Sunday, June 26, 2016

What I'm Reading

  As I think I have similarly written here before...I feel about books much like I feel about shades of lipstick. Why only have one when you can layer multiple in at a time and get a much better result? 

  I am never reading only one book at a time. Here are my most recent reads: 

  This one was recommended to me, and though I sometimes find biographies a bit tedious, I am always glad after having read them. I actually used Audible--or as I like to call it, books on tape--for this one. I listen as I clean or fold clothes or drive. It was an interesting insight into the life of this president whom I honestly did not previously know a whole lot about, other than the major events of his presidency. 

I'm still in the middle of this one. But I wanted to include it here because it has been excellent thus far. This author does a great job at explaining motherhood's position as squarely on the front lines of going and making disciples, or "mothering disciples" as she calls it. She skillfully writes of how motherhood fits in to the grand plan of God and the grand narrative of scripture. I have read multiple books on mothering from a gospel-centered perspective, but this one comes from a slightly different angle, and I've found it very instructive and helpful. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this one. 

The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, is my favorite place, in my favorite town. That is a whole post unto itself. But after I got the opportunity to sing recently with our choir at this wonderful venue, I decided I had better get a little more detailed in my knowledge about it. I don't like to do things halfway! If I'm going to love something, I want to know all the details!  This little historical book was a really fun read for me. If you love Nashville or music, I would recommend it. 

And just for fun, my feelings on the Ryman are best summed up in a song I love by Old Crow Medicine Show, called "Mother Church": 

"Well we've gathered here down through the years, and we've seen with our own eyes
That the faces change but the song remains 
And the music never dies
At the mother church
On a Saturday night.

Ooo does the singin' soothe your soul?
Ooo can you hear it call you home?"

 I have always been a Baptist, "to the bone", as some like to say. I was born into it. But I am now much more a Baptist by conviction than anything else.  This book was a treasure. An inspiring read that helped me sharpen my theological and ecclesiological convictions. And though my denominational affiliation is secondary to the fact that I am a Christian, generally speaking, I feel about my Southern Baptist identity much as my mother likes to say about our home church, "You couldn't blow me out of there with a blowtorch!" 

 This one was particularly impactful for me. It has the perfect blend of philosophy and practicality in applying the gospel to homemaking. A needed help for a semi-domestically challenged, time crunched working mama like me who wants 1) Christ reflected and praised in her home and 2) her one-day grown-up boys to come home from college as often as possible to see their mama!! One of my favorite parts was simple but so valuable. The concept of teaching children when they meet someone to stop, look, and listen. Stop, and consider that person. He or she is made in the image of God. It is our job to honor that person as someone who has value in God's eyes. Look. Observe that person and consider any needs they might have. Companionship, food, rest? How can I serve this person? And finally, Listen. Most people have a deep desire to be known and affirmed. Find a way to listen and encourage each person who comes into your life. 

I am so very thankful for books. What have you been reading lately? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Strength and Dignity

She is clothed with strength and dignity.  She can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs, Chapter 31.  To be honest, though I hold this passage of Scripture in reverence as I do any of God's Word, I actually have shied away from it a bit over the years.  I grew weary of hearing the tired though well-meaning compliment, "She's a P31 wo-man, that's for sure."  I don't know why, but I did. Maybe it was a deep-down sense of knowing I'd never measure up.  Or on the flip side, an irritation at the tendency of (I'm sure usually well-intended) Christian men to hold women to the impossible picture of perfection.

Like a self-righteous Pharisee, I sometimes see these beautiful words from the Lord as a checklist.  I go down the list, and I make my little marks.  Ok, God, yep I watch over the affairs of my household.  I do a pretty good job on that, I think.  I fear You, Lord.  Eating the bread of idleness, nope not me.  I set about my work vigorously.  I try to be resourceful, and make wise investments.  I wake up before dawn to make sure my family has what they need.  Check, check check. Yep, I think I'm doing pretty well on all of the above.

And then there they are.  In black and white.  Strength.  Dignity.  Laughter at the days to come.  And my little house of Pharisaical cards comes-a-tumblin' down.  'Cause Lord knows those words rarely are accurate descriptors for me.  When faced with fears that paralyze, I crumble into an emotional, self-centered, myopic mess.  The thought of living life without someone I love.  Tragedy.  Illness of a child.  Fear that I am neither special, nor chosen, but instead easily cast away.  If you're not careful, these kinds of fears will consume you, rendering you ineffective, not to mention miserable. But there is another choice.  We can allow those fears to point us to the Savior who delivers us from ALL fear.

It's ironic how the Enemy will take even scripture and twist it to accuse, and to shame.  And though it is a battle, I refuse to let him use the Lord's words for that purpose, and I refuse to let him win.  Yes, I am weak instead of clothed in strength.  That is certain.  But my God says that His power is made perfect in weakness.  Yes, I am sinful, disgraced, ignominious.  But my God says that He will clothe me in a robe of righteousness, through Christ's sacrifice.  Yes, I too often operate out of a spirit of fear, rather than an ability for carefree laughter borne from a knowledge of Who is in control.  Yet even so, my God assures me that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and what's more, that He does not give me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

Sometimes I don't like that self-discipline part.  I'd rather, sometimes, just kinda leave that word off.  Because that's where it gets difficult, and I have to do things I don't want to do, things that may not be easy. But He also tells us that he has given us everything we need for life and godliness in Him.  He doesn't leave us alone.  Or unequipped.  Or without hope.

I am praising Him for that today.