Blue stained wood with crimson carnations

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review: "A Lasting Impression"

This review contains some spoilers. Read with caution! ;)

"A Lasting Impression" A Belmont Mansion Novel by: Tamera Alexander

I should probably make a full disclosure right up front- I'm a Tamera Alexander devotee. I love her books! I love her writing style, her characters, the way she uses words and the way she seamlessly weaves in a Spiritual theme without making it forced and preachy.
I along with other devotees have been waiting for 2 years (2 years!) for this book to come out and with waiting so long I was afraid I was putting too much into my expectations and hopes for what I would read when I finally opened it up. I was afraid I would be disappointed, but ya know what? I wasn't. Not even a little bit!
Yet again Tamera Alexander has outdone herself.

The book is the story of nineteen year old Claire Laurent a painter who forges masterpieces for her father's art gallery in New Orleans. Claire aspires to paint and display her own work and knows what her father is asking/demanding of her is wrong but finds no way out especially now that her mother is dead. Through a series of circumstances Claire finds herself alone and fleeing New Orleans bound for Nashville. When she arrives she finds herself with no place to stay and takes refuge for the night in a church. That one decision changes the rest of Claire's life. The pastor and his wife help Claire and before she knows it she not only has a job with the prominent widow Mrs. Adelicia Acklen of Belmont mansion (as her personal assistant) but she is falling for Mrs. Acklen's handsome- but unavailable- property manager and attorney Sutton Monroe. Claire relishes the fresh start and chance to prove herself but finds herself looking over her shoulder wondering if her past is going to catch up with her.

One question that Claire is faced with as she takes her first halting steps into a life of faith is one that becomes the capstone of the book. The still small voice in Claire asks: "Would you paint if you knew you were painting only for Me?"  It is a striking and poignant question that begs the reader to ask it of themselves. Would you continue to do or exercise your gift or passion if you were only doing it for God and His pleasure? Would you do it if you received no glory or praise or admiration for it but only the pleasure of the knowledge that it was pleasing to God? It's a question that hits me right where I live and has made me think.

One nit-pick I did have with the book is with some of the art pieces described and discussed in the book. Several of them are nudes or semi-nudes such as Ruth Gleaning and I must question whether it belongs in a Christian book? I believe not...

Two other notes about this book I'd like to make- first: with Sutton's story line I learned several things about Reconstruction in the South after the war that I didn't know. I was shocked to learn that the North actually took away peoples property- that had been in the family for generations- seemingly simply as punishment for their 'rebellion'. It has piqued my interest in the subject and I intend to study up on the subject! Second: From following TA's blog I knew she was a member of Bible Study Fellowship the same Bible Study I myself attend in my own area. Last year we studied the book of Isaiah and throughout this book I can see how bits of it rubbed off in her work. It was a delightful suprise and a reminder of what I learned last year!    

For readers new to Tamera Alexander's books I encourage you to pick up and start with this one as it is the first in the new "Belmont Mansion Novels" series. And I must say that I for one am eager to see where she goes from here and hope I don't have another two year wait!

From beginning to end "A Lasting Impression" lives up to it's name and is a real treat. It's characters are real and warm and relatable with real problems and real growth over the course of the book. It made me laugh and cry and think. It is not to be missed for any reader of historical fiction who enjoys a well crafted tale with heart, humor and romance!

Rating: 4.5 stars!

I recieved a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review: "Behind the Veils of Yemen"

A while back I found out that Bethany House publishers have a cool program where you can sign up to get books from them in exchange for an honest review on the product.
To a book lover like me it sounded like heaven!
So now from time to time I'll be posting reviews of the books I've selected to read.

We will begin with: "Behind the Veils of Yemen: How an American Woman Risked Her Life, Family and Faith to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women" by Audra Grace Shelby.

To begin: When we consider the title of the book- or more specifically the subtitle- a myriad of questions spring to mind.
*Why would an American family go to Yemen as missionaries?
*How were they put into life threatening situations?
*How was her faith risked? and
*How did she reach out and reach behind those veils?
Those questions along with the cover art immediately drew me in and made me eager to discover what was inside. Unfortunately, by the time I reached the end I really wasn't sure what to make of what I had just read and I can't say I had any of my questions answered satisfactorily.

In the first two chapters of the book we are introduced to several different story lines. As the book opens Audra and her family are flying to the Middle East to begin their missionary journey. The story then jumps back to Audra's response to her husband feeling God's call to overseas missions- in Yemen. We discover that although she was raised on the mission field she is incredulous that God would be calling her husband- and her- to that as well. She resents this new direction and digs in her heels not wanting to follow her husband or God. When she finally 'gives in' it seems it is still with gritted teeth- an attitude I think continues in different ways throughout the book. From there the narrative again jumps, forward a bit, to the Shelby's missionary board candidacy interview where Audra's husband suddenly and unexplainable falls gravely ill. Audra is sent into a tailspin of doubt and anger with God, not understanding what is happening and why. As Audra prays in the hospital chapel she has a vision of God saying her prayers will be answered so she returns to her husband's bedside where he begins to improve. While I firmly believe that God speaks to us through His word and that 'still small voice' I don't know that today He reveals Himself literally as she seems to describe. For me it was rather uncomfortable reading such an 'experience'.
Overall, I'm not sure what this beginning part of the book is meant to convey and how it adds or becomes pertinent to the rest of the story as she only relates them as pre-events and not as a real means to say this is how God changed my heart and led us to his will for our future.

The next section of the book is chapters 3-10 and focus on an 18 month period where the Shelby's are in language school. Audra takes lessons with a newly married young local women, Fatima. This section, which is the bulk of the book, follows Fatima and Audra's relationship. They shop together; attend a Muslim wedding (where the men and women never meet and celebrate separately); they visit other women together and deal with Fatima's marriage, extended family and sick newborn problems together. Sometimes her attempts at influencing Fatima are good. When she discovers Fatima's husband is addicted to pornography -a vice that hurts his wife deeply- she reacts as any of us would condemning the action as wrong for any husband of any culture. When Fatima's first child is born with health issues that would be treatable here in the US but was ignored and passed over with a promise that if Allah willed the child would get better Audra is appaled. The diagnosis (or lack of one)breaks both women's hearts and for the first time Fatima opens up and asks Audra to pray for her son because she believes in the power of and behind her prayers.                 
This middle part of the book is mostly filled with stories that touch the reader as you get glimpses into the life of a Muslim women and wonder at the hopelessness and bondage of a culture against Christ.

The final four chapters of the book center around the Shelby's finishing language school and beginning over in their permanent city of ministry before going back to the States for Audra to give birth to their fourth child.   

When I finished the book I thought "Behind the Veils of Yemen" read more like a excerpts from a personal journal than a inspiring missionary story. To begin with it isn't until the publishers note at the very back of the book that we begin to understand who Audra Grace Shelby is. From the beginning of the book we are thrown into her story without knowing or understanding any of her background that led her to this point in her life. Even after making plain her fighting to stay 'home' we are never given the whole story on how she and her husband came to the decision to go to the field. Once on the field we never settle into her life there and only get snippets of how her family functioned in a very foreign land.  Through the course of the book it is never explained how Audra befriended the women she met/ministered to until the end when we learn it was through sewing- a detail that would have made so much more sense if explained earlier.    
Also, Audra's attempts at sharing the Gospel and influencing Fatima with Western thinking often come off heavy handed (for lack of a better term) and she scares Fatima off in the beginning. Audra seems to expect instant results and that bothered me. Shouldn't a missionary know ministry on a field like this one is a long term thing where you build bit by bit? Also troubling to me was her seeming forgetfulness/lack of knowledge of some cultural customs that led to roadblocks. It made me wonder if they had been properly prepared for immersion into the culture. On the other hand I was suprised at her acceptance of customs like wearing the hejab and balto (cloak) which are religous symbols of Islam and mark her as being a subject of the very false religon that wars against Christianity. I believe she could have dressed in a completely modest way, giving deference to the culture, without compromising her own religous beliefs- and I wonder at the mission board (assumably) asking this of her.

In the end I felt that "Behind the Veils of Yemen" was not about any of the things I was promised in the title/subtitle. While I did learn a little more about Middle Eastern women this story isn't about these women- it's about Audra. Much of the story I was supposed to get is eclipsed by Audra's fighting God, Audra's fighting the culture, Audra's crises of faith,
and Audra's family's multiple health crises. It leaves the reader wondering where is Audra's relationship with God? Where is Audra showing He makes a difference as she reaches out to these Yemeni women?  Where is the hope that sharing Christ should bring? And what was/has been the fruit if the Shelby's labour?
"Behind the Veils of Yemen" causes the reader to ask many questions but leaves them with answers to few of them.

Final Rating: Two Stars  (out of five)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Western GOP Debate

If you know know me at all you probably know that I am a passionate political observer. Day to day I keep abreast on local, national and world politics and I enjoy giving my opinion (through Biblical worldview glasses) on just about any story you come across- just ask me and you'll make my day!

With the 2012 presidential race heating up and the GOP candidates debating on a regular basis I thought it would be helpful to have a record of sorts on what was discussed and what I thought of each persons performance and the substance of their message. I will be 'live blogging' tonight and for each of the successive debates to follow. I hope that this process is helpful to you too as you put your brain in gear and bow your heart in prayer. This is possibly the most important election of out time and how you vote in it matters, take the time now to get to know your choices!

I will assume that you are familure with who is running and with that assumption in mind I am going to be using abbreviations for each of the candidates names. If you have questions about how I have abbreviated something just ask... :)

Here we go!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Imperfection, Hindsight and The Single Girl

I've been in a mood today.

Yes, me, in a mood! Today was just one of those days where I felt like 'Will you people just get out of my way?!-- I have stuff to do--- I have plans and I'm not getting anything done!'

Now, don't look at me like that- you've had a day or two like that too I bet!

But tonight when I sat down to check all my email and news feeds what did I find waiting for me but a post from one of my favorite blogger-author-spiritual thinkers Jasmine Baucham. I eagerly clicked through to her post to see what words of wisdom awaited me this time always...found myself struck, humbled and starting over at square one.

Jasmine's question was a simple one- "What would have happened if you got married at nineteen?" but it stopped me cold in my tracks. So much has happened to me since I was nineteen that if I was married then I think my life would be radically different now.

If I was Married at Nineteen:
  • I would have been right on track with my timetable and planning a wedding not planning to go to culinary school (apprenticeship).
  • At twenty I wouldn't be learning endurance and graduating with a group of people I still call family.
  • At twenty-one I wouldn't be learning patience and helping to take care of my dying father.
  • At twenty- two I wouldn't be learning Jesus is the light in your darkest self-dug pit.
  • At twenty- three I wouldn't be starting in Bible Study Fellowship (Matthew) and learning Jesus requires of us obedience and understands all our weaknesses and struggles because as a man He experienced all we experience.  
  • At twenty- four I wouldn't be available to give my Gran the care she needed after her four-broken-fingers accident and I wouldn't have the opportunity to devote my summer to reading and studying.
  • At twenty- five I made big plans- for my life, for my business, for my personal habits but I learned in John (ch.11, again BSF) that just because Jesus delays in answering our requests (demands!) that it doesn't mean He's forgotten about us- it just means He has a bigger and better plan then we can see.
  • At twenty-six I wouldn't be writing a letter that set a church on fire and contributed to uprooting people from a cancerous body; I wouldn't be able to 'redeem' my (business) time in the kitchen continuing to voraciously devour audio books and every single Vision Fourm lecture and conference I could get my hands on increasing my knowledge of church history and theology.  
  • At twenty seven He wouldn't be teaching me to be humble and that I am to trust Him when I have nothing just as much as I trusted Him when I had (fairly) good health, good finances and good business prospects.

Next month I turn twenty-eight. (Twenty-Eight!) I am well aware, much like Jasmine, that the person I am today has been shaped month-by-month, day-by-day by the events, lessons, teaching and actions that I have experienced. I'm sure that if I had married at nineteen God would have gone about His teaching/sanctification process of me with different events, lessons, teaching and actions, He could have chosen to teach me the things I have learned, to grow me, to mature me in a different way. The daily life of a wife and mother way... In my minds eye I can see the brood of children daily gathered around me. Jam stained faces, piles of phonics books and a smattering of Character Studies flash cards, family dinner prep and mealtime....

However, I didn't marry at nineteen or twenty or twenty-one or twenty-seven- didn't even have the chance too....

What I have gained in this 'waiting time' is more precious though. It's more precious because it was His choice for me. All the things I have learned have been taught at His good pleasure to do so. He chose to teach me! He chose to mould me!

At twenty-seven I'm so much more me now then I ever was at nineteen.

Right now I'm enjoying growing (mostly :) ) and I don't plan on stopping- even if the next year or two brings something different along my path. Right now, with God's grace, I'll keep quoting with Jasmine:

"Keep from me Thy loveliest creature, till I prove Jesus' love infinitely sweeter." ~Charles Wesley, Written during his courtship with Sarah Wesley.

And, while I'm at it, I hope I learn how to have fewer moody days...   

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

This morning my alarm set off my radio at 8:15am. Through the heavy blanket of sleep the voice of a reporterette pierced my semi-aware consciousness with the words 'There has been an explosion at the World Trade Center'.
What?! my inner voice said.
Wake up! You have to wake up now! What is she saying? My voice continued as I hauled myself to an upright position. I remembered the terror alert that had been issued last night I began to pray and say 'God, no! Not again!'  I forced myself to focus and focused in on what was pouring out of my radio as the woman's voice changed to another reporter's, a newscaster's and sounds off the streets as an explosion reverberated through the airwaves.
My brain finally caught up. Thank you God! It's just footage. It's not real.

Not real.

Except that it is.
This morning it was not real, not happening again but it did happen and ten years ago it was very real.

After taking a few moments to wake up more fully I went to my bookshelf and rummaged for only a moment before setting my hand on a oddly patterned grey and blue and mauve colored spiral bound hardback notebook. I crawled back onto my bed and traveled back into time. Opening to the first entry I didn't need to look to know the date carefully and neatly penned at the top.
"September 11, 2001  For a long time now I have been wanting to start a journal because I have been learning how important it is to keep a record for future generations. Today something horrible happened to our country which I feel the need to record. At 8:42am this morning terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York City by flying a hijacked plane into one of the two towers. We had the radio on in the kitchen when the news broke and we went and turned on the TV to watch and see what was happening. Then at 9:03am as we watched this streak came across the screen and hit the second tower and there was a huge explosion which was very frightening....Everyone here was speechless....I could not believe it and all I could think of was all the people that had just died or were dying with no hope of escape...."

I finished reading the entry that detailed the entire day's events and set the book aside. I went about by morning routine and just couldn't seem to shake the feeling of dread that had jolted me awake. My inside voice decided that I just needed to turn on the news to see that everything was fine and then I could move on with my day. I obligingly flipped on Fox News and quickly sunk down into the nearest chair as the unmistakable tones of Ronan Tynan blared through the still darkened living room. He was singing "God Bless America" and for the second time today I was sucked backwards in time. For those who don't have a road map to my mind here's the thing... Ronan Tynan was a member of the group The Irish Tenors who I loved in my teen years- and still hold a great fondness for. One of the things I'll never forget the week following the attacks when there was a memorial at Yankee Stadium. Ronan was one of  of the featured performers and sung "God Bless America" to thunderous approval. This morning his clear tones again rung out doing justice to the soaring words. See it here.

The next program to come on my radio this morning again began to cover the anniversary of 9/11 as well and more and more remembrances and emotions began churning in me. The thing is, although the remembering and the emotions are painful to feel all over again I don't want to push them away I want to remember.
9/11 is a day of horror but it is also a day of hero's and hope and I don't want to forget any aspect of that day. Today we live in a world that is entirely different than the world we lived in on 9/10/01 and only those of us who were there on both sides of the dateline can act as witnesses. We cannot forget. We are the ones who can tell what it was like before. We are the ones who can tell what it was like that day. We are the ones who can explain why we are different today. There are children today who don't know and there are ones who are born day by day who must be told. If we stay silent because it hurts less not to relive that day then we allow that pain to control us, we allow those terrorists to control us.
As I reflect I am reminded of my younger self (and current self) who asked grandparents about the wars they experienced and lived through. I wanted to understand but I was never given satisfactory answers when I asked those questions. I don't want to repeat that when cycle when someday my children and grandchildren ask me about 9/11. I want to tell the truth. I don't have or want to live in the past- but 'those who don't know the past are doomed to repeat it' and I don't know about you but I don't want them to repeat it.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are real.
We lived them.
We mourned them.
We changed because of them.
We rose above them.

Perhaps if you haven't before then this year on the tenth anniversary it's time to sit down with your own journal and write about that day.

Perhaps it's time to answer the question that still hangs in the air and that future generations will echo: "Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Will you come with me?

Well friends, the post I've been working on all week has been eaten by Blogger.
I'm crushed.
There is really nothing I can do about it but hope that there's been some internal glitch and in a day or two it will pop back up. I hope it will but...well, we'll see...

In it's place I give you next weeks post.

About four years ago I became involved with a wonderful women's Bible study called Bible Study Fellowship. Known fondly as BSF this study was originally begun in 1952 by Audrey Wetherell Johnson. Last summer I read Miss Johnson's biography and she was an amazing woman! As a young woman she felt God calling her to the mission field and and eventually ended up in China. Miss Johnson loved the Chinese people and intended to devote her life to giving them the gospel. During WWII Miss Johnson found herself and her fellow missionaries in a Japanese internment camp. When the war ended and the prisoners were released Miss Johnson planned to resume her work but sometimes our intentions are not God's plans. The Chinese Communists came in and forced out all Christian workers.

After a while Miss Johnson ended up in California. She still wanted to be used of God and planned to find another mission field but God sent one to her instead. A group of women came and asked her if she would teach them the Bible- she agreed on the basis that she wouldn't spoon feed them and they would learn to dig deep into God's Word. That small group grew and grew and became established as Bible Study Fellowship.

BSF has always had a large impact on my life. As a child my mom attended the class and I attended along with her- in the children's program and I loved going. I always told Mom that someday when I grew up I was coming back to BSF.
In 2007 I did just that.
At that time I was not in a good church and was in desperate need of spiritual nourishment. I didn't know where to go or what I was going to do- and then I did. I was going back to BSF.

That decision changed everything for me. Suddenly I was amongst a wonderful group of ladies who all had the same goal- to dig deep into the Word and know God better and I was not just being fed but wanting to find that nourishment myself. That year I learned that passages I'd studied all my life were new and God was speaking to me through them. Whether it was Matthew or The Life of Moses or John or Isaiah God has had something to say to me each year and I've learned so much!

BSF's study methods are four pronged: Personal study, Small group sharing, Large group exposition and Explanatory notes. But if you come to the Intro class (the first week of each month) you'll learn all about that- and more!

My reason in telling you all this, dear friend, is that the time for class to begin again is coming soon and I would like to extend my personal invitation for you to join me. This year we will be studying the book of Acts (or as the old timers tell me: The Life and Letters of Paul). I'm so looking forward to it and would love to have you there with me as well, will you join me? If you are here in the area you won't have to go far- we are blessed to have a class right here in Wadsworth! Click here for the address. If you are one of my further afield friends this link will direct you to finding out if there is a class in your area. (I bet there is!) Here in Wadsworth our first day will be September 14th, class is from 9:15-11:15 AM. If you have any other questions comment and let me know- I am always eager to talk about BSF!

So, my friend, will this be the year that your life changes too? Does God have something specific to say to you this year? Will you open your heart and make time to hear Him?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

American Duchess Shoe Give Away!

Thanks to the wonderful Sense & Sensibility Patterns company the other day I was alerted that the historical costuming designer American Duchess is having a give away! So, in order to have a chance at winning a pair of these beauties I'm posting them here!


Really, who wouldn't want a pair of these?

"The Devonshires are a leather 18th century shoe based on museum examples from the 1760s through 1780s.  They're made of top-grade dyable leather, with a beautiful, smooth Italian leather sole for dancing, and are hard-wearing, water- and mud-proof, for even the toughest of outdoor re-enactments.

Pre-Order the Devonshires through August 10, and get the special $100 price.  We're only making 200 of these shoes, so don't miss the chance to own one of only a couple hundred pair on the planet!  Visit to order."

We will now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Learning Curve...

I'm not sure if it's me or Blogger but I have been having a lot of trouble with my formatting today. It may be me as I pasted my post into Word to check it over then back again- it was then that my troubles started...
Anyway, this is just a little raised flag to say I really hope you are seeing my posts as they should be seen! Please let me know if you aren't!

I will grow up...

The other day I came across one of my favorite quotes- on that I haven’t seen a long while and it got me thinking. Of course this deep thinking had to come to me about 6 AM on the short semi-awake trip between my bed and returning to my bed... Anyway- here it is and here are a few of the thoughts that my fully awake brain later pondered...
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." -e.e. cummings
Ya it's one of those... At least for me it's a Wow...
You know, it's a thought that seems innocuous but when you stop and look at what was really said it makes you disillusioned at how you actually measure up?
Confused? Let me explain.

Thinky thought one- "Grow up"
Grow up. It's one of those things that we all have to do. Some do it early, some late, some... are incorrigible. But the thought remains we do grow up. 1 Corinthians 13:11 says "When I was a child I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man I did away with childish things." There is a time each of us has to leave behind what we did and thought and reasoned and spoke when we were children. It's called maturity. But I'll get to that in a minute. What else does Scripture have to say about growing up? In Ephesians 4 Paul talks about "walking in a manner worthy of [our] calling" (v1) and is instructing us on how we are one body with separate gifts and these gifts are for service, equipping us to build the body. Our gifts are "to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to Christ." In other words, mature men are about mature men's business and have a standard (Christ) to which they measure and seek to attain. So, Calling>Equipping Gifts>Standard by Which we Measure Accomplishment of Calling. Got it? Paul goes on and in verse 14 says: 

"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ."
Ahh! Ok, here is the 'child' vs. 'growing up' thing. Children are "tossed to and fro" by every wave of 'new' doctrine that comes along their path. Children can be tricked by deceivers or schemes. Grown-ups are the opposite. They have firm footing. They know sound doctrine. They have discernment and can see trickery, craftiness and deceitful scheming of men. Grown-ups have learned how to get past the veneer and get to the hard truth of a matter and lovingly speak to people about Christ being our standard in all things.
So how do we become grown-up? How do we go from reasoning and thinking like a child to leaving childish things behind? Well, I'm glad you asked because that's my second point!

Thinky thought two- "become who you really are"
Just saying "become who you really are" sounds like an impossible task.
The thing is, it's not entirely up to us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." Now that's a sentence I want to put an exclamation point after!! If we are believers we already have taken step one- we have had an old corrupt life and Christ has exchanged it for new life in Him. He has "begun a good work in us." We are now new creations. We are in that first stage of growth, that newborn stage. 1 Peter 2:2 says: "Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow." Our first source for nourishment is the Word. But we don't stop there, we mature. After we take in the milk we begin to build on that with meat. 

"But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" ~Hebrews 5:14

This is the maturity I was getting to- maturity is a big part of being grown-up. Maturity requires training, practice, discipline- that's our part (through His strength). It's difficult but its yields are the grounding in doctrine and teaching from a heart of love that we talked about earlier.
My point is this: "who you really are" is the person Christ really wants you to become. We become Christians but too often don't think about the outworking of Christian our lives, you know- how our 'faith' impacts our lives- your faith is impacting your life, right? Once Christ starts changing us we should begin desiring more. More change, more meat, more maturity. If we are Christians striving for Christlikeness in our lives we shouldn't be just 'desiring God' but desiring to be who God wants us to be. 
This is the part where the Wow turns into a Whoa...
This is the true hard part...

Thinky thought three- "It takes courage"
We don't like having to be brave. Not a one of us. From the peas on our plate that mom says we have to eat to making decisions about our future to sitting down and having conversations that we never wanted to have because they are important conversations- bravery doesn't come naturally. But God does ask it of us, or rather- He commands it of us.  
Doesn’t it encourage your heart to read that with God's command he has also provided a promise? He says "For the Lord your God is with you where ever you go." He says be strong, be courageous, don't tremble and don't be dismayed- but he promises 'I will be with you everywhere'.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9
I will be with you when you take milk and when you learn to eat meat.
I will be with you when you learn sound doctrine.
I will be with you when you learn discernment.
I will be with you when you realize you want to become leave childish things behind and become mature.
I will be with you when you realize you want to be growing more like Me.
I will be with you when you pray about your future.
I will be with you when you witness or teach or mediate or speak the truth in love.

Now here's the thing, that Joshua verse we looked at- go look at it again-
Before we get to the promise or even the 'be courageous' command the verse kinda hangs on another command. To paraphrase it says: "Never stop reciting these teachings. You must think about them night and day so that you will faithfully do everything written in them. Only then will you prosper and succeed." (GWT). The 'teaching' he's talking about is Scripture- beginning to end. All our nourishment, all our growing-up, all our maturity is accomplished by Scripture and God working through that in our lives. It requires commitment from us. It means setting aside time for Bible study, devotions, reading books on doctrine and church history. It means being willing to teach others what we learn. It means making an effort to memorize verses. It means making an effort to get up early... (In case you were wondering- those last two were directed in the mirror!)
Putting away childish things is hard work.
Desiring to be who God wants me to be is hard work.
Acting courageously is hard work.
"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." 

But today I think it's a little easier because I know He's here with me through it...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Progress...

Well if you've been poking around here you have been seeing a bit of moving in dust! Gradually I'll be all moved in and ready to do some writing but for now I'm really enjoying playing with all the gadgets and arranging my space!
So label me "Coming Soon" and come back and see me soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To Boldly Go...

Ok, so I guess it's high time I entered the brave new world of blogging! ...Except, it's not so new and I'm kind of late to the party! ;) But I'm here and that's what counts!

Anyway, I plan to post what I'm thinking and studying and ruminating on and eating and you can expect to get a rant every now and again too but you get fair warning now- in all these things expect me to speak my mind. This is the real me here and my blog is a no holds barred zone for my thoughts. If you want to join in I love a good debate and welcome your respectful comments!

So it's nice to meet you blogging world!
Run for your life....