a severe mercy...

i would like to start writing more about the books i read and love. so we can start with this one...

which was my february book club selection. and i listened to it from audible. i was heading up to nashville (an 8 hour drive) and thought that if it was on audible i could listen on the drive. and by golly, it was being released on audible THE DAY BEFORE I LEFT TOWN and it was 8 hours long. that seems a little too coincidental to pass up. it was a good book for me to listen to because it was difficult to get into at first. i didn't like the author very much (though when i meet him in heaven i will be his BFF since he & c.s. lewis were pals.) he seemed a little pompous (which he won't be in heaven, right?) & he seemed weird (& that is coming from ME.) and had i not been totally vested (i had bought it on audible) and had 8 open hours on the road ahead of me, i might have given up on it. but i am glad that i stuck with it. because there were some precious thoughts in it that have stuck with me. PLUS there are letter from c.s. lewis to the author in the book. so there's that awesomeness...

my BIG takeaway from this book is the distinction that jack makes in a letter to sheldon vanauken between "fortuitous" & "significant". mostly because i LOVE to use the word fortuitous in a facetious way. as in when i run into someone & they have JUST the piece of advice that i need to hear or say something that makes my day better. i will then say, "how FORTUITOUS that i ran into you." meaning NOT fate, but a loving & personal God who directs our every move. for in Him we live & move & have our being. but lewis takes these these moments & calls them what they are (& i shall also forthwith employ this word that he uses to describe them accurately). he names them SIGNIFICANT. because they are SIGNS that God is with us. that He is directing our paths. that He sees. He knows. He cares. 

"My general view is that, once we have accepted an omniscient and providential God, the distinction we used to draw between the significant and the fortuitous must either break down or be restated in some very much subtler form. If an event coming about in the ordinary course of nature becomes to me the occasion of hope and faith and love or increased efforts after virtue, do we suppose that this result was unforeseen by, or is indifferent to God? Obviously not. What we should have called its fortuitous effects must have been present to Him for all eternity. And indeed, we can't suppose God saying (as a human artist might) 'That effect, though it turned out rather well, was, I must admit, no part of my original design.' then the total act of creation including our own creation (wh. is going on all the time) meets us, doesn't it? In every event at every moment: the act of a Person dealing with persons & knowing what He does."

& therefore how SIGNIFICANT that this book became available on audio right as i was about to take an 8 hour trip. & there were so many other SIGNIFICANT things that happened on my trip to nashville. He is always involved in every act of creation. & every act of re-creation as well. 

though vanauken does give this caveat... “Signs must be read with caution. The history of Christendom is replete with instances of people who misread the signs.” 

which will probably mean me. since i tend to be the village idiot. but i do see SIGNIFICANCE in so many things that God has sent my way in the last few months. in people. in books. in movies. in songs. many occasions of building my faith, hope, & love. but mostly in building my trust that He knows what He is doing. & that it all is going according to plan. not quite my plan. but His plan. which will prove to be the BEST plan ever... right? 
 

here are a few other SIGNIFICANT quotes from the book...

“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians--when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths. But, though it is just to condemn some Christians for these things, perhaps, after all, it is not just, though very easy, to condemn Christianity itself for them. Indeed, there are impressive indications that the positive quality of joy is in Christianity--and possibly nowhere else. If that were certain, it would be proof of a very high order” 

“It is not possible to be 'incidentally a Christian.' The fact of Christianity must be overwhelmingly first or nothing. This suggests a reason for the dislike of Christians by nominal or non-Christians: their lives contain no overwhelming first but many balances.” 

“…though I wouldn’t have admitted it, even to myself, I didn’t want God aboard. He was too heavy. I wanted Him approving from a considerable distance. I didn’t want to be thinking of Him. I wanted to be free—like Gypsy. I wanted life itself, the color and fire and loveliness of life. And Christ now and then, like a loved poem I could read when I wanted to. I didn’t want us to be swallowed up in God. I wanted holidays from the school of Christ.” 

“In my old easy-going theism, I had regarded Christianity as a sort of fairy tale; and I had neither accepted nor rejected Jesus, since I had never, in fact, encountered him. Now I had. The position was not, as I had been comfortably thinking all these months, merely a question of whether I was to accept the Messiah or not. It was a question of whether I was to accept Him--or reject>. My God! There was a gap behind me too. Perhaps the leap to acceptance was a horrifying gamble-but what of the leap to rejection? There might be no certainty that Christ was God-but, by God, there was no certainty that He was not.” 

“That death, so full of suffering for us both, suffering that still overwhelmed my life, was yet a severe mercy. A mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love.” 

so that's my review of A SEVERE MERCY. a difficult read. but a SIGNIFICANT one for me.

every day in may...

WHAT?!?!?! how is it may already?

and a week into may?

and i totally forgot about EVERY DAY IN MAY! it has been a blog staple for the last couple of years on this and some other blogs. because slogging through may isn't enough for us overachievers. we have to add some extra pressure. just to make our torturous trek through the tumultuous tirade that is the miserable month of may even more murky and maddening.

(did you know that alliteration helps me cope when times are tough.? so does alcohol. but alliteration is less addictive. and more sanctioned by the baptist church.)

so based on my friend shannon's spectacular suggestion (still coping thru alliteration) in MY ONE AND ONLY COMMENT IN LIKE FOREVER i am going to post a daily...

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU ARE EXPECTING A TEENAGER.

loosely based on this tome that once ruled my life for approximately 30 months  (3 late babies= 30 months of pregnancy. i did the math.) "loosely based" on this bestseller so as to not be sued. though my friend shannon is a lawyer and i could totally get free legal services from her. and she is a rootin' tootin' award winning lawyer so don't even mess with her. or me. 

of course i will be the parent of a teenager for about a decade. so WHERE IS MY GUIDE TO THESE TEENAGE YEARS?!?!?!??! plenty of "what to expect" books for pregnant women. even a movie based on these books.

but NOTHING for "what to expect" as the mom of teenager.

that seems wrong to me. and i like to right a wrong. or in this case WRITE a wrong. (ha. i crack myself up. making puns is also a coping mechanism. cheaper than therapy people. try it.)

so i am not an expert here people. in fact i am totally making this up as i go along...

but you are here for the last three weeks of may and you might as well traverse this trodden trail through teenage years with me...

scandalous...

i just finished reading this book...

in a word it was...

freeing.

ha.

and yet really it was.

here are a couple of my favorite quotes...

“You ought to live your life with such freedom and joy that uptight Christians will doubt your salvation.” 
“If there is no laughter, Jesus has gone somewhere else. If there is no joy and freedom, it is not a church: it is simply a crowd of melancholy people basking in a religious neurosis. If there is no celebration, there is no real worship.” 
“The good news is that Christ frees us from the need to obnoxiously focus on our goodness, our commitment, and our correctness. Religious has made us obsessive almost beyond endurance. Jesus invited us to a dance...and we've turned in into a march of soldiers, always checking to see if we're doing it right and are in step and in line with the other soldiers. We know a dance would be more fun, but we believe we must go through hell to get to heaven, so we keep marching.” 
“You are really and truly and completely free. There is no kicker. There is no if, and, or but. You are free. You can do it right or wrong. You can obey or disobey. You can run from Christ or run to Christ. You can choose to become a faithful Christian or an unfaithful Christian. You can cry, cuss, and spit, or laugh, sing, and dance. You can read a novel or the Bible. You can watch television or pray. You're free...really free.” 
“The only people who get better are people who know that, if they never get better, God will love them anyway.” 

all quotes from Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom: The Radical Nature of the Gospel

you can also listen to free podcasts that look like they mirror the book's chapters... how kind of steve. offering something FREE. ha.

i love that he defines himself as a very conservative guy theologically. and as a pretty hard core calvinist. two things that i ascribe to as well. i liked how he said this about most hard core calvinist churches...

“I’m a Presbyterian, and we believe in a doctine called ‘radical and pervasive depravity.’ If we find any depravity, however, we kick you out!”

which is one reason why i don't attend a hard core calvinist church. because they would kick me out. for radical and pervasive depravity. and they would use this blog as proof. and they would be right. and wrong.

make sure and notice on that podcast page that he says that you can buy his book or the CD's of the podcasts "both make excellent gifts for uptight religious folks." ha. that steve. he is a laugh a minute. wonder where he got that from? oh, i think i know because...

my favorite line in the book is one about his mother...

My mother is one of the most godly and earthy women I have ever known. She read the Bible in in the morning, Spurgeon in the evening;  and in between, she taught me how to cuss.

may my children rise to greet me with such praises....

but more importantly may they know the scandalous freedom that ONLY Christ offers...

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. galatians 5:1

Freedom_by_sharkkk.jpg

i didn't think i needed this book...

my friend jo recommended it because she had seen lysa talk at a MOPS conference...

i saw it in the book store and bought it to take on a trip a while back. and then i didn't read it. and i kept not reading it. but it kept staring me in the face. so i dabbled in it and decided that it didn't really apply to me. i don't really have anger issues. and it seemed to be talking about anger issues mostly. or so i thought...

then lysa really made me mad (see, no anger issues here) because she used MY BIBLE PASSAGES that God had given to ME to describe the way she had learned to have an emergency plan to deal with situations of raw emotions. she used 2 chronicles 20, the battle of jehoshaphat. a little lesson that i like to read over and over and over again because God gave it to ME ME ME. nope, nary an anger issue in my life. 

and to further indicate that i might need to do more than dabble in this book. i then proceeded to have a couple of incidents (and by a couple i mean a half a dozen. or 2 dozen emotional outbursts.) not anger issues per se. but emotional crumbling moments.  God really wanted me to realize that i DID need this book. i DID need an emotional emergency plan. because i kept having all these emotional emergencies. which is a nice way to say i was having frantic fanatical freak outs. multiple messy melt downs. terrible tumultuous temper tantrums. even using alliteration can't make them look pretty. but they were profitable because i finally realized that i might need an emotional emergency plan. based on MY VERY OWN BIBLE PASSAGES... 2 chronicles 20.

Emergency_Alert_System1-1024x634.png

the plan all starts with jehoshaphat hearing that an HUGE army is approaching. and that lean mean fighting machine of an army have one thing on their minds... total destruction of jehoshaphat and all of judah. so what does jehoshaphat do...

2 chronicles 20:3 (the message) 

Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed. He went to God for help...

oh, that the same words could be said about me... "shaken, lea prayed." not "shaken, lea freaked out with a meltdown of Biblical proportions." i guess a meltdown of Biblical proportions would be one that turned to the God of the Bible...

and next part of the emergency plan is to let God be God and take care of the things He has promised to take care of. look toward God and His promises. 

2 chronicles 20:12

"O dear God, won’t you take care of them? We’re helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don’t know what to do; we’re looking to you.”

then realize my job is obedience. God is in charge of the results. and He will be victorious (even when i fail over and over and over again.)

2 chronicles 20:14-17

Then Jahaziel was moved by the Spirit of God to speak from the midst of the congregation. (Jahaziel was the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah the Levite of the Asaph clan.) He said, “Attention everyone—all of you from out of town, all you from Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat— God’s word: Don’t be afraid; don’t pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.”
and finally to praise Him for His certain victory. even when i haven't seen it yet.

2 chronicles 20:21-23

 After talking it over with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God; dressed in holy robes, they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, 

Give thanks to God, His love never quits. 

As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir as they were attacking Judah, and they all ended up dead. The Ammonites and Moabites mistakenly attacked those from Mount Seir and massacred them. Then, further confused, they went at each other, and all ended up killed.

so now i have an emergency plan...

1) shaken, lea prays. i go to God for help...

2) let God take care of His part. look at Him. not at the enemy.

3) my job is obedience. the battle is the Lord's.

4) praise and worship Him. walk by faith in His promises not by sight.

so it seems that God wasn't finished with 2 chronicles 20 and its application to my life. and i might just forgive lisa terkeurst for using MY BIBLE PASSAGE.

i am so tired of worrying. of the emotional energy that is depleted by worry. and here is what ann voskamp says about worry...

No one knows what the next minute holds — but you let ourselves be moved into it anyways.

Because somewhere inside of you, you know Someone holds it...

It could be like this: I could go with the wind. I can accept not knowing where I am going because I’m accepted.

Embrace the unknown, because I am embraced.

The days could look like this: I can practice just loving the unknown simply because I am known.

Because only when you are blown to the unknown heights, do you unfurl your wings and begin your flight.

It’s not the knowing where you’re headed that matters — but that you are known and He has your hand. You don’t have to know where you are flying to — only Who you are flying into.

The miracle that matters is the unfurling of wings.

You may not know the way through the storm, but if you just open wide your wings to the wind —- there is always grace enough to carry you Home. What are you afraid of?

The miracle that matters is the unfurling of your wings. 

There is nothing to be afraid of.

from ann voskamp @ aholyexperience.com when you are tired of worrying