Thursday, August 30, 2012

Story :: Our Journey of Heartache and Grace from Eden to Evermore

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Steven James. His Patrick Bowers thrillers are so beautifully written that even though they walk the very edge of what my wimpy self can handle in the blood and gore department, I cannot resist them.

Steven James knows how to tell a story. So I was excited to see how he would approach the greatest Story.

Story: Our Journey of Heartache and Grace from Eden to Evermore is the Easter story, told from beginning to end, but in a way you’ve probably never heard it before.

If you’ve been a Christ-follower for any length of time, you already know the Story.


You know about Adam and Eve. The serpent and the Fall. Cain and Abel. The first Passover and the long wait for the One who would pay the price for all of us.

You’ve read the Gospels and you know about the miracles and the disciples. You’ve read about the Garden and Golgotha.

You know where it’s all going. To the empty tomb and the risen Savior.

You already know…right?

Far too often, the miraculous becomes mundane. And it takes someone presenting it to us in a fresh way to stir something in our souls, to awaken us to the wonder that is this Story we are all a part of.

With Scripture, poetry, and prose so full of imagery and life that familiar characters dance off the page and startle you with their humanity, Story doesn’t attempt to explain the miracle of the redemptive plan, but rather encourages us to delight in the mystery.

From Story

you stretch imaginations and souls.
you touch ears and eyes and tongues
and set them free.
you offer life to carcasses
dusty with the soil of everyday life.
     you are spirit.
     you are here.
do the first miracle of all in my life—
help me to believe in you,
and set your mysterious strength loose
in my life.

Story isn’t a book to be rushed, but rather savored and absorbed. After all, this isn’t just any story. It’s our Story.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
The super fine print: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my opinion. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Does God Notice?

In the past few weeks, aside from all the usual amazing things He does (like keeping the earth traveling around the sun at precisely the correct angle to support life…you know…the usual), God has taken particular notice of me.

I know He always notices.

But in the past couple of weeks, He’s been obvious about it.

It started a few weeks ago with a big one. I needed to switch Emma’s speech therapy to a different time. That might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Despite heroic efforts on the therapist’s part, we finally concluded that it just wasn’t going to happen.

Until the next morning . . .when it did.

I’d been praying for wisdom (you know, since it wasn’t going to happen). He made it happen.

Then came the phone call. The one from Emma’s bus driver with the news that he could pick Emma up in the mornings at a reasonable time which means I don’t have to drag all three kids out the door every morning.

I hadn’t even gotten around to praying for that one.

He gave me something I didn’t even know I needed.

Then came the Saturday night email. The one asking if I could help out in a specific class on Sunday morning. Where, it just so happened, the very neighbor I’ve been praying for opportunities to witness to showed up to drop off her son.

He gave me a glimpse into His bigger plan.

Then came Monday morning. When I lost my earring. And I remembered the speech therapy, and the bus schedule, and the neighbor.

So I prayed. (Not a prayer of great faith).

God, it’s just an earring. I know it doesn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. But it matters to me. Could you, maybe, you know, help me out?

When I found the earring a little while later, I heard Him.

I want to be involved in all of your life. You miss out on so much when you don’t bring it—all of it—to me.

Forgive me for making you too small. For knowing you are all-powerful in my head, but living my life as if some of my problems are too big for you. Thank you for holding my world in Your hands and for reminding me that you see it all—the complexity of my day, the desires of my heart, the earring dropping into the bottom of the gym bag. You are awesome.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Day Fears

First day of 1st grade
Tomorrow is the first day of third grade for my sweet Emma, so I decided to revisit something I wrote two years ago—on the first day of first grade (isn’t there a Veggie Tales song in there?).
**For those of you who might not know, Emma was born with Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. As is typical of our RTS-sweeties, her speech is significantly delayed.**
From August 2010…
I was doing OK until it was time for me to leave her. Emma gave me this look that, to me, said "I'm trying to be brave . . . but I don't know about this, Mommy."
I almost lost it.
These are the days when having a child who can't—not just is reluctant to—not just that it's like pulling teeth to get the info—but that cannot tell me about her day could drive me insane. Or maybe to order a peppermint mocha.
I would give anything to know what she is thinking, feeling, and wondering.
Does she understand that school is back in for the year? Does she know that she's going back tomorrow and the next day and the next? Does she wonder where her teachers from the last two years are and why the classroom is different? Did she enjoy her day? Was everyone nice to her? What was her favorite part of the day? Her least favorite?
These are the questions that I never get answers to.

Emma - 2nd Grade Awards Day
So I take them to One who knows the answers. And I beg Him to communicate with her little heart and ease any anxiety she may be feeling. And to give me wisdom to know things I couldn't otherwise know. To show me when to intervene and to give me the good sense to stay out of the way when she's got it under control (as she usually does!).
It helps me to remember that He loves her more than I do.
And that He is holding her safely in His arms.

(As you can see...she not only survived, she thrived!)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Currents :: August 18

This week's currents...

Books: Have you ever read anything by Jenny B. Jones? She’s a hoot. Fun YA/chick-lit. I stayed up way too late several times this week reading So Not Happening.

(This begs the question…was I staying up late because of the Olympics, or do I just have a bad habit of staying up late?)

Writing: A friend from church made my month when she took the time to tell me she’s been encouraged by the blog. I had no idea. Love it when God lets me see a sliver of what He’s up to.

Life: I am on a diet. At this point, it is not a lifestyle change. It is a “DIE”t. I am dying for a Coke. And for sushi. And pizza. So of course, as I’m sipping on some unsweetened tea and munching an apple—and not happy about it—what do I run across but this quote from Paul Tripp

“God calls you to deny yourself then blesses you with the indwelling Holy Spirit so you will have the power to say "no.”


Family: At 12:23 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, all the upstairs rooms were tidy.

TV: I got behind on this season of Covert Affairs so I took the time to catch up. All in the name of research, of course. And maybe because I have a wee crush on Auggie.

Wonders: I don’t know if there is a nicer way to end a day than with one of my children softly snoring in my arms.


Weirdness: I cleaned out the the kitchen junk drawers (yes, I said drawers, with an s, as in plural). A few of the *treasures* I discovered:
  • 7,234,872 tiny rubber bands
  • 6 carmex lip balms and a lipstick - my lips will be super smooth for weeks
  • 4 rolls of Scotch tape - which would explain why I can never find any when I need it
  • A stash of beads from a rash act of craftiness
  • An undetermined number of chargers and headphones (undetermined because I’m going to need an hour to untangle them)
  • 8 tubes of sample size toothpaste (don’t ask)
  • $3.78 - which is more than enough for me to snag a mocha frappe from McDonald’s…which I won’t…because I’m on a diet. - I've been dieting ALL morning. AM I SKINNY YET???

May your weekend be filled with wonders and weirdness!

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where Do You Live?

Where do you live?

I don’t mean geographically. I mean day-to-day. Hour-by-hour. Minute-by-minute.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I’ve come to this conclusion.

I live in that murky place where fear and faith collide.

You might not realize this, but I know a few things about fear. I’m not afraid of heights, spiders, small spaces, or long bridges.

I’m afraid of people.

People like you.

I'm not afraid of being in crowds and I don't have panic attacks at the thought of going to a party. But I do spend a ridiculous amount of time worrying about what people think about me. Did they like the last blog post? (Maybe). Did I talk too much at that party? (Probably). Are my clothes so boring that I’m a good candidate for What Not to Wear? (Likely). Am I the butt of many a joke when I’m not around? (Hard to say).

Of course, the most important question is, Why do I care?

I know who I am. I’m a child of the King. I was created in the image of the Most High. Designed by my Maker for a unique purpose in His Kingdom. My personality, likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses are all a part of His master plan.

I know this. In my head.

But my heart struggles to live where faith trumps fear. Every day is a battle between my desire to stay in the boat and the call to step out in faith and walk on the water.

That world out there—out of the boat—is a wild place. There are rip-currents of confusion and tsunamis of criticism. Staying on the water requires faith in and focus on the One who calls.

Sometimes I jump out and run for it before my mind can stop me. Some days I hang onto the sides, heart racing, unable to move.

Most days, I’m right there where my fear and faith collide. I’m out of the boat, but I’m not necessarily on the water. I start strong, but then I waver. I get wet—a lot. I sink, cry out, fall into grace, and time and time again, my Savior steadies my steps and mercifully allows me to try again.

Every blog post, every word of fiction, and every devotion you read that has my name on it is a little piece of me. A visible souvenir of the war between my desire to live hidden and my desire to live obedient.

I don’t know where you live. I don’t know what God’s asking you to do. I don’t know what risks you need to take.

I do know that it's worth it. And if you’d like to share what God is calling you to do in the comments, I’d love to pray with you as we step out in faith together.

Psalm 119:133-135 ~ Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Redeem me from man’s oppression that I may keep your precepts. Make your face shine upon your servant , and teach me your statutes. (ESV)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Currents :: August 11

The currents of my life . . . where wonders and weirdness collide.

Books: I read a fun novel, Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt. I’ve started quite a few books this summer that simply haven’t sucked me in. This one did. I mean, when the girl kisses her fiance’s brother five days before the wedding…well, you have to keep turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen next.

Writing: I’m working on a new romantic suspense. I would like the record to show that regardless of what my Google searches might indicate, I have no intention of committing any acts of domestic terrorism.

Family: Our family spent a wonderful week in the mountains of North Carolina on the private and beautiful Mirror Lake located just a few miles from Lake Lure. We took a few day trips, one of which was into the Pisgah National Forest. We played at the base of Looking Glass Falls and then later in the chilly water flowing along Sycamore Flats. There was something deeply satisfying about watching my children discover a place that is a part of my earliest—and fondest—memories.

TV: I cannot stop watching the Olympics! I know I could just check the results on line, but I want to experience it. My sleep deprivation status is reaching a critical stage.

Scripture: I’ve read Psalm 119 many times. But these verses hadn’t jumped out at me until I heard Beth Moore talking about them. I read and re-read them and eventually I printed them and placed them on my mantle…maybe you need this too?

Psalm 119:132-133 ~Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. Keep steady my steps according to your promise and let no iniquity get dominion over me. (ESV, emphasis mine)

Wonders: I’m getting the biggest kick out of watching my baby boy’s approach to our great big world. He’s fascinated by how things work and his enthusiasm is re-igniting my own. I dare you to hang out with a toddler and not find yourself amazed by Rubbermaid containers or feeling the urge to clap each time you successfully walk across a flat surface.

Weirdness: I love the “weird” Olympic sports. What makes a person spend years in training to compete for Gold (which instead of real gold is gold-plated silver and that bothers me, but I digress) in something like Badminton or Ping Pong Table Tennis? And seriously…Racewalking? I’m not disputing that it’s tough, but you have to have some major self-confidence to strut around like that in public.

May your weekend be full of wonders and weirdness!
Grace and peace,

I hope you enjoyed this week’s Currents. Each week, I’ll be sharing glimpses into the general movements and happenings in my world. The overall idea for this came from the blog of the super-talented Allison, aka, The Budget Maven. (She says she got the idea from someone, but I can’t remember who). You should check out her blog. She's way cooler than me :-).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon

I broke one of my personal reading rules for this book.
I never (well, I guess now that would be almost never) read the books from a series out of order.

I worry that I might be missing something important that came up in a previous book.

I’m re-thinking my rule.

Because Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon was fantastic, all on its own.

I’ve picked up quite a few books this summer that haven’t grabbed me. I’ve been able to read a few pages and put them down without a hint of angst. Some of them I’ve finished, most I haven’t.

I read Lethal Legacy in one day.

I read a lot of romantic suspense and Irene Hannon is one of my favorite authors. Lethal Legacy, with its combination of murder, family drama, a Mafia don, a handsome detective, and a daughter fighting for her father’s name, did not disappoint.

The story was compelling enough to keep me turning the pages. Even after I knew who the bad guys were, I had to see how it would all play out.

The characters were well developed and realistic. They were people I’d like to get to know and hang out with. They had interesting quirks (I like quirks), flaws I could identify with, and strengths that I admire.

The faith element was woven in as seamlessly as I’ve seen in a while. It felt integral to the story without being preachy—and that is a line that is so easy to cross.

If you’re looking for a great read to cap off your summer check out Lethal Legacy and the entire Guardians of Justice Series by Irene Hannon.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to give a positive review.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Raising Financially Confident Kids

I know I said I’d be reviewing books and such every other week, but I had the opportunity to review two great books from Revell—one fiction, one nonfiction—but both reviews needed to be posted during the same week. I decided to go for it. Today, we’ll hit the nonfiction and tomorrow, you’ll get an Extra Edition.

I picked up Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt because educating my children about finances is very important to me and I want to start now, while they are very young.

I do not want my children to grow up with a sense of entitlement. I want them to walk around each day with a profound sense of gratitude and a heart bent toward sharing with others. (I want that for myself as well!)

I had some specific things I wanted to take away from the book (how do you talk to your preschooler about money, when do you start allowances, what about those tricky teen years) but honestly, I did not expect to enjoy reading it.

We’ve been through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Our only debt is our mortgage. (Boy, that feels so good to say after carrying two mortgages for seventeen months!!)

I don’t need to be convinced that debt is bad for your relationships, and that debt free living allows you to better serve the Kingdom.
I’m already sold.

So I sort of expected to skim over the “yeah, we’re already doing that” parts and focus on the sections that applied to me.

I didn’t do much skimming.

Raising Financially Confident Kids was not only packed with useful information, it was a very enjoyable and quick read - it even has a great twist at the end!
There are chapters for all stages of development, and great advice on shielding our children from consumerism and tearing down attitudes of entitlement. I’ll be pulling this out again as my kids get older to refresh my memory on how to explain things like compound interest and helping them see the “lie” in advertisements (if you have this toy you’ll be popular, etc.). And my kids are going to start hearing me use this line, "We don't choose to spend our money that way," a lot!
The “salary” plan she implemented with her own boys over twenty years ago intrigued and terrified me! It’s hard to argue with the results, and it certainly gave her sons the opportunity to learn how to manage money while still in the safety net of the home. I’m a few years away from that point with my own sons, but I can see us using a version of this method down the road.

I highly recommend Raising Financially Confident Kids to parents of children of all ages.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: The fine folks at Revell sent me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to give a positive review.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Want to Get Wet?

I just returned from a wonderful week of vacation in the mountains of North Carolina. We had an amazing time and I'm looking forward to sharing bits of what God showed me in the weeks ahead.

But for now, as promised, today is the launch of the new and improved Out of the Boat. I'm keeping the most popular topics, scaling back on a few posts, and adding a new feature that I hope you'll enjoy.

Here's what you can expect when you stop by.

Tuesday: Walking on Water ~ Where our faith gets its feet wet. These are the lessons I'm learning as I live where fear and faith collide. Some lessons are fun. Some poignant. All of them are glimpses of God's grace.

Every other Thursday: Riding the Rapids ~ Where truth splashes us with fresh grace and fiction keeps us hanging on for the ride. These are the books, Bible studies, and experiences that are informing my journey-and keeping it fun!

Saturday: Currents ~ Where wonders and weirdness collide. I hope this makes you curious...check back in on Saturday for the first installment!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins

I keep expecting Edie to tell me she's had enough of me, but she keeps letting me invade her corner of the internet on the first Thursday of the month!

Today, I'm sharing my thoughts on a great e-book by Jeff Goins - You Are A Writer.

I'd love for you to swing on over to The Write Conversation and chime in!

And don't forget, next week begins the new schedule for Out of the Boat. I'll be kicking things off on Tuesday with a post on what it means to be Living Where Fear and Faith Collide. You won't want to miss it!