Saturday, February 28, 2015

Clear Winter Nights

click the book to see it on Amazon
Our last week in Bismarck.  We've had some cold winter nights and I can't say I know how clear they've been....  it's been usually too far below zero for me to be staring much at the sky at night.

We've been packing things up (Matt's getting skillful in packing these bins to exactly 50 pounds each for our flight over the Pacific) and loading in some fun friends and cousins memories (The Cousins' Party - for all the missed birthdays- is later this afternoon).  Matt's parents even treated the kids to Grandma and Grandpa Day... which was their favorite day in ND.  Heritage Center Museum to see dino bones and turtle shells and lots of coolness, Space Aliens for dinner and Wizard of Oz for viewing pleasure in the evening.

All that meant for a long date day for Matt and I!  I don't know when I've relaxed for an entire afternoon....  and I think it's been six years (we had two nights with friends watching kiddos for our 5 year anniversary)since Matt and I had time like that alone together.  Such a treat!

The two of us got to snuggle up for a long read aloud together and this book is what we deliciously feasted our hearts and ears and minds on together from lunch til dinner.  Finished it.  Loved it.  Now we're gratefully praying about who we can pass it on to....  It's oh so good.

The novel is about Chris, a young man who finds out he's been deeply deceived, who's left soul-sick, searching for truth and questioning all that he's believed up til this point.  Why and how he wrestles and what he hears and is faced with and the love that's shown to him in this trial is all so well said, so rich with depth and just rock solid logically and Biblically.     Highly recommended.  A rare gift in that it is a deep theology book presented sweet and tasty as a captivating story.

Now...  off to the cousins party and last day festivities!  Tomorrow we head to Denver to see my cousins and then off to So Cal to see my dad again and several precious friends there :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

return of the snowbirds


oh these friends.... such joy to be with you guys!  Thank you for this special fun time with you!  #bocagrande
ok...  we're beachies and poolies here....

So the boy that jumped on a bike and rode off with almost no practice or help at all (when he was 3.5 years old) also taught himself to swim pretty much by himself.  Pretty awesome deal considering we don't get much time (at all!) in pools for him to practice.  He wanted to jump into the deep end... and he did.  He can make it back to the side like a big brave guy- no problem at all!

There really were about a thousand takes on this, trying to get everyone mid-air together....  

He perfected "the arrow jump" which got his wiggly toes down to the bottom of the seven foot side!

We love you Burgess Fam (and Culvers!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dream Reads

I remember talking about book clubs once with Matt and his friend, Rob.  What great depths and heights there can be in discussing good reads with good friends, mulling over good books, words, life.  Rob chuckled at himself when he said "well, that sounds like it would mean having to actually process and apply what you read before moving on and just taking in another title."

And yea,  I really want that.   Not just the words before my eyes but the Word and even little words changing my heart, my mind, our lives together....  It is such joy to dive deep into good words with good friends!  

But book clubs are tricky.  There are some sweet ones online, its just that I can't commit to reading what others are interested in and I don't assume that anyone else would be interested in all the stuff that thrills me.

So, for the sake of good books talking to each other in my mind (like Ann Voskamp has said), and teaching me and fueling thoughts, dreams, transformation, life, and general beautiful joy, and for more of a chance to "chat" about books with you....  I'm going to try to post more about good reads here.  Maybe just a quick review or a prayer for applying it under our roof or a bit of its beauty, we'll just have to see what happens with it.  

and...  I'd absolutely love to hear what books you're enjoying or inspired by or challenged by, or maybe just filled with wisdom and beauty.   I cannot give thanks enough for book recommendations I've received from many of you friends, and if you have any chance to keep your favorite titles (and your thoughts about them!?) coming my way.... what a privilege it'd be to hear from you! 

What's on your Dream Read list for 2015?  What did you love best of reading in 2014?

My list still needs filling....  Here's what I've got so far.  (Aiming to read two books a month....  it would be a beautiful thing if it happens!)

1.  Somewhere More Holy, by Tony Woodlief.  Depth of sorrow with deep simmering grace as this man shares how Christ conquered his grief and rebellion.  I've never read a memoir from a man before....  profound and excellent beauty.  I loved it.  
2.  You and Me Forever; Marriage in Light of Eternity, by Francis and Lisa Chan.    Crucial, soul-stirring, beautiful message to married folks in the church.  
3.  Look and Live, by Matt Papa.  Nearing half way and very grateful for these simple illustrations and storytelling to reopen my eyes to the magnificent worth of the Gospel.
4.  A Gift from the Sea, by Anne Lindbergh Morrow.  
5.   Prayer, by Tim Keller.  
6.  A God-Sized Vision, Revival Stories to Stretch and Stir, by Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge.
7.  Saving Leonardo, by Nancy Pearcy.
8.  Women of the Word, by Jen Wilkin.  
9.  maybe some Mary Oliver poetry?  some Madeline L Engle literature? a Marilynne Robinson or Wendell Berry novel?  it's time for a library Kindle run.... and to gather up a few more of these dear pages to tuck into boxes heading over the Pacific with us soon!
10.  I'd like to have some more old (dead) authors here too for some time-tested wisdom....  any leads to share?  email me please or leave a comment...

far beyond...

I picked up You and Me Forever; Marriage in the light of Eternity, by Francis and Lisa Chan, at a friend's home....  Incredible.  Oh how I long for, how really we all need to have our hearts focused on and anchored with greater consideration of the eternity we say we believe in, that we say is forever and of magnificent importantce.  But don't we usually live like there's no such thing?   Don't our lives often look like we must believe that earth is all we've got. This book is a needful, excellent help for correcting that and inspiring earth-shattering, soul-satisfying joy.

One part that has stayed with me since I read it, is where they write about the common American Christian emphasis on family.  We often say "God first, family second."  And we live it as if family is a very close second. Or maybe, if family was "first" would it look any different than the so-called second place position we give it?  The Chans exhort us to see and remember and live out the radical truth that God is far beyond us, far greater, totally holy and eternally worthy of us giving away, as Jim Elliot said years ago, what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot loose.... all for this, all for God.

And, Matt Papa's book Look and Live goes well right along side it.  He tells a short story about this a guy who might leave a pile of bills on his table.  If he came home at the end of the day and realized his buddy found his bills and paid them all off for him he'd be grateful.  If the bills totalled $50, he'd say "Thanks man."  If the bills totalled $5 million, he would respond with far wilder expressions of gratitude and joy and indebtedness.... "command me, I am yours."

Papa nailed my heart when he challenged "too many of us respond with a "thanks man" to God.  But really, with the infinite weight of our sin, us fully deserving eternal death, and the infinite goodness of God's holiness, we ought to fall flat before him, all-soul-acknowledging "command me, I am yours."

These books have been sweet challenges, refreshing a fire in me to see more of the Lord's glory in my life.  Two books, ten stars total.  Highly recommended.