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Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Bible in Pop Culture by Kevin Harvey

Sometimes publishing companies do fun things to get your attention when sending our books. This is the first time I have ever received Pop Rocks. I did what any self-respecting mom would do and I lined my girls up and had them open their mouths. We created a symphony of Pop Rock fizzing and giggles.

Who knows what to think when you read a synopsis of a book comparing the Bible to pop culture. We are either going to get something really wacky or find something meaningful in the ordinary. I actually thought it was a pretty good. I am sure you could go through and wonder why he is watching some of these shows or movies, but I bet you could do that with any of us. I tried not to look down my nose at anything and just listen to what the man had to say.

I enjoyed the fresh perspective and I agree with most of everything he said. I think there is something to be learned in everything. I saw God in super hero movies, sitcoms, and things the likes of Bruce Almighty. Of course there are things wrong with everything in Hollywood. The only place we are going to find a completely accurate account of the gospel is in the gospel. All of these other things are just open doors to discussion. I'm not talking about angry discussion that drives people away. These things are a vehicle to actually sharing the true gospel of grace. Pick up this book. I even learned a few things.

This book was graciously provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More Than Just the Talk by Jonathan McKee

A few weeks ago, just days before I received this book, our family was chatting as we cooked in the kitchen. My husband made a comment to my eight-year-old that she had great biceps and told me to look at them. She responded by saying, "What? Of course I am blossoming into womanhood." I leaned in close to Denbigh and asked him if my ears were bleeding and if he could please make it stop. 

She's eight. Oh how I would love to keep her innocent until it's time for her to experience the beauty of sex in marriage. Alas, they tell us that we need to slowly start talking about this now. At eight. A friend of hers tried to explain sex to her when she was four. Thankfully she felt comfortable enough to talk to me about it. I too learned about sex at this age. This is what we are up against.

I appreciated this book because it really gives you a battle plan. I don't think anyone ever gave me any sort of guidance growing up in this area. It's a hard topic to tackle, I know. I remember what I learned on tv, what was going on around me, and one family member told me it was a good idea to live with someone before you marry. You can see that I am not coming to the table fully armed. I have learned a few things along the way thankfully. I have seen hurt and striking grace. The words that I am taking home in this journey are, "stay calm."

Do you know any parent that did that? 

It's like I say, there should be hostage negation books written for parents. This is probably the sex version. If you want to talk someone down from a ledge, don't start a yelling a discourse of the stupidity of their choices. Stay calm. Think about the support you would have liked to have had as you navigated this season of your life. Pray like the dickens to be it and keep breathing. Share the glory of what can be and then help your children through this stormy season when the world flat out wants to assault them and steal their innocence. We are on the battle field, y'all. Don't let your guard down. Be aware. Be calm. Be gracious. Pick up the wounded and get them help. Protect as you can from unnecessary hurt. 

One of the greatest ways to guard a child's heart is to show the deep joy of covenant. Dance in the kitchen with your spouse. Show affection to one another. Your kids will have a greater desire for what you have.

If you hear something that makes your ears bleed, come talk to me.

This book was graciously provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.




Thursday, April 16, 2015

Y'all. We Ate.

I wanted to post some Easter pics. We had a lovely gathering of family and friends here throughout the day. I am sad to say that I did not get a picture of the table full of people, but know that it was awesome. We had so much food and lovely fellowship. There were six pies, five kinds of meat, homemade beans and mashed potatoes. Let's all shout a hardy amen. It was joyous. If you don't have plans next year, join us at our table.
Look at the cute rosettes on this pie.
Daisies are the friendliest flower.
We love our semi-half adopted son, Cat. He came and entertained us all with his wit, brilliance, and musical prowess. Some of our other favorite people came as well. You can see a couple of the Guenther family here in this photo. I'm sure you will see more of them later. I would also like to thank my step-dad (Babe) for cooking so much of the meat and those mashed potatoes. My mom made rocking cream corn and my neighbor Fritz heated it all up while we were at church. It takes a village, people. 
Here is my Amaryllis in bloom or as I like to call it, the Jerusala Tulipuzi.
Here is a little ditty by our Cat.
I am truly excited to tell you the final version of this tale below one day. All I can say is that Robert walked through quite a bit of personal trauma while he lived at Gomer's House and years later God answered one of his deepest prayers here. I can't wait to fill you in on the details.

The cool part for me was getting to meet someone that I had prayed for every day for years. Of course, she didn't know that. How great it is to be in cahoots with the Holy Spirit.
Then she jumped me in my studio.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

A few years back, I purchased this book on my iPad to read with Lulu. I can remember both of us tearing up in the forward. The story is beautiful and powerful. Recently, my littlest girl had been waking in the middle of the night. As I would hold her for an hour or two, I began rereading this book on my phone. If you have not read it yet, I want to encourage you to do so. It is full of grace and truth.

It started when Katie went on a short term mission trip to Uganda while still in high school. During her time there she fell in love with the people. God began to draw on her heart to return and it became a burning desire to go back there. Somehow she then convinced her parents to let her leave her comfortable life in Tennessee and go teach Kindergarten in Uganda before starting college. We follow her story from there. She attempts to go to college, but cannot stop this desire to be in Uganda and so returns. We can see how God used her time here in the States to raise money and awareness for the children. Jesus then leads her heart to adopt over a dozen children.

The tale is gripping. It makes you question all of the things you do to make yourself more comfortable in this life. Her heart to minister to everyone around her and share the gospel in this tangible way is encouragement to a weary soul. I want to be Katie Davis where God has brought me. I want to bind up the broken hearted and put salve on their wounds without fear. God seems to be answering my desire. My heart was stirred by the lengths and depths she went to in order to love. I often thought about how fearful I might be to do those things. Then, I know I do things that others would not do. It has nothing to do with Katie or me. Jesus does good and beautiful work. This book helped me to remember how far reaching his sustaining power can be. He is all we need. 

I genuinely appreciate her humility in her struggles.

Y'all, read it.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Seven Men by Eric Metaxas

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I could read or hear stories about lives impacted by God all day every day. Jesus Christ does the most beautiful work in broken down people. It is interesting to read about how each of these people came to this unrelenting faith in Jesus Christ. It would not die or let go. Each one overcame terrible odds. The glory of their stories is rooted in the fact that they overcame these factors by submission. They said a humble yes to Christ and it changed everything.

The seven men in this book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Chuck Colson. I have read a bit about most of them, but not this in depth. I did not know much of the back story of Jackie Robinson or the Pope. Each one told a remarkable tale. The sacrifices and torment that they suffered are hard to wrap your mind around. Washington's willingness to relinquish power made him great. William Wilberforce went against everything his family and society taught him to set the captive free. Eric Liddell was apart from his wife and children for years to preach the gospel in a war torn country. Dietrich Bonhoeffer bravely entered into the fight against Hitler and wrote his most stirring work from prison. Jackie Robinson was taunted by racial slurs and violence as the first member of Major League Baseball. The Pope lost his entire family during Hitler's regime and when he felt the call to the priesthood, he had to attend an underground seminary. Chuck Colson went to prison for his role in Watergate and spent his life thereafter ministering to those in prison. 

Sometimes, it seems as if there are no more great men in our culture. Read this and be inspired. Be encouraged.

It was funny to me how many of these men were impacted by Bible-thumping Methodists. The Wilberforce family all but told their son he could be anything but a Methodist. They even went and retrieved him from some extended family when they found out that they were devout Methodists. I thought his story was a beautiful picture to each of us in our society. He chose directly impact society by showing them how they should live. He made a point of church and family on Sunday and chose them over most things. Those around him could not grasp it and it impacted many.

In the Pope's story, it talks quite a bit about Hitler's regime infiltrating Poland and all of the underhanded ways that the government tried to get people to separate themselves from the church. Hitler had told his followers that he was a Christian (though he despised it) to gain favor so he had to convince people to leave the church on their own. One way was to launch campaigns embracing pre-marital sex and freedom of sexuality. People would break away from the church then and choose immorality. Thus, one of the Pope's strongest messages became the beauty of true sexuality. I love that they all taught by sharing what was good.

Perhaps you remember when I read all of Corrie ten Boom's writings a few years back. Glory be, at the end of this book Mr. Metaxas put an excerpt from his new work Seven Women. You can guess who was included. I have learned so much about spiritual warfare and the beauty of the gospel from her life. I can't wait for this new work.

Men, read this book. Women, read this and pray for your men.

This book was graciously given by Thomas Nelson Publishers for review.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

One Red Bird

 Somehow my artwork has been purchased and shipped all over the world. In that I have been given an opportunity that I know was God-given. People continually purchase things from me to send to others who are going through a hard time. I cannot even tell you the countless times this has happened. I realize that I am walking on holy ground in this. The reason that I love it is because first and foremost, I love to pray. I'm not talking about big, lofty prayer...just facedown in the quiet saying, "Oh, Abba, I know this is hurting you. Bring your healing for your glory. Let them know that you see them." Inside my paintings, I generally include a note to that end. I pray and paint and pray and write. I know God hears me. Usually I keep the stories to myself and simply cherish them in my heart, but I wanted to share this one with you. May you be encouraged that God sees you in your distress.

I think most people love red birds. The cardinal is a gorgeous picture that brightens the landscape. I am sure that many of you are like me and love the cardinal in winter. The dull winter landscape and leafless trees somehow set the stage for the beauty of the red bird. There is just something about it. I painted a picture like that for my friend Sally. 

A short time later, I received a message from a friend in Virginia who wanted to send a painting to a friend of his who had just received a breast cancer diagnosis. I asked for a picture of her so I could kind of get an idea of her and what she might like. Also, I could see who I was praying for. My friend in Virginia sent me her Facebook page. As I opened it up, I was a bit stunned. There at the top of her page was a photograph of a red bird on a winter landscape...the painting I had just finished for Sally. The thing that really hit me about this is the fact that Sally is a breast cancer survivor. I had hope for this woman's full healing. I asked Sally to pray for this other woman. Sally also asked the ladies in her church to pray. On Tuesday our new friend in Virginia went in for her surgery. I had this woman's Facebook and I felt pressed upon to send her a message. I told her about Sally and the gaggle of ladies in Texas that heard Christ's call to pray for her. I shared with her the hope God had put into my heart. When I saw it all, it seemed like a bright red Cardinal on a bleak winter day.