Book Review: Come Back, Barbara

Come backFather and daughter C. John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani team up to share Barbara’s prodigal daughter story from both sides in Come Back, Barbara. In each chapter John – also known as Jack – shares situations from his point of view at the time, then Barbara shares hers.

Miller and his wife, Rose Marie, thought they had a fairly normal Christian family until Barbara suddenly announced at eighteen that she wanted nothing to do with their rules and their Christianity any more. She wanted freedom on every level. The Millers were stunned. They had caught Barbara in a few lies over the years but thought those were isolated incidents. Her outward conformity for most of her life had fooled them into believing her heart was right as well. They realized they had been mistaken in not looking below the surface.

For a time they puzzled over comparing what they had always thought about her and the “new Barbara” emerging now. It just didn’t seem to fit – she had seemed like a genuine Christian. They thought at first that perhaps she was just going through a rebellious phase and would hopefully come out of it soon. Gradually they realized that her rebellion and deception went further than they had ever guessed. They had to accept, by her words and actions and reactions, that she was not a Christian, though she had once professed to be.

There’s no five-step foolproof plan to winning back a prodigal, but Jack shares some of what he learned. First, he had to realize he was truly powerless. All his efforts backfired. Often control is the first weapon against rebellious children. Of course, some degree of control is necessary in raising children, but parents “have to confront your own manipulative techniques of consolidating power” (p. 160).

Many fathers and mothers are simply more satisfied with a child’s conformity and less concerned with the youngster’s motivation and hidden desires, with what the Bible calls “the thoughts of the heart.” Often unconsciously, the self-centered parent labors to form an orderly child who performs well in public and does not shame the family by disturbing the status quo. The problem, of course, is not with the orderliness of the child, but with the shaping of a person with a desensitized conscience, a performer who has never learned to love God or people from the heart (pp. 160-161).

He had to give up control to God and depend on Him to draw Barbara to Himself. He also had to confront his own sins, realizing the irony of God’s using a rebellious child to show him his own heart.

And he had to genuinely apologize to Barbara. Even though he felt wronged and wounded, he could not hold on to victim status. He had to confess his wrongs whether she did or not. And that humility and honesty was a step in the right direction in their relationship.

The constant practice of forgiveness leaves no room for self-righteousness. Frustrated condemnation of others and treasuring of old wrongs are not part of the artillery of God, but the slithering, slimy, deadly creatures of the Prince of Darkness (pp. 79-80).

Jack and his wife wrestled for a long time over whether Barbara had apostatized and how to respond if she had. Finally they just had to accept that she was not a believer and treat her as they would any other unbeliever. They just had to show her Christ’s love. That didn’t mean accepting everything she did, but she knew where they disagreed. They asked that some things not be done in their house.

Showing such love in the face of disdain and rebellion is exactly what God has done for us. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB). Drawing from His love and grace enabled them to show love and grace to Barbara.

We were facing the death side of the Christian life, but there was a resurrection waiting to take place as we stepped into the grave. Today it is my conviction that no matter how heavy the blow inflicted by circumstances, each negative experience is part of the heavenly Father’s perfect plan for each believer. He allows the hour of destruction for the purpose of building something better in its place. Our part is not to run away from the pains but to walk through the briars and thorns and let Christ teach us how to turn each scratch into positive learning about the depths of God’s love (p. 67).

There is no more impenetrable barrier to God’s love than the sense of being right. So often self-righteousness controls a parent’s attitudes toward a rebellious offspring (p. 150).

He’s not saying to ignore right and wrong: they had to stand up for right and truth often. But they had to “speak the truth in love,” not from a sense lofty condescension.

Many parents tend to turn out an erring child, and sometimes indeed that’s the only option. The prodigal in Scripture left his father’s house in rebellion, and Barbara did that for a while, too. But Jack and his wife felt they needed to be open to Barbara, and when she moved back in their area, the Millers welcomed Barbara and her friends in their home, to show love and kindness to them as Jesus did with “tax collectors and sinners.”

At one point Barbara had “come back” in the sense of “settling down,” becoming responsible, not engaging in destructive behaviors. But she still was not a believer. As Jack pressed that point, it led to a major battle between him and Barbara.

Barbara, meanwhile, began “groping for the light while still resisting it” (p. 139). “Many painful things happened to me during this period, but the work of the Holy Spirit was to gently lead me from darkness to light” (p. 167). She described it like walking into a large, dark room, turning on the nearest lamp, moving to another area and turning on another lamp, continuing until there’s enough light to clearly see. She didn’t think she could have stood it if God had turned all the lights on at once. “Instead, God showed me the truth about myself bit by bit, in pieces I could handle” (p. 167.) One “light” was the realization that the things she thought would bring her happiness and allay her insecurities and anxiety could not. She was still unhappy, anxious, and insecure though at one time she had everything she thought she wanted. Another “light” was realizing her tendency to deceive and blame-shift. One by one God opened her eyes to the needs of her own heart and to His love.

I’ve noticed that C. John Miller has written some other books, but I don’t know anything about his theology other than what is in this book. One aspect that I was a little wary of was what he called “praying with authority.” In my experience, people using that kind of terminology advocate “demanding” answer to prayer, which to me seems to contradict the humility and surrender manifested in Scripture. But from what’s said in this book, that didn’t seem to be what they were talking about. Jack’s wife had said in the beginning of their troubles that she felt like an orphan. But gradually she realized she could come to God as a child to her Father, basing her requests on Scriptural truths. If that’s what they mean by praying with authority, then, yes, I agree. I was also a bit cautious when they talked about “claiming” certain things, associating that with the “name it and claim it” culture. But, again, in the context here that doesn’t seem to be what they are referring to.

I found this book on a sale table at a Christian bookstore years ago: the name in the title caught my eye. 🙂 I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to it before now, but I am glad I finally did. I marked many more places in the book than I have space and time to share here. I’d highly recommend it to anyone with a prodigal friend of family member or anyone who wants to read how God worked in lives to bring people to Himself.

(Sharing with Carole’s Books You Loved, Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday)

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There is no one right way to celebrate Christmas

Traditions help make holidays special. We look forward to the things we “always” do, the seasonal foods, events, activities, decorations.

But as busy as everyday life is, adding in all the holiday extras can increase pressure. Every year brings tips about managing Christmas. But this year I have seen a new emphasis, calling for a more minimalist approach to the holidays: less spending, less decorating, less going and doing.

Most of us truly appreciate finding ways to reduce pressure. We shouldn’t keep doing things just because that’s what we’ve always done. It might be best to discard traditions that have become burdensome rather than joyful or rotate some so that we’re not overwhelmed.

But some of the posts I have read on this topic cause me to fear a new judgmentalism, a looking down on those who don’t do less.

If a minimalist approach appeals to you, that’s fine. But the person who enjoys putting out all 32 pieces of a Christmas village because she loves the way they look and she remembers the people who gifted her with the pieces one by one through the years shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

What everyone does for Christmas depends on how many people are in the family, how much time, energy, and money is available, personal preferences, etc.

One person likes to put out just a handful of decorations. Another likes to display every Christmas item she has accumulated for 30 years or put trees of various sizes in every room.

One family’s Christmas dinner might look like any other meal, with the exception of pumpkin pie for dessert. Another likes to go all out with special dishes for the season.

One family prefers no gifts or a gift to a charity in their name. Another saves up for months or shops all year for gifts.

Some like to hit all the Christmas performances and events they can. Others prefer quiet nights at home by the fire with hot chocolate and Christmas movies. Most of us are somewhere in-between.

None of these is wrong one way or the other.

Most of us find that some traditions change through the years. We’ve added some and discarded others over time. We made Christmas cookies when my sons were young. Then one year we just didn’t get to it – but no one seemed to notice. We have so many sweets that time of year, we didn’t suffer for not having cookies. But with a young grandson now, it’s fun to revive that tradition. We used to do a birthday cake for Jesus mainly for the kids to remember Whose birthday it was. But in later years we stopped. One year we had an elementary Christmas piano recital on Monday night, a high school piano recital Tuesday, church on Wednesday night, an elementary school Christmas program Thursday night, and a high school Christmas program Friday night. That week was probably bookended by Christmas cantatas and children’s Christmas programs at church on Sundays. Talk about exhausting. Fun, but exhausting. Thankfully our church and school adjusted their calendars after that. But in those years of so much to attend, we didn’t go to many community events. Since our kids are grown, we have been able to venture out and try a few new things. Some have laid aside the tradition of Christmas cards and family newsletters, but I will determinedly keep sending them as long as I can because I enjoy both sending and receiving greetings

The point is, there is no one right way to celebrate Christmas. We have to be careful that we don’t impose the solutions we find for our family onto everyone else. It’s up to each family or individual to assess all the factors involved and decide what works best.

We can commemorate the birth of our Savior in many ways. Let’s not judge each other on how we do it. Let’s just each work on keeping the focus of Christmas where it ought to be: remembering that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

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

Laudable Linkage

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Here’s my latest list of good reads found online recently:

Should Christians Abandon Christmas? HT to Challies. “When churches ‘ignore’ Christmas, how much preaching and teaching are they likely to receive on the incarnation?” “The abuse of something shouldn’t be allowed to destroy its proper use.”

On the Death of John Allen Chau. Good points all, especially the first one: “We don’t need to rush to judgment.”

3 Internet Accusations Against Missionaries, HT to Challies.

Singleness Is Not a Problem to Be Solved, HT to True Woman.

Gospel Hope for a Weary Mom, HT to True Woman.

Pastors: Preach, Don’t Rant, HT to Challies. Good advice for writers and teachers, too.

The 50% Lie, HT to Challies. Turns out it has never been true that 50% of marriages end in divorce, by any way of measuring. “Imagine the difference to our collective consciousness about marriage and divorce if we began to say ‘Most marriages last a lifetime’ [8 out of 10] rather than ‘Half of marriages end in divorce.'”

Why J. I. Packer Reads Mystery Novels (Or, In Defense of Light Reading), HT to Challies. “Light reading is not for killing time (that’s ungodly), but for refitting the mind to tackle life’s heavy tasks (that’s the Protestant work ethic, and it’s true).”

And finally, a smile found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

Friday’s Fave Five

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

Let’s just plunge right in to this week’s faves:

1. An extra week. At first Thanksgiving felt too early, but I’m glad we had an extra week between Thanksgiving and December this year. We’ve started a bit of shopping, but it was nice to have a little breathing space between holiday activities.

2. Fantasy of Trees. We’ve never been to this before, but my son and daughter-in-law suggested going. It’s a fundraising event for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital where area businesses decorate a tree and people can buy the whole thing. Some of the trees were just generic Christmas, and very pretty! But some had themes, like the Lego tree:

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The UT tree:

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The one made of cross-stitch ornaments:

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One was covered in sloths. 🙂 They also had a gingerbread house contest and display and booths for kids to make wreaths, ornaments, cookies, etc.

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And a carousel!

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It was a fun time and definitely ignited my Christmas spirit! Then we went out to eat at a pizza place downtown.

3. A bit of straightening. I have a place in my closet where I leave packaging materials in case I need to return items and other things I just don’t know what to do with yet. That place needed some straightening to hide away Christmas presents. 🙂 So it felt good to get that done.

4. Rediscoveries. In the course of the straightening I found a clearance purchase from a Hobby Lobby trip several weeks ago. I remember I was rethinking this – it’s big and a little too shabby. But I guess the decision is made for me since it is too late to return it now. 🙂 It was marked down to $5, and I like the sentiment, a line from “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I have some things on the other side of my laundry room, but this side was almost bare. This fit right in this empty space with a needed reminder.

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5. Online ordering, both for general shopping and groceries. I’ve ordered groceries online from WalMart several times now. I have only had problems a couple of times, but they have been very quick to take care of any issues. This morning I a trying Kroger’s online ordering, and I hope that goes as well. I liked that you could apply their online coupons in the process of shopping. WalMart’s grocery pick-up is always free: Kroger’s is only free for the first three orders. I really like ordering groceries online: I hope more stores make that possible.

Happy Friday!

Literary Christmas Reading Challenge

 

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Tarissa hosts the Literary Christmas Challenge in December: actually, it started in November, but I like to hold off on Christmas reading til after Thanksgiving. The main rule: read Christmas books! And link up your posts about them (via a blog, Goodreads review, etc.).

Tarissa is giving away this cute Christmas ornament, and participating in the Literary Christmas challenge is just one way to enter to win it.

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Here’s what I am planning to read this month:

Finding Christ in Christmas by A. W. Tozer (99 cents for the Kindle app as of this writing. Tozer always makes one think.)

Tozer Christmas

 

Homeless for the Holidays by P. S. Wells and Marsha Wright.

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Christmas Stitches by Judith Miller, Nancy Moser, and Stephanie Grace Whitson. I’ve read many of Judith and Nancy’s books, so I am looking forward to this Christmas collection.

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

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I’ll Be Home For Christmas: Four Inspirational Holiday Novellas by Lenora Worth, Belle Calhoune, Jill Kemerer, and Allie Pleiter. This is not showing up on Amazon anymore, but you can read more about it on Goodreads here. I’ve not read any of these authors, but I used to follow a blog that Lenora contributed to, so that’s probably what prompted this purchase.

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If I should finish all these and I’m not tired of Christmas stories at that point, I’d love to get Terri Blackstock’s Catching Christmas and Michelle Griep’s Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series, Twelve Days at Bleakly Manor and A Tale of Two Hearts. I’m trying to read what I have already accumulated through sales before I add any more.

And that’s it for this year! Do you plan to do any Christmas-themed reading this month?

 

Book Review: Florian’s Gate

FlorianIn T. Davis Bunn’s novel, Florian’s Gate, American Jeffrey Sinclair is bored in his job. His mysterious uncle, Alexander Kantor, has a glowing reputation in the antiques business in London. Alexander never reveals where his exquisite pieces come from, but their high quality always fetches good prices and willing buyers. When Alexander invites Jeffrey to become his assistant, Jeffrey jumps at the chance, quickly learning both the details and the instincts needed.

Jeffrey hires a part-time helper who rapidly becomes a valuable assistant, Katya. Jeffrey falls head over heels for her, but she is guarded around him. He senses her past contains pain, but she’s not willing to reveal it to him yet. Plus she is a believer, but he has turned his back on God after a family tragedy.

When Alexander asks Jeffrey to take a trip to Poland, Jeffrey is thrilled to be trusted enough to be asked. There he meets Alexander’s brother, Gregor, and begins to learn some of Alexander’s sources. Poland is still reeling from being trampled underfoot by WWII and then Soviet occupation. At first Jeffrey thinks everyone looks sad and depressed, understandably. But he soon finds an underlying resilience in their character. Alexander, Jeffrey, and Gregor visit some of the most unlikely places to find some of the poorest people with great treasures they’ve been holding on to for years but are now in desperate enough straits to sell.

Surprisingly, Alexander comes face to face with his own painful past, which Jeffrey learns of for the first time. When Alexander is incapacitated for while, Katya comes to assist and translate. What Jeffrey learns through all these experiences helps him understand his uncle and Katya and helps him come to grips with his own past as well.

A few quotes from the book:

Dissatisfaction tends to lift one’s eyes toward the horizon. Those who are comfortable rarely make the effort to search out something better. They may yearn for more, but they do not often receive it. They are too afraid of losing what they already have, you see, to take the risk. And there is always risk involved, Jeffrey. Always. Every major venture contains a moment when you must step off the cliff and stretch your wings toward the sky.

Even in the darkest of hours, people have a choice. They can turn toward self, or they can turn toward God. They can turn toward hate, or they can turn toward forgiveness and love.

The world says there is no greater tribute you can grant yourself than to say, I can make it on my own. My perspective says there is no greater deception. The power within our own will and our own body and our own confined little world is comfortable, and it is tempting. It gives us a wonderful sensation of self-importance. Thus most of us will try to live outside of God until our own strength is not enough. Yet the way of the cross is the way of inadequacy. We need what we do not have, and therefore we seek what is beyond both us and this world.

There are an infinite number of lessons to be drawn from the cross, my boy….All human hope lies at the foot of the cross. In the two thousand years since it first rose in a dark and gloomy sky, it has lost none of its luster, none of its power, none of its divine promise.

Normally Bunn’s stories involve quick-moving plots and page-turning intrigue. There was intrigue here, but a different sort than I am used to from him. His mother’s former ownership of an antiques gallery and management of others informed his knowledge of antiques. He says at the beginning of the book that each piece he describes is real. The different Polish people and stories that he shares are based on real people and situations in his wife’s family in Poland.

I thought the story ended somewhat abruptly, but then I found that this book is the first of three in the Priceless Collection series. So maybe some day I’ll find out what’s next for Jeffrey, Katya, and the others.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

What’s On Your Nightstand: November 2018

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The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand the last Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

A few sick days this month afforded more reading time than usual.

Since last time I have completed:

Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas V. Mastriano (audiobook), reviewed here. How a Christian conscientious objector stopped an onslaught of the Germans in WWI, captured 132 of them, and won the Medal of Honor. Well-researched, good true story.

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas, reviewed here. Good.

Perfect Piece by Rebeca Seitz, fiction, reviewed here with the rest of the series about four grown adopted sisters of different ethnicities. Good.

Fly Away by Lynn Austin, fiction, reviewed here. A disgruntled retiree crosses paths with an unbeliever with a terminal diagnosis. Loved this one.

Hidden Places by Lynn Austin, fiction, reviewed here. A young widow struggles to support herself and her children when a mysterious stranger arrives to lend a hand. Very good.

Someday Home by Lauraine Snelling, fiction, reviewed here. A widow opens her home to share with two other ladies. Okay.

Florian’s Gate by Davis Bunn. Review coming soon.

I’m currently reading:

Reading the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word by George Guthrie.

Christian Publishing 101: by Ann Byle

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes, Jr., audiobook

Come Back, Barbara by C. John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani

Homeless for the Holidays by P. S. Wells and Marsha Wright

Up Next:

In the next few days I’ll be rustling up a list of Christmas reads for Tarissa’s Literary Christmas Challenge. I’ll also need to choose a new audiobook soon but have no idea which one yet. (Update: My Christmas reading picks are here.)

Happy reading!

The Fatal Flaw

“If you look for the fatal flaw, you’ll find it.”

I remember a Sunday School teacher saying this in our adult class over thirty years ago, but I don’t remember the context or what we were studying at the time. His point, though, was that none of us is perfect and even the best of us has feet of clay. He was not promoting nitpicking and fault-finding; he was encouraging realism.

That saying has come back to mind many times in recent years with the advent of social media: some people use their online voice primarily for airing their for fault-finding. Sometimes one mistake is bandied about such that a person’s life or opportunity for further work or usefulness is destroyed.

Recently as I read an acquaintance’s impassioned but cryptic account of overcoming issues in her upbringing. I knew the family years ago, and the mother was a lovely woman, someone with several attributes I admired and wished I had. I’m not saying the daughter was right or wrong, but I wondered what could possibly be the problem. On the other hand, every individual family member has its flaws, resulting in the whole group being in real life something less than their perfect, smiling Instagram photos might suggest. I don’t think this is always a case of hypocrisy, though sometimes it is. Some families do hide dark secrets. But usually our collection of flaws is just real life.

As our faults bump against each other, it’s hard to know sometimes when and how to deal with them. Some sins are crimes and need to be reported as such. In cases of abuse, protection of the abused is the first order of business: then the abuser needs to face whatever punishment is due.

But with what we might call our less flagrant, more every-day flaws, we struggle with when to confront the other person, as Matthew 18 describes, and when to cover over each others faults in love (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8). One former pastor suggested that when we have tried to overlook something another person keeps doing and it keeps bothering us, maybe that’s an indication that we need to have a talk about it.

It’s better to discuss issues with other people than to assume. And it’s better to address an issue than to seethe inwardly. Back in college the only microwaves in the dorm were in the snack room with the vending machines. We weren’t allowed any other kind of cooking in the rooms besides a “hot pot” for heating water for instant coffee. One particular roommate liked to use my hot pot for loose herbal teas. I didn’t mind that except that she’d forget to clean her tea out: so in the mornings when I made my coffee, I’d have to clean out her leftover tea with the leaves floating in it. I don’t know why I didn’t just speak to her about it. I could easily do so in the same situation now. But then I just (wrongly) fumed about it to myself.

It’s far better to confront the one person whose flaw is bothering us in some way than to gripe about it to everyone else. We need to consider how our words will hurt the other person and damage our relationship. Years ago Clearwater Christian College had a song on one of their CDs with a chorus that went like this:

You can tell the Lord all the things I’ve done
that didn’t seem right to you,
but don’t tell your neighbor ’cause
he can never give me the grace to see me through.
You can tell Him all about how weak I am
and pray that He’ll strengthen me–
you can talk about me any time you wanna
but please do it on your knees.

(Author unknown)

Sometimes dealing with a person’s flaw is the most merciful thing we can do. But we need to speak the truth in love.

We also have to consider whether we know the whole story and understand the other person’s context. A long time ago my husband was acting uncharacteristically short-tempered and irritable. Instead of asking what was wrong, I just got irritable back. When we finally did talk about it, he told me there were some issues going on at work, particularly with one man that seemed to have it out for him. He had been under tremendous pressure enduring all this and trying to figure out how to respond, but he didn’t share with me what was going on because he didn’t want me to be upset about it as well. In a “prodigal daughter” story I’m reading, the daughter saw her parents through a critical, rebellious lens that colored all their actions and motives. In later years when their relationship improved, she could see more clearly. She then understood them better and appreciated them and was able to discuss the one or two areas she did have problems with in a more constructive way

We need to remember that a person’s flaws are not the totality of his or her personality.

Some years ago one of my sons brought home a report card that was fine except for one low grade. He had evidently been bracing himself for my questioning of that grade, because, when I did, he exploded: “Why do you have to focus on the one grade that’s not good?” Well, because that’s the area where there is obviously a problem. So we need to see what the problem is: do you need help understanding, did you do the assignments, etc. His response did remind me, though, that I needed to praise the good marks and not just notice the one bad one.

When someone is wearing a white shirt with a black spot, the eye is naturally drawn to the black spot. Some of us just cannot rest when we notice something not “right”: we either have to do something about it, or we’re lost to all further conversation and interaction because we’re so distracted by the one thing wrong.

Yet we can’t handle people that way, or we’ll wreck all our relationships. We’re quick to defend ourselves with “Well, nobody’s perfect” when someone points out our flaws. Or we couch our traits in the best terms while casting the other person’s flaws in the worst. I’m persistent, but she’s stubborn. I have a take-charge personality: he’s bossy. We should instead be more generous with other people and more wary of our own elevated self-evaluation. “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (Luke 6:31).

We know not to expect perfection from other people, but we do. We react in anger, dismay, or disappointment when we come across their imperfections. We need to give them grace and make sure we understand where they’re coming from. We need to decide whether to deal with the issue in some way or overlook it, and we need to do either in love. We need to deal with others in hope for their best. We need to look at the whole person and not write them off because of one failing.  And we need to realize our own flaws as well.

But most of all we need to remember how our gracious God deals with us.Just this morning as I sat down to have my quiet time with the Lord, I was in a snippy, irritable mood. I’m not sure why: I had not even been awake long enough for anything to influence me that way. But I confessed that to the Lord and told Him I had not one iota of goodness of my own and I needed to be filled with His love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22). Then I opened my Daily Light on the Daily Path, and the very first verse was a phrase from Isaiah 62:4: “The Lord delighteth in thee.” In the midst of my sins, faults, and failure, He loves me and delights in me. My heart melted.

Jesus died so that all our sins could be forgiven when we believe on Him. He has forgiven us so much more than anything we need to forgive others for. When we’re filled with His love, we can see others’ faults in perspective and love them in spite of them.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9, ESV

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

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.

Are my American friends still in a food coma from Thanksgiving’s feasting? Or out the door at dawn to get the best Black Friday sales? Wherever you are, I hope you have had a good week. Here are some of the best parts of mine:

1. Thanksgiving, of course. Though we’re supposed to be thankful all the time, it’s nice to have this focus and to commemorate a special period in our country’s history. And to be with family and enjoy all the special foods! 🙂 I forgot to get a copy of Jason’s picture of the table spread, but I enjoyed Timothy’s Thanksgiving dish.

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2. Successful experiments. Some time back I came across an easy recipe for gluten-free crescent rolls. Somehow I have never gotten them to successful crescent roll form – the first time they tended to fold rather than roll. But we remarked at the time that they were so flaky, they might be a good pie crust. So I tried the dough as a pie crust for the apple pie this year. When I took the pie out of the oven and saw the juices were boiling under the pie crust, I was fearful. But I figured if the crust didn’t turn out well, we could just scoop out the insides like a cobbler. But it was great! I liked it much better than store-bought frozen GF pie crusts. And then, earlier Jason had mentioned wanted to try roasted sweet potatoes, so I tried that for Thanksgiving dinner. Most of our family isn’t much into sweet potatoes, but those of us who tried them liked them.

3. Movies. So many movies contain unpleasant aspects these days, it was refreshing to see a couple that were both good and clean. I watched part of “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving,” based on a Louisa May Alcott story (thanks to whoever mentioned that recently), with Jim joining me for part of it. Then we all watched “Christopher Robin” together. My kids grew up watching Winnie the Pooh, so I loved that many of the characters had similar voices as in the old videos and that songs from them were playing in the background at times. A sweet and really good movie.

4. Lunch with a friend. We had to reschedule multiple times due to one or the other of us – or both – being sick, but we finally got together last Monday and enjoyed catching up.

5. Another burlap wreath. When I got the supplies for the last one, I noticed this pretty lacy burlap ribbon. I decided I wanted to make a wreath out of it, but it was twice as expensive as the regular burlap. So I got the two spools I needed with two different 40% coupons over two different weeks. 🙂 I got the bow already-made this time, which I think is a little too big. But I wanted something simple in plain white, and this fit the bill. I put it on my mother-in-law’s door.

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Since Thanksgiving was early this year, we’re going to hold off on Christmas decorating til next weekend. But we’ll likely do some online Christmas shopping over this weekend. 🙂 Happy Friday!