Thursday, January 27, 2011

praying god's word...

i can't believe i have not blogged about this book before.  i was just telling a friend about it this week and realized that many people did not know about this gem.  it is a must have! i first went through this over ten years ago and it has been a continued resource for me ever since.

in this book, beth moore teaches the importance of using god's word when we pray. then each chapter is a different stronghold or struggle that is common in our lives.  she briefly describes each struggle in a page or two and then the rest of the chapter is filled with prayers that are straight from scripture that related to that struggle.  such a valuable resource! basically, beth has taken scripture that speaks directly to each struggle - helping you fight the lies and half truths that we all believe daily.  she fills the chapters with god's promises and his character in order that we might fight with hope. oh so good!

you don't necessarily have to read it chapter by chapter (though i recommend readding through it all at some point).  you can jump to whatever chapter you feel would encourage you the most.  there are chapters on overcoming anxiety, overcoming feelings of rejection, overcoming food-related strongholds, overcoming pride, etc.  my book is all kinds of marked with scriptures that i have prayed or that have helped me when i was struggling. i return to this book often, thankfully i have it in hardback so it can withstand all the use.

this is a resource that everyone should have in their home.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

[valley of vision] confession and petition...

confession and petition
from the valley of vision

holy lord,
i have sinned times without number,
and been guilty of pride and unbelief,
of failure to find thy mind in thy word,
of neglect to seek thee in my life.

my transgression and short-comings
present me with a list of accusations,
but i bless thee that they will not stand against me,
for all have been laid on christ;
go on subdue my corruptions,
and grant me grace to live above them.

let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings
of the mind bring my spirit into subjection,
but do thou rule over me in liberty and power.

i thank thee that many of my prayers have been refused -
i have asked amiss and do not have,
i have prayed from lusts and been rejected,
i have longed for egypt and been given a wilderness.

go on with they patient work,
answering 'no' to my wrongful prayers,
and fitting me to accept it.

purge me from every false desire,
every base aspiration,
everything contrary to thy rule.

i thank thee for they wisdom and thy love,
for all the acts of discipline to which i am subject,
for sometimes putting me into the furnace
to refine my gold and remove my dross.

no trial is too hard to bear as a sense of sin.
if thou shouldst give me choice to love
in pleasure and keep my sins,
or to have them burnt away with trial,
give me sanctified affliction.

deliver me from every evil habit,
every accretion of former sins,
everything that dims the brightness of thy grace in me,
everything that prevents me taking delight in thee.

then i shall bless thee, god of jeshurun,
for helping me to be upright.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

while i'm gone...

so i went to my 4th foster/adoption class on thursday.  we are in the middle of our TBRI (trust based relational intervention) training, which is based off of karyn purvis' research and her book the connected child. this training has been really good, but i'd be lying if i didn't say it is also a bit overwhelming at times too.  how am i going to do this? how can i help a child?

on thursday we talked about working hard to connect with kids.  one of the things that you do is called matching.  everyone does this with their baby.  the baby makes a noise and you make the noise back. or you stick out your tongue and they stick out their tongue. this same type of behavior is what i will need to do to connect with whatever child i have in my home. i keep hearing people say, you will just have to get creative with older kids because you can't exactly coo at a grade school kid. i have been wondering how in the world i was going to do this.

well one of things that dr. purvis says to do is come up with some kind of catch phrase that you say and the child has a part that they say back to you.  i lit up!  i do this ALL the time with kids in kidstuff, with my friends' kids, and with my roomies.

with one of adrianne's boys i started a joke on vacation last year about pushing him in the water and so i say "i'm gonna push you in the water." and he replies back, "no, i push you in the water, baca."

with gus the bus, before i leave the house each day i say, "okay i gotta go, but while i'm gone don't (something funny here)..." and gus immediately, often before i can finish my sentance, starts to say, "i will. i will." its our routine.

with jamie's boys, we always arm wrestle. what started as a joke about being staci's friend is now our routine. our thing.

i always tease shanna's kids about being stinky or having a pink purse.  one of the girls in kidstuff is named becca and each time i see her, we hug and say "team becca." its expected. its what we do.

as i started thinking about all of these, it brought me great hope.  this is something i have always done cause i learned from my dad - the best at this.  another reminder that this is and has been all part of the lord's plan. he knew i'd need this ability before i was even existed and he gave me a father to teach me how. and he will now use this gift to help make sure my little one feels loved, safe and connected.  pretty cool i think...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

what i plan to read in 2011...

as you can see from my last post, i love to read, but my reading is not what you would call well rounded.  you will notice that i had absolutely no fiction on that list. i want to make some strides to be a little better this year. i want to read some good fiction (no twilight please) and a few biographies this year.  so i posted awhile back asking for your suggestions. i started putting together a list of what i wanted to read and what you guys recommended.  not all recommendations made the list, because you crazies recommended more fiction than this brain could handle in 12 months. so i tucked some of those suggestions away for 2012. i want to read and/or listen to a book a month (at least). i think i can do more, but we will see what happens.  here are my books in the order i think i will read them, but that is subject to change based on how i feel each month.
  1. death by love: letters from the cross by mark driscoll & gerry breshears
  2. the hole in our gospel by richard stearns
  3. uncle tom's cabin by harriet beecher stowe
  4. the connected child by dr. karyn purvis (i have already started this book twice)
  5. the boy who was raised as a dog by bruce perry
  6. total church by tim chester (this is subject to move up due to peer pressure from todd engstrom)
  7. ministries of mercy by tim keller
  8. the out of sync child: recognizing and coping with sensory processing disorders by carol kranowitz
  9. mark of the lion: a voice in the wind by francine rivers
  10. the hiding place by corrie ten boom
  11. bonhoeffer: pastor, martyr, prophet by eric metaxas
  12. mark of the lion: an echo in the darkness by francine rivers
  13. a servere mercy by shelden vanauken
  14. pilgrim's progress by john bunyan
  15. adopting the hurt child by gregory keck
  16. mark of the lion: as sure as the dawn by francine rivers
  17. water for elephants by sara gruen
  18. the help by kathryn stockett
we will see how my year goes. i am sure that some of these books won't actually get read, but here is to trying.  maybe i should get a kindle...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

books i read in 2010...

here is a list of books that i read or re-read in 2010:

celebration of discipline
by richard foster

this is a practical book explaining the different spiritual disciplines that god has given us to use in order that we might know him more. each chapter is about a separate discipline (meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, celebration).  foster explains the discipline, where if comes from, why we do it, and some tips on how to do it.  this was one of the first books that taught about fasting.  this was my third time to read this book (the first being my freshman year of college) and i am planning on reading through it again this year with a group of girls - since discipline, especially these disciplines, are not my strong suit.

spiritual leadership
by j. oswald sanders

if you have not read this book, you are missing the boat. this book is not just for those in leadership positions, but for every believer! i have read and re-read this book more times than i can count. i even bought copies for my leadership team in kidstuff and made them read it and set goals based on what the lord showed them. sanders give practical tip that are simple yet convicting and based completely on scripture. they are not just his thoughts on what make people successful leaders. every time i read this, i learn something new or i see something i need to change in the way i love, lead and teach others.  this book has greatly influenced my leadership ability.

a praying life 
by paul miller

i read this book this summer with a group of women. and let me tell you, it has changed me. i wrote a blog about it here. two of the greatest lessons i learned from this book were: 1) the reason i don't pray is because i am too independent from god. if i really saw him as my provider and the sustainer in everything, i would pray all the time. instead, i pray when things get our of control or when i have some spare time. 2) i can ask god for whatever i want. it doesn't make him a genie for me, it actually deepens our relationship and my trust in him.  coming to him and asking like a child is when i find prayer time to be a sweet time.  towards the end of the book, miller also gives some great practical tips on prayer (like creating prayer cards) that i found extremely helpful.

by david platt

this is a great book that contrasts biblical christianity with the american dream. platt points out how the american dream has changed christianity.  he calls us look at what following christ really looks like, and yes it looks radical compared to typical christian culture. a great read! kind of want to give this a re-read now too.

the forgotten god
by francis chan

i read this book after hearing francis chan speak at the verge conference last year. he mentioned this book and all that he had been learning about the holy spirit, so i went home and bought it on audiobook. here is the blog i wrote on this book. it is a wonderful book that talks about the holy spirit and how must of us have no idea what he does or how he works, so we live as if he doesn't. chan reminds us that we have this powerful spirit inside of us.  all the help we could need right there with us.  a very encouraging book!

by harry schaumburg

i can't remember why i picked up this book exactly, but i sure am glad i did! this book needs to be read by any, regardless of your sexual past. schaumburg addresses how our sexual sin and struggles relates to our sinful hearts.  he explains and addresses our fears and needs.  i also wrote a quick review of this book when i read it.

recovering biblical manhood and womanhood edited by john piper and wayne grudem

i read through this beast with a group of women starting in 2009 but we finished in 2010. and yes we read through every single chapter! it was so good, but a beast (this is why i had to read it with friends, i would have quit otherwise). the authors of this book address the effects of feminism on society as a whole and point to what the bible defines as our roles.  such good information about how men and women were created to function together and the roles god purposefully gave us.  read this with some other people and you will learn much.  and press on through the middle of the book, it is a very technical section and can be dry at times, but other parts of the book are worth it.

castaway kid
by r.b. mitchell

this is an account of a man who grew up in an orphanage.  his mother dropped him off at three and with the exception of a few months here and there, he would remain in that orphanage until he was 18.  the story is heart-wrenching and will make you made at times, but it gives great insight to what these kids feel and experience as they are placed in foster care/orphanages and are given up by their families.

finally alive 
by john piper

in this book piper explains the ins and outs of what it means to be born again -  a term thrown around in christian circles a lot, but not always explained.  here is a blog that shares more of my thoughts after reading it.  and as i said before, i am not sure if i am getting smarter or if piper is learning how to write for us minions, but this book is definitely more easy to read than his others.

cost of discipleship
by dietrich bonhoeffer

i love dietrich bonhoeffer! this book is awesome! it is dense and it is heavy, but it is worth every hour you will spend reading it.  bonhoeffer discusses the costs that are required to follow christ and be his disciple - costs that we are often uncomfortable with, but costs that will reap incredible results! read this book! i will read this again. and i am planning on reading bonheoffer's biography this year.

pursuit of god
by aw tozer

this is a short but powerful book that i listened to this summer on audiobook. tozer describes what the life of someone who pursues god should look like - the discipline and cost it requires but also the blessings it pormises.  this book made me want to read more tozer.

big truths for young hearts
by bruce ware

this was my second time to read all the way through this book, though i refer to all the time when i am writing children's curriculum.  this is a theology book written for parents to use with their kids.  ware does not go into the depths of grudem's theolgy books, but he covers each topic well and in terms that kids can understand.  it is not just good for kids, it is good for adults too! and it is less intimidating that systematic theology (though that book is very readable too, it is just huge)

the practice of the presence of god
by brother lawrence

this was another re-read, but i needed it! this very short book (you could read it in an afternoon) helps us remember that we live in god's presence all the time. that we can always talk with him, think on him and worship him.  we have so compartmentalized god that we often only think of him at church or in our quiet times, but once we leave those places, he rarely crosses our minds.  this book challenges us to practice living in the presence of god each moment of the day, to think on him always.

by andrew murray

another super short read. this is one of the first books that i have read that explains what humility is and what it looks likes.  before reading this book all i knew of humility was what it was not. humility was not being prideful. murray doea a great job explaining what a humble heart looks like. a must read. i have heard that c.j. mahaney's book humility is also very good, but i have not read it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

more clothes...

this morning, i stopped by the outlet mall to exchange a christmas gift i had received. after making the exchange, i headed to the nike store to see what deals i could find in there. i have been wanting a certain pair of shoes, not out of necessity but because i like them. so i went in to see what they had.

after perusing the aisles for sometime, i found some that i liked.  i mean i really liked them. and they were on sale! bonus! but something just didn't feel right about getting them. i had the money and they were on sale, but something was bothering me. so i tucked the shoebox under my arm and continued walking around the store, pretending i was shopping but really i was wrestling.  why did i feel bad about buying these shoes? was it just flashbacks of compulsive spending from the past?  a fear of habits that would put me back into debt?  maybe that was it. no. i don't think that is it. what was plaguing me? 

finally, i convinced myself it was fine and i headed to the checkout.  as i got in line, i thought, "wait, since this is bothering me so much, why don't i just ask god if this purchase is okay." so i did. and immediately i got my answer through a quote from a book i had been reading.

i have been reading a book called the hole in our gospel by richard stearns, the president of world vision.  i am only about hundred pages in, so i am not sharing my overview of the book just yet. stearns is talking about caring for the poor and loving on the least of these - an essential  component and sign of our faith in christ.  at one point he is talking about matthew 25 a passage that should cause all of us to search our hearts.  but sometimes the familiarity of scripture can be a downfall. it can cause me to breeze through a passage because i have heard it a million times before.  and that is the case for this one, until i read stearns paraphrase of it and i have not been able to shake it. and the lord brought it to mind again today right there in the nike store.
"for i was hungry, while you had all you needed. i was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. i was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. i needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. i was sick and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. i was in prison, and you said i was getting what i deserved."
but you needed more clothes just kept running through my mind. i didn't need the shoes. i have so many shoes! in fact i the gift i was exchanging was a new pair of shoes (i had just needed a different size). so while i had the money and the shoes were on sale, all i could think about was that i did not need more clothes. that my $39.99 could be used somewhere else.  perhaps helping the least of these, funny how i use my tight budget as an excuse to often overlook them. needless to say, i put the shoes back and left the store empty handed.

this broke me.  as i came home, i wrote that quote in my journal, all i could follow it up with was "forgive me lord! i have so many excuses for not taking care of the least of these. sometimes its as if i know nothing of your gospel at all. change my heart."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

divots to dreams...

as many of you know, our church and its non-profit (the for the city network) have had a huge partnership with the schools in the st. john neighborhood. our goal is to seek the renewal and shalom of the city of austin. last year, reagan high school was in danger of being shut down by the state due to academic struggles and many from our church and community intervened and got involved, turning things around.  this year, the for the city network got reagan entered into a contest sponsored by the MLB to redo a baseball field.  the project started last june and after much hard work is completed! and it is BEAUTIFUL!  i went out yesterday for the ribbon cutting and my eyes filled with tears as i saw how the Lord brought all of this together and i began to think of the implications it would have for the future! i have never played on a field so nice! here is the news story:

greater things are yet to come, and greater things are still to be done in this city!

Friday, January 7, 2011

violent bible stories...

i have had many people ask me how do we teach around violence in the bible?  how do we handle it with the kiddos? 

personally, i think we need to proactive in teaching our kids some of these things.  sure there are certain details and stories to avoid.  i do not think it is best to explain all of the gory details of battles or sexual sin your 3 or 4 year old. we are not trying to terrify them. but i do think that we need to prayerfully consider how we can prepare our kids rather than shelter them. (prayer being a key part to that, since every child is different)

we live in a violent and dark world and if we work too hard to shelter our kids from this, especially in the bible, then they are not going to know of the almighty, powerful god. they may know a loving god, but they will not know the god who can save them from the darkness and sin in this world. and they need to know both because our savior is both. my goal is that when a child faces a scary or ugly situation either now or later, that they will know that they have a god who has been defeating these kinds of situations from the beginning of time. a god who will never leave them or forsake them. a god who fights for his name and his children and is more powerful than the scariest thing we can imagine.

don't get me wrong, this is hard. trust me. it is much easier to water it down and make it cute and safe. but since when has our god been cute and safe?  it takes much prayer and proactive thinking, but the good news is that that same god lives and dwells in us, his spirit guiding and leading us.

for the sake of those looking to us for direction...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

seeds family worship cd's....

a few months back we came across these famiy worship cd's.  they are songs that are straight scripture.  they are fun and you know if i can stand them, they are not too cheesy.  they are catchy and most importantly they help you and your kids learn scripture and know god. so check'em out.  anyone else have any family worship cd's that you like?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011's theme...

sometime after i came on staff here, i started off each year by picking a theme. this is different from my birthday themes which are fun.  the yearly themes are a bit more serious.  i try to take look at the year ahead and take a guess at what obstacles i will face and come up with a theme and try to make it rhyme if possible - just to put a little fun in there.  here are themes from year's past:

'08 humiliate - i think this theme affected many people :)
'09 hope refines
2010 restored again

for this year, the rhyming part was difficult, not much rhymes with 11 other than seven, heaven and leven and we all know how 27 year of bread unleavened worked out for me - fail. so here is the theme for this year, "2011 - a long hard road with a good good end."  i know this year is going to be filled with transitions and change that i am excited about but that are going to be hard.  so much unknown, so many things that could be so tough, but i know the lord will provide and that he has called me to this, so there will be a good good end!  and though i have deemed this my 2011 theme, i am well aware that this year is just the start of this road, the good good end will be for another year...