Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reading Round-Up: The "Turning Eleven" Edition

With the sweet girl on the eve of her 11th birthday, I thought it might be fun to share a little of what she’s reading these days.

Most recently, she’s enjoyed The Magic Half by Annie Barrows. (This is not to be confused with Edgar Eager’s Half-Magic, another book she’s enjoyed in the past year.) The Magic Half is about two girls who share a room, decades apart. The girl in the present time travels back to help the girl in the past.

In the evenings, we’re enjoying Shannon Hale’s sequel to Princess Academy, Palace of Stone. We’re also wending our way slowly through Anne of Avonlea, the second Anne of Green Gables book. We’re not getting much daytime reading because of camp, but it’s still nice to have a fall-back read-aloud book that’s this good.

I’ve also seen her reading Jean Craighead George’s All Upon A Sidewalk; Sharon Creech’s Hate That Cat (novel-in-poetry sequel to Love That Dog) and Annie Barrow’s Ivy and Bean.

She bogged down part-way through her reading of The Hobbit (which she heard read aloud last year) but (shh!) she’s getting her own rather nifty copy for her birthday. And yes, she’s getting her own copy of A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban (because she loves that book so much). I am also secretly tap-dancing for joy (did you know you could do that?) because we’re giving her Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’ve been planning to introduce the series to her on her eleventh birthday (since the stories start on Harry’s eleventh) since she was about five years old and mispronounced Jo Rowling’s name to rhyme with Growling. She’s been to Narnia and Prydain and been introduced to Middle-earth, so I really think she’s ready for Harry. And I’m always ready to re-read Harry!

In the evenings, we’ve been enjoying the third volume of the Family Read-Aloud series by Augsburg Fortress Press. This one is called Explorers for God and follows up on Early Saints of God (a book we’ve loved for years) and Kings and Queens for God. This is a delightful church history series that is, unfortunately, out of print, but I was blessed to find used copies of the second and third volumes recently.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Praying Through the "I"s

There are moments when the Lord speaks to your heart...and then speaks again and again. You can practically see his hand turning the pages of your busy life to get you focused again on the page he wants you on. I even sometimes get the sense that he is literally guiding my head, placing his hands gently on it and turning me in the direction he wants me to look. "There...there! Do you see it? There!"

We've been praying through a prayer book of unreached peoples with our Sunday School children for the past couple of years, impressing on their hearts and minds the need for people to be introduced to the gospel in their own heart language. The missions committee that I chair is also doing some thinking and praying in this direction.

Today I was on the Joshua Project website, scrolling through their list of unreached groups, people who have not had a significant chance to hear the gospel. I sorted the list alphabetically and then gave my best guess as to which page number I needed to be on (in the 72 page list) to look up a certain country where our church currently supports missionaries. My first guess was way off, so I entered another number. The page I landed on that time was the "I" page -- and was filled with people group after people group in India.

I clicked next. Still a whole page of India.

And next. And next. And next.

I thought my heart would break. Page after page of India, dozens upon dozens of people groups. The Lord's hand definitely seemed to be even in this, my quick click after click as I scrolled through these pages, each name representing sometimes a small group, sometimes thousands of real people.

And it's not just in this way I see his hand. He's been growing my heart toward India for a long time. Our family got involved in a learning/giving project with the organization Mission India a couple of years ago. We've stayed on their mailing list and several months ago I joined their Facebook page. Now almost every day,  I see another Indian face -- sometimes solemn and sad, sometimes brightly filled with joy -- looking back at me when I sign onto FB.

He keeps me looking. 

Because the Lord uses everything to get our attention and to shape our prayers, reminding us that he longs for the hearts of every single person he made.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Knitting Things Together

I've been thinking a lot about knitting this week. A friend of our's came to arts camp on Wednesday (yes, we are in camp season again!) and taught the kids how to finger knit. The sweet girl was having a very stressed day, and according to her dad, her (unrelated) stress was at its height during that session, so I half-way expected her to have not even taken it all in. As it turns out, she loved finger knitting. She has been enjoying it all week long; in fact, she knitted up a whole soft skein of yarn and turned it into a scarf and now wants to do more.

The timing here feels like such a God-thing. We are still navigating the repercussions (good but challenging) of her OCD diagnosis. Just that morning, the doctor had suggested we put together a worry bag that S can keep with her and turn to when she feels like she is getting stuck in her thoughts. We brainstormed a list of materials that could go into the bag. The doc (whom we really like) was suggesting a sort of tactile craft, beyond drawing. She asked the sweet girl if she liked to do anything like make friendship bracelets and S said no. We had been trying to think of something that would be enjoyable and easy to carry around in the bag. And it was that afternoon that she learned how to finger-knit. It's been wonderful seeing her take off with it. It's also been wonderful to see her come to new realizations that she has creative options when she gets mentally and emotionally stuck. Learning to put some of those into practice and make them habits is going to take time, but at least we're taking small steps in the right direction.

The lovely timing of the learning of the new skill, just when she most needed it, reminded me again how wonderfully God knits together the details of our lives. Even the hard places, which can sometimes seem knotted and tangled from our perspective, don't throw him off from finishing the beautiful weaving and knitting he's doing. I'm so grateful to know that every moment of every day, and all parts of our journey, are in his loving hands.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

"The Rash Absurdities of the Redeemed"

Sometimes a certain line stops you in your tracks as you're reading. For me, this morning, it was this, from Luci Shaw:

"And here we are, day by day attempting the utterly impossible. We are called to perform the rash absurdities of the redeemed or to expire miserably."
That's from her book Breath for the Bones, meditations on art and faith. I pick it up occasionally and dive in, and sometimes I am rewarded with thought-provoking moments like that one.

Still pondering it. It sounds like "perform or perish" but I think it's really more of a "sink or swim." The performance part isn't tied to our ability to do, but our willingness to trust. I think she's saying that we either enter into the radical, free-fall, adventure life of the gospel -- which some days seems perilous -- or we will find ourselves in real peril, the sort of fish gasping out of water peril. There's the danger of adventure well entered into, with the proper guide and rescuer, and there's the danger of a life not entered into or lived at all. The life of the redeemed may look rash or even absurd, but when viewed next to the sadness and emptiness (and real peril) of an unredeemed life, those rash absurdities take on a holy sanity.

Friday, June 07, 2013

My Mama Told Me There Would Be Days Like These...

Or did she? I'm so tired, I can't remember....

I won't bore anyone who might still be reading this blog with details of yesterday. I will simply say that I had that little scene from Tangled running in my know the one where Rapunzel is moving from totally high to totally low, and ends up swinging around and around and yelling "BEST DAY EVER!" in her sweet, chirping voice? Yes, that scene, only I was inwardly chirping "worst day ever!" in my best Disney princess fashion.

It probably wasn't the worst day ever, but if I had a leader board with frustrated, tired days ranked, it would be up there.

Praying today will be better. Thankful for the Lord's sustaining through everything.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Books Fall Open, You Fall In

I'm not sure how I missed this poem by David McCord until recently, but I'm so glad I found it. I like what it says, and I also like the rhythmic way it says it. So thankful I get to "fall in" to so many good books!

Books fall open,
you fall in,
delighted where
you’ve never been;
hear voices not once
heard before,
reach world on world
through door on door;
find unexpected
keys to things
locked up beyond
What might you be,
perhaps become,
because one book
is somewhere? Some
wise delver into
wisdom, wit,
and wherewithal
has written it.
True books will venture,
dare you out,
whisper secrets,
maybe shout
across the gloom
to you in need,
who hanker for
a book to read.

~David McCord