Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I've been talking to God a lot lately about myself and how I fit into this world He created. What my purpose is here. How I can glorify Him. He's seemed silent, but perhaps I've not been taking the time to calm the bustle of my mind and listen to that still small voice. I know He's there and I know He listens. Sometimes, though, I wish I could have coffee with Him and ask Him questions.

I've taken to carrying my daily devotional, Tabletalk, and a small Bible around in my bag. I read it before I start work or while on a break. Maybe that's too rushed, I haven't figured it all out yet. But I appreciate those minutes of focusing. Today I felt incredibly convicted by what I read.

This is just the application portion:
We might think that we are grateful to God for what He has done for us, but if we never work to serve others, especially His people, then we must question the authenticity of our thankfulness. James 2:14-26 and other passages make it clear that Christian virtues are not mere inward thoughts and feelings but are expressed in concrete acts of love and service. Let us show forth how thankful we are to God by doing good to others.

For a while now I've felt disconnected from knowing how to be involved in serving others where I live now. I don't have the answers. But I know this is something that's been on my mind and I trust that God will show me where I can give thankfulness and glory to Him. I didn't just read those words by coincidence today; they are there as a reminder that God knows my thoughts and my needs and He has a purpose for me where I am right now.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

February Reading

I'll be right up front with you and say that I read 11 books in February, but five of those books were the the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series by Jeff Kinney. Being the diary of a middle-school boy, this is certainly not something I'd normally pick up, but at work next Monday I'm helping lead a 4th/5th grade book club on that series. I will also say, the books are funny; funnier than I anticipated. For a laugh, just pick up the first book. You won't be disappointed.

The book I'd like to highlight this month is Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. I actually started this book back in December and read it off and on (it's a hefty almost 700 pages), but my slower reading is in no part a reflection on the quality of the book. It is excellent.

Gaskell was a contemporary of the Bronte sisters. And even wrote a biography of Charlotte Bronte. She writes with depth, developing her characters through normal life circumstances. This is the second Gaskell I've read (Cranford being the other title) and I find them gentle books, but not fluffy or overly romantic.

Wives and Daughters follows the maturing years of Molly Gibson. At the start of the book she lives with her widowed doctor father. A stepmother is introduced before too long. And while she's not the "wicked stepmother" type, she is definitely a manipulative, self-centered woman. She brings along a daughter not much older than Molly. Molly is a kind-hearted girl who is trying to figure out her place with her father, her stepmother, her stepsister, and two brothers who are friends (but could they be more?).

The book wasn't filled with tragedy or comedy, though both were wielded with a gentle pen, but rather the day-to-day joys and confusions of a young girl coming-of-age.

Even if you don't pick up Wives and Daughters, I'd highly recommend you acquaint yourself with the works of Elizabeth Gaskell. And if you aren't enticed to read one, then perhaps you'll at least enjoy watching one over her novelized mini-series put out by BBC.

Without further ado, my complete February reading list:

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Last Straw
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Ugly Truth all by Jeff Kinney
Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath (also children's and read for work)
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
52 Loaves by William Alexander
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

Thoughts on prayer

I plan to post my February reading list by the end of the week, but until then I wanted to share a passage from the most recent book I finished, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

This is a conversation about prayer between the 17-year-old protagonist, Cassandra, and the vicar in her town.

"...Prayer's a very tricky business."
"Goodness, is it?"
"Well, for inexperienced pray-ers it sometimes is. You see, they're apt to think of God as a slot-machine. If nothing comes out they say 'I knew dashed well it was empty' -- when the whole secret of prayer is knowing the machine's full."
"But how can one know?"
"By filling it oneself."
"With faith?"
"With faith..."

Most likely the theology in this passage isn't totally sound, but I still found the analogy quite perceptive.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Splurge

After work on Friday I dropped by Aldi. You never know what produce price surprises you'll find. It was a good day. Fresh mushrooms were $0.49 a half pound. Onions were $0.69 for three pounds. Multi-colored peppers were $1.49 for three. Roma tomatoes were $0.79 a pound. I felt like I scored! :)

(Yes, I do realize I'm talking about produce prices on my blog...what have I come to?!)

Since I'd gotten such a great deal, I decided to splurge a little and as a treat for myself and our home, I bought a small pot of lucky bamboo.

Not long after I got married, my mom gave me a bamboo plant. Two and a half years later that bamboo plant is healthy and growing like crazy. (Every time Mom sees it she exclaims over its size. I think it's gotten so big it looks sort of ridiculous in its tiny pot.) I love little spots of green in our house, so I thought another pot of bamboo would be a perfect addition to my desk.

Do you have any houseplants you particularly love?
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