Friday, September 14, 2012

For your Friday: What I'm reading and watching

What I'm reading:

I recently finished reading What Happened to Sophie Walker and I really, really liked it. I'm actually re-reading it because I liked it so much.

Dear Me: a letter to your teenage self, a series from Emily P. Freeman is great.  I have read through a several of these and they've all been so personal, so true, great eye-opening reminders to me as a mother.  And a former teenager.

I'm also reading Mended and No Other gods.  I need a new fiction book to add to the mix.  Anyone?

"You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think your way into becoming yourself." Yes. 

What I'm watching:

 Drives Grandmas!  This is a great light-hearted look at politics for your start to the weekend.

 I talked to Jeff about this last night. The prevalence of the problem of bullying is so painful to me. I do not recall anything close to bullying at my high school - and maybe I'm wrong and it was there and I was just oblivious, but I remember some mild teasing in middle school and elementary school. None of it seemed to rise to the level of the stories that are increasingly common lately. It breaks my heart and I pray my girls are never on either end of this terrible trend.  It is apparent to me that we all need to be hyper-vigilant about teaching our kids that your words matter and they can speak life into someone or speak hurt into them.


Thursday, September 06, 2012


"This is Emanuel.  He lives in South America." 

And so began my introduction to Compassion International as a 6th grader sitting in Sunday School, meeting a child that our class would sponsor.  Our task was to bring in a little money each week so that over the month we could collectively accumulate the $30 or so it would take to continue to sponsor this little boy.  It made a 12 year old girl in Baton Rouge feel like she was part of something bigger.  Something important.  

We've all seen the commercials on TV.  Pictures of starving children, foraging for food in a landfill, barely clothed, the American announcer appealing to our emotion and common sense.  "All it takes is ", and you fill in the blank.  A dollar a day, Two dollars a day.  I've heard more than my share of cynicism about these programs.  "That money doesn't really go to the kids they show on TV, you know that right?"  "The CEO's of those 'charities' are getting a fat paycheck and the children are getting the crumbs of what you send."  The tenor of all of the cynical commentary is the same; we don't know where the money is going and so you're not really helping the ones you think you're helping.  

I hate to admit that I don't really remember what happened to Emanuel.  I moved on to other Sunday School teachers, and honestly, I left Emanuel in that old classroom.  In college I volunteered with the youth program at church and to my surprise, Compassion was still around.  I'm not sure if it should have surprised me, like I said, I still saw all of the commercials about children starving in third world countries, but seeing the organization that started it all for me was inspiring and made me think.  

It would be years before I actually committed to sponsor a child through Compassion.  Was it the cynicism, the selfishness, or the laziness that kept me from it earlier?  Probably all of the above and more.  But even at the age of 12 when sponsoring a child on my own was no where near the realm of my imagination, my interest was piqued.   Even before Compassion got my money, they had a bit of my heart.  

So, what I'm asking you do to today is venture a bit of your heart and click on over here to Compassion's sponsorship page.  And pray.  Not necessarily that God will lead YOU to sponsor one of them - but that would be wonderful - pray for them by name, for their families, teachers, pastors, friends.  You may not be in a place where sponsoring one of these children is possible or a desire of yours right now - and there's no judgment here in that - but perhaps you could pray that someone else who is in the right place financially and spiritually would click on that page too.  

Grace & peace.

PS:  if you're interested in defeating a little of that cynicism about organizations like Compassion, here's their information on how they spend the donated funds.  

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

in the mending

"I loved to run.
But more than that, I loved people’s reaction when I won.
And over the years, the Lord has taught me (Over and over. And then some more) that I need to stop running for the crowd. The applause is one thing, but truthfully, it’s not what pushes me. It’s the fear of disappointing anyone that haunts me. The feeling that I’m not enough, or that I’ve failed someone. It’s a miserable way to approach the race, let me tell you." 
As I read those words earlier this week, they struck me hard.  They could have been my own words.  Not the running part of course -- I don't know that anyone has ever cheered me on for my running prowess -- but doing something for the reaction it brought in others?  Yes. Ma'am.  That's a big part of my story and I'm only recently realizing how big a part it has been.  People-pleasing, finding your worth in achievement, placing your value in others' acceptance or approval is great, when you're great.  When you're not great, however, it is -- as Angie says-- miserable.  

It's all very American of me, though isn't it?  Very modern feminist (not the angry bra-burning variety, but the intelligent and capable club of 20 and 30 something women, daughters of the bra-burners) of me, right?  

While those are true, it's also part of the genetic make-up of who I am.  Passed on to me much like my red hair, fair skin, and baby-birthing hips, or my strong-willed nature, love of laughter, and disdain for slow-walkers.  You can't see the do-it-myself gene in my mom just by looking at her, but as sure as I sit here, she got it honestly from her own mother.  

The problem is that the do-it-myself, try harder, getting it done gene is actually evidence of mistrust and conceit.  I don't say those things to disparage my mom or grandmother; some things are really a product of necessity of the fallen world in which we live.  When you step back from it and ask the "why" and search for an earnest answer, it's unavoidable - for me at least.  

The do-it-myself gene is exhibit A in the case that I do much of what I do for approval and recognition and acceptance. The thinking goes something like this:  If I do it, I'll do it right, and then people will know I did it - not anyone else.  I don't want anyone else to screw this up.  

All of this works nicely when you are able to live under the illusion that you are in control and the world in working your favor.  Misery and self-hated ensue when that illusion comes crashing down in a heap.  

And now to the point, where is the mending?  How has God been working on me in this area?  He's brought the oh-so-basic and yet so much bigger than my mind can comprehend Truth of Grace  

Grace says that neither my failures - nor my successes -- define me, my Savior defines me.  

Grace says that I am not good enough, but He is.

Grace says that I don't have to try harder, He's accomplished all that matters.

Grace says that I don't have to keep up appearances, He's promised that I will not be accepted by the world if I choose to follow Him.  

Grace says that I do not have to strive to find hope in myself or in this world, but I can rest in the Extravagant Truth that Christ in me is the Hope of Glory.  

And so the story is too long already - and not long enough.  

To be continued . . .


This post is written in celebration of my friend Angie Smith's book Mended releasing.  I've only just started to read it; and it will be one I have to read through slowly and often. :-)  I already highly recommend it though and it can be purchased here or here.