Sunday, January 26, 2014

Behind the Faces

Have you ever thought someone had a perfect life? Charmed, even? Nothing ever seems to go wrong for them, while you seem to always struggle and struggle?

I have had those thoughts on numerous occasions. However, the more I get to know people better, the more I realize that their lives are usually nothing like I imagined. Sometimes, behind a face that's always smiling, there is a person who has had a life of pain and struggles or who is burdened daily for lost loved ones.

Last week as I sat in my church service, I started thinking about some of these people that I'm aware of in my own church body. Then I wondered... how many more of the faces around me are hiding struggles I know nothing about? I would be naive if I thought there weren't any.

So I started praying for all of those people with hidden struggles and pains. I also started jotting down some lines, which eventually became this poem.

Behind the Faces

In your face I may see
A smile that’s carefree,
But behind your face may be
Struggles I can’t see.

In your face I may see
A happiness that’s glowing,
But behind your face may be
A pain you aren’t showing.

In your face I may see
A life of ease and blessing,
But behind your face may be
A history of trials and suffering.

In your face I may see
A dear sister or brother, always focused on things above,
But behind your face may be
A heavy heart, burdened for someone you love.

God, help me not to only see
The face that’s right in front of me.
Give me compassion, love, and grace
To minister to the soul behind every face.

(c) 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review: Embracing Obscurity



I recently read Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God's Everything by Anonymous. As I write this review, I’m having a hard time expressing just how helpful this little book has been to me.

I think, especially in our affluent society, we are groomed at an early age to clamor for the world’s version of “success.” Successful people, we are told, get good grades in school, are leaders and athletes, graduate college with honors, get successful jobs, make lots of money, have 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, and are loved by everyone who knows them. That’s the “American dream,” right?

But is that how God would have us live? The American dream mentality fosters pride in those who accomplish it. Then the rest of us try to console ourselves by touting our meager virtues to everyone we know so that we can feel good about ourselves, too.

Think about it: in your heart of hearts, what do you honestly hope that people think about you? That you’re a great mom? You’re thoughtful? A great teacher? Funny? Intelligent? Giving? Athletic? Think about that for a moment. When your name comes up in conversation, what do you hope will be said about you?

We all want to be valued. We want people to see value in us and affirm our wonderful qualities. We sometimes even convince ourselves that those are good things – that we are somehow being good representatives of Christ if we have a good reputation for {place your idol of choice here}.

The problem, of course, is that this focuses solely on us and not on the person we’re here to make famous: Christ. In the words of the anonymous author:

Embracing obscurity is about being content with being “relatively unknown” so that Christ can be made more known. Temporarily going hungry so that many more may be filled.



Christ brought the Father glory by becoming nothing (Phil. 2:5-11). If He is our example in everything, it follows that we also will glorify our God when we embrace an obscurity of heart for His sake and for the sake of others.

There are so many facets of our lives touched by this simple principle, and I think the author touches on all of them. I have underlined and starred and “Amen-ed” more in this book than I think I have in any other book – and that’s saying something! This is a book that I think I will need to re-read often to remind myself of its truths.

THE VERDICT: I highly recommend this book for any believer.


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Word and Verse for 2014

Every year, I select a verse and word to concentrate on for the year. And every year at the end of the year, I feel like I need a few more years to work on the given aspect. I guess I will never really feel like I’ve “arrived” with any of these words, but hopefully I’ve at least grown some by keeping them in front of me over the course of the year.

This year, as I tried to decide my word/verse, I started by making a list of sin areas and things I need to work on. Talk about depressing! However, as I went through the list, I kept coming back to the word “anxiety.” I thought about using that as my word and maybe using Philippians 4:6-7 as my verse. However, that seemed to focus more on the problem and not the resolution.

As I prayed about the list and searched my Bible for more verses, I decided to focus on the opposite of anxiety. So my word for 2014 is PEACE. My verse is Isaiah 26:3.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

I thought this captured where I WANT to be more than where I AM at the moment. It also focuses on HOW to get there: keep my mind stayed (focused) on the Lord.

Some of you may know that I read through the Bible this year with a group in my church. While I loved doing that, I think I am still lacking in spending time to just ponder and think through Scripture. So, in an effort to keep my mind focused on the Lord, I want to spend more time meditating on Scripture this year. To help with that, I am putting some Scripture meditation techniques on the back of my bookmark this year, taken from Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Click on the images to enlarge. If you would like to print a bookmark for yourself, feel free to download them and print your own.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Books Read in 2013


Here is the (very short) list of books I read in 2013. If you don't keep track of the books you read, I highly recommend it. It's been very beneficial to go over the list at the end of the year to see how many or how few books I actually completed.

It's also helpful to see trends in your reading. For example, during the years that I wasn't working outside the home, I read 30-50 books per year. You can very easily see when I started back to work, because my reading time practically dissolves into nothingness. That's something that might not be so evident if I didn't keep track of my books. I knew I was reading less, but I had no idea how few books I had actually read this year until I started looking at this list. That's something I hope to work on next year.

I will be clearing out the sidebar and starting fresh for 2014, but I want to keep previous years' lists so I am putting it into a post


January (0)
February (0)
March (1)
April (0)
May (0)
June (0)
July (0)
August (0)
September (0)
October (0)
November (1)
December (3)
Total books: 5

  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Crafty Year in Review - 2013

I haven't had a lot of time to do crafty projects this year. As I look back, most of my crafting has been of necessity for gifts. Here are the items I did this year. I apologize for the poor quality of some of the pictures. They were all taken with my phone.

I made these bean bags for a Razorback version of the game Baggo for a wedding present for some friends. I machine-embroidered their names and wedding anniversary date on one side and used Razorback fabric on the other side.
I embroidered this blanket for my niece's first birthday.
I made these two pillow covers for Hannah's bedroom make-over. I wasn't happy with the quality of my sewing on this project, but it got the job done, and Hannah was happy with it.
I made this cute First Aid kit for some ladies at work. More details at the blog post here.
And my last crafty project of the year was this Batman cape for my nephew. I actually bought the cape (It was cheaper than buying the pattern and fabric!), but I had to cut it off shorter and add the Batman logo. I was really happy with how it turned out.

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