Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Category: book review

returning to worship

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Thanksgiving vs. Christmas

this year, for the first time in ever, Christmas has infiltrated my Thanksgiving fortress.

all the kids have Thanksgiving week off and we have a road trip planned.  This road trip has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, or Christmas for that matter, it’s just that it coincided time off for everyone and resources available to travel.  we’ve been planning and anticipating for ages, focusing in on the states and sights and mapping our course.  to say we are all excited is quite the under-statement and it’s just now sinking in that we are also in the midst of the holiday season.

because of being gone for these last two Sunday’s in November, i had to begin the Advent study i’m leading early to fit all the lessons in.  and a few of the sights we’ve picked for our trip will be all decked out for Christmas.

in the middle of the night, with study and trip prep swirling around inside my head, something occurred to me.  as i pondered the advent lessons and anticipated the Christmasy sights headed our way, i was reminded of my stubborn battle cry of; “no things Christmas until after Thanksgiving….by golly we will be thankful thankful thankful!!” and i became doubly aware that this resistance has little to do with Christ, and everything to do with culture. in my fight against culture, i’ve inadvertently bought into the lie of what Christmas is actually about.

i know what Christmas is about.  we decorate with nativity sets and have a Bible under our tree instead of presents.  We bring Christ into it in every way possible.

do you see the subtle lie woven into what i just said?  We bring Christ into it? is not the whole of Christmas Christ bringing Himself to us?  (que the music; and the soul felt it’s worth)

as i’ve begun early to meditate on Christ’s coming, as i’ve prepped for our trip and a Thanksgiving week different than it’s ever been, i’ve realized that in my fight to keep Christ in Christmas and Thankfulness in Thanksgiving, i’ve unknowingly declared that the world has triumphed and the battle is mine to wage.  this year, the Spirit who speaks to the churches has been infiltrating my heart in a whole new way-as He does year by year, month by month, day by day, hour by hour.  it’s a re-setting of worship, and it looks a little like pondering the Christ-child early;  a little like being awe-struck and immensely thankful for the babe in a manger, a Lamb come to save His people from their sins.  a little like breaking through my stubborn resolve and allowing the fluidness of the Spirit to be my guide instead.

….regardless of what the calendar says.


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on paris and suffering

these days haven’t been completely consumed with prepping for our trip and the stuff of life.  i’ve seen the news headlines and read the reports.  we as a family also watch and pray for the persecuted and my heart has held a vigil for those in N. Korea for years.  we’ve people near and dear suffering just down the road and our prayers for healing continue to be prayed without seeing any visible results.

i’ve no profound words today to offer that would do anything for all the questions.  but there are those who do and i wanted to point to them:

Seth Haines book Coming Clean just released last month.  it’s a book about pain and faith and offers such nourishment and companionship to anyone else who has experienced suffering and the questions that come. (which, unless i’m missing something, would include all of humanity.)

Emily Freemon offers us a Prayer for those who are grieving.  

and a couple of years on the tail end of a fire that was on the tail end of a different fire there was a flood-and i penned some words about it-taking comfort from this song by Christa Wells that she is now offering for free: This Thing is Not Going to Break You 


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both the art of these fine artists and the Spirit’s movement in my heart lift my eyes away from the calendar and the newscasts pointing them instead towards the One who was and is and is to come.

thus, worship is restored.


to draw further in:  Revelation 4 and 5, Romans 8, Matthew 1, Luke 1-2

 

 

Weekend Inspiration

he knocks on the door and i wonder how my youngest will answer.  last time they played together it didn’t end well.  this is what happens with friends, the more time you spend together, the closer you get and eventually your sin will show up and sin always hurts people.

that day ended in tears and cries of; “it’s like he’s not my friend anymore.”  there were heated words exchanged with my older boy defending his brother and letting that neighbor boy know what’s what.  some days it’s one of my boys who’s sinned and then the heated words are between them, but they are brothers and working it out comes with that territory.  with friends, however, there is the choice to leave things as they ended and just stop playing together.

after that day, 3 boys who’d sought each other out day after day after live-long day stopped.  and when that familiar knock comes, i’m not sure the wounded one is ready.

he opens the door and standing before him is this friend holding an unopened package.  daniel hardly says hello, invites his friend in and runs to get the scissors.  together they open the package and delight in it’s contents.  it’s a pair of gloves, with grips on them, for football.  they look them over and ooh and ahh together and they all head out to play so their friend can see how they work.  whatever had gone on that one day, one neighbor boy didn’t want to open his package without the others.

i stand amazed.  i think to myself-this is what forgiveness looks like.  this is what friendship looks like.

as we go about our weekend, may we bask in the joy of forgiveness with our friends!  if you are the one who sinned, may you still have the courage to show up with your package, inviting your friend to share in your joy.  if you are the one who has been offended, may you have courage to forgive and grace to rejoice with your friend’s new way cool football gloves.

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Inspiring things from around the web, my version of sharing new exciting grippy football gloves…

For Reading:

I recently finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  This powerful read kept me company all these sick days i’ve had lately, and i did cry a few times-real tears from deep down, but the story was so worth it:

She was a girl.
In Nazi Germany.
How fitting that she was discovering the power of words.

-Markus Zusak

I’ve really been enjoying Seth Haines’ Recovery Room series.  Because we are all in need of recovery from something:

Throughout 2015, I’ll be hosting various writers, pastors, and counselors as they step into the Recovery Room. Here, we’ll discuss the things that supplant inner sobriety, and connectedness to an abiding God. Couldn’t we all use a little recovery from something?

-Seth Haines

This post from Emily Freeman on longing was soul-stilling.   She crafts her words beautifully and so often gets to the heart of things right where i am at and brings clarity and hope:

When my daily rhythm feels more like a drumbeat than a heartbeat, it’s time for me to pay attention to three simple realities:

-Emily Freeman

This one is more of a listen than read.  My pastor has been battling a rare illness for a couple of years.  After a grueling 5 months absence, this past Sunday he was well enough to share with his flock;  Learning Lessons in the Crucible:

The more seriously I take suffering, the more seriously I will take those who suffer.

-Gary Glover


For Art and Discovery:

storybookmarketingIf you aren’t familiar with Jeanne Oliver’s creative network you are missing out!  She has online classes of all types for the artist within.  I’m not a painter myself, but i’ve found quite a bit of inspiration for the artist that I am from classes on her site.  My daughter is the one who is gifted in the visual arts, and i have marveled at the growth both in her skill and her courage and freedom after time with Jeanne.   Starting Monday Jeanne is hosting a new watercolor class with Danielle Donaldson.  The site is free to join and there are some free courses you can check out.


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Speaking of classes, Myquillyn Smith, The Nester, is  doing something way cool:

Cozy Minimalist

Online Coaching Program

Join us online for a four-week guided journey where I’ll help you create the home you’ve always wanted starting with what you already have. You’ll pick one room in your house and focus on that space for the duration of the four weeks. Our first session begins on March 26th, 2015 and runs to April 16th, 2015.


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 I discovered Natalie Metrejean on instagram right before she released this. For all the singles or those who know someone who is, this little book is a gem.  It’s refreshing, authentic, and deep. I ordered one for my teen and read it first because i’m picky about these things.  I shared it with our youth pastor and now guess who’s going to be leading a bunch of high school and college girls through it!  Yep, me.  I’m not sure my teen is thrilled, i mean who wants to study with their mom who hasn’t been single since the dark ages?  Pray with me that the Lord would enable me to lead well and enable my dear daughter to connect with Him in spite of me!


Enjoy your weekend friends!

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