysteries, just as any girl does! This is a fun read, a good one to add to your vacation reading list for your kids. 

As far as e-books, I come back AGAIN to the point that my kids and I do not enjoy them. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this book was stored on my devices. I thought having it with me all the time would mean that we would read it when we were waiting for piano lessons, soccer games or other appointments, but we didn’t. I don’t know if we will ever enjoy the e-book format, so for now, I will be sure to only get physical copies of the books I want us to read. 




Thanks BookLook for a free download in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Book Review: Hidden In My Heart Scripture Memory Bible

I am always on the lookout for a cool Bible to give to my kids or to our college students. The classic, straight forward, nothing-but-the-Bible is a must, but sometimes it is fun and motivating to have additional studies, information or lists throughout the Bible. Tyndale Publishing House recently released a Bible called the Hidden In My Heart Scripture Memory Bible, in the New Living Translation. 

The Hidden in My Heart Bible comes with a download code for 100 free scripture memory songs, because we all know that singing something helps most of us remember it easier, after all. I was a little hesitant about the quality of the songs, but I figured I would give it a try anyway. 

As far as the Bible goes, it is a nice size and weight and I think the scripture memory helps throughout are nice. Tyndale included a list of the first 100 verses to memorize, which go along with the songs included, and a challenge list to memorize after you’ve done the first 100. Additionally, the Core 100 verses also connect to a section in the back of the Bible which explains the scripture further, called the To Dig Deeper section. The readers are told which page to turn to to find the right Dig Deeper page. Also, the corresponding song number is there. My biggest hang-up is that it is not a hardback book, and I don’t think it would hold up to major lugging around without a Bible cover. 

Back to the songs. If you grew up in Sunday School, then you probably remember hearing high-pitched, sticky-sweet sounding songs. To most kids, those songs were fun and nothing too crazy. But to the adult in the room, those songs caused major headaches and the constant question of why the singers won’t bring it down an octave...? These songs are the same. The kids like them, the adults don’t. I do have to admit that there are several genres represented in the 100 songs, and a list is included in the Bible as to which ones would be most appealing to different ages. 

What are my plans with this Bible? I’m ignoring that it came with songs and will keep the Bible around until I meet someone that needs a Bible. If you’re serious about scripture memorization, this is a great place to start. 





Thank you, Tyndale for sending me a free copy of The Hidden In My Heart Bible in exchange for my own opinions.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Review: Home Sewn

Home Sewn is a B-E-A-utiful book about sewing things for your home- everything from tea towels, to lamp shades, to large floor cushions.... And these are items that are made with high quality materials which makes for a high-end style final product. This isn't your "I know how to sew, so I am going to download some instructions online and use my stash of scraps" type of book. This book is for the artist who finds interest in the detail of textures, fabrics, and simple homemade goods. The author, Cassandra Ellis, gives plenty of detailed instructions, but she does seem to assume the reader already has a decent knowledge of sewing.

While reading this book, I learned that linen has some amazing super powers. Did you know that it can absorb more water than cotton, has antibacterial properties, nonallergenic and is stronger wet than dry? Also, whereas cotton comes from the cotton plant, linen comes from the flax plant.

The only downside I found with this book is that the recommended sources are only european websites and stores. The same or similar items can be found in the USA, but it might take a little more searching for us. Ellis is writing from London, so it makes sense that her suggested shops would be somewhat local to her.

I have a wonderful artist-friend in mind that I plan on gifting this gem to. She enjoys decorating her home with homemade things and pulls out that sewing machine occasionally.




Thank you, BloggingforBooks, for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review- The Look and Tell Bible (A board book for littles)

Have you seen this cute board book of Bible stories? It’s called The Look and Tell Bible by Dawn Machell. It’s actually a well-made (can take a lot of rough and tumble play,....which is a good thing at my house!) collection of 11 Bible stories. Each story gives you a page of illustrations with their key words, so when you read the text, the child can fill in the key words by looking at the image. This is a great book for the pre-reader and beginning reader, as well as for the older siblings to read to the littles. I love how it’s interactive and asks that the child be involved in the story-telling. 
We have a huge stash of books at our house and I plan on making room on our shelf for this one. I might hide it away in my Christmas hiding spot for my youngest this winter. 


Thanks BookLookBloggers for sending my this cute book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Have you given your child the world? (Book review)

Call me superficial, but I really love a book that looks and feels good. (Yes, I do judge a book by it’s cover unless I am convinced of the quality of the author or was told to read it by a trusted friend.) Give Your Child the World, Raising globally minded kids one book at a time, written by Jamie Martin (a Connecticut resident, no less!) met my expectations. I was a little skeptical at first, because, as a homeschool mom, I don’t need another list of books that I need to get my kids to read. I have plenty of those. But I liked the angle this book takes. Martin and her husband feel that raising their kids with a global perspective is a good thing- and I agree, I hope my kids grow up loving something wonderful about this world God has made for them. 

If you’re part of the homeschool read-aloud community, you’ve probably come across a book that lists other books and begins with the word “Honey”. Although that is a great book (I have a copy on my shelf, in fact), GYCTW is different because it gives parents and educators a list of book suggestions categorized by continents and appropriate ages. Martin sticks with the theme of becoming global rather than all of the attributes of a child’s developing heart. She also lists whether the book has religious themes and two or three sentences about it. This is something I can sit with on my library’s website or take with me to the library and sort of plug & play with finding good books. She’s done the work for me. 

You can check out a podcast where Jamie is interviewed about her book on Read Aloud Revival (#48). 

Furthermore. (Whenever there is a furthermore, you should pay attention, right???!!!)
As someone who works with international students studying at one of America’s universities, I think every family who wants to host a student for dinner or for a season of life, needs to read this. The introduction ALONE is worth reading. When I train american families on how to host an international student in their home this upcoming school year, I plan on added this book to the training materials. 


Lastly, as a child born in the 80’s, when LeVar Burton tells me it is something I should read, my ears kind of perk up....and he says this is “an invaluable resource”. Ha, ha. Since CT is a super small state and the group of homeschooling parents is somewhat well connected, I hope I can find my way to having a cup of coffee with my new writer BFF, Jamie. 

Thank you BookLook for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review: Home Cooked: Essential recipes for a new way to cook

I love a book with good pictures and a nice storyline- cookbooks included. This cookbook is beautiful enough to be a coffee table book...and Anya's blue and white apron is on my wish-list now. Home Cooked by Anya Fernald starts with the chef's back story and how she arrived at learning her great skills of cooking. She shares instructions on how to make stocks, can tomatoes and other building blocks for her other recipes. Then, she moves to the parts of a good meal- the starters, main courses and desserts.

So far, I have made 4 of these wonderful recipes: the pound cake (YUMMMMM), the buttermilk biscuits, the cornmeal spoon bread and the blackened carrots. Her recipes are basic and call for minimal, high quality, hearty ingredients. Anya isn't afraid of butter, spices, lard, and old ways of preparing and storing her food.

I am super picky about keeping cookbooks around. I have such limited storage space for cookbooks and often rely on a quick google search for something unknown, but this one gets to stay with me. I will FIND shelf space for this book.


I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks BloggingforBooks for that.