February Favourites

I got this idea from Crystal Stine’s Friday Favorites post. I thought I’d share a few things that stood out from this month:

Podcast: I’ve just recently started subscribing to these on iTunes, and a takeaway from February was Gary Chapman’s interview with Lysa Terkeurst – author of “The Best Yes”. Wise words in there.

Discoveries: Did you know Moses had a brother-in-law? And one he must have liked very much, because Hobab wanted to go back to his homeland, but Moses was very persuasive and talked him into travelling with the Israelites (Numbers 10:29-33). I’ve also put the Goodreads app on my iPhone. I hadn’t found their website very accessible with my screen-reading software, but a friend suggested the app instead and it’s brilliant. You have shelves for books you want to read, have read and are currently reading, and you can see your friends’ choices too.

Blog-Post: I’ve had a real treat this month with all those posts from the Dominican Republic. I really liked this one from Ruth about how a young boy preached on the Bible-reading she ‘Just happened’ to have read that morning. I don’t believe in co-incidences, but I believe in God-incidences.

Quote: “Do not ask God to feed the hungry if you have enough food in your pantry.” That seems so characteristic of God. After all, how did Jesus feed over five thousand people? With five loaves of bread and two fish that someone gave. He used what was already there. I don’t think He would expect one person to solve world-hunger, but each person can share their provisions with another.

Bible-Verse: Haggai 2:4 – “Take heart, … and begin to work. For I am with you”. Someone shared this days before my appointment with the job-centre, when I was told there was no more help they could give me. Of course, God’s work doesn’t have to be paid employment. There are many things we can do for the kingdom of God, in and out of the workplace.

What’s stood out for you this month? I’d love to know.

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Stories from the DR

I’ve really enjoyed the latest Compassion Bloggers assignment to promote their trip to the Dominican Republic. I’ve read along as trip updates daily came into my inbox, and alternating between Facebook and Twitter, I’ve shared a few of these:

Ruth’s story about the boy going blind who needed glasses costing 5,000 pesos (which may as well have been a million). Bri’s post about Marlo becoming the man of the house. Holley’s thoughts on ways to express love. Bonnie’s tear-jerker (or, should I say, reminder to keep writing those letters). Lisa’s son has special needs, and because of him, she found herself letting her guard down when she saw Jazmin. It’s been heart-breaking to read that several children in the town of Bonao were born with special needs due to a nearby nickel plant, which the corrupt government allows to remain, despite its effect on the locals.

If you’ve been touched by any of these stories (as I have), and if you’re not already, will you consider becoming a sponsor? If you wanted, you could choose specifically to sponsor a child from the Dominican Republic. I don’t sponsor in the DR, but mine are very important to me and I know writing to them makes a real difference. Will you do the same and share your life with a Compassion-child?

Known or Admired?

My friend Becky just celebrated her 4-year blogging anniversary by sharing an update on Facebook, and mentioning in the comments some of the writers whose words had impacted her. Having blogged for about the same amount of time (for me it’ll be 4 years in June), I wondered if I’d be one of them. As it happened, I did get a mention. My comment said: “Thank you for the friendship we’ve developed. Thank you for supporting me so well and for truly loving my family.” She’s not wrong; I’ve kept a few of the videos she’s shared (like the one where the baby girl says her brother’s name for the first time), but that comment meant so much to me. Though I’d like it if people were inspired by some of the posts on here, I’d far rather be known as a friend who loves people.

Do you know God’s like that too? Yes, He does prepare good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), but first and most importantly, He wants to know us. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends” (John 15:15).

When was the last time you came to God … not with any prayer-request or money or good work well done, but just with yourself?

Very Like a House Group: “The Beauty of Grace” Book-Review

Imagine for a minute that friends from all over the globe have gathered in your lounge (there probably aren’t enough chairs). There’s Joy Forney, the one who lives in Uganda; Annie Downs, who turns 35 this year (like me) and lives in Nashville; Kristen Strong, whose daughter’s accident gives her authority to write on sacrifice; Maggie Whitley, who’s focused on Compassion; Emily Freeman, author of “A Million Little Ways” and more; Holley Gerth, the one you feel like telling all your problems to, to name a few. You’ve handed out the cookies and mugs of coffee, picked up your pad of paper to make notes, and you go round the room asking each one to share their thoughts. Very like a house group your church might have midweek, and just as in a house group you’re faced with different personalities, you are here too. Perhaps you’ll like the hard-hitting style of Melanie Shankle, who maintains it’s too easy to sit on your couch and let life pass you by, or you might prefer a gentler voice – someone you sense has endured through tough times.

‘Stories of God’s love from today’s most popular writers’ is a lofty tagline. Really it’s a selection by a bunch of folks you will have heard of if you regularly visit the (in)Courage website. I would have preferred it if the contributors’ bios had been at the tops of their first posts. It would have given Sara Frankl’s added poignancy if readers could have seen at a glance that her illness was over and she was now with the Lord, but overall, I would recommend “The Beauty of Grace”. Many of its writers are familiar to me. It’s what my mum would call a ‘Coffee table book’ – one you can dip in and out of, and keep going back to … and I might do just that.

This is my Last Day

Over the weekend, I’ve had so many things knocking on the door of my heart. At church yesterday, my pastor talked about Psalm 43 – how loss of hope and isolation were wrong roads to go down. I felt I was losing hope in certain areas of my life, E.G. I have a friend who’s mentally ill; another friend who’s battling, and oftentimes the opponent wins.

I saw a status on Facebook about someone’s 24-year-old husband who died suddenly. He’d just graduated, had a job at the Bible-college and his whole life in front of him. 24! Here I was at 34, feeling like I didn’t have much to offer, and I was alive. He was 24 with a wife, a job and prospects, and his life was abruptly taken from him. God seemed cruel.

In the afternoon, I listened to a podcast. The episode was called “Are you Broken”. In it Jarrod Cooper urged us to have seasons of brokenness, but not to make those seasons our identity – not to live in them our whole lives.

Whilst reading Dawn Camp’s “The Beauty of Grace” ready to review it later this week, I came across an entry about someone who’d had a chaotic time with a trip to an emergency room, a funeral, and Christmas. A jar of strawberry jam fell out of her fridge, and as she eyed the red stickiness and shards of glass, she was reminded of the dawn of redeeming grace – Jesus coming into the mess of our lives.

A friend had invited me to a Bible-study today. One of the questions asked us to think about writing a song: ‘This is my last day’. All these things I was processing from the weekend seemed suddenly to come together about half an hour before I left the house:
This is my last day, this is goodbye
To a time of brokenness;
Though I may feel weak, it’s not my identity –
I don’t want to live there.

I wanna wake up and say
That this is a good day;
I’m putting my hope there in the Lord:
I will trust Him to hide
Every piece of my life
In His redeeming grace
.

This is my last day, this is goodbye
To a time of selfishness;
There is injustice, and there is suffering,
But I will choose to see the best.

Chorus

Why must I go on mourning?
Why is my soul so downcast?
I will yet praise You, Lord.

Chorus