Monday, November 30, 2009

(Part 1) Still Waiting

Marriage. It's something I've desired my whole life. At 5 years of age, I'd spin around in a full "princess" dress and dream of the day I'd float down the aisle in a cascade of white lace. After all, good stories always included weddings. At age 10, I was almost inseparable from a doll of some kind, anticipating a house full of my own children. A dozen sounded about right. At 15, I sighed over courtship stories and wondered when my turn would come. Though I longed for my own "special someone," it was easy to remind myself that I was still too young and shouldn't be distracted by thoughts of marriage. Still, I diligently applied myself to prepare for it as best I could.

Now, at 19 going on 20, I'm still waiting. I am still young, but it can be a bit harder to wait patiently. I am ready to marry, whenever the Lord wills. I'm of legal age, my parents agree that I'm ready, I've continued to prepare in as many ways as I can - but prince charming hasn't yet revealed himself.

I've continued to read many good marriage and parenting books, which helps me prepare. However, I can't exactly put what I learn into practice until I have a husband and children. I have all of this information, but it can be frustrating when there's no where to use it. Don't get me wrong, it's good to prepare and I've always enjoyed these types of books - and I have used some of it in talking with friends and siblings - but I know that real-life application will be different from the great quotes and tips I've gathered.

I've definitely not learned all there is to know, but it doesn't seem like anyone can ever be truly ready for marriage. The process itself matures you quickly.

Is it bad to long for marriage? Shouldn't God be enough? Yes, God is enough for our every need, but He has also created us for relationships. As Candice Watters says in the book Get Married,
"If it's true that God is all we need for fulfillment, then no one was in a better position to be fully satisfied than Adam" (Get Married, page 21).

Yet, God said "It is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). To satisfy this need, God made Eve and joined them together in marriage.

It's true that some are called to life-long singleness, and if that is what God has for me, He will give me the grace for it. But, if you have a strong desire to marry (as I do), most likely it is something you'll experience. And having this desire is okay! In the chapter "believe marriage is a worthwhile and holy pursuit," Candice writes,
"Marriage is not a compromise. It is not a spiritually inferior path. It's what God is calling you to for your good and His glory" (Get Married, page 33).


But for now, I am still single. I'm still in the "waiting" stage. This waiting is a time of growth and learning patience as I trust God for His timing. It is painful at times, but it is also sweet. Indeed, I'm very thankful for it.

But why wait? Who am I waiting for anyways? What I am doing in the meantime? Will it even be worth it?

These are questions I hope to explore in the week ahead, so stay tuned...

Please note: I know that marriage is not the end-all in life, and I realize that I am still young. It's not my wish to sound desperate, for I'm not! It's also not my goal to focus on this topic too long, for I want to use this single season well. However, I do think it's a good thing to discuss. These posts will be more geared toward single young women, and I hope they will be encouraged. However, perhaps it will encourage others as well, married or not, in other seasons of waiting.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful for This Season

Not only am I thankful for this season of autumn, but I'm thankful for this season of life - this season of singleness.

I must admit, it is hard to be thankful for singleness. After all, all my life I've looked forward to getting married! However, much as I look forward to that time and hope that it comes quickly, I am very thankful for the time God has given me now, to serve Him in my maidenhood.

One day I look forward to falling in love and having that special someone, but I am thankful for all of the ways God has taught me to fall deeper in love with Him, as I've gone to Him with longings unfulfilled. I look forward to supporting my husband in His endeavors, but I'm also thankful for this time I get to spend with my parents and siblings, and the ways I can help them. I look forward to having children of my own, but I enjoy this time that I can be a "big sister" to many different children around church and "Miss Anna" to quite a few ballet students.

These single years are a gift. I forget that sometimes in my longing to be married. I don't think that marriage should be intentionally delayed, but I am thankful for these years God has given me. There is so much to do, so many things to learn, so many ways to serve before I have the responsibilities that marriage and a family of my own will entail. I eagerly look forward to these responsibilities, but I also enjoy having the flexibility that I do now.

It's hard to wait as I get older - in fact, come back on Monday for the beginning of a series of posts around that theme - but I know that God's timing is best. One day, Lord willing, I will be reflecting with thankfulness about my husband and children. Until then, I rejoice in this time of singleness, thankful for the ways God allows me to use this time.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful for Food and Fun

These past few days have been quite relaxing, full of fun and a lot of delicious food! I am thankful for this time to take a break and also spend a little more time in the kitchen!

We started preparations on Wednesday morning. Here, I'm making bread for sandwiches while Mary Khris rolls the balls of "Molasses Crinkles" cookies.

That afternoon, we had an assembly going for pies. I made the pie crust while Lydia made blueberry and apple pies and Mary Khris made pumpkin and chocolate pecan. Delicious!

There was always a lot of dishes to wash! We worked together, but Jubilee did a lot for her day on Wednesday.

Thursday morning was spent making all of the traditional Thanksgiving food. With Mom, Mary Khris and I working (and Lydia and Jubilee helping as needed), it went quickly! We made turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn, gravy, cranberry sauce, and kressant rolls.

We had a family from church over for the meal, so we totaled 11 people, but it was still less than we've had in years past, so we overestimated how much food we needed. But, we've had nice leftovers and as a result haven't needed to cook today!

Being the family that we are, we've also played many games, which always provides family fellowship and fun. We've taken walks, watched movies, looked at pictures, and just talked.

I'm thankful for all of the fun memories! It has truly been a wonderful and refreshing break.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Friends and Fall Colors

God has blessed me with many friends, too numerous to name here. I have friends a lot younger, and some the age of my parents. I have friends my same age - even to exact day! =) I have friends that live near, friends that live miles away, some that transition. I have friends I talk to often, and some that I rarely hear from. I have friends I know really well, and some I've never met in person, but have gotten close to through letters, emails, and phone calls nonetheless. I am thankful for the friends I've made through this blog as well!

Mary Khris is one friend I'm especially thankful for today, since she's currently at my house! She was my roommate at Belhaven College last spring, and we've gotten really close. She still attends Belhaven, and was able to come to our house for the Thanksgiving break! I met up with her in Birmingham on Tuesday evening, since she was able to catch a ride that far, and look forward to her staying until Sunday.

This morning, in a break from cooking (the turky was in the oven, rolls were rising, casseroles prepared, but too early to start the other delicious food), we took a walk to capture some of God's beautiful artistry in the autumn leaves. Ever since they changed I have been wanting to take some photos, and today afforded the perfect opportunity. After all, it's always more fun to take pictures with someone else!

It is so beautiful to see the leaves falling outside the window, and they make a most beautiful carpet.

Our blueberry bushes have the most radient red leaves!

Totally without planning it, we both ended up wearing blue and brown today.

The leaves on our pear tree are gorgeously orange/yellow/green.

Sweet Mary Khris

Natural light is always fun for photos, though you have to work with the shadows!

This picture was lovely, showing the blue of the sky behind the red and green leaves. Fall in the south is always mixed with green. =)

In the colors, I felt like I could belong...

This tree is so breathtaking - it uplifts me each time I see it on my morning walk.

We went up a little further, off of the main road.

Our faithful dog Midnight nearly always accompanies me on walks. He kept coming over to us every time we stopped to take a picture, so finally we gave in and took a few pictures with him! :)

'Tis a nice spot to sit and reflect.

A view from "my" spot on the hill, overlooking the valley. The sky was such a clear blue...

And yes, we even had two roses bloom in November. The warm weather has confused the flowers, and even some of our azaleas have bloomed!

God knows how to blend colors so well... His creation never ceases to amaze me.

Thankful

Some days we forget to look around us
Some days we can't see the joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give

I sang this song last night at a Thanksgiving Eve service. I believe that location can be an inspiration and that was what I experienced last evening. I stood at the back of the all-wood building and felt the sound rise to the high vaulted ceiling and go beyond. I thought this was appropriate...before I sang, I had looked up and thought, I'm singing for You.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see

I have been given so much and awarded so many opportunities that I often feel overwhelmed with what I feel I don't deserve. I have a family who I know without any doubts loves me. And I feel as though I have the most amazing friends in the world, friends who encourage...laugh with me...hold me when I'm crying. I'm currently enrolled at Judson College and I know this is where God wants me right now and I'm so glad He gently shoved me in this direction when I wasn't exactly listening to Him.

It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for

I'm thankful for...
...my home, both literally and figuratively, that has been provided for me.
...the security I feel when surrounded by my family
...cooling during the summer and warmth during the winter

Look beyond ourselves, there's so much sorrow
It's way too late to say, I'll cry tomorrow
Each of us must find our truth
We're so long overdue

...my brothers, no matter how crazy, I love them to death
...my sister, Esther. I can't imagine life without her.
...my sisters-in-law: Ginger, Amanda, and Racheal. They have added so much to my life, including nephews and a niece. =)
...my parents, who have brought me up, been supporters and an encouragement during my 19 years of life.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see

It's up to us to be the change
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for

More than anything, I'm thankful for...music. I am so thankful for the abilities that I've been given, for the chance to develop and to use them correctly. Without music, life would lose so much of its color, dynamic, and...well, life. God knew what He was doing when he sang my life into existence. I'm here for a reason and though I don't know what yet...I'm so thankful to just be here. Alive.

And even with our differences
There is a place we're all connected
Each of us can find each others' love

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see

It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There's so much to be thankful for


Lyrics from "Thankful", sung by Josh Groban

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for Family

God has blessed me so abundantly with a wonderful family. We're not perfect, but we are whole. We don't always agree, but we love each other, and always enjoy getting together! I am so thankful that I am a part of this Lofgren family. We've expanded in recent years - 22 members now if you count my parents' children-in-law and grandchildren - and I look forward to seeing how big our family reunions will be when we're all grown and married.

This Thanksgiving there's only four of us siblings at home - us four youngest. However, the others are are in our thoughts and prayers!

I am thankful for my parents and the Godly example they have set for us all. They have stayed committed to each other, even in hard times. They have raised us to know, love, and serve God. It is a testament to God's faithfulness to know that all of their children are walking with the Lord.

I am thankful for my oldest brother Luke, his lovely wife Michele, and their five children, Danielle, Alex, Zach, Nate, and Bethany. Luke and Michele have always been happy to give me advice, and it's a blessing to have older siblings to talk to about things they've already experienced. My sweet nieces and nephews are a joy to be with, and I cherish each time we have together.


I am thankful for my oldest sister, Maria, her great husband Ron, and their three children, James, Sara, and Lisa Beth. It's been a joy to have them live the closest to us, and we enjoy each time they can make the three-hour trip down to visit. Again, I have been blessed by the advice Maria and Ron give, and always enjoy being with my bright nephew and cute nieces.

I am thankful for my sister Miriam and her wonderful husband John. They've been married for a little over a year now, and it's so fun to see them as they've grown together. John has quickly become a great brother. I am thankful for the new little one their expecting in February, and am excited to meet my new niece or nephew!



I am thankful for my sister Lydia, now about to graduate from college with a degree in outdoor leadership and education. It fits her well, for she's always ready for adventure and is wonderful to be with whenever you're in God's great outdoors! She's also very musical and thoughtful. She's always ready to help, and is a great blessing.



I am thankful for my brother Elijah, also about to graduate from college, but with a degree in computer science and engineering. I have been so blessed to have a big brother like him, always ready to talk and encourage me to go deeper in my walk with the Lord. He's also helped me open up and learn to talk on the phone more. :) I am thankful for the friend I have in my brother, and, although I'll miss him greatly when he moves to Iowa after graduation, I know he will do well.

I am thankful for my sister Jubilee, the youngest of us siblings. I can't imagine life without her, and I've been blessed to get closer to her these last few years as we've been the only children at home. She amazes me with her talent with animals and in the arts, and her many opinions on wide and varying subjects. She is growing so quickly, and blossoming into a wonderful young lady.


Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with this family to learn and grow with!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for Words

Luke 8 was one of the assigned passages in my Bible reading plan for today. Since we're also going through Luke as a family, I looked back at the title I'd given this chapter...
The story of the sower, scattering some seeds on stones and stickers where they suffer and suffocate and some on superb soil. The Savior then shares the symbol of a shining lamp on a stand instead of in secret, and then speaks of His siblings. Sailing across the sea, He silences the storm when shaken from slumber by His disciples, scared of the squall swamping their ship. On the shore He sends spirits out of a strong man in solitude into swine, who squeal and commit suicide. Still later, the Son of Shaddai heals a sick sister and saves the slumbering daughter of a synagogue ruler.
Yes, I do have an attraction for alliteration, and this chapter was an excellent one for it. =) What started years ago as two word couplets that started with the same letter has turned into paragraphs. My family now tries to guess each morning which letter I used that day. It's fun to come up with them each morning, and helps me wake up as my brain begins to whirl.

I'm so thankful for words, the ability to write and speak. I am thankful for English with its many synonyms - without which alliteration wouldn't be possible! God truly gave us a gift when He gave us language.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Overflowing with Thankfulness...

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." - Colossians 2:6-7

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christ is the Focus

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." - Galatians 6:14

It's so easy to lose focus, to make huge issues out of small things. I've posted a lot about living at home recently, for I've been thinking about it and how I should explain what I'm doing. However, I don't want that to be the focus of this blog or of my life.

Jesus Christ is the focus. My identity is found in Him. My relationship with Him is the main thing in my life - nothing else really matters in the grand scheme of things. Through searching of His Word and praying for guidance He does show me how I should live, but He should still be the focus in it all. I am a daughter, a sister, a dance teacher - but I am a Christian first and foremost.

I want to keep Christ as the focus. I apologize if I've made other things (such as staying home) the focus recently. In my life, I want to focus on glorifying the Lord in all that I do. I do this where I am and in what I do - but other things should be of less import than pointing people to Him.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31

Friday, November 20, 2009

At Home Unashamed

Head over to Joyfully Home to read Jasmine's great post We Have Nothing to Apologize For. She has aptly put into words things that I have thought and struggled with.

It's hard to write in the online world without a ton of qualifications - "what's right for me may not be right for you," "we're not all called to the same things," etc. It's easy to be misunderstood.

And truthfully, in many situations, God has given us great freedom to choose; what I do won't necessarily be what you should do. We must be wise in understanding this and not put guilt on others for doing things that God has called them to. But at the same time, we don't have to continually apologize for what God has called us to do - or for promoting things that may be wise for many to do. I don't want to offend others, but I also don't want to be ashamed of what I do.

How do you know what God has called you to do? To be honest, I really hesitate to use that phrase... I use it only after prayer and lengthy searching for God's will. It's too easy to say, "well, God called me to do this" to excuse yourself or escape having to explain why you do something. We should have an answer for those who ask.

I do believe that God has "called" me to live at home until I marry. Many things have confirmed that I am where I'm supposed to be. I won't go so far as to say that every woman has to - the examples of my own sisters, all following God, has shown me that God does call different women to different things. However, I do think it can be a wonderful sphere to learn in, and a great way of staying under God-ordained authority.

Yet, it is hard to answer those who ask why I do what I do. Some ask in genuine curiosity, while others seem to want to get me out. A lot of the questions have stopped since I did go away to college for a year, and still ended up wanting to be home. Still, it's counter-cultural to live at home past high school graduation. And people do ask, from relatives to fellow church members to the dental hygienist. What do you say?

Answers vary depending on who asks and how much we have to talk. My answers are initially brief: "I'm studying independently while teaching ballet and directing theatre." If they press college, I usually tell them that I did go for a year, but it wasn't what we felt like I should continue for now. There are other ways of learning - and you can learn so much from books! No, it doesn't get me the all-important piece of paper, but I often mention that I may pursue a degree through distance learning in the future. That usually stops the questions, but I wonder if I should use it as much as I do. It is one possibility among many, but nothing definite...

Too often I answer in a way in which I'm apologetic, somewhat ashamed, for still being at home. In our culture, the connotation of an adult living at home is usually one of a lazy bum mooching off of their parents. So naturally, people will ask what you're doing, concerned that you not waste your life. How do you answer? Jasmine gives good advice: answer confidently, joyfully, lovingly, and Biblically. In doing so, we can change the negative connotation by showing that you can be useful, helpful, and productive while still living at home.

It's amazing how many people actually agree that a woman should stay under her father's authority - even live at home - until marriage, when that authority transfers to her husband. There is Biblical and historical precedence for this, which many recognize. Only last night, I was amazed at how many people from our church agreed that this was good when we somehow got on the topic during the discussion after session 12 of The Truth Project. It was encouraging.

Too often I worry about what others are thinking about me. God has taught me time and again to look to Him for approval - not others. But when people learn that I've graduated from high school and am still at home (most who don't know me just assume I'm still in high school when I'm out with my family - I look young enough...), they ask questions.

I don't want to stir up controversy or try to answer for everyone. But I am so glad to live at home, and I want to share that - without shame.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy 19th Birthday, Miriam!

Happy 19th birthday, Miriam Rebekah! I hope you have a beautiful, wonderful day as you continue life at Judson College.

I'm praying for you today, as you go to class, take a test, and sing and play piano in the recital tonight. I know you'll do well, and I hope you enjoy the time with your family! I wish I could be there as well...

Another year has passed by so quickly, yet it has been a good one. We've learned a lot, continued to grow in our Lord, and experienced God's faithfulness through life's confusion. I look forward to another year of friendship together.

Enjoy this new season as a 19-year-old maiden!

Love,
Anna Naomi

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Only Home for Me?

Being at home with my parents and sister is a blessing. I am very thankful that I can live here during this season in life. However, I don't want to give the impression that I wouldn't be happy anywhere else.

When writing about home life, it is easy for me to slip into the poetic, to give the impression that I am perfectly content and am right where I want to be forever. I am where I want to be right now, but I couldn't honestly say "there's no other place I'd rather be." I actually typed that sentence twice when writing last night, and deleted it both times. Choosing between a college dorm, an apartment by myself, or here with my family, this home is definitely my top choice. I enjoy the protection and comfort, the family almost always around, the beautiful surroundings, the church we attend, and the students and families I can work with. Our house and land will always have a special place in my heart. It is what I think of when I think of home.

However, the location is not as important as the people. If God called my family elsewhere, I would most likely move with them. And if the Lord allows me to marry, I'll willingly - joyfully! - leave this home to establish one with my husband. Though I'm a born and bred southern girl that enjoys warm weather, I'm not stuck on staying in Alabama. If my husband lived or moved to the frigid north or far out west, I would willingly go with him.

As you all have probably noticed, I do enjoy home life - it's part of who I am. But much as I enjoy our "Wisteria Pines" - this home in the valley - I look forward to one day moving to another home.

Ultimately, I look forward to our heavenly home, which will be much better than we could imagine. There we will find our forever rest, with a family much larger and more wonderful than we could ever know.

Friday, November 13, 2009

At Home in November

These have been beautiful days at our home in the valley. The coolness of the morning usually warms up to the 70s, and while we've had our cold spells, the last few weeks have been almost perfect.

This afternoon I escaped to "my" spot on the hill overlooking our valley. My journal and a book made for wonderful companions as the sun warmed my back and nature buzzed around me. My writing and reading were often neglected, however, as I enjoyed just sitting and being. The vibrant fall colors provided a beautiful atmosphere to think, pray, and dream...

It's wonderful to be home. Being away last year has made me more fully appreciate the blessing home is. Do I miss college? At times I miss the friends and some of the classes and activities, but I'm so glad to be home.

So what am I doing at home? Am I just wasting my time? Am I accomplishing anything worthwhile?

Though I'm not always as diligent as I should be, God has given me many opportunities to learn, grow, and impact others. I certainly don't have everything figured out, and I'm not saying that all girls should stay home - but I do know that for now, this is where I'm to be.

What about all my plans for coming home? There was so much I wanted to do. Some has been done or has begun, while other things have been postponed - perhaps indefinitely. But God is teaching me a lot through this time.

The King's Courts has taken the most time, but it has been rewarding, albeit challenging work. And, if it has taken the most time, it's how things should be. This is what I'll probably be doing until marriage, if the Lord wills, so a lot of time and resources are devoted to it! It's amazing how much time it takes to plan, organize, research, write, design, and spread the word, and I've not even come close to doing all that I hope to!

I was able to attend Ballet Magnificat's Teacher's Workshop and direct "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover" this summer, both things that helped prepare me for this busy fall. The teacher's workshop gave me tools, ideas, and renewed focus in my ballet classes, and "The Amazing Jerusalem Makeover" was a great start to more theatre endeavors!

This fall I have been teaching 6 dance classes and a PraisExercise class for ladies. Besides spending Tuesday and Thursday afternoons/evenings in class teaching, a lot of other time goes into being a teacher - preparing lessons, choreographing, working out logistics, driving to and from classes, arriving early to unlock the building and set up, etc. As I've started teaching agian, I have run into many challenges, but God has given such grace and strength to keep persevering. My 35 students have given me such joy each week as I'm blessed to teach them not only to dance, but also to worship the Lord with their whole being!

Theatre has also been a big part of this fall, as I wrote the script for "Beyond Bethlehem," consulted others, found songs, and worked through many details. This again, has presented many obstacles, but each time God has worked things out. It's an adventure to trust Him each day. Auditions were held 3 weeks ago, and rehearsals have taken up Monday afternoons, while we look toward a more intensive schedule in December.

My plans for continuing my education are different from what I originally planned, but I'm definitely still learning. This summer, God made it clear that I wasn't to pursue CollegePlus - at least not this year. It's been hard to trust and give up wanting to look good in the eyes of others by advancing my degree, but God has been faithful and is teaching me so much. It may still be in the future - only God knows - but for now, I have continued to study independently.

I've set up a schedule for myself much like the one when I was homeschooling, with assignments to do each day. My focus areas this fall are ballet, theatre, literature, history, theology, business/finance, Bible, family matters, and writing. I am finding many good and useful books, most of which end up on our monthly reading lists, so I won't reiterate them.

I usually only have 2-4 hours to study on my own each day, but I try to make the most of it. I read a chapter or two or an assigned number of pages in each book, writing down notes on things I find useful or want to remember. To be honest, I don't get it done every day, but I try to stay up-to-date and catch up on Saturdays if I can.

My parents have been leading The Truth Project this fall, with a small group at our home on Thursday evenings. The video series and discussions have been phenomenal, with the teaching and material both excellent!

The lessons I had hoped to take haven't happened - at least yet. I'm hoping to take piano lessons again, and I would like to find a dance teacher/mentor, but haven't yet found one in the area. I try to practice on my own, but it's harder without the motivation and critique of a teacher. I'm not planning to direct any musicals in the spring - just a dance recital in May - so I hope to find some teachers then, if God wills.

I'm also enjoying the benefits of home life, cooking nourishing and delicious meals, cleaning, sewing some, relaxing with family, inviting and preparing for company, and late-night sinks of warm, soapy water.

These past few months have gone by so quickly, but the days have been full and rewarding. No, things aren't perfect, but there is such peace in knowing this is where I'm supposed to be, at least for now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Symphony by Chris Taylor

Symphony
by Chris Taylor

I'm in the mood for a breakdown
A slowing down of all the things on my mind
That keep on trying to figure out how to pin You down

In desperate need of a shakedown
A blowing down of all the ways that I try
To talk You into a corner until You look like me

But when I finally see what You see
There's a symphony
I hear a symphony

Words cannot define
What it means to be
In Your symphony
In Your symphony

A long awaited let down
A burning through that's calling me back to You
With a beautiful melody of all You love

It's welling deep inside of me
It's springing out, the song that I'm meant to sing
So teach me the harmony to all You love

Hearts in unison
I'm drawn into Your love
Hearts in unison
I understand Your love

Saturday, November 07, 2009

True Refinement



"True refinement is not mere outward polish. It goes deeper and penetrates to the very foundation of character. It is purity, gentleness, and grace in the heart, which, like the perfume of flowers, breathes out and bathes all the life in sweetness... that which really refines is purity of mind and heart."
- From Homemaking by J.R. Miller

My continual prayer is that I will be refined day-by-day by my heavenly Father, that He will shape and build my character from the inside out.

I am far from perfect and stumble far more often than I'd like, but I am ever so grateful for the grace of our God. Only in Him can we have purity, gentleness, and grace in the heart. His work brings about true refinement!

Monday, November 02, 2009

October 2009 Reading List

Anna's Books
Completed this month:
  • Fourth Dawn by Bodie and Brock Thoene - As I worked on the script for “Beyond Bethlehem,” I wanted to read some other fiction written on the subject, to get some ideas. This book in the excellent series, The A.D. Chronicles goes into the story of Mary and Joseph before they marry. It is well written, well researched, and very insightful as it looks at the events in the way they could have happened. Your heart will connect to the characters as you realize how much they were probably facing at that time in history.
  • Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens - After slogging through Great Expectations at 14, I wasn’t too keen on Dickens. Too wordy and hard to follow, I determined. However, with many people enjoying his books, I decided to give it another shot. Little Dorrit was a good read, and I enjoyed the sweet story of devotion. Amy is easy to love and empathize with, and she is surrounded by a plethora of interesting characters. A bit too many interesting characters, if you ask me. The book, at 850 pages of small print, took a while to read (over a month!), and it was confusing at times, when it kept switching back and forth between characters such as the Meagles and the Merdles. While I’m not running out to pick up my next Dickens book yet, this book has shown me that Dickens’ writing, while not my favorite, can be an enjoyable read… once in a while.
  • Drama Ministry by Steve Pederson - If you’re involved at all with drama/theatre in a Christian setting, this is a book you’ll want to read! It goes over the power of drama, why we should use it, the good and bad ways it’s used in the church, and why we should strive for excellence through it. It also goes through the practical aspects of assembling a team, training actors, making the team last, and being effective. It has fun exercise ideas and practical and applicable things to put into practice. It is more geared towards those doing short sketches and dramas, not full-length productions, as I do. However, I’ve definitely gotten good ideas! And, in the future, I would be interested in being a part of a drama team, if God so leads. Even if you’re not currently a part of drama, but would be interested, this book would give you things to think about. There are a few things I don’t necessarily agree with (such as how much touching males/females should do when it’s “just acting”), so use discernment. Overall, however, I highly recommend this book for the dramatically-minded!
  • Fifth Seal by Bodie and Brock Thoene - The fifth book of The A.D. Chronicles brings the story of Joseph and Mary to life. As newlyweds, the pregnancy and difficulties they have to face are brought to life in a way that will make you think. The story also follows the lives of shepherds and their wives in Bethlehem, and culminates with the birth of Jesus, bringing the two stories together. The way they covered the birth in itself made you think. You also get snippets of the story of the wise men. Throughout the book, prophecy and the study of stars and Hebrew words is woven in ways that make it intriguing! I highly recommend this historical fiction. No, it probably didn’t happen exactly as they write, but it will cause you to think about the story in a new way and dig deeper into the Scripture yourself. They definitely stay true to the details in the Bible while tastefully making the characters relatable.
  • Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy - This was my 3rd time reading this book, and I was just as inspired and challenged to seek God deeper and live a life of radical, set-apartness for Him. With challenging questions and plenty of encouragement to live a life for God no matter what, this book will help shape your life for the better. Leslie wrote the book kind of in response to the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldgredge, with the focus more on Christ than on yourself in discovering true femininity.
  • A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter - This sweet story and great classic was hard to put down! You will be delighted and drawn in by the story of Elnora as she perseveres through hardship to discover her dreams. The Christian perspective of the novel is refreshing while not being preachy, and the themes of hard-work and caring for others above yourself are touching. You’ll also discover a new appreciation for the way God made moths, believe it or not! =) A highly recommended read.
  • Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe - You will be amazed as you learn about the complexity of a single cell is this “biochemical challenge to evolution.” This book raises question after question about evolution as it looks at life, showing that even the smallest cell would have been impossible to “just happen” to evolve. The book is well-written, and the analogies help you follow the complexities, although some of the technical descriptions were a little hard to understand. While making the case for Intelligent Design, the book doesn’t attribute the work to God, necessarily. While it would have been nice if it had pointed people to the Creator, it does raise needed questions to cause people to think. It definitely left me with a great awe of the way God made life even on the minuscule level!
Currently reading:
  • The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History by A. Kenneth Curtis, J. Stephen Lang, & Randy Peterson
  • Music At Your Fingertips by Ruth Slenczynska
  • Restoring the Dance by Ann Stevenson
  • 100 Lessons in Classical Ballet by Vera S. Kostrovitskaya
  • Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology by Karen Clippinger
  • A Dance with Deception by Charles Colson
  • The Making of a Leader by Frank Damazio
  • The Family Meal Table and Hospitality by Nancy Campbell
  • My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chamber
  • For the Love of God Volume 1: A daily companion for discovering the riches of God's Word by D.A. Carson
Miriam's Books

Completed this month:
  • Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake - This was a sweet and slightly suspenseful book. It was enjoyable to spend some free time reading it and laughing at the "heroine's" sense of humor and awkwardness. Letter Perfect is great if you need to just curl up and spend some laughing.
Currently reading:

Besides my schoolwork, I'm not really reading anything at the moment.

Have you read any of these books? What are you currently reading?