Saturday, December 27, 2014

Friday Freewrite Fifteen

I woke up very early this morning, and I have been meditating in Matthew 3-6 for the last two hours, and it has been so good for my soul.

It has been a wonderful life. 

I only say this because I am in the midst of a cancer scare. Four suspicious spots on my skin. I went through a lovely Christmas day and wondered, "Will this be my last?"  I walked in the glorious sunshine and said, "If it is, I submit to Your will, Lord. It has been nothing but a beautiful life that I am so grateful for."  

The next day gave me time to think and grieve a bit. Not that it is cancer, but I will not know until after January 5th the result of the two biopsies. Then I have to wait until January 29th for the other two biopsies. Then I have to wait for the results of those. I think it is not dying that is often hard, but it is the waiting to know. 

So, I had to sort through the waiting yesterday, and I woke up this morning and dove into the Word. It has given me peace in the waiting. "Do not trouble yourself about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34).  So I won't know for a while, but I will live each day as I have in the past; drawing closer to my Maker, who I just may meet sooner rather than later. :)


Actually, I feel like we have met. I think I am knowing Him more and more. This is only because He has given me this hunger to know Him. Thank You!

Well, I have seven more minutes, but I think I am done. There is great peace in the waiting. No use worrying about tomorrow because, you know, tomorrow never comes!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 52 Books in 52 Weeks Wrap Up Answers

· How many books did you read and did you meet your own personal goal?  
My personal goal was 52 books, and I just made it this year. This is the fewest books I have read in years, but I am trying sit less to keep my back healthy and the weight I lost two years ago off. I already sit a long time, as I am editing my Bible Book Club blog and taking it off of the internet and putting the posts in my word processor. (I am reading my “soon to become” eBooks, but I did not read as many of other people's books.) I will be done with editing in early 2015 and can get back to regular reading.
It was also the first year since 2003 that I was not working through some "list" of best books to read. It was great to read free of "lists"! 
 I have hyper-linked all the books that I mention in this post to their reviews that I posted in 2014.
· Most thrilling, oh my goodness, I want to read it again, unputdownable book?

God Guides by Mary Geegh. 

This book is life-changing for anyone who wants a dynamic relationship with God. I recommend it to everyone, and I give it away like candy now. It is the simple concept of listening to God and obeying Him, but I love that it communicates this through real-life stories of a person who lived in India for over 30 years! She also recommends a “listen and obey” time every day where your WRITE DOWN what God tells you. Since I easily forget, I have gotten into this habit, and it has really helped me.  I recommended this book to two different friends that each ordered 100. One friend had given all 100 away within two months.

· Top 5 favorite stories (old and new)?

(I reread some of my favorite books this year. So I will separate them into favorite OLD and favorite NEW!)

OLD

NEW


· Least favorite book? 


It was sent to me so that I could do an early review, but it was so laborious that it took me over a year to read. I FORCED myself to finish it. It was very dry. It could have been so much more exciting than it was. 

· New author discovery?  New genre discovery? 

Firoozeh Dumas writes a wonderful memoir called Funny in Farsi about life in American after moving here from Iran. I will read another one by her. 

Malcolm Gladwell also gets a shout out. I had read Outliers years ago but read two other books by him this year: 

· What countries or centuries did you explore?

I explored The Netherlands and Germany during World War II in The Hiding Place and by actually going to Corrie’s hometown of Haarlam, Netherlands and throughout Germany in May/June!

· Share a favorite character, story, quote or cover 

Betsie Ten Boom from The Hiding Place is my favorite character in all the books I read. Her shining example of Christ’s love in the midst of the suffering of a concentration camp during World War II inspires me.

Two of my favorite quotes by her:

"His will is your hiding place"

"There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still."

· One book that touched you – (I changed it to one book for each category!)

Made me . . .

Laugh:  Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

Cry: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Sing and Dance: Messiah Meditations by ME!

· Are you ready to do it all over again?

Yes, it keeps me accountable to keep on reading.
           
· Do you have any goals to check out different genres or authors, read translated books or stories in another language for 2015?  

I only read two fiction books this year! I read them because my classics book club was reading them, but I had to drop out for a season and am looking forward to going back to it in July for this reason. I really miss my fiction! Two books I have had on my list for years are Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens and Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy. 

Here is the entire 2014 List with Links to each review:

2014 Books

JANUARY
FEBRUARY
MARCH
APRIL
MAY
JUNE
JULY
AUGUST
OCTOBER
NOVEMBER
DECEMBER
50. Messiah Meditations (Does it count that I wrote it?)

52. Where Love Is, There Is God Also by Leo Tolstoy

This is three short gospel stories by Tolstoy. I bought this book years ago, and I vaguely remember reading the first one to my boys and their two friends around Christmas, but I had not read the other two stories.

I found each of the stories at librivox.org and have linked the titles to the recordings:

"Where Love is, There is God Also" is a precious story about a cobbler who encounters Christ. Perfect to read on the eve of Christmas Eve!

"The Three Hermits" is a story about prayer.

"What Men Live By" is the longest of the three, but it hooked me in. I love the librivox narrator on this one too! 




51. Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders


I once had an ancient copy of this book, but I can no longer find it and think it went away in the "move to Malaysia" purge of 1997. I read it back in the 80's and forgot about it. I do not remember being thoroughly impressed even though it was highly recommended.


Read about the author at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Oswald_Sanders
I was offered this free version on 9/27/10 and put it on my iPhone with hopes of listening to "someday," and that came this week. It is an updated audio version, and it hit me right where I have been lately. I led a leadership class in 2005-2006, and I wish we would have read this book instead of the silly one we read for that class (not my idea). 

I would say this is probably the quintessential book about leadership come out of an overflow of our relationship with Christ. Our motto in training people continues to be, "You cannot give what you do not have," and this is precisely the undercurrent of this whole book. 

I like how they have updated it to include women in the equation and give footnotes with biographical information about the people Sanders is referring to as he wrote this book in 1967. 

For more details about its contents and thorough review, I refer you here:

Revisiting Oswald Sanders' "Spiritual Leadership"


Two of my Favorite Things Combine!

Too funny!


Monday, December 22, 2014

50. Messiah Meditations by Carol Weaver


I wondered why I had not read as many books in December as I usually do because our ministry usually takes a December break, and I am usually not one to be a busy Christmas person. Then I realized that I read through the devotional book that I wrote last year, and I should count that as a book even though I wrote it! LOL!

I am a certified Messiah nerd. It all started when I ordered the John Rutter version of Messiah (in the picture above) several years ago. I had never actually listened to the WHOLE Messiah. So, I did it for Christmas. When I was crying in a pile on the floor when I got to the Hallelujah Chorus, I knew that I was nerd certified.

I started the Bible Book Club in 2008, and I added the words to Messiah at the end of YEAR TWO (2009) because it is such a great review of the Old Testament! 

Then christianaudio.com had a free audiobook called Messiah:Comfort for God's People by Calvin Stapert available in December 2010, but I could not get into it, and I put it down. It seemed too technical. (I have since learned that it was more the narrator's very haughty voice that turned me off than the book itself.) 

In Christmas 2011, I went through the musical score and followed along with it as I listened to Messiah (picture above).

Despite my dislike of the narration, I listened to Stapert's book during Christmas of 2012, taking copious notes:

















Have I convinced you that I am a total nerd?

I continued to post just the words at the Bible Book Club blog. Then, I ordered Stapert's book on my Kindle, and I LOVED it! Reading it was so much more valuable! (The book is great, and the narrator is not.) 


Then, last June/July I decided to write a devotional book and include the backgrounds from my Bible Book Club posts to explain the Scripture in Messiah along with my personal reflections and application of what I was learning. 

Writing this devotional was amazing! My husband had changed jobs, and his company put us up in a hotel while we looked for homes in another town (never moved though) so I worked all day on it and was saturated in it! I finished on July 11, 2013. In December, I transferred it all to a word processor too. 

This year, I actually read it as an Advent devotional, and it was great! The whole book is posted on my blog, but I think I might even have a physical devotional book printed someday. :) 

49. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence



This is my third time reading this book in one year. I think this is a record. It is because our ministry reads it, and I always read it again with them. 

I do believe this is one of my top ten favorite non-fiction books. It is such a challenging read. It has been my lifelong desire to have a 24/7/365. 

Last week, I had two of what will be four biopsies on suspicious spots on my skin.  I have no results and must go through Christmas before I hear. Reading this again brought such comfort to my soul. God is always with us. It is all about a relationship with Him. I listened to this with a whole new perspective on my own immortality.

Here is my previous review:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

48. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom


"His will is your hiding place" Betsie Ten Boom


“There are no 'ifs' in God's Kingdom. His timing is perfect. His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in Your will! Don't let me go mad by poking about outside it.”  Corrie Ten Boom




"There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still." Betsie Ten Boom

I read this book in 1993 and again in 2009 with my book club, and they gave it the second highest score of all time with a 9.65 out of 10 (out of 117 books read over a 10 year period). It is a book I think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime. It is that good. 
This is one of my top ten favorite books. I was offered a free audiobook in April 2011, but I had never gotten around to listening to it. Having several long car journeys, I thought it would be perfect time to take the plunge. The narration was excellent.
I was also motivated to reread it after having the opportunity to go to Corrie Ten Boom's home and THE hiding place in May of this year: 




The Hiding Place - Hard to Believe So Many Jews Hid in this Very Small Space
What a thrill to sit in the front room of the Ten Boom home that I read about in the book:



Or look out over the city from the little balcony where the Jews could sometimes sit to get some fresh air:



You can read my reflections on that day HERE. It was a dream come true to go to the home of my heroes: The Ten Boom family!




The Ten Booms owned a clock shop in Haarlem, Netherlands and began hiding Jews in their "secret room" during the Nazi occupation of their country during World War II. They were sent to a concentration camp for their selfless service. This is their story told from Corrie's perspective. 
Corrie's Father's Father Began the Ten Boom Watch Shop in January 1837. It still exists today!


The alleyway at the side of the Ten Boom Jewelers 
It is such a beautiful book. 

My husband thought it was odd I was listening to this book during the Christmas season, but as I listened to the last few pages, I realized that this Christmas week is the 70th anniversary of Corrie Ten Boom's release from Ravensbrück Concentration Camp!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

For Unto Us a Child is Born

So what that I am out in the open part of the library, and there was noise from the electronic equipment of the son of the family sitting next to me. My quiet was shattered. For 1 1/2 hours I was on a roll starting my Bible Book Club for Matthew for YEAR THREE (Yes, I am over a year ahead of schedule in my editing!). The only other people was an older man quietly reading and a young 20 something quietly scrolling the internet. 

No problem! I am prepared for unnecessary noise! 

So, I get out my noise canceling headphones; and "For Unto us a Child is Born" comes blaring out. A son was given to that family. They feel self conscious but infinitely more important in this life is that UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN - bless the son that you were given, dear family next to me. Make as much noise as you want. It will join with me as I praise GOD this morning. 

You have been given a son. Rejoice! He may make noise, but what a gift he is to your family. As Jesus is a gift to us. He came to shattered our solitary world in a good way. "Unto us a son is given!" 

WOOHOO!

(And I am very weird - back to work) 

Monday, December 08, 2014

47. Walk in a Relaxed Manner by Joyce Rupp


This was recommended to me by a nun at the Mount Angel Shalom Prayer Center after I told her that it is my dream to walk the Camino de Santiago. I waited until I could find a good used copy. It was worth the wait. What a delightful read. It is written topically. Rupp is an excellent and easy writer. The lessons are applicable to our life's journey and not just to the Camino.


I was a nanny in Santiago de Compostela from Columbus Day 1982 to New Year's Eve 1983. It was probably the hardest three months of my entire life as a 23 year old, out of the country for the first time and dealing with a bad living situation. It was also the best three months of my life in that it drew me ever closer to the Lord. Although I have long since healed from the effects of my three months there and gained much wisdom from the suffering I endured, I want to walk the Camino to that ancient city. I will probably cry like a baby when I arrive. God is good.  

Someday.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

46. Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach


I have not read this book since 2009! I thought I had read it since then, but NO. I have read The Game with Minutes three times because it is part of our ministry curriculum, but this is one of my top ten favorite books that deserves a reread! 


I have never written a review of it, other than having referred to it when I have reviewed other Laubach books, but I found a very old post from this blog entitled, "In His Presence" from July 30, 2009 that gets to the heart of why I love this book: 
I do not know what is happening with me. There is this amazing connection that I am having with God right now.
My dream has always been to see a 24/7/365 kind of relationship with God (You - for I write this blog to You and for You). I remember reading The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence in the early 80's and felt like I had a new role-model. I specifically remember leaving Gill Coliseum on the OSU Campus one night, being tilted over by some strange encounter with Diane's guy friend, Chris. I cried out to You with the desire to not let strange encounters with others derail me from Your precious presence. It became my passion and something in which to strive because "In Your presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forever" (Psalm 16:11). Yet, being the emotional self that I am, it has always been difficult. Those bi-monthly extended times of prayer helped to recalibrate me, but by the end of the sixty days, I was undone again. Oh, to be undone only by God because of His overwhelming presence. That is what I yearned for more than anything. 
Later in my journey, I read excerpts from Frank Laubach's (1884-1970) Letters by a Modern Mystic where he resolved: "I would succeed better this year with my experiment of filling every minute full of the thought of God than I succeeded last year. And I added another resolve -- to be as wide open toward people and their need as I am toward God. Window open outward as well as upward." 
Somehow, Frank's effort seemed so realistic with little increments of growth year by year. He also did not live a monastic existence as Brother Lawrence did. His inward and outward growth were simultaneous. I wanted that moment by moment experience of God in the midst of the daily grind of life with "tilting people."

Then a couple of months later, in the fall of 2009, I read The Life You've Always Wanted by John Ortberg and The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, and they BOTH quoted Laubach! I realized that I had only read a chapter with longer excerpts (referred to above) from Laubach called "Opening Windows to God" in the Devotional Classics by Foster and Smith. This was in the early 90's and back when it was a loose leaf notebook and only available through Renovaré!

Why had I never read him? If people like Willard and Ortberg and Foster (and countless others) were quoting him, why have I never read him directly? So I Googled and found this book. Part of the reason I had never read him in the 90's was that this book was out of print, and there were not opportunities on the internet to search out copies of it. Thankfully, by 2009, this 2007 edition had been made available, and I ate it up! I never knew that he was a worker among the Moro people in Southeast Asia too! My kind of guy!


The Introduction by Ken Smitherman, President of the Association of Christian Schools International puts it well, when he says that, "Although these letters were written nearly eighty years ago they speak forcefully to anyone who desires the highest level of the pursuit of God and effective discipleship and discipling." I recommend it to all the women I disciple. It is that important of a book, and paired with The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, it is that much more powerful! 

There is an online version, but I really like this little pocket book that includes The Game with Minutes too.

Here is the online version though: Letters by a Modern Mystic 

Old Herbaceous

This was a sweet story about a gardener in England from the time he was a boy to an old man. It made me cry it was so short and sweet.  Here...