My desire is to always be real whenever I share. The problem is, that means every time I send out a post or write a book, I’m putting myself on the line.

Monday morning thoughts

Have you ever played the word game where you change one letter each line and turn 1 word into a different word by the last line? For instance, Cat to Cog could be cat, cot, cog.

Saturday, I wrote about Loving Extravagantly. Except, before I published my post, I realized that I had mistyped the title and written Live Extravagantly instead. Yesterday, guess what the message at church was about? Giving Extravagantly.

Love

Live

Give

Extravagantly.

I remember laughing as I was writing my blog post Saturday, because extravagantly isn’t a word that you use all that often, and here I was using it repeatedly in a post. Then after thinking that, to hear it used several times in an incredible message at church, made it jump out at me all the more. What does extravagant living look like? How do we serve God extravagantly?

Dictionary.com defines extravagantly as:

3. exceeding the bounds of reason, as actions, demands, opinions,or passions.
4. going beyond what is deserved or justifiable: extravagant praise

(I skipped the definitions relating to spending more than necessary.)
Early Morning Thoughts
Three in the morning has been our wake-up time for the past 3 days. Once it was with an idea waking me up – an idea that I had to come downstairs and write about so I wouldn’t forget it, once it was Ken who woke early and I woke as a result, and last night, it was with a very peaceful revelation that I still have some forgiving that needs to be done.
It’s hard to forgive sometimes. It’s easy to carry the bitterness and hurt, but hard to release them. Why is it easier to cling to the things of this world, slaves to our chains: bitterness, envy, anger, etc.? Even thought we’ve been freed from the chains, we want to bind ourselves again and again.
The revelation last night was peaceful and gentle. No condemnation, only the realization that I was harboring unforgiveness, and that in order to heal, I must first forgive.
Forgiving things that I’ve carried around with me for years won’t be sudden; it is a process joined with the healing that must occur. But I know that it will be worth it, and I suspect that I’ll like myself better in the end.Love, Live, Give Extravagantly

Saturday Night Thoughts

This is becoming a habit, 2 Saturday nights in a row. 🙂

Having a discussion on Facebook about Tumblr vs. WordPress. Do you have any thoughts on one or the other? I’d love to hear them. There are strengths with both, and of course, weaknesses. I’ve used WordPress frequently, Tumblr not as much, but I’ve had a Tumblr blog for ages that I do play with fairly regularly. So, if you were starting a new blog, which format would you use?

One of these days I’ll go back through my posts on Facebook and open the links of all the posts that get a lot of responses and study them and figure out what they all have in common. I used to do a lot more of that, use a site and then go back and analyze what made it tick. I still do it some, but not to the same extent. Perhaps because there aren’t as many new sites popping up all the time, so not as many to jump to when one gets boring. There are a goodly number though, I think it’s mostly that the start of the school year wears me out with getting everything ready for the boys, and that’s when I’m ready for more relaxing stuff like exploring old books.

And now I’ve come back in a circle, because the discussion about Facebook and Tumblr is because I want to start a blog to share the hidden treasures I find in a lot of the older books. I did set up a Tumblr blog for it, Findings from Old Books. I had to do something, some of the posts are so sweet and I could overrun my Facebook page if I shared all of them.

God is love.Looking back over this week, it’s been rather quiet. I find myself in a battle most mornings over sitting down and spending time with God. Not just reading my Bible, but spending real time hanging out and being friends with God.

For ages, I would beat myself up because I wasn’t reading my Bible. And finally I realized that I was reading it, pretty much every day. I even spend some quiet time most mornings. That’s not it, not what I’m battling for. It’s the Daddy relationship – I don’t know a better way to put it. It’s giving the early morning time to God without allowing anything else to get in the way. And in the process, growing that relationship that leads to Daddy or Father taking the place of God or Lord. It’s the intimacy of closeness that is not just worth the battle, but is something I crave, that I ache for, and still I find myself battling against other things wanting to sneak into that time.

I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians 13 this past week in the Message. I love the Message translation, it frees me from having to read with a concordance in one hand and Bible in the other. I still click through to other translations sometimes and sometimes prefer how they word things, but by and large, the Message is my go-to translation.

This morning, I was thinking of one of the life-changing moments I had a few years ago, when “God is love” became not an expression followed by a but, but a simple sentence. God is love, love therefore is God. Let that settle in a minute – it’s freeing. God is love, and I can share God by loving. This is my goal – to love others. I’m not always good at it, but even that’s okay, because in my weakness, He is strong. God is love. (By the way, if you’re wondering where to find that statement, it’s 1 John 4:7-8: Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.)

Now, for today’s reading:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

Hiding behind closed doors

It’s kinda weird how if you skip writing a few days, all the stories that were trying so hard to get out, go into their rooms and shut the door. They’re still there, but they don’t rush out as soon as you open the gate anymore.

That’s one reason I’ve been wanting to get back into the habit of writing. Because when the stories aren’t clamoring to get out, writing goes from an urgency to something that’s easy to put off, even though the stories escape at night, or other times when you’re too busy with the rest of life to put pen to pencil (or keyboard to computer) and get them down on paper.

That’s kind of where I am now – I’ve had stories swirling around my head for a week, but for one reason or another, the only time I’ve had to write, I was so tired that it was mostly a matter of getting a thought onto paper that I wanted to make sure that I didn’t want to forget. Yesterday morning, I planned to get some writing time in. I went out to the coffee shop, where it’s quieter than at the house, pulled out my keyboard and the iPad, only to discover that the iPad needed charging – and the keyboard draws a lot of power, so not charging wasn’t an option. But no problem, I keep both the bigger iDevice charger and a microUSB charger in my bag so I have whatever I need when I’m out – except that somehow they had been removed from my bag and left in the office.

So I figured I’d write instead.

Now, I am the mom of 2 boys and have a wonderful husband – but all 3 of them have learned that the best place to find a pen is in my bag. Guess what I was fresh out of? So no writing was done yesterday. 🙂

So today I am knocking on those doors where all the story ideas have hidden, asking them to come play again. And I’m sure they will, as soon as they know I am serious. 🙂

Thoughts for Saturday Night

Some days, I don’t get much chance to write things out, and it sometimes seems like they start piling up in my brain, waiting to be put on paper (or computer). Several days this week were that type of day, but by the time I could type, I was tired enough that I was afraid I wouldn’t make much sense. Tonight I wanted to get it all down so I wouldn’t forget.

The thought that has kept my mind busy today is simply this. If God is love (1 John 4:8), does that mean that sin is the absence of love, or acting without love?

If God is love, does that mean that sin is the absence of love?1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails.

Thoughts through the week

Earlier this week I discovered a book of sketches written in the early 1900’s. It’s interesting that sketches used to refer not just to a drawing, but also to short writings that served the same purpose, to draw a quick picture of an area or person. I really want to start writing some of these, putting the sketches of days I remember and the people I have met along the way into writing so that I don’t forget them.

I’m Typing, But The Batteries Are Dead

On days when Ken goes in to the office, often I pack 2, 1, or 0 boys up and head out to the bookstore.

When we moved, we left behind a bookstore that was about a mile from our home. Now, if I want to go to the bookstore, I’m looking at a drive of about 20 miles. Thankfully, 4 of those miles are a straight shot from Ken’s office to my favorite hangout. Even better, along the way is a Starbucks, so if we’re super early, we go get a coffee (etc.) at Starbucks and then at 9, when B&N opens, we head over.

Among the many things that I love about homeschooling is that fact that we can do it from pretty much anywhere. As long as we have 2 e-readers, we’re set to travel. All of J’s books are on the Kindle this year, and Will has all but 2 (with 1 more to come later). In fact, yesterday, J – wanting to show me that he was mature enough to do his studying without me needing to supervise, downloaded a 10 minute timer onto his Kindle and proceeded to go through his reading list, all on his own, taking time in between each book to share some commentary with me on what he liked or how interesting the lesson was. (I really can’t brag on the 10 minute lesson plan enough when it turns a boy who would avoid reading whenever possible into an eager student.) The wonderful thing about all of it was that because he got his studying finished, he was ready for an art lesson when Miss Casey arrived with her grinning and waving little one.

Casey is a dear friend who volunteered to teach the boys art and art history this year. Both of my artist hopefuls jumped at the chance, so J was super-excited about the lesson yesterday and the fact that older brother had opted to stay home made it even sweeter, since younger siblings don’t always get special one-on-one lessons.

Marty the Mighty Book DragonHopefully soon I’ll be able to share Casey’s website with you (once the start of school calms down and I can focus on something else), but for now, go check out Lady Sparrowhawk on Facebook and Etsy. Or, if you want something really special, check out her new book on Amazon, Marty the Mighty Book Dragon. J recommends it, “Mom, you have to read Miss Casey’s book, it’s good!”

Early Morning Thoughts

We, the world, don’t want a specific country to be the world’s police force. Except for when we do.

The problem is, the same countries who are hollering against the use of force now, would be hollering just as loudly for force if things were going in the opposite direction.

World news is far from my favorite subject. I hate getting caught up in it. Politics is one thing, probably because it’s kinda fun and although perhaps my opinion may occasionally influence others (according to Klout, my influence is a 64, whatever that means), by and large, my own activity in politics isn’t going to do much to change the world.

And perhaps politics fascinates me because it’s a future event for the most part. Learning about potential new leaders is studying something that only has the possibility of happening, not the guarantee. The news is the opposite – I’m studying the history of now, events too new (and perhaps too polarized) to be  put in the history books, but events that have already been set in motion, the only discussion is about how we’re going to handle them – which leads us back to the world’s police force.

None of the solutions that I’ve seen so far seem like they are going to help the specific Syrians who are being harmed. Governments think about other governments, not people when it comes to those outside of their own country. Why are our first thoughts about attacks of any kind, instead of help to those who need it most. (I’m not saying attacks will never come, but when we start off thinking of attacks instead of help, we’re twisting the solution that will be arrived into a solution of control instead of a solution that aids.

Grace = Freedom

Romans 7:5-6 For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths.

But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

As a Christian, your job isn't to judge someone because they don't have the same beliefs as you do. If you act like a pompous jerk, don't be surprised if they aren't keen on joining your Jesus train.  Reflect an image of truth and love, not judgment and pride.   - JarridWilson

Ask the Christians you know and you’ll learn that at one time or another, most were caught up in a life of law.

A friend shared a quote once that I wish I could remember verbatim, but the gist of it was that although as Christians, we believe that we’ve been forgiven, we go around blaming ourselves constantly for failing to stay within the laws, and so while we should be the ones who have the most to rejoice over, instead, for many, we live lives of perpetual misery from not staying within bounds.

Let me say here and now, it would be better to live a life professing not to believe in Christ and then to have a death-bed salvation than to live like this. Living a life of misery because you are a “follower of Christ” does nothing for anyone, not yourself nor others. Living a life of misery because you are a "follower of Christ" does nothing for anyone, not yourself nor others.

“…Freedom of God” For years, I pondered that. What did being free mean? How, as Christians bound by the law, could we be free? At one time I thought perhaps that it was a fake freedom – that we were within a gate and our job was to stay within it’s large boundaries instead of staring over the fence wanting what was on the other side.

But Christ is never false, not in word or action. If He was, then what are we basing our hopes upon?

In my ponderings, I would often wonder about Matthew 11:30 – For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. In fact, my questions over this are perhaps the key to explain my final realization of grace.

There is a Christian song that has a line that goes something like “No one ever said it would be easy….” I remember getting so upset with that song when it was popular. I didn’t have an explanation of Matthew 11:30, but I knew it was in the Bible and that Jesus said it – so therefore either it must be true or my own beliefs were false. I just couldn’t explain how it was true. And it was in this mental purgatory that I hovered for years, stuck on the dream freedom, light burdens, and easy yokes, while around me, church messages seemed to ignore these verses, promoting lives of right living in order to work your way into heaven.

There are moments in our lives that are perfect epiphanies, those “ah ha” moments where the world does a little twist and everything falls into its right place, moved from the spot we’d put it in because we didn’t know where it fit.

I’ve had a few of those moments in my life and in my experience, although I never seem to remember the exact date, I can always tell you where I was and what I was doing, and even the general time. This time, I was on the couch in the den, doing my morning Bible study.

I’d been focused on Abraham for a while, each time I thought I was almost finished studying him, something would bring me back and I’d learn something else from studying his life. At the moment, my focus was on Genesis 15:6 – And Abraham believed and God counted it for righteousness.

I could easily share a whole message or several on this verse, and perhaps one day I’ll share my study notes from that time, but for now, I’ll skip ahead to the realization that struck me after the umpteenth reading of the verse for who knows how many days – “Grace! That’s grace!”

Grace is one of those words that for years I had no real definition for. I knew it was a Christian word that you use in Christian circles, but it really wasn’t a word that made sense – when you believe in a God of laws, where is the grace in that?

And even that morning, as I realized that I was reading about grace, I still couldn’t have given a non-churchilogical definition of the word. I just knew that all Abraham had to do was to believe in God, that he wasn’t required to jump through any hoops, there were no laws for him to strive to obey, there wasn’t anything he HAD to do except believe.

Life as I know it has never been the same since. The revelation of grace – of being forgiven without ever having (or even being able) to earn it, of not having to live a guilty life because by accepting Christ I’ve already been forgiven, was the start to a whole new life.

Bible Study – First Day of School

Romans 7:1-6

I’m not sure that I’ve ever really understood this passage the way I did this morning.

Let’s say you’ve been married before. But over the course of your marriage, you came to realize that your spouse was all about the rules (think Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory, but much worse). There was a rule for standing up and a rule for sitting down, a rule for coming and a rule for going. You couldn’t even turn around without discovering that there were rules for what to sing while you turned and which appendage to shake next (that’s what it’s all about, hokey pokey).

Perhaps worst, there were rules for your thoughts – what you thought and how you thought about it.

And it wasn’t that the rules in themselves were bad – not individually. But the rules taught us what we could and could not do and what we could and could not think, and it’s really hard not to think of pink elephants if there’s a rule that you can’t think of them.

Perhaps one of the saddest things I know is that this is what many people think it means to be a Christian – it’s giving your life over to the husband who controls his wife by rules. To be honest, even many Christians feel like this is what a Christian life looks like (and I’ll raise my hand and say that before I started on this grace walk, that description would have applied to me also).

But then, your rule-controlling spouse dies.

Romans 7:2 For instance, a wife is legally tied to her husband while he lives, but if he dies, she’s free.

Not only are you free from your spouse, but you’re free from all the rules they had set up. And now, even if your first marriage was an arranged marriage, you are free to choose your own spouse, someone who will keep you free from the bondage of rules.

Romans 7:4 When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God.

A Strong Woman

My son called me out on this the other day. “Mom, you said you were fine, when you thought you’d broken your hip. How do I really know when you’re fine?”

It made me stop and think. Integrity is one of the things I want my children to learn from me, but if I’m not being honest about how I am, what example am I giving them?

I don’t have an answer yet. There are times when sharing that we’re not fine doesn’t seem like the right thing either. I didn’t want my children to worry, at least until I’d gone to the doctor and knew for sure what was wrong. But, if the shoe was on the other foot, I’d want them to tell me. So… I guess it comes down to what I tell them frequently – treat others the way you want to be treated. (Not just applicable in relationships between brothers.)