Thursday, November 24, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
We can’t possibly maintain all we aspire to, but we attempt to pack all we can into our 24/7 make-it-or-die-trying lifestyles. We run hard after life as we see it, feel it, desire it, deserve it. What we see, we must have. What we must have, we must have now. And our wheels spin with our hands full as we race forward, over-burdened, over-stimulated and overwhelmed. We passionately pursue a success that promises life but steals away our breath.
In Jan Johnson's newest release, Abundant Simplicity, she challenges us to “replace cultural perceptions of success with thoughts of treasuring God, investing our life in what He is doing and devoting ourselves to the good of other people.”
|Image licensed by DepositPhotos.com/MilanVasicek|
With a knowing grace, Johnson reveals how the disciplines of simplicity help us to run like Paul did, “[Laying] aside every weight that hinders us (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV).” Not everything we carry is self-serving. Our weights may be good things with good motives. “But transformation into Christlikeness is much more difficult when we’re encumbered,” Jan writes. “Cross-country runners can cross a finish line wearing a twenty-pound backpack or trailing tangled shoelaces, but the race is much more difficult. Expect God to continually woo you to cast aside that backpack full of distractions.”
This requires courage to make hard choices. Intentional choices. Choices that go against the grain of society. But, “as we favor deliberate life choices over blind consumption and compulsion, we stop doing just whatever other people—even church people—do. We find rest in keeping our focus on loving God and joining God in loving others.” We leave space for relationships and for response to relationships, first with God and then with others.
Johnson leads with a shepherd’s heart, taking us to safe places where we can identify our entanglements and experience the freedom that comes from choosing simplicity of speech, ownership, acquisition, time, leisure and everyday tasks, among others. She offers experiments to help in the process, encouraging us to modify them as we listen for God and learn to reflect on our own needs. “Focus on a simplicity practice as you can do it, however imperfectly, not as others do it or the supposed one right way to do it.”
When we practice simplicity in a way that’s right for us, we “create a life of much by choosing a life of less.” We cast off excess weight so we can run this race with passion, living life full and free.
I'm giving away a copy of Abundant Simplicity! Just leave a comment and tell me why you want it. Winner announced Friday, August 5.
InterVarsity Press provided a complimentary copy of Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace for my review. For more information or to order your own copy visit their website. This review first appeared in the July/August issue of the CLASS Communique.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
I'm craving conversation. (Not good for a west coast night owl whose most chatty friends live on the other side of the country!) Suddenly I realize that it's the end of the day, and I haven't uttered a single audible word to a single soul, except maybe to say "thank you" to the kind gentleman who held the door for me at the post office. No wonder!
The awareness doesn't make me sad. I have many other means of connecting, which I've used well today. A few text exchanges with an east coast buddy kept me in my car laughing like crazy for a good half hour in the post office parking lot. A flurry of emails flew in and out as projects moved along throughout the day. I even chatted a while ago on facebook with a Florida friend whose throbbing toe was keeping her up late. But it makes me wonder how many people go days at a time without a verbal connection. And that does make me sad.
Our voices, with all their God-given nuances & subtleties, are an intimate part of who we are. Friends recognize me, not just my voice, as soon as I say hello on the telephone. The tone and texture of my voice are unique to me. Even my Droid recognizes my voice as belonging to me. It responds when I give it a verbal command to search or to dial. My voice speaks as much to my identity as the impression of my fingerprints do, lined across the bottom of my birth certificate.
Tomorrow, when I can choose between the two dimensional expression of an email, and the rich, intimate expression of the human voice, I think I might choose to call the audible.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14a (NIV)
Monday, March 7, 2011
I read books much like a crane captures his dinner. He flies low across the lake then dives headlong and deep once he spies something worth catching. After hovering high over A Million Miles in a Thousand Years for weeks with no commitment, I gifted it to a friend who really wanted it. At Christmas time, she sent it back! No, not a return. A re-gifting, of sorts, with an attached note saying she enjoyed the book so much she wanted me to borrow it. And read it. “But,” she concluded, “You don’t have to read it all.” She knows me. If she says it’s my turn to read, I’ll take my turn.
I’m glad I did.
When Blue Like Jazz came out, Donald Miller’s mega-hit memoir, I tried like crazy to love the book all my friends couldn’t live without. I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. But I’m not the same girl I was then. Nor is Donald the same guy.
I took in every word on every page of Million Miles and celebrated life. His. Mine. Even yours. For in the span of these pages, beginning to end, Donald moved from being an “incidental memoirist” to becoming a “deliberate mentor.” He writes his journey of transformation in a way that brings me up close to his story and connects me with my own, inviting me into something more, as a good mentor would.
Donald’s wit and delivery make me laugh. Yet I’m struck by the depth of insight he seems to speak over his shoulder while engaging with the story unfolding in front of him. He sees. And as he sees, he ascribes meaning to the life he finds. Not as an observer, but as a witness. He allows himself to enter fully into a scene and be affected by it. Then he testifies to the Truth in it.
He describes times when he would rather stay on the couch than stand up to choose a better life, a better story. But varying incidences bring him into the company of some outstanding people. People who see him. People who enter into his story and affect his character arc. He embraces their influence and receives their insight. They guide him into positive turns and help him to avoid negative ones.
In a scene toward the end of the book, Donald describes kayaking with his friends up the Jervis inlet in British Columbia. A mile-wide inlet with cliffs on either side, “the stone faces of the mountains come into the water like walls.” They had been up since before dawn, stopped to spend the day with an unexpected friend and found themselves paddling through the hardest part of their journey in the pitch of night. “If it weren’t for the other guys in the kayaks, I would have quit that night. . . . I would have lay down in my hatch and slept and drifted out with the tide.”
But he didn’t quit. Not on his friends. Not on his life. He responded to his mentors, and he’s living a better story because of it. Come to think of it, so am I.
To read more from Donald Miller and to find out how to GET A FREE PAPERBACK COPY OF A MILLION MILES THAT JUST RELEASED, visit http://donmilleris.com/.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I'll be sending two copies of PRICELESS by Tom Davis to Pastor Joe Wilson. One for him to read and one to give away on his blog, from the pulpit, over dinner, however he chooses.
I had a third copy to share from my stash, so I drew a second name. Surprise! I'll be sending "Fiddlin' Momma" that copy. She gets to decide whether to read it herself, pass it along for someone else. Or both!
God asks the same of me. To love Him and respond from what He's given. Among other things, I've been given the gift of words, an audience and a message. Even if you take away the 500 or so people who "hide" my posts (HA!), I can still connect with about 1000 people, just through facebook, not including Twitter or my blog. Yep. That's a gift. By using what I already possess, I have the potential to change the story of many lives, mine and yours included. I have to respond! And one simple way I can do that is with an invitation to you, my readers.
Today was designated National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. When I saw it posted, I remembered that I have been wanting to give away a copy of Priceless. It's a novel based on the horrific stories of young girls Tom knows in Russia. He uses real places and describes real circumstances many orphans in Russia have to deal with. They're lured with the promise of a better life, given new clothes, offered a job, put on a plane, and sold into the bondage of slavery—trafficked for sex. In spite of finding himself in life-threatening situations as he partners to rescue helpless girls, Tom's lead character, Stuart Daniels, discovers that he's stronger than he thought. In the process he leads us to see that "hope can be found in the darkest of places."
And he challenges us. He challenged me. In addition to the millions already held captive by trafficking, 1.2 million children are trafficked all over the world every year. That's a lot of kids walking in a darkness most of us can't fathom. With their identities stripped and nowhere to call home, they're lost. Not just in Russia or in cities somewhere other than where we live. But in our own neighborhoods. No kidding.
To help raise awareness of the magnitude of trafficking and to practice the art of giving from what I've been given, I'm giving away a copy of Priceless. Tomorrow, Wednesday, at 4:00pm, PST I'll choose randomly from among those of you who leave a comment on this blog or on the note on my facebook page. But FIRST, I'm inviting you to something more:
• Visit the site or facebook page of one of these organizations. I'm associated with several in one way or another.
• Pray as you go, asking God to show you what you have that you can use to change the story for just one victim of slavery.
• Then RESPOND. Maybe you'll post a link to an organization on your fb page or forward my note to your list or be nudged to give money or attend a conference.
In your comment to me, let me know your response or that you're praying about a response. I'm not gathering info, and I won't follow up with you unless you win (or want me to). I just want to come alongside you with what I've been given and pray.
Oh, one more thing! I'll send not one but TWO copies of Priceless to the winner. How's that? One to read and one to pass along to a friend. It will be good practice in giving away from what you already have!
Thank you for reading. I can't wait to see what God does with this simple response!