Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Impact of Books

Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you've finished just to stay near it. Markus Zusak

If you read the above quote, you probably whispered, "Yes!" I know I did. Book covers began dancing in my line of vision. 

Through Childhood Years

As a girl, I loved Eleanor Porter's Pollyanna, Five Little Peppers by Margaret Sidney, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, and, of course, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.

Through the Teen Years

I was fourteen when I read Charles Shelton's In His Steps, and it was worthy of carrying. I reread it for years. My teen years included Not My Will, A Brother Beloved (over and over -- even after the last few pages were missing), and Light in my Window, all by Francena H. Arnold. Alex Haley's Roots haunted me for months after reading it. Clara Verner's Orphan By Choice was my favorite, and I still have my grandmother's copy.

Through the Mothering Years

As a young wife I read Helen Andilan's Fascinating Womanhood and Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer. As a young mother, I read The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman. (And Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch, and The Berenstain Bears Get Stage Fright by Stan and Jan Berenstain.)

Through the Grieving Years

When Sarah died I read every book I could find on Grief. Tim Hansel's You Gotta Keep Dancing, and Lord of My Rocking Boat (Carol Mayhall), were lifesavers for me. It was around that time I discovered Francine Rivers. Redeeming Love brought the book of Hosea to life for me. Catherine Marshall, Eugenia Price and Elizabeth Elliot all fed my soul.  

Through the Mature Years

Recently I read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. I have carried this one (and it's conviction) with me. John Eldridge's Beautiful Outlaw, The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of Broken (Naomi Zacharias), and Girl at the End of the Word: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future (Elizabeth Esther), have all impacted my life in some way. 

June 2015

But this past month? I used the word I never permitted my daughters to say. My reading was b-o-r-i-n-g! It was totally my fault for trying to read one subject for the whole month. What was I thinking? However, I do know a lot more about creating habits.

July 2015

I'm happy to lay aside June's books (a few days early),  and choose new books. I picked up seven at the library and will add or delete as I choose. It's vacation time and I'm declaring a vacation for my mind. I will read what I wish and that makes me smile! I'll try to keep you updated on A Sheltering Tree's Facebook Page.  

I have found that through the years of my reading, books have shaped my life. They hide their words in the corner of my heart and reappear when I need them most, re-encouraging, re-convicting and re-feeding my soul.

Download book log here: Book Log

Which books impacted your life? What's on your list for June?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Be a Cheerleader!

Some people are in the "balcony" of your life, cheering you on, energizing you with their affirmation. Others are in your "basement" doing exactly the opposite. Joyce Landolf Heatherly

How do we become "balcony" people? Are we born with it, is it environmental, or is it learned? Yesterday I saw some major affirmation and encouraging going on. It was certainly environmental -- passed from one generation to another. 


These "most cutest of all" kids have been cheered on by their parents, parents who were cheered on by their grandparents, who were cheered on by their great grandparents...

Today, be a cheerleader! Affirm a child in your home, on social media, one you see while shopping, or a child living in your neighborhood. Send a grandchild, nephew or niece a note. Here are a few ideas to get your brain working.

1.  I think you’re awesome!

2.  You did a great job!

3.  You make me smile.

4.  I’m grateful God gave you to me.

5. That was a really kind thing to do.

6. Thanks for being such a great kid!

7. Thanks for being such a hard worker.

8. You give the best hugs.

9. I love being your (parent, grandparent, aunt)

10. I saw you helping your mother.

11. I saw you being kind to your little brother/sister.

12. I believe in you.

Try these fun ways to deliver your affirmations.

1. Write the affirmation on a slip of paper, wrap it in a scroll, and tie a ribbon around it. 

2. Write a note. Before sealing the envelope tuck in some confetti.

3. Write an affirmation on a inflated balloon. Deflate and give to a child -- they can read it when they blow it up.

4. Write the affirmation on an index card and post it where they brush their teeth.

5. Make a cake and write the affirmation on the top with icing. 

6. On family night, go around the table and allow each one to give an affirmation to each member of the family.

Affirmation words are powerful -- they stay in a heart forever. I had a teacher once write "very creative" on a writing assignment and I've never forgotten those words. My parents believed I could do anything I chose. It made it easy to try new things and helped me desire to be my best.  

Be a cheerleader! Gift affirming words to a child today. Add ribbons of smiles and tie it into a bow of hugs. It's a gift that will last forever.

Free Affirmation Printable

Linked to:
Women With Intention
Coffee and Conversation
Little Things Thursday
Thoughtful Thursday
Friendship Friday
Faith Filled Friday

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Righteous Daddy

A righteous man walks in his integrity -- how blessed are his (daughters) after him. Proverbs 20:7

This man I call Daddy was the first man I loved. He was the tallest, most handsome, and youngest father in our social circles. I ate liver just like him. I ate buttermilk on my potatoes just like him. My favorite pie was raisin – again, just like him. I thought I was special because I had brown eyes just like his. 

This is the man who made it possible for me to have a Christian Education, who not only served on the board of the school, but was the treasurer, volunteering multiple hours over a period of eleven years. He was a good employer, too. I remember overhearing one employee telling a new worker that he would love working for the Cessnas because they cared about their safety (an extremely important factor in the deep coal mining industry). I can still remember the pride I felt. He took us on our vacations. And oh, how he loved our mother!

He is faithful to church.

He loves his children – and isn’t afraid to tell us so.

He gives the best bear hugs.

He loves monkeys.

He loves eating in new and ethnic restaurants – especially if they have tablecloths and cloth napkins.

He loves blessing others with what God has blessed him with.

He is the best granddad and now, great-granddad. He’s as comfortable reading books under a pink canopy as cheering his grandchildren on as they rollerblade around him.

But never have I been more proud of my Daddy than I have been this year – the hardest year of his life. Never are we as strong as when we are leaning heavy on our Heavenly Father. The last seven months have been so lonely and heartbreaking for him. Yet he has stood strong and tall, enduring this sorrow and living for God. Mom would be so proud. We are all proud. Steve Green’s lyrics are so fitting.

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

May the fire of our devotion light their way

May the footprints that we leave

Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

Daddy has been faithful. His devotion’s fire continues to light the way for the three generations following him. And on this Father’s Day I just want to say, Thank you, Daddy. You are still my hero.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

In Full Disclosure

“Do you find life too difficult for you? So did we, but not now, with the amplitudes of grace there are for us in Jesus Christ, it grows satisfying and successful and exciting beyond measure, becomes another and a richer thing.” ~ A. J. Gossip

In full disclosure (I always wanted to use that phrase), I want to admit to a week of fretting. Me, the Philippians 4:8 Queen! I thought about true and honest things. I thought about just and pure things. I thought about lovely things. I thought of things that would give a good report. I've thought of things praise worthy. And the devil just shot those thoughts back with his own flaming arrows. Arrow thoughts like, "That could have been said in kindness," "This will never be made right," "He seems so broken," and "This relationship never be restored." Every time I sit down, lie down, clean, I hear the devil's whispering in my mind, reminding me of the situation again. For me, worry is a dark place and sucks joy out of my heart and life.

I thought I knew how God could take care of this. My plan included a lot of Holy Spirit promptings, changes of attitude and apologies. Unfortunately I left out the whole "free will" so important to God. He gives us a choice. And we can't make the choice for anyone else.

This fretting isn't mine -- but it does belong to people I love. Since my Philippians 4:8 trick didn't work, I turned to the internet for some solutions. It told me to keep my hands busy. (My mind doesn't seem to care if my hands are busy. I can clean, cook and yes, even write, and my mind still does jumping jacks.) It included Yoga and meditating which brought me full circle to Philippians 4:8. It also suggested kicking worry in the posterior (*words may be changed to protect the etiquette of the writer). 

Then I read quotes like the one by Corrie ten Boom -- 

Worry doesn't empty tomorrow of its worries, 
it empties today of its strength.

It's true -- the worry was still there, and I was exhausted from fretting (and trying not to fret) about it. So I decided to research what God wants us to do when we're worrying. The articles threw words around like trust, and peace, and casting cares. Nothing new, nothing I haven't tried. 

And then, just as I sat down to whine here on the blog (couched in form of questions like, "What verse helps you to stop fretting?"), hoping one of you could share your wisdom, I noticed I had a text message from Emily. She wrote, "Looks like a you and me thing," and included a photograph. Printed on a copy of the very Bible chapter that holds the key to my fretting were the words, "He gives us more grace,"  

That's the answer! When my heart is disquieted (that's a dignified word for my heart feeling like a train wreck), I know where I can find more grace -- from my Heavenly Father. God gives us more power of the Holy Spirit, just like the lyrics of the song, "He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again." 

There's one hitch -- God gives grace to those who are humble (Proverbs 3:34). No longer can I say what "I" do to stop my worrying. No, God gets the glory because HE gives me grace. Grace to try Philippians 4:8 one more time. Grace to trust. Grace to give the worrying to God. Grace to grab the leg of peace and wrestle it to the ground. Grace -- abundant grace; an unlimited supply. Before I even finished writing this, I asked the Lord for more grace. I'm not saying the issue won't come to mind again before it's solved, but I'm saying the key is grace. 

It's the grace that saved me. 
It's the grace that's brought me this far.
It's the grace that relieved my fears!
It's amazing, this grace.

God promised grace in time of need, and I'm leaning hard on that grace -- today, tomorrow, and in the future. He can heal families, in His own way and time. This God I serve is amazing! So, in full disclosure, I am not a spiritual giant. I'm not even a wise teacher of Word. I'm just a learner -- needing God to guide me through this life, needing His wisdom, overwhelmed with His grace.

Rosilind has an excellent post about Twitter, too.

Missional Women

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Find Your Brave Journaling Sheet

This is a journaling sheet to accompany Find Your Brave post.

Download here

How I reinforce the holes on my printed journal pages.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Find Your Brave

Courage, dear heart. C. S. Lewis

I watched the graham cracker slide out of my hand, unable to catch it -- Honey Maid, brown and rich with honey, not the light store brand they try to pass off as the real thing. As the cracker hit the white tile, it broke into pieces, tiny and crumbly. And as I bent to gather them for the trash, I thought about how at times life seems like it's falling, breaking into a pile of small and crumbly pieces at our feet. 

It's then, when we bend to gather the pieces, that we have a choice. Do I throw all the pieces away or do I try to put them back together, even if it will never look like the life we want it to be? Can we find the brave deep within?

Brave even if you will never again be able to talk to the mother who taught you to be brave.

Brave even if you are fighting an emotional battle.

Brave even if your mailman delivered a letter stripping you of your congregation.

Brave even when forgiveness seems impossible.

Brave even when a medical diagnosis sweeps you off your feet.

Brave even in the midst of depression.

My heart aches with the missing of my mother and for my friends who are struggling with painful situations. But unless we reach down and find our brave, our lives will end up in the trash, utterly useless. 

It takes a strong person to face pain and disappointment, confusion and exhaustion, grief and brokenness. But when I need to find my brave, I am reminded who holds my life -- even my broken pieces. It is there, in nail-pierced hands, just waiting for me. I recall His disappointments, His grief, His forgiveness, and remember I am not alone. 

When I need to find my brave, it is there -- in nail-pierced hands -- just waiting for me. 
So though we shake in our heartache, and our hearts beat wildly, let's declare the enemy will not keep us from shining. Let us hold our bravery as a badge of honor and take the next step towards wholeness.  

Be bold and strong.
Banish fear and doubt.
For remember, 
the Lord your God is with you
wherever you go. 
Joshua 1:9 

And we will shine through the wounds of the battle. Shine! Because of Jesus, our brave can shine. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fashion Blunder Surprise

Friendship with Jesus, fellowship divine. Oh, what blessed sweet communion! Jesus is a friend of mine. ~Joseph C. Ludgate

I had lunch with a friend today. One of those friends I can connect with in an instant. Between her schedule and my schedule it's been a long time coming. We laughed, we talked, we connected. It was just what I needed.

Eleanor is a fashion guru and she looked stunning as always. I thought I was pulled together okay.  I matched, navy in my top matching navy in my skirt.  Shoes went with the outfit. That's about as much as guru-ish as it gets with me. 

And then, after lunch I got out of the car at Michael's and looked down to discover my "pulled-together-okay" was suddenly not-so-okay. My skirt was as black as midnight. Which is what happens when you have the same skirt in two colors and you get dressed in a darkish bedroom. 

The best part of it? Eleanor didn't even notice! She just enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed hers. She wasn't intent on picking apart all the negative things about me. We could just "be."

I think God must desire that from His friends, too. To just "be." To spend time without the questions, requests, and yes, even whining. He wants us to laugh, talk, and connect. To be unconcerned about petty things, but just enjoy being with Him.

Tweet: God desires time with us. To just Tweet: God desires time with us. To just "be." Time without questions, requests, & yes, whining--to laugh, talk, connect...

Eleanor and I grieved with each other when our mothers died, have shared disappointments, and carried each other's heartaches. God has cared for me like a father and encouraged me through life's hard times. But sometimes, like today with Eleanor, we need to just enjoy the friendship.

Missional Women