The statistics on people who read books on a regular basis after high school/college are concerning. There is so much to learn, there is so much to experience, there is so much to be comforted by or challenged by that we are ignoring. Too often our pursuits in life tend toward what makes me comfortable instead of what will challenge me or change me for the better. In January I challenged myself (and you!) to read more and I set out to include books that would inspire me to be a better Christian/wife/mother/friend. I hope you will join me on this journey. It hasn’t been easy, in fact it took me all of January and most of February to read the first book because life became a bit overwhelming, so I skipped reading my February choice but instead of condemning myself or giving up all together I kept on going and I’m so glad I did! I also have divided how many pages I need to read daily in order to finish by the end of the month, a daily discipline that enhances my life.
The book for March is Undaunted by Christine Caine. I love the way she writes because it feels very conversational which makes it easy to read. Most importantly, I am only a few pages in and already my heart has been gripped by her story and her passion, her willingness to push herself beyond the fear and place of comfort and live a life of effectiveness. She doesn’t just talk about helping others, she spends her life actually doing something to help others and it is changing the lives of many men, women and children who are victims of trafficking. This passion of hers is contagious, start reading this book and become infected by it!
I want to invite you to join my book club! Its not fancy, its not Oprah, its just a great way to get yourself reading and stretching your brain! I have picked out 12 books for the year 2017, they are from a variety of topics and authors all of which I think you will enjoy! We will start reading on January 5, 2017 and on January 30 I will post some brain stimulating questions about the book and you can leave your comments and/or questions, tell me your thoughts, feelings and what you got out of the book.
Let’s make 2017 our year for growth!
There have been a few very kind people reminding me that “change can be good!”. Of course my head knows this is true and even my heart is whispering an affirmation of that statement, my emotions however are a little slower to get on board. This morning I was in a meeting and my face, I’m pretty sure, communicated a calm demeanor but my leg that kept bouncing up and down under the table said something totally different. That darn leg betrayed my inability to control my emotions! But we can discuss that another day…. What I really want to share is a scripture that has been rolling around in my spirit since I’ve started meditating on this process of change, and that is Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Three things stand out to me in that verse
1. Behold, wake up! Pay attention! (God snapping his fingers). I know that so often God is trying to get my attention but I am too caught up in and distracted by my fears, my plans, and my entertainments. I think often about God teaching Moses that he speaks in a “still,small voice”, and I think, for the most part, that is how God communicates to us, quietly, in stillness so that we are forced to stop, be still and listen in order to hear him speak. But I think also that there are moments and messages that are so important that God has to boldly get our attention, when the Angels brought the message that Jesus had been born to the shepherds, ” behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…” And before Jesus ascended to heaven, ” …and behold, I am with you always…”, these were messages too important to be missed. The same is true with Isaiah 43:19, the message that God is doing something new is a crucial one, one that we need to hear and to heed. God is always doing something new and we need to be looking for and be expectant of it. It is when we get comfortable in the routine and the mundane that we begin to get off course and miss what God is doing. Behold, I do a new thing…
2. “…will you not know it?” Whose responsibility is it to find out what new thing God is doing? This portion of the scripture tells me that it’s mine. Will you not know it? God is asking you a question, are you going to do what it takes to find out what I am doing? Will you do the research to find what the heart of God is? When we understand the heart of God it’s easier to figure out the plan of God. Psalm 103:7 speaks to this subject, “He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the children of Israel.” God showed Moses his ways, how, when, where, why, the children of Israel only saw his acts, what he did after/as he was doing them. What was the difference? Intimacy. Moses had an intimate relationship with God. The bible, in Exodus 33:11, says that Moses spoke to God face to face, he had a face to face conversation in a time when people were afraid of God. In order for us to know the new thing God is going tp do we must spend face to face time with him.
3. ” …I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” I don’t know what you’re going through but I do know that somehow God can make an impossible situation possible. He cam make what looks like it’s dead come back to life, he can change the heart of your spouse, bring your estranged child back, provide finances, a job, a home a car. God, can, God has, God will! “…with man this is impossible, with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
So we must all learn to not just embrace change but seek it out. Gods word and his character always stays the same but what he is doing in our heart and in our life and in our world is going to have a newness, a freshness to it so that we are not tempted to stop growing, stop searching and keep seeking!
Am I my brothers keeper?Sometimes keeping a friends secret is not the right thing to do. It is TRUTH that sets people free, not silence. Sometimes the right thing to do is to tell a pastor, a teacher, a parent or a spouse. But, you say, I might get them “in trouble”. You might, or you might expose them and their situation to someone who can help, someone who knows what to do, someone who has the resources and wherewithal to help them fix it or at least walk with them out of their darkness and into the light. Because that’s the thing, anything that is hidden in the darkness, grows, strengthens and festers. What starts out as a personality “quirk”, a destructive habit or a dangerous flirtation, can turn into a full blown addiction/bondage/downward spiral.
I’m not saying that we should be blabbing everyone’s business everywhere, social media is full of too much of that already. What I am saying is that the next time someone comes to you and says “I need to tell you something but only if you promise to keep it a secret”, don’t give them that promise. The next time someone displays behavior that you know in your gut is wrong or hurtful or destructive,and you don’t know what to do, say something, go to someone, find help. It could be the kindest most loving thing you can do.
So, what do you think? Are you your brothers keeper?
I have to reinvent myself. The person I’ve been is no longer enough. Enough, I’m not even sure that’s the right word. But definitely the person I’ve been is not meeting expectations, the expectations of others as well as my own. But how does a person reinvent them self? How do you go from living your life one way and then switch to a completely different way? How do you pull a high paying career out of a background of “stay at home mom”? And it’s not just that, there are so many other expectations; be athletic, be thin, be young, cook healthy, delicious meals, keep the house clean, have life long friends that you have deep and meaningful conversations with, take care of your aging parents, be involved at church, reach out to your unsaved friends, have a hobby, support your husbands dreams, follow your passion, be there for your kids, dance like no ones watching, have a vibrant marriage, take time to smell the roses. Oh, and don’t forget to deal with your own emotional baggage, forgive your enemies, read your bible, pray, turn the other cheek….
So, how does someone reinvent them self? Yeah, I don’t know either. But it looks like I will be finding out. And I will admit, I am someone who is reluctant to change. I don’t like risk, I like caution. I like security, safety and predictability. If you asked me where I wanted to go for lunch, any where at all, I would probably tell you Panera, and I would order the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad. My fave. Reluctant. To. Change. Definitely me. But I don’t think that I’m alone in that, in fact Esther comes to mind. You know, Esther, yeah that Esther. The one that saves her people from being destroyed, the one that was born “for such a time as this”. I know what you’re thinking, no way does someone who orders the same salad over and over have anything in common with someone who risked her life to save her people. But if you remember, she was reluctant too, she tried to excuse herself from it. In Esther 4, Mordecai was fasting in sackcloth and ashes and Esther sent him clothes with the message please stop, stop drawing attention to yourself. He reminded her that she was in the perfect position to do something about it and she deferred, she shrank back, she gave an excuse, she all but said no. You know the rest, God used her to stop the evil Hamaan and save her people. So despite her reluctance, despite her desire, (and yes I probably am reading a little into it), to settle in to her life and routine as the wife of the king she “reinvented herself”. She was brave when she had been timid, she put herself in the spotlight when she could have safely sat in the shadows. And here is something else that I noticed when she made the decision to reinvent herself, in Esther 4:15 she sent Mordecai this message, “…go and gather all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days night or day. My maids and I will do the same”. She asked for those around her, as many as possible, to fast and pray for her. She knew this was not something she could do on her own, this kind of responsibility and change of focus wasn’t something she could pull off. She needed the support of those who knew and loved her. She needed faithful prayers to an all powerful God that could move on her behalf. So, as I make these changes, as I push forward into the terrifying unknown, I will be asking those that are near and dear to me to pray for me, fast even. Because this is not something I can do alone.