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.

Here we are near the end of the first week of October. It’s still not looking too fallish outside. Some leaves have started changing a bit, but I am looking forward to blazing fall colors, hopefully soon. And crisp, cool fall weather! The temperatures have lowered some, but they are not in “cool” range yet.

Meanwhile, here are some favorite parts of the last week:

1. A dripping faucet fixed. The incessant dripping I heard every time I went into the bathroom was about to drive me buggy – on top of the thought of wasted water and money. My husband took care of it last Saturday – and then cleaned the tub and toilet while he was there. Nice man.

2. Sunshine. We had a lot of rainy or overcast weather for several days last week, and the sunshine this week has lifted my spirits.

3. A good visit with my daughter-in-law’s parents who were visiting for a long weekend and came over Sunday night for dinner.

4. A quick take-out lunch. I mentioned last week not cooking for three days in a row. I made up for it this week! I had some extra time in the kitchen last weekend. Picking up lunch after church from McAlister’s Deli was a big help.

5. New fall decorations. I mentioned last week that all the fall decorations were the same as the last few years. But this week I added to them. I have wanted to make a burlap wreath for years now and finally did so this week. I shared the process and the tutorials I worked from yesterday.

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Then, in looking through my autumn Pinterest board, I found a lot of free printables and printed and framed a couple. This one is from this site:

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I normally have a floral printable with a verse in that frame, so I just slipped this in on top of it. I may start rotating printables there with the season.

And this one is from this site:

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Thankfully I had an unused frame tucked in a closet. The “blessings” leaf and “Hello Fall” block are new, courtesy of a Hobby Lobby gift card. The little wooden pie cutout I have had for years and tuck it here and there. The little “Be Thankful” pumpkin was a birthday gift from a friend. The little rosy clock looks a little out of place amid the fall things, but that’s ok. Usually my decorations match it better, but we can make exceptions for fall and Christmas. 🙂

All in all, a very good week. I hope yours was, too, and if not – may next week be better!

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Cards and Crafts

I thought I’d share with you some of the recent cards I made as well as a hot-off-the press craft.

This was for a baby shower for a couple at church:

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I had seen several ideas similar to this on Pinterest. The “onesies” were made with the Cricut machine. I learned you can make a reasonable looking cloud by cutting an oval or circle with scalloped scissors. I was a little afraid the twine would come loose, but I kept the card propped open on my table for a couple of days, and everything stayed put.

This was a thank-you card for a friend:

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This was another instance where the paper itself was so pretty and had enough detail that adding much else would have been superfluous.

This was for a little boy in our church recovering from surgery:

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I asked someone who knew the family well if there was an animal or character he particularly liked, and they mentioned dinosaurs. None of the dinosaur shapes on the Cricut looked like what I wanted, so I used puffy stickers. I cut the grass and hills free hand and snipped across the strip of grass to make it look a little more 3-D. then I tucked a couple more packages of dinosaur stickers inside for him to play with.

This was for Jesse’s birthday:

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He is very much into computers – his work, his major, his classes, and his hobbies all revolve around the computer. So I wanted to reflect that. The computer shape was done on the Cricut, and the desk was a scrap of wood-grained paper I had on hand. I liked it better before I added the “snacks,” so I should have left well enough alone. But they also reflect him accurately.  🙂 The bottle was done with the Cricut and was supposed to look like the type of flavored water he drinks. The plate and brownie I did free-hand.

When I put out my autumn decorations, I realized there was a door I had no wreath for. And we can’t have that, can we? 🙂 Somehow I must have misplaced one, because I remember having a scarecrow one in addition to the one near the front door. Anyway, I remembered I had the same thought about needing another wreath last year, and even bought supplies for a burlap wreath, but didn’t get around to it then. So I found them in my craft room closet and worked on it bit by bit. It didn’t take all that long, but I had to work it into odd bits of time. I found a plethora of burlap wreath ideas on Pinterest. I found instructions for the burlap part here, and a helpful video tutorial here. The felt roses came from a site I had used before for them here. This is a much simpler way to make felt roses than many tutorials I’ve seen that tell you to cut multiple petals and sew them all together. I used a hot glue gun instead of stitches. I was really pleased with how it turned out!

I cut the leaves freehand out of felt and glued everything on with hot glue. I learned to do the bow when I worked part time for a florist friend in early married days.

True confessions: I didn’t realize until I got the burlap part all done that I hadn’t gotten the burlap loops even in length all around. So I put the flowers and bow on the place the difference was the most noticeable. Also, a couple of times while pushing the burlap through the wreath form, my thumb accidentally poked a hole in the burlap. But thankfully the loose weave that enabled the hole also enabled fixing it by just moving the threads around.

I’m trying to decide whether to put an initial or something on the other side. But for now I like it as is.

It felt really good to get some creative projects done!

Book Review: Emma’s Gift

Emma's gift Emma’s Gift is the sequel to Julia’s Hope by Leisha Kelly. I think you could read and understand the second book without the first one, but you’d get much more out of the story with both of them. Plus, since Julia’s Hope will probably be one of my favorite books read this year, I encourage you to read it, too.

In Julia’s Hope, Julia and her husband, Samuel Wortham, and their two children lost everything during the Depression. They were hitchhiking east to get a job with Samuel’s cousin when they got word that the job fell through. Totally alone and with no hopes, they find shelter in an abandoned farmhouse. Then Julia gets the idea that perhaps the owner would let them stay in return for fixing up the place. They find the owner, Emma, who is an elderly amputee who can no longer live alone. She agrees to the arrangement, much to the consternation of some of her friends who think the Worthams are taking advantage of her. Before long the Worthams suggest that Emma come back to the farmhouse and stay with them, which she agrees to do, and they become something of an adopted family for each other.

Emma’s Gift picks up the story several months later. Emma was not in good health in the last book and knew her time was soon coming to an end. She passes away near the beginning of this story. It’s not unexpected, yet it’s still a blow to the family. But then their neighbor, a mother of ten children, passes away the same night, totally unexpectedly. The Worthams take in the children while the woman’s husband, George, deals with his grief. While glad to help, and, really, having no choice, an addition of ten children, one a newborn, weighs heavily. Helping the children through their grief while dealing with their own is a challenge.

Uncertainty also weighs on both families as their houses and land were owned by Emma. Emma had tried to give the Worthams the deed to the house they were in, but Samuel refused at the time. George has been unable to make any payments for months, if not years, and Emma wanted to forgive the debt. But now her affairs are in the hands of her nephew, so everyone has to wait to see whether he’ll abide by Emma’s wishes or take the property as his own.

Some of the townspeople bring food out and stay to help with the children, which helps Julia to feel that they are finally accepted. Some of the men help Samuel deal with George, who is on the verge of doing something stupid.

Even though the first part of the book is heavy with grief, please don’t let that deter you. The light does break through in the end, and it’s heartwarming to see the progression.

The point of view switches back and forth between Julia and Samuel. Two themes emerged for me: that everyone has something to give to help others no matter how much or little they have, and when you’re weighed down almost to the breaking point, God’s grace sufficient.

A few favorite quotes:

It made me feel good inside to love her right over top all the rough edges.

Kissing cheeks, passing plates, even listening to George pour out his woes one more time over a late cup of root coffee—it was all the work of God. Because people need each other. And sometimes we don’t realize how much we have to give until we’ve started giving it.

It doesn’t take away the pain of this world. But just knowing the outcome can stop the ache that comes in the middle of some lonely night, or can give you words to make a crying child smile again. God is faithful. Our shelter in the time of trouble. Our refuge in the time of storm. We don’t always know what he’s given us. When we’re deep in the hurt of some awful moment, we don’t always know what good things God has prepared for the days ahead. But we do know so much of himself has been given to our hands. To cherish. To rest in. And especially to share.

These two books are all I have, but there is another sequel, and then another three-book series with some of the same characters as well as a Christmas story. I’d like to get to the rest of them some day. In looking up Leisha Kelly after reading the last book, I was sad to discover that she and her teenage son had died in a car accident some years ago. But I am glad she left this legacy behind.

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

When Little Trials Give Us Big Trouble

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Sometimes it seems easier to trust the Lord for the big trials of life rather than the little irritations.

When a major crisis comes my way, I realize it’s too big for me. I’m acutely aware of my need for God’s grace and strength. I feel myself sinking, like Peter, and cry out for help almost instinctively.

But when I encounter some smaller provocation — when someone interrupts what I am doing; when my computer acts up; when I am running late to an appointment and hit every red light along the way; when another driver cuts me off; when I am in a hurry at the grocery store and the customer in front of me has some time-consuming problem; when I give dinner a quick stir and slosh red sauce over the side of the pan and onto the stove, the floor, and/or myself — then too often I react with simmering impatience, carnal anger, unloving harshness, discouragement or depression.

Amy Carmichael once wrote:

The hardest thing is to keep cheerful (and loving) under little things that come from uncongenial surroundings, the very insignificance of which adds to their power to annoy, because they must be wrestled with, and overcome, as in the case of larger hurts. Some disagreeable habit in one to whom we may owe respect and duty, and which is a constant irritation or our sense of the fitness of things, may demand of us a greater moral force to keep the spirit serene than an absolute wrong committed against us. (1)

“Well, I was provoked.”

Love…is not easily provoked. I Corinthians 13:5

“I’m only human.”

Yes. That’s the problem, not an excuse. With the exception of One, all humans have a sinful nature. Our natural reaction is likely to be a selfish one. As Christians we’re called to have a supernatural reaction.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5:22-23.

Even on the highway or in a check-out line.

Thank God there is forgiveness with Him, His mercies are new every morning, and if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness(I John 1:9).

But how can I get the victory over wrong reactions to little provocations and react in a right manner the next time?

  • First of all, instead excusing it, recognize it as sin and confess it to Him.
  • Carefully evaluate and use my time better, such as such as stopping whatever I am doing early enough for an appointment so that a few red lights will not cause me to be late (or agitated), slowing down and take the necessary time to accomplish something so haste doesn’t create more problems, etc.
  • Fix the issue, if possible. Find out if there is something wrong with the computer, gently ask the other person to refrain from or change whatever they are doing, etc.
  • Put it into perspective. A little thing is just a little thing. Being a Christian doesn’t mean every little bump in the road is going to be removed.
  • Relinquish control of my life and time and schedule into the Lord’s hands will help me to handle interruptions better. Have you ever studied the life of Christ with an eye toward how much He was interrupted? It’s enlightening. Even when He was interrupted during prayer or on his way to perform a miracle, He never reacted harshly or impatiently.
  • Relinquish the “I” factor as well. Some of the agitation I experience is simply my thwarted desire for things to go my way. I mentioned in an earlier post that another of Amy Carmichael’s experiences that helped me was when she felt the “I” “rising hotly” in her toward one who was unfair and dominating, and she realized that moment was a chance to die to self. “See in this which seems to stir up all you most wish were not stirred up — see in it a chance to die to self in every form. Accept it as just that – a chance to die.” (1)
  • Do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I need to remember that I’m probably unwittingly irritating someone else sometimes who is graciously (I hope) being forbearing with me. I need to handle the irritations that come from other people as graciously as I would want them to handle mine. Instead of focusing on the irritant, I need to focus on that person as another child of the Father whom He loves every bit as much as He loves me and seek ways to serve him or her.
  • Forbear. A former pastor used to say forbearing was just good old-fashioned putting up with each other. In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul says, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Not just forbearing, but forbearing in love. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins,” (I Peter 4:8). Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
  • Remember that my testimony before others is at stake. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:25). I sometimes think of Satan standing before God and accusing that Job only served God because God blessed him, but let Satan take away Job’s blessings, and he would curse God. I envision Satan saying of me, “Yes, she acts like a nice Christian at church, but let me trip her up here and there and see how she reacts.” We’re not only a testimony to others in our homes and at check-out lines, but we forget that our testimonies are as far-reaching as heaven. Rosalind Goforth was a missionary wife to China during years when the Chinese were quite suspicious of and disdainful toward “foreign devils.” To try to alleviate those feelings and establish relationships with the Chinese, the Goforths would allow crowds of the curious into their home to look around and to talk with them. This resulted in some agitation and disruption as well as theft of some of their belongings, but overall they felt it was worth it. Of one particular day, Rosalind writes:

The day had been an unusually strenuous one, and I was really very tired. Toward evening, a crowd of women burst through the living room door and came trooping in before I had time to meet them outside. One woman set herself out to make things unpleasant. She was rough and repulsive and– well, just indescribably filthy. I paid no attention to her except to treat her as courteously as the rest. But when she put both hands to her nose, saying loudly, “Oh, these foreign devils, the smell of their home is unbearable!” my temper rose in a flash and, turning on her with anger, I said, “How dare you speak like that? Leave the room!” The crowd, sensing a “storm,” fled. I heard one say, “That foreign devil woman has a temper just like ours!”

Now, I had not noticed that the door of my husband’s study was ajar, not did I know that he was inside, until, as the last woman disappeared, the door opened and he came forward, looking solemn and stern. “Rose, how could you so forget yourself?” he said. “Do you realize that just one such incident may undo months of self-sacrificing, loving service?”

“But Jonathan” I returned, “you don’t know how she — “

But he interrupted. “Yes, I do; I heard all. You certainly had reason to be annoyed; but were you justified, with all that is hanging in the balance and God’s grace to keep you patient?”

As he turned to re-enter his study, he said, “All I can say is I am disappointed!

Oh, how that last word cut me! I deserved it, yes, but, oh, I did so want to reach up to the high ideals he had. A tempestuous time followed alone in our inner room with my Lord. as I look back now, it was all just one farther step up the rocky hillside of life — just climbing! (2)*

One time when I posted Rosalind’s experience, a commenter took offense at Jonathan’s response to his wife, thinking he should have been a little more sympathetic and suggesting that the lost need to understand that we’re not perfect. But Rosalind felt that what Jonathan said and how he said it were just what she needed to bring her to conviction. A theme she deals with all through the book is her lack of love and tendency toward wanting her own way, and by the end of the book the nationals they interacted with had a much different testimony of her. Yes, lost people or new Christians need to understand that though we are changed we’re not sinless, but this was a matter of first impressions. Jonathan was right that a harsh reaction could undo much positive ministry. Though understanding her annoyance, his point was that it was not an excuse and she could have accessed God’s grace to react in a right manner.

  • The verses mentioned above in Galatians 5 say that gentleness, long-suffering, self-control, etc., are all a part of the fruit of the Spirit. Maintaining time in the Word so He can speak to me through it, yielding to His control throughout the day, memorizing verses in the areas I am having trouble with, sending out a quick prayer for help when I feel that agitation and frustration building up will all help in gaining the victory.
  • Pray. Part of a prayer I often pray from Colossians 1:9-14 is I might be “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (verse 11). That’s also a reminder to focus not just on avoiding irritation but to also cultivate the positive: longsuffering and patience with joyfulness.
  • Remember “we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:3-5, KJV). Even the little tribulations can be used by God to grow and sanctify us. Elisabeth Elliot wrote in A Lamp For My Feet (and it encourages me that she felt this way about some people, too, sometimes):

How can this person who so annoys or offends me be God’s messenger? Is God so unkind as to send that sort across my path? Insofar as his treatment of me requires more kindness than I can find in my own heart, demands love of a quality I do not possess, asks of me patience which only the Spirit of God can produce in me, he is God’s messenger. God sends him in order that he may send me running to God for help.

This is true of irritating situations and intimate objects as well as people. Like sandpaper they can help rub off our sharp edges.

  • Behold our God. II Corinthians 3:18 says we’re changed more and more into Christ’s likeness as we behold Him. When I look inside and tell myself I need to be more kind, loving, forbearing, etc., I get discouraged and fail because I don’t have it in myself. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). But when I look at Him, that irritability seems to just melt away. “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:8-9).

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16.

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(1) Houghton, Frank. Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur. (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1983), 86-87.

(2) Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing. (USA: Bethel Publishing, 1940), 45-46.

(Revised from the archives)

(Sharing With Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, 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.

I’m trying not to start every single FFF with a comment about how fast the week went…but, man, it sure seems like September flew by quickly! For now, I get a few moments to slow down time by reflecting on the best parts of the last week:

1. Lunch with a friend at her house. Great food and fellowship. 🙂

2. Meals out or brought in. My daughter-in-law recently said that eating out is her love language, and I feel much the same way. Somehow I ended up not cooking for three days in a row.

3. Quick, simple meals. I’m thankful my family is content with just soup and sandwiches when I have had a busy day and am late getting to meal preparation.  And! Soup! Though we have it year round, it’s especially nice in the fall and winter.

4. Fall decorations. No picture, since it is pretty much the same every year. I’m feeling more ready for fall now that they’re up.

5. Flourless Applesauce Spice Cake. Wonderful stuff even if you don’t need to go flourless.

Happy Friday!

What’s On Your Nightstand: September 2018

Nightstand82The 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.

I checked my calendar yesterday morning, but I somehow got my weeks mixed up and thought I had another week before the Nightstand post! Instead, I am a day late. Oh, well…

Since last time I have completed:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, reviewed here. Loved this! And the movie was wonderful, too, despite a few changes to the plot.

Julia’s Hope by Leisha Kelly, reviewed here. Loved this story about a family struggling during the Depression who ends up sharing a house with an elderly amputee.

Tea With Emma by Diane Moody, reviewed here. Something of a modern take on Jane Austen’s Emma. It was…okay.

Reclaim Your Life from IBS: A Scientifically Proven Plan for Relief without Restrictive Diets by Melissa G. Hunt, reviewed here. Both practical and helpful.

Helen Roseveare: On His Majesty’s Service by Irene Howat, reviewed here.

The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering by Vaneetha Rendall Risner, reviewed here. Excellent. Deep. Convicting.

I’m currently reading:

Emma’s Gift by Leisha Kelly

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

Rereading Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

I’ve been using my normal audiobook time to listen to a series of lectures on Classics of British Literature by John Sutherland.

I’m also reading parts of The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White, but it’s more of a reference book than one to read straight through.

Up Next:

Reading the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word by George Guthrie. Some of his blog posts have been very helpful to me, so I am looking forward to his book.

There’s a Reason They Call It GRANDparenting by Michele Howe, recommended by Michele Morin.

I am trying to decide whether my next audiobook with be Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas or Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne by Douglas V. Mastriano. I know a little of both men’s stories and would like to learn more.

I have all kinds of Christian fiction in my Kindle app and on my shelf, but I am not sure which one will be next.

I think that wraps up by reading activity for this month! Are you reading anything good?

Book Review: Julia’s Hope

JuliaIn Julia’s Hope by Leisha Kelly,  Samuel Wortham is out of a job, like so many others in the early 1930s. Not only did his business close, but the investment he financed with money from his wife’s inheritance failed. The family has just a few dollars. Sam’s cousin says there’s work for Sam in Illinois, so the family is going to hitchhike from Pennsylvania.

Julia, Sam’s wife, is understandably angry with Sam over the lost investment, but she tries to keep a brave face for the children and make the trip an adventure.

It occurred to me then that I ought to pray for help in getting over the anger I felt towards Sam. But I didn’t do it. I guess it was easier to think that I’d forgiven him already and was just entitled to my feelings beyond that.

A few days into the trip, with money gone and the family eating in soup kitchens and sleeping wherever they can, Sam calls his cousin to tell him where they are. He’s told the job fell through and the cousin himself is looking for work.

But when Samuel stepped out of that office, looking like a stormy wind had dashed him against a wall of stone, the clouds descended over me and I turned away. I knew by his face. Dewey wouldn’t be coming. Dewey couldn’t carry all the hopes we’d pinned on him. We were alone.

One day, caught by a sudden downpour, the family takes refuge in an abandoned farm house. Something about it appeals to Julia and the children, so she proposes they find the owner and see if they might be allowed to stay in return for working on the place. Sam thinks the idea is crazy, but Julia is so set, he humors her.

They discover the homeowner is an elderly lady named Emma. She loves the house, but due to a heart condition and the loss of  leg, she can’t live there alone any more, so she has been living in a boarding house in town. Though what the Worthams propose is unconventional, she agrees to let them stay at her house so that it doesn’t deteriorate further.

The Worthams feel like they are taking unfair advantage, though. So within a few days they propose a new situation: that Emma come out and live with them at the house. She agrees.

Emma and Julia both know how to live off the land – what greens are good for food or tea, how to plant seeds and cultivate vegetables etc. But Sam is totally out of his element. He has never farmed and he’s worried about Emma’s care. But there doesn’t seem to be anything else he can do, so he puts forth his best effort.

Emma is a town treasure, so many of her friends check on her and the Worthams. Some of her friends, however, suspect the Worthams have “sweet-talked” her and are out to milk her out of her property, and they make no end of trouble despite Emma’s assurances. One in particular “was a difficult sort, one who was pleased to be displeased.”

My thoughts:

I loved this story. Its main appeal to me is how clearly Leisha communicates the character’s feelings. I ached along with Sam in his financial predicament, his guilty feelings, and his loss of self-respect. I understood Julia’s struggle to put aside her anger,  forgive, and attend to her children in a way that kept them hopeful, rather than afraid. I felt Emma’s joy at being home again.

But I also enjoyed reading about this time era, not one that I can remember seeing much in fiction. I enjoyed the gelling of a new family group. And I appreciate the way the people in the community helped each other though most of them didn’t have a lot themselves.

We all need each other, and that’s how the good Lord intended things to be.

“You think when that boy come bringin’ the Lord bread and fish, that the Lord shoulda just sat an’ ate it all his own self?”

“Well, no, he couldn’t. He fed the five thousand.”

“That’s right,” she said with a smile. “Didn’t look like it, but God’s got plenty for ever’body. So it don’t hurt me none to share.”

The point of view switches between Sam, Julia, and Emma, so we see their different perspectives. The faith element is woven in naturally.

This is the first book in a long time that I stayed up too late to read and had a hard time putting down. I immediately started reading the sequel, and I am looking forward to more with the Wortham family.

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

How to Have a Steady Soul

Unsteady.

I became well acquainted with unsteadiness after contracting transverse myelitis 23 years ago. For a few months afterward, I couldn’t walk on my own. I progressed from a walker to a cane to finally walking without support. But for a long time afterward, anything from uneven ground to someone walking by me quickly or brushing against me would throw me off balance. I had a few falls if I couldn’t grasp anything firm. Though my internal balance mechanism has vastly improved since then, I still have moments of unsteadiness now.

So the phrase “unsteady souls” stood out to me in a recent reading of 2 Peter 2 in the ESV. Other translations say unstable, unestablished, unsettled.

Peter is talking in this chapter – throughout this whole epistle, really – about false prophets and teachers. Chapter 2, verse 14 says “They entice unsteady souls.”

How do false teachers entice these souls? 1 Peter speaks of the false prophets’ sensuality, lust, greed, passion, so they “entice by sensual passions” (verse 18). James 1:14 uses the same Greek word for “entice,” which carries the idea of baiting, alluring, deceiving, when it says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” They “despise authority” (verse 10). “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption” (verse 19). They “exploit you with false words” (verse 3). They’re blasphemous (verses 10-13).

Probably most of the people who fall away to false teachers are not saved in the first place, but weak or new believers are susceptible as well. A true Christian can’t lose his or her salvation, but a believer can get tangled in false doctrines to their own confusion as well as that of everyone on their sphere of influence. But even those of us who think we’re strong need to “take heed lest we fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

How can we make sure we’re not unsteady or unstable spiritually? Peter tells us:

  • Believe on Jesus as Savior and Lord . “Be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election” (2 Peter 1:10).
  • Know His Word. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,  by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4, ESV). Know it not just for facts, but to know Him (2 Peter 1:2-3)
  • Live out God’s Word. Be doers, not just hearers. Because of the above, “make every effort to supplement your faith” with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love (2 Peter 1:5-7, ESV)
  • Rest on the Bible’s sure foundation. Know that God’s Word is not “a cunningly devised fable,” but is a “more sure word of prophecy” than even the transfiguration Peter was an eyewitness to. (2 Peter 1:16-19, KJV)
  • Know that Scripture comes from God. “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21, ESV)
  • Look to Him. After listing several instances of punishment coming to wrongdoers, Peter assures us “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (verse 2 Peter 2:9, KJV).
  • Confess sin to Him, seek His grace to overcome and resist it: “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2 Peter 3:14, ESV).
  • Don’t twist the Scriptures as the unstable do. “There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). The unsteady twist (wrest in the KJV) the very thing which could stabilize them. We read it in context so we understand its meaning. We don’t wrangle it to make it say what we want it to say. We don’t adjust it to us: we adjust ourselves to it.
  • Be watchful. “Take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability (2 Peter 3:17, ESV).
  • Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18, ESV)
  • Listen to sound teaching. Contrast the characteristics Peter lists of false teachers in 2 Peter to what he says about godly shepherds in 1 Peter 5. Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Seek to feed our souls His truth rather than feeding our own desires.

Jesus said the one who hears his words and does them is like a man who built his house on a rock which was unshaken by winds and flood waters.

So we watch ourselves, that we’re not being led away of wrong desires. We read and listen to God’s Word as it’s written, in context, not trying to twist it. We listen to pastors and teachers who faithfully proclaim God’s Word. We we obey it. We get to know our Savior better and better and remind ourselves of His truth. and we keep growing spiritually. Doing all of these things might bring persecution, which Peter discusses often in both of his letters. But we can trust God to keep us and deliver us.

Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Psalm 119:133, ESV

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

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads found recently.

On Giving Criticism As a Christian, HT to Challies.

Personality Assessments and the Wondrous Knowledge of Being Known, HT to True Woman. While some personality tests are helpful, Lore Ferguson Wilbert says, they are limited. “I cannot worship at the altar of my personality, but I can look at it honestly and ask the creator God to make and remake me until Christ comes again.”

Biblical CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) vs. Worldly CBT in relation to depression, HT to Challies. Applying truth to our thoughts.

5 Better Ways to “Argue” About Social Injustice, HT to Challies. If you’re not aware of it, there’s a maelstrom all over the internet concerning just how social justice should be exercised and to what degree it should be under the purview of churches and governments. As with most online storms, there’s more conjecture, accusation, and misrepresentation than there is real conversation.

Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents, HT to Story Warren. “Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place…But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure. A generation for whom failure is far too painful, leaving them with coping mechanisms like addiction, blame, and internalization.”

Hope When Hope Is Lost, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “While we commemorate the stories of freedom fighters, we tend to overlook the vast majority of regular people like my grandmother whose own hopes were sacrificed on the altar of someone else’s ideologies, ambitions, or societal norms. Their stories deserve to be heard as well.”

When Disability Makes Your World Feel Small.

A Writer’s Prayer, HT to Out of the Ordinary.

I’ve read biographies of Amy Carmichael, one of them a few times, and several of her own books. So seeing this tour of the Dohnavur compound that the Lord enabled her to build, where she lived and ministered most of her life and where she died and is buried, meant a lot to me. It was neat to see there are still people there who knew her personally.

Friday’s Fave Five

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

OK, I will finally use the fall FFF button, since fall officially starts this weekend, even though it doesn’t feel like fall yet. 🙂 I sure am looking forward to cool breezes, hopefully soon.

Here are some of the best parts of last week:

1. Jesse’s birthday. We love birthdays around here.  🙂

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2. Choco-Peanut Butter Dreams. Awkward name, but great taste! They’re not specifically associated with fall, but that’s when I crave them.

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3. Better weather than the forecast. We were supposed to have a couple of days of heavy rain from Hurricane Florence, with flash flood warnings and predictions of power outages. Thankfully none of that occurred. We did get some rain one day, but it was not at all heavy.

I just got an email this morning from a missionary helping with relief efforts on the NC coast. He said Florence has all but dropped from the news, but the devastation it left on the coast is still an issue.

4. Finding an errand done. We use milk for almost all of my mother-in-law’s meals to make her pureed food the right consistency, and we ran out one morning after breakfast. I was originally planning to go to the store the next day, but since I needed to get milk, I was debating whether to get my whole grocery list or just get milk. I decided on the latter, and when I told my husband what I was about to do, he said he had already gotten milk while I was in the shower. So nice to find that taken care of!

5. Clearing out files and baskets. I have a basket on my desk and on the kitchen counter for receipts, mail I need to answer, things I need to think about and take care of later, etc. Naturally those get full occasionally, leading me to go through them. I also cleared out a couple of paperwork files. None were very big or time-consuming jobs, but they needed to get done, and that kind of work is very satisfying sometimes.

Happy Friday!