Friday, June 22, 2012

Partial Summer Recap and a 30 Day Challenge

It's summer!!!!! I'd say that means a break from everything but, being a grown up means that summer isn't quite like it used to be. Oh well. To get you caught up on a few things:

1. Last week, we went on a mini vacation with my family to see my brother graduate from Army AIT (Advanced Individual Training) and bring him home. After graduation, we all went to stay with sweet friends at their lake house. (Bob and Joyce, you are the BEST! I can't tell you how wonderful it was to spend time with you and just relax- THANK YOU!!!!! We love you!!!!) Our friends actually happen to be some of my parents closest friends from when they were all newly weds/young marrieds. What's really great is that Bob and Joyce have a daughter and three sons and my parents apparently thought it was a good idea since they have a daughter (me!!!) and three sons!

2. I will post pictures soon from the above mentioned trip. I got a new camera lens for my baby Nikon and it was awesome! But I'm still wading through all the photos (and trust me, that's  TON, well, actually somewhere between 800-1000) and once I can get rid of the bad ones (aka, closed eyes, fuzzy faces, back of heads, etc) I will post pictures.

3. I have another blog post coming out soon (like today, or tomorrow) but have to finish reading the article that sparked the idea to post about this topic.

4. Our "little" (aka young) cat is running spastic circles around the house right now.

5. This post is more than just a list of randomness.

Ok, so here's the REAL point this post: a challenge. I have been reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young as part of my personal Bible study. This book is wonderful! It has been used by the Lord to draw me closer to Him in the midst of friends being ill with cancer, crazy schedules, etc. I Highly recommend this book. (And I think you know that I don't recommend Bible studies/ devotional books very often, so this is kind of a big deal.)

I have recently discovered that right before I go to bed is a good time for me to have my quiet time. I work late most nights (not by my choice but because that is just the way my job is) and usually the house is quiet and hubby is asleep or almost asleep when I get home. This allows me the time to spend with the Lord, when everything is quiet and there are fewer distractions (even the kitties are tired at that point). Last night's entry in Jesus Calling made me wish I had read it month ago!

I have been struggling with being thankful for all things in my life, specifically the difficult stuff that's painful, not the way I like it and just down tight yuck. But we are supposed to count trials as joy (James 1) and be thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) and rejoice in the Lord regardless of circumstance (Philippians 4:4-6). To say I haven't been very good at that would be accurate, ok, it would be an understatement. I have been anything but joyful, thankful and rejoicing.

Yesterday, I began learning about praying in faith and thanking God for the difficult things in my life. I get the idea that prayer and faith go together, like praying in faith that God will heal someone, but it never really occurred to me that I should be praying in faith to give thanks to the Lord for the stuff in life that is difficult. So... I have decided to start a challenge: for the next 30 days, I am going to daily thank the Lord for the things in my life that are trials, painful, difficult, and just plain "not fair" in my view.

Recap from day 1: It hurts. It is incredibly difficult to give thanks for those situations, etc that cause me pain. It is peaceful. I know that I am turning it all over to the Lord and He can handle it. It is like being forced to apologize as a child. Remember, when you were a kid and you hit your brother/sister and you mom made you say, "I'm sorry" and hug? Well, giving thanks for trials and difficulties is just like that right now: I don't feel thankful and I'm not really thankful, but I am going through the act of giving thanks, in the hope and faith that I will learn to be thankful, or something like that. I am trusting that God will use this to work in my heart.

So, that's the challenge. 30 days of giving thanks for the difficulties and trials in your life, in faith that God will show you more of Himself, make you more like Jesus, etc. Are you up for the challenge?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey: the reasons I won't read it

I love to read. I have mentioned this fact before. I do not claim to always read excellent works written by the most brilliant of authors on the planet, filled with all four syllable words that can't easily be pronounced. BUT, I don't like to read things that are not well written. There are many topics that catch my interest and so I will read a variety of books, on a variety of topics, written in a variety of styles, but if it isn't well written then I won't finish the book. 

Recently, there has been a book that has come to the top of the NY Times Best Seller List. This book has been the "talk of the town" and made the circuit of almost all the major television shows. This book has created some controversy, too (and not, controversy isn't a requirement for great literature, more on this in a minute). Some libraries are talking about banning the book. Yet, thousands of people, many of whom women, are flocking to read this book and getting on waiting lists for copies. What is this book? "Fifty Shades of Grey". 

I won't be reading this book. And at this point, I'd like to stop and say that if you have read this book, are reading this book or have decided to read this book, then that is your decision and I am totally alright with that. I am not judging anyone. I am in no place to determine what kind of a person you are based on what you read, etc. I might disagree with you, but I'm not passing judgment on whether or not you are a good person, etc. 

I won't be reading this books for several reasons. The first reason is because I didn't think it sounded like a book I would enjoy. Yeah, I know. Not a very "scholarly" or "godly" reason. Oh well. It's true. If I don't think I will enjoy a book and it's not required for something, then I'm not going to force myself to read it. Originally, I didn't give it much more thought than that. 

But wouldn't you know, that shortly thereafter, everything changed? I read this article by Dana Gresh and I started thinking. I realized that there were more reasons I didn't need to read "Fifty Shades of Grey". Read Dana's article and decide for yourself if you should or shouldn't read this book. I'm not here to make any decisions for you, but the article is interesting and I would rather share it with you so that you can make an informed decision than not. 

I don't think that this books is good reading. I don't think that it is well written. Personal opinion. And I'm not going to get into all my reasons for not reading this book. Dana's article covers them very eloquently so I'm not going to try and do it again. But please, read the article. Think about what you are going to be putting into your mind and heart by "ingesting" the material in "Fifty Shades of Grey".