Thursday, 21 October 2010

Finding Joy in the Simple Things

I'm finally back! I know my inconsistency must get irritating, but I've been thinking through possible posts and just wasn't satisfied with anything. So this one will be kind of random once again. My life has been nothing short of busy this past month, which can be difficult and stressful, but also something I'm learning to enjoy.

I've been reflecting on this year and have had a lot of things to think through. It has not been easy at all. At times I wondered if I could handle any more, but God sustained me through every step. Illness and death has touched the lives of people close to me and seeing their grief and pain is so hard. I've fought a lot of inner turmoil, questions, doubts and fears and my faith has been stretched.

Nevertheless, I've seen God do some incredible things and I'm seeing Him do incredible things as we speak. I have learned to hope and find joy and laughter in the small, simple things. The adorable facial expressions or witty remarks of a child. Mindlessly insulting myself and accidentally offending someone else. (That was a good one!) Laughing when things go badly, but still hilariously, wrong. Listening to a young person excitedly speak of the Lord's working in their life or tell me of all their dreams, hopes, plans, and desires. Sharing special moments with special friends. Feeling the sun on my face and the wind at my back. Seeing the leaves change gorgeous, warm colours. Knowing I made a customer at work happy. Savouring a meal or dessert, and if you know me, you know how much I love that. Being giddy with excitement for no explainable reason and hearing God laugh with me. Oh, if only we could have a greater spirit of gratitude and rejoice in the small, delightful pleasures God grants us each and every day!

Otherwise, I'm learning to enjoy this season of my life right now. Or trying to, at least. I only have it once, and its gifts can only be enjoyed while I have it. I must learn to trust in God's protection and plans for my life. They are amazing and I can experience all of the wonderful things He has for me if I only surrender to His will and control.

I've also been enjoying some more reading, which I try to keep balanced. I'm working my way through the Legends of the Guardian King books and have been enjoying a lot of the great spiritual substance along with the story of a man fighting for what is good and right, clinging to and surrendering to the Light in the most impossible circumstances. At the same time, I've read books on business ideas, singleness and I actually started reading a devotional that I surprisingly like. I have a bit of a wary opinion of many devotionals, but when I discovered One Year Devotions for People of Purpose by Charles Colson, I knew I would like it. Each day, I'm learning about a new person, book, cultural issue, historical event or ways to impact the world around me. Thus far, I have read about William Wilberforce, Dr. Ben Carson, homosexuality, marriage, Harry Potter and other things related to books, film, music and ideas. It's been great so far and definitely one I would recommend.

My encouragement to you today is to rejoice in the little things. Learn to love, laugh and find delight in the simple things God sends your way. Make the most of every situation. Stop stressing over the business of life and dive in and enjoy what you're doing. And then. . . .take time to curl up with blanket, book, coffee and something sweet! :)

Monday, 4 October 2010

So I Read a Guys Book

So I read a guys book last week. As in a book written for guys. *Gasp* I know it's shocking. Actually, I take great delight in shocking people. But that's not why I did it. You see, I've considered reading several different "guys books" before, but the problem was, well, they were for guys. Was it okay for a girl to read guys books? What would people say? Better not. Until a pastor recommended reading Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires by Fred and Jasen Stoeker. I felt that was a sufficient go-ahead.

I actually found justification for this the other day too, when I found a post on Fred Stoeker's blog, written by a girl who had read it, and said it was a good book for girls to read too. If you don't believe me, read the article for yourself. I was pretty excited when I read that.

Since I haven't said it yet, here goes. Hero is an awesome book that I would recommend all young people to read. It teaches men to be protectors of purity and leave every girl better off for having known her. It addresses the lies among guys today about dating, sex, and marriage. It encourages guys to stand up and be men! At the same time, I was reading Answering the Guy Questions by Leslie Ludy (also awesome by the way), so it was a nice balance.

Whereas in Every Young Man's Battle, readers can learn about co-author Fred Stoeker's story, Hero tells Jasen's story. Jasen is a man who's family tree was filled with sexual sin and Fred feared for his son. However, Jasen made the decision early on to honour God and live a life of purity. At the young age of eleven, he was first invited by some boys at school to view a pornographic magazine. And he walked away. Soon, he began asking teachers to be excused from PG13 rated movies to avoid seeing any sexual content they contained. He endured the mockery of his peers for years as he skipped out on dozens of movies and did what he knew was right. And all of these decisions he made on his own, without his father having anything to do with it. The book goes on to tell of his relationship with his wife, leadership he took in their relationship and how he strove to protect their purity above all. On their wedding day, when they shared their first kiss, the audience went absolutely crazy! It was incredible.

Hero exposes the amount of sexual sin and compromise present in the church today, and sadly, how widely accepted it has become. It tells about the problems of pornography and masturbation in today's Christian colleges. One of the saddest things about the book was when the facebook profiles of three pastoral students were examined. Things like God and following Jesus were stated among their interests, which appears to be in order for men pursuing a career in the ministry. What was disturbing were their lists of favourite movies, including many rated R for sexuality. The author went on to describe some of the sexual content in these movies, not because he wanted to, but because he felt it was necessary for readers to understand what they were dealing with. There were words in there I had never even heard of, and judging from some other details and words they were grouped with, I thought it best not even to look them up. The sin and depravity described was disgusting. And yet these were favourite movies of young men going into the ministry. This was their entertainment. Is that someone you would want pastoring your church? Not me, that's for sure!

One of the things I appreciated so much was how they emphasized guys being protectors of purity, leaving every girl better off for having known him. In our society, this is very rare to see. I've been blessed by the young men in our church, who look out for the girls all the time. I really appreciate it.

I'm sure there's more I wanted to say about this book, but it's slipping my mind right now. Since I have broken the ice once and for all, I'll probably end up reading a few of those other "guys books" I've often considered, such as:
God's Gift to Women by Eric Ludy (I found a review by a girl on this one too!)
Every Young Man's Battle by Fred Stoeker and Stephen Arterburn
For Young Men Only by Jeff Feldhahn and Eric Rice
The Mark of a Man by Elisabeth Elliot

But then again, I might not. But there are some suggestions for my male readers.

I'm not sure how much you all like reading my reviews and thoughts on other books. Maybe my posts are very unoriginal. But I'm trying to get something on here that's going to make a point and hopefully have an impact on somebody else's life. Thank you for your patience. God bless!