February Loves

February has been SO COLD here in Madison. I know Madisonites aren’t really complaining, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever get used to it. It’s kept us inside a lot of the month because neither Ada or I can manage to go out in it for very long periods without grumbling. Because we are SO COLD. Sweet Ada wakes up many mornings and says with a sigh, “Well, it’s still winter.” Yep, I feel ya, sister.

Okay, all of that, now onto my February Loves!

I’m kicking this list off with a couple articles I really enjoyed this month.

Educating Introverts: A rethinking, of sorts, about what it means to be an introvert in a school setting.

[Love Looks Like] 2:07 a.m. : While technically this article was published in January, I didn’t read it until February, so it fits right here for me. I think my favorite part may be this section:

We swore we wouldn’t become those tired ones in the middle of their life, living just a regular sort of life. We are meant for more than the ordinary! we bought the lie, hook line and sinker from the evangelical hero complex. Life was meant to be an adventure, filled with risk and romance. Love would look like this for us forever. Like we were somehow above or better than the minivans and mortgages, the tub scrubbing and sheet washing, like our clock would always be made up of bright mornings and late nights.

But here’s the truth: lifelong love is actually most built throughout the hours of the day, all twenty four of them, in the ordinary moments of our humanity.

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And while I”m reading these articles in the afternoons, I’m drinking Tazo Chai Vanilla Caramel tea and let me tell you, it’s like drinking ice cream to me. I just put in a little creamer and it’s perfect.

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Earlier this month I attended the If:Conference and it was a great experience mostly because of the people I was with (although the speakers were interesting too!). I think the If:Gathering altogether is a really interesting movement and I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s caught on so quick. Because really, what they are doing through this gathering is really what should already be going on in our local churches. Why do we need a group of women on a stage motivate and equip us ladies (through Bible studies) to go serve in our local communities? Is it not happening already in the local churches? Been mulling over that all month. Leave any observations or suggestions in the comments :).

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I feel almost embarrassed by how much I’m loving everything the Liturgists are putting out. I’m not sure I’ve been “all in” to something like this since The Babysitters Club back in my elementary years. The Liturgists came out with a new Meditations podcast this month. If you haven’t listened in at all, just start back at the beginning of their podcast feed and listen straight through. It’s… soul nourishing.

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FroYo. There is never a day too cold for FroYo. We took the kids out for a Valentine’s Day treat on a day that was bitterly cold and we all agreed – yes, it’s still delicious. (Can you SEE THE COLD IN THIS PICTURE?)
Happy V-day

Also on Valentine’s Day, my love made this cool graphic as a representation of his love for me. Geeky. And fantastic.

And last but not least, I LOVE that I got a new look here on the blog. Did you notice? A good friend from college, Amanda Iman, created this great graphic for my header and it’s just perfect. She’s an amazing graphic artist– check out her site to see some other projects she has worked on!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into this month.

The Ideal Sunday Morning Experience for my Children

Moving comes with a set of new challenges. Finding new friends, figuring out where to grocery shop (it took me 2 whole months to realize that the giant store down the street from us is a GROCERY STORE), discovering the best library (it’s honestly one of the first things we do when moving to a new city), and … finding a church community to become a part of.

Insert spreadsheets, questions, frustrations, rants, tears, pro/con sheets, and lots and lots of prayer here. 

While lots of things go into finding a church community to be a part of, what our kids think is a huge factor in deciding what church community to join. It’s certainly not the final say for us, but their voice absolutely matters in this decision. I want them to LOVE going to the church gathering on Sunday mornings. I want them to associate the church gathering with warmth, love, and fun as they are engaging with the Scriptures in developmentally-appropriate ways.

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This month the Mom Mentors at Graham Blanchard are sharing our ideal Sunday morning experiences for our kids. The one I shared combines the best of the best of all the church experiences we’ve had:

What an interesting question! I think it would be a combination of all of “the best” parts of various church experiences we’ve been a part of:

Relationships: It’s super important to me that my children know the people who are teaching them on Sunday mornings. It’s powerful to have other men and women integrated into the life of a child—these adults don’t just teach them for one or two hours on a Sunday morning, but these are men and women who show up around their dinner table or in their yard to play a family game of flag football.

Developmentally-appropriate experience: I want the Sunday church experience to be a really fun time of learning about the Bible with other kids their age in ways that make sense to them. I want my kids to LOVE gathering with the church, and I want it to be nurturing to their soul.

Community-based: Ideally the church building would be in our neighborhood, and the other kids in my children’s classes would be kids they go to school with. I would love for my kids’ spiritual formation to be so integrated that “church” isn’t something totally removed from their everyday life.

To see what other moms shared, head on over to the blog!

Review: The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Activity and Sticker book

Holiday books are a bit tricky, in my opinion, especially the ones surrounding faith-centered holidays.

For Christmas, there’s a lot of books about trees, presents, Santa, etc.

A few about Jesus’ birth.

For Easter, there’s a lot of books about eggs, bunnies, and spring.

A few about Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In both categories, some of the books that are Christ-centered tend to be a bit boring or poorly illustrated, which makes it harder for the kids to really want to read them.

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I had the opportunity to check out The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book and it’s great! It weaves the story of the Passion week through Jesus’ resurrection and ascension with all kinds of stickers and activities to do along the way. The stickers are reusable, so you can re-use some of it next year. There are also some parts of the page to color, so obviously that’s a one-time shot.

51qavk6qenL We use the Beginner Bible for the kids, birth through preschool age, and really like it. The pictures are good (I really like that the illustrations portray people of many shades of skin), and if you’re familiar with this Bible, you’ll immediately recognize the same kind of illustrations in their Easter sticker book.

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I’d say by the ideal age range for this sticker book is 3-5 years.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for the review copy in exchange for an honest review! 

Please note: Affiliate links are included in this post. 

The Enneagram: What Number Are You?

One of my current interests is learning about the Enneagram.

The Enneagram is a typology. You’ve probably heard of other typologies: Myers-Briggs, temperament tests (sanguine, melancholy, choleric, phlegmatic), as well as the zodiac. While all these typologies have been derived in different ways, they all share one thing: they simplify human behaviors into a limited number of character types. I think we’d all agree that some of these are more helpful than others for one reason or another.

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The Enneagram is an ancient typology that boils all of humanity down to 9 character types. These character types are based around a deep-seated sin (the seven deadly sins + 2 more), which often plays a big role in how we hide from God and hide from ourselves. We learn the “life-lie” from which we operate.

The starting point of the Enneagram is the blind alleys into which we stumble in our attempt to protect our life from internal and external threats (p. 4).

The NINE Types

Type ONE: The Need to Be Perfect

Type TWO: The Need to be Needed

Type THREE: The Need to Succeed

Type FOUR: The Need to be Special

Type FIVE: The Need to Perceive

Type SIX: The Need for Securitiy

Type SEVEN: The Need to Avoid Pain

Type EIGHT: The Need to be Against

Type NINE: The Need to Avoid

The beauty of the Enneagram is that this is not another tool that tries to box us in and help us only to know ourselves better. Instead, this tool helps us to understand ourselves better so that we’re able to recognize our own voice and hence be able to recognize God’s voice all the more. 

For an example. I’m a 1, which means I see what’s wrong with the world. I’m a perfectionist who has high expectations for others and even higher expectations for myself. So, when I “hear God” saying, “Try harder. You should probably add on another project. If you loved me, you would _________. Are you accomplishing all you can for my kingdom?  Oh wow I’m disappointed that you couldn’t make that all happen”, then I can take a pause. Is this God speaking to me? Or is this my voice talking to me? Am I attempting to hide behind all this “stuff” I’m doing for him and not really allow Him full access to my heart? I’m beginning to hear God’s voice more distinctly as I begin to recognize my own that I thought was God’s.

Understanding myself in this way is transforming my inner life. 

In addition, this tool allows us not to stay “stuck”. Even though I’m a 1 and can recognize what I easily fall into, I also can start doing some serious heart work in that area and allow God to transform me. The Truth, my friend, can really set us free.

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So, as per recommendation of my spiritual director, I’ve been working through the book, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert. In it, Rohr and Ebert share the many twists and turns of how the Enneagram as we know it came about. Many think that a form of the Enneagram originated with the Desert Fathers.Then, they explain a little bit more about what the Enneagram is and isn’t, and finally the good part– they dive into each “number”, dedicating a chapter to each.

The Enneagram is intended as an oral tradition and not really to be learned from a book. The reason being is that spiritual directors throughout history have used the Enneagram to help people along in their spiritual journey with God. It’s never to be used as a way to peg people or manipulate people (wahaha, I know YOUR NUMBER!), but to help individuals understand themselves, their “modes of operation” and how that affects/hinders/enhances their relationship with God and others.

If you’re interested in learning more, it may be helpful to check with your pastor to see if he or she knows of anyone trained to teach it. It’s best to learn from a real life person who has been trained in walking people through this. But, if that doesn’t work out, it may not be bad to read the one I”m reading by Rohr (if you’re interested in the Christian perspective). The Enneagram has been adjusted away from its original purposes and is now often used in the secular world of psychology, which is fine and all, but it’s not the same as the original. Also, it’s not without controversy, so be aware of that too. However, there are many solid churches, both Catholic and Evangelical, who use this tool as a way of personal/spiritual development. For a quick guestimation of what your number may be, this free test is decent (but not perfect).

My thoughts: the Enneagram is a tool just like any other type of typology. Some people are all into temperament typing. Others Myers-Briggs. Others Strengthsfinder. This is not some magic ball that will solve all problems or a “cure all” for sin (we know that there is only one way for that to happen!). It’s simply a really helpful tool to understand yourself better.

So, if you decide to look into it, have fun and may God use it as a transformational tool in your life!

 

Book Review: The Grand Paradox

Last week I mentioned that Jake and I will be going to the upcoming Justice Conference in June, and one of the organizers of this great conference is Ken Wytsma, Wytsma recently published a book called The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God, and the Necessity of Faith and in it, he aims to help readers understand that while life is messy and God often works in ways we don’t understand, He is not absent. He is real, He is close, and He cares about our lives.

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More than that, Wytsma encourages and exhorts us to live faithfully while yet recognizing that “faith is often characterized less by clarity than by confusion” (p xx). He says in his introduction:

This book is an exploration of the art of living by faith. It is a book for all those wrestling with the paradoxes that confront those who seek to walk with Christ. It is a look at how faith works, here and now, in our culture, our time– and how to put down real roots and flourish in the midst of our messy lives.” (p. xxi)

Here’s the reality of faith. It’s a constant tension. And one of the essential parts of life, according to Henri Nouwen, is to “‘live the questions’ faith engenders” (p. 13). Wytsma walks us through some of those questions that faith engenders, not giving us answers, but leaving the tension right where it is. Instead of reliving the tension, he encourages a faithful, clear-headed living response to the questions that exist.

  • How do I pray? And how do I hear from God?
  • What is God up to?
  • How do I pursue God in the midst of doubt?
  • What IS faith?
  • Life is messy and hard. How do I live faithfully in the midst of all of that?
  • What is God’s calling on my life?

One chapter of the book in particular, A World Made Right, resonated with me. In it, Wytsma is discussing the elusive “God’s Will” questions. What is God up to? What is my role in it? He addresses the individualism of that question (spot on) and then he discusses God’s general will that is outlined in Scripture in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus: to make the world right, restoring creation to be in a right relationship with God–Righteousness, if you will, which is synonymous with justice (actually, it’s the same word in the Greek, just translated differently in our English Bibles). So, while all of that was not new to me, what he said about living a life of justice really shook me awake:

There’s some bad news involved in discovering what God is up to. Engaging in justice- and especially, seeking to redress injustice- is not the shortest route to fulfilling the American Dream.

While I definitely don’t verbally aspire to the American Dream (in fact, I am sometimes adamant that I don’t), I certainly slip into living like I do without even realizing it. My mind and heart sometimes gets too focused on my bucket lists, the dreams and goals of how I want God to work in me and through me (mostly in ways that are comfortable), but I was reminded that sometimes it’s those very goals and dreams that can keep me (us) from fully realizing my (our) participation in God’s setting right of brokenness in this world. 

Sometimes dreams or overly defined life goals can get in the way of God’s plans. Certainly, God can use goals, and often does, but we always have to hold them in loose hands, recognizing that God could want us to head a different direction, or stop short of reaching a goal, or do something that would make all our dreams and goals unattainable because of how God chooses to use us.

I think why I really like this book is because Wytsma addresses these messy paradoxes of faith through the lens of justice, which just makes the most sense to me. He takes the focus off of the individual’s importance and their “key role” in all of it and brings a sense of humility to the conversation. I think this book is written out of an incredibly healthy place and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to readdress some of the key questions of faith through a less “me” centered perspective (while also honoring the beauty of the individual reading it).

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

I’m linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s “What I’ve Been Readlng Lately”

How We Will be Celebrating 10 Years of Marriage

Jake and I finally nailed down where we’re headed for our 10 year wedding anniversary.

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Not Paris (been there, done that ;)).

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Not back to Kenya (I wish).

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Not a cruise in the Bahamas (although that was my choice #2- ha!).

Nope, we are headed to Chicago for the Justice Conference 2015! While it may seem like an odd way to spend celebrating 10 years of marriage (and boy do we have a lot to celebrate!), we decided what better way is there than spending a weekend focusing on reorienting and reenergizing ourselves towards gospel-centered justice? The perfect nightcap to a decade of marriage.

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Jake and I sometimes remember (in the car on long trips after the kids have fallen asleep is when this kind of conversation typically comes up) a very specific conversation we had before getting married (or maybe right after) in which we vowed that we would never become the couple whose faith lived out means just comfortably teaching a sunday school class every Sunday.

Friends, we don’t even teach a Sunday school class.

And in many ways, we laugh because we couldn’t even imagine then what we know now about where our lives were headed. We’ve travelled the globe (but mostly the U.S.) for advanced degrees, we’ve had lots of kids, we’ve jumped in and out of a lot of various projects, lending a hand in ways that have been very ordinary and quite simple. We know now that to choose one thing means not choosing another. And for the most part, we’re happy about what we’ve said yes to and making peace with those things to which we’ve said no.

But after we laugh together, we quietly look back out the car window, deep in thought. I think both of us feel that twinge of regret over the tiredness, the lack of big opportunities, the routine, the distractions. Our minds wander to the “what if…?” and “should we be ….?” and “God, what’s next for us?” We silently reflect and pray until the sounds of a restless child needing a pillow or water or a comforting hand interrupt our thoughts and bring us back to our very present (and good) reality.

So, instead of laying on the beach of some warm sandy island with cold drinks and good books in our hands (I wonder if the Justice Conference gives refunds…), we’ll be sitting in the beautiful Auditorium Theater on June 5th and 6th, listening to some dynamic speakers recast vision for our lives -to be consistently oriented towards seeking God and living out faithful righteous (justice!) lives. The speaker line-up looks amazing: Dr. Cornel West, Eugene Cho, Lynne Hybels, Amena Brown, Bob Goff, and more. I’m excited about using this time to prayerfully dream toward the next 10 years.

Here’s to many more decades of living out lives that are oriented towards love, justice, and hope. Anyone wanna meet us for dinner on the 5th? :)

Chicago MP Prop Video from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

If:Gathering Reflections from Madison West

This past weekend, myself and 190ish other women spent Friday afternoon through Saturday evening in a gymnasium at the If:Madison West gathering. In addition to listening to gifted women speak from the If:Gathering stage, there was a lot of laughing, some crying, lots of singing, and a good amount of discussions and prayer. I was SO GLAD to have a few of my good friends with me (thanks for coming, Jackie, Debbie, and Deborah!). We had some great discussion processing and praying through what we heard.

 

The If team walked us through the story of Joshua and the theme surrounding BELIEF. We looked at with faith is (and is not), explored reasons we have a hard time believing, heard ways on how we can believe, and dreamed of what could happen if we lived out our faith more courageously in our everyday lives.

Lots and lots of great things came out of this gathering, but I’m gonna give you my TOP FIVE. 

 

#5 Rest. I sat in a room for a day and a half, full of other women, talking, listening and resting. We were catered a delicious meal (thanks to Bunky’s Cafe!) and I ate the most delicious chocolate cake. No one asked me for a bite of my food, to wipe their bottoms, get them a snack, put their robe on, or pick out every black bean out of their soup. No miniature child but her sweet chubby hand over my mouth so I would stop talking and pay attention to only her.  I just sat and listened and shared what was on my heart. And before you judge, let me tell you, I was not the only one sitting around my table who were thinking the exact things :). A true gift of rest!

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hey that’s me! photo credit: Lisa Wilcox Photography

 

#4 Be courageous. Christine Caine spoke on Saturday afternoon on Joshua 1. First, she talked about how when the Lord came to Joshua, He said, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then….” He was calling Joshua to move forward. The days of Moses were over, but He was moving the Israelites forward. How many times do we look back to the past and think, “If I could only get back to that place, then …” We longingly remember sweet periods of our life when we felt like God was really working in our lives and through our lives. But now? Well, we’re still trying to get back to that. We’re hanging onto things that are dead. God’s saying to us, “yes, yes, I was working in that way or in that relationship or in that ministry. But come on, I’m moving on to something else. Please come with me– I’m working over here now– come on and join me.”

She also really encouraged us to not be afraid to be uncomfortable. We are created to be dangerous to the dark places of the world. The call of God is nearly always inconvenient.

 

#3 Hearing from local women who are changing their part of the world. Several people in our gathering shared parts of their journey of faith, but one woman in particular really impacted me. She’s the founder of Lilada’s Living Room, an organization that creates safe, healing spaces for female survivors of sexual abuse here in Madison. Lilada shared a little bit about how she got where she is today, and encouraged us to look at our places of pain when asking God to show us “our place” of calling or ministry. For many of us, it’s our places of pain that we think hold us back from taking that next step of faith. But in reality, God is inviting us to share with others the same comfort that He has ministered to us (2 Corinthians 1.3-7).

I just love hearing how God is working in our specific community. It’s really easy to not know what’s going on and believe that kingdom work is only trudging along. But hearing the stories of God healing, comforting, and saving women and men here in Madison- it’s encouraging and inspiring to say the least.

 

#2 Worshiping God through some AWESOME music! We had a fantastic team of musicians to lead us in singing worship to our God. To worship with women from all walks of life, from different churches around the city, in different styles– it was just beautiful.

#1 Lynne Hybels. Shauna Niequist sat with her momma (Lynne Hybels) on stage and together they told a beautiful story of a momma who wasn’t living into her own gifts, passions, and dreams for far too long, and how a resurrection of faith, hope, and healing at just the right time allowed a daughter to see exactly what she needed to see- a woman of faith, fully unleashed, living into a call that God had on her life. I had read part of the story before on Shauna’s blog, but to see Shauna and Lynne talk together on that stage– I wept. Daughters need their mommas to show them what it looks like to follow God and live into their giftings, not afraid of what others are going to do or say. It made me think of how much I want to set a good example for all my kids of what it looks like to follow God, even when it means doing life  little untraditionally. As much as I want to be there for my kids as much as I can, I also want my kids to know that they are not the center of my world. Our God is. Lynne writes this on Shauna’s blog (I didnt take a single note from the actual If talk because I was giving 100% of my attention to the stage):

Most women I know are really good at giving. And we should be good at giving. We follow in the way of a Savior who gave himself for the world. But Jesus didn’t give himself indiscriminately; he didn’t give people everything they wanted. Jesus knew his calling from the Father; he knew the unique shape of the redemptive gift he was to give to the world. I believe that too many women give bits and pieces of themselves away, indiscriminately, for years and years, and never have the time or energy to discern their unique calling from God, never have the time or energy to play the redemptive role they are gifted and impassioned to play. The result is a lot of good-hearted, devout Christian women who are exhausted and depressed.”

Whew. Good stuff. Stuff I’m glad I hear now instead of 20 years down the road.

I had a great time at the If:Gathering– connecting with other local women, reflecting on great speakers’ messages, figuring out what faithfulness and belief and calling look like in our lives. Thanks to the If:Team for spearheading this event!

Also big shoutout to Zion City Church and Blackhawk Church for co-hosting this great event! It was so much fun and I think we should partner on more events like this in the future!

[Sidenote: I also really loved Jen Hatmaker’s talk on the topic of “what keeps us from believing?” I also didn’t take very good notes (I have a hard time keeping good notes while listening. Apparently I need to go back to college), so I didn’t list it above. The one thing I remember besides “The parent is in the elevator” situation is that she said that we live out God’s Kingdom to the same measure we really believe it. Bazinga.]

 

How to Build Your Library on a Few Dollars a Month

I absolutely adore a new book.

Jake and I used to shop for books a lot. We would come away from used bookstores with a big bag full of books, reading the chapter titles of each book to one another on the way back to each others’ apartments (oh we were so young and in love). During one Lent season years ago, we gave up buying books. Our obsession with book-buying never fully rebounded after that. Which is probably a healthy thing.

Fast forward nearly 10 years later and we are now working on not only our own personal library, but also a library for our kids. While we LOVE the public library and utilize it on a weekly basis (it’s not unusual for us to have 75-100 books checked out at any one time), we still like to have certain kinds of books around the house to read or reference on a whim. But, since we’re on a student budget, that means our book budget is very slim. Like, a few dollars a month.

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“What are those tin can lids doing on their bookshelf?” Check out my hubby’s blog for the cool project he did with our Ikea bookshelf.

 

So, if you’re looking for ways to build your physical and/or electronic library but don’t want to spend a lot of money, here are a few things that have worked well for us:

1. Public Library Sales. Twice a month, our nearest public library has a book sale. It takes place off-site and is put on by the Friends of the Library. We have found so many treasures because people who love books are cleaning out their attics/playrooms/basements/personal shelves and donating them to the Friends of the Library so that the library can buy more awesome books. People who love books donate really great books, which means you get to buy really great books at super cheap prices ($.25-$1.00 a book). Everywhere we have lived (several states, several cities) have had such sales. You just need to ask your local library and I’m sure they’d be over the moon to give you the details (in smaller libraries, maybe they’ll have this sale once or twice a year).

2. Consignment Sales. When looking for children’s books, kid consignment sales have also been successful for us. It does take a bit of time to sift through book after book to find the diamonds, but when you do, it’s worth it!

3. Used Book Stores/Thrift Stores. About once a year we trade in a big stack of books for cash at Half-Price Books and that money goes back into our book budget. Many cities have great hidden used bookstores, so be sure to get to know them well! Sometimes store owners will get to know you and offer better than advertised deals :).

4. Garage Sales. Especially retired teacher yard sales or church pastor yard sales :). If you are into yard sales, ALWAYS look through the book box. You never know what you might find and because books are often hard to sell, haggling is in your favor.

5. Start a Blog. You love to read? Want to tell people what you thought of the books? Start a blog and get free books from the publishers in exchange for reviews. Children book publishers are a bit harder to do this with, but for adult books, I review through Booklook Bloggers (Zondervan/Thomas Nelson), Blogging for Books (Crown Publishing), and Tyndale Blog Network. After awhile, you can begin to email publishers and request books off their website without being a part of a certain program. That’s when it gets more fun because you get to read the books you really are dying to read! There are normally always print or ebook options.

6. Subscribe to feeds that let you know of free or discounted ebooks. Some of my favorites:

7. Swap books with other book-loving families. Sometimes I get tired of seeing a book around or just don’t want it anymore (maybe I’ve grown out of it, kids have grown out of it, whatever) and I’ll ask around and see if anyone wants to do a book swap. Meaning, everyone brings their books they no longer want as well as a yummy snack, and you just hang out, talk, eat, and grab a few new books for the road!

Your turn: What are your favorite tips for building your personal library? 

What is a Spiritual Director?

It was about this time last year when I began searching out a spiritual director.

I had first heard about a”spiritual director” while reading Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown. The book is about 4 women who end up at a spiritual retreat center together. While they are all really different, they are all learning some incredible things from one another as they seek God. It’s a fictional story of friendship and healing, but it also weaves in various spiritual formation practices along the way (a marriage of fiction and non-fiction- my new favorite genre!).  The woman who leads the workshops at the retreat center is a spiritual director. After I read the book, I thought, wow, I’d really love to talk to that workshop leader. Too bad she’s JUST PRETEND. :)

I soon began researching spiritual directors around my city, and found websites for a few different ones, but none really felt like what I was looking for.

I finally ended up finding a spiritual director through my local church. I was nearly sure they would have no idea what I was talking about when I sent off an email to a woman on staff, asking her if she had ever heard of spiritual directors and if so, did she have any spiritual director recommendations. I was surprised when I received an email back within 24 hours saying that indeed, she knew exactly what I was talking about (she said that some of the staff members meet/have met with them), that she knew several, and that she’d be happy to connect me with one who she thought I’d really like. Well there you go. Evangelical Christianity knows about spiritual directors. Why in the world had I never heard of them before?

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Spiritual directors are often described as spiritual midwives. Sometimes we go through seasons where we sense that something is going on deep within our souls, but we aren’t sure what. Sometimes life is shifting (season of life, geographical location, new career, etc.) and we need to talk out what’s going on in our relationship with God because of it. Sometimes our faith feels funny or uncomfortable or shifting, and we’re not sure what’s going on inside of us or how we can relate to God in this new way. Sometimes we feel like God is really far away and even with all our best efforts of connecting with God (doing all those things that have always worked in the past – Scripture reading, prayer, journaling) nothing is happening. It’s during these times that meeting with a spiritual director may be a really good idea. They walk alongside us, helping to “birth” whatever it is that God is already doing within us. When in labor and delivery, the midwife isn’t actually making anything happen. The laboring momma is doing all of the work. But, the midwife is there to help the momma focus, to give her tips on how to read her body and to recognize what needs to or will be happening next. In the same way, the spiritual director is helping us to read what’s going on inside of our souls, recognize the movement of God, and help us focus on what God is doing.

Spiritual directors are not counselors because they aren’t trying to help remedy a psychological issue or solve a personal or interpersonal problem. They aren’t mentors because they don’t have the day-to-day, life-on-life relationship with us. Instead, they are mature Christians who are gifted in discernment and trained in spiritual formation and who help people discern where God is moving in their life.

In our sessions this year, I’ve been working on understanding how God has wired me and how that affects how I approach God, along with my expectations of what my relationship with God “should” look like. It’s been really healthy and freeing. A lot of “aha!” moments :).

If you want to learn more, or think this might be something of interest to you, I’d recommend reading up on it a little more so that you know what to expect (and not to expect), what to look for in a spiritual director, and some places you may be able to find one.

  • Christianity Today- God Your ‘Spiritual Director’ Yet? : Great overview, the history of spiritual direction, and some recommended resources.
  • Kathy Escobar gives this great visual of the spiritual journey. Once I learned about this, my eyes opened wide, I began to nod and I said, “I see.” I hit the wall and had a hard time figuring out what to do next because I didn’t understand what was going on. Spiritual direction really helps if you get “stuck” in any of these transitions.
  • The ESDA is a great place to start for those who are from an evangelical tradition. I’d also recommend asking your local church leadership.
  • IVP has a whole list of books related to this area. I don’t think you can really go wrong with the books they put out!

Feel free to email me any questions you may have and I’d be happy to do my best to assist in any way!

My January Loves

seasaltvinegar

Kettle Chips, Sea Salt and Vinegar.

In case you missed my ridiculous Facebook posts about this, I ate a whole bag in two sittings on accident. The bags are small. ;)

 

popcorn

Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn.

I first discovered this brand at a PTO meeting, and a few days later bought 4 bags of various kinds. Gotta watch out though, some are healthier than others.

 

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Parenthood.

Tonight is the last. :( I’m sad that my Thursday night routine will be over: snuggle in bed with my iced tea, brownie batter ice cream, and crocheting to keep me company while I watch.

 

antelope

Melanie Shankle.

Also known as “Big Mama”. While I don’t read her blog, I have read her two books this month (Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room) and they are so hilarious!! I laughed out loud many times reading both of them. I recommend them! She has a new book coming out in April? August? I’m not sure, but I’ve already gotten on the hold list at my local library :).

 

One Day by Matisyahu.

This is my prayer, my dream, my hope. You know how sometimes you listen to a song and it just moves you? This one is it for me. We listen to this almost everyday, and Ada calls it “her song” (thankfully she doesn’t understand one of the sections of lyrics that are bit graphic) because she loves the chorus:

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day

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Valentine’s Day Projects.

The kids made them and they turned out so well!!! I included 4 exclamations, because, you know, sometimes projects don’t actually turn out that well at these ages (shhhh).

Linking up with….

What I'm Into

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