monday miscellany

From here and there:

~ A photographer’s ode to the long leaf pine – slide 15 is from Thomas County, Georgia, where I spend a lot of time. My high school’s (in Thomas County) alma mater begins “Mid the pines there stands an emblem of the noble, true, and right…”

~ Your body is a temple, not an idol

~ Cultivating praise in marriage

~ ‘Mindfulness’: Corporate America’s Strange New Gospel

~ A dose of nature: Doctors prescribe a day in the park for anxiety

~ For you fellow This is Us fans: The head of Jack Pearson’s family

Happy Monday y’all!

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“…the peace of God is not the absence of negative thoughts…”

[a repost from March 2014]
walkingwithgodFrom Tim Keller’s Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering:

Today, when you read books or websites on overcoming anxiety and handling fear, they usually talk about removing thoughts. They say: Do not think about that; do not think those negative thoughts. Control your thoughts, expel the negative ones. But here we see the peace of God is not the absence of negative thoughts, it is the presence of God himself. “The God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9).

Christian peace does not start with the ousting of negative thinking. If you do that, you may simply be refusing to face how bad things are. That is one way to calm yourself–by refusing to admit the facts. But it will be a short-lived peace! Christian peace doesn’t start that way. It is not that you stop facing the facts, but you get a living power that comes into your life and enables you to face those realities, something that lifts you up over and through them.

Many believers have experienced this peace of God. It is not just positive thinking or willpower. It is a sense that no matter what happens, everything will ultimately be all right, even though it may not be at all right at the moment. In my experience, people usually break through to this kind of peace only in tragic situations, often in the valley of the shadow of death. Here is a metaphor for it. If you have ever been on a coast in a storm and seen the waves come in and hit the rocks, sometimes the waves are so large that they cover a particular rock, and you think, ‘That is the end of that rock.’ But when the waves recede, there it is still. It hasn’t budged an inch. A person who feels the ‘peace that passes understanding; is like that. No matter what is thrown at you, you know it will not make you lose your footing. Paul of course is the classic example. He is beaten; he is stoned; he is flogged; he is shipwrecked; he is betrayed; his enemies are trying to kill him. There is wave after wave, and yet–there he is still. ‘I have found a way to be completely poised under any and all circumstances,’ he said. All the waves of life could not break him. And he says it isn’t a natural talent of his–you and I can learn this.

That is the character of Christian peace. It is an inner calm and equilibrium but also a sense of God’s presence and an almost reason-transcending sense of his protection.

 

2018 reading

This year – the year that I turn 50 – my goal is to read 50 books, mostly from my own shelves. Here’s how it’s going so far:

JANUARY

  1. This Must Be the Place: A Novel – Maggie O’Farrell
  2. Young Jane Young – Gabrielle Zevin
  3. Delores Claiborne – Stephen King
  4. How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem – Rod Dreher
  5. The Temptation of Adam – Dave Connis

FEBRUARY

  1. Death Comes for the Deconstructionist– Daniel Taylor
  2. In Fairleigh Field – Rhys Bowen
  3. The Whole30 Day By Day – Melissa Hartwig
  4. Not Perfect – Elizabeth LaBan
  5. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

MARCH

  1. Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff
  2. Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line – Michael Gibney

APRIL

  1. My Berlin Kitchen: Adventures in Love & Life – Luisa Weiss
  2. Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits– Gretchen Rubin

monday miscellany

From here and there:

~ Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy shares some thoughts on things left unsaid. (I read This Must Be the Place earlier this month, and it’s soooo good.)

~ Gretchen Rubin on 5 mistakes I continue to make in my marriage.

~ Austin Kleon with 3 quick thoughts about walking. I’ve resumed walking for exercise and mental health, and he’s so right about even seemingly boring places being more interesting when you’re on foot. You just see more.

~ I spent 919 days in a North Korean prison. Woah.

~ Jesus did not say lust is the same as adultery.

Lust and adultery are the same family of sins. But they are different degrees of maturity. Lust is the seed, adultery the weed. Lust is the root, adultery the fruit.

Okay, on that chipper note, I’ll sign off. 🙂

Happy Monday y’all!

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woah

three-booksMy reading year has started out with a bang – three excellent novels:

All were well-told stories of complicated (aren’t we all?) people and relationships. All three were filled with dead-on observations of human behavior and familiar situations. All had satisfying endings that weren’t tied up in that trite happily-ever-after way that gets on my nerves. I’ve read Stephen King (Misery and 11/22/63) and Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry) before, but this was my first taste of Maggie O’Farrell’s work. I will be seeking out more.

I’m enjoying three other books (two non-fiction and another novel), and if this keeps up 2018 will be a mighty fine reading year.

What are you reading this month?

…a faithful Father

We recited the answer to this question from the Heidelberg Catechism in church today:

26. Q. What do you believe when you say: I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and all that is in them, and who still upholds and governs them by His eternal counsel and providence, is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father. In Him I trust so completely as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul, and will also turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this life of sorrow. He is able to do so as almighty God, and willing also as a faithful Father.

Beautiful, and oh so true.

snow day

It’s a rare sight in north Florida, but it’s snowing today:

Honestly, after living in Maine for 3 hard winters in the early nineties, I’m still over snow. But it was neat to open my back door and hear kids in the neighborhood enjoying it. For now, I’m in bed with a mug of tea. 🙂

Now is what we have…”

god-at-workFrom God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.:

…Christians need to realize that the present is the moment in which we are called to be faithful. We can do nothing about the past. The future is wholly in God’s hands. Now is what we have. The future-oriented obsession of today’s culture pushes our attention and our good works to the future, to what we are going to do later. We must ‘live in the hour that has come,’ says Wingren. ‘That is the same as living in faith, receptive to God, who is present now and has something he will do now.’

This means that vocation is played out not just in extraordinary acts–the great things we will do for the Lord, the great success we envision in our careers someday–but in the realm of the ordinary. Whatever we face in the often humdrum present–washing the dishes, buying groceries, going to work, driving the kids somewhere, hanging out with our friends–this is the realm into which we have been called and in which our faith bears fruit in love.

What I read in 2017

2017-booksMy goal for 2017 was to read 45 books, mostly from my own shelves, and I reached my goal with only hours to spare. 🙂 I’m calling it a good reading year – a mix of fiction and non-fiction with some standouts. My top ten in no particular order:

  1. Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
  2. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
  3. The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ – Andrew Klavan
  4. Boy’s Life – Robert R. McCammon
  5. Island of the World – Michael D. O’Brien (my second time through this one and it’s still my favorite novel)
  6. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  7. John – R.C. Sproul
  8. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis (a re-read)
  9. The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story – Hyeonseo Lee
  10. Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

What were your favorites in 2017?

January:

  1.  Cometh the Hour (Book Six of the Clifton Chronicles) – Jeffrey Archer
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo  (a few thoughts on this one here and here)
  3. 30 Days — Change Your Habits, Change Your Life: A Couple of Simple Steps Every Day to Create the Life You Want – Marc Reklau
  4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth

February:

  1. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast – Laura Vanderkam
  2. The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ – Andrew Klavan
  3. Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food – Melissa Hartwig

March:

  1. Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything – Anonymous
  2. Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
  3. Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously

April:

  1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves
  2. The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things – Courtney Elizabeth Mauk

May:

  1. Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and BetrayalNick Bilton

June:

  1. American WifeCurtis Sittenfield 
  2. My Name Is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  3. Boy’s Life – Robert R. McCammon
  4. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will – Kevin DeYoung
  5. Island of the World – Michael D. O’Brien (my second time through this one and it’s still my favorite novel)
  6. The Magnolia Story – Chip & Joanna Gaines

July:

  1. You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott
  2. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
  3. Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel – Rachel Khong
  4. Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane
  5. A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything – Lydia Brownback
  6. Perfecting Ourselves to Death: The Pursuit of Excellence and the Perils of Perfectionism – Richard Winter
  7. Commentaries on Proverbs – Matthew Henry

August:

  1. The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance  – Ben Sasse
  2. Moral Defense (Samantha Brinkman Book 2) – Marcia Clark
  3. Dot Journaling – A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together – Rachel Wilkerson Miller
  4. The Judgment of Richard Richter – Igor Štiks

September:

  1. I Am Watching You – Teresa Driscoll
  2. To Dance With the White Dog – Terry Kay
  3. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  4. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
  5. Into the Water – Paula Hawkins
  6. Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life – Gretchen Rubin

October:

  1. Leaving Berlin – Joseph Kanon
  2. John – R.C. Sproul
  3. The Touch – Randall Wallace
  4. Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

November:
I didn’t finish a single book this month! 😦

December:

  1. The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story – Hyeonseo Lee
  2. Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts – Douglas Bond
  3. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
  4. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life – Gene Edward Veith, Jr.
  5. God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything – Douglas Wilson

** Disclaimer: Whenever you click on a link to books around here and then make a purchase at Amazon, you’re helping me — a few pennies at a time —  feed my book habit. Many thanks!

“But what God did about us was this…”

mere christianityFrom C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it.

What you would have done about that tin soldier I do not know. But what God did about us was this. The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man — a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.