Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - A Year to Abide

It is the end of 2012 and I must say it was a good year.  I was so ready to say adios to 2011 that I started off with high hopes & 2012 did not disappoint.  I only made two resolutions for 2012 and I can't believe that they both have been constant!

The first was my little 365 project of taking a picture everyday.  I'll try my best to post the wrap up to this tomorrow...and although I do think I missed 10-12 days I definitely captured our year and I'm looking forward to making a book with only these pictures to remember our year by.

My second resolution was not really a resolution at all, but rather I was inspired by other bloggers and chose a word for 2012.  You can read all about how I started off this year focusing on the word ABIDE here.  And as I close 2012 I can honestly say that I've learned so much about abiding in Him.

I thought I'd blog much more about this journey, but was often silenced as I realized abiding is something that is worked within rather than something that I was able to articulate with lengthy blogs and beautifully scripted words.

In fact, in that original blog I wrote:
this is what I long for – an ability to shut off my to-do lists and agendas – a serenity and yet also strength that resonates from simply being with Him.

It is as if He took me at my words and abiding has not been something that I've strived to achieve but rather it has gradually manifested the more that I became quiet and listened and in turn responded to His promptings.

He prompted in January as Josh and I toured a vineyard in Sonoma.  As I walked amongst those vines...and I stared at the piles of branches that had been pruned by the vintner...and I wondered if that pile was an omen of what awaited...  It was that day in which I knew that this year would require some pruning and yet He was gracious to remind me that I could submit to the pruning and it would be much easier. 

He prompted me one day as Selah brought home a painting of monkeys swinging on a vine with John 15:5 written along the margins...and I realized it would be hard to abide so long as my margins were cluttered with anything other than Him.

He prompted me in the middle of many nights as I fed and rocked my new baby.  It was there that He showed me - THIS - THIS is a picture of abiding...she needing me for wanting to just be with her.  Choosing to stay up past the feeding simply because it was so precious to be with her & she with me.

He prompted me when I really let go of my desires to do more and chose instead to be more by going part-time at the church and spending more time with my girls.

He prompted me through His Word and in conversations with friends.  He prompted me as I've walked with friends through trials and heartache.  He prompted me in laughter and joy.  And I'm learning that to truly ABIDE one never fully "gets it" but just tries to keep in step with step with His love.

"As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love."  - John 15:9

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Will You Be Reading Over the Holidays? 3 Books I've Read & 3 Books I'm Reading

Since I was a teenager, one thing I've always looked forward to about the Christmas holidays is getting wondrously lost in a good book.  I remember discovering my love for Jane Austen as a senior in high school wrapped up in a blanket sipping hot chocolate during those cold long days. And just a few years ago I was so enraptured with Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series that I was forever won over by Kelsey's new beau who nonchalantly "ran an errand" the day after Christmas only to return to our house with the final book of the series for yours truly.  I cast my vote that day that she should marry Heath - so glad she listened to me!

So I thought I'd write a quick blog to make a few book recommendations for those looking for a good read over the holidays as well as to share what I'll be reading over the next couple of weeks.  And if you are a book lover please let me & others know what we shouldn't miss.


In the last few months I've read 3 books that have "stuck" with me.  I mentioned Love Does by Bob Goff in a blog about Selah's impromptu parties and small nuggets of truth from that book have transformed my heart.  I see love a bit differently and try to share it more freely.

While on maternity leave I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and again I've been altered by it's contents.  I've noticed the change in the way I've shopped this Christmas and in how I reconsider priorities.  And yet, I didn't feel like I was beaten over the head with guilt trips about my consumption of media and frivilous spending.  Jen was honest and far from holier-than-thou...and if we are honest we probably all need to reexamine the many areas where excess reign supreme in our I'm sure I'll be revisiting 7...oh, and I'm planning to have a huge clothes swap party in the new year (I was inspired by the book to do so - would love for any of you Lubbock readers to join me)!

Lastly, I read Praying Circles Around Your Kids by Mark Batterson.  It was such an easy read and gave me the direction I needed in praying for my two little girls.  He gives practical ideas as well as Biblical foundation for why praying matters and how praying matters.  This is definitely an easy read that can be done over the holidays!

This Christmas break I'm planning on finishing two books & beginning another.  I'm half-way through Looking for God: An Unexpected Journey through Tattoos, Tofu, and Pronouns by Nancy Ortberg and I'm enjoying these short essays on faith.  I also just started Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and OH MY GOODNESS - it's beautiful writing - the kind of writing where one minute I want to speed through because it is so good and the next I find myself reading very slowly because I don't want to miss anything.  It is a work of fiction and yet I find myself searching for a pen to underline not just sentences but entire pages.  I'm not even sure where this book is headed...but I feel like I may learn more from this work of fiction than I have in a very long time from many theological books.


And lastly, I've just decided to read something a bit unorthodox.  I'm trying to live a bit whimsical...and so I've decided that I'll start 2013 off by reading The Jesus Storybook Bible.  I bought in a couple of months ago for Selah.  I'd heard from several parents that I respect that it was the best Bible they had found for their kids & I immediately fell in love when I read the subtitle: "Every story whispers his name."  So we've tried reading it with Selah but I'm reminded she is two and her attention span is always up before I'm ready to put this beautiful Bible down.  And so today, I felt like the Lord asked me, "Why do you need to wait for her to read it?"  So I'm going to start off 2013 by reading His story from cover to cover through the eyes of a child.  I'm so looking forward to it (and to the pictures)!

Oh, and I must admit I won't ONLY be reading in my quiet moments during Christmas vacation.  I also have every intention of rewatching Season 2 of Downton Abbey to get me ready for Season 3 that starts in January (I just finished rewatching Season 1) - I do love me some Lady Mary & Matthew Crawley...

What will you be doing in your down time?  Any books or movies you think others should be aware of?
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