A Life of Lovely – Book Review

A Life of Lovely

 

It is hard for anyone to find the lovely in the ugliness that can sometimes surround us.  The author, Annie Downs, does a wonderful job of helping young, and older, women navigate the sometimes disappointing journey of life with humor and perseverance.

 

The author takes the reader through all aspects of modern life using humor and scripture to help ease the reader into finding the “lovely” where it does not appear to exist.

 

I like the upbeat style and humor that makes the book an enjoyable read; I give it 4 out of 5 stars and found her words a fun way to look forward to finding my “lovely.”

 

 

Purchase this book at this link: https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/a-life-of-lovely-P005802325

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Martin Luther on Faith #2

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My Faith Looks Up to Thee

This well-known hymn was written by Ray Palmer, a young man who was preparing for the ministry.  It was his personal prayer for renewed courage and energy at a time when he was feeling exhausted and lonely.  He wrote the poem for himself with no plan to ever show it to another person.  Two years later (1832) he ran into his friend, Lowell Mason who asked him to compose some hymns for an upcoming hymnal.  Palmer was still too overwhelmed with the responsibilities of his life to feel up to writing something new, so he opened his journal and offered Mason this poem.  Mason promptly set it to music and told his friend,

“Mr. Palmer, you may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of ‘My Faith Looks up to Thee.'”

When your faith is flagging, and you are afraid you can’t keep going, remember this hymn.  Ray Palmer did become a pastor, and wrote other hymns, but this is the most famous.  You can have faith that God uses us even in our weakest moments.

Who’s Got Your Back?

Robin“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

I’ve worked at some places that had “Team Building” exercises.  I hated one that came out (and I don’t know if they still do this), but you had to stand with your back to two or four people and just fall backwards and trust that they would catch you.  I never trusted the people behind me to catch me.  I couldn’t do this exercise.

But in my life I’ve learned to trust the Lord.  Now I figure trusting is just about the same as having faith.  They go hand in hand.  I looked up the differences between trust and faith, and there are differences.  According to http://www.differencebetween.com (yes, that’s a real website!) faith is used in the sense of ‘belief’ or ‘devotion’ and the word trust is used in the sense of ‘confidence’ and ‘reliance’.  Hummm, do you trust in your faith?  Or put another way, do you have confidence in your faith that the Lord will take care of you?

While I was the caregiver for my husband I found that I didn’t have confidence in my faith.  Why did my husband get sick?  Why did this happen?  I was terrified of being a single mom of two teen-aged sons without out a penny to put towards a funeral for my husband if he died.  Life just wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  But it did.

I read Matthew 6:25-27 and this verse held a whole new meaning for me.  I had faith in the Lord, but did I have the confidence that He would take care of my life?  At that time, the answer was no.  So I started to try to build my confidence in my faith.  The Lord helped by opening up my eyes and showing me all the little things in my life that He was taking care of.  As  my husband got worse, He brought people into our lives to show us that help was out there and they pointed me in the right direction.  We had in home aides so I could work and a chair lift so my husband could go up and down the steps.  These helps didn’t cost us a penny, but they were priceless.  As a result, my confidence got stronger.  Today, I know the Lord is looking out for me and has a plan.  I just have to listen to Him.

So, if you feel your confidence flagging, remember, God’s got this!!  He has your back.

Family Faith, Part 2

This continues my post from yesterday about passing on the faith.

I also noticed how children pick up on the special sacredness of the sacraments.. My girls would crane their necks and smile when a baby was baptized.  Then they might ask about their own baptism; one little boy at our current church, stands up straight and tall, like a little soldier, as the Pastor blesses him during the Lord’s Supper.  He’s proud to be one of Gods’ people.

Do you think children aren’t paying attention during the service?  They are.  Here are just a few of the questions my daughters and granddaughter asked me over the years:

Why is one of the advent candles pink?

What is a diadem?

What is that big candle (the Christ candle) and why don’t we light it all the time?

Why does the Pastor turn his back on the congregation while we pray?

And finally (hilariously) ….Why does granddaddy, (the Pastor), need all that money?

These are important, teachable moments, which I cherished and used to initiate discussions about what we believe and why we do the things we do.

Of course, there are many traditions that take place outside of the sanctuary.  Through these my children learned that the household of God is just like any other family. They got together to have fun and learn (Vacation Bible School), eat (Lenten soup dinners), make some money  (annual yard sale), decorate (especially the big Christmas tree!), play games (New Year’s Eve party), take a turn at cleaning the church (not a big favorite) and help others (like the Group Home residents who were members of our congregation).  Memories like these reinforce Christian values.  Little by little they shape our identity.  They influence how we think, what we value and what we do.  Together the separate pieces of congregational life create a beautiful mosaic that depicts the life of Christ in his body, the Church.

So, what can I say? Make the traditions of the church your family traditions.  The foundation you build will last through eternity.

 

Family Faith

I wrote this article for our denomination’s publication, The Lutheran Ambassador.  It appeared in this month’s issue (February 2019) and I thought I would also share it here.  It deals with passing the faith on to our children.

People need structure.  It gives a sense of security and a framework on which to build and base daily life.  God knew this, and so from the very beginning, He  blessed humankind with a rhythm of life that would shape our relationship with Him.

“… God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.”  Genesis 2:3

A little later, this becomes one of the Ten Commandments:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.” Exodus 20:8-10a

When our children were young, Sunday Services were simply a fixture of life.  Sometimes we didn’t feel like getting up; sometimes our daughters were cranky, or somebody didn’t feel so well; sometimes the weather was nasty; still we went, week after week, year after year.  What did our children (and now our grandchild) gain from this dogged persistence? The world might say, not much…. a meaningless ritual!  I beg to disagree and here are a few of my observations.

First of all, they came to understand that God is important, and so is His body, the Church.  The things of faith are not kept in a separate compartment, to be brought out on holidays or special occasions.  They are part of the ebb and flow of daily life.

Through the weekly liturgy, our children internalized the basics of the Christian faith.  They memorized the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed, as well as many passages from the Scripture which we recited or sang every Sunday.  They learned that we need to confess, repent, pray and give thanks regularly.  They learned that our monetary offering gives back to God a small part of what He’s already given to us. I remember hearing our daughters and our nephew “play church” as they sang parts of the service together.

Sunday services also walked us together through the seasons of the church year and the life of Christ.  There were joyous times and sad times, times to reflect and times to anticipate.  Each season had its’ own particular music and rituals. Advent meant lighting the advent candles and singing “O Come, O Come, Emanuel”, Lent was the time when flowers on the altar disappeared and songs became somber (“Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”)  Easter brought lilies and “Christ the Lord Has Risen Today” along with flowering the cross (made from the church Christmas tree) which had stood, plain and empty in the sanctuary until Easter morning.

To be continued …..