Archive for Inspiration

Substantial Fiction

Okay, I promise I won’t entitle every blog post this year “Substantial,” but I did think it was appropriate to use it at least one more time. I find that if I am reading a work of fiction, it helps keep my mind in an active, positive state. I am usually reading one of Terry Pratchett’s books. Right now, it’s Moving Pictures. Does this qualify as “substantial”? I would actually say it does since most of Pratchett’s books make a social commentary while they are making me laugh.

I am also re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra. Oh, how I love this man’s writing. Substantial? Most definitely.

What are you reading?

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Substance, Blogging and Vulnerability

One thing about Substance and blogging is that if I am writing about substantial things, there will be an element of vulnerability. Am I willing to risk that to involve others in conversation about what is substantial? I am pondering that right now. And so is THIS BLOGGER.

What do you think?

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One Word: Substance

God has allowed me enough margin in my life at the beginning of 2014 to actually contemplate blogging a little. So, it seems appropriate to start off with the One Word that has been rattling around in my head for a week: Substance.

Perhaps it is just a reflection of the holiday season, but it seems that lately I have been exposed to quite of bit sentiment and not a lot of substance. I want to separate the sentimental fluff from the gospel-bearing substance in my life. Sometimes fluff is okay and even necessary. However, I believe when the balance lies on the side of substance in my life, I am nourished and energized.

Practically, for me, this means continuing to desire, seek and enjoy substantial music, books and experiences. This applies to relationships, too. And exercise and eating. And how I choose to use my time each and every day.

So, while I’m not anti-New-Years’-resolutions, I think that this One Word provides an easy focal point for 2014. So, here’s to a new year. And Substance.

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Margin

Do you have a “word” for the year? Many bloggers do. I guess I am not one of them, BUT I think God has given me a “word”, anyway. He keeps impressing on my mind and heart the concept of margin.

If my fuzzy memory recalls correctly, the concept of margin buzzed around a few years ago. Well, it’s definitely buzzing around again–in my brain. So, I have been asking God what He wants me to contemplate with respect to margin. Here is what I am considering so far:

1. He grants margin. It is from Him. I cannot force margin into my life;

2. When He grants it, I am praying that He allows me to recognize it;

3. When He grants it, I am praying that He shows me how to be a good steward of it, to cherish and protect it.

My life has been without much margin for so long, that I am wondering what it might look like. In my case, I think it might have something to do with continuing to be very intentional with time and resources. We have been forced by circumstances to be intentional with time and resources and I think God wants us to continue in that.

I’m pondering allowing adequate, realistic amounts of time to accomplish my responsibilities. I’m thinking about very intentionally directing any excess resources. I’m contemplating rest as a non-negotiable component of our lives.

So, God, You have me getting ready for some margin. Bring it on!

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Embracing Obscurity: A Book Review

When Joey, Tim and I went to the National Desiring God Conference in September, we naturally picked up a LOT of new reading material. Some of these books we purchased and some we were given. When I got home, I thought that I would delve into some of the books I had intentionally acquired, but the one I ended up finishing first was a freebie: Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous. This book was, indeed, penned anonymously by an author who claims that “we’re intoxicated with a desire to be known, recognized, appreciated, and respected” and that “our intoxication draws us away from our Maker and His mission.”

So, what did I think about this book? Well, there were some things I liked:

1. I think that the topic is exceptionally timely. Everywhere I look, I see people striving to be “better known” or more influential, especially, especially on the internet;

2. The author constructed a very interesting chart comparing Christ’s disposition of humility vs. Satan’s disposition of pride and their subsequent outcomes;

3. There is an emphasis on God’s ultimate, eternal significance (vs. a temporary, fading significance) that we receive when we join our lives to His and that there’s a difference between feeling significant because we are needed or because we can do something for someone and being significant because God delights in us–in us, not what we can do for Him;

4. There is also acknowledgment that in the trenches of “little sufferings” (demotions, hard breaks, layoffs, menial jobs, etc.), we learn to “defer to God our dreams of being well-known, respected, and admired.”

There were also a couple of things that I didn’t like:

1. I am used to the casual language of blog posts. I do not like to hear that “blog voice” coming from the pages of a book. It was very distracting to me and I felt like the message was diluted at times by this informal presentation;

2. I am very wary of the promotion of any one course of action being more spiritual than any other course of action. Perhaps this was not the author’s intention, but I got the feeling that I should be preferring obscurity over (worldly) significance by the time I finished the book. The bottom line for me is that I want to be embracing Jesus Christ, by God’s grace. Then I am able to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. His voice will let me know what He wants me to do, whether that involves obscurity or notoriety.

So, if you are exhausted because you are striving for significance in some area of your life, this book might offer some practical help. Otherwise, I did not consider this one of the top reads of my year. And, now…on to the next book!

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The Happy Day Project #15: Fluff Something for Summer

Okay, I’m going to take liberties with Alicia’s Happy Day Project Challenge from last week over at La Famille. I think the general idea was to fluff something in my home, perk up our living space a little for summer. But, I haven’t been in my home since she issued the challenge BECAUSE I’ve been perking up my spirit at the Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference. And let me just say, I have been perked!

Amelia and Stephen made all of the arrangements for me to attend the conference at which one of my favorite authors (John Piper) spoke and my favorite musicians (the Gettys) sang. The teaching was spectacular. Just amazing. The music was out-of-this-world (as in, heavenly!). The fellowship was sweet.

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Yes, to put it mildly, my spirit has been “fluffed,” refreshed, perked.

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Another Art Night in Music

On our regularly-scheduled Art Night, we had the privilege of hearing Calvary Bible College‘s touring singing group, Evidence. This was a treat on a lot of levels. First, Clara’s good friend, Bekah, sings with the group and it was nice to see her, again. Second, the singing was phenomenal. I mean really, really inspiring. And, third, we got to hear Gracia Burnham speak. Hearing her was such an encouragement to me.

When someone who has experienced what she has experienced stands before me and says that many people also find themselves on paths that they don’t want to be on that are just as real as the jungle path she was forced to tread, it feels like the tough times of the past two-and-a-half years are somehow validated as being the trials they truly were. Sometimes I feel that there are certain trials that are more “honored” than others in Christian communities, more supported, more “real” than other trials. Yes, I was greatly encouraged by Gracia Burnham’s message.

Which brings me to something that I have thought about nearly every day since I read it:

How is this love…is something that i’ve struggled with since ian’s accident. i vividly remember a conversation with steve in the kitchen about my struggle with seeing a brain injury as an act from a loving, sovereign god. when i strip away what has been produced as a result of ian’s accident, be it forms of sanctification, answered prayers, etc., and just look at the bare bones- that my husband has a horrible, life-changing brain injury- it feels nothing like love. ian’s brain injury itself hasn’t brought me comfort, or encouragement or anything else that would typically come with love.

for others out there reading who have experienced significant loss or ongoing disability, hopefully you can affirm, that this seems like it will be a life-long wrestling with what this trial “feels” like. i know in my head the truth of romans 8:28 that all things work together for good. i know that god is sovereign. i know that we are objects of his mercy and love, and not his wrath, because of what christ accomplished on the cross. but trying to get that to my heart when i get home at 4:00 and ian doesn’t remember that i was gone at work all day (which happens on occasion) is an entirely different monster. living with an ongoing disability as significant as ian’s will in turn, i know, produce beautiful fruit and eternal rewards. i know that we most rapidly become like christ when we are tested by fire. it’s just really painful getting there.

“But before I go, I want once more to tell you how good He is, how blessed it is to suffer with Him, how infinitely happy He has made me in the very hottest heat of the furnace. It will strengthen you in your trails to recall this my dying testimony. There is no wilderness so dreary but that His love can illuminate it, no desolation so desolate but that He can sweeten it. I know what I am saying. It is no delusion. I believe that the highest, purest happiness is known only to those who have learned Christ in sickrooms, in poverty, in racking suspense and anxiety, amid hardships, and at the open grave…To learn Christ, this is life!”” elizabeth prentiss

This is from the blog Pray for Ian. Perhaps many of you have read this blog, especially following the video clip that John Piper posted on Desiring God. One thing I appreciate about some bloggers is their ability to be trusting enough of their readers to be transparent and honest. I am not at that point in my blogging, but I hope that some day I can encourage others like Gracia Burnham and Ian and Larissa.

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