I took a break from writing for a while. My brain was fried. My heart had a few bruises. I needed some space to fill back up. So I’ve been reading.
If you aren’t a book person you should skip this post.
I thought about spreading these out over the next six months - but honestly - I'm trying to just live my life and give what I've got and trust God with results so I'm putting them all out there now. If you need some new and old ideas to add to your booklist these are some lovely ones. I have copies to give away of a few of them and I'll note those. If you are interested add a comment about which one you'd like and I'll draw winners from the people who comment. If you want to buy yourself a copy I put a link to Amazon with each photo.
Rachel Hollis is a funny woman. And honest. This book made me laugh until tears flowed and then rattled my brain enough to recognize some lies I've been telling myself. If you need an internal reset this is a fun way to refresh your soul.
Political intrigue with a bent towards current events. Gosh this one was creepy and seemed like it was likely to happen. If you like a little stress when you read to get your heart pumping this is a match for you. I have a copy to give away - comment if you'd like to read it.
Rising Strong was a painful read. I cried. I pondered. I changed some things in my life. This one has been added to my top 100 list of favorite books. Some of my favorite quotes:
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”
“We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”
“Many of us will spend our entire lives trying to slog through the shame swampland to get to a place where we can give ourselves permission to both be imperfect and to believe we are enough.”
This one is a hard read - but life giving.
When I graduated from high school my future mother-in-law gave me a copy of Wuthering Heights. I stayed up the whole night to read it in one go. I recently reread it - and loved it just as much. Its fierce and haunting and tragic and worrisome. And gorgeous. A few days ago I read my favorite quote aloud to my husband. He listened and thought about it and agreed it was true. One of the reasons I love the guy. We can talk about books.
“I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind."
This book is joyful and funny and tender and sweet. I've read it before and while on vacation recently decided a reread of a favorite was the perfect way to rest. Yesterday I found out there is a movie on Netflix and I'm so excited to watch it. I sincerely hope they didn't wreck the book. This one makes me want to life a joy filled purposeful life. It also makes me want to visit Guernsey some day. The best books make me want to travel.
The Underground Railroad is devastating. I could not put it down. It clarified what evil the American version of chattel slavery was and made me care about our history in a way no other book has done. The characters broke my heart. If you read because it moves your soul and makes you feel compassion deep in your bones this is the book for you.
I am still utterly amazed my friend wrote this trilogy. I bought an extra set to give away. If you like fantasy and haven't read any good ones lately let me know and I'll get you started. Set aside some time to read. These are entrancing.
My family is mid way through the White House Black Shutter’s 40 box challenge. This is a decluttter system which lets me check off little boxes and track progress. If you let me check off boxes I’ll keep working. Silly but true so I frequently leverage this fact about myself to keep moving. We are at 21 boxes.
One if the items which left our house last week was a little pink purse which sang jaunty songs when you played. It was my eldest daughter’s and was passed down to the youngest. And now she’s moved on as well. My husband and I shared a bittersweet smile and waved goodbye.
The littlest starts Kindergarten Jump Start on Monday. On Tuesday our charity golf tournament takes place for the tenth year. Sigh.
In the last week I’ve checked off a pile of boxes.
New shoes: check
Teach the little to tie her shoes: Hurrah! Check!
Sign up volunteers: Check and THANK YOU
Stuff welcome bags: check
Pick up raffle prizes: check
There are some things still in my lists and harder to measure.
Make sure the golfers and volunteers know this tournament isn’t really about golf. It’s about foster kids feeling included. It’s about healthy labor and delivery for precious babies in Rwanda. It’s about homeless kids playing in safety. Did the message get lost in the fun?
Make sure my little one knows she’s loved. Make sure she knows she’s enough. Make sure she knows her mama wants her to work hard and learn and succeed but what will make her mama really happy is if she sticks up for the kid no one will talk to at recess. Make sure she knows grace is more powerful than hate. Does she know this?
Harder boxes to check. This week my heart is walking out the door and launching into new spaces. It’s exciting and fun and joyful. And painful. Growth is like that. I’m sure you have similar events happenjng. How do you slow down to reflect and make sure the real issues get attention in the middle of the mess? What boxes do you need to check?
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I've been alternately sighing and crying and whooping and cheering over these photos. The 100 pairs of shoes YOU purchased for our friends in Rwanda were safely hauled through 20 hours of planes and cars and buses.
These photos make me so happy. I love seeing friends of mine serve and love each other.
Next time I hear about how all men hate women and we'll never be able to get along between people of different backgrounds I'm going to remember this photo. The truth is love wins. Every time.
Your investment made a difference. $15 for a pair of shoes can change a life. Look at these kiddos in school uniforms. And new shoes.
My friend told me a few days after the great shoe fitting they saw this little guy in a pair of your shoes. He's a border kid.
His mama crosses the border from Rwanda into the Congo to work. Used to be she could take him with her. A couple of years ago the laws changed. Now kids have to have paperwork to cross borders. Its a good law to stop human trafficking. But the unintended consequence is now this little guy and kids just like him have to stay behind by themselves when mom goes off to work. Not ideal. But its work or don't eat so off mom goes. The local school started a preschool for the border kids. And these kiddos have new shoes because of your love.
Isn't this too fun???
Thank you again.
I spend a lot of time on the phone at work. Yesterday I was talking to someone and the following conversation took place.
Me: Let me know when you are ready to write this down.
Her: Oh! My friend just died!
I paused. Awful. Thoughts of the recent news of missing people, accidents and suicide ran through my mind. How to respond?
Me: I am so sorry to hear that.
Her: It’s okay. Like most people, I have 99 others.
I paused again. What kind of sick cavilear person is this? I want off the phone. Or I want to explain how people are precious and she should honor her friend.
Her: Oh gosh. This one is out of ink. Hold on a sec.
Me. Pen! Pen! Her pen died. Not her friend.
Yikes. My poor brain.
But seriously - let me tell you something.
You are precious. One of a kind. You should be loved and cheered and held. Your friends and family are blessed by your life. Your absence would leave a hole so wide it would affect generations. We need you. We want you.
If you are in a dark place where running or stopping or ending are desolate thoughts listen carefully. This my plea- do something wild and desperate. But make it be life giving.
Call 911. Go to ER. Call your doctor. Tell your friend, aunt, pastor, neighbor, sister. Ask them to help you get help. Go to counseling. Try celebrate recovery. Hang on.
Yesterday I was so grateful to two of my friends who made a point to ask how I’m doing. One stopped by my office to give me a hug and tell me how my friendship matters to her. Another friend sent an email in the midst of a crazy busy work session to check on me. I was good. But the care touched my heart and made me want to check on all of you.
You know the Bible story of the lost sheep? There was a shepherd who had 100 sheep. One was lost. The shepherd didn’t shrug his shoulders and remind himself he had 99 more. The shepherd went to work finding the lost sheep.
Make it a point today - check on someone. Tell them you love them. If you need help- ask today. We need each other. All 100 of us.
VBS makes me cry
I have a confession to make.
Vacation Bible School makes me cry.
I don’t cry from the days of hard work and not enough sleep.
I don’t cry from some of the more “spirited little darlings” running around in class and not listening when we call their name for the 10th time.
I cry because VBS is so special to me, I’ll even dare to say it’s sacred.
I have either been a kid in VBS or volunteering in VBS for as far back as I can remember. You might say it’s in my blood. My mother was the queen of VBS (AKA the director) for many years at the church in which I grew up. My grandmother was the punch and cookie lady whom everyone called Miss Lib. I grew up knowing I better not throw away a toilet paper roll before I checked first to see if we needed to save it for VBS.
I spent time as a student missionary in the Baptist church in my late teens and early twenties. I have many a precious memory of kids learning about Jesus, singing songs to Him and making crafts to illustrate our daily bible point.
There is definitely nostalgia which plays a part in my teary eyes, but it is also what VBS is about.
Leading kids to Jesus.
Tonight we finished up the last night of VBS at my church. I once again stood there fighting back tears as tons of kids cheered because they had not only raised enough money to meet our $1,500 goal to buy 100 pairs of shoes for kids in underdeveloped countries, they had raised enough to buy 110 pairs of shoes! They were learning that kids can do big things for God. I wept as we wrapped up another successful VBS. I cried when our children’s pastors led the kids in the ABCs of salvation and I prayed for a seed to be planted in their tiny hearts. This scripture came to mind:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6
As our children grow and begin to make their way in the world it is natural to wonder about the choices they’ll make and what their future holds. Yet the truth of this verse still stands. They are learning now the most important thing there is to know and it will always be with them no matter where life takes them.
Last year I had the privilege of volunteering for the first time in our churches VBS after a long absence from serving at one in any capacity. I stood in the balcony gazing down on more kids than I had ever seen in one VBS. They were singing, wiggling, giggling and generally having a blast in a sanctuary decorated to the hilt (not to mention the entire church) in that year’s theme. As I watched it unfold my eyes welled up and I got a little embarrassed at my tears. At the time I chalked it up entirely to nostalgia. However this year as I was brought to tears again, more than once, I knew it must go deeper.
The simple point is Jesus really does love the little children.
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. “-Matthew 19:13-15
This verse is mentioned many times when we talk about children’s ministry but boy it is really on point. And if something is important to Jesus then we’d better pay attention.
Kids have many of the same thoughts and feeling adults do. They worry, they make mistakes, they need hope and they need to know the true source of that hope. This week they learned that when these worries and troubles in life arise Jesus will rescue them.
One of the songs from this year’s VBS was an updated version of the old hymn Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.
“'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, "Thus saith the Lord!"
This is my prayer that these sweet, funny, wild and crazy kids at VBS this year will take Him at His word and grow to trust Him fully.
Many of them will do as I have done and volunteer after they’re too old to attend.
I hope they will always look back on their years in VBS fondly and maybe even shed a tear or two.
My family had the great pleasure of being on a cruise last week. We ate and slept and sunned and generally were spoiled for seven sunny days. One of my kids' favorite parts was the ice cream machine set just next to the pool. Grab a little crunchy cone and pick your flavor. Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry. My preference was the Strawberry. Tasted just like Nestle Quick Strawberry Milk. It made me feel like I was five.
On the last day of the trip we were sitting by the pool and our five year old came up and sat on the edge of the deck chair. She looked up at me with those big blue eyes and told us what had happened just minutes before. Apparently our 5 year old met a big kid on the splash and play structure. This big kid was bragging and gloating about how she'd eaten six ice cream cones. Big kid told our little no way could she have six ice cream cones. Her mama would be so mad. The answer would be NO.
So here sat my little one with her head cocked to the side to see how we'd respond.
My husband and I looked at each other and grinned.
We turned and nodded at the little one.
Her eyes widened and she tentatively confirmed "I can have six ice cream cones?"
We nodded again.
Huge massive smile and off she bounded.
Listen. I know life is hard sometimes. There is definitely evil in the world. And I'm teaching my kids about boundaries and work ethic and forgiveness and waiting. Hard and fruitful lessons.
But its not all I'm teaching them.
I'm also teaching them about fun and joy and grace. Sometimes we cross joy off our own life's list because we assume the answer is NO. We listen to everyone around us say we shouldn't ask, shouldn't dare, shouldn't dream.
Sometimes you get six ice cream cones. Don't disqualify yourself because someone else said it won't work. Go ahead and ask.
To celebrate Quirky Faith's 2nd birthday I'm giving away Jill Williamson's recently completed trilogy as a gift to one of the subscribers of the Quirk-Email. If you aren't subscribed currently now is a great time to jump in because I'll do the drawing tomorrow. Now to find some cake. Birthday's require cake right?
Huge congratulations to Jill Williamson on the upcoming release (June 19) of King's War. This is the third book in The Kingsman Chronicles and a massive accomplishment. Jill has created a believable world comparable to any found in other epic fantasy novels. Her characters struggle through trauma and loss with realistic emotions and the healings are hard won. I found King's War to be a satisfying finish to the trilogy with no easy answers and thoughtful plots. After all the adventure, I was grateful some of my favorite characters survived!
My favorite thing about everything Jill writes is the fact her heart and hope shine through her writing. This trilogy wanders through darkness and sin and corruption. It feature a vast range of human emotion and the striking pains we give each other from selfish actions. But the book - like Jill's life - is marked by a dedication to the truth of courage, hope, devotion and a powerful benevolent Creator. Well done my friend.
If you love fantasy and haven't read any of Jill Williamon's work may I suggest you get started? The Blood of Kings, The Safelands, or The Kinsman Chronicles are all complex and imaginative trilogies sure to please. You can buy the books on Amazon or at her website HERE. The website also has details about the book's release party. The party is well deserved.
Please note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as a part of Jill Williamson's launch team.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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