Monday, April 23, 2007

Recommendations from a Reader

It struck me the other day that for someone whose blog is titled "Curl Up and Read," I've sure made a lousy effort at recommending anything to any of you who may be readers. So, consider this my first post filled simply with book recommendations. These are some of the pages I've dived into recently, and I consider them to be excellent reads!

1) Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. This is a provocative, thought-provoking narrative on what it means to be a Christian today using an "ancient" book as our road-map. It's fascinating! Be prepared to have to stop and think.

2) Israel, My Beloved by Kay Arthur. This is one of the most well-crafted novels I have read in a long time. Sarah, the main character, leaves her husband to pursue other idols and lusts. As you read you begin to realize that Sarah embodies the nation of Israel and her husband is The Almighty. The novel begins about the same time as the attack on Israel by the Chaldeans and ends with Christ's return. It's strange and wonderful all at the same time.

3) The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist. This is a great "fluffy" read if you just need to curl up and lose yourself in something. It's about a man who takes his three children to the west in search of gold. He dies on the journey over and the oldest daughter is left to make a life for her and her brother and sister in a land filled with greedy men and unkempt women.

4) Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark. If you are in the mood for suspense, this is the novel for you. Identical twins are kidnapped and held for ransom. One is returned with a note saying the other has been killed. The twist comes in when the parents discover the twins are communicating with each other...told you it's suspenseful!

I have read these within the last month, so I may post later on about some long-time favorites that are always worth looking into. Happy Reading!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Big Brother

Have you ever wished for a sibling that you didn't have? For me, I've always wondered what it would be like to have a big brother. I'm thankful for my family and wouldn't trade any of them. But, every so often I think it would have been nice to have a big brother. Today while spending some time in the Word, I had a fresh realization that I DO have a big brother. Jesus Christ is my big brother! And, He calls me His sister!!!

I was sitting out on my balcony enjoying some amazing weather when I came across a couple verses in Hebrews that address my relationship to Jesus as one of brother and sister. It was one of those moments when I went, "Hey, I knew that already...but today is just seems more awesome!!" A new sense of awe has come over me just in knowing that I can talk to my big brother about anything I want. I can get his opinion on my career, on dating (He's the hardest big brother to impress, I'm sure!), on my future, or just ask Him for a really good big brother "hug" if I ever need it! This thought is comforting to me, and leaves me incredibly grateful for the close relationship that I can achieve with my Lord because He took on my burdens at the cross.

Christ Jesus, my Savior and brother, thank you for taking away my sins. Thank you for establishing a relationship between me, yourself, and our Father that is close and personal! Thank you for freeing me to give up control of my life and place it in your capable hands. I praise your awesome name!!!!

"In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, 'I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.'"
Hebrews 2: 10-12 (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Desiring God

A friend recently lent me the book Desiring God by John Piper. I delved into this evening, and just a few pages in found myself intrigued. Here are some quotes that have already made an impact on me:

"That God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him continues to be a spectacular and precious truth in my mind and heart."

"When delighting in God is the work of our lives...there will be an inner strength for ministries of love to the very end."

"But not only does the pursuit of joy in God give strength to endure, it is the key to breaking the power of sin on our way to heaven...I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God."

"I never tire of saying and savoring the truth that God's passion to be glorified and our passion to be satisfied are one experience in the Christ-exalting act of worship."

"The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."

"In a matter of weeks I came to see that it is unbiblical and arrogant to try to worship God for any other reason than the pleasure to be had in Him."

Finally, Piper quoted C.S. Lewis as saying,
"But the most obvious fact about praise--whether of God or anything-escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise...The world rings with praise--lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game...I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."

"Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD."
Ps. 117

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Random Thoughts

I've had several different things rolling through my head the last several days, and I can't pinpoint which one draws me the most for a blog entry. Therefore, I've decided just to list some random thoughts, and I will decide later whether or not to follow up in future posts.

1) I read in a book tonight that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. This idea has decided to imbed itself in my head and percolate for a little while. If this is true, then what does forgiveness look like? Is forgiveness more for the "forgiver" than the "forgivee"? What do you think about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation?

2) One of my struggles in life is dealing with anxiety. I have an extremely anxious personality which has recently required counseling and temporary medication. God is blessing me greatly as I learn to manage this struggle and give Him control of my life. But, one of the things I am particularly anxious about is traveling--specifically flying. Many of my readers know that I am terrified of flying-for reasons that I don't really understand. On Friday night, I was glued to the TV watching weather reports of tornadoes in and around the Dallas area. As I was watching all of this, I was struck by the realization that at one point in my life I was as terrified of tornadoes as I now am of flying. My fear of tornadoes has drastically subsided in recent years, and I'm left with the prayer that this will happen with my phobia of flying as well. Any thoughts?

3) I'm burned out from teaching. At the moment I can't tell you if I just need the summer or a career change, although, last week I would have told you I needed a career change. It's hard to determine, however, at this extremely stressful time of year. At this point, all I know is, I am praying that God provides me extra blessings along the way over the next six weeks...because I am exhausted. I also probably need to pray for an attitude change.

4) What does it look like to walk through the pain of a certain situation? What exactly does that mean? I'm not sure, but I am slowly getting an idea. I wonder if walking through the pain is the process through which one achieves the "acceptance" phase of grief. Maybe it's the final stage before one can say, "I can now accept this situation and fully move on." It's all a little uncertain to me. What I do know, however, is that the Bible is full of stories of individuals who had to walk through the pain in order to get to the joy on the other side. Those are the stories I am clinging to these days!

So, what do you think? Was that random enough for you? You just got a pretty good glimpse into the confusion that is my brain. Any thoughts? Feel free to comment on my thoughts or add your own thoughts to my random list.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I Want to Hold Your Hand

As I picked up my students from Art class today, one of my precious ones ran up to me, looked at me with puppy dog eyes, and said, "I want to hold your hand." It is pretty much impossible to refuse such a request. This particular student does this from time to time whenever he just needs an extra measure of loving devotion. He's not afraid to say, "Miss Lowery, I need to hold your hand for a minute. " Or, "Miss Lowery, I need a hug." It is precious to me, and today it brought other reflections to my mind and heart.

We all need that, don't we? Every once in a while we need someone to just love on us a little more than normal. Sometimes an extra hug or genuine, "How are you?" just happens upon us. Other times we have to humble ourselves and say, "I need a little love today. Can you help me with that?" (Side note: asking children to hug you is a great way to get a little more lovin' in your day!) It's not always easy to do that, however.

So, here's what I you ever ask this of God? Do you sometimes find yourself saying, "Lord God, will you shower a little more love on me today? I am feeling the need to be reminded that I am the child and you are the parent." And, that's what it is really all about. He is our Father. We are His children. Just like you crawled in your mom or dad's lap for no reason other than cause you wanted to be close; so you can crawl into the lap of your Heavenly Father and just absorb His love.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, my mind was reviewing a few things that have happened over the last few days. Nothing major, but just reflecting on some conversations. Through my reflections, I was left with a few questions that are completely unknown to me at this point. As I got into bed, I found myself saying, "Lord, it's a good thing you are in control of all of that, because I sure don't want to be." I was able to lay down in His loving presence and sleep knowing that He is in control. This concept is seen in our lives when children can relax and go to sleep knowing that their parents are in the same house taking care of all of their needs.

All of these things have just reminded me how much comfort we can take from viewing God as our Abba Father. We have physical evidence in this life of how comforting parents/adults can be to children, and we can cling to that image as we assume the role of sons and daughters of God. Don't be afraid to let God love on you. Ask Him for an extra measure of love if you are feeling a little drained. He is always waiting right there to shower you with blessings beyond what you can imagine. Open your eyes and see His love pouring down all around you!

"I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing."
Ezekiel 34:26
"As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem."
Isaiah 66:13

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Need for Honesty, Part II

This morning on my way to school I had an AHA moment. I was listening to a recording of a Living Proof Ministries conference with Beth Moore. She was speaking on delighting in the Lord. During the course of the conference she addressed the need in women to feel secure and safe. She discussed that though this is a God-given trait, it can be dangerous.

I began to meditate on that thought for a few minutes and came to realize something about the past, I have used men to fulfill that need in me. Now, men obviously have a desire to be a protector and provider, and I think that is supposed to balance well with a women's need for safety and security. But, hear me out: in the past, I have relied on men for an unhealthy amount of emotional safety and security. Thankfully, I have never completely relied on a man for that-God was still always in the picture to an extent...but I still found too much worth in the security a man provides.

So, now I'm scared. I'm scared to trust again. Because I yearned for the safety and security a man provides me...I wasn't always aware of red-flags in my past relationships. Therefore, I'm scared to death that the next someone in my life will not be honest with me about who he really is. I'm scared that I will fall for him and then find out that he's not the man of God I thought he was. I'm scared that he will break my heart, and I'm not sure I can survive being hurt again. I'm scared to trust myself in discerning who God has for me. I'm scared to let myself be vulnerable again. I'm scared there won't be someone out there who will put up with all my weird/annoying idiosyncracies.

Having said all that, I'm left with two things...
1) Like I said in my last "Need for Honesty" blog, learning to fall in love with God is slowly teaching me how to trust him. People will always let me down, but he will guide me. He will demolish my fears one at a time and continue to walk me through the healing process.
2) The more I fall in love with him, the more I yearn for the saftey and security that He provides. When a man arrives on the scene, the safety and security he provides will simply be the icing on the cake that God has given to me because I delighted in Him!

"Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires on your heart."
Ps. 37:4

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Laughter is the Best Medicine

I'm in the mood at the moment for a good laugh. So, I thought I'd share something with you so that you can join me in a good-ole giggle.

Yesterday, we took our first graders to the Frisco Fire Department. They have an area at their station called safety town. It is designed to teach first graders about driver and pedestrian safety in order to increase children's safety as they play in and around streets. Part of the program was a lesson on various road signs that children see every day as they drive along with their parents. The instructor showed them a "no U-turn" sign and asked if they knew what it meant. One little girl said, "It means don't turn around."

In the midst of my marveling at what first graders can understand about driver safety, I hear one of my little rascals say, "Yeah, but my dad didn't." It was all I could do to hold it together!!!! Wow!! He was paying attention, wasn't he?

Upon returning to school, we took the kids outside to run off some of the energy accumulated while at the fire station. There is a water fountain out on the playground and I saw a group of my boys repeatedly taking a drink of water, kneeling down, and apparently spitting into a hole of some sort. I walked over and asked them to stop spitting in the hole. The baby of my class looked up at me and said, "We're not spitting, we're burping on the ants!" Only a group of boys could derive such pleasure from burping on ants. But, I will admit it brought a smile to my face.

I hope that if you have had a somewhat emotional day like me, that these light-hearted moments will remind you of the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus!!!

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful..."
Prov. 15:13
"Our mouths are filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy."
Ps. 126:2a