Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

thankful December 29, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 2:47 pm
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It has been a great Christmas.  I am acutely aware that I am beyond blessed with family close by, amazing friends, healthy beautiful children, an incredible and supportive husband, good health, abundant resources and a dynamic church home.  Sometimes I am fleshly and silly and become overwhelmed with the stupid things of life like laundry, groceries, my own comforts.

I follow some carepages of families that are battling cancer with their precious little ones.  These are so hard to read but so, so good for me.  Not because then I can feel sorry for them and be thankful that I am not in that battle.  No they are good for me because they stir me to be on my knees fighting with them and they allow me to remember to be thankful and aware of every moment I have.  Left to my own devices I am selfish, lazy, self-absorbed…on and on.

One of the moms shared a quote today that I am carrying with me into the New Year.  I hope it challenges you the way it has challenged me…

“Any man can sing in the day. When the cup is full, man draws inspiration from it. When wealth rolls in abundance around him, any man can praise the God who gives a plenteous harvest… The difficulty is for music to swell forth when no wind is stirring. It is easy to sing when we can read the notes by daylight; but he is skillful who sings when there is not a ray of light to read by — who sings from the heart… Lay me upon the bed of languishing, and how shall I then chant God’s high praises, unless He Himself give me the song? No, it is not in man’s power to sing when all is adverse, unless an altar-coal shall touch his lip… Then, since our Maker gives ‘songs in the night’ (Job 35:10), let us wait upon Him for the music.” Charles Spurgeon


Primal December 23, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 3:46 am
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Wow! Wow and wow!  I just finished the book Primal:A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson.  I have been anxiously anticipating this book for months and was so excited when I learned I would have the opportunity to review it.  I have read Batterson’s other two books, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase. My husband and I both read the In a Pit book during a very low time in our lives and it truly transformed our view and attitudes toward the Church and our future in the Kingdom.  I also heard Batterson speak at the Catalyst conference and I am so impressed with him as a pastor, a father and a Christ-follower.

He is so down-to-earth and in person very unimpressive in the best sense.  He is not pretentious and completely approachable.  He is a voracious reader and will blow you away with his scientific knowledge.  I love that!!! I have followed his blog over the past two years and I have learned so much from his insights into parenting.  He has shared quite a bit from his book on his blog and I have been constantly amazed at the spiritual nuggets he shares.  So now that many of those are now in this book, I love that I can pass Primal on to people with all of those amazing truths.

One of the last paragraphs of the book summarizes well the mission of Primal:

This book is an invitation to be part of something that is bigger than you, more important than you, and longer lasting than you. It’s an invitation to be part of the next reformation. It’s an invitation to be part of a primal movement that traces its origins all the way back to ancient catacombs where our spiritual ancestors were martyred because they loved God more than they loved life.

Yeah, I know!! Does that motivate you or what? Batterson reminds us of the Greatest Commandment where the Lord says we are to

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all our mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

Which translates that we are to love God with compassion, wonder, curiosity and energy. He discusses what that looks like and how we each have our own natural spiritual love language but we are called to develop and utilize all of them.

I cannot say enough good about this book. I want to read it again in a few months after I have chewed on some of what I have learned. This is definitely a book that will motivate a believer, challenge some stagnant thinking and even provide a good, swift kick in the pants. If you know a believer that needs some renewal, some hope, a fire lit under them….this would be a great, great gift. I know you can purchase it at your local bookseller but you can also find it online at

and you can even buy it for someone to put on their kindle or iphone/itouch. (If you need a last minute gift and the hard copy happens to be out of stock:)

Batterson did it again and I give this book a definite 5 stars. I LOVED it!!  I have included below a summary of the book and some author information as well.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Book: Primal

Author: Mark Batterson


Be Astonished Again

We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.

As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”

Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children.


Let’s be honest December 17, 2009

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 3:46 am
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Giving you some more link love today.  Lots going on in these parts as I scurry around creating Christmas for my family while trying to experience it myself.  Good stuff, some bad stuff.  Today I was blessed to be a part of a shoe giveaway through Newspring Church.  We put brand new shoes and socks on 431 students feet.  So fun and such a blessing to me.  We did it fairly namelessly which is cool too, if that makes any sense.  Prayin’ Jesus gets all that glory.  Lots of little kid smiles.

Certainly made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I’m needing that right now.  I have a couple of friends that are really hurting right now and as tough as I am, I hurt along with them.  Wrestling with how to truly love and deal with compromise.  I tend to see things pretty black and white/right and wrong.  How that translates to relationships that include brokenness and sin and accountability and truth…I don’t know.

Read this verse today that was encouraging though.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. (The Message) 2 Cor. 1:3-4

And then had a few minutes to read blogs and came upon this.  I appreciated it and thought you might too.  So here you go… meet Sarah Markley.  She has an incredible story that she tells here in transparency with brave, brute honesty.


Some more LL December 12, 2009

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 4:44 am
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Got some more link love for you.  I serve in Kidspring (our church, Newspring’s name for the children’s ministry) with a really neat gal Lindsay Haselden.  She has such a servant’s heart and she and her husband, Travis, are silent servers.  They do a TON for church and other people but they do it without ever drawing attention to themselves.  I have had the opportunity to get to know them just a smidge and I hope I get more chances.  Lindsay recently started blogging which I love because it allows me a chance to peek into her amazing head.  She posted recently about something the Lord is teaching her and I loved her analogy.  So hop on over and give a listen.  Tell her I said hey:)


I’m back December 11, 2009

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 4:49 am
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Yes, I know that I have been gone a long time.  But really people life is crazy round these parts!  We’ve had a wonderful Thanksgiving, lots of festivities, lots of fun family visits, a trip to the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree, a fun hoedown in the mountains (remind me to blog more about that later, such a blast!), a nasty staph infection (Haig) and two parents with nasty sinus infections.  All that to say I’ve been a a little busy and unfortunately I am desperately trying to slow down and enjoy this season of hope without becoming completely overwhelmed with all the details…life, shopping, doctor’s appts, school activities,…okay I am getting overwhelmed.  So I’m maxed but having fun.

In the meantime I came across this fun blog and this post spoke to me.  I thought it would probably speak to most of you my sweet 3 maybe 4 faithful readers:)  So go check out Andi Hawkins at The Running Mama and her take on Wingman.  I just know you’ll love it:)  I’ll be back before Christmas, I promise!


Treasured December 3, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 8:05 pm
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I am finishing up a sweet book called Treasured by Lisa McLeroy.  The summary is below, but each chapter reflects on one item from the Bible that if God kept a memory box He might have saved.  The items are not ones you would automatically choose and name.  McLeroy weaves stories and illustrations from her own life throughout and does an amazing job at making the characters from the Bible come alive as well.  The book is not very long and small in size so it would make a great Christmas gift for someone that might be kind of hard to buy for.  It is a book rich with meaning but not difficult to read nor theologically overwhelming.  I have thoroughly enjoyed it!

The two children’s books by Lisa Twan Bergren are God Gave us Love and God Gave Us Christmas.  Both share sweet dialogue between a little bear and her family member.  They share God’s Truths about love and Christmas.  Both concepts can be challenging to explain to preschoolers.  The books do a good job taking a heavy subject and making it understandable.  I personally preferred the illustrations and content of the Christmas book more than the other.  These would be great keepsakes for a child or grandchild.  Check out the link where you can buy one of these books below and the summaries and author info.  Hope you find something you will enjoy!

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.


Book: Treasured, God Gave Us Love, God Gave Us Christmas

Author: Leigh McLeroy, Lisa Tawn Bergren


In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides readers in discovering evidence in their own lives of his attentive love.

“The idea for the book came from a cigar box filled with odds and ends of my grandfather’s life that arrived a few months after his death. Sifting through the objects in the box, I experienced him in a fresh new way. This made me wonder what treasures might be tucked away in Scripture that could frame God for me in an equally intimate, tangible way. This process also helped me uncover my own “treasures” of my walk with the Lord: objects that remind me of my history with him and his faithfulness to me,” says McLeroy.

Drawn from the pages of Scripture, the author considers twelve such treasures and personalizes their meaning for readers, such as a green olive branch that offers  proof of God’s “new every morning” mercy and a scarlet cord that demonstrates his willingness to adopt “strays” of every sort.

Weaving these treasures together with scenes from her personal history, Leigh McLeroy invites readers to discover God’s heart for them and embrace their unique role in his redemptive story. Treasured offers readers a guided experience of God’s love and character and invites them to consider their own treasures that point to their part in God’s ongoing story.

In God Gave Us Love, Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, and the young polar bear begins to ask questions like why must we love others . . . even the seemingly unlovable? Why is it easier to love those we like? Where does love come from? And why does God love her so much?

Grampa Bear patiently addresses each one of Little Cub’s curiosities by explaining the different kinds of love we can share: the love between friends, the love between families, the love between moms and dads, and the love for God.

He also assured Little Cub that because of the love God has given her through his Son, there’s nothing she can do to make God love her any more or any less. Through Grampa Bear’s encouraging Little Cub to love others with a “God-sized love,” children will be inspired to love others and to be patient, gentle and kind, so that in every way, they too can demonstrate God’s love.

In God Gave Us Christmas, as Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear has something on her mind: “Who invented Christmas?” she asks. “Is God more important than Santa?”

Her questions reflect the confusion of so many children during the holiday season. And this heartwarming story takes them on a wonderful journey of discovery—right to the heart of Christmas.

Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns that God loves her and everyone— polar bear, moose, or human—so much that he gave us Jesus, the very best gift of all.

Cover art:

God Gave Us Christmas

Author Bios:

Leigh McLeroy is the author of The Beautiful Ache and The Sacred Ordinary.  An avid collector and recorder of everyday moments, words, and wonders, Leigh’s keen eye for God’s presence in ordinary life infuses her writing and living with a deep, insistent joy.  A frequent conference and event speaker, the author makes her home in Houston, Texas, and posts often on and

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than 1.5 million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Love follows in Lisa’s classic tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.