Friday, August 31, 2007

My Missionary Friends

I realize that the links I feature on my "Blogs I frequent" sidebar might be too numerous to entice you to click on many of them, but I do regularly update that section, removing blogs of friends that, though I love them, they don't post often (or ever!), and adding new friends' blogs I find.

I want to highlight 2 blogs for you to check out: my friend Christen Taylor and my friend Rachel Wind. Christen is a new missionary to Brazil, and you can follow her spiritual jour
ney as she adjusts to a new culture and language, mothers her children and seeks to reach the Brazilian people for God's glory. She is a dear friend who I miss very much, and her posts are so often challenging as she is very real about her walk and struggles.

Rachel is a new friend I met here at our church in Louisville, Clifton Baptist. She and her husband are preparing to go back to Asia for a second term with the IMB. I was so delighted by Rachel in the time I was able to spend with her -- her attitude, delight in small things, appreciation of beauty, as well as her talent and personality just blew me away! She reminds me of a combination of Jill Humrichous and Christen Taylor. I had a picture of the two of us at the book shower we gave her during her time at Clifton, but I can't find
it now! ***Edit: I found it! (obviously) ***Rachel was such a breath of fresh air to me, with her God-centered, fun-loving thinking and speech. Here's a quote about being homesick while overseas "Wherever your family is, you're home . . . and when you're with the Lord's family, you're home. When I'm longing to put down roots, I'm really longing for heaven."

Come meet these two fabulous friends who have left the comforts of home and familiarity to follow hard after God in other worlds! I'm sure you'll love them as I do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

For Now We See Through a Glass Darkly

God's rich grace is such a beautiful thing. So is His covenant with with His people. These are things I've been thinking on lately -- mostly my need for grace, and how every few moments I find myself turning to kneel at the cross, delighted to cling to the gospel. I've been tempted with pride, and so often stumbled. Sometimes I am just disgusted with myself and this life, and I long to be fully reconciled with Jesus -- face to face.

Last weekend my dear friend Brooke, whom I've known since she was eleven, was married, and I had part in her wedding ceremony. As beautiful as her wedding was -- the decorations, food, apparel -- what simply struck me so deeply that day was the beauty of this covenant that God created to show us a picture of Himself and His church. It was as though the veil lifted for a brief moment and I was able to see that thing called a covenant relationship, and it was so lovely. Oh, to see that day when our perfect Groom will esteem His bride by uniting Himself with her. To think that I shall be there!

It is a struggle, indeed, to simply be content with seeing through this glass darkly . . . but then, face to face!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What I read this summer

As far as reading goes, I'm moving back into school mode, so I thought I'd take stock of what I actually read this summer. I did not meet my 25 book desired goal, but I did enjoy a rich assortment of reading. Here is what I read, along with a (short! don't want to bore you) review.

1. Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart by John Ensor. This short little book was the Girl Talk book club choice, and I read it and liked it and recommend it to any single or dating person. Emily, I am bringing it for you to borrow. (wow, I just re-read that and it sounded so flippant like "hey, read this FUN book if you are on the dating scene -- like, for sure!" But what I really meant was "I agreed with the underlying principles of this book -- sort of the I Kissed Dating Goodbye for this generation. The author has straight his theology on man's depravity and God's plan for marriage").

2. Shopping for Time by the Girl Talkers . . . I've already said enough about this one, I think!

3. Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney. This was the best book I've read on Titus 2 -- every married woman should read it!

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This was a re-read I'd been dying to do, and I enjoyed it even more the 2nd time around, since I'd been in Scout and Jem's world for a couple of weeks when my little sister Abby was staying with us. She read it and loved it so much she started right over and we got the movie from the library and everything.

5. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Sp
eare. Another re-read. Just as good the 2nd time. I'm very fond of this book.

6. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. This is another one I've written much about. If you did not hear me before, hear me now -- I haven't met anyone yet who hasn't been wowed. Ask Morning Rose!

7. Love, Ruby Lavendar by Deborah Wiles. This was my bedtime book during Camp OUTT: light, sweet and original. The title comes from a series of letters a little girl writes to her grandmother, who is also her best friend. It would be a great book to read with your daughter. Some good scenes of forgiveness and understanding when Ruby finally forgives a mean girl who has really done her harm.

8. Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles. (Another re-read), One of my all-time favorite children's books, it won the read-aloud award in 2006, and makes me think somehow the author had access to my own brain as a child. Comfort Snowberger lives above a funeral home and goes to all the funerals. The book certainly has some sad parts, but it is peppered with humor (such as Comfort's tips on how to act at funerals and what sort of food to bring), and will leave you wanting to make funeral-dinner potatoes.

9. Harry Potter a
nd the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. This final book in the famous series was my favorite. The link I included in the title takes you to an excellent article in Christianity Today which summarizes much of my thinking better than I could. Check it out if you are a Potter fan or skeptic. Here is a picture of me reading the first chapter aloud at midnight to some of the people at the Ultimate Night of Magic thrown by my darling old bookstore, Blue Kangaroo Books. The hundreds of other people who were there were in line for their books, and thus not in the picture. I did have a handful of teenage boys stop by to hear me read and as they left, called out "thanks! You're a good reader!" Awww.

10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. I explain here how I read this book for C
amp OUTT. It's maybe my favorite Narnia story (after Last Battle, and LWW, and . . . )

11.Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. All of you who had to read this in high school will say "what? You didn't know that?" when I say that I was taken aback by the violence and darkness of this book. I suppose up to this point I've chosen to read the sweeter Dicken's classics, which I like a great deal better. I can't argue, though, it is a good book, full of superb characterization, which is my favorite element of literature.

12. What Is a Healthy Church? by Mark Dever. This smaller version of his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church is designed for lay people, and has a frank, clear manner that makes it easy to read as well as personally challenging. Totally recommend this to anyone thinking about leaving, looking for, joining, improving or just being in the life of a church.

13. On Asking God Why by Elisabeth Elliot. This is a good book to read one chapter of each day along with your devotions, or any other time you need a short chapter with a truly good deep thought in it. That said, this book is not best read as a whole -- each chapter is on a different subject (unlike my favorite Elliot books: The Path of Suffering and Shadow of the Almighty). It's probably a collection of devotionals she wrote for her newsletter. But it's her pen, and it's good stuff!

I've read several chapters of a slew of other books, including The Four Loves, The Last Battle, Relationships, From Homer to Harry Potter, When Sinners Say I Do and others I grab if I'm on break at work. I'm off to class required reading!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Guess whose baby this is?? My title gave it away, I know, but this is Jill Humrichous's (Weisert, I mean, of course) little girl, Lauren Rose. She is such a darling and good baby (think of all the goodness flowing from Humrichous blood) that we sneaked into our no-kids apartment complex like contraband.

My dear old friend Jill came to visit me this weekend -- just overnight -- and it was precious to sit and talk and enjoy yumm-o food with her. (Direct quote: "I hope you don't think I'm being really piggish but I really think I want to eat that cannoli . . . "). Total Jill.

She is the daughter of my dear Pastor Joe (whom I've referenced quite a bit of late). In high school, Jill constantly encouraged me to "make Jesus your Best Friend", and challenged me to love God's Word. We have stayed in touch over the years, through college and marriage. Now she has entered a phase I've not yet encountered -- motherhood! But Jill is still old Jill. In fact, more like "Old Jill" than ever (as we fell asleep last night -- Josh took the couch -- she said "I'm turning my back on you, but don't think I'm mad at you" which is something like what she would say when she was little).

It is rare, to know someone for a very long time and still be k
indred spirits. I know some people who live in the same town all their lives cannot imagine otherwise, but for me, with all the shuffling and reshuffling, the making of new best friends, it is a precious jewel from Jesus to have a happy agenda-free relationship with someone who knew you at your worst, and can currently talk together about the Best.

Good news! I think I have Jill convinced to start her own blog, since she is in the dark ages, and just only got the internet at home. Post me a comment if you would like to vote that Jill should
start blogging (even if you don't know her, just do it!).

Look at that Humrichous face! She and Josh show their matching hairstyles. They got on quite swimmingly discussing their do's.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sitting at Jesus' Feet

Today wraps up my 3rd week of "The 5am Club", and I wanted to share what has been -- by far -- the dearest blessing of this extra time in my life: sitting at Jesus' feet.

Each morning after a bit of tea and walking around to make sure I'm truly awake, I head straight for my chair-I-got-from-Julie, and plaid blanket-I-found-at-a-football-game. I'm reading through the Bible this year, and as much as I've really loved it, I had been cutting corners due to lack of time, mainly in the area of personal reflection. I wanted to journal some each day as a part of reflecting on the passages I read, but I was a bit uncertain how to begin (or continue, really). The chapter about "sitting at Jesus' feet" in Shopping for Time gave some simple but amazing ideas about journaling when you read God's Word. Instead of searching for "application" to "try and get something out of it" (oh! That expression pains me, and it must pain Christ!), they recommended writing sentences that began with either "God . . ." based on what the passage revealed about God, His character, or actions and "I . . . " based on what the scripture says about man, and thus, myself. This will continue to draw our attention to the Main Character of the story, and will lead us to appropriate conclusions about ourselves, warn us of sin, and encourage us in our faith.

I have found this extremely helpful. Clearly, it is no difficulty to journal when you have simple sentence starters like that! Often, I keep writing, drawing further conclusions from the text. I also make a notation of any "Rameh" I am given (I think that means "word", help me out here, my Greek-scholar friends). Many many years ago, my dear Pastor Joe taught us to look for times when the Word directly and immediately impacts you in your daily walk (for example: I am downcast because of a hurt in my life caused by someone I love, and I read Psalm 34 which tells me "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed . . etc."). When the Lord gives me those choice portions, I thankfully write "rameh" in my journal along with the passage and the situation it regards. It is rare and sweet, like a taste of wild honey.

I am just like a little baby crawling in this area. I have read my Bible daily for the majority of my life, but these little practices have made quite a difference in how I approach my reading. I am looking for any insights on prayer. Right now, I pray the scripture I read, and with that any confessions that need to be made are made. I also pray the scripture for others (for instance, if I read a passage about marriage, I pray for my friends' marriages or for my single friends who would like to be married). Making "grocery lists" of requests burned me out a long time ago, but I know it is good to be systematic in how I pray, so I wonder if any of you have a good system that has been a big blessing to your prayer life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How do you tell stories?

Last night I began my first class here at Southern Seminary. It's true I am not pursuing a degree like Josh is, in fact, I am merely auditing the class (more later on the action-packed schedule we will be attempting to maintain), but it was a seminary class and I go to it, and plan to read and learn as much as I can on the subject. The name of the class is "Visual Arts and the Protestant Tradition".

Now if you're like me, that name just jolts you and you begin to salivate. Tradition? (I think history). Protestant? (I think Theology). Arts? I simply cannot wait to see how these things are intertwined. It is no ordinary class. The professor, Dr. Halla (you can't imagine the amount of "halla" jokes) is young and quite fascinating -- for instance, he came to Christ at a Stryper concert in the 1980's.

I was literally leaning forward with my jaw dropped during a good part of his lecture, it was so engaging. He was giving us an introduction to Christianity and the visual arts, and he was saying things I just never hear theologians say, and posing questions for us to ponder considering art and theology. We are going to be discussing the way art throughout history really did reflect protestant Theolog
y (reformed Theology, specifically), mainly centering on the Reformation.

Our culture is increasingly visual based. Dr. Halla traced this shift in world wide culture back to the invention of photography, because that led to film, which leads to a whole new way to tell stories. How we tell stories is a huge indication of what kind of culture we live in. Before photography, the culture was largely text based, and stories were told through literature. Can you see why my jaw dropped? Telling stories? I'm hooked.

So why don't I just take this class for credit? Initially, I was, but when I started being realistic about my weekly schedule, I knew I would make myself miserable. Sunday nights we have the singles small group, which Josh and I are helping to lead, Monday nights I have class, Tuesday nights is Pendergraph Women's ministry (I am on the board), Wednesday night we have church service at our dear Clifton Baptist where I work with the children's ministry, Thursday night is Seminary Wives Institute -- where I am enrolled in 2 little classes (Embracing Femininity by Jodi Ware and Mary Mohler and Worldviews with Dr. Mohler).
I also work 40 hours a week! I love schoolwork, but I didn't think it wise to use all my leftover free time writing papers when we are really here for Josh.

I'll just be happy to sit in my little class and learn about Martin Luther and woodcuts.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

O Taste and See

This weekend I had a quick excursion to northern Ohio to see my husband's family and to attend his sister's baby shower. Because of Josh's work schedule, he stayed behind, and I flew out the door Friday night ready to hit the road without much of a plan for driving myself 5 hours each way in less than 24 hours.

Not that I didn't know the way. I did. It's pretty easy.

Not that I had no gas or caffeinated beverages. Josh had gotten me all squared away.

But I had no plan for how to occupy my mind during those long quiet hours. Hadn't brought a MP3 player. I'm not much of a radio person. Clearly, reading is out when you are the driver (unfortunately). What would I do to keep from getting sleepy?

The Lord provided a great blessing for me. I opened the consule in the car, hoping to find an old Steve Green tape or something to give me a bit of a boost in energy (I'd been on the road for about an hour), and I found something even better -- tapes of my former pastor (Joe Humrichous) from 8 years ago. Now this might not sound like a gold mine to you, but they were just what I needed! They were, in fact, a source of a little revival that took place in my car making its way up I75 north.

God dealt with me about my pride -- how my heart would go out, and reach up a finger to touch God's glory by saying something to make others admire me, or striving and competing to be liked by my peers. This is my story -- my particular point of sin. I am so thankful for Christ's patience with me, to stir my spirit to know when I sin, for my heart to go "ouch" when I know I've done or said something for my own glory.

Mmmmm. . . I've tasted that honey of God's goodness. He provided those old tapes for me, and then granted me the grace to hear them. This was one of those times when God's correction was gentle -- I know it is not always so -- showing me that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Here's one for you, Sara Foz

I painted this painting. It's a tree. I wonder if anyone can guess where I got the inspiration?

***Edit -- Julie was right! Here it is!***

As you know, Josh and I live in a tiny little apartment on campus here at Southern. The majority of the time, I am quite content with this little home -- walking to work, not tons of housekeeping, good price -- it has several advantages. There are seasons, however, where I struggle with discontent. I especially miss having a yard, and having a garden. The campus of Southern is beautiful, so I do, in a way, have a very large and lovely yard (as opposed to living in the heart of a city block with no green grass in sight), but not a little private piece of my own.

I decided to add a few little touches to sort of enhance my home to help me enjoy it better -- not that I hate it! Sara Foz gave me the inspiration to do a little artwork -- a very inexpensive way to add a very personal touch! So I picked a few paint colors that I wanted to add to the room, and Josh and I each made a painting to hang above the table -- sort of creating a bit of a dining space. I'm not finished yet (I want to paint the table, also!), but here's how it looks -- I'm quite pleased! I think the paintings look great together because we used the same family of colors. Josh says his painting looks like Spider Man's ripped up suit, but it does not! It's because he actually has artistic talent that he can hate on his work -- I, on the other hand, am so pleased that anything looks good, I feel like I'm Van Gogh or something!

Stay tuned. . . I have plans for another wall, and this time it's going to be BIG! (P.S. I know the flowers don't really match, but I got them at the Farmer's market, and I didn't want everything to be TOO matchy matchy, you know?)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sale on my favorite children's storybook Bible!

I cannot say enough about The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I realize that I constantly rant and rave about books in general, and children's books in particular, but if you don't remember any others I mention, please remember to check this one out!

I have seen several excellent collections of Bible stories -- each with merit in their own way, and I've seen quite a few bland, pathetic books that just do what they can to make a cheap buck off anyone who might want their kids to have a general knowledge of Bible stories (these often end up donated to the church nursery, where they are torn or chewed to bits). For a while I was a bit turned off on reading Bible stories, mostly because I knew in my own mind the telling and retelling of the same old stories could make the stories seem dull or old. I preferred the dramatic telling of those stories, perhaps enhanced by acting them out. I still enjoy that form of teaching, but since I'm sold out to read-aloud, I am so happy this book has come along to revive my passion for reading Bible stories.

The tagline for this book is "Every story whispers His name", and the stories are anything but boring. Starting with creation, and working through the Old Testament, these Bible stories are told in an amazing God-centered fashion, highlighting the gospel at every turn, and through it all, weaving a cord of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. The author tells her readers:

"You see, the best thing about this story is--it's true. It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle--the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture."

I can't imagine putting an age limit on this book. My friend Christen was reading it to her daughter Hannah, and was personally challenged by the text, and Dr. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC says "I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian."

Are you sold yet? Well, I have good news! The Jesus Storybook Bible is 50% off all week at the bookstore where I work! Yes! Until Saturday, August 11th, this excellent book costs only $8.49. I would be more than happy to pick up a copy for anyone who does not live in the vicinity of a LW Bookstore. Or you could call and order it -- you can access the store's phone number from Southern Seminary's website, you'll just have to click around a bit! I do not get anything from the sale of this book or anything, I just wanted everyone to know about this great deal. You cannot even buy a used copy off Amazon for that price (and while you check that out, to see if it is so, I'll advise you to also notice that all 32 reviews of this book gave it 5 stars!).

Friday, August 03, 2007

More time!

How would you like to have more time in your day? Would you turn down, let's say, 2 hours of extra time -- not to sleep more or go to work, but 2 extra hours of time to read God's word, write letters to friends, do little jobs around the house, etc.

This is what has happened to me. My days suddenly got longer and with that an amazing blessing of tranquility has come with it.

Enter: Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney, Nicole Whitaker, Kristen Che
smore, and Janelle Bradshaw -- the "Girl Talk" girls. I had been looking forward to this book ever since I heard it was coming out, because I maintain a little Girl Talk section in the bookstore, and I was excited to have a new feature to add to it. Little did I know that the Lord was about to bless me with a fantastic new book that would seriously impact my life.

It's ridiculous, but I was inclined initially to discredit it because it was so short. I pretty much figured that they couldn't tell me anything I didn't already know in so few pages (AUGH! The stupidity of my pride!). I just thought I'd read it and be done so I could say I'd read it to customers who asked. So last Saturday morning before I went to clean out Camp OUTT, I read most of the 96 pages on my parent's deck.

And it blew me away.

I guess I didn't really think I had a problem with handling my time. I felt okay about it. I got everything done, and I didn't go crazy. But . . . I was regarding my time as something I had an endless supply of, something that I could throw away and get more later. I was not redeeming the time, or considering my days. That is what this book taught me to do. It's not a self-help, "find 5 extra minutes by cleaning your bathroom this way" kind of book where half of it does not apply because you don't have a huge house to clean anyway -- it's a "get to the heart of it" kind of book. That's why it's so short. It won't waste your time with a bunch of extra stuff that you don't need, but challenges you to live intentionally, and to think wisely about your days. I just ate it up. It was so right on!

And SO . . . drumroll please . . . I have joined the 5 a.m. club. All week, I have gotten up at 5 in the morning to read my Bible and pray and read books and write letters and do quiet jobs around the house. The idea appealed to me the first moment I read it, because I always wish I had more time at home just to BE there, and this just made perfect sense, it fit me the way it fit me to become a vegetarian 10 years ago. I just liked it and it wasn't such a huge sacrifice, more of a reward!

I am not bragging, I promise. I don't have this thing down to a science yet. I will be sleeping in on Saturday (not sure about Sunday), and I echo the Girl Talkers who repeatedly reminded their readers that there is certainly nothing about getting up early that makes us righteous in God's eyes. I am not attempting to earn His favor by doing this, but just to enjoy His presence. And I will say, I have never HATED mornings. Sure, I like to sleep, but I've never been like zombie girl when I get up at 7:30, so I don't think it HAS to be for everyone. But I do want to tell you what a difference it has made in my life! Besides the obvious, external things like going to work every day with shaved legs and lipstick on (those things fall by the wayside when you just have NO time), I have enjoyed a blessed communing with Jesus each morning, and an overall impression that my days are so much longer! I had been reading my Bible everyday, but more in a "whenever I can" kind of way, fitting it in my lunchbreak, or evening or morning if I was really lucky. Now I intentionally have time in the word with a cup of tea in my hand to help jolt me awake (I drink coffee at work, and besides, tea is so much quieter).

Friends, I appeal to you to read this book. The dear girl talk authors have done an excellent job addressing women in all stages of life -- college, marriage, singlehood, widowhood, motherhood, etc -- and the time issues that they face. It really is a book for every woman. It is solid theologically (causing us to consider Who holds in His hands all of our "interruptions") and has a fun, appealing voice. If someone comments me and commits to trying out the 5 a.m. club with me for a week, I'll send you my book to borrow (and save you $12.99). If you want your own copy, for heaven's sake, buy it from Julie at the Blue Kangaroo (we also sell it at the Way of Life). I'm waiting to hear your comments. I betcha there are a few closet "5-amers" out there!

Here's a final little blessing! This afternoon when I got home from work, I found the house all straightened, a rug put down in the living room, the laundry done, etc. Josh sweetly did all my weekend jobs for me because he told me he was helping me "shop for time, too". Now what will I do tonight while he's at work? Hmmm . . . maybe a nap! :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Every summer I am pleasantly surprised by the way the Lord provides through the generosity of others. As the bounty of the garden starts rolling in, my dear Christian brothers and sisters share the wealth of fresh veggies with us. There is a period of time (which I never wish to end, keep in mind) that I fairly live on tomatoes. I have conceived of ways to include tomatoes in my breakfast, lunch and dinner, and enjoy every rich ruby red bite. If we are given green tomatoes or zucchini, we enjoy a favorite dinner: fried green tomatoes and fried zucchini.

We can almost live off the spread we are given, and I wouldn't be sorry to do so! It may seem a small thing to share your garden harvest, but believe me, this generosity is not overlooked. If you have a garden and share your abundance with those who don't, thank you for being generous in this way. If your gifts are from a heart who longs to make the name of the Lord great and one who loves your sister in Christ, then it is not useless. "If I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and give my body to be burned but have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" I Corinthians 13:3. Christ tells us that anyone who gives a cup of water in his name is really giving it to Christ Himself!

What can we give? Maybe you are someone with extra time. I met a dear friend here who works full time and is married and has many responsibilities of ministry at our church, but she sees herself as a person with time to give, so she often seeks out people who need some quality time invested in them and goes out to coffee -- even late at night! I have recently seen the Lord show Himself strong by providing money through faithful friends who just want to be a blessing -- donating money for healthy snacks for the kids at Camp OUTT, for instance. If we have no time, money or extra resources, we can always give words! I am discovering how important are words that encourage, and I think the Lord is beginning to build that awareness in my life, so that I might speak words of grace to my fellow heirs with Christ. Whatever it is that you have -- give it in the Lord's name!

And if you are trying to pawn off those tomatoes . . . I have more room in my fridge.