Just wonderin’ August 30, 2009
Observant. I am not very observant. I don’t always pay attention to the details. For instance when we were first married I came home from work and didn’t notice for at least an hour that there was a bouquet of flowers from my wonderful husband sitting on the dinner table. I get focused on a task or what I am facing and I miss a lot of the details.
I was reminded of this last week when my younger brother Ben was riding in our minivan with me and when we arrived home he exited the car but began circling it and looking at the tires. After a few moments of examination he told me that he felt I needed at least one new tire because the tread was almost completely worn down. I asked him to share this with Mark (who really never rides in or drives my van, thus not noticing the tire issue:) and we purchased two new tires this week.
You see I would have never known there was a problem with my tires until I had a flat tire. I don’t inspect my tires or honestly even know what a healthy tire looks like versus an unhealthy tire. (I know tires aren’t “healthy”) The only way I recognize something needs work on my car is when it is obviously broken. I am very thankful that Ben has the knowledge and pays attention to those kind of details and made me aware of the problem.
The situation made me think about other areas of my life where I might be overlooking details and missing possible warning signs of impending problems. Mark looks out for me in so many, many areas and definitely makes me aware when he sees something that I need to focus on. However cars are one of Ben’s “things” so he is really aware of those kind of details. I want to have people in my life that are wise enough and observant enough, and care about me enough to warn me when I might need to focus on some details.
I have some great girlfriends that I have learned to love and trust and have given them access to my inner world. They keep me straight. They hold me accountable and push me toward Christ and can even give me a talkin’ to when I need it. However I am feeling challenged to ask them to ask me the hard questions in case I am missing some areas that might be leading me toward trouble. I also am striving to seek out relationships with wiser, godly people that might be more of an expert in certain areas than myself. I want to learn from them and hopefully gain wisdom so I can be more observant about details I need to focus on in my mothering,relationship with the Lord, friendships, service, learning, etc. It is one thing to learn from someone by watching them, and another thing to give them the authority to challenge me toward growth and possibly change.
So how about you? Who do you allow to ask you the “hard questions”? Do you allow anyone to hold a mirror up to you and make you look? Do you trust anyone enough to let them observe the details of your life and make comment? Why not? What are you afraid of?
Back-to-school Reads August 29, 2009
I have three book summaries below. I am almost done with the 1st book and am loving it! I wish I could personally share more but with the start of school I haven’t had much down/reading time. Check these out though because they look great! You can pick them up at a local bookstore or online at http://www.amazon.com. Come on, don’t you need a good, new book?
Summary for The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.
As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.
Summary for The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love
Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status.
As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires. Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles.
Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum, Tennessee, love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other.
Summary for Rose House
A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope.
Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.
She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.
What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.
A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.
Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she is currently a publicist with Books & Such literary agency.
RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program.
Tina Ann Forkner is the author of Ruby Among Us. Originally from Oklahoma, she now lives with her husband and three children in Wyoming, where she serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation’s board of directors.
2 Questions August 26, 2009
So it is almost midnight which means I am up WAY too late for a school night, but since I am already up I might as well make it a few minutes later and put down some thoughts. I have recently reconnected with some teachers from high school and junior high. I have such great memories of these folks and can think of many ways that they invested in me that truly positively affected my view of myself, the world and the Lord.
It just makes me consider, who am I investing in and how will they remember me? Am I intentional with my interactions with the children I serve at church, my children’s friends, the cashier I see each week at the grocery store? Sure I do my best to be cheerful and polite and kind. More than that though. I really could have a positive lasting affect on the people that are in my life and even those in the peripheral of my life. I want to be that kind of person. I want the people that I touch to be better for having known me. Is that too much to want? That is not going to happen in my own strength, because I am nothin’ special. However, He that lives inside of me is amazing. If I will let Him spill out a bit, lives can be changed! I aim to do that but it’ll only happen if I consistently fill up with HIM.
The second thing I have been thinking about is having an attitude of gratitude toward the people that have invested in me and letting them know so. What a blessing to receive back from someone a bit of encouragement that you made a difference. So I have been all about thank you notes recently. Not so much for “stuff” but rather for their time and investment in me or my children or the Kingdom. I actually have someone from my past that needs to hear from me this week a big fat Thank You for believing in me:)
So what about you? Do you need to bless someone with the message that they made a difference in your life? A teacher, your junior high best friend’s parent, Sunday School teacher, baseball coach, librarian, who? With Facebook and email it is not that hard to connect with people anymore. We are all investing in someone. Really. Very few people have NO interaction with people throughout the day. Someone on the phone, the internet or in person. I challenge you to be deliberate and put some prayer behind it. Who are you investing in and what will you have added to their life? Consider it…
I have not been this excited about a book in a really long time. Months ago Mark brought home a book called On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. He wanted me to read it to the boys because it was supposed to be full of adventure and based on bedtime stories that Peterson told his own children. Andrew Peterson is one of our all-time favorite Christian singer/songwriters. Mark is not normally a “book person”. So I was interested and happy to oblige. Well, with the busyness of school we started the book but never finished it.
A few weeks ago I received an invitation to be part of a blog book tour for Peterson’s second book in the Wingfeather series, North! or Be Eaten. So I set out to finish the first book and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! The second book was even more thrilling. I absolutely loved the characters, the stories and I can hardly wait for the next one to be published. I have stayed up late just about every night this week because I wanted to finish:)
I kind of think of these books as a Harry Potter meets Chronicles of Narnia. There is a ton of humor in these books and fanciful characters and creatures. The most amazing thing to me though is how EVERY chapter left me hanging. It was not predictable but riveting. I usually read a different type of book but I loved this trip into adventure and fantasy.
Andrew Peterson also does an amazing job of teaching character lessons and walking his characters through intense decisions that show consequences of life decisions and how they affect other people. I hope to read the book to my boys possibly next summer when we can read during the day and not before bed. The stories are fun but intentionally a little too creepy for some bedtimes. At least for my boys:)
Oh please check this book out! It would be a great read for a 10 yr old or up and if your little one is not prone to bad dreams, for even younger. Definitely adults would love it as well. I can’t stop thinking about it:) The formal description is found below as well as a link here to where you can order it online or I am sure your local bookstore has it. They need to get it if they don’t because this is my new favorite! Wish I could say I was giving this one away, but not a chance! I loved it!!!
Book: North! Or Be Eaten
Author: Andrew Peterson
Readers thrilled to the phantasmagorical adventures in On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One of the Wingfeather Saga. Now in Book Two, Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, mom Nia, ex-pirate grandfather Podo, Peet the Sock Man, and trusty dog Nugget flee north to rebel headquarters.
Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls, over the Stony Mountains, and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.
Andrew Peterson’s lovable characters create what FantasyBookCritic.com says made Book One “one of the best fantasy novels in a very long time,” and Book Two contains even more thrills, exploring “themes universal in nature, ranging from the classic good versus evil, to the importance of family, and burdens of responsibility.”
Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in The Warren near Nashville, Tennessee. Visit Andrew’s websites: http://www.andrew-peterson.com and http://www.rabbitroom.com.
Heart Stuff August 14, 2009
Can you think of anything more complicated than friendships between women? Seriously! In grade school I didn’t have a BFF but mostly because we moved a lot. In middle school I had a best friend and then in high school I had a best friend but I remember trying to stay out of the “group friend” scene. I just didn’t understand how the whole dynamic worked. From a distance I could see that things often went downhill quickly, too much of it was about boys and the pettiness was absurd.
In college though the Lord brought many amazing, godly gals into my life and I had a blast. I still had to look out for the typical girl cattiness and learned who to avoid; however when I surrounded myself with girls that were truly growing in Him, things were wonderful!
I still have a lot to learn though. Over the past few years I have experienced mommy friends, church friends, school friends, wives of my husband’s friends, soul sisters, workout friends and the list goes on. Wow, can you say complicated? The more I learn though the more humbled I become and realize that it really takes a lot of work to be a GOOD friend.
I try hard to not be a high maintenance friend but over the past few weeks I have been struggling with where I stand with a few of my friends. As I have been sorting through this the Lord has challenged me to evaluate what kind of friend I have been to them instead of looking at how I feel about them or how they have behaved toward me. Ouch that is hard!
At the same time I was sent a book to review called The Friends We Keep:A Woman’s Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis. God has impeccable timing doesn’t He? The first few chapters I thought that this book had nothing new to offer me, but as I began the second half of it things began to seep into my soul.
I want to share some quotes that resonated with me. I hope you will pick up a copy of this book because it has helped me sort through some things and (as God likes to do) it has repeated some things that He already was guiding me through. Sometimes friendship can be easy but the deeper you allow people into your world the more complicated the dance can become. But the real joy of friendship comes when we learn to navigate through these waters, the calm harbors as well as the rough seas.
And even though as a young girl I sensed the danger involved in “group friends” they cannot be avoided forever. I learned how precious a circle of girls can be in college through dorm life. Some of my roommates, suite mates and girls on my hall are still friends that I keep in touch with and call kindred friends although we now live states and even countries apart!
Davis addresses friendships like these found in “community”:
Says Carol Lee Flinders, “Life in an intentional community is like being inside one of those rotating cylinders full of water that rock collectors use to polish their rough treasures. Little by little, over the years, a lot of the roughest edges get smoothed away. Maybe we even begin to shine a bit.”
Living life alongside someone else, cohabiting in joy, disappointment, accomplishment, or betrayal-this kind of living is not relegated to a convent, an AA meeting, or a club gathering. But choosing to engage in community, to continually and consistently open our lives to others and allow them to peek inside, to listen, and perhaps to speak or stand in silent solidarity can only change us. Perhaps it softens our sharper corners, perhaps it invites contemplation and thought, perhaps we choose to act as a result, but we cannot emerge from community unchanged if we enter with great awareness and intentionality. Those rough edges are buffed to a shine then reflect what is inside. And isn’t that the very gift of community?
Can you relate to that when you think of some of your groups of friends? I certainly can as I think of college friends and mom friends. We are in a home group and this “softening of sharp corners” as we allow people to “peek into our lives” is the hopeful result of this group as we “live life together.”
But Davis also addresses some hard questions about friendship that I have never heard or read discussion about. How do we know what a friend needs when they are hurting? When do we know when a friend needs space and what does that look like? Is it ever okay to let go of a friendship? How do we gracefully handle when a friend lets go of us and walks away?
These are hard questions that I have been walking through in recent days with a number of friends all at once and God in His amazing way helped me sort through some of this through this book. Davis has an interesting way of not really coming to conclusions but using enough stories and asking enough questions to shine some light and clarity on a sensitive to the heart issue.
In every friendship, no matter how close, we inevitably feel the spaces between us. The unspoken words, the hurts we don’t share because we weren’t asked or because no one was listening, the perceived slights we don’t express-these fill that empty space and make it grow wider, ballooning between us, pushing us farther apart. The expanding space has the potential to explode, permanently injuring those in its path, and it can be lethal to relationships. What do we do with that space? Do we talk about it? Do we force the air out of it? Do we let it run its course?
There is another type of space between us. It is the space we need to save ourselves or even to preserve our relationship. Interestingly enough, one of the Hebrew words used to indicate “salvation” is also used to mean “space.” And there are times when that space can save us. Space can give us perspective, time to breathe, time to listen. …..
How do you give space to a friendship without letting it drift away? Space, like silence, makes us uncomfortable sometimes. We don’t know what to do with quiet, emptiness, and loss. And all of those things create space. But space allows us to grow, and without it we are stifled, our growth stunted. When we grieve we want to rush to feel better so that we don’t continue to hurt, rather than allow space for that grieving. And when things aren’t right with another person we care about, we often rush to fill the space forcing things to surface that are not yet ready.
….So how do we give our friendships what they sometimes need? Space is sitting with your friend in silence, space is allowing her to find her way in her time, space is sometimes suspending judgment, space is not always needing to have the right words or the right advice and space can be simply walking away for a time, even just to stand a short distance away.
And how do we know what a friend requires? Let’s be honest: we play games sometimes. I don’t know if men do this, but I know women will at times push others away or choose not to respond to their overtures, not because they want to be left alone, but because they want someone to try harder, to hunt them down and say literally, “I am here for you.” Other times we need the space, want it, but we just don’t know how to ask for it. Men would roll their eyes at this contradiction and ask how they are supposed to know what it is we really want.
Sometimes we don’t know what our friend wants, even when we’ve known her through many of life’s seasons. Sometimes we don’t even know what we want for ourselves. And sometimes when we get what we need, we find we don’t need it anymore. And anyway, even if we do know what to do for our friend at one time, it may not be that way the next time.
The point is we can never stop paying attention. A friend once asked me if I thought our mutual friend needed space or presence with what she was going through. It was a good question, and I responded truthfully that I just didn’t know but that I was trying both.
Even when we truly want to do the right thing by our friends, we sometimes just don’t know. And so we persevere. We learn sometimes by pushing too hard and sometimes by giving too much space. and if we are the ones who are given too much space, more than we wanted, when we feel let down, as though others weren’t there for us, what then? The fact is sometimes we are let down by our friends. Intentions may be good, efforts misguided, or they may have nothing left to give, and the result is simply that they are unable to be there for us in the ways we expect them to be.
What I have learned from my own experience is simply this: there are times in friendship-perhaps even in every relationship-when we need to simply accept what people are able to give. That is part of being a friend; in fact that is part of living among others in any type of community. It is necessary to put away the expectations, the goals, the fixing and longing for how it could be, and simply be and allow our friend to do the same.
Umm…so this is hard stuff for me. Heart stuff. I am learning how to give space, accept space, and allow my friends to just be what they can and are instead of demanding of them what I want and what I need. I suppose this is what friendship is supposed to look like as we mature. But it is hard and it means dying to myself and not always having the happy, let’s go out for coffee kind of friendship. It also means not looking to my friendships to make me feel filled up and whole. They can love on me and add to my life but I need to look to the true Lover of my Soul to feel whole and complete. That part can be hard too. When my friends slip into my center instead of my Savior being my center…I quickly become off balance. It is good though. I am growing.
This may not have made a lick of sense to you, but if you are a women I think you must be able to identify with some of it. If you can’t relate it is my fault not Sarah Zacharias Davis’:) And if you are a man and you are reading this, I’m sorry you probably will never understand:)
I included below the summary of the book and author info from the publisher. You can buy the book at your local bookstore or http://www.amazon.com. There is also a summary of a new Bible study series by the wonderful Kay Arthur called the 40 Minute Bible Study series. Good stuff too! Thanks for letting me share my heart. Oh I almost forgot:) Leave me a comment and one of you will be randomly picked to receive a copy of The Friends We Keep! Yea!!
Summary for The Friends We Keep
During a particularly painful time in her life, Sarah Zacharias Davis learned how delightful–and wounding–women can be in friendship. She saw how some friendships end badly, others die slow deaths, and how a chance acquaintance can become that enduring friend you need.
The Friends We Keep is Sarah’s thoughtful account of her own story and the stories of other women about navigating friendship. Her revealing discoveries tackle the questions every woman asks:
• Why do we long so for women friends?
• Do we need friends like we need air or food or water?
• What causes cattiness, competition, and co-dependency in too many friendships?
• Why do some friendships last forever and others only a season?
• How do I foster friendship?
• When is it time to let a friend go, and how do I do so?
With heartfelt, intelligent writing, Sarah explores these questions and more with personal stories, cultural references and history, faith, and grace. In the process, she delivers wisdom for navigating the challenges, mysteries, and delights of friendship: why we need friendships with other women, what it means to be safe in relationship, and how to embrace what a friend has to offer, whether meager or generous.
Summary for 40 Minute Bible Studies
The 40 Minute Bible Study series from beloved Bible teacher Kay Arthur and the teaching staff of Precept Ministries tackles important issues in brief, easy-to-grasp lessons you can use personally or for small-group discussion. Each book in the series includes six 40-minute studies designed to draw you into God’s Word through basic inductive Bible study. There are 16 titles in the series, with topics ranging from fasting and forgiveness to prayer and worship. With no homework required, everyone in the group can work through the lesson together at the same time. Let these respected Bible teachers lead you in a study that will transform your thinking—and your life.
•The Essentials of Effective Prayer •Being a Disciple: Counting the Cost
•Building a Marriage That Really Works •Discovering What the Future Holds
•Forgiveness: Breaking the Power of the Past •Having a Real Relationship with God
•How Do You Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk? •Living a Life of Real Worship
•How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret •Living Victoriously in Difficult Times
•Money & Possessions: The Quest for Contentment •Rising to the Call of Leadership
•How Do You Know God’s Your Father? •Key Principles of Biblical Fasting
•A Man’s Strategy for Conquering Temptation •What Does the Bible Say About Sex?
Sarah Zacharias Davis is a senior advancement officer at Pepperdine University, having joined the university after working as vice president of marketing and development for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and in strategic marketing for CNN. The daughter of best-selling writer Ravi Zacharias, Davis is the author of the critically-acclaimed Confessions from an Honest Wife and Transparent: Getting Honest About Who We are and Who We Want to Be. She graduated from Covenant College with a degree in education and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Kay Arthur, executive vice president and cofounder of Precept Ministries International has worked with her teaching staff to create the powerful 40-Minute Bible Studies series. Kay is known around the world as a Bible teacher, author, conference speaker, and host of national radio and television programs.
Holly Homemaker NOT ME! August 13, 2009
Frugality seems to be my (somewhat) theme this year. I have been trying to find ways to cut back the way we spend our money. I wrote about couponing a few weeks ago but in January I also started making my own clothes detergent. Yes, it sounds a little crazy but my younger sister came to stay with us for a few days and she cloth diapers and already makes her own detergent…so to get me started she went out and purchased everything I might need and helped me make my first batch. It only cost $13.00 and I have not bought any new ingredients. I still have enough to last me safely until December. In that price my big bucket was also included. I also use some of the ingredients for cleaning and making dishwasher detergent. So they go a long way.
The only ingredients are Ivory bar soap, washing soda, borax powder and water! It takes me about half an hour to make it and I usually do it while I am cooking a meal or doing the dishes. Easy, cheesy! I love the way it smells so I haven’t added any fragrances but you can do that too. I have put the recipe below, and thought I would walk you through the process with a few pics.. My sis found the recipe on http://www.familyhomestead.com. There are lots of other recipes out there.
Homemade Laundry Soap
1 bar Ivory soap
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax powder
~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~
Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 22 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use ½ cup per load.
**A few things to note about the soap**
~The finished soap will not be a solid gel. It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an “egg noodle soup” look.
~The soap is a low sudsing soap. So if you don’t see suds, that is ok. Suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.
Optional: If you want your soap to have some sort of scent you can scent this with ½ to 1 oz. of essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice. My favorite scent is orange essential oil.
You grate the bar of soap into a pot on the stove with 6 cups of water.
Grating it is the hardest part of the process but that is b/c I am lazy and not used to grating:) It takes 5-7 minutes. I put it on medium heat and once it melts I add the borax and washing soda. I stir them until they dissolve and then continue the other steps.
Super easy. Then you leave it overnight and it turns into a weird soupy, egg soup like substance that you stir up before using. I put my detergent in a smaller container that I keep by the washing machine and just refill it as needed. My sister wrote the recipe on a notecard and taped it on the top of my bucket b/c she knows I lose things:)
So there you have it! A couple of friends have asked me about the recipe so I just thought I would share:) I do love knowing this is a way to cut back on some spending but also to cut back on packaging as well as some of the chemicals and dies that are often used in detergent. My sister also taught me that I can use equal amounts of baking soda and borax powder for dishwasher detergent and use vinegar as a rinse aid. It has worked great as well. I don’t have my measurements handy but I have also started using baking soda and vinegar and water for most of my cleaning supplies.
Don’t think I am a Holly Homemaker, I am just learning from other moms…and finding I like how some of this “natural” stuff works and feels:) Now I know you think I am really crazy! But this makes me feel better when I feed my kids ice cream for dinner, it all balances out right:)