About Barbara H.

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Book Review: Someday Home

Someday HomeIn the novel Someday Home by Lauraine Snelling, Lynn Lundberg is adjusting to widowhood. She loves that her home is the central gathering place for the children and grandchildren who all live nearby, but otherwise it’s too large for just one person. She reads about a concept called house sharing in which rooms are rented out to others and everyone shares responsibilities. After doing some research and convincing her children that the idea is a good one, she begins to seek two other ladies to share her home.

She finds one through her son’s friend. His mom, Angela, was blindsided by her husband’s request for a divorce. She had spent years remaking herself into the kind of wife he wanted, even weighing less than she did in high school – but all for naught since he found someone else. Needing a place to stay, heal, and figure out her next steps, she accepts Lynn’s offer.

A chance meeting leads to another tenant. Judith spent all of her adult life caring for her ailing father, setting aside college and other dreams. Upon his death, she learns he willed the family home not to her, but to the historical society to be made into a public venue. So she also needs a quiet place to stay and time to decide what to do next.

Naturally there are some bumps along the way. Lynn is used to being the family matriarch and has to learn that independent middle-aged women don’t appreciate being “mothered.” The other ladies have not had their own voice for years and have to learn how and when to use it. They all have anger issues and wrestle with the need to forgive those who have wronged them. But ultimately they learn to work together and appreciate each other’s differences.

This story caught my eye both because it was a Kindle sale, plus I had read some of this author’s historical fiction. I enjoyed the aspects of each of these women learning to live together and having to determine in their middle years what to do with the rest of their lives and in

But there are a number of awkward sentences, like this one:

Fighting back the tears—again, she stumbled through her morning routine—and after dressing (which took some serious self-talk; the bed had looked so inviting, or at least oblivion did), she made her way down the split-log stairs and into the kitchen, where the cat was sniffing the dog dish, water bowl, and then looking out the window to the deck.

Thankfully there are only a half-dozen or so, but they are a bit jarring. I don’t remember coming across that kind of thing in her other books, but then it has been a long time since I read them. I thought at first perhaps they were all connected with Lynn, who is in the throes of menopause: maybe this was supposed to reflect her scattered thinking. But they don’t seem to be limited to her scenes.

Other than that, and one minor theological quibble in one sentence, I thought the writing, the characters, and the story were all good.

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Love Costs

Looking up a reference from a book I was reading, I found myself in Isaiah 58. It’s one of a few chapters in Isaiah that I was somewhat familiar with, but I wanted to look at the referred-to verses in context.

The first twelve verses deal with fasting, a subject about which I know very little. I have low blood sugar problems, so any attempt at fasting ends for me before 10 a.m., if not before, with shaky hands, lightheaded brain, and other issues. But in this chapter Israel is wondering why God had not noticed or responded to their fasting. God pointed out their wrong motives and actions. The kind of fast God wanted them to observe looked more like this:

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (verses 8-9, ESV).

To be perfectly honest, I’m still working on what verse 8 means. But verse 9 immediately made me think of my mother-in-law’s need of caregiving. I know that’s not specifically what this verse is speaking about, but there are corresponding elements: taking someone into your home, feeding them from your own bread, covering them, not hiding from their need. Verse 10 mentions “pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted.”

True fasting, then, was not so much a ceremonial observance as a giving from one’s own stores to minister to another. Giving til it hurts, so to speak.

When a repentant David went to build an altar to the Lord and someone kindly offered to give him everything he needed to do so, David responded, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.

A widow was asked to give her last food to a prophet. The “Good Samaritan” went out of his way and spent his own time and money to minister to a stranger. Paul told the Corinthians he would “very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Paul also speaks of trials, beating, shipwrecks, various dangers in the course of his ministry, not the least of which was “the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Throughout the Bible we see that ministering to another costs something, culminating in the biggest sacrifice of all when God the Father gave His Son, who willingly laid down His life on the cross.

There are tidy, simple ways to give. A pledge here, a check there, a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Those aren’t wrong. They’re made possible by hard-earned cash, so they’re costly. Individuals and organizations depend on that kind of support.

But sometimes God wants us to get our hands dirty. Sometimes He wants us in the thick of it.

So then what? We give until, like a leaky balloon, we end up a crumpled, empty mess on the floor?

No. Isaiah 58 goes on to list, among other results:

Then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Verses 10b-11, ESV)

Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” This is not a “prosperity gospel” proof text: it follows admonitions about forgiving and not judging and condemning. The point is, you reap what you sow. But you can’t outgive God.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13, ESV). We think of this as dying for someone, and there is certainly no greater love than giving one’s life for another. But I wonder if there is a sense in which that’s also true of laying down one’s life day by day in the service of another. Jesus demonstrated both kinds of love: the daily pouring Himself out for others as well as laying down His life.

The purpose of this post is not about fasting or caregiving. It’s about the truth that loving others and ministering to them doesn’t always come about in the ways we’d most prefer. It’s often messy and costly.  But “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8, KJV). God continues to water our garden as we give out of it.

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24, ESV

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story)

Veterans in Watership Down

I listened to Watership Down at the end of last year. It’s quite an interesting story about rabbits searching for a new home, figuring out problems, and fighting through dangers. The author, Richard Adams, was careful to have the rabbits act like rabbits, not humans, except for the ability to talk and think, which naturally led to a rabbit history and mythology.

Part of their mythology revolved around a folk hero rabbit, El-ahrairah, clever, cunning, strong and brave. In one of their stories, El-ahrairah has just finished a long, harrowing battle at great personal sacrifice to protect the warren. I took him three months to get back because he had to stop and rest and heal. This is the scene when he returns:

They made their way along the hedgerow, but could not altogether get their
bearings, because apparently the warren had grown bigger and there were more
holes than before, both in the bank and in the field. They stopped to speak to a
group of smart young bucks and does sitting under the elder bloom.

“We want to find Loosestrife,” said Rabscuttle. “Can you tell us where his
burrow is?”

“I never heard of him,” answered one of the bucks. “Are you sure he’s in this
warren?”

“Unless he’s dead,” said Rabscuttle. “But surely you must have heard of Captain
Loosestrife? He was an officer of the Owsla in the fighting.”

“What fighting?” asked another buck.

“The fighting against King Darzin,” replied Rabscuttle.

“Here, do me a favor, old fellow, will you?” said the buck. “That fighting — I
wasn’t born when it finished.”

“But surely you know the Owsla captains who were?” said Rabscuttle.

“I wouldn’t be seen dead with them”‘ said the buck. “What, that whitewhiskered
old bunch? What do we want to know about them?”

“What they did,” said Rabscuttle.

“That war lark, old fellow?” said the first buck. “That’s all finished now. That’s
got nothing to do with us.”

“If this Loosestrife fought King What’s-His-Name, that’s his business,” said
one of the does. “It’s not our business, is it?”

“It was all a very wicked thing,” said another doe. “Shameful, really. If nobody
fought in wars, there wouldn’t be any, would there? But you can’t get old rabbits
to see that.”

“My father was in it,” said the second buck. “He gets on about it sometimes. I
always go out quick. ‘They did this and then we did that’ and all that caper.
Makes you curl up, honest. Poor old geezer, you’d think he’d want to forget about
it. I reckon he makes half of it up. And where did it get him, tell me that?”

“If you don’t mind waiting a little while, sir,” said a buck to El-ahrairah, “I’ll go
and see if I can find Captain Loosestrife for you. I don’t actually know him myself,
but then it’s rather a big warren.”

“That’s good of you,” said El-ahrairah, “but I think I’ve got my bearings now
and I can manage by myself.”

El-ahrairah went along the hedgerow to the wood and sat alone under a nut
bush, looking out across the fields. As the light began to fail, he suddenly realized
that Lord Frith was close beside him, among the leaves.

“Are you angry, El-ahrairah?” asked Lord Frith.

“No, my lord,” replied El-ahrairah, “I am not angry. But I have learned that
with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity
them. A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a
slug, even though he may think otherwise himself.”

I fear too many of us are like those young rabbits who had no knowledge or appreciation of the sacrifices made for them, of what could have happened to them without those who fought for them. Whether we agree with certain wars or not, we can appreciate those who serve their country – who serve us – at great cost to themselves.

To all our veterans…Thank you.

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(Sharing With Literary Musing Monday)

Book Review: Sisters, Ink Series

The Sisters, Ink series (also called the Scrapbooker’s series) by Rebeca Seitz is made up of four books focusing on four sisters of different ethnicities adopted by Jack and Marian Sinclair in the small town of Stars Hill, TN. The sisters are adults now and Marian passed away ten years ago. Their father, a pastor, is seeing a new lady named Zelda, but the sisters are having a hard time accepting her, not only because they don’t want their mother replaced, but Zelda is so unconventional and different from their mother. That subplot and others carry over each of the four books, but each focuses on one particular sister. The girls call a “scrapping night” in a room set up for that purpose in their father’s home when they need to talk and solve problems.

Sisters

 Sisters, Ink. spotlights Tandy, a lawyer living in FL. She had been adopted after spending her first eight years on the streets with a junkie parent. I read this book several years ago, but for whatever reason did not review it. But her story involved an extended leave at work, visiting TN, running into and clashing with an old flame. The sisters decide to turn their love of scrapbooking into an online business called Sisters, Ink.

 

 

 

Unglued Coming Unglued focuses on Kendra, an African-American woman who is an artist and sometimes jazz singer. She was also adopted at the age of 8 from a mother whose addiction was men. Because she has her mother’s genes and because some of those men molested her as a child, Kendra struggles with self-worth. She’s dating a great guy named Darin, but she feels that if he really knew her background, he’d drop her in  flash. When a married man at a jazz club is attracted to her, she struggles with knowing that relationship is not right, but feeling flattered by it and  wondering if that’s all she’s good for, if she has no right to rise higher.

On one hand I had a hard time being patient with Kendra as she kept deciding not to see the married guy yet kept being drawn back. But, then, we all do that with different things, don’t we? “I need to cut down on sugar” on Monday, and by Tuesday, “What can a couple of cookies hurt?” So we each struggle with our particular temptations. And people do wrestle with that mindset of being “damaged goods” and “not good enough.”

Scrapping Scrapping Plans features Chinese sister Joy. Joy was left on the door of an orphanage in China as a baby and doesn’t know anything of her family and background. She’s the ultimate hostess and most organized of the group, described as a Martha Stewart rival. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby for over a year with no success, and her husband is resistant to testing. She and her husband take a trip back to China to explore her roots.

I liked the play on words with the title, fitting into the scrapbooking theme yet also illustrating the need to realize that God’s plans might be different from ours. I also appreciated the facets of Joy’s experience in grieving over not conceiving, then becoming obsessed with the desire to have a child, and how that impacted her husband.

Perfect Piece brings the story back to Meg, the oldest, married the longest, with three kids. Meg was always the quiet but steady influence of the group. But she has been struggling with headaches through everyone else’s story. In this book, she is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since the tumor is in an area of the brain that affects personality, everyone is warned that Meg may not be the same after surgery, whether the tumor is benign or malignant. Even knowing this, her husband, Jamison, has a hard time with the bitter, angry Meg that emerges on top of the stress of her illness, taking care of the house, dealing with the children, etc. A breakfast at a diner to get away by himself for a bit results in a pleasant conversation with a waitress which leads to regular meetings.

 I thought the sisters might have been a little too up in each other’s business. I have four sisters, and though we love each other and would do anything we could to help each other, I don’t think we’d confront each other like these did. But we’re different personalities and don’t live in the same town, so that makes a difference. I thought the girls were way too harsh concerning Zelda. I understand the issues involved in getting used to a new step-mom, but they all evidenced a lack of grace in dealing with her, until they came to an understanding in the end. Though there were no explicit scenes, there was a bit too much reference to some of the couples’ sexual lives for my tastes. I also didn’t like repeated references to older women in the church as “bluehairs.” It’s sad that there are rampant gossipers in the church and no one ever deals with that, but I doubt every older woman in one church would be gossipy. There seems to be a fundamental disrespect to older people in general except the girls’ parents.

But I liked several themes that emerged through the series: being there for each other, helping each other, adjusting lives and thinking to align with God’s Word. I liked several instances when seeing a situation from a different viewpoint, or understanding the circumstances instead of assuming them, diffused misunderstandings. So, all in all I enjoyed the series.

 

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

I think we’re finally on the mend from whatever we’ve had lately. Hopefully. Still coughing, but without the raging sore throat, tiredness, fuzzy-brained bleah feeling, and other symptoms.

1. A gift of art. My son, Jason, made this bird picture for me. I told about how it came to be here.

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2. An unexpected gift. I had to miss our ladies’ group at church due to being sick, and my pastor’s wife dropped by afterward and left this on my porch, with a card signed by the ladies.

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3. A gift of ham. We also had to miss the church potluck Sunday, and afterward our pastor and his wife dropped off a big pan of leftover ham plus a couple of other goodies. Such a blessing, as I did not at all feel like cooking last weekend. We’ve been eating from it all week.

4. Goodies. We invited Jason and Mittu over to eat some of the ham one night, as Jason and Timothy were sick, too, so wouldn’t be harmed by exposure to us. Mittu made a gluten-free pumpkin spice cake that was really good. Often GF cakes are on the dry side, but this was really moist and tasted so good. Then, I’m not real big on Little Debbies, other than Swiss Cake Rolls, but I keep some in the house for my youngest. I bought this new one to try, and it was really good.

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I try to hold off on Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but thought I could make an exception in this case. 🙂

5. A husband who patiently fixes things. I had wanted to change the inadequate lighting in the sewing/craft room and found what I thought was the perfect light fixture, with three moveable parts that could be aimed at the work desk, sewing desk, and futon. But it not only didn’t shed any more light: it left dark shadows anywhere the light wasn’t pointing. So I searched for ceiling light fixtures online and found another one I thought might do. But I didn’t realize til it got here that it was for a ceiling fan. :/ I finally asked him to just put back the old one. He found an old light fixture that he had saved from somewhere else in the house that had a place for two bulbs and suggested a brighter LED light bulb. So we’re back in business with better lighting. In all of that he didn’t once complain or scold or even sigh – at least not in my hearing. 🙂 And! While putting up the last fixture he found a wire in the ceiling that had been nicked and sparked when it touched the ground wire, so we were glad he discovered that and was able to fix it. Then we had a maddening leaky kitchen faucet for a few days, and he had to order a part to fix it (after having to search and compare pictures since nothing on the faucet itself identified what brand it was), and fixed it right away once the part came in.

So, all in all, a good week. I hope yours was, too.

Book Review: Hidden Places

Hidden PlacesIn Lynn Austin’s novel Hidden Places, Eliza Wyatt is a young widow with three children in the 1930s. After her husband’s death she had stayed on with her intractable father-in-law at Wyatt Orchards. But now he has died as well. She’s not sure how she is going to manage, but she wants to keep the house and orchards, the only true home she has ever known. With the Depression, she couldn’t sell it, anyway.

One night while doing chores outside she is startled by a hobo. She’s not opposed to helping hobos, so she invites him in and feeds him. Then she discovers he has a nasty gash on his leg and ends up tending him through a nearly fatal infection. In the meantime, her husband’s Aunt Betty – usually called Aunt Batty because she seems to have some mental issues — ends up moving in with Eliza when Betty’s roof caves in during a heavy snowfall. But Aunt Batty turns out to be an able hand around the house, and Eliza soon relies on her help. The hobo, Gabe, offers to stay on and help to pay back what Eliza has done for him.

Gabe proves an able hand as well, but seems to have an uncanny familiarity with the farm and its needs. She is drawn to him, but afraid of the past he is not revealing to her. Yet she hides her own past, too: not even her husband knew her background.

It turns out Aunt Batty has a hidden past as well, and an unexpected underlying wisdom.

One theme or motif throughout the book is that of angels, from an opening admonition to “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrew 13:2), to Aunt Batty’s prayer for God to send a guardian angel to Eliza, to other references. Harsh, self-willed fathers turn up in a number of families, and several characters have to learn to follow their dreams despite such fathers and other obstacles. “Hidden places” in each heart come to light eventually, and, by God’s grace, are healed.

A couple of favorite quotes:

“Why did God have to make our lives so fragile and so short?” Walter thought for a moment before answering. “Because life is very precious to Him. He treasures each life He created and He wants us to treasure it, too—like fine porcelain china. God knows what it’s like to live and die in a frail human body like ours. His Son suffered physical death, Betsy, so that you and I can face it without ever being afraid.”

“All these troubles you’ve been having aren’t a punishment from God. He wants to use them to draw you closer to himself.”

Lynn’s writing and characterizations here are stellar. I was drawn in to each character’s story and ached with them through their trials and rejoiced in their triumphs. Excellent book overall.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

Book Review: Fly Away

Fly AwayIn the novel Fly Away by Lynn Austin, Wilhelmina Brewster faces forced retirement after teaching music at a Christian college all her adult life. She’s depressed and doesn’t know what to do with herself. She never married, never had any other hobbies or interests.

She volunteers playing piano at a cancer center sometimes, and one day there she runs into Mike Dolan – and they got off very much on the wrong foot.

Mike is a widower and a pilot who still flies for the business that he started and his son now runs. But Mike has just learned that he has cancer with a life expectancy of only three months. He doesn’t want to put his family through the same agony they experienced when his wife died, so he plans not to tell them. When the cancer gets too bad, he plans to fly – “and forget to land.”

Somehow he ends up telling Wilhelmina his plans, and she is horrified, especially when she learns he is not a Christian. But she has never witnessed to someone in her life. She talks to her pastor, but he feels like she should be the one to talk to Mike, since she knows him. She talks to her pastor brother, but he has someone over the evangelism department in his church and is not much help. She appeals to her professor brother, and he gives her several detailed arguments from Christian apologetics that she knows she won’t remember and doesn’t think Mike would respond to anyway. No one seems to know how to simply tell a dying man about the Savior and hope of heaven.

Wilhelmina tries to give Mike some tracts, but her efforts are thwarted. Somehow, though they keep finding reasons to see each other, and a tentative relationship begins. Mike feels sorry for her when he learns she has been retired against her will and tries to think of things to cheer up up – like a kite-flying contest with his grandchildren, something Wilhelmina never thought in a million years that she would do.

She learns that Mike isn’t just a project. And even though he’s dying, he knows how to enjoy life much more than she does.

My favorite line in the book comes from advice Wilhelmina’s father gives to a friend: “We have two choices, you and I; we can lose ourselves in despair or find ourselves in Christ” (p. 170).

My thoughts:

I loved this story. I could identify with Wilhelmina’s personality so much. There were so many comical moments, yet serious ones, too. The book blurb says one of them is “figuring out how to live, the other how to die.” Lynn’s notes in the book share that this was one of the first books she wrote. The story takes place in 1987, later than her many historical books, but too far back to be called contemporary. It was published in 1996 and went out of print, but has since been reprinted, keeping the 1987 references, which I enjoyed. I am so glad it was reprinted. I would have hated to miss this story.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday)

A Gift of Art

My son, Jason, made this bird picture for me:

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He used the iPad Procreate program to make the picture and then had it printed on canvas at Photobarn.

It all started with wanting something to fill that space. I had a very small plaque there on an existing nail, just for something, but it was way out of proportion to the area. I had collected some bird-related decorations, so I thought something with birds would be good. I started a Pinterest board called Nest and bird art. I liked several of the pieces there showing bird silhouettes on canvas or wood, so I thought I’d try to do something on canvas. I knew next to nothing about painting on canvas, but those designs looked pretty simple, and I figured I could look up what paints to use. But I just never got going on it.

Then one year Jason made his brother Jeremy this picture on the iPad and had it printed, because Jeremy likes foxes:

Jeremy fox art

And I thought it was really good.

And I thought, “Hey! Maybe he could do my bird picture!” He’s talented in art even without the iPad program. And a bird silhouette should be simple, right?

Little did we know. 🙂

So I asked him, and showed him some samples of the kinds I particularly liked. The family room is in blues and tans with a bit of brown, my concession to the boys’ complaining when they were younger that everything was “too flowery.” (Those who know me well can imagine that. 🙂 ) So I knew I wanted those colors.

Jason emailed me his first draft:

Bird 1 (2)

We both agreed that it looked almost Halloweenish. I decided I wanted different lettering plus a blue background with a brown border. So this was the next draft:

The blue was too blue. I decided maybe the border should be a darker blue and the background lighter. So this was next:

Better, but still not quite there yet. Plus we decided the bird on top looked a little precariously positioned. So next was:

I liked the addition of the leaves and the placement of the top bird but didn’t feel the blues were just right yet.

The next draft was pretty much the same except we increased the width of the border. Then we decided to shape the border around the tree rather than just having it as a rectangle:

I liked the border much better, and the blue was closer, but still not quite there. Plus Jason had experimented with the tree to make it a little more 3-D rather than a flat silhouette, and I really liked that effect.

I think it may have been at this point that Jason used credits he had at Photobarn to print it off so we could see how the color might change from his iPad to the printing stage. His reasoning was that if it still didn’t come out right, he could sell the printed one while he worked on revising the one on his iPad to his mom’s (hopefully not too) exacting tastes.

One issue with the blue was that this picture would be hanging between two curtains that were kind of a slate blue. It took me years to decide on and then finally make those curtains, along with some matching pillows, so I didn’t want to just toss them. Plus, that’s my favorite shade of blue anyway.

So while Jason was working on the blue, I suggested that maybe since the tree was not just a silhouette any more, maybe he could do something similar with the birds. I don’t think I have the picture of that one, but he tried some light and shadow on them. Then he tried making a couple of them look like actual birds and asked me what I thought. I loved them! So we talked about what birds we commonly saw at our feeders, and he came up with this:

Nice! Then I suggested that maybe the leaves should be green rather than brown, since we had moved from the silhouette to a more realistic looking picture. I can’t find the draft he sent me then, but I felt the green that was used was brighter than I liked, and, because of that, drew attention to the leaves. So I suggested darkening or toning them down a bit or maybe even adding some pink flowers. And then we were discussing that there were as many birds as there were members of our family minus one. I forget which one of us came up with adding a hummingbird to represent Timothy.

Up to the very last minute I toyed with the idea of changing the verse to a newer version, which says “Look at the birds…” rather than “Behold the fowls.” But, besides not wanting to introduce yet another change, I felt that people might recognize this as Biblical language, and if they were familiar with the rest of the passage, it would naturally come to mind. If they just saw “Look at the birds” and missed the reference, they might just look at the birds but miss the larger point.

So, with all the changes, this was the end result:

I can’t tell you how much I love it! It blends with the curtains well (although it might not look like it in this photo), it fills the space well, the colors and style are just what I like. And it was made by my very patient son. 🙂 And I got my pink flowers in that room after all. 🙂

I told him at one point that I would have gone through this same process even if I was doing it myself. It seems to take me getting into a project and starting it to think through and decide what I really want. I like to take my time with home decorating decisions because I don’t like changing them often: I want to think thoroughly about all the aspects and end up with an item that I am going to love and keep around for a long time to come.

I am not sure how long, in all, it took to complete this, from the first concept through the thinking, deciding, and changes, on top of his working full time and being a husband and dad. At least a year, maybe two or even more. But I think all the changes were worth it. I love the result, and I am so thankful to have this special piece. Thank you, Jason!

(All art work here is under copyright by Jason Harper.)

Don’t Plug In: Abide

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In our era, we’re used to plugging technology in to recharge. We have to bring power cords on trips and search for a place to plug in. We keep an eye on our phone so it doesn’t conk out on us at important moments. Our vocabulary has grown to include phrases like “recharging our batteries” when we need rest or refreshment or “plugging into” a power source. Some have even used the latter in connection with God and His power and provision.

In yesterday’s reading from Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada, she notes the differences between plugging in and abiding.

Jesus said in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Joni comments:

We don’t get charged up in God in order to unplug and live on our own–until it’s time for the next charge. No. We never disconnect from Him. We are living branches connected to the living Christ. His life is our life.

Then, in probably the best definition for abiding that I think I have heard, Joni says:

Abiding is living in constant awareness of total dependence on Jesus. It involves a constant flow of life-giving sap from the Holy Spirit–not a spiritual charge that takes us up to 80 percent. Abiding in Christ is a 100 percent relationship.

It’s true that the Bible likens God’s Word to spiritual food, and our relationship with God, our love for Him, and our Christian character all grow as we spend time in the Bible. Our time in the Word of God helps cultivate that awareness of our dependence on Him. But we don’t, as Joni notes, “sit down for our quiet time and ask ourselves, How long do I have to be plugged into God today to get a good spiritual charge?

No, once we believe on Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we’re a vine connected to His branch. His life flows through us. He doesn’t charge us up and then us send us off to live independently til we need another charge. We don’t have to worry about becoming disconnected to Him. He’s always with us, constantly empowering us to live for Him.

I need your presence every passing hour.
What but your grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like yourself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

Henry Francis Lyte, 1847

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

 

Laudable Linkage

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Just a short list today:

Jerks for Jesus: Why the Temple Cleansing (etc.) Isn’t Your Permission to Always Be Fighting, HT to Challies. Yes and amen. I am so tired of reading people who defend their harsh and contentious attitude because of the OT prophets, Paul, and Jesus.

When You Have to Let Go of Your Dream, HT to Linda. “This is a wound, to be sure. But it’s not a mortal wound. This will not kill you. This is not the end. We are closing the chapter, not the book. We are sad and grieving and saying goodbye. And. We are moving on.”

On Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing, HT to Challies.

Care package ideas and printable tags to use with them.

The #LoveYourBookstore challenge runs Nov. 10-16, HT to Sarah. The idea is to encourage and draw attention to bookstores by visiting one, taking a picture of a book you are excited to gift, or a selfie with the book, and post it to Instagram or Twitter. And there are prizes!

And one last thought:

Have a good weekend!