July 28, 2009

What's On My Nightstand: July

What's On Your Nightstand

Here's a peek at the books that have captured my attention:

For 5 Minutes for Books:

~Rebecca. Oh, how I loved this book! Can't wait to participate in the Classics Bookclub on August 4th!

~How Sweet It Is. I'm in the middle of this one now, and really enjoying it.

~Cry in the Night because a good mystery makes me all tingly.

For fun:

~Gilead. Heard so many wonderful things about this book, and I'm looking forward to diving in.

~Anathema. I just couldn't leave this one on the library shelf.

For growing:

~A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. I've been chewing on this one for a while, and it's been wonderful.

~Womanly Dominion: More Than A Gentle and Quiet Spirit. The latest selection for the Girl Talk Bookclub.

What about you? Reading anything good these days? Tell me about it. If you're looking for ideas on what to read next, hop over to 5 Minutes for Books...though I must warn you, your "to be read" stack may become dangerously high. At least, mine always does!

July 27, 2009

Religion Saves by Mark Driscoll

I guess I've been living under a rock, because I'd never even heard of Mark Driscoll until my friend Lisa reviewed Death by Love: Letters from the Cross (I can't find Lisa's link...sorry!). Who knew Driscoll is so controverisal? I certainly did not, and was eager to read his newest release, Religion Saves + Nine Other Misconceptions.

I have to admit, I haven't had time to finish the book. It's not a quick, easy easy read. Driscoll tackles the topics of birth control, humor, grace, predestination, and dating - among others - in what I understand has become his trademark bold and blunt style. I can definitely understand why he's causing such a stir among well-known Christians. To be perfectly honest, I was shocked by Driscoll's candor.

Driscoll uses a great deal of Scripture to support his responses to the most popular questions asked by his own congregation. Given the subject matter and the recent criticism leveled at Driscoll's stance on some issues, I feel I need to read with my Bible in hand so as not to be swayed by Driscoll, his supporters or his critics. Rather, I want to rely on the whole counsel of God.

Religion Saves has caused me to think deeper, ponder Scripture more carefully, and examine my own beliefs. That alone makes it a book worth reading.

Interested in what others are saying about this book? Click here to read more.

July 21, 2009

Around the House: July


~Curling up under the covers with Rebecca. I'm reading it for the Classics Bookclub on August 4th. (Join us, won't you?). Last night, the creepy Mrs. Danvers gave me chills. I don't usually read Gothic fiction, but this book got me started.

~Some gorgeous summer weather lately. Temps have been bearable, and humidity has been low. That's my kind of July!

~Fresh grown tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden. My thumb is most definitely black, but I married a regular Farmer Jack (and I didn't even mean to rhyme!).

Looking forward to:

~Teaching the youth tomorrow night. Our youth director has started a series based on John MacArthur's book Twelve Ordinary Men. I'm teaching on Andrew, who has taught me a great deal.

~Meeting Lisa this weekend. There was NO WAY I was letting that girl get within two hours of me and NOT arrange a MIRL! I'm thinking it will involve lots of laughter and Starbucks.

~Some changes in my service to the Lord. R and I are both teaching Sr. High Youth Sunday School (he, the boys; me, the girls) starting in September. I'm also feeling drawn to a former ministry, and looking forward to a new opportunity. More to come on that later.

Thinking about:

~Making some changes (big and small) around the house. Having to completely gut our bathroom and closet has given me the itch to do more, as the budget will allow.

~How desperately my life needs more organization, yet how unmotivated I am to do anything about it right now.

~The big, huge, enormous apology I owe to the Seeking Him Together Bible Study group for letting things slide lately. I'm seriously hanging my head in shame.

~My cute man on the sofa...so I'm outta here!

July 13, 2009

Breaking the Silence

How was your trip?

For the past 12 days, I've been fielding some variation of this question.

For the past 12 days, I've had a difficult time finding the answer.

I've spoken so little of my journey to Peru that people might wonder if it meant anything to me at all. In truth, those 10 days of my life meant more than just about anything I've ever experienced. I feel a little of how I imagine Mary did after Jesus was born. While others around her were glorifying and praising God, Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:19, ESV). Not that I've come close to giving birth to the Savior, but I did spend nearly a year preparing for this mission trip. I looked forward to it, talked about it practically non-stop, and prayed about the work God would accomplish in and through me.

And now it's done.

And there are no words that can possibly explain how God has changed my life irrevocably.

And yet somehow I will try.

July 9, 2009

Worth Reading

I stumbled across something today, and knew it was a Divine appointment. Exactly how I'm feeling these days. Click here to read more.

July 8, 2009

Seeking Him Together - Can You Forgive Me?

Astronauts face a bumpy ride when they re-enter the earth's atmosphere after a mission. Re-entry into my life hasn't been as easy as I thought. Catching up on laundry. Going back to the office. Oh yeah, and planning to rip out our master bathroom and closet. We've had a leak under our shower for months, and didn't know it until I found water standing on my bathroom floor this weekend.

Bumpy ride doesn't seem to cover it.

Amidst all that's been going on, the Seeking Him Together Bible Study has taken a back seat. I put it aside in preparation for my trip. Sadly, I'm now three weeks behind. In fact, I've got to confess that I had to contact Amber to find out what week we're on! (Hanging my head in shame).

I'd like to think that I'll catch up soon, but the truth is that this study is so powerful that I don't want to rush through it. So, I'm still in Obedience...listening intently to what the Lord is telling me.

Our participation has waned in recent weeks. I know everyone's busy with summer activities and vacations. I'm not the Seeking Him Police, since I have absolutely.no.room.to.talk! But I do want to encourage you. Bible study is just as important in the summer as it is the rest of the year. Even if you're further (farther?) behind than I am, don't sweat it. Don't let Satan discourage you and make you feel defeated. Pick up your book TODAY. Start right where you are, and let the Holy Spirit work. You'll be glad you did.

So, this week I'm going to be unconventional. (It's my right as a co-hostess). Instead of Mr. Linky and his unspoken pressure to write a post, I'm asking you to leave a comment. Tell us where you are in the study, what you're learning, and what you're struggling with. If you're on Week 9 (which is where we're scheduled to be), tell me about it. If you're on Week 5, tell me about that, too. If you've written a post, leave your link in your comment so we can all visit and encourage you.

I can't wait to read about what God's doing as you're Seeking Him!

July 2, 2009

Returning Home

I'm home, friends. Exhausted, but in a great way. Can't wait to share more, and I can't thank Amber enough. For now, it's time to love on CJ and take care of some things around here. This was my entry on our church blog...it will give you a glimpse of what I'll be blogging about here for a long while to come.

In just a few hours, we'll be leaving New Life Children's Home for the Lima Airport. All of us have mixed emotions, including me. We're torn between leaving behind the new friends God has brought into our lives and returning to our normal routine. For me (like most of us), life will never be normal again.

I dedicated the week before our departure to the Lord. I wanted it to be set aside, in order to make my heart ready for what He would do here. When I asked Him what He wanted from me, He said Preparing, Expecting, Relinquishing, and Understanding. The acronym PERU.

I can honestly say I wasn't prepared for what I saw here. What could have prepared me to see more than 600,000 shanties in an area consisting of less than 2 square miles? How could I be prepared for children who are beside themselves with joy to receive a sticker and one piece of candy? How could we ever have prepared to become brothers & sisters in the air with Peruvian paratroopers, and then become brothers & sisters in Christ with many of those same men? Fortunately for us, God had prepared the works and we only had to be obedient to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Likewise, I wasn’t expecting to meet people like Jamie, who cleaned our quarters every day. This young mother has survived circumstances that make me cringe. She's a brand new Christian, but Jesus shines through her brilliantly. Then there's Lucy, who I adore. Although she has a 13-year old at home, she worked to serve us 3 meals a day, always with a smile on her face. As I said my goodbyes to her, she told me that I am in her heart, and asked if I could put her in my pocket and take her on the plane. Believe me, if I could have gotten her through customs, she’d be coming to TSBC with me! There was no way to really expect what would happen here. I came here praying and expecting that God would be glorified (Philippians 1:20) and I know that He has been. The salvations we’ve seen and the people we’ve ministered to in His Name are just a small part of the greater work He has accomplished here. I am blessed to be a part of this team and of our church family.

When I came here, I didn't think I'd relinquish part of my heart. Yet it’s gone... scattered among the teenage girls at the Santa Rosa School where we sang and danced the macarena, the kids everywhere who begged us to take photos of them, the ladies who work hard every day in soup kitchen shacks to provide for their neighbors, and the workers at New Life Children's Home. It’s also with my TSBC team, relationships built and strengthened by furthering the Kingdom together.

During our time here, we could not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Coming to a country where we don't speak the language and don't know our way around, we've needed God at every turn. He has been faithful. He has opened doors for us to go into schools, onto a military base, and in plazas where we’ve handed out thousands of Bibles and tracts. Only a mighty God could accomplish such great things!

And so our time has come to a close. Tears are flowing and emotions are high as we seek to somehow integrate this experience into our lives at home. The Lord has a greater purpose that will transcend these 9 days. Not only for us, but for the entire TSBC family. We could not have made this journey without you. Even though we are saddened to leave Peru, we are grateful to be returning to you that we all "may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him shoulder to shoulder." (Zephaniah 3:9).

The same holds true for you, my bloggy & "real-life" friends. Thanks for your prayers and your encouragement.