Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rare Bird {a book review}

"Can I face things as they actually are in the light of the reality of Jesus Christ, or do things as they are efface altogether my faith in Him, and put me into a panic?" ~Oswald Chambers (10/3), My Utmost for His Highest
Anna Whiston-Donaldson has written an honest, raw account of her twelve-year-old son, Jack's, death. As hard as it is to read, it is refreshing to read a book that tells about loss, and the confusing, angry feelings that come with it.

Anna writes of how her God was too small for the pain she had -- a "God of rules and committee meetings and sermon notes and praise music" (pg 2). Having grown up in church, in a stable loving family, and losing her mother when Anna was eighteen, she wasn't a stranger to being shocked by grief. But she was not prepared for how much losing Jack would change their lives.

And who could be? How can you go from enjoying (or grumbling) about your child and the funny things he does (or messes he makes), to putting him in the ground?

I saw this book recommended on a blog I read, but I didn't buy it. My own son is twelve, and it wasn't something I wanted to read. But when I saw it was available for review, I decided to give it a go. I am glad I did.

Anna is open and honest about what she thought and how she felt. Some of what she says is uncomfortable, because I am so used to doing things the "Christian" way, the "good" way, that even if I did say the "F" word in my raging grief, I would be hesitant (if not downright adverse) to putting it in print in a book.

But isn't that why so many of us are coasting in our faith? We are so scared to show emotion, to be honest about how we feel about anything, that a true crisis can cause us to feel totally unmoored and unable to cope. Because the things that rock our world aren't easily soothed by superficial or fluffy faith.

If you have lost a child, or if you have found yourself frustrated with your children, I encourage you to read this book. Anna has a wonderful way of sharing her pain that evokes hope, and makes you want to be closer to God, to make lists of things you are thankful for, and to go hug your kids.

Thanks to the publisher, Convergent Books, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. To purchase a copy of this book, click here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Perfectly Timed Rescue {A Five Minute Friday link-up}

I was a raging bull the other night.

It is always like that. When I let my temper flare, and give in to the temptation to rage at my children, I feel a flood of craziness in the background, like a potential breaching of a dam.

Do I appreciate my life? Do I believe I am where I'm supposed to be right now? God gave people creative powers. Do I believe what I've testified to, that God healed me so I could have children?

Sometimes I have doubts. Because now that I'm here, with three children of my own, it feels like my testifying was to get attention or affirmation or acceptance or validation, or whatever, from others (but mostly from my husband—even though the thought of having children terrified me at the beginning of our relationship).

But what if I could go back? Would I? Wouldn't that be trading something incredible for a meager bowl-of-stew existence? Because it was in a fit of hunger (which, like anger, can be very passionate) that Esau cast aside his God-given birthright just to satisfy a fleshly longing. (See Genesis 25:29-34)

What are my longings that surface in passionate moments? Aren't those the selfish stuffs that break hearts and ruin lives when they are given free reign?

Yes. Yes, they are.

It occurs to me that I am falling into a trap.The cares of this world—meeting the needs of my husband and my children (not to mention my own needs), as well as all that homemaking entails—have caused me to lose perspective. My focus hasn't been on my first love, without whom I am helpless, and have no purpose or hope. No wonder I've felt like I'm drowning in my life.

Forgive me, Father. In my anger and selfishness I have sinned. I have hurt my precious children with angry words. Forgive my callous, ungrateful, angry, sinful heart. How wonderful is Your grace that covers all of me, even the messed up parts.

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly," (Romans 5:6 NASB).

I am still helpless today, without You.  Thank You, Jesus, for dying for me, so I can live. Thank You for Your perfectly timed rescue.

Linking with others at Heading Home, where we write because we enjoy it, or because we need to vent, or because we like the community of others who are doing the same thing. It's fun! Click the button to join in.

And, starting tomorrow, I'm participating in 31 days of Five Minute free-writes! Click here to learn more.

[Edited 10/3/15 -- Um, who am I kidding? Writing about drowning in my life and then saying I'm going to write something every day for a whole month? Yeah, right...]

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Star Spangled Banner - Wow

Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood {a book review}

I haven't posted anything to my blog since July because I've been busy. In fact, I've been so busy that it makes me sad that I don't feel like I had a summer. Or any rest in a long while.

That's what the back matter on this lovely Bible study talks about:

"Being a mom usually means being busy. Really busy. Whether you're zipping from your children's piano lessons to their next ballgame or nursing a baby while comforting a toddler, life is brimming with activities. Yet one encounter can help shape every moment: time in the Word with Jesus."
 It goes on to say that in this study you will learn how to nourish your own heart.

Nourish. That's a lovely word. It means to provide things necessary for growth, health and good. Who doesn't need their heart nourished? I know I do. Most of the time mine feels weak and neglected.

This eleven-week study is set up so four days are spent digging in the word, and the fifth is a summary of the content. It is very doable, and I've been encouraged and inspired. Ms. Kruger helps to make this easier by providing all the Bible passages that she asks you to read. And she writes in such a warm, friendly way—you  almost feel like she's a dear friend counseling you from the Word. But, just like other Bible studies out there, you won't benefit from this one if you don't apply what you learn to your life.

And therein lies the challenge.

So often I'll do a study like this, or read a passage in the Bible, or another devotional (such as "My Utmost for His Highest"), and I'll journal about what I learn or what has inspired me. I may even feel so blessed by what I read that I feel like God is near. But then my day starts...

In the midst of trapping those small foxes that try to spoil my day, I don't always remember the encouraging time I had that morning. So remember, no study, no matter how amazing it is, will replace application. That is why James said:

"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude [fool] themselves," (James 1:22, NASB).

I recommend this study to anyone who needs some encouragement in their mother's heart. Just be ready to put to work what you learn.

Intrigued? I'm giving away a copy of this book (I was sent two.) Leave a comment with your favorite mom-encouraging scripture, and I'll draw a winner from the names. Just leave your email in your comment, so I can let you know you've won. (Use this format to avoid spammers: your_address (at) domain (dot) com (or net, etc). )

Questions? Drop me a note at campbells (at) ma (dot) rr (dot) com

Thanks to the publisher, Waterbrook, for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review (which I've just posted).

Linking with others:

I Choose Joy!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

It's Not About The Nail

Um, this is perfectly hilarious.

Thanks to my dear friend Kathleen Guire for sharing with me back in January. (Sorry, I just now found it.)

p.s.  Kathleen wrote a book about her adoption experience, which is amazing. She's going to be at our local library, so if you live in or around Marion County, West Virginia, stop by the Marion County Public Library next Saturday to meet her!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Battle

My flesh demands to have whatever it is lusting for at any particular moment—and it is not a quiet demand. My flesh feels that it has a right to whatever it wants because I work so hard and I deserve to be rewarded, to be happy

My flesh knows all the right words to say. 

My flesh never desires to praise the Lord—it only wants to be comforted. My flesh doesn't hunger after the Word of God—it would prefer that I read a good book. It would rather I attend a Bible study on forgiveness, than actually to forgive. 

Like eating candy, my flesh prefers a quick fix. 

I have to decide, what will I live for?

"…so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,"(1Peter 4:2 NASB).

My flesh wants what it wants, but giving in to it will only result in poor health—physically, financially and spiritually. 

I do not want to go around with a spiritual mouth full of rotten teeth because I've only consumed what is "sweet" and ignored what my spirit needs to grow and to be strong. 

How about you?
Dear Father God,

As we feed on the rich, thick meat of Your Word, may you increase our appetite for You. Give us the strength to make the wise choice to deny our flesh.

In Jesus' Name,

 Linking with others at:

Spiritual Sundays

Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Sweet Princess

For over ten years now, I have been involved with the MPact Girls Ministries at my church. This is a discipleship program that involves weekly lessons, done in 4-week units.

For five years now, I have taught the Ruth class, in which the girls can become Honor Stars.

The annual celebration is a time when the current Honor Stars are given a sash by their mothers and crowned by their fathers with a sparkly tiara.

But this is more than just pageantry!

In order to "crown," these girls have to memorize a total of 27 scriptures. Then they take a fill-in-the-blank test, which requires that they get 70% (19/27) correct to pass. Sara got 25 correct!

In addition to the 27 memory verses, the girls also have to complete nine "Honor Steps," which require keeping a prayer journal, and extensive memorization of scriptural truths and doctrine. They also must profess Christ as their Savior, and live their lives in a way that lifts up Jesus.

During the ceremony, the girls were each asked what verse that they learned in the Stars class will help them the most in life, and why. This is Sara's response:

I think the verse that will help me most in life is Philippians 4:6-7:

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
This verse will help me as I go through my life not to be anxious or worried, but to tell God my troubles. And God will protect my heart and mind from Satan, and give me his perfect peace.    

I told all the girls I have taught that hiding the Word of God in your heart is something that will stay with you, benefiting you well beyond the honor ceremony's recognition.

But it's still fun to be treated like a princess!

Sara means "princess," and her middle name, Lael, means "consecrated to God," so she is truly our little princess! We are so proud of her hard work, and her commitment to pursuing this goal.

Congratulations, Sara!  We love you!

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