Friday, February 27, 2015

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

It seems that books come alive to introverts. Well written characters especially do. The characters in these pages are no exception. I loved Atticus. I loved Scout. I loved Boo. Some of my earliest memories include people around me referring to eclectic characters around us as Boo Radley. It is most likely what led me to investigate the book in the first place. What on earth was a Boo Radley? I saw the movie come on television a time or two when I was little. I can remember sitting in my grandmother's floor watching Scout, Jem, and Dill. I wanted to know them.

Harper Lee charmed my heart. I was drawn to her deeply honest and simple style. I wanted more of her books. When I read an article that her earlier manuscript was being released, I was elated. Of course, there is quite a bit of drama surrounding it. No matter, it made me want to reread my copy. Years ago, my stepmom gave me an original 1960 copy. I cherish it. I pulled it off the shelf and read it in a matter of days. Sitting here now, I almost want to read it again. 

Many people who research and write about such things tell us that Harper Lee (Isn't that a great name?) based her characters on her real life growing up. You can read about this under Autobiographical Elements on the Wikipedia page. Harper's real life seems to have been even more dramatic and fascinating than the book. 

I greatly enjoyed the wording and phrases nestled all in this book. They felt like home. The integrity that Atticus embodied in these pages was something I deeply wanted and needed. I appreciated Scout and her truthful grace as she meandered through the seasons of life. Boo and Dill were also deeply endearing. Somehow Harper Lee was able to convey each character's flaws and still make them appear charming. Even the antagonists drew out empathy. It's beautiful. Good books help us be gracious with the human condition. They help us understand.

Each time I get to the conclusion of the trial, I am shocked that the jury could have convicted this man. I grieve. It must have been pure hell to live as a black man during this time. It is sickening to read the atrocities of man against man. It must be considered demonic. Surely no man with all of his wits about him could ever perpetrate these crimes against another. 

It is a brilliant telling from the heart of a child. One critic told that it was the most widely read work on race in the twentieth century. It received a Pulitzer Prize immediately after publication. Thank you for giving us good protagonists, honest searching, and subtle humor, Harper Lee. We are grateful for your life-giving work. 

Harper Lee's recently discovered novel, Go Set A Watchman, is due out July 14th.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

These Are My People

 Every year in honor of the memory of my brother, Mike, we take a trip to the Cameron Park Zoo to celebrate his birthday. It is a great way for us to enjoy life like he did and focus on loving each other. It is also neat to watch my girls grow up in these butterfly photo ops. 
 Denbigh Cherry is a fun dad. He will don a bow, pink superhero cape, and matching pony tails with his girls. He won't even really mind that I am telling you that. He will wear Barbie bandaids and pose in butterflies when his girls ask him to.
 Here's my mama and my stepdad. Sorry for the solar flare in your photo, mom. Your hair looks real nice. My mama always says, "the bigger the hair, the closer to Jesus.
 Here's my Yaya!
 Miss Chayah wasn't totally sold on this slide, but she pulled up her figurative boot straps and slid on down.
 This is one of our favorite places at the zoo.
 Dori lives here.
 This has nothing to do with anything, but I stared at this for several minutes. I thought the patina on this log was gorgeous. Art people problems and such.
 We conclude our lovely day by eating a whole mess of shrimp and releasing some balloons and saying a little prayer of thanks to God.
 These tiny people have brought a whole lot of healing to me and my mama. I am very thankful for them. Each day I calculate in at least three hours for serious snuggles. Reading books and jumping on the trampoline. It is wonderful. Of course, having a two-year-old can make you develop an eye twitch, but they more than make up for it with the grace and love that they show to me. My brother was only able to meet Lulu and he loved her. I am thankful that through all of the pain and grief of loss that we have been gifted these girls. Keep celebrating life, dear friends.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Schmita: Laying It Down In Trust

For several months, Jesus has been pressing in upon my heart. Get rid of sins. Pursue hearts. It's hard. People have a hard time being loved. This recent revival of my heart began as I was reading 
De Niro's biography. It seems a strange place for revival to begin. The book is not written to draw upon the spiritual side of man. As I read about his lonely childhood, pain began to prick at me. As I sat in the bath one night, tears slowly made their way down my cheeks. Within in a few days I also watched the movie Ragamuffin. Apart from the actor's terrible wig, the loneliness conveyed again struck me. I could feel God plowing ruts into my very soul. I could only think of one reason for this. 

Painful soil is demonstrably fertile. 

My church is in a Schmita year. The Schmita is the seventh year when the Israelites rested their land in order to produce a greater harvest. I don't know exactly how to apply this practically to every day life, but I am completely enamored with the idea of rest. 

I have been having run-ins with that beautiful verse from Hosea about plowing up our fallow ground. I think that all of my life I have believed the fallow ground to be a bad thing, because it is always preached at you to repent. Pull your weeds and so forth. What I have come to realize is that some grounds are meant to lie fallow.  Often, God will tell us to walk away from a thing or lay it at His feet in trust. Perhaps it's church, or fruitfulness, or babies, or work for motherhood. I have just come to realize that what we lay down willingly in trust can bear beautiful fruit. Will there be weeds to pull and rows to plow when the time of planting comes?  Absolutely.  Laying the thing down wasn't sin. It's trust. It's resting in God's sovereign plan. We reluctantly rested from the thing while clamoring for the next big fruitful experience we will have. All the while God is speaking rest into our innermost being. We keep spinning our wheels. Why have You done this to me, Abba?  Our hearts cry out. He loves us. Lay it down in trust. 

Digging up our fallow ground might not be as much about us as we make it out to be. It might just be about Him, the Holy One of Israel. It might be about preparing ourselves in every season for Immanuel, God with us. It could be a complete turning back to His word. We might need an Ezra to read scripture over us from daybreak til dawn. Do not sow seeds of righteousness among thorns. Carefully clear weeds in prayer before the Lord. 

Blow a trumpet in Zion. Declare a fast among your people. It is time to seek the Lord. Humble yourselves in the presence of our precious Jesus. 

Be clothed in humility. 

God, grant us a baptism of humility in the body of Christ. 

Even though it is painful to be seen as we truly are, this honesty is required for a revival in our lives. We must learn to rest in His sovereignty and His care. We must learn to lay down in trust all of the things we have used for so long to cover ourselves up. Jesus wants to heal our true spiritual condition, not our false front we give to others. We must rest. I heard someone say that the deeper you swing into rest, the further you swing into fruit. 

Rest. Pray. Rebuild. 

I have thought long and hard about what a rebuilding year might look like. Nehemiah did it in great agony. We remember. A weapon in one hand, a tool in the other. It's hard. It's agonizing. It is like the pain a person must wade through when a spouse is unfaithful. It grips every part of you. The church has been unfaithful to many of us. We have been subject to its infidelity. It's time to wash her and redeem her. What we have laid down in trust, we can dig up in faith. 

Rest. Pray. Rebuild. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pulling Back the Shades-A Review

I am thankful for people who teach me the truth, who lead me to refreshing and grace. I am thankful that these ladies were not intimidated by the many voices coming at them to not "hate" on someone's sexual preferences. The Bible does speak to our sexuality. Faith does call us to a deeper life on every level. 

I'll be honest. I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey. I really had little idea of what it was about. My sweet 70-year-old friend told me that she was going to read it, but her sister told her it was porn. I had never even read a synopsis of the book. When my friend started talking about it, I really couldn't believe that people were so in to this. Having been abused as a little girl, this mentality of willingly subjecting yourself to this sort of thing scared me. 

I was given the opportunity to read and review the book Pulling Back the Shades by a dear friend who is on the release team. She is passionate about marriage like I am. As I began reading through the book, I was really struck by the content they were having to address from the book. I was taken aback by it. Has it really come to this? Have we as a society emasculated our men to such a degree that now we are trying to get them to be strong in this false, broken way? 

I did really enjoy Pulling Back the Shades. It was well written. There truly is so much beauty and fun (!) to be had in sex the way God designed it. There is honor to be had and beauty to behold. We have a precious gift in being able to build up our men in a way that truly builds them up. Sex is meant to be a lifeline in a relationship. We are meant to have fifty shades of intense color. 
Get busy, y'all.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Guadalupe River House

Last week, I surprised my people with a little Gomer's House loving just for them. I did not tell them where we were going or that we were meeting two of our dearest friends there. You should have seen the wonder of the faces of my three beauties when they saw that we were staying in a tree house for three days. This place was amazing. It would be an wonderful place to stay in warm weather. We still had a great time. The creativity that went into building this is simply fascinating. It looks like the people bought a salvage yard and started building in the most unique ways possible. We stayed in the Redwood Tree Haus. It was a two bedroom, 1 bath with a full kitchen and living room. Right underneath us was a park. I highly recommend it. Since it was overcast when we were there, I added the link to see the professional pictures on their site.

You can view pictures of the tree house we stayed in here:

If you would like to stay there, here is the link:

One of the other tree houses
You could climb down this giant limb enclosed in net from our balcony.

This is a terrible picture, but I love sitting around with our dear friends and my man playing guitar.

Part of the park under our tree haus. All of the hobbit doors were a childlike fantasy.
My friend Suzi making us pizza!

 The park under our tree haus.
Yaya and Cosmo exploring the river.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

De Niro by Shawn Levy

When you go into a candle shop, there are glasses of coffee beans sitting around. Those beans are there to clear the smells out of the nasal cavity so that all of the scents don't run together. It's why ginger is placed on a plate of sushi. It helps you enjoy the individual flavors by cleansing the palette. In a sense, that's what made me select this book to review. I read so many nice Christian books that they all start to run together. I needed something to break that up so I could enjoy each one for what is. 

On another note, I just wanted someone to tell me a story about someone. I wanted to see them just as they are. In Christian literature, we often try to make every thing into a moral tale or a how to (or how not to). Sometimes it is nice to just hear something unfold without any sort of spin on it. I truly appreciated seeing a raw, untainted portrait of a man.

I like De Niro, but as a mom I can't watch most of them due to content. Of course, I saw many of them growing up. Who doesn't quote him in the Godfather sequel or Meet the Parents? I thought his life was fascinating. You can really see his drive and tenacity in the book. The man was known to truly conform into a character. 

If you wanted to write a moral diatribe about his personal life, you definitely could. He was ever the topic of tabloid scandal like most actors. I thought the book kind of brought a peace to it at the end. Being diagnosed with prostrate cancer took Bob to a place of loving and letting himself be loved. 

At 555 pages, it was definitely a commitment to read. Somehow, I connected to him through the loneliness of childhood. I learned that both of his parents were artists and could understand much of what he was exposed to in life. It was fascinating, sad, and beautiful all the same Shawn Levy did a great job putting it together. 

This book was graciously provided for review by the publisher.

Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was the...