Three times in my life, I have sat and read a book cover to cover in a 24 hour time span. This is one of those books. It was just that good….and I recognize today as I review some of my own highlights, that it will be one that needs more than one reading. The message is so basic, yet so profound – so contrary to culture.
This year, my husband and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary. As most couples, we have had our share of highs and lows. We stumbled through the years of raising littles (four in six and a half years). We’ve been through financial pressures, career changes, and seasons where discouragement and depression took a painful toll on our relationship. With our oldest married now, and the ability to leave others home and go out whenever we want, we face a new challenge: taking each other for granted. Truth is, we still don’t go out very often. We struggle to prioritize our relationship. We don’t depend on each other to survive like we did when the kids were younger. We are comfortable. …Comfortable knowing that a fight will be resolved, and it will all be okay. ..comfortable knowing that even if one of us has a bad day, we are secure with each other…comfortable knowing that when the world crumbles around us, we have a good survival rate. Honestly, it’s pretty nice. But speaking for myself, I know a missing element is in the one word title of Gary Thomas’ new book: Cherish.
Anyone who has lost someone precious to them undoubtedly replays their last conversations over and over in their mind, clinging to those last words they shared. For Kim, the last words of her three year old son led her on a life-changing journey. Before her son died unexpectedly of a common childhood illness, Kim was on her own path, building an admirable career, enjoying her family, and living the American dream. Though her life was pretty much all she had wanted it to be, it was being lived apart from Jesus.
As tragic as it was, her son’s death was the life marker that led her on a new path. She discovered the gospel, and everything changed. As she began to read the Bible, she was struck by the conversations in John 13-17. These were the last words of Jesus…the conversations he shared with his disciples before his death and ascension back to heaven.
Photo Courtesy of Sak Saum
A million miles or so from Idaho, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is a ministry dear to my heart called Sak Saum. Sak Saum “is a ministry dedicated to the rescue, restoration, transformation and rehabilitation of vulnerable and exploited women and men” (Sak Saum). Through both a full time program, and a vocational training center, Sak Saum is fighting against human trafficking, “one person, one family, and one community at a time.”
The vocational training center teaches men and women to produce beautiful products, mostly from reclaimed fabrics, discarded coconut shells, recycled tires, cement bags, and scrap metal. Every product represents a rescue, and the materials used metaphorically represent Sak Saum’s mission to make “something beautiful from things that would normally be discarded.”
There are a couple of reasons I wanted to share about Sak Saum’s ministry with you today, because you might want to get involved. You can support this incredible ministry by:
Pre-teen years are hard. Brains are re-wiring. The appeal of toys is going away, but the ability to go wherever and do whatever has not yet arrived. Every year, as we enter summer, we do a massive room cleaning with the boys. This year, our twelve year old decided he was ready to sell all the Nerf guns. Sigh. I’ve watched his hobbies become increasingly more screen dependent, so I began to encourage finding a hobby.
What about fishing?
What about building stuff with wood?
You could read more!
I hate to read.
Chloe is a young college student who has worked hard to earn a scholarship at a prestigious art school. She is struggling with her relationship with her mom, the pressures of producing good enough work to keep her scholarship, and the internal nagging that something is just missing in her soul. Life is not perfect, but it is what she knows. She is settled in her routine of going to class, working on her art, and going home alone. When the pressure of producing her final semester project increases, swirling images, voices, and blackouts converge on her. Her unknown, blocked-out past has decided to reveal itself at the most inconvenient time.
Have you ever wondered how two people can go through pretty much the same trial and one lives the rest of their life in bitterness and anger and one conquers all, grows, and let’s the pain give birth to beauty? Have you ever wondered what makes the difference? I sure have.
Ray Johnston would say the difference is hope.
In his newest book, The Hope Quotient, Johnston reminds us that we are generally born and “pre-programmed” with our emotional and intellectual intelligence. We can work on things as we mature, and maybe increase our EQ and IQ some, but not much. However, our “HQ” can be developed to any level. Truth is, our HQ really has more determination over our success than our IQ.
“Nobody does very well in marriage, in relationships, at work, psychologically, or in life in general if they’re not buoyant. Getting down is part of life. Staying down is what will kill you. If any Christian tells you he’s never been discouraged, he’s lying. All of us are going to get down.
As we finish up Easter week and are thinking a lot about new life, I want to share some about the new life I’m seeing in myself and others after doing Restless (by Jennie Allen) together.
I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to review Jennie Allen‘s studies. They just keep getting better and better! Restless is basically an eight week study, and you’ll want your participants to get the books and do the first week of homework before they come to your first session.
I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the ripe old age of ten. …and even then I was embarrassed by how old I was before I made that decision. I’d been raised in a church pew by my pastor dad and my pianist mom and felt I certainly should have understood it all long before I did.
I will forever be grateful that I’ve been able to spend almost my entire life walking with Jesus. I honestly don’t remember a time He wasn’t a part of my life. I’ve benefited from a lifetime of loving His Word. He’s protected my heart and kept me from so many tragic life choices. However, there is a part of me that has always felt I was missing something.
Last week I told you that I hate devotionals…..You know…the kind with a verse or two at the top of the page and several paragraphs of someone else’s thoughts? I promised to come back and tell you what I recommended instead. So here are my ideas for personal time with God: