Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday's Sabbath {List Two}

The sunflowers hang heavy in the front flower beds while the sweet peas blaze bright pink in the softening autumn light.

We left church this morning and my heart was aching.

We eat lunch and while Tony lays on the floor watching football, I curl my body around his and sleep with my forehead pressed into his back.

There is much to prepare for the coming week, but for a hour or two I rest, pressed close to the one who shows me Christ's love and the ache that was there has eased a little.

And while I wait for the oven to heat, I'll slip over here and share what has been filling my book bag of late.

None Like Him ~ Jen Wilkin

I didn't really know what to expect from this book. I was born into the church before I was ever born again, and so there are times that I wrestle with thinking I've heard it all before. And while many of the truths in this small book are ones that I have lived my whole life knowing, they are presented in a way that rarely is in the church. How often are our eyes positioned fully onto God and His glory? How often do we hear sermons or read articles that end up focusing our eyes and our hearts and our minds on us. The glory and majesty of God is so much larger than we could ever fathom and this book here has been redirecting my selfish thinking and I'm so grateful.

(And if you would like to hear a glimpse of Mrs. Wilkin's thoughts on the way the Church tends to view scripture and present God - listen to this. I loved every minute of it and was so grateful for the tender and funny admonition.)

Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins ~ James Runcie

Apparently, this book series has been turned into a TV series ~ but I didn't know that until I read the back cover of this book just today, and I'm already halfway through these pages!  If you have been watching The Granchester Mysteries on PBS I would love to hear your thoughts. All I know is that when Autumn rolls around, my love of Mysteries comes out and these books set in 1964 London, England are the perfect fit to the darkening days and cooler air. If you love the Mitford Series, you would probably love the nosy and loving Curator as he tries to balance family, ministry and crime. I think the New York Times sums up this series the best:

The coziest of cozy murder mysteries...These stories present a 
consistently charming and occasionally cutting commentary on
a postwar landscape.  

The Hole in Our Holiness ~ Kevin deYoung

Tony and I spent my birthday out in a little house nestled in the quiet of an apple orchard. This house, during the school year, is used for one of the most beautiful ministries I have come across. During the quiet evenings we were there, I would slip down to the little coffee shop area where they had a wall full of books and this one caught my eye. I had mentioned to the wife of the director that I wanted to purchase it and she said she would bring it to church on a Sunday we would both be there. When she placed it in my hands, it was wrapped in a ribbon and she refused to take payment for it. This has proven to be a powerful gift that has both convicted and challenged me. This is another book that I am working through slowly, but I don't think it's meant to be rushed. I highly recommend this book to new and not-so-new believers.

The Holy Bible - ESV

This past month, I have found myself in the books of Isaiah, Philippians and now Romans and while I am still not a morning person, and probably never will be, the morning hours have solidly become my favorite time of day to spend within these pages.  I once listened to a sermon of John Piper's where he shared his prayer that he prayed before he ever opened the pages of scripture and I have begun to make it my own. It is something like this:

Lord, open your Word to speak to my heart
and open my heart to receive Your Word.

Most mornings, I have kids running around me, but most of the time, in all the sleepy chaos, He settles my heart and my mind to meet with Him there at my desk in the kitchen.

I'm including a link to the printable schedule here.

I also enrolled myself and Lyla, Olivia and Elias into a weekly BSF class and we're digging into the first portion of the book of John and this has become our Bible lessons that we use as we begin school each day. If you are part of a local BSF class, I would love to hear how you are doing! I've already loved being a part of this.

May your coming week be filled with Christ's steadfast love and faithfulness. May His peace surround you, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in. May the rest that He gives on this day be one that sustains you until the next.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

For the Golden Edges

Maybe it was the late arriving curriculum that put that pit right there in the center of my stomach.

I don't know.

All I know is that somehow, over the summer, my oldest daughter is now only 10 1/2 inches shorter than my 5'11".

She is all smiles about this,

but me?

Her small, downy head used to fit in the palm of my hand while her toes curled into the crook of my elbow. That's all I needed - one arm to support all 9 pounds of her and when did she unfurl into all arms and legs and emotions?  There are times when it feels like the whole of me can't be enough.

The pictures are all over Facebook and Instagram, those "first day of school" pictures with rosy cheeks and nervous smiles and brand new clothes and backpacks with zippers that are working. Even the homeschoolers join in the fun.

Only this year, I sat there shocked.

When did all of these children hit middle school? And high school? Even the sweet babies are now in kindergarten.

I'm on my porch in the early morning light this past Tuesday, putting food in the dog dish and I hear my name being called. Sleepy smiles greet me as they walk to middle school and these faces on the other side of the fence used to be so much younger. They used to be small.

When we started at Madison House just over 4 years ago this past August, the ones who spend their days in High School were the same ages as Lyla and Olivia are now.

4 years.

I'm sure I only blinked.

I used to inwardly groan when I heard the saying,

Enjoy it. It goes by so fast.

Only, a full decade plus of diapers feels slow moving in the middle of it, until the littlest one finally decides that she's a big girl who will do big girl things and while the Costco bill seems a bit lighter, I felt a certain wonder when I looked at Tony Saturday night and marveled: we bought diapers for 10 years and now we're done.


How did a decade go by that fast?

The leaves are beginning to turn golden around the edges and I find myself beginning to understand.

There is an ache in this mothering that I didn't even think of in those days of dreaming of these days before life ever lit up the dark spaces within me.

I'm sure I still don't understand it, and maybe I never will, but it's those leaves that Jesus is using to turn my eyes on to Him.

The years are growing shorter, no matter how much I long for it all to slow, but in the midst of vibrant life, it's the glowing, golden edges whispering of one season moving on to the next that is causing a tendering within me:

Let's not rush around the table,

let's linger over spelling lists and math problems and science experiments.

Let's read one more chapter in our read aloud because all of us snuggled together on the couch has us asking questions and imagining the sights and sounds of a time long passed.

Where there are struggles, let's slow and breathe and ask one another how we can give God glory right here in this moment where we want to give up, and then laugh, because the sound of someone blowing their nose really and truly is funny.

My little notebook has stayed closer than ever this past week. September comes and Fall's air already feels so different.

I don't want to miss the wonder of them, or this life that God has so graciously given to us.

I want to remember these days when only 10 1/2 inches separated my oldest girl and me.

31. Psalm 107
32. His Hope that lifts my eyes
33. Acts 14:22 ~ What my words should do
34. Slow dancing in the kitchen with Zee
35. The last of the farm fresh eggs
36. Clouds that whisper of Fall
37. 5:45am
38. Rain that fell through the night
39. A boy and his dog all curled up in sleep
40. Quiet hush before everyone wakes
41. Psalm 106
42. Isaiah 40:11
43. Apple muffins baking.

So teach us to number our days that
we may get a heart of wisdom. 
Psalm 90:12

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday's Sabbath {List One}

The light is shifting,

do you notice?

September begins to unfurl her colors and I just want to sit and whisper,


September makes me long for a slowing, even though I know acutely that with school beginning in just 2 short days the feeling to urge a rushing of small hearts will be strong and I will wrestle.


August holds days of heat and a rhythm that follows the tune of the unstructured.

It was lovely and good and needed.

And in the wild and lazy chaos of days to just be - to just paint, to just nap, to just do nothing at all, I felt the stirring of a desire for Sabbath.

Growing up, Sundays were for church and for napping and I hated the forced rest. When I fell in love with reading, I would sneak a book under my pillow and reach my fingers around those covers after the sounds of sleep filled the hallways and I would read until my eyes couldn't stay open anymore.

I'm still processing what Sabbath is to look like now as an adult with a choice, but I thought, no matter how silly it might be to put here, that Sundays could maybe be a day to slip a listing of books on screen of what I'm reading, so maybe you too might be able to still for a time - find a time of rest on this day that God has given as a gift.

Monday's Thankful List will be moved to Wednesday, because by Wednesday, my heart needs a reminder that there is joy in the very middle of the mundane and ordinary and that if I'm at the middle of the week, there is hope -Rest is coming.

It's rare for me to only read one book at a time - I tend to have 4 or 5 books going at once. I don't know if this is due to the digital age where attention span is short, or if it is the security blanket of the introverted. Regardless, I have a bag that is sagging and worn and within it's ripping seams sits a pile that weighs gloriously heavy on my shoulder.

So, without further ado, here is Sunday's Sabbath {List One}

How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, by Ken Ludwig.
This is a book I have been wanting to read for awhile, especially as our focus in both History and English will have some Shakespearean flair this year. I'm barely a third of the way in, but I am already encouraged and greatly inspired, and John Lithgow's intro alone had me convinced that this was a *very* good choice.

Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler

I don't read much fiction, but when one comes highly recommended, I place it on the holds list at the library and wait impatiently to finally get the text that it is in. I really just started it this afternoon and found the first page to be perfectly charming. And the fact that it's a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew makes me feel like my ordering of the title above this one is a very happy one indeed.

Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes

I have been reading through this book slowly - I think I ordered it in May and just now only have 1 or 2 chapters to go. This is an older book, written in 2001, or 2003 and so her thoughts on the future of the church are both alarming and encouraging. I read somewhere once, that when mentors are few to find them in the pages of a book, and this is what Mrs. Hughes has been to me, a mentor of sorts who continually points my eyes and heart onto the glory and holiness of God. I highly, *highly* recommend this book.

Moments and Days, by Michelle Van Loon
I have always loved the beauty and sacredness of liturgy and the Church Calendar but feel lost in how to observe this rich heritage passed on through the millennia in the context of our North American churches that no longer observe the days that have marked our faith. This book arrived on the porch on Friday and so I haven't really had a chance to get to far into it, but Mrs. Van Loon begins by going through the Jewish Holy Days and how they have laid the foundation for the Church. She includes this quote by Pastor Tom Olson, "Learning to number our days means recognizing the unnumbered days of God".  I know already I will love this book.

ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Crossway

I'll just say right here that this will be featured every week. For almost 2 years now I've been following the #365daysoftruth through the She Reads Truth App and I have (to be horribly cliche) fallen completely in love with God's Word. I have no other way to put it. I feel it deeply when I miss a day, not out of legalism, but because I haven't stilled my heart before Jesus. These holy words alone are foundational to everything else.

Honorable Mention:

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, by Rosaria Butterfield

There are some books that Tony and I will read to each other in the evenings once the kids are in bed and quiet is finally descending around us. This book was the latest and it was life changing for me. Everyone should read this book, no matter your views on a subject that needs to be discussed and viewed in the Light of God's Word and covered with the tenderness of His Grace and Mercy. Her second book came out this year and it should be landing on our porch later this month. I. Can. Hardly. Wait.

{None of the links listed above are affiliate links - it's just a fun sharing of what is in my book bag.}