Archive for the ‘Different Books’ Category

A Wrinkle in Parenting (spoiler alert)

We’ve just returned from the theater, only to verify once more – the book is always better than the movie.  It sounds like such a great homeschool policy – “We’ll only go see the movie if we read the book together!”  Yet every time – the movie ends up falling flat.  It just doesn’t stand a chance.wrinkle.jpeg

Pushing that aside for a moment, I do love the book and so much of the imagery and themes througout: Light fighting back the darkness. Strength discovered in weakness.  You cannot serve two masters.  Hope even in places where we’ve made mistakes.  There are even direct quotes from scripture used imaginatively throughout.

L’Engle presents a Universe much larger than we usually envision, and the invitation for each of us to become warriors on behalf of light.  This doesn’t mean strapping on our weapons, and polishing our armor – it means offering ourselves in places and situations where we aren’t assured of the outcome.  It means loving the other, even when there’s no visible sign that such sacrificial love will be received well.

One of my favorite scenes is toward the end, as the lead character realizes she has been self-centered in her relationship with her Father:

          “I’m – I’m sorry, Father…(tears came to her eyes, their hands together)..I wanted you to do it all for me.  I wanted everything to be all easy and simple…So I tried to pretend that it was all your fault…because I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to do anything myself–“
        “But I wanted to do it for you,” Mr.Murry said.  “That’s what every parent wants.”  He looked into her dark, frightened eyes….
         “No.” Mrs Whatsit’s voice was sterner than Meg had ever heard it. “You are going to allow Meg the privilege of accepting this danger.  You are a wise man, Mr.Murry.  You are going to let her go.”

So many layers to this.

We love our children, and want great things for them.  But we must remember, for them to grow and develop they must be allowed to experience the mystery of holding Gods’ hand into the unknown.  As John Ortberg has written, “Persons of excellent will, judgment and character are formed by having to make their own decisions.” (Focus on the Family, April/May 2018)

We see this same love as God invites humanity with free will to respond to a crucified Messiah, an image of self-sacrificing Love that doesn’t force, demand, or overthrow.  An infinitely compelling revelation of a path we’re invited to follow, not with the promise that all will go well – but with the promise that this is the path of New Creation Love.  This is the way of proclaming Jesus as Lord.  This is the way of light breaking forth into darkness.

So what is the wrinkle? If we want to invite our children to step forward into a faith-filled unknown – we must be prepared to respond to their obvious questions.  “Really mom/dad?  You’re doing this?”  Where are we following Jesus into areas of unknown?  Where are we trusting Him to do something, without which we would sink into the waves of a stormy sea?  Where are we experiencing this as a home/family?

This isn’t meant to be intimidating, but encouraging/inviting.  This isn’t saying every family should sell all things, move into a tiny home in the bad part of town, or other side of the world.  This is simply saying – great distances can be traveled by small and simple acts of sacrificial love.  Great rifts can be overcome by a humble dependence on a Love that reflects the brightest light that has ever shown.

This is how Christ began the ultimate victory.  This is how we continue to proclaim & establish it, empowered by His Spirit even now.   Not by our own power to Love, but as we are transformed by His…


the makers.

I remember learning about the concept of “pax” back in college.  The fact that “peace” was not believed to simply be the cessation of violence, but active sharing/pursuit of right relationship.  That has come up again in both my reading and my parenting.

IMGP8574I’m naturally a “lover, not a fighter” (aka – a wuss).  I remember attending one wrestling practice with my big brother back in high school, jus to check things out.  The amount of grunting, sweating, and sizing each other up to see who could best who…for some reason wasn’t appealing to me.  To brag about how much you can lift, curl, crunch, or how many times you can pull yourself up on a bar….yah, I never understood that.  But someday when the zombies attack and I’m eaten first, all the jocks will be able to say “I told you so.”

I generally find myself agreeing with the kinds of things that pacifist Mennonite and Anabaptist writers might say in regard to conflict/war/etc.  But I was reminded recently by Jurgen Moltmann is his book “Ethics of Hope“, there must be something more.  That it’s not simply about allowing swords to do their thing, and retreating into ploughshares; but rather reforging swords into ploughshares.  Moltmann says:

“Nonviolence, like the forgiveness of sins, is only a negation of the negative, out of which nothing positive as yet proceeds.”

Or the more obvious quote:  “We are not told: ‘Blessed are the peaceful’ but ‘blessed are the peacemakers'”

It makes sense.  I don’t want my girls to simply shy away from an inflammatory situation.  Especially in our drama-rich culture that celebrates the ability to reduce your opponent by well-placed physical or emotional blows.  It can be easy for someone who’s been taught humility and gentleness to simply bow out, quietly walk away, and keep to themselves.  Certainly I hope they know when it’s wise to walk away.  But that’s not always the best response.

I want to raise my daughters to be filled with the wisdom, hope, and Love it will take to diffuse a tense moment.  To help bring healing and reconciliation when two of their friends are conflicted.  To mediate arguments, and offer solutions.  To speak up for the voiceless, and reveal the underlying and uniting Truth beneath the facade of drama.  To enter the places where swords are drawn, and bring redemption for the sake of all involved.

Oh snap.   It sounds like I want my daughters to be like Jesus…


love does a book review.

Recently I read an article in “Relevent Magazine” that pointed me to an author.  My thought was “Wow, even if I don’t end up liking his book, I really like some things about this guy.”  As it turns out, his book is pretty great too.  He’s written “Love Does – Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.”  I took the book with me as “light reading” on a trip to Atlanta last month.  It ended up being the perfect companion to traveling the midwest on a “Megabus” (that’s another post all in itself – imagine the smell of urine, awesome people from Africa, a home-land security drug-bust, and the smell of pot at 1am).  It was filled with great reminders of this mysterious element he calls “whimsy” throughout his book.

I’ll admit, many of his stories left me thinking, “Yeah, but what would that kind of love look like without that kind of money?”  But the foundations behind many of those stories are infinitely transferrable.  Too often, life gets into a routine of the expected.  Even in the lives of we who actually talk with G-D on a regular basis. (hold on a sec….read that again….we TALK.  with G-D. whimsey enough for you?)  We lose sight of the beautiful, the magical, the whimsical.  We don’t look much beyond what is expected.

But Love does.

His book is full of example after example of how Love looks beyond what has been done already.  Love is compelling.  Love is looking for new ways to be communicated and felt.  Love lives open-palmed, sacrificing itself for others.  Reading this book will make you want to write a love poem for your wife.  It will make you want to do a fancy tea party with your daughters.   It will make you want to talk to the lady that barks (thought it was a sneeze at first….nope…totally a bark….like a small dog.) across the aisle from you on the Megabus as if she’s an infinitely-loved child of God.  Because….she is.

One story in particular came at a great time.  We’ve applied for grants for this adoption.  We’ve gotten denied.  There are a lot of people applying for these grants…and not everyone can get approved.  We’re doing a fundraiser this month, and it seems a difficult season to find people who are able to join us.  It’s a discouraging season.  But we still believe this is the direction we’re called and moving.

In Christian-speak, we say of moments like these, “Perhaps God is closing a door….”  It helps us walk away from potential with dignity.  But Goff talks about moments like these if a different way.  He experienced something similar when applying for law school, and because he believed God had led him that direction – he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.  You should read the book to get the whole story, but in the end Goff points out that sometimes God allows a door to close, just so he can see us kick it down.

Another cool thing about God using that story to encourage us?  I called Bob Goff to thank him.  I left a message. (His number is probably pretty busy, since it’s published in his book.)  He called me back, and we talked about God moving in my family’s life.  He said, “When I hear about the DRC, I’ll think of Wick.”  I believe he just might, and with all of his work in Uganda – he may hear of the DRC often.

I look forward to calling him back when the door is kicked down completely…:)  (if you wanna help kick it, click here)

shameless plug.

So in case you’ve been following the blog for a while, or stumbled upon it by accident – I’ve also written a book! I’d love for you to check it out, and send me your thoughts!!

On that note – my daughters wanted to help me tell you a bit about the book…they’re pretty good little ad copy writers…

wright writes an alright book. :)

I just finished reading a recent book by one of my favorite authors, “Simply Jesus” by NT Wright. In this book, Wright takes a look at who Jesus was, what Jesus was saying, and why it matters – in a way that smashes right into our homes and local churches. With incredible insight into what the theological and political climates were in those days, Write reveals Jesus to have arrived not at just a random spot in human history – but the amazingly appropriate place in time and space to launch a brand new Kingdom of God!

This book would make a great read during your 40 days of Lent (preparing to celebrate Easter) if you haven’t already selected one. The book leads to the final chapters of what Easter means for God’s people, and what it looks like when we speak and live as if Jesus truly is ruling even now.

I underlined so many bits of his book, I couldn’t begin to share them here. But because this is a largely “parenting” blog, I will talk about one section I enjoyed quite a bit.

In Chapter 11, Wright explores how Jesus impacted the three elements of “Space, Time, & Matter”. As we’re talking to our children about God, one of the things I naturally fall into without even thinking is this mentality of “heaven” being somewhere “out there”. Historically, “neither ancient Jews nor early Christians believed that “heaven” was a location within our present continuum of time and matter.” – Wright

In the Old Testament, God promised to dwell with them in the Tabernacle (portable temple), and later set up his residence in the Temple itself when they settled in the promised land. This was the physical space where they believed God lived (not simply visited) – the place where heaven and earth came together. God’s space and our space, joined.

When Jesus came as God’s embodied presence, all of a sudden this “place where heaven and earth come together” was walking around, and the overlap continued to grow and move as his disciples went out accomplishing His work in His name. Finally, to the glory of God, Jesus gives us his Spirit so that the activity of Jesus can continue even today! Lives are transformed, sins are forgiven, and the Kingdom work is being accomplished!

Here’s the cool thing: Believing these above statements leads to the conclusion that when the work of Jesus is being done, empowered by the Holy Spirit – THERE is where heaven and earth are becoming joined together! The fact that as our homes become places where the activity of Jesus becomes a regular occurrence, they also become places similar to the Holy of Holies in the Temple…..whew. 🙂 Kinda makes you want to look for more opportunities for our families to get involved in Kingdom activity and living out His Lordship in our daily walk, eh??? 🙂

writing stories…

I recently finished reading “Broken” by Karin Fossum. She’s a pretty great Norwegian author, I found simply by looking around at some best sellers from years gone by. Sidenote: I appreciated a book translated from another language – as it certainly seemed to have much less offensive language, even in the midst of very gritty situations.

In this book, there is an author attempting to write. She looks outside to see a line of characters for future stories that are to be written. But at the beginning of the book, one man cuts in line, and enters her home – pleading for her to begin writing his story.

There are great bits of dialogue, both internal and external, about what it means to “want” something for “our story”. Every other chapter or so, he enters the scene of her writing his story, and they talk about who he is, and where his story might lead. There is a thin tension existing between his ability to influence her, and her “big picture” telling of a story she feels is telling itself in many ways.

It reminded me of the role we play as parents. We do not write the story for our children. But it is our privilege and duty to frame their story within a larger story that is very worth telling. In the book, she reminds her character that he still has the ability to make his own choices, and he does this at one point. Her role is simply to give him the tools he needs, and a firm identity with which she can release him at the end of her novel into wherever else his life may lead.

Especially when our children are the young ages they are currently, our job is to make decisions on the larger aspects of plot development. What will this character value? What story will they have grown accustomed to thinking of themselves within? What questions do I want to instill as important for this character to be asking?

At one point in the story, the character asks the author why she didn’t at least give him a God. He has no faith background to handle what he’s going through, and he recognizes how beautiful it would be to have something like that in his story. Instead, he travels through much of the book feeling incomplete or “broken”, like a bridge that seems to lead nowhere.  In fact, it was quite frustrating at times to read how his feelings of being incomplete were crippling his ability to live.

Altogether a great book. Every once in a while, may we imagine our children all grown up, looking over our shoulders as we type their childhood. They may give us some great advice. Even more so, may we hand over the typing to God Himself, as we find our stories written together by the Author and Perfecter of our faith…(Hebrews 12:2)

raising earthen vessels…

I recently finished reading “Earthen Vessels – Why our bodies matter to our faith” by Matthew Lee Anderson.  If you ask me the question “Should I read it?”, I would answer “yes”.  There is a lot of great stuff, and reminders that the evangelical view/value of the physical body has been shaded by over-emphasizing the unhealthy goal of escaping the physical world.  But being honest, I found myself skipping a page here and there when I felt like there was a dead horse in the book.  (dead horse warning = chapters 6, 7 and 8)

But overall, it’s a great reminder to us as parents especially.  We are not simply given the task of raising souls who will one day escape these mortal shells, shedding them for the true way God has designed our children to exist.  We are raising embodied beings, and our care for them extends into every dimension of their existence.

Even in the dead horse sections, Anderson does a great deal of explaining/studying what the changes in our “norms” approaching topics like tattoos, pleasure, and homosexuality as the evangelical church, means to the greater changes in our view/perception of these physical bodies.  It’s interesting stuff at times, and even as someone who has a tattoo, I found myself nodding in agreement to some of what he pointed out.

He speaks truth, as in the chapter on sexuality saying, “The loud arguments within evangelicalism that pleasure is good border on defensively shouting, ‘Hey, we’ve got pleasure too!’ in a world that cares about little else.”

I’m not gonna hop on the “100% healthy, vegan, natural, organic, baby boot camp, all-star child athlete” band-wagon anytime soon, by any means.  But this book is a great reminder that the God of ALL creation, old and NEW, chose to connect with His creation on an intimately physical level.  He became flesh.  He chose to make his dwelling among us.  He calls our bodies a temple of His Holy Spirit.  When we were first created, he held us close with love, and literally breathed His own life into our physical presence.

We cannot faithfully respond to all of this simply by “inviting Jesus into our hearts”, and relating to Christ with our brains and emotions.  We are called as embodied beings to be transformed in every way imaginable, to the patterns, habits, and life-choices of someone made New in Christ.  May God be with us as we seek to lead our children and homes in such experiences of a life centered on Jesus.

Anderson gives great credit to the beauty and goodness of our whole beings, while still declaring the truth found in scripture that we often forget.  God gives us insight into what is to come after this life, and it’s not floating around on clouds or becoming glowing orbs that exist forever among the stars.  We look forward to a very real, and physical resurrected existence, much like we see in the resurrected Christ.  As he quotes C.S. Lewis,

“If flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, that is not because they are too solid, too gross, too distinct, too ‘illustrious with being.’  They are too flimsy, too transitory, too phantasmal.”  The solidity and permanence of the bodily resurrection is too strong for the frailties and contingencies of our current bodies.” – Earthen Vessels, page 168

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