I'm taking a discipleship class at church right now. And, they challenged us to go on a media fast for about 2 months. I'll admit that I haven't followed this fast with 100% success. But, I have stopped watching tv & movies (Last week I slipped a bit and watched a movie with my kiddos and a couple shows with my husband.) And, technically I'm not on Facebook right now except for 'business' purposes (promoting our next Vintage Sale fundraising event). I haven't been entirely successful there either. But, that's a whole other post.
My point in sharing about the media fast is to say that I've been doing a LOT of reading lately. I have always been an avid reader. But, in the last several years I'v done a lot less reading and have allowed myself to get sucked into excessive tv watching in the evenings as a way to relax....or excessive computer use (especially Facebook).
I have really enjoyed reading again! And, I've come across some good stuff. I thought I'd share.
I really enjoy non-fiction...especially memoir type books. I came across the book, Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha, and was immediately drawn in. She shares her story of being raised Catholic, realizing at a young age that she didn't really believe in God, and re-discovering faith in God many years later slowly and tentatively. She's funny. She's honest. She's profound. Her writing was refreshing. And, she's totally relate-able.
Also, I've discovered the A.D. Chronicles by Bodie & Brock Thoene. This historical biblical fiction series is set in the time of Jesus life here on earth....from his birth to his death & resurrection. There are 12 books in the series. I've actually been reading them out of order because I get them from my library & I've just signed out whatever is available. But, the books are written in such a way that you don't have to read them in order. And, they are just absolutely incredible. They focus on so many different characters...some from Biblical accounts and some created as those who may have encountered Jesus. They bring to life the stories from the Gospels unlike I've ever experienced before. And while, it's a fictional series, they remain biblically accurate and they have done painstaking research on Jewish culture at the time. It's truly a fascinating and moving series.
Finally, I'm still in the process of reading this book. But, the book Radical, Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream by David Platt has been eye-opening and challenging to say the least.
What are you reading? What reading suggestions do you have for me?
Some of my favorite posts to go back and look at are ones where I simply posted pictures of some of my favorite things and favorite moments. I didn't usually write a long thing to go with it. I just let the pictures speak for themselves.
I haven't done that in a really long time. And, sometimes I get so caught up in the craziness of life, that I forget to look around. I forget to embrace the joy in small things. I forget to be thankful.
And so, in the last couple weeks....as I looked around....and really SAW.....I saw plenty to be thankful for.
So as I loaded these pictures to this post, they loaded in a totally random order. I had planned to give a brief line or two to label the pictures....some are from camping with friends, some from a weekend away with my sister and brother-in-law at the Fingerlakes in NY, some of my boys sorting pumpkin seeds, some of my boys just being silly, etc.
The old me would have agonized over this and would have worked to the point of frustration to fix it, put them in order, and add my labels.
But you know what, it's ok. They still bring me joy.
There's so much that has happened that I haven't written here about. I barely know where to start. Should I tell you about the 40 day Daniel Fast I did over Lent this year that jump started both a new spiritual awareness and some weight loss? Should I tell you about my continuing struggles with weight loss/ gain/ maintenance/ body image? Should I tell you about the Discipleship classes I'm taking at church and the media fast we've been challenged to do...and that I'm not totally successful at?
Maybe I could tell you about my kids....my gosh they've grown a lot since I last wrote about them here! There's never a shortage of boy stories to share. Most of them I've been sharing on Facebook in witty (well, I like to think they're witty), limited-sentence anecdotes. People tell me they miss my Facebook updates now that I'm doing my (sorta) media fast.
Ooh! Maybe I should tell you how since I've stopped making Facebook updates over the last two weeks, I've realized how every interesting, notable, or even un-notable experience becomes a Facebook post in my head. Things that are otherwise non-events quickly organize themselves into 2 or 3 sentence snippets.
What I should really tell you about is how our Vintage Sale events (done as fundraisers for local ministries) have been growing...how we have our own Facebook page, are in the process of having a website designed....how I'm freaking out a little because I'm not business-minded at all yet I find myself with something that has the potential to be either a business or a non-profit venture. Either avenue seems totally overwhelming and out of my comfort zone. And, I don't know how to take this from hobby to something serious.....or if I even want to.
Or, I could tell you about how I still struggle with losing my temper with my kids, managing my time, and keeping a relatively clean house....and how I fail desperately at all of these over and over. I could also mention that contentment is another area I sometimes think I've got a grasp on, until I think of ways I could be even more content.
There's so much I could tell you. Someone remind me that if I wrote here on a regular basis picking a topic wouldn't seem so overwhelming. Someone remind me that I really like have past posts to go back and read and re-live moments I'd long forgotten. And, then someone remind me to write again in a few days.
I can't stop thinking about it since I saw the news article today. Iraqi children being beheaded...their heads placed on spikes in playgrounds. Seriously. This is happening. As I look at my own children who are safe because of a few thousand miles? a lack of Islamic extremists in my backyard? Yet. A mother's heart. A father's heart is the same here as a place we only hear of in the news. I saw a picture earlier today tacked on to one of those news articles & I couldn't find it again. It was of a crying traumatized girl...maybe 8 or 9 and beside her stood a smiling, triumphant looking, smirking 20 something young man....perhaps one of the extremists? I never did find out because when I went back to the same article the corresponding picture had been changed. In an attempt to find that picture again and perhaps find out exactly what was happening in it, I made the mistake of googling Iraqi children killed.....and, oh friends, the pictures that popped up may never ever be erased from my mind again. One in particular. A little girl in a cute dress and white tights...laying headless in the street. I can NOT, will NOT simply forget this. We turn on our tv's and are amused & entertained by such simpering, ridiculous images and messages, things that are supposed to matter to us....0% financing, hair care, fashion trends, idiotic sitcoms that celebrate the worst in us - greed, lust, envy - and turn it into something 'funny'. It's all empty. Worthless. For years, I could not forget the image of the girl in the red coat after watching Schindler's List. Now, I shall have a faceless little girl in white tights emblazed on my memory.
This question was posted on Facebook by a relative of mine with young children. Lots of people responded to her question...so many that I didn't think it was necessary for me to respond too. But, then I felt like I had something I wanted to add.
Her question: "As a mom I worry I am not teaching my kids to be good people. Anyone else feel this way?"
And here's what I felt like I needed to share with her...
Yes. All the time. I worry all the time that I'm failing to teach them to be considerate, loving, compassionate, and patient. I worry that every time I fail to be compassionate & patient toward them that I have negated any small smidgeon of that which may have gotten through to them before. I worry that I don't do enough to teach them about God's love and His Word. I worry that I don't pray with them enough. I worry that I don't pray FOR them enough. I worry that when I get frustrated and angry that my own behavior will make them reject any bit of Truth that I've managed to impart to them. That, like so many in today's world, they'll decide that Christians are just hypocrites. In a family we see all of our worst flaws & imperfections. When I first became a mom another mom with older kids than me told me that when she became a mom she realized how selfish she was. I didn't understand that at the time....after all aren't moms supposed to be self LESS and giving? But, now I know exactly what she meant. Children are needy & demanding & require SO MUCH. And, our own selves....our own desires rebel against this...sometimes even resent it. It's hard to give and give and give. And, it's exhausting. And, as someone else said above, children are selfish little creatures too. And, while as adults we've learned to hide that a bit, our children reflect back to us something that's sits at the very core of our being too. They reveal our own flesh. A couple weeks ago I had one of the worst parenting weeks I had in a long time. I was angry and frustrated pretty much from sun up to sun down. I felt like banging my head against a wall. I was barely...and I mean barely hanging on. I was asking God for enough grace just to get me through. And, here's what I felt like He said to me (it wasn't immediate...this was something that came to me over the course of that horrible week). I felt like He was saying that he can give me just enough, but He wants to give SO much more than that. He wants to give overflowing grace...much, much more than enough. I was like 'Ok God. That's cool. I'd like that. But, HOW do I tap into that? How do I get that abundant grace when I'm in the middle of a funk so deep I can't see any way out?'. I didn't feel any immediate answer to that question either. And, I'm still figuring it out. Maybe the first step is accepting that as truth. Even that is hard for me to do. The one verse I try to hold on to is 'Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.' Lots of people quote that verse...to the point where it seems to lose it's meaning. But, here's what I always take from that verse. It doesn't say 'he will never depart from it'. It says, 'when he is old...' There will be bumps and crashes and rebellion and tears along the way. But as that child grows and gains wisdom & experience they will recall the wisdom taught to them in their youth and they will embrace it. Wow. That was a really long response...and I don't know if I really answered your question or just went off on a dozen different rabbit trails. All that to say, you and your husband love your kids and are trying to raise them right...and God will honor that.
I know I've sadly neglected my poor little blog. And, I miss a lot of things about blogging. I definitely miss the interactions with other bloggers and readers. I miss writing. And, from a purely selfish standpoint, I miss having words captured here that I can come back and read again and again. I miss having enough blog posts that I can print out and put into a 'blog book'...something I can hold in my hand...proof and record of how I thought, how I felt, how I reacted over the years.
So, I gave the header a new look. I found some freebie sites that were actually easy to use (well, easy once I figured them out) and created a new header. I hoped that giving the blog a fresh look would inspire me to start afresh with writing. New look....new beginnings.