a beautiful day

>i woke up with pink slips on my mind (no surprise, it’s nearly march 1. within 15 days, i will get mine and no doubt, experience an awkward moment with my principal, poor guy…what a job to have to do!). we went to church and it was all about overcoming financial fears and trusting God to take care of our needs. what truth to hear this morning in the midst of fears!

i hate to be so scared of next year. part of me just longs so much to be carefree and to just let go of these fears. i want to, like eric, be able to just let go and trust god. it’s so hard for me. it’s beautiful to think back and remember all of the times he has been trustworthy and faithful. i remember cari, the youth pastor when i was in high school, would always take about god’s faithfulness. to me, it seemed so foreign because it seemed like he had always been there and wasn’t going to leave. i am envious of my younger self’s childlike faith and trust. i don’t know what changed…nothing specific that i remember, but now i understand, recognize, and revel in the beauty of god’s faithfulness.

anyway, eric had to help teach an emt class this afternoon. as soon as he walked out the door, i grabbed a book i have been re-reading (Fire by Night by Lynn Austin) and enjoyed it. as soon as i finished it, i felt like i needed some blonde brownies so i ate some and started dwelling on my impending pink slip and unemployment. ugh. BUT there is nothing a bath with a book cannot cure, so i grabbed a book and dove in. three books later, i am fully relaxed and at peace. it’s beautiful to be able to pause and slow down and just trust that God will take care of us. it’s so needed, especially this month.

the sun shone today and i watched the cherry blossoms fall softly to the ground right outside our house. god spoke to me through three different books that were written as allegories to express god’s love. (thanks, denise hunter.) truth revealed itself clearly, as it always does. a beautiful day.

“the list”

I’ve just gone through my bookshelves and compiled my “I’ve Read in 2010” list. I smiled as I wrote certain titles down, remembering their influence/impact on my thoughts. As sad as this is for an English teacher, I’m not much of a discriminating reader. I can edit and comment on students’ papers like it’s nobody’s business and I always find and fix typos in books, but once I get into a story, I am sucked into the world of the characters. It doesn’t really matter to me if it’s poorly written or not, I just love a good story. I see the value and the beauty in good literature, but for the most part, cheesy Christian fiction gets me every time.

I don’t watch TV. It’s partially because we don’t have cable, but I think it’s mostly because I find my relaxation in fiction. Don’t get me wrong, we love hulu and the one show we watch (Glee…April 13th can’t come soon enough), but while Eric enjoys watching movies, I enjoy sitting next to him on our comfy free craigslist couch and reading a book.
Teaching can be overwhelming. There are always stressors; it’s usually kids but often the politics and drama too. However, the last three weeks have been (and the next six months will be) really stressful at work. The last two years I’ve mostly let the budget crisis and pink slipping process roll off my back, but for some reason the last week all of the drama and fighting and stress really just got to me. I worried about whether or not I would have a job next year and I let my fears, worries, and doubts rule over me.
Because of this, I read ten books during the last week and a half. Most of them were enjoyed in the bathtub. Instead of numbing my mind with trash TV, I devoured fictional characters and their worries and fears. I guess it’s times like these when I think I’m brainless for reading cheesy Christian fiction, I realize one important truth. The cheesy Christian fiction is not just fluff, it is instrumental in my life and my faith journey.
I read this evening about Caroline Fletcher, a woman caught between her love for a man, her fears, and her knowledge of the God’s truth for her. The Civil War is raging right outside their door, but Eli reminds her to lean on Jesus and not fear.
As I sit in my safe, comfortable, and warm home fretting about not having a job next year, I am letting my fears win. Hearing the truth from Caroline and Eli reminds me to give up my burden and trust in the truth. It doesn’t mean I’ll have a job next year, but it does mean that God is replacing the fears, lies, and worries with truth. It doesn’t mean the book was Pulitzer Prize material, but it does mean that God does, has, and will continue to speak to me through fiction that reveals his heart.

maps, maps, maps! (Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, Third Edition)

>I love maps. They’ve been an interest of mine since I was little. I remember looking at the atlas my family had for hours and hours, enthralled with all of the places. I am the same way now. We have a world map shower curtain (http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?order_num=-1&SKU=114153&RN=382&) that is my excuse to take looong showers (“Honey, I’m not wasting water, I’m learning! Did you know that Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar?”) and it just draws me in every time I’m in the shower or bath.


So, when I saw that my next book from Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze was Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. Things seem to come alive to me when there is a map involved. Stories that had previously been somewhat confusing to me are clarified, which was my main excitement about this book.

I flipped open the book and was excited to see clearly marked colored maps. I paused for a moment to think back to the last confusing Bible Study I’d been in: 1 & 2 Kings popped right up. I opened to the section on 1 Kings and was amazed to see Elijah’s life mapped out: different locations, and something resembling a timeline. Cool! And, wow, the summary of each book is well written and interesting. I had no recollection that Elijah’s name meant “Yahweh is my God” (115). Besides the maps and timelines, there is another great piece to each sections: Themes and Literary Structure. As an English teacher, my heart smiles when I see this.

I do have to admit, though, that my favorite section is the New Testament. I love the stories of Jesus’ travels with his buddies, but they were always moving…always heading somewhere new and different. It’s helpful to see just where each of their adventures took them and to picture them there. I love seeing maps of the area and seeing the original names. Two of my favorite books are from The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. How amazing to see the places Hadassah and Marcus walked on their journeys with the Lord. (Okay, I know they’re fictional, but they feel very real!)

Anyway, the book is intriguing — the maps for books of the Bible I haven’t read yet will no doubt get me to open my Bible and read. The tables are helpful and informative. And, I can’t lie: I love timelines. A great help for us visual learners. This book was right up my alley. Thank you, Thomas Nelson for this book! I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I’m so thankful for this book and I cannot wait to use this book more and more as I dig into my Bible. It’s a great resource for the visual learner and often-confused Bible reader!