Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snugglers (Physical Touch/ Mohterhood and the 5 love languages)

Sometimes, when my kids haven’t had enough physical affection, they literally hang on my ankles about it.


Let me state the obvious: kids need snuggles. And yet, it can be more complicated than that. Babies must be held, of course, and yet even among babies you can observe different responses to different forms of touch. One child likes to be swaddled, another panics. One likes rocking, another wants to bounce or stroll. Some do not like to be snuggled at all- unless they’re sick- then they must be on mom’s lap at all times. Figuring out these things-- this is decoding your child’s love language! See, you are already doing it!

Yet, as they grow older, needs change, and preferences change. One of my children refuses physical affection in public, and I respect that, when I remember! I accidentally kissed him on the cheek at a basketball game and I will forever treasure his sweet but embarrassed response! I apologized, and I have learned to treasure the affection he gives in the privacy of our home all that much more.


My baby boys, when they turned into preschoolers, still want to be touched, but they do not want calm touches! Poking, tickling, chasing, tripping, zerbiting, punching- each one of these things can communicate love! My preschool boys taught me this lesson: some young children seem to have a daily need for wrestling. Seriously- if you have one of these children, put “wrestle time” on your personal list of daily jobs. (See also “ 13 great reasons to tackle your child,” http://www.weakandloved.com/2012/01/13-great-reasons-to-tackle-your-child.html )

One of the best things about the littlest children - they will tell you exactly what they like and don’t like. The snugglers in my family tend to be very direct about their needs: “It’s my turn to sit on your lap!” “Mommy, give me a piggy kiss!” “Can you scratch my back? No, with your claws, like this.” “Mommy, will you pet my head while you read me a story?”
How refreshing it is- this direct, uncomplicated asking for affection. It is as if they are telling me, “Mommy, I need a bit of love now, and you can give it to me like this.”

Do you have snuggles?
Kids need snuggles.
And mommas always love to give them, right?
Well, no.
And for these kids. And with them.
God, love us, fill us, assure us, hold us, comfort us.
How comfortable do you feel with this language?
What do you do if you need more snuggles in your life?



In fact, some probably can't stand it, and they carry this as a guilty secret.
As for me, I am entirely unpredictable in my snuggle tolerance. Some days I have a welcoming lap and I truly adore their little kisses. Other days… can I say this out loud? Their kisses make me want to gag.

(One of my snugglers often surprise-kisses me while I am in the act of chewing my dinner. Imagine that- then add a running nose on top of it. Gag!)

As for me, I like the snuggles unless I am trying to get something done. Since I am highly task-oriented, that's pretty much always. I often fall into what I call “productive touching,” simply tying shoes, putting on coats, ripping brushes through hair, all to get out the door as quickly as possible. The kids who receive love physically can't stand this. They wrestle, and tease, and fight, and I become more and more exasperated because none of those things help us getstuffdoneandgetinthecaralready!

Advice for the task-oriented mom like me: I'm not going to tell you to set aside the tasks. We all know they have to get done. But you can add “love pat” to your list of things to do. It is amazing what a little shoulder squeeze or head pet can communicate to those with hearts to hear.

Sometimes I have to be forced to “hear” this type of affection! When I'm flying around the kitchen, stirring this, washing that, organizing all the whatnots to get things ready for dinner, and my husband stops me in my tracks for a long kiss...he knows it has to be a really long kiss if he's going to avoid a scolding. It has to be long enough for me to mentally work through “Ugh, can't he see I'm busy!” to “Oh come on, he's just trying to be nice,” to “Wait, was I cooking dinner?”



When I think of physical affection in this family, there are two things I want to teach my children:
1. Physical affection is a good thing
Physical affection is healthy and appreciated, and I try to give it often, even if I don't “feel like it.” For the snuggler, physical affection means reassurance, and gives them a feeling of being safe, warm, seen, and fully loved.
2. It is ok to set boundaries on affection, and we must respect other's boundaries.
Early and often we tell our children this. You never have to kiss someone. It is always OK to say no. We need to respect each other's “no.” (Even if the baby is so cute you can't stand it, he wants a break from your constant kissing!) We are all different in this area, and that's OK!
I can still remember the awkwardness of my poor husband when he realized that he’d been welcomed into a family of huggers- my family. His family hugs at funerals. Mine hug at the superbowl, and on Sundays, and every morning and night, and around the campfire. It took some time for him to get used to this!

And sometimes, even mommy needs to say no. Sometimes she runs out of snuggles, and she needs a nap or a trip to church or a few moments quiet or a date with daddy. Her snuggle tank will be restocked eventually.

Snuggle handicaps
Some of us have snuggle handicaps for various reasons. Personal preference, abuse, depression; all of these things can make this language difficult for some.

When depression attacks me, this language seems to be the first to go. I find myself wishing I had quills like a porcupine. I cringe when they touch me. They sense it and they feel unsettled. Feeling unsettled makes them want to cling to me. Clinging makes my skin crawl. Everything escalates until a final explosion of JUST BACK OFF and tears and hiding. (read more http://www.weakandloved.com/p/depression.html)

When I feel like I have none to give, I literally pray for more snuggles.
God help us love each other better.

Just like we will never feed a child enough in one meal to last him a lifetime, we will never fill their love tanks enough either. And we will feel overwhelmed with the constant need, and discouraged as we realize we simple do not have enough to give.

And this, friends, is as it should be.

Because if we think we are the MegaWalMart for all of our children's needs for their whole lives long, why would we point them anywhere else? It is when we discover and rediscover our lack that we remember: it is God Himself who must truly fill them.

And so we return to Him, for more snuggles, more languages, more love to give. We come to Him for ourselves, and for our children. We come to him with open hands to receive, and He is our prodigal Father, generous beyond measure, and eager to give.


May God's love fill us through Christ, that the love we speak- in whatever language- may by the power of the Holy Spirit point back to Him, the fountain and source of all goodness. Amen.

How does your child respond to physical affection?
What's your favorite way to receive physical affection?

If physical affection is not natural to you but you sense your child needs it, I encourage you to make a list of physical expressions of love and try one out every day- remember it’s not just hugs and kisses! It includes wrestling, book reading, piggyback rides, high fives, tummy pokes, nose pinches, teasing, wrapping them in a soft blanket, and so on. 

What would you add to my list?



Visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ for a quiz, resources, and book information.

The Five Love Languages books, in their many forms, are also available on Amazon.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Motherhood and the 5 love languages

I am a mother of six, and I love each of my children very much.

I can prove it to you, too. I got up early for them this morning- very early. I used to be a night person, you know, in that other life. But this morning I was up before the birds. They woke to breakfast on the table. I wiped noses and bottoms, cleaned up spilled milk, cereal, and more milk. I remembered that one’s allergy medicine, and I found the other one’s missing shoe. I sat through another episode of Sheriff Callie’s Wild West. I started a load of laundry, answered a million questions from squeaky little voices, let the littlest one “help” me feed the dog, and made sure they were all wearing pants when we left the house.

I love my children. Are you convinced?
Perhaps you are convinced. But let’s ask another question, a more important one:
Are they convinced?
Do my children know that I love them?
Do yours?

Perhaps your morning was much like mine.  I am certain you could list a hundred little pieces of evidence that show you love your children. But mothers, hear this from my heart: it is possible to love our babies dearly, to serve them all day every day, and to not effectively communicate that love to their little hearts.

How can this be possible?
It is possible if we are not speaking the same language.

In the book The Five Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell argue that love is our most basic need, and that we all carry around “love tanks,” so to speak. To be healthy and whole, we need our tanks filled: we need to be loved, and we need to KNOW we are loved.
Simple enough, perhaps. But here’s the challenge. Just as we each have different personalities, we also, the authors argue, give and receive love in different ways: we speak different love languages.
Imagine your child toddling around, carrying a huge question: Am I loved? Am I lovable? And especially in these early years, you, mom, are giving the loudest answer to this question.

(Now that's some serious pressure.)

There is an enormous difference in the way a life is experienced with a full or empty tank. Imagine an empty love tank like an empty stomach. When we are hungry, incredibly hungry, we can think of nothing else but satisfying that hunger. We won’t be learning, playing, socializing, not with our full attention. No, an empty stomach screams for attention; just like an empty love tank. Though they cannot articulate the problem, they are worried, insecure, sometimes frantically asking the question: Am I loved?

On the other hand, living with a full love tank is an enormous blessing for a child. When your child knows he is loved, he feels secure, confident: more likely to take the risk of learning something new, making a friend, exploring, discovering. He is satisfied- in body and heart- and so is able to grow and bloom.

So, how do we fill these love tanks? According to the authors, there are five overarching categories, and I plan to write about each one.

But first, a few preliminaries.
1. People generally have 1-2 primary love languages, though most people appreciate expressions of love in all five.
2. It’s nearly impossible to identify a child’s primary love language before age five.
3. Every child needs expressions in all five languages.
4. Knowing yourself is essential! Some of these languages will feel natural to you, and some, utterly foreign. Learn the difference so you know where you need to grow!

The five love languages are as follows:
Physical Touch
Words of Affirmation
Quality Time
Gifts
Acts of Service

Imagine the busy-morning scene above. Now, imagine it through the eyes of a child whose primary love language is physical touch. And imagine his mama (me) most often uses touch only as a means to “get stuff done.” As in, “here, put this on.” “Give me your foot so I can tie your shoe.” “Stop it, I don’t want to wrestle right now! And “Don’t try to kiss me while I’m eating, ugh! Just eat your food!”  All the acts of service in the world would go unnoticed by the child who aches for snuggles.

On the one hand, I am who I am, and I love like I love. And yet, perhaps I could communicate better. Perhaps, in my vocation, I am called to love uncomfortably sometimes, love in a way that feels unnatural.  It is painful to notice those blind spots, and I seem to notice a new one each time I read this book! But it is a growing pain, a pain that shows me my need to stretch and what to pray for.
And friends, God does help with these things when we ask.

During this blog series, I intend to write on each of the love languages primarily from a mother's perspective, though I might address marriage and friendship situations as well.  I hope this series will be challenging and encourage to all of us as we seek to better love those around us with the help of God.

Father, 
As we love the little ones you have placed in our lives, help us to communicate that love loudly and often, in ways they can understand. When the weight of this calling weights on us heavily, and we feel the inadequacy of our own love, fill us up with that which only You can give. Use our imperfect love to fill our children, and most importantly, point them always to You. 
In Jesus' name, Amen.


Do you already know which of the above is your primary love language?
Which area is your weakest?
How does an empty tank distract you?
How does it feel to have a full tank?

Share your thoughts with me below! I’d love to hear from you!

Be multi-lingual! Stretch and grow in the love languages, for the sake of those you love!

------------
Visit http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ for a quiz, resources, and book information.
The Five Love Languages books, in their many forms, are also available on Amazon.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Harry Potter Party - simple ideas!



Happy.
Tired, but happy.

This is how I'm feeling after my daughter's 12th birthday party- Harry Potter theme.  I've never been inclined to do a "pinterest" type themed party for any of my children, but this year, I was inspired. We've been reading together, which led to watching the movies, which led to browsing pinterest, which led to ... the rest of it.  I do not consider myself crafty, and I spent next to nothing on it, but I think it turned out pretty awesome!

I thought it might be fun to show you what I did.  (Check out this board for more inspiration!)

First, hot glue is my new best friend! It lets you just glue stuff to stuff, just like that! Wow!

Like... green fluff on baby heads, to make baby mandrake cupcakes!

(The green stuff is cheap garland I had in my Christmas box, and I found the babies at Hobby Lobby for $2.)



Packaged cake mix.
Ground Oreos sprinkled on canned frosting.

A box, a Sharpie, and more hot glue:


Brown paper and a sharpie,
books from Hogwarts!



Butterbeer!
There are recipies out there, but my princess doesn't like carbonated beverages.
Plus, we went sledding that afternoon.
We opted for hot cocoa, with butter, and whipped cream on top.
Chocolate butterbeer!

An old sheet, a sponge, and red acrylic paint, and a sharpie:
Platform 9 3/4!
(Note: my helpers and I watered the paint down too much we we went along- it is hard to be consistent! It does look better with some texture though!)


Each child brought a book to exchange-
we did this by drawing names out of our "Goblet of Fire!"


(Someone else made this awesome candle for us for Christmas. It has an LED candle inside. I added the names, cardstock, with the edges burned for effect. The boys thought this was SO COOL.)

Next,
Washable red paint on the mirror.
(I looked for bright red lipstick first... whaddya know- I have NONE in this house!)


(Note Moaning Myrtle on the mirror- she spent some time on the toilet lid too!)

Cake:
The Monster Book of Monsters!


And finally, the candles.


The Internet told me to use TP rolls, but they didn't fit my LED candles.  Instead, I rolled up cardstock (1/4page) around the candle and hot glued them in tubes. 
Then, thread, and masking tape for the ceiling.

Let me just say, I know they are off balance. And I am pretty sure this is driving my husband nuts. 
He will probably refuse to eat in this room until the candles are removed or straigtened.
But that's part of the fun, for me :)

I am just not that kind of person who is detail-oriented enough to make 20 floating candles balance perfectly. My fingers are a little sore from the glue burns, and there were cobwebs of clear glue all over the dining room, and one may have gotten briefly glued to a chair, but all is well now.
This room looked awesome with real lit candles.

Also, I printed out some of our favorite quotes and put them all over the living room!


Here's a quick walk-through so you can see it all put together!

video



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Beautiful are the hands

“From dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

He says this to each man, woman, and child in the congregation.
I bring him my children. Our children. He says it again.

“From dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

Does it prick his heart at all as he says these things to our baby?
Does any part of him object, rebel, when it looks on the dark mark on his own son or daughter?

My heart rebels, argues. Why death?
But I already know why, and the hard truth of it squeezes my heart.

How many of these, on whom he places ashes, will he bury?
How many will hear these words again at a graveside? How soon?
Our time is short.

The hand that holds mine as husband now touches my forehead as pastor. I receive what I’d rather ignore, and from such a hand.

Is there a part of him that trembles at the thought of my body’s death, even as I do at his?
Or has the faithful confidence of office soaked through his vestments and saturated his inner man?

Bodies file forward, receiving outwardly this mark of mortality. It fits, a little, with the aching joints, the graying hair, the weariness. It does not seem to fit on the children, and yet I remember. Tiny limbs can turn to dust, too.

I remember our hospital-fresh babies, resting in their father's gentle hands.
I see tiny limbs in pastor’s hands, 
dressed in white for Baptism. 
I see pastor’s hands touching the soft foreheads, 
saying with the authority of God Himself:


“ Receive the sign of the holy cross † 
on your forehead and † your heart 
to mark you as one redeemed 
by Christ the crucified”

I marvel at his steady hands, delivering Law and Gospel to weak-kneed saints.

His words, his hands tell us again that we are needy, crumbling.
His words, his hands make the sign of the cross in blessing, passing on solid peace to needy souls.

His hands.  His words, passing on His Words.

Reminding dust that-- in Jesus-- dust lives.


originally posted 4/12

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ha! Ha! (Book review)

Ha! Ha! Among the TrumpetsHa! Ha! Among the Trumpets by Martin H. Franzmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has earned a home among my bedside pile of favorite books of all time.

It will be one I take down often to revisit the powerful, meaty, sasisfying Biblical theology within. I feel like I have found a new best friend!


Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets
(Martin H. Franzmann, author of Thy Strong Word)

The trumpet of God has sounded--one long, sonorous arabesque of sound which broke upon the midnight air when the angels brought good tidings of great joy to shepherds, and all the hosts of heaven made melody when the glory of the Lord shone round about them, a trumpet call that rose with a swell and a surge as of the sound of many waters to rend the veil of the temple and to shake the earth to open all men’s graces, when our Lord was crucified and rose again. And that trumpet call is for us: “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This trumpet call bids you snuff that Easter air, that air from which our Lord, upon the cross, as swept away all the dank and poisonous vapors of sin, all the miasma of mortality; it beds you scent that eternal air, and stamp that Easter-cloven ground, and to stand in triumph on your graves, and to cry Ha! Ha! (5)

“There is no instant victory here. nothing quick and nothing easy; we cannot just add water and serve. This is blood and sweat and tears. And it goes on as long as this world stands. but we shall learn who our enemy is, and that one will word can stop him. We shall learn who our Lord is, we all learn what our armor is. Our “Get thee gone, Satan!” may be weak and squeaky at first, but we shall learn to speak it with increasing strength. We speak it and ---strange!---in the midst of tumult and shouting and conflict the peace of God which passeth all understanding is ours even there, just there. Amen. (19)

How much need does God have for roundness? Perhaps He can use a few monomaniacs, with jagged edges. how much time is there, let us ask ourselves, for gewgaws, for gimcracks, for all manner of tiddlywinks? We are in God’s last chapter. We are walking between contracting walls of time, and anybody who bears a pack of peripheries is walking down that corridor at his peril We are in God’s last chapter, and nobody knows how close the last sentence (and a sentence it will be) of that chapter is. how much room is there on that page for irrelevant footnotes? (28)

So we are funny-looking figures too, who who inherit John the Baptist's mouth, finger, and voice, as Luther put it. We are odd, misplaced-looking fellows, a curious sort of gentry, as we catch sight of our reflection in the shop windows of the world. Well, who cares? Who cares? So nobody who is anybody thinks we are somebody. Who cares? --- There was somebody who cared, and somebody who cares, if we will enter upon the heritage of John the Baptist, if we will take up John’s finger, John’s mouth, and John’s voice and cry, “Repent!” and point to Christ and call him Lord. (29)

“The cross marks the spot where the disciples failed, and it marks the spot where we all, we theologians, too, must fail. The cross marks the spot where the exegete ceases to be proud of his exegetical niceties, is shaken out of his scholarly serenity, and cries out for his life in terms of the first Beatitude. The cross marks the spot where the systematician sees his system as the instrument which focuses his failure; where the practical theologian realizes that there is only one practical thing to do, and that is to repent and abhor himself in dust and ashes; where the historian leaves his long and sanely balanced view of things and goes desperately mad. The cross marks the spot where we all become beggars--and God becomes King. Amen. (45)


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Monday, February 9, 2015

Resource for the Martha-Mary

Chad Bird is podcasting!
Listen now to Christ Hold Fast!
information
podcast on Itunes

How good is this podcast?
Let's just say I wasn't sure I was even going to finish folding the laundry, but what I listened to was so captivating, so encouraging, not only did I fold all six loads, but I even matched about 30 pairs of socks, just so I could keep listening!

God gives. We receive.
Praise be to God.

Listen and feast, even if you are matching socks.


40 Minutes In The Old Testament

Christ Hold Fast
information
podcast on Itunes

Friday, February 6, 2015

One Way Love: Book, recommended

One Way Love:  Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted WorldOne Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World by Tullian Tchividjian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
A celebration of God's one-way love, of Jesus' death for sinners, of the good news of the gospel for all. This author understands Law and Gospel and writes to share his joy in the solid assurance we have as Christians in God's unconditional love.

Great read!

“Jesus came to release us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. Because Jesus came to set the captives free, life does not have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, and validate ourselves.” (36)

“If you want to make people mad, preach law. If you want to make them really, really mad, preach grace.” I didn’t know what he meant then, but I do now. The law offends us because it tells us what to do--and most of the time, we hate anyone telling us what to do. But ironically, grace offends us even more, because it tells us that there is nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there is something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything--that we are helpless, weak, and needy.” (72)

“Grace generates panic, because it wrestles both control and glory out of our hands. This means that the part of you that gets angry and upset and mean and defensive and slanderous and critical and skeptical and feisty when you hear about God’s one-way love is the very part of you that is still enslaved.” (73)

“I wish I could say I do everything for God’s glory. I can’t. Neither can you. What I can say is Jesus’ blood covers all my efforts to glorify myself. I wish I could say Jesus fully satisfies me. I can’t. Neither can you. What I can say is Jesus fully satisfied God for me.” (94)

“The refrain repeated through this books is that everything we need, we already possess in Christ. This means that the what-if has been taken out of the equation. We can take absurd risks, push harder, go further, and leave it all on the field without fear--and have fun doing so. We can give with reckless abandon, because we no longer need to ensure a return of success, love, meaning, validation, and approval. We can invest freely and forcefully, because we've been freely and forcefully invested in." (188)

“The gospel is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity… it is the pool that we swim in each and every day.” (JD Greear, quoted on 213)

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” Bennan Manning, (226).

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

offended, weak, loved.


"The law offends us because it tells us what to do--and most of the time, we hate anyone telling us what to do. But ironically, grace offends us even more, because it tells us that there is nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there is something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything--that we are helpless, weak, and needy.” 

One Way love, Tullian Tchividjian, p.72

Friday, January 30, 2015

almost, not really, but who cares?

Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting all things in every direction. And when it feels overwhelming, I ramp up my effort, but I just end up feeling more frazzled.

The truth is, I'd really just like it all done now.
All of it.
I'd like everything decluttered, toned, researched, written, mailed, organized, and ironed, right now, for good.
I'd like everything solved, healed, restored, and sanctified, too.

And yet here is another day, with loose ends everywhere, and I am in the middle of it.
I am restless in this place. Not in control. Uncomfortable. Unsettled.

And perhaps, that is as it should be.

Perhaps my never-ending list has been given me on purpose, so that I give up trying to check-mark my way into security in my own skin.

Perhaps the weight of sin and clutter and life all press down so that I will look up to Christ for help.

I am still here in this place where growth is slow and my house is a mess even though I worked on it for hours today. Here, in a body, I am not all-powerful nor constantly productive. 

I am bound by time and weakness, and I am right to feel that the battle I am fighting cannot be won by me in my little human frame.

a chicken, almost.
True, all true, but how much does it matter, really?
Set down the list, and step back for a moment.
For those of us who are in Christ,
beloved, 
who have been swept up into the loving arms of God,
and who are even now held tight in the Church and the Word,
do we need to worry and plan and fear?

For us, richly blessed,
inheritors of all things in Christ,
does what we lack for a moment really matter?

For the bride of Christ,
destined to be made whole and beautiful for eternity,
do those few remaining spots need to ruin our day?

For the righteous,
given perfection in Jesus (not doomed to constantly seek it!),
Does it really matter than we haven't yet conquered meal planning?
Or that your chicken-egg looks nothing like the one on Pinterest?



You don't always have to run on the hamster wheel.


Take a break. Read a book.
Breathe in His Word.
Know Him better.
Set the list down, and accept your rest, given as a gift just like the air you breathe.

This is the work of God: that we would believe on the one whom He has sent.

This work He assigns, it is work. It is hard to set down the list of temporal to-dos.
But it is a blessed work, a work that is also rest, soul-rest, healing, and health.

Those things that truly matter? 
God himself tends to them even now.

Lord Jesus, 
Here in the unsettled meantime, in the mess and weakness and sin, even now, tend to me. In your mercy, tend to me. In your compassionate forgiveness, tend to me. In loving discipline, tend to me. In your promises, fill me with hope, and tend to me forevermore. Amen.





Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: Surprised by Oxford

Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber
Surprised by OxfordMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though truth and falsehood be
Near twins, yet truth a little elder is;
Be busy to seek her; believe me this,
He's not of none, nor worst, that seeks the best.
To adore, or scorn an image, or protest,
May all be bad; doubt wisely; in strange way
To stand inquiring right, is not to stray;
To sleep, or run wrong, is.
(John Donne)

This book was, for me, a return trip to England, and to my own college life, to those times when I studied literature and theology and poetry, when I learned to love and be loved by God. Through her words, I revisited the Bodleian library, the words of the great writers, and the pubs. With the author, I doubted afresh, and learned to love anew.

This book has been a wonderful glimpse into the mind and life of another child of God. The precious glimpses of His work in her and his beauty in the world will stick with me for years to come.

Though this book is over 400 pages long, it was with great sadness that I closed the last page. I console myself with the following thoughts:
- England still exists and perhaps my path will lead back there someday
- Her God is my God, and truth is true even when this book closes. We go forth in joy!

A quick sampling of my favorite quotes:

“Dr. Deveaux stopped and looked at me hard. He leaned in and whispered, 'The rest is all bullshit, Miss Drake. It's as simple as that. Your purpose here in life is to discern the real thing from the bullshit, and then to choose the non-bullshit. Think of the opportunity that God has given you to study as the means by which to attain your own personal bullshit detector. Sometimes that will be particularly difficult, because those who proclaim to know the truth, well intentioned or not, are spewing the most bullshit. But you will know when you have been properly ravished. And then you'll see, how the entire world is eyeball deep in it and that we choose it, and that we choose it every day. But the good news is that, although we struggle with it, there is a way out. Yes, there is a very worthy antidote and option to all the bullshit."

“Pray for her? Doesn’t that sound condescending?” I cringed.
“Condescension is your genre,” Sylvia replied as she passed the snack plate. “Incarnation is His.” (204)

Grace means you get to light your candle on the top rung. So that is what I did for the first time ever, that night. And that is where I have lit it ever since, even when I am tempted not to. (374)

Pride is faith in the idea that God has when he made us. A proud man is conscious of the idea, and aspires to realize it. He does not strive towards a happiness, or comfort which may be irrelevant to God’s idea of him. his success is the idea of God, successfully carried through, and he is in love with his destiny. (Dinesen, as quoted onp. 417)

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I can't help but share two of my favorite pictures from our 2001 trip to Oxford! We shared one month of romance and (theological) wrestling here: it was a little piece of heaven!



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