Thursday, July 18, 2019

Getting Back to Writing

A couple weeks ago I shared about getting back to reading both individually and as a family. It has been such a blessing to us in this season where things have been a bit hectic. It has kept us away from the screens on the whole and had helped sparked imagination and new play for our kids. What a gift!!!

For me, it has also reminded me that I need to write. For the first time in a couple of years our family blog has been full of posts as I write reviews on the books we or I have read. This is helping me get back to writing, one of my greatest hobbies. I have missed it so much and it is refreshing getting back to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) to express what I'm thinking or to tell what's going on in our life.

I love to write. God made me a writer. And any time I read more, God uses it to remind me of how He made me and renews my love of writing. Currently I'm evaluating how God would have me user this talent to bring Him glory, because there are an infinite number of ways writing can be used. I've worked on books, worked on blogs, written letters and cards, taught my kids how to write and let them grow in writing. Having a big family means always evaluating, but as I pray, God is bringing His will for this season into view.

Even as I sit and write these words it's a part of a bigger plan, God's plan to use His people to bring glory to His name. And I'm so thankful to be a part of His story.

What about you? Where are you in God's story? What talents so you need to be using to bring Him glory?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Year Two: The Return

Two years ago today our family returned to Smyrna after being in Louisville for seven years. It has been a whirlwind of a time since then. As He always does, God used this leap of faith in our lives to grow us and mold is more into Christ's likeness.

Those who follow us know that the first year was full of surprises and transitions. Things didn't happen the way we expected at all, but then, do they really ever. In the course of that year we moved in with my parents, had a baby, Jim got a home health job, we bought a house and moved into Mableton while still wondering what to do about Jim's job, finding out we were expecting our 9th child and hammering away at our homeschool while getting settled in a new place.

While the second year has been less transitionally in a physical sense, it has still been a great adjustment. Jim's home health job was not coming through on hours so he had to keep looking. We had a lot of catching up to do in our book work area of school because of not being able to get our curriculum out of storage. I was tired from the beginnings of a new pregnancy. Jim, James and I were able to go serve in Utah for a week. We came back with Jim still only having minimal hours and praying for the right job and provision in some way.

Then God graciously provided Jim with a new full-time job! While a huge blessing it started a whole nother level of adjusting. Daddy was now gone forty hours a week. I had to learn how to cook healthy meals for our large family. (Jim is the cook in our home and is amazing at it!!!) Learning how to do anything while pregnant is a challenge, but cooking with an unsure stomach is intense at times! Between Lillian and I we got it figured out and enjoy exploring new dishes.

We settled into a decent routine for a few months. Then in March we welcomed Timothy to our family! More learning and emotional transition for all. We are starting to get into a good routine again, though at times it still feels like we're in transition. Holidays, appointments, growing and changing kids; the schedules and needs keep fluctuating. We're also still figuring out what it is we are doing here. We know we are where we're supposed to be but what we're doing is still somewhat elusive. Everyday it becomes a little more clear as we seek God and the plans that He has for us. As we seek Him in the day in and day out it becomes much easier to see the bigger picture. Little by little God shows us more of His plan. And so we continue to seek Him and the part He has for us to play in His story.

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Canticle for Lebowitz

I'm struggling to find the words for this book. I've been wanting to read it for a classics challenge and Jim suggested it this year for a comedic classic.

The first part of this book falls into this as Brother Francis deals with a comedy of errors related to a Lenten fast in the desert that leads to the canonisation of the blessed Leibowitz for whom his order is named. You can't help but laugh at his lack of maturity and his ability to faint whenever he is stressed. His ability to frustrate even the most steady a person is also comedic. Brother Francis is quite a funny character and his journey is quite humorous.

But the rest of the book, it is something else. The second part also had it's comedic moments with an overly stressed Abbot, Dom Paulo, who has many personal issues that are displayed in his moments of great taxation. But in this part of the book, it begins to take a more serious turn as war is brewing and the Abbot seeks how to manage coming threats. I really enjoy his discussions with Thon Taddeo and the challenge to think beyond what you can see but to ask stand for what's important and looking at the whole, not merely your own interests.

The third part was full of questions, challenging what is called good by the world with the truth of God's Word. It is tragic and sad as the current Abbot seeks to do what is right in the middle of everything being wrong.

This book is thought provoking, challenging as well as very weird. The part that was the hardest to think through was seeing the possibility of some of these things happening. It is pure sci-fi, especially for when it was written, but there is an eerie feeling of some prophecy in the fiction of these pages. By God's grace these things will not come to pass, but there is always a possibility that they could.

This book is also well written and has caused me to ask James several times if he knows what the Latin words mean. There is a distinct Catholic feel also, which was interesting as the story unfolded.

I cannot say I like this book, nor can I say I dislike it. It is its own breed in so many ways. I do like the way it challenged me and that it's thought provoking. I appreciate the way it pushed me to look up new words and increase my vocabulary. But it was weird on a whole different level.

I would give it 4 stars because I think it's worth the read.

Reading challenges:
Back to the Classics Challenge: possibly comedy, but need to think about that

Tim Challies 2019 reading challenge: a novel in the light section of the challenge

2019 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge: a book by an author who is new to you

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Sojourning Expat Ambassador

Sojourn: a temorary stay

Expat: a person living outside their native country

Ambassador: an accredited diplomat sent by its country as its official representative to a foreign country

Independence day is always a time of reflection for me. I've shared my struggles with this time of year before, but this year it has been taken a whole nother level for me.

See, about three years ago we were living in Louisville and spent a week in Georgia with my family and a week in Florida with Jim's mom. While in this trip I found myself at peace in all of these places. I looked at Jim and said, "I could live in any of these places." He was having the exact same thought. It was the catalyst for moving us forward in leaving Louisville and coming back to Georgia. It was a strange time for me because I didn't want to come back nor had I ever given the time of day to a beach in Florida.

But God was doing something in me at that time that has continued on even to now. He continues to teach and remind me, it doesn't matter where I live here on Earth because Earth is not my home. No country, state, county, city or house here is my home. My home, my country, my kingdom is in Heaven with Jesus!

I'm a sojourner in a foreign land living in a temporary dwelling waiting for my future home who's designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:8-10). I'm an expat living outside of my native country until my King calls me home. And I'm also an Ambassador for my King to proclaim His ultimate rule over all countries and peoples and call people to repentance and faith (2 Corinthians 5:20). All of which remind me, I am not yet home.

I'm thankful to be living in an earthly country that allows me to live the way my King has called me to live. I'm thankful I can openly tell others about this amazing country where the glory of God is light and life. I'm thankful that God is good and they no matter what happens in my temporary home, my home in heaven is secure and nothing there will ever change. I'm thankful I can be an ambassador for the one true King.

So this year as I remember the Independence of the United States as a country, I celebrate the true freedom that I have in Christ to live the life God has called me to live in this temporary home while I wait for my eternal one. I celebrate the dependence I have on the eternal God of the universe, without whom, no earthly independence or freedom would exist.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Date Your Wife

For the Tim Challies 2019 reading challenge in the light section he has a category for a book targeted at the opposite gender, thus I chose a short book that had been sitting on our shelf that I could read quickly. I thought it would be an easy read, but this book is deep for it's short length.

This book is greatly needed today as marriage is frequently being attacked and we're told what we do and have possession wise is far more important than our relationships. This book cuts to the heart be telling men your marriage is your most important earthly relationship and only through a relationship with Christ can you even hope to do it well. Reading it as a female I do appreciate how direct Justin is. He does not mince words and tells it like it is. There is no guessing. Love that!

I absolutely believe every man should read this book. It's so life giving for a marriage in it's principles. Now ladies, I do not recommend you give this book to your husband. Instead find a way for a guy friend to recommend it or pray for God to put it in his hands some way. You giving it to him would likely undo the good to come from it.

Ladies if you want to read it used it for prayer, not telling your husband everything he's doing wrong. At times it was hard for me to read because of hurts, but it helped me pray in a new way. It also showed me things I can teach my boys. My biggest take away was that I need to teach my boys to pray for their future wife starting now! My older boys all talk about getting married and they need to learn these basic concepts now. It will definitely give them a head start on dating their wives.

There is a note from Justin's wife, Taylor, at the end that reminds us to be datable. Remember a marriage is two people and if we're holding our husbands to unrealistic expectations we're doing them a disservice. We're all sinners that need to improve and grow in Christ-likeness.

I love the style. I love the practical suggestions. I love the call to examine yourself. This was a great book all around.

5 stars with all the recommendation I can give it!

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Stranger

Wow! I don't even know where to begin with this classic! I know I've read it before but I did not remember it at all.

This book is an excellent fictional memoir of a man who shows me truly the depths of humanity apart from God. It's sad but really how people are wired because of the fall. Self absorbed and thinking about how life is for them, not caring at all that there is a God and denying His very existence. In essence doing what we want to do no matter what because we believe we know best or we just want what we want.

I love how simply this is written in first person perspective. This is probably my favorite writing style and Camus did it very well. We don't have all the details but it doesn't leave you wanting for more. The story is clear, concise and leaves no guessing.

There are some details that could be disturbing to some, but he did a good job of being realistic without being vulgar.

It's hard to do a review of this book without telling the whole story. So I'll say this: the conclusion is breathtaking and brilliant and hits way too close to home in how many feel in everyday life I think. I know I often feel the way he describes even knowing Jesus and His forgiveness. It's part of the plight of humanity and being slaves to ourselves and our sin.

How to rate this book? I don't know. I think 4.5 stars. Can't quite give it 5 though I can't quite place why.

Reading challenges:
This is my second classic for Back to the Classics challenge for a book in translation.

I'm also including this in the Tim Challies 2019 Reading Challenge as a sad boo in the committed section
And the 2019 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge for a book in translation

Friday, June 28, 2019

Four-Year-Old Nehemiah

Where do I even begin with this little man. He came into this world with a bang and he still keeps us on our toes.

Nehemiah is so full of life and energy. He loves to go and to play with his siblings. He also loves a good book, puzzle or movie. No matter what he's doing he loves to laugh. Everything is funny to him and his laugh is contagious.

He might be small in size, but do not let him fool you. Nehemiah is a force to be reckoned with. Stubborn and strong-willed, he will fight with anyone about anything. He's also wicked smart. Smarter than me at times, but he keeps me always learning. He knows how to get what he wants if you're not paying attention, so always listen carefully to him. How I pray God will take that drive and gusto and use it for His Kingdom! Nehemiah will be a strong evangelist when he comes to faith.

This boy also loves to sing! He will sing anything and everything and has begun making up his own songs, which I love! He plays all kinds of instruments too. He excels at all of them! That's easy to do when it's all air. But anything music he loves and wants it around him. He loves to perform also and you will certainly get a dance with the song he sings, unless he is too busy with his microphone. Shy is not in his vocabulary.

Nehemiah is getting good at memorizing and is working on Scripture they we pray God uses to grow his heart for the Lord. Right now he is also working in a junior kindergarten curriculum at home and is learning phonics, numbers, writing, shapes, colors and increasing his love of learning. He is very good at puzzles and problem solving as well as reading people. He always blows me away with his clarity of speech. Coloring and drawing are also part of his repertoire.

Nehemiah loves life. He has a spirit that radiates.

Father, thank You for Nehemiah's life. He is such a joy. Please show him that true life and joy only comes from you. Please save Nehemiah by your grace and bring him to You. Let him know Your comfort and help that he might be Your comfort and help to others. In Jesus Name. Amen!