Saturday, April 19, 2014

Making it meaningful.....



"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." - 1 Corinthians 15:14


 

Last year, Robert & I started a new tradition; an annual early morning Easter walk/bike ride in a forest preserve, just Robert and I - no children. A time for he and I to spend alone with God. Making Easter meaningful. Yes, everyday is opportunity to make Easter meaningful, but far too often the holidays rush in and blur the meaning. We want to intentionally and purposefully set our eyes on Him as to not let the meaning fade into the background.


Easter is the most important holiday. Without Easter, Christmas would be meaningless....would not exist.


 

Another reason why our new tradition is of importance is because it marks a renewal of sorts. These last few years has been a journey. A painful one at times. It's been laced with struggles, grace, humility, and sweet understanding. It's the truths of God that has carried us to this day. By God's grace through faith we have been strengthened. Over the last few years, we have been going through a renewal, but most especially over this last year. I am forever thankful for a forgiving, loving, just God who expects obedience.


 

Over this past year, I have struggled with the will of God. I have felt torn between myself and God's truth. I've often asked, "What is God's will?" It's interesting to me, as I reflect over this past year, as to how God has worked in my life. Many moments, words and situations have pointed to His will which have been revealed in scriptures that I've read and studied. Seriously. It's not a matter of "I want to do God's will". It's a matter of "I want to be in God's will." I believe that to be in God's will, I need to be in the Bible. But while I believe the scriptures are where God's will is revealed, I also believe that He has not revealed all, and nor is all for me to know.


 

The thing is, I sin. Everyday, I sin. No matter how much I want to be in God's will, I sin. And, ultimately, my sins are against Him. I am ever so thankful for God's grace. I am thankful for the ability given to me to repent and receive forgiveness.


"...The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." - Luke 24:46-47


While I do not have near enough understanding, I can see how, over these last few years, God has been using my struggles, trials and transgressions for His good. I am finding it ever so amazing how God has been working in my life...in our life.

 


Today, on this silent day between Good Friday and Easter day, I am reminded that while I wait for whatever it may be in life, I have hope in Him. A hope that all things will work for His good. A hope that solidly rests in Him. There is tremendous peace and calm in that truth.


So, on this silent day because I have to work tomorrow, Robert and I took our annual walk in the forest preserve, and spent time in the scriptures. We took our moment, together, to keep the gift of God's grace meaningful. The gift of His son taking our place --- substituting himself for us so that we may have life.


 

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." - 1 Peter 1:3-5


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Music that has had meaning to me.....


All Sons & Daughters - Buried in the Grave

 

Needtobreathe - The Garden

 

Phil Wickham - True Love

 


 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Cross He Bore by Frederick S Leahy

 

The Cross He Bore
by Frederick S Leahy
first published: 1996
copyright: 2007
pages: 100
format: paperback
source: own
finished reading.....April 17, 2014


Goodreads description: A series of meditative studies on the Passion of Jesus Christ, tracing his experience from the agony of the Garden Of Gethsemane to the darkness in which he died on Calvary



The Cross He Bore is an excellent book; short chapters that are tightly packed in a manner where one cannot escape from "meditating on the sufferings of the Redeemer" while being taken through Christ's last several hours in the Garden of Gethsemane to Golgotha.


My husband and I read this book together; I read each chapter aloud to him. Every chapter was insightful; details that have not crossed our minds before. Every chapter gave us a meaningful perspective on the cross; the passion of Christ. We both came away from the book moved and in deep thought.


The Cross He Bore is a rich gem, and one that begs for a yearly re-read. A book that we plan on reading aloud to our children. A book that allows for a cursory read or one of deeper reflection. It truly lends itself beautifully for reading in a few days or over the course of weeks. Either way you read this book, you cannot help but to reflect on the words.


The bottom line: The Cross He Bore left us feeling enriched. An excellent book.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Side Notes: While we mostly read this book during the Holy Week, this book most definitely could be and should be read at any point during the year.


We did start reading this book on April 7th, but we only managed to read 3 chapters before leaving on our trip to Toronto. During the drive to Toronto, Niagara Falls and back home, we finished the book; read 10 chapters.


For our next time reading this book, we hope to dig into the scripture references that are fabulously written into the text of the chapters

 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ok, it's that time again; a re-read


{I posted the following over on my Instagram feed, and thought I should post here too}

It's that time again; a re-read of my #favoritebook amongst favorites in my #favoriteseries by my #favoriteauthor. Now is the time for a re-read (4th time) since@thehappilyeverafter is hosting a #outlanderreadalong on Instagram and the 8th book release date is set for June 10,2014. Perfect!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I am excited to dig back into this book. I am excited o become reacquainted with my favorite fictional couple; Jamie and Claire. Shoot, they're my favorite fictional characters periods. And the world - oh the world-building - is beyond fabulous as fictional and historical fact are smoothly woven.

Love this book. Love this series. Love this author's writing abilities.

If you too would like to get on this Outlander Readalong, then make sure to search out the hashtag ( #outlanderreadalong ) on Instagram.

 

 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Journal to Myself.....if only



March 27, 2014

Short and sweet -- I write the best blog posts when I am driving or in the shower. And, once I am able to write down those amazing, and so well expressed blog posts onto paper, well, they are no longer so well expressed.


If only I had the ability to retain the words, the sentences,the paragraphs then wow.....many more posts would be published onto this often neglected blog of mine.


If only, there was a way to dictate those thoughts while driving or on the shower. To dictate into printed words.


For now, I write the best blog posts while driving and in the shower. Apparently, those posts shall never be published. Nevertheless, they do have purpose. I've worked out many problems, and had many light bulb moments and have thought through many books read. So, all is not lost.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Monday, March 24, 2014

Journal to Myself.....red-letters

 
 

 
March 24, 2014

{I posted much of this over on my Facebook page, but then thought that my blog is a good place for this too. Why? My blog is my first on-line home, my place where I first started to record and store my thoughts on all sorts of life happenings....kids, books, music, etc.}


“What is the first recorded miracle of Jesus in the Bible?”


My new Bible is not a red-letter edition. I do miss the red-letters. Mostly, because at a glance it is easier (quicker) to sort out who is speaking. But, after reading this article and pondering the above question, I am asking myself...Have I, without realizing, placed too much emphasis on the red-letters and therefore limited my depth-of-field? Have I not kept the entire text in proper focus? I would like to say that I did not limit my focus. But, this article, and that above question has made me pause to rethink my reasons for liking red-letter editions.


Do you have any thoughts on red-letter editions?


What was your answer to the above question? Mine was not the correct answer.

 

Check out the article: What is a "Red Letter" edition of the Bible?

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

For many topics that provoke me to ponder, I have started searching out more thoughts on this matter. While I am quite comfortable and confident with Answers in Genesis, I don't want to ignorantly rely on one source for my pondering.


Other articles (resources) I've read.....

Red Letter Bibles

The Story Behind: Red Letter Bible Editions

Why You Can't Pit Jesus Against His Bible

The Words of Christ are Black and Red

 

Ok. I didn't realize that there was a red-letter edition debate out there in this world. I can see where the harm can come in with Jesus' spoken word put into red. The harm is not being able to generalize Jesus' spoken word throughout the rest of the Bible. I can see how easy it is to start compartmentalizing. I did just that, subtly, without realizing. And that is rather shocking to me because I absolutly believe that every word in the Bible is God-breathed. I absolutly believe that without the Old Testament we would not have the New Testament. I absolutly believe that Jesus is in the Old Testament. So yeah, I am shocked to realize that I was compartmentalizing.


Will I no longer open my red-letter edition? Absolutely, I will. I love that Bible. Love it, and not because of the red-letters, but because of the time I've poured into that Bible while studying God's Word. That poured time of studying is marked all over the pages. It is the first Bible that I truly studied. But, I will now remain aware to not over-emphasis those red-letters....to not make those letters of more importance than all the black-letters (even subtly).


Every word is God's Word.


It is all God-breathed.



Friday, March 21, 2014

For the love of fantasy.... book challenge, and group read



I am not the reader I once was; very few books read, and a narrower breadth of books I am willing to read. Even so, my love for fantasy has not waned. And frankly, I've being missing the genre.







Today, Carl has added fuel to that book reading love of mine, and motivation has been sparked. I love participating with the book blog community, and joining in on the fun of a challenge, and/or group read is a great way to participate.


~ ~ ~
Friday, March 21st begins the eigth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge. This is a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through June 21st and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing whims." (Emphasis mine)
~ ~ ~

Once Upon a Time is a low-stress, various levels of commitment type of challenge. It's not really a challenge per se, it's purpose is more motivation in nature; for readers to crack open at least one good fantasy genre type book, or short stories, or view good movies/tv shows. Love those factors.


Besides those factors, I must say, I am BIG fan of this challenge as it first introduced me to Carl's blog, Stainless Steel Droppings, back in 2009 (my first time with the challenge) which eventually led to a very much appreciated book blogging friendship.


Because I am a low-stress kind of reading girl these days, I am going with the first of the many ways one can participate....{at least one book (maybe more) will be read during March 21 - June 21st.}




I may add in these other two....it really depends {if the opportunity and time comes my way}






What shall I read? Oh the list-person in me so wants to lay it all out. But, I have been cultivating more of a spontaneous book reading mindset. I have a shelf or two of un-read books; surely there are fantasy books tucked in tightly waiting to be read. I will browse those shelves first.


These are a few possibilities amongst many on my physical and ebook shelves:


Shadows by a Robin McKinley,
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (I know, I know....I've not read it yet what's wrong with me?)
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
Blackbringer by Laini Taylor





But.....



One book does pop into mind that would fit this challenge and fix another community participation desire of mine....








The Way of Kings is a loved book of mine, it sits so beautifully on my bookshelf too. I cannot wait to dig into Words of Radiance (book two), and this group read would be an excellent way to discuss this book {I know I'll want to discuss the words read...oh, how Sanderson can weave a world, a story}. But, can I keep up with the pace? I do not know, but I am going to try. If my pace does not match the group's, well, then I'll participate as I can.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Checkout Stainless Steel Droppings for more details about the Once Upon a Time Challenge. If theWords of Radiance Group Read interests you, check out the details and the reading schedule for it here.







Monday, March 10, 2014

Lent....observe or not to observe?





I am a week late with this post. I meant to have it written out and published by Ash Wednesday. That didn't happen. Why? I got tripped up in details. That happens to me. If there is one outstanding thought not squared away, then I get tripped up and do not move forward. Fortunately, this doesn't happen to me daily, but when it occurs it does prevent me from meeting "deadlines" or taking care of the overall issue in a timely manner. I'll explain what tripped me up in a moment.






I am not Catholic. I say that because practicing Lent tends to be a Catholic gig, or so it seems. I am a Christian; Protestant. Evangelicals do not seem to practice Lent...or even Advent for that matter. Some say Lent is not biblical and therefore is not to be observed. I cannot speak to if it's biblical or not. It may very well be but just not concretely stated. It may very well not be. But, I do believe there is something to be said for traditions. When approached with the correct mindset, understanding, and attitude --- traditions can be a very good a tool for deeper learning, relationship with God, and remembrance.





For me, Lent is not about a biblical mandate but rather a personal time of observance. A time to purposefully reflect on the passion of Christ. To not allow my observance of Easter to melt into a day that passes by far too quickly without deep reflection.


Lent is not about earning my salvation. It's about seeing "how depraved I am. How incapable I am in the flesh, how in bondage I am. That I can’t keep any law perfectly." (Ann Voskamp) To intentionally remember Jesus' sacrifice - His horrific death of being hung on a cross for me - so that I can receive God's gift of grace. And, "by grace I have been saved through faith." (Ephesians 2:8–9)





I did get tripped up, however, when I started thinking about how I was going to go about observing Lent. There are reading plans. There is the "do not eat meat on Friday" rule except for fish. Ummm...where did that rule originate anyway? It doesn't make much sense to me. There is the tradition of giving something up as a sacrificial act; an act that reveals my sinful nature...my need for Jesus. I started overthinking all these "to-do" ideas. It started to become an observation of works, and that's not the purpose. So, I let go of the "doing" and focused on the purpose. For us, it means keeping it simple with readings and discussion and maybe...just maybe...a purposeful activity. And for me, it also means sacrificing something for 40-days.






It then dawned on me. To reflect on Christ, His sacrifice, I do not need to do a specific "Lent" reading. I am already digging into my Bible on a daily occurrence . But, closer to Easter, I would like to do a study that specifically looks at the passion of Christ. My children? We will do family readings; not daily for 40-days. I am tossing around two ideas; the 11 scriptures we read last year with visual cards we hung, or readings from the free Easter Devotional Book by Ann Voskamp.


What shall I give up? This is not a requirement, so it's not an expectation of mine for anyone. It's a personal choice. If my children feel lead to give something up during the Lent season, then fabulous. If not, it really is a-ok.


For me? I am choosing to give up my phone's ability to access email, Facebook, Internet, and other social media. Except for Instagram, and upload abilities to my photo sites -- the reason is because I am in the middle of a personal challenge to document the rest of my B90Days journey via IG.


Giving something up should be an act of drawing closer to God; becoming more Christ-like. My phone's capabilities beyond talking and texting draw me away from God. It eats up time that I could and should be spending with God.






Notice, I did not say I am giving up email, Facebook, and the internet. Just the route I use to access that stuff. My access will be greatly limited; not so readily available. My iPad and computer will be my routes. Both need wifi, and are much more than an arms length away.


This means, my time on these sites, and email will be far less. My mind will be more willing to actively pursue God during those moments I wasted on my phone. My mind will be more willing to be actively involved with the family too. And that's certainly an area for which reveals my need for God's grace...His gift for my salvation.






What about you? Do you observe Lent? If so, in what ways do you purposeful practice Lent?






Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys



“You stand for what is right, Lina, without the expectation of gratitude or reward.”


Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
copyright: 2011
pages: 344
format: hardcover
source: own
finished reading.....August 5,2013




Goodreads description: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.....




{I read this book during 2013 and it was in my top favorite three books, if not the most favorite of the year. I figured, I really need to post my thoughts about this book. Thoughts that I wrote out shortly after finished reading that I promptly left in draft mode. I am leaving the draft as is. Why? It's been awhile since I read the book, plus, I really want to log this book as read here on my blog. Editing can be hindrance to my posting. So here it goes....my draft.}




My thoughts: This is a most excellent novel; my eyes have been opened to a history that I knew very little. Most excellent in portraying historical events for which the author learned of through interviews with various survivors. Most excellent in telling the story of these prisoners through the eyes of Lina, a teenage girl whose family must endure the horrific hardships of prison encampments. Every moment spent reading this beautifully written story was very much worth the time.


The various layers of emotions, decisions, hope, despondency, cruelty, compassion, love for others is felt throughout this emotionally tugging story. Fictional characters telling truths of those who actually endured the horrific cruelty of these inprisonment camps. Fictional characters that felt real.


The voice of Lina worked well; she told not only her story but also the stories (to various degrees) of all those who surrounded her; other prisoners and those of the soldiers guarding the camps. This narration was written smoothly giving the imprisoned and unjustly treated people of these historical events the due they deserve.


I will admit, I did not know much about the Baltic region (Lithuania, etc). I grew up with the Soviet Union as being one big country...as Russia. I really did not understand the significance for the independence gained for the Baltic Countries. I now do and will forever look at that region with a different set of eyes; a bit more understanding I have.


What stood out to me, was not only Lina's courage but that of her mother, Elena. She influenced Lina greatly. She taught Lina how to be courageous, and to live with dignity, and compassion. The mother-daughter relationship was very touching, and something that is far too often missing from YA marketed novels.


The bottom line: Truly, this is a most excellent story. A story that should be put on schools' reading lists. A book that should be read in history class when studying this era; World War II. A book that I am very glad that my 14-year daughter has already read. A book that I would like my other children to read. A book that has made its way to my Must Read List.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Side note: The epilogue and notes are a must read as they serve to further open the reader's eyes.
After all this time since finishing this story, Between Shades of Gray still has stayed with me; the emotions, and events told within these pages.




Friday, February 28, 2014

Hippotherapy --- Would you be able to help?

 
 
 

We have tried traditional settings for speech and occupational therapy. We've tried play therapy. None have lasted. Isaiah couldn't maintain the weekly 45-minute sessions. At some point during a session, his behaviors would sneak out and then the session would quickly dissolve. Finally, it was determined that his behaviors and inability to maintain focus was too much of a therapy impediment that therapy was terminated.


We searched out help for his behaviors to no avail. We attempted to gain access to behavioral therapy. Access denied due to lack of finances,and insurance coverage.


Last winter, it dawned on me that Isaiah may benefit greatly from interaction with horses. He has a love for horses. I was looking for a lesson or two, but then also decided to see if horse therapy would be a doable thing for us. His school social worker told us of a barn that provides horse-based therapy. We made contact, and gathered information. Last February (2013), we brought Isaiah to Partners for Progress for an evaluation to see if this therapy would be a good fit for him. He immediately took to the place, but we also realized that we could not afford the fees as we had hoped. Fortunately, we qualified for a partial scholarship.


 

Through the scholarship funding, Isaiah has been going to Partners for Progress for their weekly Therapeutic Power Hour group. This has been a very good thing for him; this therapy, this place.


Can I tell you that I've seen improvements in "x,y,z"? No. But I can tell you that there is a sense of peace with him when he goes. He looks forward to his weekly sessions. He maintains far better with this therapy in this horse environment than he has ever done with a traditional therapy setting. His behaviors have popped up, but the people at the barn work through it with him. He is following directions. He is learning responsibility outside of his own being by caring for the horse he rides; putting tack away, brushing the horse, mucking out a stall. The mucking out the stall is Isaiah's deal --- he asks to do it, and it has become his earned reward for listening during the session. The bonus is, the mucking out stall also works for his proprioceptive needs.



In order for kids, like Isaiah, to be given the opportunity for hippotherapy, Partners for Progress needs help. They need help with off-setting the costs of maintaining the facility and the horses, and with providing quality therapy programs. Through fundraising, sponsorship, and donors - Partners for Progress is able to maintain healthy horses that are fabulous with the kids, keep the facility and programs running and have the ability to offer scholarships to families like us who,otherwise, wouldn't be able to afford this therapy.


Would you be able to help? We are selling "Plop of Gold" raffle tickets. The cost of each ticket is $10.00. The Plop of Gold fundraising event will be held on March 9, 2014. During this event, raffle tickets will be drawn, and 3 lucky winners will receive a nice monetary reward. It could be a win-win situation; not only would you be helping Partners for Progress but you could potentially win a nice sum of money.


It be awesome if you purchased a "Plop of Gold" ticket from Isaiah.


Are you interested in more than just purchasing a ticket? If so, you are welcomed to attend the event on March 9th from 12pm - 4pm for refreshments, music, tour of the facility, see a live demonstration from the programs, meet the instructors, therapists and horses. The event entry cost is one non-perishable food item per person which will then be donated to the local food pantry.



We very rarely participate in fundraisers for the children; sporting and school. But this fundraiser is very important to us. The proceeds from this event will greatly benefit so many children who have needs that are being met through horse-based therapy ....in ways that traditional therapy settings cannot meet.


Please consider giving me (Deanna) a call, emailing, texting or messaging me that you would like to help. We have 10 more tickets to sell by March 7, 2014.


We thank all those who have already helped by purchasing a Plop of Gold ticket from Isaiah. He is very excited every time he hands in the ticket money we've collected.


We are fortunate that Isaiah is being afforded the opportunity for horse-based therapy.


We are very thankful.


 

For more information regarding this event and/or Partners for Progress, please go to these links...

Annual Plop of Gold Raffle Event

Partners for Progress

 

Thank you.

~Deanna,Robert,and Isaiah~


LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin